Mythology is the history and beliefs of a people who were able to see the magic in the world all around them. “Today their alters are empty, their great temples in ruins. But the gods of the ancient Greeks and Romans live on in powerful myths that have borne retelling for countless generations. (Fandex 1)”. Greek mythology and its Roman counter part have fascinated people for ages. Despite their similarities Greek and Roman mythology has key differences: in the Gods names, what they are based off of, ideologies and stories of creation. Although these stories were told centuries ago, they can still relate to us today.
The first point to realize is that Greek mythology came long before Roman mythology did. When the Romans conquered the Greeks they adopted many of their customs and most importantly their beliefs. The first and most noticeable difference between Greek and Roman mythology lies in the Gods and Goddess’s names. The Greek names tend to the ones people are the most familiar with: Zeus king of the gods, Aphrodite goddess of love and others. All of the Gods have a Roman counterpart, because it was the Greek ones that came first. In Roman mythology Zeus is known as Jupiter, Aphrodite is known as Venus, and so on.
Theses two mythologies also differed on ideology. The Greeks were a philosophical people; they valued individualism; poets and artists were held in the highest esteem. The Romans tended to place more value on honor and bravery and they in turn idolized warriors and heroes. The Greeks were a people who focused little on the afterlife. In their beliefs immortality was achieved by living a life that is remembered forever. The Romans were actually concerned with the afterlife. They tried to live good lives to be ensured their good standing after death took them.
Another major area that these two mythologies differed was in their stories of creations (Delgado). In Greek mythology the world was created by a union between Mother Earth and Uranus the sky. The children created from this union are the 12 Titans, the 3 Cyclops, and the 3 50 headed monsters. While Uranus looked with pride upon the beautiful and strong Titans he loathed the ugly one eyed Cyclops and the 50 headed monsters. He could not stand to have them walking around on his beautiful Mother Earth so threw them into a deep dark pit known as Tartarus. Mother earth was furious at this so she turned to her Titan children to help her overthrow Uranus.
She fashioned a sickle, and only Cronos the youngest and strongest of the Titans took up her challenge. With the sickle he defeated his tyrant father. However he then in turn became tyrant over the earth. He did not free the Cyclops of the 50 headed monsters so Mother Earth began to plot against him. Every time Cronos’s wife Rhea would bear him a child he would swallow it, because he knew that one of his children would defeat him just like he defeated his father. Sad that she had no children Cronos’s wife turned to Mother Earth for help and she told her how to trick Cronos.
When she bore Zeus, she wrapped up a rock in a blanket and gave it Cronos to swallow instead. So Zeus was saved and whisked away to be raised in secret by nymphs. When he was grown he turned to Mother Earth to help him overthrow Cronos. She told him that he could not overthrow Cronos on his own since the other Titans would come to his aide. So she gave his a potion, and when Zeus secretly gave it to Cronos, Cronos became violently sick and vomited up Zeus’s brothers and sisters. Together they freed the Cyclops and 50 headed monsters and with their help Zeus overthrew Cronos and took over as Ruler of the heavens and earth.
However unlike his father he shared his power with his brothers, sisters, and children. Together they make up the twelve gods and goddess of Olympus. They are Zeus ruler of the heavens and universe, Hera queen of the gods, Aphrodite goddess of love, Apollo god of the sun, Artemis goddess of the moon and hunt, Athena goddess of wisdom, Ares god of war, Demeter goddess of the harvest, Dionysus god of wine, Hephaestus god of the forge, Hermes messenger of the gods, Hestia goddess of the home, and Poseidon god of the seas( D‘Aulaire 1-17).
In Roman mythology they are not really concerned with how the world was created. Instead their mythology focuses on how Rome was created. According to legend Rome was founded by a man named Romulus. He along with his brother Remus were the sons of the god Mars. When they were young their mother was killed and they were orphaned. They were adopted and raised by a she- wolf who sucked them, raised them, and taught them the ways of the warrior. When they were older Remus was killed by his uncle who was trying to gain the twins power.
Romulus survived, and after avenging his brother he went on to found the city of Rome. The stories that were told so very long ago are still prevalent in today’s society. There are countless allusions throughout literature to Greek mythology. These illusions include but do not pertain to: the power of Zeus, the curiosity of Pandora, the wisdom of Athena, and the beauty of Aphrodite. There are even allusions and references to it used in modern science. For example Carl Power, PhD, and John E. J. Rasko, MBBS, PhD refer to the story of Prometheus.
Prometheus was a Titan who sided with Zeus and the other gods. He was the who shaped and created mankind in the image of the gods. He felt sorry for humans and stole fire of the gods to help out mankind. Since he had tricked Zeus and stolen from the gods he was punished by being chained to a mountain where every day a great eagle would come and rip out and eat his liver, which would grow back every night. They use this myth to discuss the whether of not the ancient Greeks knew of the livers incredible regenerating powers.
They say that, “Countless lectures and articles about regenerative medicine begin with a reference to this myth before turning to more scientific matters. (421)” Greek mythology and stories like Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are still incredibly popular today. These stories are over 2700 years old and their still best sellers and part of literary courses worldwide according to Kostas Myrsiades in her piece Introduction: Homer, Analysis and Influence. Another place we see these mythologies is in movies and tv shows. Movies like Troy attract not only big movie stars like Brad Pitt, but they also draw in millions of fans.
So the differences between Greek and Roman mythology is the different ideologies, names and beliefs in the afterlife. In Greek mythology the world was created by Mother earth and Uranus and there were many battles before Zeus and the 12 Olympians came to rule. In Roman mythology the twin Romulus and Remus were the great founders of Rome. These stories are still relevant to us in literature and movies and more. Many lessons and ideals we know today came from these amazing stories which will continue to be told for ages and ages to come.