There’s a whole world hidden in our stories and mythos of the ancient world. A vibrant world, with people, Gods, and mythical creatures. All too familiar, yet very different.
One of the cultures that have truly stood the test of time is that of the Greeks. A nation, rather, a collective of people who shared a common language.
Greek mythology is a complicated and fascinating set of stories that can help us pierce through the fabric of reality and take a peek at the other side.
Some people say it’s just fiction. We believe it’s more than that. We believe that myths reveal the truth.
Unfortunately, if one dares to dive into the vast sea of tales of Greek mythology without guidance, he or she will find themselves lost.
So many stories. So many narratives and different versions. Where does it end?
That’s why we’ve created the Big List of Greek Mythology, a mythical dictionary if you will.
You can simply scroll down and find the most important, in our opinion, stories.
|Zeus||Olympian||God of Thunder|
|Hercules||Demi-God||The Labors of Hercules|
|Hera||Olympian||Queen of the Gods|
|Athena||Olympian||Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare|
|Apollo||Olympian||God of the Sun|
|Ares||Olympian||God of War|
|Aphrodite||Olympian||Goddess of Beauty|
|Hephaestus||Olympian||God of Fire|
|Poseidon||Olympian||God of the Oceans|
|Demeter||Olympian||Goddess of Fertility|
|Hermes||Messenger||The Messenger of the Gods|
|Artemis||Olympian||God of the Hunt|
|Hades||God||Lord of the Underworld|
|Dionysus||Olympian||The God of Wine|
|Hestia||Olympian||Goddess of Hearth and Family|
|Asclepius||Hero||God of Medicine|
|Achilles||Hero||The Shield of Achilles|
|Minos||Hero||King of Crete|
|Ariadne||Princess||Princess of Crete|
|Cadmus||Prince||First Greek Hero|
|Amazons||Warrior||Daughters of Ares|
|Icarus||Son of Inventor||The Fall of Icarus|
|Pygmalion||Sculptor||Story of Pygmalion and Galatea|
|King Midas||King||Myth of King Midas|
|Pandora||First Human Woman||The Box of Pandora|
|Titans||Titans||The Titan Wars|
|Daphne||Nymph||The Story of Apollo and Daphne|
|Europa||Human||The Abduction of Europa|
|Niobe||Mother||The Myth of Niobe|
|Eros||God||God of Archery|
|Orpheus||God||The Story of Orpheus and Eurydice|
|Sphinx||Mythical Creature||The Riddle of the Sphinx|
|Echo||Woman||The Story of Echo and Narcissus|
|Nessus||Centaur||Shirt of Nessus|
|Phaeton||God||Son of the God Helios|
|Sisyphus||King||The Myth of Sisyphus|
|Atlas||Titan||Atlas the Titan|
|Milo||Warrior||Milo of Croton|
|Paris||Prince||Judgment of Paris|
The 12 Olympians
At the top of the Greek pantheon sit 12 immortals, ruling over the land and every living creature.
There aren’t many stories where the residents of Mount Olympus aren’t involved, one way or another.
1. Zeus, the God of Thunder
The King of the Gods and father of humanity. Lord of the Sky.
A God that decided to kill his own father, Cronus, and take the reigns of the dodekatheon. An immortal with a distinctive human side, highlighted by passion, sin, and desire.
You’ll find that Zeus (or Δίας) is the catalyst for many of the Greek myths. From transforming to animals and mingling with mortals to starting and stopping wars.
If you want to find out more about the ancestral father of Greeks, check out this post that explains in-depth about the true nature of Zeus.
2. Hera, Queen of the Gods
The better half of Zeus and the protector of marriages.
There are plenty of myths were Hera’s jealousy and machiavellian spirit causes wreck and havoc.
But the interesting part is that there’s evidence she was one of the most important goddesses in pre-Hellenistic periods, with a true cult forming around her.
Some people claim that the union between her and Zeus symbolizes her subordination, reflecting the transition from a matriarchal to a patriarchal society.
