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Introduction to Classical Mythology

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Greek and Roman mythology is supposed to show the people of the present, how us human beings thought, acted, and felt a long time ago.

The imagination of the stories that were told were so broad and vivid,

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There has never been such a thing that brought brought bright visions to the world, because there is always horror that lies deep within.

Greeks lived a savage and reckless life that was filled with violence and brutality.

The first written record is “The Illiad” which was the oldest piece of greek literature. People have thought of the language as beautiful and rich.

The greek people were not afraid of the dead. Known as “The Piteous Dead” by the Odyssey.

Greek mythology was not something for humans to be afraid of.

Myth doesn’t have anything to do with beliefs or religion.

An author named Ovid, wrote almost all of the stories.

Alexandrian poets lived during 250 B.C.

Part One: The Gods, Creation, and the Earliest Heroes

Zeus( Jupiter): Him and his brothers had to draw lots in order for them to find out which area of the universe they would own. Zeus became the ruler of most parts. In other words, “The Supreme Ruler”. Zeus’s power was the most powerful out of any other God. He usually falls in love with every woman and uses tricks to hide his disloyalty from his wife.

Hera(Juno): Hera was Zeus’s wife and sister. She was also the protector of marriage. Many thought that she was beautiful and a “glorious lady”. Hera made sure to punish only women that Zeus fell in love with. It didn’t matter how guilty or innocent they were. They were all the same to her.

Poseidon(Neptune): He ruled the sea, and was Zeus’s brother. Zeus’s wife’s name was Amphitrite, who was the granddaughter of the Titan, Ocean.

Hades(Pluto): Third brother out of all the Olympians. He was the ruler of the underworld, along with death.

Pallas Athena(Minerva) : She was the goddess of the city, and the protector of all civilized life.

Phoebus Apollo : A professional musician who played on his golden lyre for the Olympians to enjoy.

Artemis(Diana) : Apollo’s twin sister

Aphrodite(Venus) : The Goddess of Love and Beauty, who entranced every god, man alike

Hermes(Mercury) : Zeus’s messenger

Ares(Mars) : He was known as The God of War. He was also Zeus’s son, which Hera hated

Hephaestus(Vulcan and Mulciber) : The only unattractive god who was the God of fire

Hestia(Vesta) : Is not in any of the myths. She is Zeus’s sister, and the Goddess of the Hearth

Hymen : God of Marriage Feasts or Ceremonies

Eros(Cupid) : God of Love

Hebe : Goddess of Youth, she was also the daughter of Zeus and Hera

Part Two: Stories of Love and Adventure

Cupid and Psyche: Psyche was the most beautiful girl out of her two sisters. Men from all around wanted to marry her. Aphrodite got jealous and sent her son, Cupid to make her fall in love with a serpent, but when Cupid saw her, he fell in love. Psyche went to a hill to wait for her serpent husband. Instead, she found Cupid and they had fell for each other. Her sisters came and they were mourning for her, because they thought she had passed away. Psyche saw her sisters and went up to them, despite Cupid’s warning. When her sisters saw the treasure Psyche had, they were envious. So, they made a plan to convince Psyche to murder Cupid. Instead of murdering him, she had injured him. Cupid lost trust in Psyche and left. Psyche felt terrible and went for a journey to try and find Cupid. On her way she found Aphrodite. Psyche wanted to be a servant to her, so she could possibly find Cupid. Aphrodite made her do dangerous missions, especially the last one. On the last mission, she fell into a deep sleep. Cupid heard the news and decided to save her. Once he saved her, they got married.

Pyramus and Thisbe: Since the two lovers lived so close to each other, they had started to fall in love with one another. They wanted to get married, but their parents did not give them permission and they disapproved the idea. Since they were forbidden to love each other, they would whisper to each other through a crack in a wall. One night they thought that they needed to see each other, so they snuck out of the house to go to a place called the “Tomb Of Ninus”. They both agreed to arrive at the designated meeting place at a certain time, so they could meet. Thisbe got to the tomb first, and was confronted by a Lion. She got away, leaving her cloak behind. The animal ripped and tore her cloak. leaving it in pieces. When Pyramus arrived at the tomb, he had noticed Thisbe’s bloodstained cloak and thought that something had killed her. He blamed himself for the death of his lover. He went to the mulberry tree and stabbed himself with a sword, splattering the blood on the berries and dying them red. His lover, Thisbe saw Pyramus dead and killed herself. She had wanted to spend the rest of eternity with him in death.

Orpheus and Eurydice: Orpheus went with the Argonauts for the Quest of the Golden Fleece. While on the quest, he met Eurydice. They got married, but Eurydice died by a snake. Orpheus decided to go to the underworld to get his wife back. When he had gotten to Hades, Hades summoned Eurydice. Orpheus was able to take his wife back, but he couldn’t look back at her when she followed him. When Orpheus got out of the cavern, he looked back at his wife, Eurydice and she disappeared, going back to the underworld. Orpheus had wanted to get his wife back, but the gods wouldn’t allow him to. Orpheus met the Maenads and they ripped him apart, limb by limb and threw him into the river.

