This essay Greek Mythology And Religion has a total of 1867 words and 10 pages.
Greek Mythology and Religion
Mythology is the study and interpretation of myth and the body of myths of a particular culture. Myth is a complex cultural phenomenon that can be approached from a number of viewpoints. In general, myth is a narrative that describes and portrays in symbolic language the origin of the basic elements and assumptions of a culture. Mythic narrative relates, for example, how the world began, how humans and animals were created, and how certain customs, gestures, or forms of human activities originated. Almost all cultures possess or at one time possessed and lived in terms of myths.
Myths differ from fairy tales in that they refer to a time that is different from ordinary. The time sequence of myth is extraordinary- an "other" time - the time before the conventional world came into being. Because myths refer to an extraordinary time and place and to gods and other supernatural beings and processes, they have usually been seen as aspects of religion. Because of the inclusive nature of myth, however, it can illustrate many aspects of individual and cultural life.
Meaning and interpretation
From the beginnings of Western culture, myth has presented a problem of meaning and interpretation, and a history of controversy has gathered about both the value and the status of mythology.
Myth, History, and Reason
In the Greek heritage of the West, myth or mythos has always been in tension with reason or logos, which signified the sensible and analytic mode of arriving at a true account of reality. The Greek philosophers Xenophanes, Plato, and Aristotle, for example, exalted reason and made sarcastic criticisms of myth as a proper way of knowing reality.
The distinctions between reason and myth and between myth and history, although essential, were never quite absolute. Aristotle concluded that in some of the early Greek creation myths, logos and mythos overlapped. Plato used myths as metaphors and also as literary devices in developing an argument.
Western Mythical Traditions
The debate over whether myth, reason, or history best expresses the meaning of the reality of the gods, humans, and nature has continued in Western culture as a legacy from its earliest traditions. Among these traditions were the myths of the Greeks. Adopted and assimilated by the Romans, they furnished literary, philosophical, and artistic inspiration to such later periods as the Renaissance and the romantic era. The pagan tribes of Europe furnished another body of tradition. After these tribes became part of Christendom, elements of their mythologies persisted as the folkloric substratum of various European cultures.
Greek religion and mythology are supernatural beliefs and ritual observances of the ancient Greeks, commonly related to a diffuse and contradictory body of stories and legends. The most notable features of this religion were many gods having different personalities having human form and feelings, the absence of any established religious rules or authoritative revelation such as, for example, the Bible, the strong use of rituals, and the government almost completely subordinating the population's religious beliefs. Apart from the mystery cults, most of the early religions in Greece are not solemn or serious in nature nor do they contain the concepts of fanaticism or mystical inspiration, which were Asian beliefs and did not appear until the Hellenistic period (about 323-146 B.C.). At its first appearance in classical literature, Greek mythology had already received its definitive form. Some divinities were either introduced or developed more fully at a later date, but in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey the major Olympian gods appear in substantially the forms they retained until paganism ceased to exist. Homer usually is considered responsible for the highly developed personifications of the gods and the comparative rationalism that characterized Greek religious thought. In general Greek gods were divided into those of heaven, earth, and sea; frequently, however, the gods governing the earth and sea constituted a single category.
The celestial gods were thought to dwell in the sky or on Mount Olympus in Thessaly. The Earth, or chthonic (Gr. chtho n, "earth"), deities were thought to dwell on or under the earth, and were closely associated with the heroes and the dead. The lines separating these divine orders were indefinite, and the deities of one order were often found in another. The gods were held to be immortal; yet they were also believed to have had a beginning. They were represented as exercising control over the world and the forces of nature. Ananke, the
Topics Related to Greek Mythology And Religion
Names of God, Eleusinian Mysteries, Greek underworld, Greek mythology, Deities, Twelve Olympians, Zeus, Hestia, Persephone, Olympian Gods, Olympians, Pluto, greek creation myths, mythic narrative, greek philosophers, greek heritage, greek mythology, literary devices, basic elements, time sequence, symbolic language, supernatural beings, developing an argument, true account, western culture, aristotle, mythos, fairy tales, metaphors, time and place, gestures, plato
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