Having said that, Hera is one of the most intriguing, powerful, and ancient god-like figures we can observe in the Mediterranean area.
3. Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Warfare
Athena, born from the head of her father Zeus, was the protector of many city-states in ancient Greece.
She assisted many heroes, including Hercules and Odysseus, and she supposedly created the first spider; Arachne.
To this day, we can observe her trace in the capital of Greece, Athens. Many people don’t know this, but the Parthenon is a temple dedicated to her.
Another powerful female goddess that plays an important role in many heroic fables, including the Illiad.
4. Apollo, God of the Sun
A complex figure in Greek (and Roman) mythology.
The inventor of archery, string music, God of dance, healing and the protector of youth. For ancient Greeks, he’s the personification of the divine, taking different shapes and forms throughout the years.
He’s the son of Zeus and commands the Sun.
His mythos highlights the fluidity of Greek mythology and how geographical location and time played a huge role in the representation of the divine.
Asclepius (see “Rod of Asclepius”) was his son.
5. Ares, God of War
Brother of Athena, Ares is the Greek God of War. A personification of violence and brutality -- often manifested on top of a war chariot.
A double-sided character in Greek Mythology, he was both honored and scared by ancient greeks. He was representing physicality, valor, and strategical wit. But also, the very dark side of war; the insatiable hunger for destruction.
His role in the stories is fairly limited though. He appears to be the stereotypical “enemy” who loses from the good guys.
The definitive characteristic is his duality as a “general” vs a gentle “lover” since he was the “εραστής” of Aphrodite.
6. Aphrodite, God of Beauty
Love, passion, and procreation.
The Goddess Aphrodite is one of the most celebrated deities in the world, with many sculptures and paintings still decorating modern museums.
Daughter of Zeus and Dione, she’s the manifestation of immortal and everlasting youth and beauty of the feminine.
Often unfaithful and turbulent, she is love incarnated. Not only that, it’s one of the few deities from ancient religions that are an honest representation of the female sexuality -- without taboos.
7. Hephaestus, God of Fire
“Ηφαίστειο” means volcano. The very nature of the Hephaestus is fire and craftmanship.
One myth suggests he was born with a deformity and was banned from Olympus, by his mother Hera.
Many of the powerful weapons we encounter throughout Greek Mythology, like Achile’s breastplate and Ero’s arrows and bows, were crafted by him.
His mastery is evident by his ability to create automation and give motion to inanimate objects, making the God of Technology.
But his powerful possession is fire, which was stolen by the Titan Prometheus (see the Myth of Prometheus for more).
8. Poseidon, God of the Oceans
In a country surrounded by sea, the God of the Trident is at the forefront.
A powerful God that strikes down whoever insults him and helps everyone who worships him. Poseidon is the ruler of seafarers and the main deity in many city-states.
He plays a big role in Homer’s work, showcasing how important the sea was back then.
The habit of wishing a safe voyage was an act of faith towards Poseidon in ancient Greece, often accompanied by sacrifices (horses) before the trip began.
9. Demeter, Goddess of Fertility
A primordial deity that existed long before the dodekatheon was established.
Demeter highlights the agricultural revolution, as we move away from hunter-gatherer societies.
As a “Thesmoforos” she is the one establishing the law of the land, marking a civilized society.
She and Persephone are the main Goddesses involved in Eleusinian Mysteries. To this day, we don’t know exactly the purpose of this ritual.
It seemed to be a yearly occurrence, performed by an agrarian cult based on the Mycenaen civilization.
10. Hermes, The Messenger of the Gods
The Trickster God.
A mischief figure that protects travellers, commerce, athletes, and thieves!
Hermes evolved as a deity: From a chthonic deity to a fertility God to a God of Boundaries.
His ability to move between the world of the mortals and the underground positioned him as a conductor of souls; guiding them to the underworld.
He continued to transform as the Greeks expanded their territory.
