Society serve as a key to understand Ancient Greek people in different aspects such as political life, religion, morality and culture. In the case of creation myths; they tried to provide an explanation for the origin of our universe and all that happen around us. They are mostly composed by combining realism with fantasy. Fantasy is included as they had a limited perception. Perception, reason and imagination were what they needed in order to explain what was going around them.
From time to time they had rituals which were not only for human interaction and entertainment but also for sharing experiences, thus; storytelling became widespread which were mainly about the origin of man and nature. Firstly, the creation myths have much importance as they show that they were developing. In the first creation myths, The Pelesgian Creation Myth and The Olympian Myth, both suggested that the world all comes from a woman and it is due to the fact that women are productive, giving birth, and they associated the origin of earth with women.
However; later on, they no longer had the idea that women do not need men in order to give birth. Creation myths directly show that Ancient Greeks were in search of their self-identity and the world they were living on. We also do learn about the gods and goddesses from myths as most of them have a religious content. There are many gods and goddesses in Greek mythology, which indicates that they are polytheistic. Each god/goddess has different power and they have human characteristics.
The reason why these gods/goddesses were given human characteristics is the limited perception of Ancient Greeks. For instance, Uranus is the god responsible of holding the vault of heaven, that is, he maintains order. This proves that Ancient Greeks were giving importance to order. Another god, Eros, god of love and desire is double sexed, and it shows us that their perception of human beings was improved. In order to explain certain natural events, such as earthquakes, windstorms, and thunder, the Greeks again invented a collection of myths and characters.
They based these events on morality and ethic issues. This fact firstly indicates that their perception of nature and natural events were very limited and then shows their care about morality and ethics. Poseidon, for instance, was associated with storms, earthquakes, and some other disasters of nature. When angry, he could cause the earthquakes or other violent events in nature and, therefore; people believed that they must not make Poseidon angry.
From time to time they sacrificed animals for their gods/goddesses. The function of these sacrifices was to please gods as well as uniting people in a common and regular arrangement, which shows their concern about human interaction and order of society. Apart from gods there were heroes in Greek mythology. They were mainly responsible of killing animals and protecting human beings. The goddess Hera, determined to make trouble for Hercules, made him lose his mind as he reminded her of his unfaithful husband Zeus.
In a confused and angry state, Herakles killed his own wife and children. When he awakened from his temporary insanity, Herakles was shocked and upset by what he had done. He prayed to the god Apollo for guidance, and the god’s oracle told him he would have to serve Eurystheus, the king of Tiryns, for twelve years. Eurystheus gave him hard labors to accomplish mainly consisting of dealing with animals that pose some kind of trouble to all the people.
The significance of his punishment illustrates that they gave importance to keep order and he was the murderer of the innocent family so he should get punished. Moreover, through the punishment Herakles contributed to the society’s well-being. Patricide, the act of killing one’s father, and matricide, the act of killing one’s mother in Ancient Greeks, were great sins and the ones who killed their mother/father were punished by the Furies, representatives of order and authority. This punishment lightens that Ancient Greeks gave importance to family, too.
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