Greek Gods Expository Essay
Greek gods are part of the remarkable Greek mythology that forms part of the heritage of humanity. The gods had a life of their own and they preceded humans. In fact, the gods are responsible for the creation of humanity.
The multiplicity of gods in Greek mythology, coupled with their diverse personalities and capabilities created a very rich set of characters for explaining natural occurrences and for teaching moral lessons. This is why the relationships between the Greek gods and human beings was complex. This paper explores the complexities.
Greek gods demanded worship from human beings, which usually included the offering of sacrifices. In the Homeric hymn, one of Greek gods called Demeter, expressly directs people to build a temple and an altar in her honor. Demeter was the god associated with agriculture hence worshiping her assured people of good harvests.
Other gods also demanded human beings to worship them for various favors. For instance, soldiers paid tribute to Athena who was the goddess of battle strategy, military skill, and wisdom. Humans worshipped these gods depending on personal or community needs based on the attributes of the god.
The second aspect of the relationship between the Greek gods and humans is that the gods sought to influence human action to achieve their own “divine” ends. Part of this influence was meting out punishment to human beings who defied divine orders. A famous case in point is the demise of the Odysseus crew that came about after the crew ignored warnings from the gods.
In the same vein, the gods played out the role of rulers of the cosmos, ensuring that the earth worked, as it should have. The gods ensured that justice ensued and that humans related with each other well.
An interesting question relating to the activities of the gods is whether they allowed human beings to operate using free will. The gods gave humans free will, but at various times, they sought to direct the course of history. Usually the gods sought to convince human agents to do their bidding.
For instance, Athena went to Ithaca to convince Telemachus to go on a journey to find his father. Their interaction did not include any coercion or force from Athena. Telemachus took the trip on his own volition. However, the gods had the power to take action when they pleased. Consequently they had the ability to enforce their wishes.
The Greek gods seem to represent various projections of human experiences. Just like all ancient societies, the Greeks used these gods to develop a sense of eternity. The multiplicity of gods reflects not just the social realities of the Greeks but their philosophy on the creation of the world, and their perception of divine order.
According to Greek mythology, first there was chaos, then Gaea (earth), and Eros (desire). Gaea brought Uranus (heaven) and Puntus (The Sea) to the world. This was the attempt by the Greeks to explain the origin of the earth and later the human race. In addition, the myths are full of the passions humans deal with. Each God seems to have a weakness such as jealousy which is a human trait.
Uranus feared competition from his children hence he killed them. In essence, all the gods had times of vulnerability and times of triumph. The detail on the level of development of the personalities of the gods in the myths, gives them human-like appearances, complete with humanoid representation in their sculptures.
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The Greek Mythology and Myths
Introduction, sources of the greek myths, greek myths analyzed.
Greek mythology refers to a collection of legends and myths as used by the ancient Greeks in reference to their heroes and gods. It is also taken to mean the nature of the world, as well as the genesis and importance of the Greeks rituals and cult practices. In the ancient Greece, these mythologies constituted a part of their religion too. The scholars of today find themselves referring to these myths with a view to shedding light on both the political and religious institutions that were a characteristic of the ancient Greece (Powell 1996). Further, the Assessment of these mythologies aids a more profound understanding of the form of civilization that characterized the ancient Greece, besides playing a huge part in the appreciation of the actual practice of myth-making (Campbell 1964). Greek mythology is personified clearly in a huge compilation of narratives and completely in such figurative arts as votive gifts and vase-paintings. Besides offering an explanation as regards the origin of the world, the Greek myths also offer facts on the adventures and lives of different gods and heroes (Powell 1996).
Mythical narration occupies a central role in virtually all the different kinds of the Greek literature. Mythical narration plays an important role in nearly every genre of Greek literature. On the other hand, the only broad mythographical manual to endure the antiquity of the Greeks happens to be the Pseudo-Apollodorus library. This library attempts to bring together the conflicting accounts of the poets and presents an imposing outline of customary Greek mythology, as well as heroic legends (Rouse 1937).
The odyssey, and Iliad- the epic poems- are but some of the oldest known literary sources of the Greeks. Archaeological proof is a key basis of detail regarding Greek mythology, with heroes and gods prominently being attributed to a majority of the decorated artifacts. In Theogony (Greek for ‘origin of the gods’), Homer has presented the fullest explanation of the original Greek myths, that talks about the world’s creation. On the other hand, another literary source of the Greek mythology is the ‘Titans and Giants’, which helps explain elaborate folktales, descendants and myths on etiology (Rouse 1937).
Another source is ‘Hesiod’s works and days’. This is an informative poem that explains farming life, while also explicitly clarifying Pandora and Prometheus myths, as well as the four ages . The poet has also attempted to offer some advice to the readers on how best to thrive an unsafe world made even more unsafe by the gods of this world (2). Moreover, myth was fundamental to traditional Athenian drama. The dreadful writers Euripides, Sophocles and Aeschylus sourced the plots of their plays from both the Trojan War, as well as the heroes age (Vernant 1991).
