Greek Mythology and its impact on modern society

Published Aug. 27, 2019, 1:40 p.m. by Moderator


Ancients Greeks practiced polytheism like the Egyptian, Hellenic and Persian civilizations. They believed in multiple gods or immortal deities. Greek mythology started to spread through word of mouth during the ‘Dark Ages of War’ that lasted for three centuries a period estimated to have begun in 1125 BC. The greatest and mightiest of the gods lived on Mount Olympus and communicated with their human subjects through oracles and omens. The Oracles were spokespersons who communicated the wishes of the gods; the most famous oracle is the Oracle of Delphi. The gods decided the fate of every man; every facet of an ancient Greek’s life including the outcome of battles and wrestling contests. The stories featured mythical creatures like the one eyed Cyclops, the raging Minotaur’s, Pegasus, the winged horse and Medusa who turned whoever looked at her directly into stone among many others.


                    The myths also had human heroes with super natural abilities; some of these heroes were born through the union of a god or a goddess and a human like Heracles and Perseus the ‘slayer of Medusa’ who were the sons of Zeus, the King of gods; some of the heroes were abandoned as children like Oedipus and Atalanta who were rescued by a kind shepherd in Oedipus’s case and a bear in the latter case. The heroes received great education and were taught by Chiron, the greatest of the centaurs, half man and half horse. Around 750 BCE lived one of the greatest poets named Homer wrote two of his best works; ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’ chronicling the lives of Achilles and Hector in the battle of Troy and the latter is the tale of Odysseus ten years struggle to return to Troy.


                 Contemporary society especially the western civilizations have their deeply rooted ties to ancient Greece; modern languages, industry, arts and culture all have an element of ancient Greece. Modern languages derives some of its words from ancient Greek mythology for example words like aphrodisiac, herculean task, Achilles heel, Trojan computer virus, Midas touch, Pandora’s box. The European continent derives its name from Europe the beautiful princess kidnapped by Zeus, Paris the French capital city from the name of the prince of Troy who abducted Helen from her husband leading to the Trojan War. Most of the constellations, planets and moons in the solar system are named after mythical characters in Greek mythology and a collection of maps is known as an Atlas after the titan who was ordered to carry earth on his shoulders. Great writers like Shakespeare, Dante and Milton make direct references in most of their works from Greek mythology. Shakespeare’s ‘Midnight Summer Night’s Dream’ and ‘Troilus and Cressida’ involve Greek heroes.


                    The Olympic Games, the biggest sporting event on earth is derived from a plain in Greece, Olympia the sanctuary of Zeus where the original Olympic Games were held. Companies also bear symbols or words from Greek mythology; Amazon from the Amazonian women, Aegis Insurance group from ‘aegis’ the shield used by Zeus, Nike is the name of the winged goddess and also a leading sporting brand, Olympus a leading camera brand. One of the world’s leading condom brands is named ‘Trojan condoms’ from the ‘Trojan War’. The influence of mythology in the art world can be seen everywhere; movies like the ‘Matrix’, ‘Troy‘ and ‘Poseidon’ draw heavily from Greek mythology. The Greek mythology has also been used in music, in songs like the Police’s hit song ‘Wrapped around Your Finger’ and Indigo’s Girls song ‘Ghost’. Modern religion shares similarities with Greek mythology; reincarnation, punishment and atonement for sins, seers or prophets who communicate with the creators of man. Greek mythologies also help influence the culture of politics in terms of war and peace strategy, administration and citizen rights. There is little doubt of the impact of ancient Greece in today’s world.


References


Ellmann, R., & Feidelson, C. (1965). The modern tradition: backgrounds of modern literature. New York: Oxford University Press.


Meineck, P. (2004). Classical mythology the Greeks. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books.


Pinsent, J. (19831982). Greek mythology. New York: P. Bedrick Books :.


Reynolds, R. (1994). Super heroes: a modern mythology. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.


Varner, G. R. (2006). The mythic forest, the green man and the spirit of nature the re-emergence of the spirit of nature from ancient times into modern society. New York: Algora.

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