Greek Mythology Origin
The oldest Greek literary sources, that we know of, are Homer's epic poems the Odyssey and rhe Iliad which refer to the events of Trojan war and Hesiod's Theogony and the Works and Days. These two poems contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the first divine rulers of the human ages, the origin of human woes and the origin of sacrificial practices. Greek myths also are preserved in the Homeric Hymns and in other fragments of epic poems found in era of the Epic cycle. They can also be found in lyric poems and in the works of the tragedians which were written somewhere up to 500 BC, and in manuscripts such as Bibliotheca by Pseudo-Apollodorus. Credits also go to the most famous Roman writers such as Ovid who is known as the author of poetry collections Heroides, Amores and Ars Amatoria, and Plutarch who is most known by his famous work Parallel lives. These written artifacts along with other artifacts and greek architecture had strong influence on culture, arts and literature of the western civilization.
It is known to this day that Myths are playing important role in nearly every genre of Greek literature. Lyrical poets often took their subjects from myths but gave them rather more allusive connotation than in original narrative describings. Most of the time, in their works, they relate to individual mythological incidents and try to elaborate connections between their experience and mythical events recorded in the past. Also the tragic and comic playwrights such as Sophocles, Aristophanes and Aeschylus used sources from myths and other literature to present their works.
There were also historians and geographers who supplied myths and legends based on stories which they heard from local people while travelling across Europe and Middle East. Most famous was Herodotus who was supposedly first known historian collecting his materials systematically and test their accuracy to a certain extent. He was also known for arranging them in a well constructed and vivid narrative. More sources came from archeological finds in the nineteenth and twelfth century by discovering Mycenaean and Minoan civilization which helped to explain many existing questions about Homer's epics and provided archaeological evidence for many of the mythological details about gods and heroes. However, the evidence found there reveal that they were mostly recording inventories but some names of gods and heroes have also been recorded. There was also a historian by the name Pausanias who described Greece in ten books as he recorded his journey across different parts of Greece.
The great Greek oral poet is thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC. He is credited by the ancient authors to have established Greek religious costums, while modern scholars refer to him as a major source of Greek mythology, farming techniques, Greek astronomy and is even identified by some to be the first economist. Hesiod practised various styles of traditional verse, including gnomic, hymnic, genealogical and narrative poetry.
His earliest works are believed to be the Theogony and the Works and Days. In first he shows his remarkable interest in genealogy as he is describing the very first beginning of the world and the origin of the gods. Some fragments of older tales that once existed can also be found in his work. In second, which is a poem of over 800 verses, he talks about him, his brother Perses and their heritage of the land. Perses lost all his wealth and came back for what originally belonged to Hesiod. He went to the law and bribed judges in his favour. In general, this work lays out the myth of the five ages of men as well as containing advice and wisdom, encouraging life of honest labour and strongly attacking idleness and injustice, as well as the practice of usury. It also describes immortals who roam the earth watching over justice and injustice.
The author of the Iliad and the Odyssey is known as the greatest epic poet of Ancient Greece. It is still unknown when exactly was he born. According to Herodotus, he was living around 850 BC while other sources put him much nearer to the time of Trojan War which is believed to be around 1200 BC. Nowadays researchers are putting him between 7th and 8th century BC. His works which are fifty percent speeches, provided models in persuasive writing and speaking that were followed and emulated throughout the ancient Greek worlds.
The Iliad talks about the ten-year siege of the city of Troy. While the story only covers the last weeks of the siege itself, it also reveals earlier events such as the cause of the war which was originated from the argument between Athena, Hera and Aphrodite when Eris disrupted the wedding, the gathering of the warriors for the siege and prophecies of the future such as the Sack of Troy(trojan horse) and the death of Achilles. On the other hand, the Odyssey describes a greek hero Odysseus and his journey back home from Trojan war. It takes him another ten year to reach his home island of Ithaca after ten years of war. Meanwhile, Penelope has to deal with more and more nudging suitors.