Even to this day, Hermes is regarded as a mystical figure, symbolizing transition, and the rule of the subconscious over the conscious mind.
11. Artemis, God of the Hunt
A strong female deity, a maiden of the woods and the hunt.
Artemis was widely celebrated in Ancient Greece, having one of the seven Wonders of the Ancient World dedicated to her: Artemis’ temple at Ephesus.
She was also the God of childbirth and the protector of young women.
Embodying the wilderness, Artemis punished those who don’t respect animals.
But as with every Greek Mythology God, she has a soft side, choosing to give her heart to Orion -- even though many Gods and mortals tried to claim it before him.
(See “Orion” for more)
12. Hades, Lord of the Underworld
Hades is a prime example of how different our perception of death is compared to ancient cultures.
An altruistic and fair God that seeks to maintain the balance between the dead and the living.
He symbolizes the universality of death and how everyone is equal in his eyes. Mortals and heroes, all will have the same faith: Become guests in his house.
Hades is neither evil nor good. He’s neutral. He’s not concerned with the affairs of the living and he only tends to his house. But if someone tries to escape or cheat him, he’ll unleash his rage!
Many different sources suggest different Gods at the top of Olympus. Some of them include:
13. Dionysus, The God of Wine
The God of Wine might sound like a humble title to possess. Yet, wine, grapes, and vine were very important to Greeks.
It is said that wine, consumed in a fair amount that Dionysus regulated, would ease suffering and even cause divine-like madness.
The stereotypical depiction of “Bacchus” as a drunken God is too simplistic. An “outsider”, a traveller, he freed the Greeks from their self-consciousness and empowered them to topple the powerful.
He was celebrated in festivals and his rituals were supposed to cherish the nature of humans and lead them towards a closer relationship with their true self.
Every time you raise a glass of wine, you honor him!
14. Hestia, Goddess of Hearth and Family
“The word 'hearth' shares its ancestry with 'heart', just as the modern Greek for 'hearth' is kardia, which also means 'heart'... The essential meaning of centrality that connects them also reveals the great significance of the hearth to the Greeks and Romans, and consequently the importance of Hestia, its presiding deity.”
Family, household, the state. Hestia is the “common” God. It was honored by everyone as a matter of habit since the first offering at every sacrifice in the household was given to her.
She wasn’t as prominent in Greek mythology as one would expect but she was worshipped in every city-state. Her temple was the hearth of the Prytaneion.
The Olympic flame, to this day, is burning at her altar during the Olympic games.
If you’re enjoying this and you want to learn even more about Greek Mythology, we recommend a fascinating book by Stephen Fry: Mythos
Myths and stories, told in a clever and whimsical way by a Greek aficionado with a deep love and interest for the subject.
Don’t miss out!
The 27 Most Important Fables In Greek Mythology
1. Iliad (Trojan Wars)
A tale about the war between Greece and Troy for the eyes of Helen.
Homer, inspired by a real war between Sparta and Troy that happened 300 years before his time, wrote a poem detailing the events of the last 2 weeks of the war.
Gods, demigods, powerful generals, love, passion, violence, and deception.
The underlying themes -- pride, rage, hybris, etc -- became the foundational literary tools used frequently by novelists of the 19th and 20th century.
A true epic in every sense of the word, Iliad is a source of abundant information about the culture, mythology, and spirit of the ancient Greeks.
In the “sequel” to Iliad, Homer continues to artfully sketch the values of humans and their relationship with the divine.
After helping the Greeks to win the Trojan Wars, Odysseus seeks to return to his kingdom and home, Ithaca.
The journey takes him 20 years and he ends up facing many challenges along the way that will test his wit, resilience, and loyalty.
Odysseus is the defacto cultural hero of the Greeks, representing the unconventional hero who uses his mind to achieve his goals. A testament to how much they valued ingenuity and progress.
(“Iliad” and “Odyssey” will provide you with a panoptic view of the ancient Greeks and their culture. If you want to read the original texts, this and this book )
3. Jason and The Argonauts
Another epic adventure, following the steps of Homer.
