Origins of Greek Mythology

Stewart, Michael. "Origins of Greek Mythology", Greek Mythology: From the Iliad to the Fall of the Last Tyrant. http://messagenet.com/myths/essays/origins.html (June 5, 2005)

Greek Myths are all that’s left of the ancient Greek religion. About 1200 b.c.e., the residents of, what we would call, Greece and Asia Minor shared a common belief in a group of deities that came to be known as The Olympians.

The distillation of the various regional beliefs into a coherent central religion was probably not as tidy and uniform as we would prefer, but it’s fair say that the stories of the Olympians survived because they had the largest number of followers and, most importantly, The Olympians did not forbid or punish the pursuit of knowledge. Beauty, poetry and creative activities are the blessings of The Immortals and are a vital part of the Greek tradition.

Photo Courtesy of Fragments of Time.The Olympians are descended from the primal, self created gods, begining with Kaos. The Olympians are ruled by Zeus. He is the strongest and, as you will see, without him, the other Olympians would still be held captive inside their devious father, Kronos. The Olympians are only a small part of the family of Immortals that rule the earth and sky. The various rivers, mountains and forces of nature are the ‘bodies’ of the Immortals and proper respect must always be shown if you wish to have peace at home and safe passage when you travel.

The ancient texts we call Greek Myths are mostly from the period known as Classical Greece, circa 500 b.c.e. The stories behind the myths are from a much earlier time but written versions don’t exist before Classical times.

The oldest myths can be traced to three main sources: Homer, Hesiod and The Homeric Hymns, circa 800 b.c.e. That means that by the time they were written down, these works had survived 400 years of additions, subtractions and mutations to finally become the versions we now call ‘authentic’. The Greek Myths are our window into the distant past, a view of a world that existed not only in the mind of the Greek poets but in the hearts of the humble and long suffering natives of ancient Greece.