Questions tagged [greek]

For questions about Greek mythology and legends from ancient Greece to the present day.

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When and how did the Greek mythos transfer to the Romans?

It seems that there are a great many similarities between Roman and Greek Mythology. In fact, many people consider them synonymous and only really differ in the names. For example: Greek ⇄ Roman Zeus ...
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43 votes
3 answers
96k views

What is the difference between a God and a Titan?

In Greek mythology, the words "Titan" and "God" seem to be used interchangeably. For example, Zeus is a God, but Cronus (his father) was a Titan. So what is the difference between a Titan and a God in ...
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42 votes
4 answers
21k views

Why does looking at Medusa with a mirror work?

Medusa is known for being so ugly that if men even look at her face, they would immediately be turned into stone statues. Perseus was somehow able to overcome this challenge of killing her by looking ...
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37 votes
4 answers
5k views

Why were there exactly 12 main Olympian Gods?

Did the ancient Greeks believe that the number 12 symbolized everything? Was it random that there were 12 Olympian gods and no more (or less)?
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35 votes
3 answers
82k views

Why was it a good thing that hope remained in Pandora's box?

One thing has always confused me about the story of Pandora. When she opened her box (or jar, whatever), all sorts of evil things escaped outside the box, and this is why we have evil in the world now....
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32 votes
3 answers
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Why did Zeus assume so many different forms for seduction?

The character of Zeus is well-known for seducing many women, both human and goddesses. In many of these stories, Zeus assumes a form other than his true self. The most famous is perhaps Leda - it is ...
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27 votes
2 answers
2k views

Was the Minotaur a single being, or a race?

In the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur, we know that the Minotaur dwelled at the center of the maze built by Daedalus. However, the creature itself (part man, part bull) doesn't appear to show up ...
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27 votes
1 answer
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Why did Charon collect a toll at the River Styx

Charon is known as the ferryman of the River Styx, letting certain people cross the river with a fee. Charon himself is well known for helping many significant heroes in multiple Greek legends. He ...
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26 votes
3 answers
6k views

Who worshipped the Titans?

According to Greek mythology, there was a mythical time known as the Golden Age where the Titans ruled and the gods of Olympus didn't exist. Were there any real cultures that actually worshipped the ...
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26 votes
2 answers
4k views

How did Athena keep from being turned into stone by her shield?

After Perseus killed Medusa, he gifted her head to Athena, who mounted it on a shield and used it in battle to turn her enemies into stone. How did she keep herself from being turned into stone by ...
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26 votes
1 answer
1k views

What differences were there in Greek soldiers worship of Ares and Roman soldiers worship of Mars?

I am looking for a comparison/contrast of war gods. (Feel free to mention other deities in your answer if they are relevant or helpful in explaining) Considering their direct linkage I am curious to ...
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25 votes
5 answers
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What was Plato's inspiration for the Atlantis myth?

Did an island actually sink in ancient Greece, due to a volcanic eruption or some other cataclysmic event perhaps? Was it completely wiped off the map by a tsunami? Did Plato base his story on fact ...
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24 votes
2 answers
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Why was Medusa the only mortal of the Gorgons?

As far as I understood the myth of Medusa, she was punished by Athena (either for letting herself being raped by Poseidon or for succumbing to Poseidon's woes). Her sisters, Euryale and Stheno (all ...
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24 votes
1 answer
433 views

Why is Athena considered the goddess of both fighting and craft skills?

In all the Olympic Pantheon, Athena was revered as goddess of many things: she is a warrior, representing the "noble" part of war, but she is also the goddess of "feminine arts", like weaving. How ...
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23 votes
3 answers
6k views

Who held the celestial sphere before Atlas?

After Zeus defeated Kronos, all Titans on the losing side were punished. Atlas in particular was tasked with holding the celestial sphere for all eternity. When Herakles later meets him, it's ...
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23 votes
1 answer
752 views

Were any Buddhist narratives ever folded into the myths of the Greeks, or vice versa?

The cultural exchange between the Greeks (under Alexander, at first) and the Buddhists of northwestern India is known to have had impacts on both parties. I'm aware of some theological influences, at ...
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22 votes
1 answer
528 views

Did the Greeks build temples for all of the children of Cronus?