Jason sent to an impossible mission to retrieve the Golden Fleece. Gathering heroes from all around Greece, he forms a “suicide squad” and embarks on his own Odyssey.
Following the Hero’s Journey narrative, he and his crew will face many challenges. After a trip filled with trials, Jason ends up doing the impossible but pays a heavy price.
A story that seems very similar to Odyssey, yet it encapsulates the mystery that surrounded the unknown back then and the power of knowledge.
But one of its qualities that truly stands out is the love between hero and heroine and the passion that acts as a double-edged sword for Jason.
4. The Labyrinth (Minotaur and Theseus)
Half-man, half-bull, the Minotaur was a mythical creature hidden deep at the center of a vast labyrinth in Knossos, Crete.
Athens had to send 7 young men every 7 years in the labyrinth in order to appease the Gods for killing King Minos' son.
Theseus, in an attempt to end this, he enters the labyrinth to kill the monster.
We find that this time, instead of divine intervention, our hero finds help from a mortal; the very daughter of King Minos.
The “Thread of Ariadne” will play a major role in helping Theseus escape the labyrinth.
An allegorical tale of facing your deepest fears and finding your own way
“He enters a labyrinth, he multiplies by a thousand the dangers already inherent in the very act of living, not the least of which is the fact that no one with eyes will see how and where he gets lost and lonely and is torn limb from limb by some cave-Minotaur of conscience.”
5. Perseus and Medusa
Similar to Theseus and the Minotaur, Perseus embarks on a suicide mission: bring the head of Medusa back to his King.
Medusa was a gorgon, a monster-like creature with the face of a beautiful maiden. Anyone who’d look at her was turned into stone.
A common theme in these heroic tales is the fact that the protagonist has to use a lot more than his muscles and strength. He has to use his wits.
Perseus is equipped with a shield that will help him see the reflection of Medusa, without looking directly at her face.
6. The Amazons
A race of female warriors, daughters of Ares the God of War.
Ancient Greeks faced them numerous times; Trojan wars, Amazonomachy, the Labors of Hercules, etc.
Even though men weren’t allowed in their ranks, the tribe would come in contact with men once a year. The baby girls were kept by the Amazons but the boys were either killed or sent back to their father.
Greeks had many different names for them, most of which described them as men slayers.
The Amazons are part of the Greek Mythology, but there’s evidence suggesting they did exist. A nomadic, matriarchal society of Scythians.
7. The Fall of Icarus
One of the most famous fables of Greek Mythology.
It explains in-depth the concept of “hubris” and how it manifests.
Icarus and his father Daedalus -- the one who designed the aforementioned Labyrinth -- attempted to escape Crete using wings made out of wax.
Even though the wise elder advised his son to not fly too high nor too low, Icarus flew too close to the sun and his wings melted.
The theme of “hubris” is often repeated in ancient stories and is associated with actions that violate nature and cause injustices.
8. Pygmalion and Galatea
A love story between a talented sculptor and his creation.
Pygmalion, disappointed by women, sought to create the most beautiful representation of a female; a woman made out of ivory.
He called it Galatea. In his eyes, she was the ultimate, flawless woman. He developed real feelings for her.
His true desire was to be with a woman as perfect as “her”. That’s was his secret wish and Aphrodite made it possible, giving life to the statue.
The concept of “breath of life”, giving life to inanimate objects, is present in many cultures and myths. From Golems to Vedantic philosophy to Pinocchio.
9. King Midas and his golden Touch
A lesson about greed and sacrifice.
The God Dionysus, pleased with King Midas for his hospitality, grants him one wish.
Without much thinking, King Midas chooses the Golden Touch; everything he touches becomes gold.
Soon he realizes his fault. Flowers become golden columns, food becomes nuggets of gold. Even his daughter turns to gold.
Realizing his mistake, he prays to Dionysus to take back his “gift”. The Olympian advises him to wash his hand in the river Pactolus and everything will return to normal.