Ceyx and Alcyone: Ceyx was a king in Thessaly. His wife, Alcyone, was the daughter of Aeolus. Ceyx went on a journey across the sea. Alcyone suggested that she would come along with him, but he refused. While on the ship, there was a storm and sank the ship. Alcyone didn’t know about her husband’s death, so Juno wanted Alcyone to know the truth. While Alcyone was sleeping, she got Morpheus to go into her dream as Ceyx and tell her the truth. In the morning, she was devastated and went to the shore to stare at the sea where her lover had ventured off to. She saw something in the water and went to find out what it was. She ran to the floating object and realized it was Ceyx. While she was running, she turned into a bird along with her husband.

Pygmalion and Galatea: Pygmalion hated women, but that all changed when he made a sculpture of a woman and fell in love with it. So, he pretended that the sculpture he had made was a real human being. When he went to the feast for Venus, she turned the sculpture into a real young woman. When he got home, he found out the sculpture was real and named her “Galatea”.

Baucis and Philemon: Zeus decided to disguise himself as a mortal and venture into Phrygia with another god. They went into Phrygia, because they had wanted to know how hospitable the people were. As he was knocking on each door of the houses, no one would let them in. Finally, they came to a house where there lived an elderly couple. The couple let them in and gave them as much as they could. They were grateful to the couple ad granted them a wish. The little elderly couple wished to be together forever. As time passed by, the couple grew older and became trees after they passed away, but their wish was still granted, because they were still together.

Endymion: The Moon made Endymion sleep forever. She did this because, she wanted to kiss and caress him as much as she pleased.

Daphne: Daphne didn’t want anyone in her life, but her father wanted her to marry. After each argument with her father, she would go into the woods. When she was in the woods, Apollo saw her and longed for her. She didn’t want to be with him, so she ran. As she was running, she began to turn into a tree. When she finally turned into a tree, Apollo said that he would be with her forever.

Alpheus and Arethusa: Just like her goddess, Artemis, she didn’t want anything to do with a man. As she running, she came across a river and saw something in the depths. She heard a voice and ran from it. The voice told her to stop, but she kept running. Desperately wanting to escape, she calls Artemis, to help her. Then, Artemis turned Arethusa into water and tried to escape to a fountain, but Alpheus follows her into the fountain. Arethusa cannot escape and will be with Alpheus forever.

The Quest of The Golden Fleece: Jason came to Lolcus, wanting to take back the throne that his Uncle Pelias had stolen from his father. The current king agrees on giving Jason the throne, only if he brings him the Golden Fleece in Colchis. Jason agrees and accepts the quest. He goes with a group of greek heroes which end up taking a ship called The Argo to get to the land. The adventure to get to the Golden Fleece is very difficult. Jason and the heroes have to defeat different kinds of monsters.They arrive in Colchis and the king called Aeetes tells Jason that he can have the golden fleece, only if he accomplishes three difficult and impossible tasks. After he completes the missions, he goes back to Greece to give his uncle the fleece, helping him take back the throne successfully.

Phaethon: Phaethon found out that the Sun-god was his father and the god granted him any wish. Phaethon had always wanted to feel what it was like to ride in the Sun chariot so he wished for it. The Sun had a worried look on his face, hearing Phaethon’s wish, but he had to grant it anyways. Phaethon got into the chariot and in a moment, everything went into chaos. The horses got out of control and started to set the world on fire. Jove fired his thunderbolt at the driver and killed Phaethon and made the horses fall into the sea.

Pegasus and Bellerophon: Bellerophon wanted to train a winged horse by the name of Pegasus. One night he slept in Athena’s palace and when we had awoken he had found a golden harness, that could be used to train Pegasus. After he had killed his own brother, and went to a place called Argos, where the king could cleanse him. While he was there, the king’s wife, Anteia had fell for Bellerophon, but he didn’t accept her confession. The king sent Bellerophon on a dangerous quest, instead of killing him. After the quest was completed, he had angered the gods because he had tried to ride Pegasus into Olympus. Pegasus became Zeus’s and Bellerophon wandered.

Otus and Ephialtes: Otus and Ephialtes were Titans wanted to show that they were better than the gods. They had kidnapped Ares and had terrorized Olympus causing Zeus to almost fire his thunderbolt. Poseidon stopped him and said that he will not let things go into chaos. The brothers planned to take Artemis, but she knew their plans beforehand. She got back at them and punished them by making eachother kill with spears.

Daedalus: King Minos trapped Daedalus and his son in a labyrinth for supposedly helping out the Athenians get out. Daedalus figured out a way to get out by making wings for himself and his son. He told Icarus that if he flew up too high, the sun would destroy the glue. The son disobeyed his father and ended up falling into the sea, dying. Daedalus flew to Sicily where he met another king, who treated him better than Minos. This action infuriated Minos causing him to create a task that he thought that Daedalus could not complete. Once Daedalus completed the task, Minos went to Sicily so that he could get Daedalus. The king had ended up killing Minos.

