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MythsExplaintheWorld

TheancientGreeksbelievedinmanygods.ThesegodswereatthecenterofGreekmythology
abodyofstoriesaboutgodsandheroesthattrytoexplainhowtheworldworks.Eachstory,or
myth,explainednaturalorhistoricalevents.

GreekGods

Peopletodayhavescientificexplanationsforeventslikethunder,earthquakes,andvolcanic
eruptions.TheancientGreeksdidnot.Theybelievedtheirgodscausedtheseeventsto
happen,andtheycreatedmythstoexplainthegodsactions.

AmongthemostimportantGreekgodsweretheonesinthepicturebelow:
Zeus,kingofthegods
Hera,queenofthegods
Poseidon,godofthesea
Hades,godoftheunderworld
Demeter,goddessofagriculture
Hestia,goddessofthehearth
Athena,goddessofwisdom
Apollo,godofthesun
Artemis,goddessofthemoon
Ares,godofwar
Aphrodite,goddessoflove
Hephaestus,godofmetalworking
Dionusus,godofcelebration
Hermes,themessengergod

GodsandMythology

TheGreekssawtheworkofthegodsineventsallaroundthem.Forexample,theGreekslived
inanareawherevolcaniceruptionswerecommon.Toexplaintheseeruptions,theytoldstories
aboutthegodHephaestus(hiFEStuhs),wholivedunderground.Thefireandlavathatpoured
outofvolcanoes,theGreekssaid,camefromthehugefiresofthegodsforge.Atthisforgehe
createdweaponsandarmorfortheothergods.

TheGreeksdidnotthinkthegodsspentalltheirtimecreatingdisasters,though.Theyalso
believedthegodscauseddailyevents.Forexample,theybelievedthegoddessofagriculture,
Demeter(diMEEtuhr),createdtheseasons.AccordingtoGreekmyth,Demeterhada

daughterwhowaskidnappedbyanothergod.Thedesperategoddessbeggedthegodtolether
daughtergo,andeventuallyheagreedtoletherreturntohermotherforsixmonthseveryyear.
Duringthewinter,Demeterisseparatedfromherdaugherandmissesher.Inhergrief,she
doesntletplantsgrow.Whenherdaughtercomeshome,thegoddessishappy,andsummer
comestoGreece.TotheGreeks,thisstoryexplainedwhywintercameeveryyear.

HeroesandMythology

NotallGreekmythswereaboutgods.Manytoldabouttheadventuresofgreatheroes.Someof
theseheroeswererealpeople,whileotherswerenot.TheGreekslovedtotellthestoriesof
heroeswhohadspecialabilitiesandfacedterriblemonsters.Thepeopleofeachcityhadtheir
favoritehero,usuallysomeonefromthere.

ThepeopleofAthens,forexample,toldstoriesabouttheheroTheseus.Accordingtolegendhe
traveledtoCreteandkilledtheminotaur,aterriblemonsterthatwashalfhumanandhalfbull.
PeoplefromnorthernGreecetoldmythsaboutJasonandhowhesailedacrosstheseasin
searchofagreattreasure,fightingenemiesthewholeway.

PerhapsthemostfamousofalltheGreekheroeswasamancalledHerakles.Themyths
explainhowHeraklesfoughtmanymonstersandperformednearlyimpossibletasks.For
example,hefoughtthehydra,ahugesnakewithnineheadsandpoisonousfangs.Everytime
Heraklescutoffoneofthemonstersheads,twomoreheadsgrewinitsplace.Intheend,
Herakleshadtoburnthehydrasneckeachtimehecutoffaheadtokeepanewheadfrom
growing.PeoplefromallpartsofGreeceenjoyedstoriesaboutHeraklesandhisgreatdeeds.

Questions:

1. Whatismythology?
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2. HowdidGreeksusemythstoexplaintheworldaroundthem?
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