It’s no secret that the Greek culture is one that has stood the test of time. The magical world of the ancient Greek Gods revolved around wars, bickering, fights, fear, fun, love, and punishment, all rolled into one. As a result, a myriad of myths came about, collectively termed as Greek mythology.
Greek mythology is the collective name for an intriguing, yet complex set of stories that pave the way for us to pierce through the fabric of reality and peek into the other side. They were based on the fact that Gods, like mortal men, were rewarded for their actions or faced the repercussions of them. While some believe that these stories are fictitious, we think that myths unveil the truth. After all, there’s no smoke without fire.
Nonetheless, it’s easy to get lost in the sea of Greek mythology tales, given the multitude of narratives, with each having various versions.
With that being said, let’s delve into some of the best ancient Greek myths for kids and adults. Read on!
1. Charybdis and Scylla
On both ends of a thin sea stretch, sit monsters. On one end, Scylla lies in wait, thrashing around her six snakeheads, ready to pounce on any passing sailor.
On the other end is Charybdis that’s ready to trap anyone in its path with a dangerous whirlpool. While no one has ever encountered these beasts and escaped unscathed, the king, Odysseus and his men must meet them on their way home.
To evade Charybdis’ trap, the king and his team are tasked with edging around the spiraling sea. Things get even more impressive when they concurrently must avoid Scylla, who’s waiting in the wings to gobble them up.
Unfortunately, she pounces on six men as Odysseus leads the pack out of the deadly passage. He bravely manages to get them out of harm’s way as they embark on their journey home.
2. Minotaur and Theseus
Minotaur, who is half-man and half-bull, is lurking in an underground labyrinth, eagerly anticipating his next meal; children that are sacrificed to him. And, the stakes are high for the children that are lost in the maze.
However, in an exciting turn of events, Theseus, the brave king, is tired of living in fear and decides to take matters into his own hands. Joined by a group of people, he prepares to fight Minotaur that has invaded his land.
One day, upon hearing the beast breathing nearby, the king and his men make their move by springing towards it. While dodging the Minotaur’s deadly horns, the king thrusts his sword into it, which kills it in a jiffy.
But, will the crew find their way out? Fortunately, Theseus unwinds a piece of string as he traverses through the labyrinth and leads the children to safety.
There’s a deadly serpent with nine heads, known as the Hydra, lurking in the swamp. Heracles, the son of Zeus, is tasked with killing it to gain immortality. So, he decides to hurl burning spears at the serpent. But, it won’t go down without a fight.
Therefore, while Heracles uses a club to attack the serpent’s heads, others grow in their place, quickly overpowering him. His friend jumps to his defense with a flaming torch and finally destroys the Hydra.
4. Perseus and Medusa
Medusa, a hideous beast, has frightening tusks and snakes in place of hair. Anyone that glances at it is turned into stone, in a jiffy.
To impress his king, Perseus takes on the challenge to slay Medusa. He dons a helmet that makes him invisible then creeps up on the beast while she’s sleeping.
However, one glimpse at her face and he’d turn into a statue. So, he glares at her harmless reflection in his shiny shield before beheading her in the blink of an eye. Triumphant, Perseus then flies away on his winged sandals.
5. Pegasus and Bellerophon
With a goat’s body, a lion’s head, and a serpent for a tail, Chimera is a frightening beast. Bellerophon has been chosen by the king to destroy this beast.
As he soars above Chimera on a Pegasus, Bellerophon fires arrows at it. He then layers one of his spears with lead, which thrusts into the Chimera and instantly kills it.
6. The Amazons
A tribe of female warriors known as the Amazons lived in Themiscyra. Displaying remarkable bravery and strength, they defeated countless men in battle. Penthesilia, one of the Amazon queens, is believed to have been part of the Trojan War, a mythical battle between the Spartans and Greeks.
7. King Augeas of Elis
One of Hercules’ 12 laborers was tasked with cleaning the stables of King Augeas of Elis. The king promised to pay him the value of one-tenth of his cattle once he completed the task.
However, in a twist of events, Augeas went back on his word and refused to pay the laborer. Enraged by the king not holding up to his end of the bargain, Hercules declared war on the city of Elis. After winning the war, Hercules organized a festival in the bordering town of Olympia to commemorate his victory and pay homage to Zeus, his almighty father.
8. The Oracle at Delphi
In an attempt to find the center of the universe, Zeus released two enormous eagles to fly in opposite directions. The center of the universe would then be the exact location at which the two eagles cross paths.
As the story goes, the eagles reunited over central Greece at the town of Delphi. To commemorate this discovery, the Ancient Greeks set up a temple on Mt. Parnassus that sits just outside the city. The temple became one of the most sacred sites in the ancient era.
9. Patronage of Athens
Athena and Poseidon were competing to become the patron god of Athens when it was a newly-founded city. The competition entailed presenting a gift to Cecrops, the mythical king of Attica. The king would then judge the best gift between that of Athena and Poseidon that would benefit Athens.
Poseidon gave the people a spring that unfortunately turned out to be useless saltwater. Athena, on the other hand, gave the city an olive tree that the king deemed as the better gift. She was then declared the patron, and in her honor, the city was named Athens.
With two meanings, namely ‘giver of barley’ and ‘mother earth,’ Demeter was a Greek goddess of not only nature but also cultivation. The implications of her name stem from the belief that she taught humanity the art of cultivating grain.
As a result, she was also regarded as the bread giver. So, without her blessing, nothing improved, and people starved to death. As opposed to dwelling in Olympus, Demeter chose to spend most of her time with her daughter, Persephone, roaming the earth.
Commonly known as Tyche, she was the Greek goddess of fortune, fate, and chance. She was the marker of not only the negative aspects of these characteristics but also the positive ones.
Ancient Greeks regarded her as the force behind the good and the bad occurrences in their lives. For instance, if someone became successful in their life without much effort, it was assumed that they were showered with blessings from Tyche.
On the other hand, if someone toiled but didn’t achieve success, then it was presumed that Tyche was responsible. Tyche was the daughter of Tethys and Oceanus and was popularly worshipped in Athens. As a result, Athenians believed she favored their city.
In a country surrounded by water, Poseidon, the God of the sea, is at the forefront. And, he had two brothers, Hades and Zeus. Being the protector of all waters, it’s no surprise that sailors looked up to him for safe voyages. Therefore, as an act of faith, sacrifices in the form of horses were made before any trip.
The exciting part is that Poseidon owned a palace that sat on the ocean floor and was solely designed from coral and gems. However, he spent most of his time at Mt. Olympus. While Poseidon was so powerful that his trident could cause an earthquake, he still had his flaws. For instance, his moody nature caused him to have an unstable temperament, which consequently resulted in violence.
He was not only the God of fire but also a jack of all trades specializing in stone masonry, metalworking, and forged the art of sculpture. As the son of Hera and Zeus, Hephaestus became the husband of Aphrodite to prevent a battle among the gods fighting for her hand in marriage. While he crafted an array of weapons for the gods, Hephaestus owned a place in Olympus where he came up with a barrage of ingenious inventions.
Modern Greece is rich in mythology. The above myths are just a fraction of the best Ancient stories of war, goddesses, gods, love, failure, and human victory, all deeply rooted in Greece’s culture. And, just like they did thousands of years ago, they continue shaping the country today.