Why Ancient Greek Mythology Is Still Relevant Today

Updated on December 29, 2018
Source

Why Is Greek Mythology Important Today?

If there is one subject that is still widely taught today, it is the subject of ancient Greek mythology. It isn’t just taught as part of a literature curriculum at school but is also part of most history lessons. Some people might wonder why the world is still so interested in ancient Greek myths when they are nothing but stories and they came from thousands of years ago. However, one look at the vast amount of ancient Greek-themed movies and literature today, people will quickly come to the conclusion that the world is still fascinated with Greek mythology, although they might not always be able to say why.

For those who think that the stories of ancient Greek mythology are nothing more than a bunch of outdated tales, they just happen to be wrong. For sure, these stories may have been written hundreds, if not thousands of years ago, but it is good to remember they were written by wise men who had a hand in helping shape modern thinking.

These great men, Aristotle and Sophocles to name a few, were not mere story-tellers; they didn’t spend their days weaving tales just because they wanted to and had nothing to do. They were too good for that and this is why their Greek myths have withstood the test of time and are relevant today.

What Are Greek Myths?

To some people, Greek myths are simply epic tales of gods and goddesses gallivanting about the earth, achieving all sorts of impossible tasks. They are stories of people dealing with the gods and either they come out triumphant or they end up bloody and charred or turned into animals and plants.

Indeed, a person who doesn’t look beyond the surface will think these tales are nothing more than flights of fancy by old story-tellers from the past but a deeper look at the stories will tell you more than that. These myths aren’t just legends and while they are “just stories,” they are stories with a purpose and reason. A deeper look at Greek myths should reveal morals, philosophies, and even warnings.

These tales rarely have the happily-ever-after endings people are so used to these days, but remember, they weren’t written for entertainment—they were written with a higher purpose. One wouldn’t expect such great minds to waste their time telling a story for the sake of telling a story; they had to have a purpose and they had to impart knowledge. In truth, these myths give people a chance to glimpse at the way the Greeks lived and how they thought back then. It might seem hopelessly outdated and unimportant but the exact opposite of that is true.

What are some of the major Greek myths?

  • The myth of Hades and Persephone
  • The myth of Aphrodite and Adonis
  • The myth of Pandora's box
  • The myth of Eros and Psyche
  • The myth of Perseus and Medusa

What Is the Importance of the Greeks?

Most people will not really notice it unless they are told to do so, but there are so many Greek influences around the world today. In fact, it is impossible to go around to completely understand the basics of things like fine arts, literature, and performing arts without touching on some Greek myths.

These myths were an integral part of ancient Greek culture because this was how they passed down lessons from one generation to the next without things getting boring and dull. Anyone who has ever picked up a book on Greek myths or seen a movie inspired by one can attest to its action-packed nature. Some might wonder what the point is to just passing down stories—stories that were made up and were in no way true—but that was the beauty of Greek mythology in ancient times. They became the perfect way to impart lessons without being dull or boring.

What Did These Myths Do?

These myths were told to people and it helped them realize the difference between right and wrong. It helped them come to terms with how they should be humble and never think themselves immortal or they might just be proven wrong in the most horrible and inopportune of ways. Also, these tales tell people of heroes and how true greatness was achieved by those who dared while at the same breath, showing the flaws of these heroes.

Any modern person who reads or hears of Greek myths will be hard-pressed to stay unaffected. They are simply that good and this proves just how relevant they still are. Anyone can pick up a book of Greek myths and get something from it.

Why Do We Study Greek Mythology?

Reading and hearing about Greek mythology is one thing, but why are modern people still made to study them? The answer to that is very simple: to learn. People still study the ancient Greeks and their myths much in the same reason they study other cultures and that is so they can learn from it. After all, when you study a culture as progressive as that of the ancient Greeks, you really can’t help but learn lessons.

These myths show modern people a glimpse of how people thought in the past, what they considered important, how their morals worked, etc. Another reason to study those Greek myths is that they have contributed a lot to classic and modern literature in the form of symbols.

It has been said that simply by studying or even just reading some of these myths, people can learn how to control their actions or at least think better of what they do. After all, a lot of these stories tell tales of how human follies, stupidity, and even hubris get people in trouble. In a sense, these myths serve as a warning for people on how they should and should not be. The irony of the situation is that most people still tend to go with their follies, choose to make stupid decisions, and have hubris. It is almost comical how these myths capture human behavior in the ancient times that are still alive and kicking today.

