Greek and Roman Mythology
A Review
of
The Principal Gods and Goddesses
What is a myth?
A traditional story rooted in primitive
folk beliefs of cultures
 Uses the supernatural to interpret
natural events
 Explains the culture’s view of the
universe and the nature of humanity
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Introduction to Mythology
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Modern Western civilization (American included) owes much to the
Greeks, as words like democracy and philosophy attest.
The lives of ancient people were not romantic and beautiful, but full of
hardship, disease, and violence.
One of the most important aspects of the Greek worldview was that it
was the first to put humans at the center of the universe. Also, unlike
the animal deities of the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, the gods of the
Greeks are human in form.
Not only do they possess human physical characteristics, but they
embody the emotional flaws of humans as well, such as philandering,
feasting and drinking, and obsessive jealousy.
Like humans, the gods are often unpredictable and more than
occasionally immoral. They often get angry and jealous, sometimes
doing terrible things like exacting vengeance or calling for sacrifices.
These myths are not really a religion, but more of an attempt to fill the
scientific void. They help explain natural phenomena, such as
thunderstorms or the setting of the sun.
In the beginning...
…was Chaos (shapeless nothingness)
 Chaos had two children:
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– Night (darkness)
– Erebus (death)
“All was black, empty, silent, endless.”
 Mysteriously, Love was born of
darkness and death.
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And then...
When Love was born, order and beauty
began to flourish.
 Love created Light and Day.
 Earth was created.
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– She was the solid ground, but also a
personality.
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The Earth bore Heaven to cover her
and be a home for the gods.
The First Parents
Mother Earth = Gaea (Gaia)
 Father Heaven = Ouranos (Uranus)
 They had three kinds of children:
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– Three monsters with 100 hands and 50
heads
– Three cyclopes
– The titans
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These were the first characters that had the appearance of life,
although it was unlike any life known to man.
The Titans
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Enormous size, incredible strength
Cronos (Saturn): Ruler of the titans
Rhea: Wife of Cronos
Ocean: River that encircled the world
Prometheus: Gave Mankind the gift of fire
Atlas: Fought against the Olympians - as
punishment, supports the Earth & Heavens
on his shoulders
The Olympians
The Children of Cronos & Rhea
Zeus
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Roman Name: Jupiter
(also Jove)
Supreme god of the
Olympians
Fathered many
characters in
mythology
Principal weapon:
lightening bolt
Hera
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Roman Name:
Juno
Zeus’s sister and
wife
Jealous protector
of marriage
Punished the
women Zeus fell in
love with
Poseidon
Roman Name:
Neptune
 God of the Seas
and Waters
 Carried a threepronged spear
called a “trident”.
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Hades
Roman Name:
Pluto
 God of the
Underworld/
Dead
 Kidnapped
Persephone
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Hestia
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Roman Name:
Vesta
Goddess of the
Hearth (symbol
of the home)
No distinct
personality or
part in myths
The Children of Zeus
Athena
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Roman Name:
Minerva
Protector of civilized
life, handicrafts,
and agriculture.
Also a fierce
warrior.
No mother, she
sprang from his
head full-grown and
in full armor
Ares
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Roman Name:
Mars
God of War
Son of Zeus and
Hera
Bloodthirsty and
merciless, but
also cowardly
Hephaestus
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Roman Name:
Vulcan (Mulciber)
God of Fire/Forge,
crafter of weaponry
for the gods
Son of Zeus and
Hera
The only ugly and
deformed god.
Makes armor and
weapons forged
under volcanoes.
Apollo
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Roman Name:
Apollo
Master musician,
archer god,
healer, god of
light, god of
truth, sun god
Twin brother of
Artemis
Artemis
Roman
Name: Diana
 Goddess of
the Moon/
Hunt
 Apollo’s twin
sister
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Hermes
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Roman Name:
Mercury
Messenger of the
Gods
Wore wings on his
sandals and his hat,
thus was graceful and
swift.
Appears in more
myths than any other
character
Aphrodite
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Roman Name:
Venus
Goddess of Love
and Beauty
Married to
Hephaestus
No mother, sprang
from the ocean
foam
Other Major Gods & Goddesses
Demeter
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Roman Name:
Ceres
Daughter of
Cronos & Rhea,
sister of Zeus
Goddess of the
Harvest
Goddess of the
Grain
Persephone
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Goddess of the
Underworld
Daughter of Zeus
and Demeter
Abducted by her
husband Hades,
her story
explains the
changing of the
seasons
Dionysus
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Roman Name:
Bacchus
God of wine and
madness
Patron god of the
Greek stage
Festival of
Dionysus (held in
a theater)
Eros
Roman Name:
Cupid
 God of Love
 Eros & Psyche
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Hebe
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Roman
Name:
Juventas
Goddess of
Youth
Iris
Goddess of the
Rainbow
 Messenger for
Zeus and Hera
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The Muses
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Nine daughters of
Zeus and
Mnemosyne
Inspired artists of all
kinds
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Goddesses who
presided over the
arts and sciences
“He is happy whom
the muses love.”
Clio, Urania, Thalia, Melpomene, Erato, Calliope, Euterpe, Terpsichore, Polyhymnia
The Graces
Three Goddesses of
Grace and Beauty
 “They give life its
bloom.”
 Aglaia (Splendor)
 Euphrosyne (Mirth)
 Thalia (Good
Cheer)
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The Furies
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Three Goddesses of
Vengeance
– Tisiphone
– Alecto
– Megaera
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They punish
evildoers.
The Fates
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Three sisters
– Clotho (“The Spinner”)
– Lachesis (“The
disposer of lots”)
– Atropos (“The cutter”)
They weave, measure,
and cut the thread of life
for humans.
The Underworld
Asphodel Meadows
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Where the souls of people who
lived lives of near equal good
and evil rested
A plain of Asphodel flowers,
which were the favorite food of
the Greek dead
A ghostly place that is an even
less perfect version of life on
earth
Tartarus
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A deep, gloomy place, a pit, or
an abyss used as a dungeon of
torment and suffering that
resides beneath the
underworld
Sisyphus: forced to roll a large
boulder up a mountainside,
which, when he reached the
crest, rolled back down,
repeatedly.
Tantalus: Eternally thirsty and
hungry, he stands in a pool of
water beneath a fruit tree with
low branches. Whenever he
reaches for the fruit, the
branches rise beyond his
grasp. Whenever he bends
down to get a drink, the water
recedes
Elysian Fields
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The final resting place of
the souls of the heroic
and the virtuous
Heroes such as Achilles
lived on in splendid
company, in pleasant
surroundings, in heroic
pursuits of the hunt and
banquet
The residents of Elysian
Fields did not drink from
the river of Lethe, and
therefore retained their
memories
Cerberus
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Three-headed
dog
Guards the
gates of Hades
Prevents those
who have
crossed the
river Styx from
ever escaping
The Rivers of the Underworld
Acheron
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the river of sorrow
Cocytus
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the river of lamentation
Phlegethon
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The river of fire
Lethe
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The river of forgetfulness
Styx
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The river of hate
Forms the
boundary
between upper
and lower worlds
Charon
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The ferryman of Hades
Carries souls of the newly deceased
across the rivers Styx and Acheron
that divide the world of the living from
the world of the dead.
Dead souls must have a coin to pay
Charon for passage. This coin was
placed in or on the mouth of a dead
person.
Those who could not pay the fee, or
those whose bodies were left
unburied, had to wander the shores of
the river Styx
THE
END