Past and Present: Ancient Greek Mythology and Life in Modern Film and TV

How Hollywood tells ancient stories. Introduction Stories from Greek mythology are always fascinating. These timeless epic tales revolving around love, betrayal, loss, and vengeance have been adapted for TV and film since the beginning of the cinematic arts. We asked Getty Villa Museum antiquities curators to select TV shows and films based on classical Greek[…]

Ancient Greek Mythology in Medieval and Early Modern Western Art and Literature

Greek myth influenced medieval and Renaissance poets such as Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Petrarch, Boccaccio and Dante. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate With the rediscovery of classical antiquity in the Renaissance, the poetry of Ovid became a major influence on the imagination of poets and artists, and remained a fundamental influence on the diffusion and perception of Greek mythology through subsequent centuries.[2] From[…]

Listen and Learn: Gods and Goddesses in Ancient Greek Mythology

Archaeological findings provide a principal source of detail about Greek mythology. Video Presentation Hosted by Joe Fielderman Greek Mythology is the body of myths and teachings that belong to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. It[…]

Atalanta: Ancient Greek Goddess of the Hunt

By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Atalanta is a figure from Greek mythology famed as a huntress, wrestler, and runner. The heroine was a key participant in the Calydonian boar hunt, striking the first wound in this fearsome beast with her bow. Long-determined to remain a virgin, Atalanta did finally bow to fatherly pressure and consent to marry but[…]

Who Was Homer, the Epic Recorder of Ancient Greek Mythology?

The Iliad and the Odyssey are two of the world’s most famous poems but very little is known about their creator. By Dr. Daisy DunnHistorian and Author The Greek hero Odysseus spent 10 long years striving to return home after the Trojan War. The stories of how he tricked the one-eyed Cyclops, evaded the flesh-eating[…]

A Brief Visual Guide to Ancient Egyptian Gods

Even today, the gods of Egypt loom large in the imagination, and are easily recognized by their iconic features. By Arienne King Introduction This image gallery is a visual guide to the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt. It includes depictions of many of Egypt’s more iconic and widely worshipped deities, along with brief descriptions of their[…]

The River Styx: Path to the Underworld in Ancient Greek Mythology

The deities of the Greek pantheon swore all their oaths upon the river Styx. Curated/Reviewed by Matthew A. McIntoshPublic HistorianBrewminate Introduction In Greek mythology, Styx is a deity and a river that forms the boundary between Earth and the Underworld. The rivers Acheron, Cocytus, Lethe, Phlegethon, and Styx all converge at the center of the underworld on a great marsh, which sometimes is also called the Styx. According to Herodotus,[…]

Sacred Sites and Rituals in the Ancient Celtic Religion

The religious leaders in Celtic communities were the druids. Introduction In the religion of the ancient Celts who lived in Iron Age Europe from 700 BCE to 400 CE, certain natural sites like springs, river sources, and groves were held as sacred. These places, as well as some urban sites, often had purpose-built temples, shrines,[…]

Heimdall: Guardian of Asgard in Medieval Norse Mythology

The main literary source for Heimdall’s role in Norse mythology as a forefather would be the poem Rigsthula. By Irena Manea Introduction Heimdall is a mysterious deity of Norse mythology whose main attribute refers to guarding the realm of the gods, Asgard, from his high fortress called Himinbjörg found at the top of Bifröst, the rainbow bridge. He has the[…]

The Poetic Verbal Contest between Odin and Thor in Norse Mythology

They verbally duel in a so-called mannjafnaðr, a comparison of men, both trying their superiority. By Irina Manea Introduction The poem called The Lay of Greybeard (Old Norse: Hárbarðsljóð) is one story from Norse mythology that relates an intriguing verbal fight between two of its essential gods, Thor and Odin. The poem consists of 60 stanzas and is found complete in the 13th-century CE[…]

Helen of Troy: ‘The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships’

Helen was widely considered the most beautiful of all mortal women. Introduction Helen of Troy (sometimes called Helen of Sparta) is a figure from Greek mythology whose elopement with (or abduction by) the Trojan prince Paris sparked off the Trojan War. Helen, considered the most beautiful woman in the world, was the wife of Menelaus,[…]

The Story of Cupid and Psyche by Lucius Apuleius

The story has been retold in poetry, drama, and opera, and depicted widely in painting, sculpture, and even wallpaper. Cupid and Psyche is a story originally from Metamorphoses (also called The Golden Ass), written in the 2nd century AD by Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis (or Platonicus). The tale concerns the overcoming of obstacles to the love[…]

‘Passionate Desire’: Cupid in Classical Mythology

Cupid is a minor character who serves mostly to set the plot in motion. Introduction In classical mythology, Cupid, meaning “passionate desire”, is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. He is often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus and the god of war Mars. He is also known in[…]

Rome’s Venus Was Not Your Regular Greek Aphrodite

Ancient Rome’s Venus had many abilities beyond the Greek Aphrodite. By Brittany Garcia Introduction In Roman mythology, Venus was the goddess of love, sex, beauty, and fertility. She was the Roman counterpart to the Greek Aphrodite. However, Roman Venus had many abilities beyond the Greek Aphrodite; she was a goddess of victory, fertility, and even[…]

I’m Your Venus: Examining the Ancient Roman Goddess of Love

Venus has been described as perhaps “the most original creation of the Roman pantheon”. Introduction Venus is a Roman goddess, whose functions encompassed love, beauty, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity and victory. In Roman mythology, she was the ancestor of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to[…]

The Ancient Amazon Women: Is There Any Truth Behind the Myth?

