Myths as a Source of Guidance Used to Explain the Environment and the Passing of Time
Greek mythology was essential for the Greeks' everyday lives as it set examples of how.
Greek mythology started and spread through centuries of oral traditions, likey evolving from stories in the Minoan civilization of Crete. Myths served as a source of guidance used to explain the environment and the passing of time. Myths were also connected to religion which taught the reason for existence and where your existence would go after death. Along with the human’s existence themselves being explained religion also the need for gods and their lives. Lastly, myths were used to re-tell historical events so that people were able to maintain knowledge of the places they had discovered, their ancestors, and the wars that had been fought. Myths contained virtues including prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance. As myths contained the virtues, children were able to read or hear them and would understand the virtues they were held to. In Greek mythology, there were 12 Olympian gods, each connecting to a different aspect of life and each set an example for a way of life. For example, Hera was the goddess of marriage and childbirth, Poseidon was the god of the sea, and Hades was the god of the underworld. Hera set the example for women as strong women herself that had given birth to many strong independent kids. Zeus, Hera’s husband, was the raining leader of all of the gods along with people and was seen as the ultimate example.
Following Zeus, Apollo was the second most important god. Along with his importance, he was also arguably the most loved god in ancient Greece. Apollo was associated with the bow, music, and divination. He represented youth and beauty, was the source of life and healing, stewarded civilized arts, and had the intelligence and power stronger than the sun itself. Apollo had heaps of work each day as he was the god of such important aspects of life. One of his most important jobs a day was bringing the sun up every day. In Apollo’s life, he held a special love for the trojans as he assisted in the building of the walls and had participated in Hera’s scheme to hold Zeus captive in order to demand a better ruling. Due to his affection towards the city, he played a significant role in the Trojan War, giving practical assistance to the Trojan heroes. Apollo allowed time for the Trojans to escape to safety, killing Achillies as fate had requested. Although Apollo fought on the other side, he represented the Greek ideal of harmony. Apollo was viewed as reason, and moderation personified, he was the ideal blend of physical superiority and mortal value. Apollo controlled what made life possible, and what made life worth living. To the ancient Greeks, Apollo wasn’t a god you wanted to offend as he had the power to whether you survive or die.
Along with Apollo, the greeks also looked to other gods as examples and guidance. One being Hercules. Hercules was associated with strength and heroes. Born the son of Zeus and a mortal woman, Alcmene, he had enemies before he was even born. Hercules was the product of Zeus cheating on Hera, causing Hera to vouge revenge. Hera’s several attempts at revenge included attempted murder as Hera sent two snakes to kill him in his crib but due to his unusual strength he was able to strangle them before they had the chance to injure him, and her taking Hercule’s right to the thrown being taken away. As a final attempt at revenge, Hera cast a spell that drove Hercules to commit brutal crimes. As a result of his severe guilt, Hercules tracked down Apollo, as he was the god of healing, to punish him for his crimes. Although Apollo saw through Hera’s tricks and knew the crimes weren’t truly his fault he ordered Hercules to perform the 12 heroic labors. Hercules was promised that once he had made amends his guilt would be absolved and he would be granted immortality. But these gifts did not come easily as they required superhuman strength and not even Hera believed he would survive these tasks. Due to the cloud of doubt, Hercules had to believe in himself in order to master his task at hand. As a consequence of his success, he was honored and admired as someone who had repeated triumphs. To ancient Greek society, the Hercules myth represented the belief that everyone is stronger than they believe and an occasional reminder of that was necessary for their own well-being and survival. This example connected directly to greek life as ancient Greeks led difficult lives consisting of farming and military work while women tended to the children and at-home requirements.