Greek Mythology: Sources
In Greek mythology, there is no single original text like the Christian Bible or the Hindu Vedas that introduces all of the myths’ characters and stories. Instead, the earliest Greek myths were part of an oral tradition that began in the Bronze Age, and their plots and themes unfolded gradually in the written literature of the archaic and classical periods. The poet Homer’s 8th-century BC epics the Iliad and the Odyssey, for example, tell the story of the (mythical) Trojan War as a divine conflict as well as a human one. They do not, however, bother to introduce the gods and goddesses who are their main characters, since readers and listeners would already have been familiar with them.
Around 700 BC, the poet Hesiod’s Theogony offered the first written cosmogony, or origin story, of Greek mythology. The Theogony tells the story of the universe’s journey from nothingness (Chaos, a primeval void) to being, and details an elaborate family tree of elements, gods and goddesses who evolved from Chaos and descended from Gaia (Earth), Ouranos (Sky), Pontos (Sea) and Tartaros (the Underworld).
Greek Mythology: The Olympians
At the center of Greek mythology is the pantheon of deities who were said to live on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. From their perch, they ruled every aspect of human life. Olympian gods and goddesses looked like men and women (though they could change themselves into animals and other things) and were--as many myths recounted--vulnerable to human foibles and passions.
The twelve main Olympians are:
Other gods, goddesses and monsters
· Eros (Cupid): god of Unity/Relationships and minion to Aphrodite
· Pan: God of mischief
· Cerebus: 3-headed Hell Hound
· Heilos: sun god
· Pegasus: winged horse
· The Fates(Cloto, Atropos, & Laquesis): Control birth, life, and death with a string
· Scylla: once a nymph, now a sea monster with many heads
· Charybdis: once a nymph, now a sea monster whirlpool
· Sirens (Harpies): Half woman and bird; great temptresses (some believe mermaids were a form of siren)
· Perseus: Hero
· Hercules: Hero
· Charon: boatman of the underworld
Greek Mythology: Heroes and Monsters
Greek mythology does not just tell the stories of gods and goddesses, however. Human heroes--such as Heracles, the adventurer who performed 12 impossible labors for King Eurystheus (and was subsequently worshipped as a god for his accomplishment); Pandora, the first woman, whose curiosity brought evil to mankind; Pygmalion, the king who fell in love with an ivory statue; Arachne, the weaver who was turned into a spider for her arrogance; handsome Trojan prince Ganymede who became the cupbearer for the gods; Midas, the king with the golden touch; and Narcissus, the young man who fell in love with his own reflection--are just as significant. Monsters and “hybrids” (human-animal forms) also feature prominently in the tales: the winged horse Pegasus, the horse-man Centaur, the lion-woman Sphinx and the bird-woman Harpies, the one-eyed giant Cyclops, automatons (metal creatures given life by Hephaistos), manticores and unicorns, Gorgons, pygmies, minotaurs, satyrs and dragons of all sorts. Many of these creatures have become almost as well known as the gods, goddesses and heroes who share their stories.
Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses Links:
http://online.infobaselearning.com/Login.aspx?app=Infobase&returnUrl=/Default.aspx (This is the primary site that will be used)
Greek Mythology Activities:
1. Research your assigned god/goddess using the internet, online databases and other approved resources.
2. Create a hand-drawn poster that includes the following:
· god/goddess (Greek and Roman names)
· personal characteristics
· family tree/parents/siblings
· "fun facts" (movie credits, contributions to language, etc.).
*Your god/goddess project will be evaluated based on content (spelling and grammar count), creativity and visual appeal. Your poster CANNOT contain any printed pictures. It MUST be hand drawn.
3. You must also write a 1 – 1 ½ page MLA-formatted informational report on your god/goddess. Your paper will be evaluated based on content (spelling and grammar count). Include the above information in a more detailed format.
4. You must include a Work Cited page in MLA format with at least 3 approved sources. (see class website)
Due October 29/30
Use this tree map for your research!
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English Literature 9/Pre-AP English 10