Greek MythologySince the days when man lived in cavesand struggled to survive, he has wondered about the world that surroundshim. What makes the sun rise and set? Why are there seasons?Where do things go when they die? To the ancient Greeks, there weresimple explanations to all these questions it was the gods! Thingsthat seemed unexplainable could suddenly make sense when there were godsand goddesses involved. And these stories of the gods that the Greekscreated to help make sense of the universe have survived the years to becomea treasured and integral part of the history of the Western world.
Everyone knows who Zeus is. Butare they aware that Zeus shared his power with thirteen of his sisters,brothers, and children? First there was his sister, Hera,whom he had chosen from his many wives to be his queen. Then therewas Ares, their son, who was the god of war. Next was Hephaestus,the god of fire, and his wife Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Anotherof Zeuss children, Hermes, was the herald of the gods.
And thenthere was Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, with her beloved daughterPersephone on her lap. Next there was Poseidon, the lord of the seaand Zeuss brother, and then the four children of Zeus: Athena, goddessof wisdom; the twins Apollo (god of light and music) and Artemis (goddessof the hunt); and Dionysus, the god of wine. Zeuss eldest sisterHestia also lived with these twelve great gods. She was the goddessof the hearth, and tended the sacred fires of the gods. Finally,of course, there was Hades, the lord of the underworld and the ruler ofthe dead. He preferred his gloomy palace to the light of the godsworld, and chose to stay there.Those were the twelve great gods of MountOlympus, who ruled in splendor the lives of the mortals below them.
But there were also many minor gods and goddesses, nature gods, and ofcourse the many heroes that are involved in Greek mythology, Hercules beingperhaps the most famous of these. The Greeks believed that everytree had its wood nymph and ever river had its river god. It wasnecessary to pray for the approval of these gods before boating acrossa river or chopping down a tree, lest they meet with disastrous results.Of course, on some occasions, even when one took the precaution of attemptingto appease them, the gods might just be in a foul mood and decide to leta human suffer – there are many stories like this in Greek mythology.
So what did all these gods do all daylong other than relax in their comfy palaces? Well, it was the beliefof the ancient Greeks that their gods were involved in every aspect ofdaily human life, that they watched over all that was going on and at timesstuck their noses in sometimes to help a beloved devotee, other timesto seek revenge on a human who has ignored them, and sometimes just fortheir own amusement. There was a great deal of fear and distrustinvolved in the Greeks relationship with the deities, but they did believewith their whole hearts that the gods existed, and that they would protectand care for the devout.Some aspects of the Greeks religion seembarbaric and ridiculous to the modern observer, but that is not reallyfor us to judge. The importance of the ancient Greek religion liesnot in their almost blind devotion to the gods, but in the major contributionto modern literature of the Greek mythology. These stories of godsand goddesses interacting with mortals are still familiar, and still enjoyed,by humans worldwide, thousands of years after they were written and toldmerely as simple tales to explain the unexplainable in life.