The history of Greece is one of the richest ones in the context of cultural heritage, and its features and grandeur are studied all over the world. One of the common areas of the ancient Greek theme is mythology and all those literary works that have survived to the present. As an object of analysis, this work considers the article “Greek Mythology” by Cartwright in which the author discusses the theme of religious images and well-known characters of the ancient Greek epic.
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The article covers several significant topics, including the origin of myths, the main authors of these works, an overview of the most famous stories, as well as their interpretation. Ancient Greek myths are a rich topic not only for fascinating reading but also for analyzing the lifestyle of people of that era, and numerous characters and plots allow asserting their creators’ unconditional talent.
Origin and Telling of Myths
This article provides an in-depth analysis of the history of ancient Greek myths and premises that led to the emergence of this genre. According to Cartwright, these works were religious in nature and, despite their adventurous plots, were called upon to explain the origin of the gods. This desire of the ancient Greeks may be explained by a craving for knowledge of otherworldly forces and the afterlife.
Therefore, polytheism that was characteristic of the people of that era contributed to creating those numerous stories. Cartwright notes that the modern concept of myth has little to do with the definition to which the ancient Greeks adhered. Today, the context of myths implies something that is not worth trusting, while many centuries ago, these stories represented oral or written epics in which many people believed. The author of the article notes that those works formed the basis of many subsequent literary genres, in particular, the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and other outstanding personalities.
One of the unique features of ancient Greek mythology is its connection with modernity, which can be traced in architectural, sculptural, and other forms of art. Cartwright mentions the Parthenon in Athens, the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, and other constructions that have survived to this day and are of the highest cultural value. In an effort to know the world around them to the smallest detail, the ancient Greeks created stories about the origin of natural phenomena, their masters, and all those characters who became legendary heroes.
Initially, myths were passed orally from generation to generation. However, as Cartwright notes, due to the efforts of individual historians (Thucydides and Herodotus), most of the epic was documented. These stories became not only a means of cognition for the inhabitants of ancient Greece but also a source of inspiration for many authors. As a result, the formation of this cultural trend may be considered the background of subsequent literature.
Mythological Plots and Images
Numerous characters mentioned in the article by Cartwright are known to many people today. The myths themselves often had simple plots that were designed to explain the origin of certain natural phenomena, for instance, fire, rain, and others. In their work, the authors of these stories often raised the theme of the afterlife, which allowed people to receive answers to questions about the life of the other world.
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The kinship of the gods of Olympus and the features of their relationships were perceived as given, which can be interpreted as an attempt to reflect the human essence of higher beings. The pantheon itself included a wide range of the gods, and each of them represented a particular element or phenomenon, which, in turn, helped people identify certain life situations with specific characters. As a result, the construction of temples and places of worship for individual gods became natural in ancient Greece.
The themes raised in myths concerned not only the gods but also heroes who performed feats and fought with the manifestation of evil. As Cartwright states, the Greek epic included “a number of monsters and strange creatures” that had certain characteristics and reflected human vices, strengths, weaknesses, and fears. Hercules, Perseus, Theseus, Achilles, and other heroes were outstanding characters who achieved success and demonstrated courage and dedication in their fight against enemies.
The authors of myths mentioned traditional moral values, and some individuals were associated with greed (King Midas), narcissism (Narcissus), and other vices. Therefore, one can assume that ancient Greek mythology was the basis of all subsequent stories about heroes and their enemies, and today, the themes of these works are known to the whole world.
Ancient Greek mythology is a unique genre of literature, and by analyzing the considered article, one can assess the variety of themes and characters mentioned in these works, which speaks of their authors’ unconditional talent. While being oral narratives initially, subsequently, these stories became written and passed from generation to generation. The themes of myths were different, but the religious subtext was key, and the heroic epos reflected the importance of fighting vices and demonstrated the strength of individual characters.
Cartwright, Mark. “Greek Mythology.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, 2012. Web.