Wealth was always a controversial subject to Greeks. Riches without wisdom was anathema to them and they always sought a stoic approach to materialism.
10. The Box of Pandora
"Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man"
The adage “a can of worms” is a modernized version of Pandora’s box. A gift that turns out it’s a curse.
In order to punish humanity for disobeying the Gods, Zeus decided to give Pandora a box. He told her that something special was inside but she should never open it.
Naturally curious, Pandora opened the box and when she saw all the evil of this world spawning out of it, she closed it. One thing stayed inside: Hope.
A rather controversial story that has inspired many artists and philosophers.
“Pandora brought the box of ills and opened it. It was the gift of the gods to men, outwardly a beautiful and seductive gift, and called the Casket of Happiness. Out of it flew all the evils, living winged creatures, thence they now circulate and do men injury day and night. One single evil had not yet escaped from the box, and by the will of Zeus Pandora closed the lid and it remained within. Now for ever man has the casket of happiness in his house and thinks he holds a great treasure; it is at his disposal, he stretches out his hand for it whenever he desires; for he does not know the box which Pandora brought was the casket of evil, and he believes the ill which remains within to be the greatest blessing, it is hope.”
11. The Box of Titanomachy
When people read about Greek Mythology, they tend to focus on the 12 Olympians. But before their time, it was the Titans who ruled the world.
Titanomachy is the epic, 10-year battle between the former and the current generation of Gods.
Zeus and his allies were victorious. They imprisoned the Titans to Tartarus and divided the world amongst them.
Most of the epic poems written about this war have been lost. But the remaining references describe it as a defining moment for humanity, recognizing the importance of freedom and natural order.
12. Apollo and Daphne
The beautiful, evergreen, bay laurel tree is called “Δαφνη” in Greek. A reminder of Apollo’s love for Daphne.
After the God of Archery made fun of Eros (Cupid) for his small bow, the winged God of Love decided to teach Apollo a lesson.
He struck him with a golden arrow that made him fall desperately in love in Daphne. The second arrow, made out of lead, hit Daphne and made her hate Apollo.
The nymph kept rejecting and running away from him. She cried to her father (Peneus) to help her get rid of her beauty and her form that has caused her so much suffering.
She transformed into a tree. But Apollo loved her eternally. So, he made her evergreen.
13. The Abduction of Europa
Zeus has a long history of mating with mortals, but the Abduction of Europa is perhaps his most famous love story. After all, the continent of Europe was named after her.
It is said that Europa was the most beautiful woman on Earth. Upon gazing her, Zeus decided to transform into a white bull and mix in with her father’s herd.
On the shores of Phoenicia, Europa approached the bull, curious about its beauty. Seeing how tame the bull was, she decided to hop on its back.
At that moment, Zeus runs off to Crete where he returned to his normal form and mated with her.
One of their son, called Minos, was the King of Knossos and a whole civilization took his name; the Minoan civilization.
14. The Myth of Niobe
A tragic story that further explores the concept of “hubris” and the brutality of the Gods.
Niobe, a mother of 7 brothers and 7 sisters, attended a ceremony held in honor of Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis.
She started bragging about her 14 kids, implying she’s superior to Leto because she had only 2 kids. Enraged for insulting their mother, the twins descended on Earth and killed Niobe’s family in a matter of seconds.
This slaughter left Niobe alone and devastated. She cried day and night. Zeus felt sorry for her and he transformed her into a rock, hard and emotionless. But rock started pouring water, Niobe’s tears.
15. Eros and Psyche
A love story that transcended mortality.
Psyche (soul) was so beautiful, people started neglecting the Goddess Aphrodite. Being jealous, she commanded her son Eros (Cupid or Love) to shoot his arrows and deprive men of their desires.
But Eros fell in love with Psyche and he leads the God Apollo to give her a false prophecy; the man she’ll fall in love with will be an ugly monster.
Eros and Psyche would meet only at night. She couldn’t see his face, but she was very happy.
