Greek Gods & Greek Mythology

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  • 0:01 Greek Mythology
  • 1:27 Creation of the World
  • 2:20 Gods, Heroes & Monsters
  • 4:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, you will explore the mythology of ancient Greek civilization, including the gods, heroes and monsters of legend. Then, test you understanding with a brief quiz.

Greek Mythology

Long ago, the ancient civilizations in Greece began trying to understand the world around them, and they developed a complex series of myths and legends to help them explain their history, the universe and their culture. Greek mythology included a polytheistic religion, meaning that they worshiped multiple different gods. All of these gods together are called the Greek Pantheon.

The Greek gods had the figures of humans, although many could transform into other objects or animals, were immortal and were associated with certain aspects of life, which they controlled. For example, Aphrodite was the goddess of love. Others performed duties like holding up the sky or pulling the sun across the sky. The main gods lived on their mystical home, called Mount Olympus, and were called the Olympians. Other lesser deities lived in the countryside and were what we might call spirits rather than true gods. Nymphs, for example, were the spirits of rivers. To the Greeks, the world was full of spirits and gods and supernatural beings who were very much a part of real life and could save or kill you.

In Greek mythology, history was divided into three basic divisions. First came the creation of the world and the age of gods. Next was the age of gods and men, when gods interacted with humans on a routine basis. After that was the age of heroes, when the gods stopped interfering as frequently and powerful people controlled the destiny of Greece.

Creation of the World

In Greek mythology, the world, a goddess named Gaia, came out of nothingness, along with a few other ancient deities. Gaia and the god of the sky, Uranus, had six male children and six female children of incredible power, called the Titans. The youngest of the Titans was Cronus, and he soon betrayed his father and became the ruler of the universe.

Worried that any children of his would eventually betray him, Cronus ate his children as they were born, except for the youngest, Zeus, because his mother tricked Cronus into eating a rock instead. Zeus grew up and returned to battle Cronus, defeating him and releasing the other gods from Cronus' stomach. These gods became the first Olympians, taking up residence on Mount Olympus and included notable figures such as Hades, god of the underworld; Poseidon, god of the sea; and Ares, god of war.

Gods, Heroes and Monsters

In Greek mythology, there was a period in between the creation of the world and recorded history, when humans and gods coexisted. These myths are semi-historical and tell stories about how humans developed fire, culture and other foundations of society through their interaction with the gods. During this time, the gods were said to mingle with humans on Earth, sometimes punishing and sometimes rewarding people for developing their societies.

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