Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated with the concept and details of Greek Mythology and how they directly reflect the values of the ancient societies that they were crafted from. In a way, these mythic tales about various gods and goddesses are really stories about the people of Greece as they fostered the greatest society that the earth has ever seen.
Greek mythology dates back to the 8th century B.C. and while the stories themselves are interesting and fun to read, if you take a closer look, there’s a lot to be gleaned from their origins.
For example, we’re all familiar with Hades – the underworld – where souls go after death and where their ruler (also named Hades) reigned supreme. The creation of this fictional land of the dead indicates that the Greeks held a developed concept of life after death and believed that there were powerful supernatural beings that exist beyond man’s knowledge.
Another interesting insight into the Greek culture is highlighted through the deity Dionysus, the god of wine, theater and celebration. He was “the social god.” It’s curious to think of how important these aspects were to a people who lived so long ago without the conveniences of modern technology. I guess partying and the pursuit of joy is as old as time.
It’s also intriguing that the gods/goddesses in Greek mythology are flawed and have their own distinct personalities that leave them open to error; whereas religious figures in modern beliefs are examples of perfection and holiness.
It makes one thing about how drastically different the ancient Greeks thought about the world compared with our views and understandings today. And yet, what amazes me is that many of the same themes and thoughts that originated from their society still persist all over the world today.
These themes add a human element to the Greek myths and highlight the unescapable qualities of human nature. While Greek gods were certainly flawed, notions of good and evil and of consequences still resonate within every culture on the planet. Later on, the Greeks would also lay the foundations for Western philosophy with great thinkers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
Whether it’s the ancient Greek myths or the classic epics of Homer, we can learn a lot about ancient man (and ourselves) through these stories. I would highly recommend anyone to spend a little time to explore this vast area of knowledge.
I think you will find the works to be enriching as well as a lot of fun!
~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri