An Introduction to Greek Mythology

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Why study Greek myths?

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An Introduction Greek Mythology Greek Mythology

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Essential Questions: Why do myths endure? How is Greek mythology evident in our world today? What allusions are there to these stories? What is the origin of Greek mythology?

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What is a myth? A myth is a story, created collectively by a whole people or society over a period of time once believed to be true, that embodies some of the wisdom and truth valued by that society. These stories may help to explain why the world works the way it does, to provide a rationale for customs and observances, to establish set rituals for ceremonies, and to predict what happens to individuals after death. Alert: On the Test!

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Types of myths Cosmic myths Concern creation and the end of the world. Theistic myths Concern gods such as Zeus or Athena. Hero myths Concern individuals such as Heracles, Perseus, and Achilles. Place/Object myths Concern items or places such as the golden fleece; the Trojan war

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Who created myths? Ancient Greeks, Romans, Aztecs, ancient Egyptians, Norse Vikings, North American Indians, Chinese, inhabitants of India—every ancient civilization—developed a system of mythology to explain their world. Many answer questions such as: Who am I? What is this world around me? Why am I here? What is the purpose of life?

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Purposes of Mythology Myths grant continuity and stability to a culture. Myths present guidelines for living. Myths justify a culture’s activities. Myths give meaning to life. Myths explain the unexplainable. Myths offer role models. Alert: On the Test!

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Legacy of the ancient Greeks Greek empire 2500 years ago Science and mathematics: Aristotle, Archimedes System of medicine Philosophy shaped western civilization and thought Arts, drama, poetry, sculpture, literature, architecture Law, government, democracy developed in Athens Military tactics

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Map of ancient Greece Important Cities Mt. Olympus Troy Delphi Thebes Athens Sparta Crete

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Influence of the Romans In the last century before the birth of Christ, the Roman empire expanded and became more powerful than Greece. The Romans were greatly influenced by the Greeks and linked the Greek stories to their own gods until both mythologies were almost the same. Therefore, there are both Latin and Greek names for the gods. For example: Zeus (Greek) is also Jupiter (Roman/Latin).

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The ancient soap opera Storytellers would tell these stories in the theater. This story telling is an example of “oral tradition.” Each time a story was retold, new details would be added. Stories of the Iliad and the Odyssey , both epics of adventure and war, took 24 hours to read. People would bring food and drink and stay for entire performances.

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Why study mythology? Read very interesting, fun, and engaging stories See how less sophisticated people attempted to deal with questions and problems of their world Detect allusions to Greek mythology in writers such as Shakespeare to the present Identify allusions to Greek myths in modern products, vocabulary, and businesses Recognize common archetypes in literature ?