“Humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” – Plato, Symposium

Greek myths: The age of gods and mortals

Bridging the age when gods lived alone and the age when divine interference in human affairs was limited was a transitional age in which gods and mortals moved together.

These were the early days of the world when the groups mingled more freely than they did later. Most of these myths are often divided into two thematic groups: myths of love, and myths of punishment.

The myth of Prometheus and Pandora

The myth of Demeter, Persephone and Hades

The myth of Pentheus and Dionysus

The myth of Aphrodite and Anchises

The myth of Demeter and Triptolemus

Myths of love

Myths of love often involve incest, or in some cases the seduction or rape of a mortal woman by a male god, resulting in a heroic offspring. Most of these stories usually suggest that relationships between gods and mortal women are something to be avoided as things usually don’t end well. Even consenting relationships rarely have happy endings for the mortal women.¬† In a few cases, a godess mates with a mortal man, as in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, where the goddess lies with Anchises to produce Aeneas.


Myths of punishment

The myths of punishment involve the appropriation or invention of some important cultural artifact, as when Prometheus steals fire from the gods, when Tantalus steals nectar and ambrosia from Zeus’ table and gives it to his own subjects or when Demeter teaches agriculture and the Mysteries to Triptolemus. In another tragedy, Euripides’ The Bacchae, the king of Thebes, Pentheus, is punished by Dionysus, because he disrespected the god and spied on his Maenads, the female worshippers of the god.

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 in all parts of Europe 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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