Every so often we see how movies, television and other media of mass culture tell us stories from Greek mythology, and it is natural that this is so, since the Greco-Roman culture is one of the two main roots of the West (the other it would be Judeo-Christianity), and their legendary gods and heroes are present in various aspects of our private and public life.
Remember that Nestoras College remains an excellent option for students to learn about Greek culture.
Even so, it is likely that there are many things that you ignore in this mythological universe, like the ten that we mention below.
- The Olympian gods were not the first gods of the Greeks
The pantheon we know, headed by Zeus, family, demigods and monsters, was the final result of a creation that began with Chaos, from which Gaia, Eros and Tartarus arise.
But do not go that far; before Zeus were the Titans, to whom Cronos belonged (Saturn for the Romans), who had the habit of devouring the children he had with his wife, Rhea, until she decided to protect Zeus, who eventually defeated the Titans and expelled to his father from Olympus, to stay in power with his wife Hera and his brothers, Poseidon and Hades.
- Hades was not exactly a hellish god
At least not in the sense that Christians have given to the term. Hades is also a descendant of Cronus and Rhea, that is, brother of Zeus, like Poseidon (Neptune among the Romans). When the Titans were expelled from Olympus, the three brothers divided the known universe, touching Zeus the sky and the earth, the sea to Poseidon and the underground world to Hades, which is the realm of the dead, but where he does not manage punishments or anything like that.
- Theseus was an unethical hero
It is one of the best-known stories of Greek mythology, how Theseus, with the help of Ariadne, managed to enter the labyrinth of Crete, kill the minotaur and leave again using a thread that Ariadna held outside.
What is not so well known is that after this feat, Theseus seduced Ariadne and abandoned her while she was sleeping on an island, and that on her way back to Athens she left behind a trail of raped and pregnant women. Add to that that his father committed suicide because Theseus forgot to place a signal on the sail of the ship that was taking him back, and they will agree that as a hero he left a lot to be desired.
- Ares (Mars in Rome), was not so brave
The god of war was cowardly and unintelligent, so it is not surprising that he was defeated by other gods, such as Apollo or Athena. The same Aphrodite (the Latin Venus), generally considered the goddess of love, was adopted by many cities as a warrior goddess, and even endowed with armour in her statues.
- Echidna, a great procreative of monsters
Echidna was a nymph, according to some accounts daughter of Forcis and Ceto, and according to others of Tartarus and Rhea, who turned out to be the mother of several of the most famous monstrous figures of Greek culture, such as the sphinx, the chimera, the hydra, Cerberus (the can of several heads that defended the entrance to the Hades), the lion of Nemea, the eagle that ate the liver to Prometheus and the dragon of the Colchis, among others.
Several of these monsters were defeated or killed by Heracles or Hercules – as he is best known – who also procreated others with Echidna which, although it was half snake and half woman, was apparently very beautiful.
Did you know that the expression “take the bull by the horns” comes from one of the twelve jobs that were commissioned?
Heracles or Hercules, in a fit of madness, murdered his wife and his son, and as punishment or penance, he was assigned twelve seemingly impossible jobs; one of them was to capture the Cretan bull, and he did so by taking the horns.
- The terrible Pandora’s box
Besides opening the box that freed all evils, she was the grandmother of human beings. Everyone knows her because her curiosity freed all the diseases and ailments that attack humanity (the famous Pandora’s box), but few know that she was also the mother of Pirra, who in turn married a son of Prometheus, Deucalion.
The gods, unhappy with the growing imperfection of their creatures, sent a flood, but Pirra and Deucalion survived. Women would emerge from the first, and men from the second. We are descendants of titans.
- The leaves of the olive trees are the eyes of Athena
The eyes of the most intelligent and powerful daughter of Zeus, Athena, are grey, like the underside of the leaves of the olive trees. That’s why there was a myth in Athens: that the goddess watched over the city through thousands of silver eyes, and that these eyes were the leaves of the olive groves.
- Medusa and her sisters
Do you remember Medusa, that woman with snakes like hair, that if you looked at her, she turned you into stone? Well maybe you did not know that he had two sisters equal to her, Esteno and Euryale, and that only she was mortal, so it could be said that Perseus was lucky to run into the only one he could kill.
All three were the Gorgons, charged with protecting the entrance to the underworld, the kingdom of Hades.
And this is just a superficial flight through the extraordinary universe of Greek mythology, gods and monsters that continue to live among us even though we do not know it, and from which we can be favoured or victims, although we ignore them.
Here at Nestoras College students learn about Greek traditions and Greek mythology at no extra cost for their parents. Today we will learn more about Greek traditions and customs.