I know that the Ancient Greeks built temples for a lot of the children of Cronus, such as the Temple of Zeus and the Temple of Hera. Were temples built for all of the children of Cronus, or were they ...
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22 votes
3 answers
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What did Danae want?

It's well known the story of Acrisius and Danae; Acrisius wants male children, and the oracle says he won't have any, but he'll have a grandson who kills him. So he locks Danae up in a prison, and ...
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22 votes
1 answer
3k views

What happened to Medusa's sisters?

It is fairly well known that Medusa, the snake-headed Gorgon, had two sisters, Stheno and Euryale. While the story of Medusa is concluded when Perseus beheads her, in modern retellings and versions, ...
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22 votes
1 answer
165 views

Where can I find the earliest literary compendium for the Greek Pantheon?

I know that much of Greek mythology was passed on by word of mouth but someone must have been the first to collect this in one source. What was that Compendium and is there a version available in ...
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21 votes
4 answers
3k views

Who invented writing, or who taught writing to the mortals, according to Greek myths?

There are legends in several mythologies about who invented writing, or a particular writing system (script). For example, the futhark runes used to write Norse were invented by the god Odin, and ...
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21 votes
2 answers
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Who gave Hermes his winged shoes?

Many tools and weapons were given to the gods as gifts in order to perform their daily tasks. However there is no mention about how Hermes got his fabled shoes. So were they crafted or given as a gift?...
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21 votes
3 answers
1k views

Hephaestus and Medusa had a son named Cacus. How was Hephaestus shielded from being turned to stone?

Hephaestus and Medusa had a son named Cacus. Cacus was the son of Hephaestus and Medusa. Inheriting the properties of fire from his father and monstrousness from his mother, Cacus was a fire-...
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21 votes
3 answers
704 views

Is there a canonical ending to the story of Antigone?

As I understand it, it was common practice for a playwright to retell a well-known story with the details changed to suit the playwright's needs. A tidy way to avoid a lot of tedious exposition. In ...
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21 votes
4 answers
25k views

What is the difference between Hecate, Selene, Artemis, and Phoebe?

I always thought that Artemis was the Goddess of the Moon (and Hunting, stags, etc.)... until I thought about how there's Helios/Apollo which caused me to learn about Selene. But further research ...
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21 votes
3 answers
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What is the importance of the number seven in mythology and religion?

Similar question Why is 12 such a holy number? 7 is one of the most important number in history. It would be hard to ignore : The seven days of the week The seven deadly sins The lucky 7 The seven ...
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21 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why did Dionysus change his mother's name?

Semele was the mortal mother of Zeus' son Dionysus. She was tricked by the jealous Hera and she ends up dying. Dionysus survived, but when he grew older, he was concerned for his mother and ...
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20 votes
3 answers
5k views

Did any Greek mythological hero father a son who surpassed him in fame?

I can't think of any case of a Greek mythological hero having a son who achieved more fame, glory and "heroic status" than him. Looking the descendency of Perseus, Heracles, Theseus, Jason, Achilles, ...
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20 votes
3 answers
7k views

In the Odyssey, why didn't Penelope simply turn away her suitors?

If I remember the story correctly, Penelope spends over a decade telling her suitors that she will choose one of them as a husband some day, but continues inventing elaborate reasons why she cannot ...
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20 votes
2 answers
18k views

Why is rape featured so prominently in Greek mythology?

This question may be a little controversial so try to keep your answers as academically as possible. (take an example from @DukeZhou ) If on the subject general answers are also accepted I am familiar ...
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  • 4,001
20 votes
1 answer
897 views

Was there a cult of Hercules in Germania?

Publius Cornelius Tacitus in his De Origine et situ Germanorum tells us that 1st century Germanic tribes worshipped Hercules: They say that Hercules, too, once visited them; and when going into ...
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19 votes
2 answers
812 views

Who created the Primordials?

According to Hesiod's Theogony, at first there was Chaos; from Chaos came Eros and Tartarus, Erebus and Aether; from Aether came Gaia; and from Gaia came Uranus, Ourea and Pontus. Who created Chaos? ...
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19 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is Robert Graves' Greek Myths considered trustworthy?

Robert Graves wrote the widely published book Greek Myths. I have heard that classicists dispute that his account of the myths is valid1, in the sense that either: Graves' editing, translation and ...
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18 votes
3 answers
5k views

Is it Lucifer or Venus?