Soon, people started poisoning her relationship, saying that someone who wouldn’t show his face could be dangerous. She better kill him first before he attempts to.
And she did try. But Eros revealed himself -- heartbroken.
In order to make up for her betrayal, Psyche would have to pass 3 challenges that will eventually lead to eternal love.
16. Orpheus and Eurydice
Another story that highlights the sacrificial nature of love.
The God Apollo gives a majestic lyre to his son Orpheus. His songs could move immortals and tame the vilest beasts.
Orpheus falls in love and marries Eurydice. But their happiness doesn’t last, because she is bitten by a snake and goes to the Underworld.
Orpheus decides to descend and bring back his love. With the power of his music and the protection of the Gods, he manages to move past Cerberus and arrives at the Stygian realm.
Hades decides to let him take Eyridce with him, only if he doesn’t gaze at her until they see the light. But thinking the Gods might trick him, a few steps away from the outside, he turns and looks at the shadow of his wife -- now trapped in the Underworld forever.
Orpheus’ lullaby reminds all the living and dead of his sorrow and grief. Praying to be united with his love, he demands death to come and find him.
And his wish came true.
17. The Danaides
50 daughters to marry 50 sons.
Their father, Danaus, didn’t want this marriage to happen. He equipped his daughters with a knife, instructing them to kill their husbands before the sexual act.
Almost all of them obeyed… except one. Lynceus respected the desire of Hypermnestra to stay a virgin. Together, they killed Danaus and became the rulers of his kingdom.
The rest of the Danaides were punished in the underworld. They had to fill with water a tub with a big hole at the bottom, condemned to the same fate as Sisyphus.
18. Oedipus Rex
Oedipus is a tragic character used in many Greek myths and plays. But many of the details come from the ancient Greek tragedy “Oedipus Rex”.
There was a prophecy that the son of the King of Thebes would kill his father and marry his mother. When Jocasta, the wife of the King, bore a son they decided to send him away.
The boy was adopted by King Polybus of Corinth and his wife.
When he grew up, he heard about the prophecy and decided to never return to Corinth. Fate played a cruel game with him.
Oedipus, before arriving at Thebes, he encountered the King and his true father. After a quarrel, he killed him.
Continuing his travels, he was able to answer the riddle of the monster Sphynx that was tormenting the area and he became the new ruler. And eventually married his mother, the queen and now widow…
Once they realized their mistake, the mother killed herself and Oedipus became blind.
19. The Riddle of the Sphinx
We briefly mentioned the Sphinx in the myth of Oedipus. But let’s take a closer look at the riddle the creature asked him.
“Which creature has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?"
(«Τί εστίν ό μίαν έχον φωνήν τετράπουν και δίπουν και τρίπουν γίνεται;»)
“Which creature crawls in the morning, walks in the afternoon, and lingers in the evening?”
If you could not answer her riddles, she’d devour you. And plenty of men were victims of her until now. Oedipus was smart and answered:
"Man—who crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two feet as an adult, and then uses a walking stick in old age"
At that moment, the Sphinx devoured herself, signifying a change in the natural order. The change from old religious practices that included death and sacrifice to the rise of the Olympians.
20. Echo and Narcissus
Echo, cursed to repeat the last words spoken to her, spotted Narcissus, one of the most beautiful men, in the forest.
She fell in love upon gazing at him. But since she couldn’t express her love, she just followed him from afar.
Narcissus, being separated from his companions, started calling them.
“Is anyone there?”.
And Echo responded: “Is anyone there?”
Eventually, she showered herself but got rejected; Νarcissus was enthralled by his own reflection from the lake.
One was unable to express love and the other was unable to love anyone but himself.
21. Shirt of Nessus
This particular Greek Myth is a common folklore motif involving a poisonous shirt.
The wife of Hercules, fearing he was unfaithful to her, gifts him shirt washed with the blood of the dying centaur Nessus -- it was supposed to keep Hercules committed.
