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Things You Probably Missed About Greek Mythology

Greek mythology god Apollo
Apollo in the temple of Zeus. Credit: wikimedia commons / Egisto Sani cc by 2.0

Many are the stories from ancient Greek mythology that are widely known around the world, and many are the movies based on them.

Over the centuries, Greek Mythology has set the basis of how people view the ancient world. However, the telling of these ancient stories has often diverted from the facts, leading to a series of longstanding misconceptions concerning ancient Greek gods and goddesses as well as other mythical personages and creatures.

Hades wasn’t such a monster in Greek mythology

As the god of death and the underworld, Hades has a bit of darkness and evil connected to him due to the fact that he is often treated like the ancient Greek version of the Christian devil.

However, it wasn’t Hades himself who chose to rule the underworld. He and his brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, drew straws to decide who would rule which realm.

Let’s just say that Hades was unlucky and got stuck with the underworld while his brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, were granted power over the Gods and the sea, respectively.

We must keep in mind that despite his reputation, Hades was not the one responsible for the condemnation or redemption of souls. Those were the three demigod brothers, Minos, Aiakos, and Rhadamanthys, who decided on a soul’s fate.

Ares was not that powerful and Artemis was a killer

Ares may be the god of war, and his name may be a synonym for bloodshed, but he always obeyed his sister Athena’s orders in Greek mythology.

Athena, like her brother, also oversees war, and she is the goddess of defense and righteous battle, which makes Ares bow to her. As seen in The Iliad, Athena often intervenes on behalf of a fair battle and Ares always backs down.

Artemis is the daughter of Zeus and the twin sister of Apollo. Artemis is the huntress and the protector of animals. She’s also the goddess of childbirth and the destroyer of young women. Artemis once killed six daughters of Niobe for insulting her mother, Leto.

Theseus Was a Manipulator

Everyone knows the story of Theseus slaying the Minotaur in Crete and managing the impossible exit of the Labyrinth which cost many people’s lives in Greek mythology.

He did all that with the help of the Cretan princess Ariadne. He later took her with him when he left the island only to abandon her on the Greek island of Naxos.

According to Plutarch, when Theseus founded today’s capital of Greece, Athens, he decided that the best way to populate it was by raping the women—thus earning the eternal hatred of his new family.

Medusa was not the only monster in Greek mythology

Medusa is famous for her snake hair and her appearance that would turn anyone who looks into her eyes to stone.

What is often missed is that Medusa was the only mortal of the three Gorgon sisters. Stheno and Euryale were immortals, and they also had snakes for hair.

Echidna was a sister to Medusa and wife to Typhon, a hundred-headed dragon. The two of them gave birth to many famous and terrifying monsters, such as the Nemean lion, Cerberus, Hydra, and Ladon.

She was also mother of the Chimera, the Sphinx, Scylla, the Colchian dragon, and the eagle that ate Prometheus’ liver every day for an eternity as was his punishment.

Zeus, the serial predator

Zeus is the ruler of the Gods and has fathered many important figures in Greek mythology. Zeus used to transform into animals to fulfill his desires. He charmed both Demeter and her daughter Persephone, who later married his brother, in a serpent’s form.

He also took the forms of many other animals and took advantage of many women. He pursued Asteria and Aiginia as an eagle, Boetis as a goat, and Europa as a bull among other women.

Zeus also took advantage of some women by allowing them to believe he was their husband. A glaring example is the story of Alkmene, Hercules’s mother.

The Olympians were not the first immortals in Greek mythology

Before the Olympian gods, there were the even older Titans. First, there was Chaos, father to Gaia (earth) and Eros (love). Gaia gave birth to Uranos (sky), the Sea and the Mountains.

Later, she married Uranos and gave birth to the Titan Cronus. Cronus married his sister Rhea and bore the Original Olympian immortals—Poseidon, Demeter, Hera, Hestia, Hades, and Zeus.

The Olympian gods even went to war with the Titans for control of the world in Greek mythology.

Pandora had a daughter, and Aphrodite went to war

Pandora, the woman who opened the box of evils onto the world, was the wife of Epimetheus and mother to a mortal daughter, Pyrrha. Because of Pyrrha’s marriage to her cousin, Deukalion, the gods sent a massive flood to destroy the earth and the mortals.

However, Pyrrha and Deukalion managed to survive the flood, and, after seeking help from the Oracle at Delphi, they cast the bones of Pandora to the ground so that the world would be repopulated. Thus, Pandora is the mother of the human race.

Even though Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty, she was also romantically tied to Ares and bore him three children: Eros, Phobos, and Deimos.

This is why she’s often associated with war affairs. Statues and depictions of her wearing armor and armed with weapons have been found in several port cities.

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