“And next I caught a glimpse of powerful Heracles – His ghost I mean: the man himself delights.” – Homer’s Odyssey

Greek myths: The age of heroes

The mythical age in which the ancient Greek heroes such as Heracles and Achilles lived is known as the heroic age, or the age of heroes. The epic poetry created stories clustered around heroes and events and established the family relationships between the heroes of different stories creating a sequence of events.

After the rise of the hero cult, gods and heroes constitute the sacral sphere and are invoked together in oaths and prayers which are addressed to them. In contrast to the age of gods, during the heroic age the roster of heroes is never given fixed and final form; great gods are no longer born, but new heroes can always be created. An important difference between the hero cult and the cult of gods is that people in a specific location can idientify with a local hero who then becomes the centre of the local group identity.

The story of Heracles and his 12 labours are regarded as the dawn of the age of heroes. Other important events of this age include: the Argonautic expedition, the Theban Cycle, and the Trojan War.

Here’s a list of popular Greek myths of the heroic age:

Heracles

Jason and the Argonauts

Agamemnon

Achilles

Odysseus

What are the ancient Greek myths?

The Greek myths are stories which try to explain the origins of the world, and details the lives and adventures of gods, goddesses, heroes, and mythological creatures. These stories initially were disseminated in an oral/poetic tradition.

The oldest known Greek literary sources, Homer’s epic poems Iliad and Odyssey are the oldest known Greek literary sources. They both focus on the Trojan war and its aftermath. Two epic poems by Homer’s near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, and the origin of sacrificial practices.

Myths are also preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, and in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.

The 3 periods of Greek mythology

Greek mythology

The age of gods (myths of origin)Go!
The age when gods and mortals mingled freelyGo!
The age of heroes (heroic age)Go!

The influence of Greek mythology

Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture, arts, and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language. Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes.

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