But the half-man half-horse lied to her. His blood contained the venom of Lernaean Hydra from the arrow Hercules used to kill him.
Once the hero put the shirt on, his skin started burning. In order to alleviate the pain, he threw himself on a funeral pyre he had built.
The Shirt of Nessus was a gift that represented the inescapable faith.
22. Phaeton and the Sun Chariot
Phaeton, the son of the God Helios, after arriving at his father’s palace he became enthralled by the idea of riding the Sun Chariot.
But only Helios was able to control the fierce horses and steer the Chariot that carried the Sun. And even he had issues many times during the day.
Phaeton didn’t listen.
Filled with arrogance, he reached the skies. It didn’t take long before he realized this undertaking was beyond his mortal powers.
He failed miserably and the results of his futile attempt created the spiral galaxy, Milky Way.
Zeus was furious, so he struck him down to Earth, in a river.
23. The Myth of Sisyphus
The Myth of Sisyphus was popularized by Albert Camus who wrote an extensive book about this Greek Myth.
King Sisyphus was punished in death by Zeus, mainly because of his arrogance; he thought he was smarter than the God of Thunder himself.
He had to roll a boulder up a steep hill. The only problem was that Zeus made the boulder roll down a few meters before it reached the top.
Sisyphus was eternally condemned to this maddening and meaningless endeavor.
The Myth of Sisyphus is a multilayered story that symbolizes the meaningless of life and how we strive to create order out of chaos.
24. Atlas the Titan
Atlas was one of the Titans that lost in Titanomachy.
Zeus punished him by making him hold the Sky and the celestial spheres.
(We often thought that Atlas was holding the Earth itself, that’s why Atlas is associated with cartography).
He was supposed to hold the heavens forever until someone took it away. The Titan did try to trick the hero Hercules but didn’t succeed.
“Atlas” is speculated to be derived from the word “τλῆναι” that means “uphold”. But the name atlas was also followed by the adjective “ντούρος” that means “enduring”.
The famous book “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand is of course named after him.
25. Milo of Croton
Milo was actually a real person. But his feats of strength created a whole series of legendary stories, showcasing how alive and vibrant mythology was in ancient Greece.
A famous wrestler, Olympic winner, and fierce warrior Milo gained his strength by carrying a small calf on his back until it became a big bull. To this day, the principle of progressive overload is used in modern strength training.
What’s really interesting about his story is the way he died. He spotted a tree with a small crack in the middle. Thinking he was so unbelievably strong, he decided to split it in half.
Unfortunately, he got his hand trapped. Unable to leave, he was later devoured by wolves.
26. Labors of Hercules
Perhaps the most famous hero the one and only Hercules.
His 12 labors are universally known and have been a subject of discussion for many historians, philosophers, and artists.
Driven mad by Hera and killing his children and wife, Hercules decided to ask for forgiveness. He was ordered by God Apollo to serve King Eyrysteus for 12 years.
- Slay the Nemean lion.
- Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra.
- Capture the Ceryneian Hind.
- Capture the Erymanthian Boar.
- Clean the Augean stables in a single day.
- Slay the Stymphalian birds.
- Capture the Cretan Bull.
- Steal the Mares of Diomedes.
- Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta.
- Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon.
- Steal the apples of the Hesperides.
- Capture and bring back Cerberus.
27. Judgment of Paris
Paris, a mortal prince from Troy, was selected to judge Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite for their beauty. The winner would receive a golden apple.
The three Goddesses appeared in front of him and stripped naked. They started bribing him with gifts.
Athena offered him wisdom and fighting skills.
Hera promised to make him the king of Europe and Asia
Aphrodite decided to offer him the most beautiful mortal woman on Earth; Helen of Sparta
Paris decided to give the apple to Aphrodite, winning the heart of Helen and the hate of Spartans and the Goddess Hera.
That lead to the Trojan Wars.
8 Prominent Figures In Greek Mythology
We’ve mentioned the iconic demigod many of times.