The original crew of the Apollo 13, named after the Greek sun god.
The original crew of the Apollo 13, named after the Greek sun god. | Source

Famous Gods and Goddesses

God or Goddess
Claim to Fame
Aphrodite
love, beauty, pleasure, procreation
Athena
wisdom, courage, warfare, strength
Artemis
the hunt, the moon, chastity
Ares
war
Apollo
music, poetry, archery, knowledge, the sun
Demeter
harvest, life and death
Dionysus
wine, fertility, theater
Hades
the underworld
Hera
marriage and birth
Hermes
trade, eloquence, messenger of the gods
Poseidon
the sea, earthquakes, horses
Zeus
the sky and thunder

Who Are Some of the Famous Greek Authors?

Below is a short list of some famous Greek mythology authors and their equally famous works:

  • Homer – Homer's works, the Iliad and the Odyssey, are among the most famous and earliest written sources of Greek mythology. The Iliad recites the stories of King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles during the Trojan War, while the Odyssey tells the tale of Odysseus, king of Ithaca, and his return home after the fall of Troy.
  • Plato – This is perhaps one of the most famous of famous Greek writers. He is known for his popular dialogues including the Republic, Phaedo, Symposium, Phaedrus, Timaeus, and Philebus. Nothing much is known about Plato but it cannot be denied that his writings have had lots of influence on classic literature as we know it today.
  • Sophocles – Sophocles wrote 123 plays during his career and while some people might expect a happy ending from those plays, they will be sorely disappointed. Sophocles was a tragedian and came up with famous tragedies like Oedipus, the King and Electra, and Antigone. Of his 123 plays, only 7 survived intact.
  • Euripides – He was also a tragedian like Sophocles and while he wrote only 95 plays, at least 18 of them survived. Some of his famous works include Medea, The Bacchus, and Alcestis. What made his plays and stories stand out was that they tended to be realistic and would show strong women with wise slaves. He had a massive influence on the concept of European Tragedy.
  • Aristophanes – This writer was a comedian and at some point, his pen was the most feared weapon in Athens. He wrote 40 plays but only 11 have survived. Plato even pointed out that the play The Clouds written by Aristophanes was responsible for the trial and execution of Socrates.

Modern Phrases From Greek Mythology

  • Achilles' heel – According to Greek mythology, baby Achilles was dipped in the River Styx, which separated the living world from the dead, held on to only by his heel. Although he was a legendary war hero, he eventually met his death when a poisoned arrow struck the heel that had remained dry and unaffected by the river's magic. Today, the term refers to a fatal weakness that, despite overall strength, can lead to one's downfall.
  • Trojan horse – During the Trojan War, the Greeks built a giant wooden horse and hid a battalion within it, while the remaining troops pretended to retreat in surrender. The horse was then brought paraded past Troy's otherwise impermeable city walls as a victory prize, allowing the Greek warriors to open the gates for their armies, destroy the city, and end the war. In modern times, the term "Trojan horse" is used to refer to strategies that use deceit or trickery to obtain an objective. It also refers to malicious computer software.
  • Pandora's box – According to Greek mythology, Pandora was the world's first human woman, and one day she was given a box as a gift from Zeus but was warned not to open it. Unfortunately, her curiosity got the better of her and she opened it, unleashing all the world's evils. Today, people refer to "opening a Pandora's box" when discussing something that, when interfered with, has the potential to generate numerous complex problems.

References to Greek Mythology in Today's World

  • Nike, Inc. is named after the Greek goddess of victory.
  • Midas, a U.S. automotive services company, was named for the legendary king whose touch turned objects into gold.
  • Dove, a personal care brand, was named after the bird, which a symbol of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.
  • The character of Peter Pan is a reference to Pan, the Greek god of the wild and shepherds.
  • The Starbucks logo is a siren, intended to symbolize the irresistibility of the brand's coffee.
  • Trident gum claims to "fight off" cavities, similar to the sea god Poseidon's use of the trident in battle.
  • Many are familiar with Sigmund Freud's psychosexual development term the "Oedipus complex," which is based on the Ancient Greek tale of Oedipus Rex, who kills his father and marries his mother.
  • Atlas was a Titan who was condemned to hold up the sky after losing the Titan rebellion against Zeus. Now, atlas is a term used to describe books filled with maps, and also refers to the first vertebra of the spine, which allows us to hold our heads up and see the world.

