Even though many believe mythology was written just to satisfy, it actually serves as an explanation. These tales written by Ancient Greeks were not written just to entertain, but for a purpose. Mythology is an important factor which helps discover secrets of our race. Using these myths, natural phenomena is explained, morality is taught, and man’s greatest hopes and deepest fears are revealed. Still today these stories are looked at to explain everyday events.
An example of mythology unlocking keys to the human race is when natural phenomena is explained. In the story of Theseus, his father, King Aegeus, kills himself and falls into a body of water which is now known as the Aegean Sea (Hamilton 152). King Aegeus shows the love he has for Theseus by committing suicide when he believes his beloved son was killed in the Labrynith. The Greeks celebrate his life by naming the Aegean Sea after him.
In addition to this incidence, the explanation of seasons is given using the tale of Demeter, “Demeter did not refuse, poor comfort though it was that she must lose Persephone for four months every year and her young loveliness go down to the world of the dead,” (Hamilton 53). When Demeter is without her daughter, whom she loves dearly, for four months, she becomes very unhappy. As a result of her depression, the earth becomes cold for this time period, thus making the season of winter. Certainly mythology is a great source of justification for the unexplainable.
Not only does mythology explain natural phenomena, it also teaches morality in many of the myths. For example, in the story of Daedalus, he warns his son not to fly too high because the heat of the sun will melt the glue on his wings and he will fall, but Icarus gets caught up with having the ability to fly, disregards his father’s advice, and ends up falling into the sea (Hamilton 139-140). The moral portrayed in the story is that children need to obey their elders, for they have more life experiences and wisdom.
When Icarus does not listen to his father, fate is not kind to him. Another situation that depicts a significant lesson is the one that takes place in Perseus’s story when Queen Cassiopeia boasts her daughter, Andromeda, to be more beautiful than the daughters of Nereus. This angers the gods and they send a man eating serpent to Ethiopia which can only be freed by the sacrifice of Andromeda (Hamilton 146). The message of this myth is that being prideful is dangerous and can cause people to perform harmful actions towards the boasting party.
Often times, individuals are proud of what they have and flaunt their possessions for attention, when it is better to just sit quiet and let others realize it themselves. Clearly, the morals taught in mythology were relevant to life then and are still relevant in life today. The final function mythology serves is being able to explore man’s greatest hopes and deepest fears. This is displayed in Thisbe and Pyramus’s tale when their ashes are put together in the urn so that they will be together forever (Hamilton 103). In life, it is one’s dream to be with their loved one for as long as they are alive.
It is very common when a couple dies that they want to be buried together in the hopes that even death will not be able to separate them. Friendship is a relationship similar to marriage that is highly valued and is demonstrated when Hercules leaves the Argonauts to go look for his best friend, Hylas (Hamilton 120). It is not like Hercules to abandon such a journey that would make him even look even more heroic, but his friendship with Hylas takes priority over the voyage for the Golden Fleece. The force present in friendship is so strong that one will do almost anything for the other.
Without a doubt mythology provides many of examples of man’s greatest hopes and deepest fears. Obviously mythology can be used in many ways to explain everyday happenings. Whether it is natural phenomena, morality, or man’s hopes and fears, mythology plays an important role. The mythological stories, written by the ancient Greeks, often parallel events that happen today. Studying more in depth of these myths might lead to a better perception of life now. Work Cited Hamilton, Edith. Mythology Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. New York: Penguin Group, 1940. Print. 13-315.
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