Strong and brave, the Amazons were a force to be reckoned with in Greek mythology – but did the fierce female warriors really exist? By Amanda Foreman I loved watching the “Wonder Woman” TV series when I was a girl. I never wanted to dress like her—the idea of wearing a gold lamé bustier and[…]

Amabie: A Disease-Fighting Mermaid of Japanese Lore

The world has become enchanted with a three-legged mermaid called Amabie, said to help fight plague. Last spring, in western Tokyo, my research assistant Payton Letko came upon an unusual treat in a small bakery: pastries in the shape of the Japanese folklore creature Amabie, a three-legged sea creature with scales and long flowing hair,[…]

A Brief History of Mermaid Mythology

Mermaids are not real, but they are meaningful to people around the world. Introduction Mermaids – underwater creatures that are half fish and half human – do not exist except in people’s imaginations. Scientists who study the ocean for the United States have investigated their possible existence and say no evidence of mermaids has ever[…]

The Unicorn Myth in Ancient and Medieval Folklore

Accounts describe the unicorn as ferocious, swift, and impossible to capture, with a magical horn capable of healing numerous ailments. By Hillary Smith Introduction The unicorn, a mythical creature popularized in European folklore, has captivated the human imagination for over 2,000 years. For most of that time, well into the Middle Ages, people also believed them[…]

Ethical Didaxis and the Role of Poetry in the Lying Tales of Odysseus

Indirect communication is a central feature of the lying tales Odysseus tells. In book 13 of the Odyssey, Odysseus finds himself abandoned by his Phaeacian escort in a land which he does not recognize and with no certain way to protect the gifts he has obtained from King Alcinous. Soon met by Athena disguised as[…]

Kratos: Brutal Tyrant of Ancient Greek Mythology

Kratos is characterized as brutal and merciless, advocating for the use of unnecessary violence. Introduction In Greek mythology, Kratos (or Cratos) is the divine personification of strength. He is the son of Pallas and Styx. Kratos and his siblings Nike (“Victory”), Bia (“Force”), and Zelus (“Zeal”) are all essentially personifications of a trait.[5] Kratos is[…]

Sisyphus: Deceitful Trickster God of Ancient Greek Mythology

As a punishment for his trickery, Hades made King Sisyphus roll a huge boulder endlessly up a steep hill. Introduction In Greek mythology Sisyphus, or Sisyphos, was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill[…]

Azazel: The Evil Fallen Angel of Ancient and Medieval Hebrew Apocalypticism

The Book of Enoch brings Azazel as a fallen angel onto Mount Hermon, a gathering-place of demons of old, as a rebellious “Watcher”. Overview Azazel is, according to the Book of Enoch, a fallen Angel. In the Bible, the name Azazel appears in association with the scapegoat rite; the name represents a desolate place where[…]

Ahriman: The ‘Devil’ of Ancient and Medieval Zoroastrianism

Ahriman was the “Evil spirit, … whose religion is evil [and] who ever ridiculed and mocked the wicked in hell.” Overview Angra Mainyuis the Avestan-language name of Zoroastrianism’s hypostasis of the “destructive spirit/mentality” and the main adversary in Zoroastrianism either of the Spenta Mainyu, the “holy/creative spirits/mentality”, or directly of Ahura Mazda, the highest deity[…]

Loki, Villainous Trickster God of Medieval Norse Mythology

Loki is referred to in 13th-century Scandinavian poems and folklore. Introduction Loki is a god in Norse mythology. Loki is in some sources the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By[…]

Classical Archaeology and Ancient Greek Mythology

Despite the scientific rigor of archaeology today, archaeological exploration is still an art and an adventure of the human mind. Introduction to Classical Archaeology Classical Archaeology is the study of past societies in the Mediterranean region on the basis of surviving material evidence. What this means, for all practical purposes, is that classical archaeologists –[…]

An Historical Overview of Ancient Greek Mythology

Greek myths were initially propagated in an oral-poetic tradition by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BCE. Introduction Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the ancient Greeks and a genre of Ancient Greek folklore. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and[…]

Magna Mater: The Cult of Cybele in Ancient Rome

Originally, the Cybelean cult was brought to Rome during the time of the Second Punic War (218 -201 BCE). Introduction History verifies the importance of religion not only on a society’s development but also on its survival; in this respect the Romans were no different than other ancient civilizations. During the formative years of the[…]

The Cult of Athena in Ancient Greece

In Athens, the cult of Athena Polias was the most important religious faction. Much like the Vestal Virgins of Rome, the priestesses of Greek religion enjoyed a great many perks that other Greek women did not. In exchange for the commitment to their religious and civic responsibilities, they were often paid, given property, and most[…]