Greek mythology studies of religion: bridging course

what are the origins of the universe

Ancient greeks believed that first there was the void, chaos, out of which sprang the goddess Gaia (among others) who was the earth.

Gaia gave birth to Uranus, who was the sky and heaven. after she created hills, mountains, valleys, the seas and plants and animals, Gaia joined with her husband/son Uranus and mothered the first gods, the Titans, who lived on mount Olympus.

some popular titans include:

  • oceanus
  • one eyed cyclops
  • hyperion
  • earth goddess rhea
  • kronos
principle beliefs


greek mythology incorperates concepts that resemble and "Ultimate reality" that even the gods are subject to. The Delphic Oracle told Lydian inquirers that,

~ "no one not even the gods can escape their appointed fate"

the universe

the greeks viewd the earth as a flat disk floating on the river of ocean and that first there were divine beings

  • chaos
  • the abyss
  • earth (gaia)
  • love (eros)

spirits, monsters and other mythological creatures.

  • Amazons: race of female warriors
  • keres: evil female spirits
  • medusa: a female monster with hair made of snakes
  • satyrs: half man- half goat
  • centaurs: half man- half horse
  • sirens
  • typhon- disaster or devastation

human nature and purpose of life

belief in the exsistence of a soul separate and distinct

death and the afterlife

the Greek underworld, in mythology, is an other-world where souls go after death, and the original Greek idea of afterlife. at moment of death the soul is separated from the corpse taking on the shape of its former person and is transported to the underworld.

Religion and rituals were the centre of life in Ancient Greece. Sports, politics, entertainment and war all included religious rituals. Every important event in the lives of individuals, as well as whole cities, included rituals.

purification rituals often featured animal sacrifices, libation of wines and wine drinking. Sacrificing a dog, cock or pig was seen as a sign of purification as was bathing in the sea. Apollo was depicted on vases as performing purification by dipping laurel leaves in the bowl most likely of pig's blood. Scapegoats were of form of purification. The term is traced back to Biblical times to describe a goat representing all the sins of the people was killed.

influence on society

The mythology was interwoven with every aspect of Greek life. Each city devoted itself to a particular god or group of gods, for whom the citizens often built temples of worship. They regularly honored the gods in festivals, which high officials supervised. At festivals and other official gatherings, poets recited or sang great legends and stories. Many Greeks learned about the gods through the words of poets.

impact on modern society
Greek mythology is often looked as something that is fake. It is seen as trivial information, but what you don’t know is that greek mythology is in our everyday life. Businesses named after the gods and even English words made from them. They are everywhere even if you may not notice it. The Greek gods may not have many direct impacts on our culture but they are there, hidden in our society and only by knowing how to look for these small, subtle references and knowing Greek Mythology can you recognize them.

many names originate from Greek gods such as volcano which originates from the Roman god Vulcan who was god of the forge. Atlas the book of maps comes from the Greek Titan who carried the heavens on his shoulders. Cereal comes from the goddess of agriculture, Ceres because cereal is made from wheat. Medicines come from them too. Morpheus, the god of sleep, influences the name Morphine, a powerful drug used to relieve pain.

The Pegasus appears much on stamps especially for air travel. It is often used to name important projects such as the Nike Missile project, Nike being the god of victory. Even the medical field is symbolized by a snake entwined staff which is a symbol for the god of medicine, Aesculapius. Even some elements’ names come from Greek mythology. Such as Titanium, named after the Titans because of its difficulty to extract from its ore and because in Greek Mythology the Titans were locked far underground.


Created with images by cmalinaric - "poseidon ocean sea" • ketrin1407 - "John Gibson (1790-1866) Hylas Surprised by the Naiades (1827-c36) upper front, Tate Britain, December 2012" • Paulisson Miura - "Eros e Afrodite, Teatro Municipal de São Paulo." • MCAD Library - "Medea boiling the ram before Pelias; after an Attic black-figure amphora" • Lisy_ - "greece statue greek mythology" • wallner - "margit wallner sculpture greek"

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