Greek Mythology Discussion Questions

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

Are you interested in educating your high school students about Greek mythology? These discussion questions will test their analytical skills, as they decipher the many layers of this engrossing subject.

Greek Mythology

In Agamemnon, the Greek tragedian Aeschylus opined ''Zeus, first cause, prime mover; for what thing without Zeus is done among mortals?'' This quote shows the reverence the ancient Greeks had for the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology, and how the deities were portrayed to have lived and interacted with the mortals. It should be noted that since Greek mythology is derived from several ancient sources, contradiction and varying accounts abound in the literature. Your high schoolers will need all their inquisitive abilities, as they learn about the grandiose gods and goddesses that have enthralled both Greek culture and modern minds.

Questions About the Founding of Greek Mythology

  • How would you evaluate what the term 'Greek Pantheon' means? How would you subdivide the Greek gods and goddesses into appropriate categories?
  • Who was Hesiod? Why was his Theogony so important to our modern-day knowledge of Greek mythology? How were the Homeric Hymns and the Iliad and the Odyssey similar reference works?
  • How would you compare and contrast between Hesiod's 'Five Ages of Man' and Ovid's 'Four Ages of Man'?

Questions About the Primordial Deities

  • How would you analyze how Chaos was involved at the beginning stage of the universe? How did the 'Great Nothingness' or 'The Void' play a role?
  • How was Gaia the ancestral mother of all life? Who were her parents?
  • Who were Gaia's two sons? Which son did she marry? Who were their twelve children?
  • Who were the ten Ourea that were borne of Gaia?
  • Who were Erebus and Nyx that came from Chaos? What was their relation to darkness and night?
  • Who was Eros Elder (Phanos)? What did he represent after arriving out of Chaos?
  • Who was known as 'Old Father Time'? Who was known as 'Necessitas'? What were their respective purposes?
  • How were Charon and Tartarus related to the underworld? Who was said to have dwelled in that infernal place?

Questions About the Titans and the Olympians

  • Who were the parents of the Titans?
  • Who were Cronus and Rhea (siblings that married)? How were they related to the Earth? Who were their twelve children?
  • How do you calculate why Cronus ate his children? What eventually became of them? Who was the only child that wasn't eaten? How did the mother play a role in preventing that from taking place?
  • Who were Oceanus and Tethys? How were they related to the sea?
  • Who were Hyperion and Theia? How were they related to the sky?
  • Why was Atlas condemned to hold up the universe on his shoulders? Why he is often incorrectly portrayed holding up the Earth instead?
  • How did the gods Prometheus and Epimetheus relate to the concepts of foresight and hindsight?
  • Who was Pandora? What was her legacy?
  • Who were the parents of the Olympians?
  • How would you describe the epic battle between the Titans and the Olympians?
  • Who were the parents of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades? What dominions did the three sons rule?
  • How do you contend with the fact that Dionysus was both the god of wine and madness?
  • Why was Dionysus considered a demigod? Who were his parents?
  • Who were Zeus and Hera (siblings that married)? How did they come to be rulers?
  • Who were Poseidon and Amphitrite? What dominion did they rule?
  • Who were Demeter and Hestia? What was their relation to home and hearth?
  • How were Apollo and Artemis related? What was their relationship to the sun and the moon?
  • What happened if someone was struck by one of the arrows of Eros?
  • Why were Achilles, Heracles, and Odysseus considered important figures in the Heroic Age? What was their relation to the Trojan War?
  • How do you distinguish between Eros Elder (Phanes) and Eros (Amor)? How do you distinguish between Chronus and Cronus? (the latter can be spelled Kronus as well)
  • How would you distinguish between the oft-confused Apollo and Helios? What was their relationship to the sun and light?
  • How would you distinguish between the oft-confused Selene and Phoebe? What was their relationship to the moon and dark?

Questions About Places

  • How would you describe the significance of the River Styx in Greek mythology?
  • What was the importance of the island of Crete in Greek mythology?
  • What were the Elysian Fields or Elysium? Who eventually went there?
  • On what mountain did many of the gods and goddesses live? What were their names?
  • What city was named for the goddess Athena? For what quality was she known?

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