Greek Mythology
Mrs. Dianne Cline
Oak Mountain Middle School
Shelby County Schools
I. Origins of Greek Myths
1. Myths can be traced to 900 – 800 BC in
the Geometric period of Greece
2. Myths consisted of stories about the
lives and adventures of gods &
goddesses, heroes & heroines, &
mythical creatures
II. Sources of Greek Myths
1. Pottery & vase paintings from 900 –
500 BC
2. Homer, Greek poet 850 BC, who
wrote the epic poems The Iliad and
The Odyssey
3. Hesiod, Greek poet 705 BC,
who wrote the epic poems
Theogony and Works and Days
III. Mythology Meaning
1. From a Greek word meaning
“story-telling, a legendary lore”
2. Meaning = a collection of myths,
legends, or folklore of a particular
people or culture that was believed
to be true & addressed their origin,
history, religion, ancestors, &
heroes
IV. History of Mythology
1. Ancient myths were used to explain a
culture’s history, the natural world
around them, & their religion
2. By the 5th century BC, Greek historians
& philosophers criticized & excluded
the study of the supernatural myths
3. 850 – 680 B.C. – Geometric & Archaic
ages of Greece (when ancient myths
were passed on orally from generation
to generation)
4. 750 – 680 B.C. - Myths written down
V. Modern Day Influences
from ancient Greece:
1. Architecture
a. Greek architects were trained
craftsmen
b. The temple was the
most common form
of Greek public
architecture
c. Other common Greek structures were:
stoa (a long row of shops), agora
(commercial center), gymnasium (for
exercise & contests for men), outdoor
theatres, & bouleuterion (large public
building used as a court house & for
council meetings)
d. Three main styles of Greek
architecture were
Corinthian, Doric &
Ionic
Doric & Ionic Style in the U.S.
US Treasury Building,
NY State Treasury,
Market Building, Boston;
Girard College, PA; &
Ohio State Capital
Building
2. Art & Law
a. Ancient Greek lawgivers
were Draco & Solon
(appointed to write laws)
b. Greeks gave us
the court system
c. Greeks gave us trial by jury
d. Greek art consisted of sculpture,
painting, pottery & jewelry
making
Examples of Greek Art
3. Politics & Government
a. The word democracy is Greek – it
means “government by the people”
b. The two most important Greek citystates were Athens & Sparta
c. Greeks gave us the constitution &
citizenship
4. Literature & Theatre
a. Greek literature consisted of
poetry, drama, odes, & histories
b. Famous Greek poets were: Homer
& Hesiod
c. Famous Roman poets were: Ovid
who wrote Metamorphoses Virgil who
wrote Aeneid
d. The Roman poets were
less serious about religion
in their poetry
5. The Olympics
a. Ancient Olympics were held in Olympia,
Greece from 776 BC to 393 AD
b. Representatives of Greek city-states &
from other countries competed in
athletic competitions
c. The prize for winners was a crown or
olive wreath
d. The Olympics also featured religious &
artistic celebration
e. A statue of Zeus was built in Olympia
to show Zeus presided over the games
f. Only free men who spoke Greek were
allowed to compete
g. The Olympics ended when Rome took
over & the Emperor
declared the Games
to be against God
VI. Purpose of Greek Myths
1.
a.
b.
c.
Greek myths were invented to:
Explain the creation of the world
Explain the creation of the gods
Explain the creation of
animals & humans
d. Explain natural
phenomena (rain, thunder,
earthquakes, death, etc.)
2. Myths explain that the world was
formed from Chaos who produced:
a. Gaia (Mother Earth) & Uranus
(Father Sky)
b. Gaia gave birth to 12 Titans & several
“creatures”
c. One Titan, Cronus, murdered
his father Uranus & married
his sister Rhea
d. With her husband Cronus,
Rhea gave birth to 12
Olympians
3. The Olympian gods & goddesses, led
by Zeus:
a. Battled their father Cronus & the
Titans
b. Overthrew them & banished them to
the underworld
c. Became the new
rulers of the world
from Mt. Olympus
VII. Olympian Gods & Goddesses
1. The gods & goddesses can be both
good & evil
2. They have human characteristics but
are immortal
3. Greeks built temples
to the gods & goddesses
to worship them
4. Gods & goddesses can
travel between Mt.
Olympus & Earth
VIII. Greek Heroes
1. Heracles (Hercules): son
of Zeus, known for his
strength & performing
12 impossible tasks
or labors
2. Achilles: son of the nymph
Thetis, known for his
triumph in the Trojan war
until Paris shot him with
an arrow in his heel &
killed him
3. Theseus: son of Poseidon, known for
defeating the minotaur
& saving Athenians
from human sacrifice
4. Perseus: son of Zeus, known for cutting
off the head of Medusa
& rescuing the maiden
Andromeda from a
sea monster
5. Odysseus: a descendent of Hermes,
known for the idea of the
Trojan horse that led the
Greeks to defeat the Trojans
6. Jason: son of Aeolus,
a wind god, known for
his quest to get the
golden fleece in his
ship, the Argo
IX. Mythical Creatures
1. Centaurs: half manhalf horse, known
for chasing nymphs
& drinking a lot.
The centaur
Chiron was
the
intelligent
& kind
teacher of heroes.
2. Cerberus: the 3headed dog that
guarded the gates
of the Underworld.
3. Cyclops: member of a race
of giants with one eye in
the middle of his forehead.
4. Gorgons: female creatures with hair of living
venomous snakes & a horrifying gaze that
turned anyone who looked at them
into stone. Two of them were
immortal – Medusa was not.
She was killed by Perseus.
5. Kraken: a mythical
giant sea monster,
described as part
octopus & part
crab. It attacked
ships & people on
the ocean.
6. Lernaean Hydra: a
serpent-like water
beast that had
many heads. The
middle head had
poisonous breath. If
a head was cut off, 2
more grew back.
7. Minotaur: a
creature with the
head of a bull &
the body of a man.
He was held in the
center of the
Cretan Labyrinth.
8. Pegasus: a winged
horse born from
Poseidon &
Medusa who
served Zeus & was
used by heroes.
9. Satyr: a creature with
the upper half of a
man & the lower half
of a goat. Adults have
horns & juveniles have
nubs in their
foreheads. They drank
wine, chased
women, but
were usually
shy &
cowardly.
10. Sirens: creatures
with a woman’s
head, bird feathers,
& scaly feet. Their
music & voices
would lure sailors to
their death on rocky
shores & cliffs.
X. Why do we study Greek
Mythology?
1. Greek mythology was the world’s first
written literature (Greek is 1 of the oldest
written languages)
2. It connects us to our past in language (words
from mythology & alphabet) &
history
3. It helps us understand how
mythology is used in our
culture
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Mythology, Folk Tales, and Fables