It’s undeniable that he’s considered one of the greatest heroes of ancient Greece. The beloved warrior was the son of Zeus and the mortal women Alcmene.
Naturally, Goddess Hera was enraged once again with the unfaithfulness of her husband and she despised his illegitimate offspring.
She attempted to slow down his birth and later send two snakes to kill the baby. But Hercules showed great strength and managed to strangle them.
Later on, he completed the 12 Labors and showed his worth once again.
Hercules remains a symbol of masculinity and strength to this day. But most importantly, his struggle highlights the Hero’s Journey and the importance of overcoming adversity in order to discover oneself.
Prometheus is one of the few Titans who sided with the Olympians during the Titanomachy.
One of the few deities that were a servant of humanity and always cheered for his mortal brothers.
A symbol of human striving, the quest for progress, and science.
Some of his feats include:
- Stealing the fire from the Gods and gifting it to us. As a punishment, he was bound to a rock and an eagle would eat a piece of his liver every day -- which would then grow back overnight.
- Tricking Zeus by giving him bones as a sacrifice and letting people have the flesh of the animals.
- Creating humans out of clay
The Rod of Asclepius remains a symbol of medicine to this day.
Son of the God Apollo and a mortal woman, he was able to use his immense knowledge to cure and even resurrect people.
He studied under his father and the centaur Chiron, but it is said that a snake whispered many secrets about health and medicine in his ear.
But Hade, the God of the Underworld, complained to Zeus that Asclepius was stealing his souls. In order to maintain balance, the God of Thunder stroke down the gifted man with a thunderbolt.
Apollo requested to let Asclepius come to Olympus, so he became the God of Medicine.
In Greek Mythology, Achilles is the greatest of all the Greek warriors.
He’s the main hero of the epic poem Iliad, but his legend is repeated in art, literature, philosophy, and music.
A strong and courageous soldier, but most importantly, a dissident king that went against his counterparts.
He managed to kill Hector of Troy but he was inevitably killed by an arrow hitting him in his heel.
Achilles' body was supposed to be indestructible, except for one small weakness. When his mother dipped him in the River Styx, he was holding him from his heel.
Minos was the son of Zeus and Europa. He became the King of Crete, using the laws he received from his father.
The Minoan civilization takes its name from him.
Every nine years, he made the Athenians send 7 young men and women to be sacrificed to the minotaur in the Labyrinth.
Later on, when he died, he became a judge of the dead in the underworld.
Historians suggest Minos (which means “king” in Cretan) was a real person, who influenced extended to Mycenae and Athens.
The daughter of King Minos and a Cretan princess.
She fell in love with Theseus and helped him escape from the Labyrinth.
When they were traveling together back in Athens, the God Dionysus decided to make her his wife and demanded Theseus would leave her at the island of Naxos.
There, Ariadne bore 3 of the god’s kids.
A few years later, Perseus killed her but Dionysus traveled to the underworld and took them with him to live together with the Gods.
In Greek Mythology, Muses are the physical manifestation of the arts, literature, and science.
They represent poetry, comedy, astronomy, hymns, songs, history, etc. Their leader is the God Apollo.
We can’t say for sure how many of them were but according to Hesiod they were 9:
Each one protecting her domain.
Cadmus is the first Greek hero.
A Phoenician prince that brought the Phoenician alphabet to the greeks and founded the city of Thebes.
Before the time of Hercules, he was the greatest hero and slayer of monsters.
After killing a sacred dragon, dear to God Ares, he was struck by misfortune and prayed that if the Gods loved a serpent so much, they should transform him to one. Immediately he grew scales on his skin.
His descendants ruled Thebes for many many years.
If you want to meet some of these heroes (and more!) check the second book by Stephen Fry: Heroes
A masterful and intriguing account of the great Heroes of Greek Mythology
The Journey just begun…
Hi, this is George from D&M.
I hope this post managed to make you at least curious about Greek Mythology and its fascinating stories and heroes.
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