Which deity, according to Greek and Roman mythology, is represented by the planet that we call Venus? Is it the goddess Venus (Aphrodite in Greek) or is someone named Lucifer?
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18 votes
1 answer
6k views

Who translated the Iliad or the Odyssey to Latin first?

Who was the first person to translate part or all of Homer's works, the Iliad and/or the Odyssey, to Latin? Have these translations survived to current times? My original motivation for the question ...
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18 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why is the ferry toll for Charon placed in the dead person's mouth?

In Greek mythology, the deceased pays a ferryman, Charon, to take them across the river Styx. Apparently this reflects a common custom in the funeral rites of antiquity. Sometimes, though not always, ...
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17 votes
5 answers
15k views

How did Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades decide who would rule what?

From Wikipedia article on Hades: Zeus got the sky, Poseidon got the seas, and Hades received the underworld, the unseen realm to which the souls of the dead go upon leaving the world as well as any ...
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  • 3,403
17 votes
5 answers
31k views

Achilles and his gold?

In the song "Something Just Like This," by Coldplay and the Chainsmokers, there's a line that says: I've been reading books of old The legends and the myths. Achilles and his gold, Hercules ...
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  • 1,232
17 votes
2 answers
1k views

Was Talos an intelligent machine?

I've been playing "The Talos Principle". In it, Talos is presented as a symbolic representation of an intelligent artificial being (a robot, if you're feeling less pretentious). The bronze giant ...
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  • 9,108
17 votes
2 answers
901 views

Why would Hades visit a battlefield?

Hades, apparently, was present in the battlefield when Hercules besieged Pylos: And so suffered monstrous Hades even as the rest a bitter arrow, when this same man, the son of Zeus that beareth the ...
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17 votes
2 answers
5k views

How and why was Talos killed?

In Greek mythology there was this ancient robot like (or god like) creature named Talos who was responsible for protecting Crete. In the Image above we can see depicted the death of Talos. But who ...
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17 votes
2 answers
497 views

Were there some differences in mythology between the different city-states?

I have always wondered how the Greek city-states managed to keep the same mythology before they got united into the same country. There seems to be no central authority to maintain the beliefs (it is ...
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  • 369
17 votes
1 answer
691 views

Was there a significant transformation of the Heracles mythos from Homeric times to classical times?

Homer, in book 5 of the Iliad, tells us that during his expedition against Neleus of Pylos (Poseidon's son), Heracles won battles against Poseidon and Apollo, and managed to wound Hera and Hades with ...
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16 votes
3 answers
2k views

Greek/Roman Mermaids

The Greeks and Romans had stories about mermaids and various other half man half fish beings. What creatures are they referring to? If it isn't a creature but more of a "fishing tale" then when was ...
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  • 2,309
16 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the River Styx?

The River Styx is mentioned quite a lot when a Greek hero meets his demise. However is this really a body of water in Hades? Is it made out of something else? What is the River Styx?
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16 votes
2 answers
552 views

Why were the Greek Gods on Olympus?

It's a well known fact that the Greek Gods resided in the fabled mountain of Olympus. However most mythology was created based on factual stories that have been twisted or altered. Why is Mount ...
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  • 2,309
16 votes
2 answers
693 views

Why was the Minotaur enclosed in a labyrinth and not in jail of some sort?

Is there a specific reason the Minotaur was kept in a labyrinth instead of a normal jail? If not mentioned in the original writings, are there any speculations as to why go through the trouble of ...
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  • 387
16 votes
2 answers
2k views

Was Poseidon actually jealous of Zeus?

In Age of Mythology, there is a lot of fairly accurate background info on all the Gods and lore present in the game. Obviously the story itself is fabricated, but is based around accurate lore. It's ...
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  • 267
16 votes
2 answers
747 views

How were Athena and Ares worshipped in relation to war?

Ares and Athena are both gods of war. About Athena: Athena is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, mathematics, strength, war strategy, the arts, crafts, and ...
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16 votes
1 answer
997 views

What exactly did Apollo do with respect to the Sun?

My understanding is that Helios (a Titan) was actually the one who drove the Sun Chariot across the sky every day. But why, then, was Apollo the god of the Sun? Am I correct in this understanding? ...
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