More often than not, the age of gods has especially appealed to the contemporary myth scholars. Nevertheless, the Greek writers of the classical and ancient ages had a more refined inclination towards the age of heroes. For instance, the heroic Odyssey and Iliad have made the Homeric Hymns and Theogony appear small, both in terms of popularity and size. Thanks to influences from Homer, the cult of the heroes has led to reorganization in the spiritual life, as has been articulated in the disconnection of the sphere of the gods from the heroes’ sphere (Powell 1996).
Hesiod, in ‘the works of days’, has utilized the four races of man, that is the golden, the silver race, the bronze age, and finally, the iron age. The ages are a representation of the gods’ distinct creations. As such, Cronus’ reign fall under the golden age, while the creation of Zeus falls under the silver age. The Heroes age falls under the Bronze Age, while the age of iron is when Hesiod lived. Hesoiud has regarded the Iron Age as being the worst of the four ages, as has been explained by the prevailing evils in the myth of Pandora (Vernant 1991).
For students of the Greek mythology, it is not unusual to view the Greek gods as frivolous, capricious and at times, immoral actors. As such, one would often hold a supposition that the Greek gods may not after all be all that heroic. If addition, such a scholar would also view them wanting of the expected form of seriousness often possessed by a god (Vernant 1991). While there could be some amount of truth in all this, this does not in any way reveal the full picture of these gods of the Greeks. To emphasize this point, it would be important to note here that for the Greeks of the ancient times, the gods were not held in the same regard as say; the Americans have come to think about their God.
According to the customary Christian-Judeo point of perspective, God is view at as being omnipotent, omnipresent, and the foundation of moral decency. To the Greeks however, their gods were seen as being much more knowledgeable, insightful, but not so markedly powerful than humans. Furthermore, the most distinguishing quality of the Greek gods is power, as opposed to goodness (Powell 1996).
Given that power is often the defining basis of a god; it then follows that a Greek god should be a symbol of a given force, or even a form of action. For this reason, Aphrodite represents lust and love, Ares reigned supreme over the run amok battle, while Zeus is both the power of empathy and thunderbolt. To the rest of us, we might look at the Greek gods as being too much of human, on the basis of their behaviors. We see them getting angry out of some very minor insults. They are also carried away by their lust, as in the case of Aphrodite, Zeus and Ares. In addition, the Greek gods rob each other, like in the case of Hermes, while others have been portrayed as getting themselves involved in some very trivial disputes, as in the case of Hera and Zeus (Campbell 1964).
Furthermore, the gods of the Greeks not only appear to the humans, they also tend to blend with them, at times hindering or even helping them out. Some have even been portrayed as having made love to the humans. Although the picture painted thus far is that of a god who in all likelihoods, is a representation of a man, on the whole, the Greek gods are not exactly like man (Vernant 1991). For starters, the bodies of men get old and later dies. In addition, the bodies of men are in a constant need of nourishment, rest, and replenishment. On the other hand, the Greek gods are seen to be the occupants of a body that experiences no death. In addition, they tend to maintain their beauty and young ages.
Humans have always harbored the intention of becoming like gods, in terms of both beauty and power. In extreme cases, as exhibited by the Achilles and Helen, the portraying of excessive behavior may eventually turn out to be godlike. When these behaviors pass a certain limit, they result in pride and arrogance. Owing to their powerful nature in relation to the humans, the gods of the Greeks may tend to commit rape and incest (Vernant 1991).
On the other hand, the humans may not surpass this set limit. When the Greek humans have exceeded such limits, then they are seen as having committed a fault. It is the same case when the humans also attempt to mock their gods. Even though the gods are do not suffer death, they are however prone to a definite type of fate. For instance, Apollo is charged with the responsibility of being the gods of healing and plague, singing and also prophecy.
For the present day human being, viewing human life in the context of religion, fate and the afterlife may appear to be more of optimism. However, this is not how the Greeks saw it. The Greeks had long resigned to the fact that a larger portion of life is both insubstantial and frail, recognizing that even with the best intentions, one is bound to fail.Nevertheless such likelihood could fail to happen in the event that the Greeks believed that such an endeavor was capable of being enhanced. The behaviors that have often characterized the Greek gods may appear quite strange to the rest of us, but the Greeks had long come to accept and accommodate them, thus justifying an argument that they were firm believers of the Greek mythology.
- Campbell, Joseph. The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology. New York: Viking- Penguin, 1964.
- Powell, Barry. “Classical myth” , 5 th edition. New York: prentice hall, 1996
- Rouse, W. Homer. The Odyssey : translation. New York, NAL 1937.
- Vernant, Jean-Pierre. “ Mortals and Immortals: Collected Essays” . Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991.
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Greek mythology, a body of myths and teachings that belong to the ancient Greeks, contains a rich narrative of gods, heroes, and the human condition. Essays on Greek mythology could delve into the exploration of major myths, the Greek pantheon, and the significance of mythological figures in ancient Greek society. Discussions might also explore the influence of Greek mythology on Western culture, its reflection on human nature, and its representation in literature, art, and modern media. Moreover, analyzing the symbolic meanings, the moral lessons, and the enduring fascination with Greek mythology can provide a rich understanding of its substantial impact on storytelling and cultural discourse. A vast selection of complimentary essay illustrations pertaining to Greek Mythology you can find at Papersowl. You can use our samples for inspiration to write your own essay, research paper, or just to explore a new topic for yourself.
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