Movies About Greek Mythology

Troy (2004)
Clash of the Titans (2010)
Wonder Woman (2017)
Hercules (1997)
Wrath of the Titans (2012)
Alexander (2004)
Spartacus (1960)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Helen of Troy (1956 and 2003)
Antigone (1961)
Immortals (2011)
Minotaur (2006)
The symbol of the British Airborne Forces in World War II was Bellerophon, a Greek hero, riding Pegasus.
The symbol of the British Airborne Forces in World War II was Bellerophon, a Greek hero, riding Pegasus.

Greek Creatures in Popular Culture

Creature
Description
In Popular Culture
Centaur
half-man, half-horse hunter
Chronicles of Narnia, Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter
Chimera
fire-breathing monster
Beauty and the Beast, Wrath of the Titans, Final Fantasy
Cyclops
giant, one-eyed monster
Futurama, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who
Minotaur
monster with the body of a man, with the head and tail of a bull
Clash of the Titans, Dante's Inferno, Prince Caspian
Pegasus
beautiful, white, winged stallion
Fantasia, My Little Pony, The Blood of Olympus
Sirens
beautiful female bird-like creatures who lured passers-by to their deaths with song
Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Peter Pan, Lorelei (German folklore)

How relevant is Greek mythology to your culture/lifestyle/personality as an individual?

See results

Questions & Answers

    Comments

    Submit a Comment
    • profile image

      Jessica 

      23 months ago

      Excellent passage. I'm going to use this to help formulate lesson plans for a middle school mythology co op class. Thank you!

    • profile image

      dabbing cat 

      2 years ago

      this is inspiring me to learn more about ancient greek.

    • profile image

      nyan cat 

      2 years ago

      this passage is really interesting . am i right people

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 

      2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Is it possible Greek mythology (and other ancient mythology) tells of a high-tech civilization coming in contact with a low-tech civilization? The low-tech people mistook the high-tech people to be Gods. The myths are actually histories based on mistaken identity. What do you think?

    • profile image

      Marina A. Spiteri 

      2 years ago

      I believe mythology to be of vital importance, especially now that the world has lost the plot. All one needs to do is look at popular culture, the people the younger generations look to as role models and what they consider worth their while. Priorities, politics, society and the side-effects of technology have turned our planet into a place that has no direction. What is so important about mythology is how it came about in the first place. It reflects society and the hold and influence those in power and far-reaching institutions has over it. Nothing has changed, it is only getting worse.

    • profile image

      bruh 

      3 years ago

      this is awsome

    • profile image

      Kaila 

      3 years ago

      This was a wonderful article, but I was wondering who made this? I am doing a research paper and I would like to know who made this. I think it is good and I plan to use this as one of my sources! I would love to hear back from the author soon. I will need the author's first name and last name. Thank You!

    • kgmonline profile imageAUTHOR

      Geri MIleff 

      3 years ago from Czech Republic

      @Jordy - True! This is just an overview :)

    • profile image

      Jordy 

      3 years ago

      I feel like there needed more explaining, because I read that Greek mythology reals morals, philosofies, and warnings, but like what? I feel like it created many questions throughout the whole thing, and did not answer it very clearly.

    • kgmonline profile imageAUTHOR

      Geri MIleff 

      3 years ago from Czech Republic

      @jeremiarh - Thanks! We too :)

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 

      3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      From article, "What are Greek Myths?

      To some people, Greek myths are these epic tales of gods and goddesses gallivanting about the earth, achieving all sorts of impossible tasks."

      We also now have two more interpretations:

      1. The Ancient Alien Theory, where aliens came to earth;modified apes to become human and we mistook the aliens to be gods, and

      2. The Atlantian Theory, where high-tech people (Atlantians) came in contact with low-tech people and were mistaken as gods.

      What do you think of the above two theories?

    • profile image

      jeremiarh 

      3 years ago

      i feel like greek mythology is still known and amazing

    • kgmonline profile imageAUTHOR

      Geri MIleff 

      4 years ago from Czech Republic

      @adevwriting: Thank you! Couldn't agree more :)

    • adevwriting profile image

      Arun Dev 

      4 years ago from United Countries of the World

      This is a very good hub. Culture can regulate an individual's life.

    • kgmonline profile imageAUTHOR

      Geri MIleff 

      5 years ago from Czech Republic

      @WillStarr, indeed! Glad that you like the hub. Stay tuned for more! :)

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 

      5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      The ancient Greek myths are still fascinating and relevant today, aren't they?

      Good points and excellent Hub!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)