Part Three: The Great Heroes Before the Trojan War

Perseus: King Acrisius had one daughter named, Danaë. She was very beautiful, but the father had hoped that she would bear a son. The king traveled to Delphi and asked the god if Danaë would have a boy. The priestess had said that Danaë would have a son, but he would end up killing the king. If the king would have killed his daughter, then he could escape the prophecy that was told by the priestess, but he surely would not kill his own daughter. The king had built a house for his daughter that sunk underground, so that he could keep her safe. One day, Zeus had appeared in front of Danaë. From the moment she had saw him, she knew that he was the father of her son. Danaë wanted to keep the secret away from her father. After a while, she couldn’t keep the secret anymore. The father was surprised when he saw that his daughter had a son. He didn’t want to kill him because, he knew that Zeus would murder him if he did.The king was scared for his life and ordered for Danaë and her son, Perseas to be thrown into the sea in a wooden box. They ended up at an island called, Seripios. A fishermen ended up finding them and taking them to live with a king called, Polydectes. He fell instantly in love with Danaë, but what was standing in his way, was the son Perseus. He ended up sending Perseus on a quest to get Medusa’s head. Many gods and goddesses helped Perseus complete the mission. With their help, he completed the quest quickly and easily. As he was on the journey, he saw a woman named Andromeda was being sacrificed to a sea monster. Perseas fell in love with her and made a deal with the father that if he killed the monster he would be able to marry her. Perseus killed the monster and got married to Andromeda. When he got back to Seriphos he saw that the king was still accusing Danaë. He used Medusa’s head to turn the king and his disciples into stone.

Theseus: Every nine years, Athen’s would send seven girls and seven boys for the Minotaur to devour. A Minotaur was a monster with a human body, but a beast’s head. Theseus who was the prince of Athens, couldn’t deal with the killing and went to go stop the Minotaur. In the end, Theseus kills the Minotaur with the help of a princess named, Ariadne. He abandons her on an island and goes to sail back to his father. The king had told him that if he did survive, to change the sail on the ship from black to white. Theseus did not follow his father’s orders. When the king saw that the sail on the sail on the ship was black, he thought that his son Theseus was dead. He killed himself, throwing himself into the sea. Theseus became the new king.

Hercules: King Eurystheus gave Hercules twelve labors to compete in order for him to prove that he was a hero with lots of strength. The first task was to kill the Nemean Lion. No one could kill it, as it was very powerful and mighty. Its skin was very tough, so nothing could pierce through it. The lion chased him around the cave and after a while Hercules choked the Lion and brought it back to the king. The second labor was to kill a monster called the Nine-headed hydra. It lived deep in the Lernaean swamp. Hercules cut off all the heads of the monster until it was dead. His next labor was to catch a deer with golden antlers and bring it back alive. His fifth labor was to capture a boar that lived on Mount Erymanthus. He chased it around until it got tired then trapped it. The fifth labor was for Hercules to clean stables that haven’t been cleaned out in years. He made two rivers that washed out all the waste. The next labor was for him to make the Stymphalian birds go away since they were causing many diseases. Athena helped him and as they went up in the air, Hercules shot them. The seventh labor was for him to travel to Crete and get the most beautiful bull that Poseidon had gave Minos. He trained the bull and brought it back to Eurystheus. His next labor was to take the man-eating mares. He killed the king first then drove away the mares. The ninth labor was to bring the girdle of Hippolyta back who was the queen of amazons. The queen was very kind to Hercules, but Hercules killed her without hesitation in order to get the girdle. The tenth labor was to bring back a monster named “The Cattle of Geryon” It had three bodies and it lived in Erythia. He captured it and completed the task. The eleventh labor was to bring back the Golden apples of the Hesperides. Hercules did not know where he could find them, so it was a very difficult task. Atlas helped Hercules, and Hercules tricked Atlas and picked the apples. The last labor was for Hercules to go to the underworld and capture Cerberus, the three headed dog. Hercules could only use his hands, so he grabbed the dog and brought him back up to the earth with his bare hands.

Atalanta: Atalanta’s father left her on the side of mountains, because he was disappointed that she was a girl and not a son. A bear nursed Atalanta back to health, when she was dying of the cold and starvation. Hunters found her and took Atalanta in, so she could live with them. Atalanta was called by the heroes to come to a gathering. It said that her face looked too boyish to be a female, and too feminine to be a boy. Meleager fell in love with her, but Atalanta showed no interest in the man. When a boar started to attack some of the hunters that she went hunting with, she pulled out her arrows and injured the boar. At first the men said that they didn’t want to go hunting with a woman, but after the incident it changed their mind. Atalanta had many adventures throughout her life. There were rumors that she even sailed across the sea with The Argo. Atalanta had many men lining up to marry her, because she was strong and she could shoot, hunt, and kill. To find the one who she would marry, she said that whoever could beat her in a foot race, would be the one to marry her. There was a man named Melanion who used his wits in order to win the race. He had three golden apples that he held in his hands before starting the race. When they started to run, he threw the apples one by one off to the side, in order to distract Atalanta. She fell for it, and ended up losing the race. They had gotten married and Atalanta had a son named, Parthenopaeus before Atalanta and her husband both turned into lions.

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