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Faculty of Humanities and Social Science => English => Topic started by: nusrat-diu on June 02, 2011, 05:57:06 PM

Title: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 02, 2011, 05:57:06 PM
Creation of the World

In the begining there was only chaos. Then out of the void appeared Erebus, the unknowable place where death dwells, and Night. All else was empty, silent, endless, darkness. Then somehow Love was born bringing a start of order. From Love came Light and Day. Once there was Light and Day, Gaea, the earth appeared.
Then Erebus slept with Night, who gave birth to Ether, the heavenly light, and to Day the earthly light. Then Night alone produced Doom, Fate, Death, Sleep, Dreams, Nemesis, and others that come to man out of darkness.

Meanwhile Gaea alone gave birth to Uranus, the heavens. Uranus became Gaea's mate covering her on all sides. Together they produced the three Cyclopes, the three Hecatoncheires, and twelve Titans.

However, Uranus was a bad father and husband. He hated the Hecatoncheires. He imprisoned them by pushing them into the hidden places of the earth, Gaea's womb. This angered Gaea and she ploted against Uranus. She made a flint sickle and tried to get her children to attack Uranus. All were too afraid except, the youngest Titan, Cronus.

Gaea and Cronus set up an ambush of Uranus as he lay with Gaea at night. Cronus grabed his father and castrated him, with the stone sickle, throwing the severed genitales into the ocean. The fate of Uranus is not clear. He either died, withdrew from the earth, or exiled himself to Italy. As he departed he promised that Cronus and the Titans would be punished. From his spilt blood came the Giants, the Ash Tree Nymphs, and the Erinnyes. From the sea foam where his genitales fell came Aphrodite.

Cronus became the next ruler. He imprisoned the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires in Tartarus. He married his sister Rhea, under his rule the Titans had many offspring. He ruled for many ages. However, Gaea and Uranus both had prophesied that he would be overthrown by a son. To avoid this Cronus swallowed each of his children as they were born. Rhea was angry at the treatment of the children and ploted against Cronus. When it came time to give birth to her sixth child, Rhea hid herself, then she left the child to be raised by nymphs. To concel her act she wrapped a stone in swaddling cloths and passed it off as the baby to Cronus, who swallowed it.

This child was Zeus. He grew into a handsome youth on Crete. He consulted Metis on how to defeat Cronus. She prepaired a drink for Cronus design to make him vomit up the other children. Rhea convinced Cronus to accept his son and Zeus was allowed to return to Mount Olympus as Cronus's cupbearer. This gave Zeus the opertunity to slip Cronus the specially prepaired drink. This worked as planned and the other five children were vomitted up. Being gods they were unharmed. They were thankful to Zeus and made him their leader.

Cronus was yet to be defeated. He and the Titans, except Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Oceanus, fought to retain their power. Atlas became their leader in battle and it looked for some time as though they would win and put the young gods down. However, Zeus was cunning. He went down to Tartarus and freed the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires. Prometheus joined Zeus as well. He returned to battle with his new allies. The Cyclopes provided Zeus with lighting bolts for weapons. The Hecatoncheires he set in ambush armed with boulders. With the time right, Zeus retreated drawing the Titans into the Hecatoncheires's ambush. The Hecatoncheires rained down hundreds of boulders with such a fury the Titans thought the mountains were falling on them. They broke and ran giving Zeus victory.

Zeus exiled the Titans who had fought against him into Tartarus. Except for Atlas, who was singled out for the special punishment of holding the world on his shoulders.

However, even after this victory Zeus was not safe. Gaea angry that her children had been imprisoned gave birth to a last offspring, Typhoeus. Typhoeus was so fearsome that most of the gods fled. However, Zeus faced the monster and flinging his lighting bolts was able to kill it. Typhoeus was burried under Mount Etna in Sicily.

Much later a final challenge to Zeus rule was made by the Giants. They went so far as to attempt to invade Mount Olympus, piling mountain upon mountain in an effort to reach the top. But, the gods had grown strong and with the help of Heracles the Giants were subdued or killed.

Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 02, 2011, 05:58:54 PM
The Creation of Man by Prometheus

Prometheus and Epimetheus were spared imprisonment in Tatarus because they had not fought with their fellow Titans during the war with the Olympians. They were given the task of creating man. Prometheus shaped man out of mud, and Athena breathed life into his clay figure.
Prometheus had assigned Epimetheus the task of giving the creatures of the earth thier various qualities, such as swiftness, cunning, strength, fur, wings. Unfortunately, by the time he got to man Epimetheus had given all the good qualities out and there were none left for man. So Prometheus decided to make man stand upright as the gods did and to give them fire.

Prometheus loved man more then the Olympians, who had banished most of his family to Tartarus. So when Zeus decreed that man must present a portion of each animal they scarified to the gods Prometheus decided to trick Zeus. He created two piles, one with the bones wrapped in juicy fat, the other with the good meat hidden in the hide. He then bade Zeus to pick. Zeus picked the bones. Since he had given his word Zeus had to accept that as his share for future sacrafices. In his anger over the trick he took fire away from man. However, Prometheus lit a torch from the sun and brought it back again to man. Zeus was enraged that man again had fire. He decided to inflict a terrable punishment on both man and Prometheus.

To punish man, Zeus had Hephaestus create a mortal of stunning beauty. The gods gave the mortal many gifts of wealth. He then had Hermes give the mortal a deceptive heart and a lying tongue. This creation was Pandora, the first women. A final gift was a jar which Pandora was forbidden to open. Thus, completed Zeus sent Pandora down to Epimetheus who was staying amongst the men.

Prometheus had warned Epimetheus not to accept gifts from Zeus but, Pandora's beauty was too great and he allowed her to stay. Eventually, Pandora's curiosity about the jar she was forbidden to open became to great. She opened the jar and out flew all manor of evils, sorrows, plagues, and misfortunes. However, the bottom of the jar held one good thing - hope.

Zeus was angry at Prometheus for three things: being tricked on scarifices, stealing fire for man, and for refusing to tell Zeus which of Zeus's children would dethrone him. Zeus had his servants, Force and Violence, seize Prometheus, take him to the Caucasus Mountains, and chain him to a rock with unbreakable adamanite chains. Here he was tormented day and night by a giant eagle tearing at his liver. Zeus gave Prometheus two ways out of this torment. He could tell Zeus who the mother of the child that would dethrone him was. Or meet two conditions: First, that an immortal must volunteer to die for Prometheus. Second, that a mortal must kill the eagle and unchain him. Eventually, Chiron the Centaur agreed to die for him and Heracles killed the eagle and unbound him.

Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 02, 2011, 06:00:31 PM
Zeus Lovers
As the sky god Zeus had easy access to the women of the world and took full advantage of it. Also, his power as a supreme god made him difficult to resist. Prior to his marrage to Hera he was married first to Metis, then Themis. He was interested in Demeter but she resisted him. His third wife was Mnemosyne. The list of lovers after his final marrage, to Hera, is considerable:
Europa was the daughter of the King Agenor of Sidon. She had the continent of Europe named for her. Somewhat miraculesly Hera was distracted during her affair with Zeus and never punished her for it.
One night Europa had a dream. In this dream two continents, which were in the forms of women were arguing over Europa. Asia maintained that since Europa had been born in Asia she belonged to it. The other continent, which was nameless, said that her birth was not important, that Zeus would give her to it.

It was early morning, disturbed by the dream Europa did not go back to sleep. She summoned her companions, who were all daughters of nobility and of her age. It was a beautiful day and they went off gathering flowers by the sea. Zeus noticed this charming group, particularly Europa, who was the prettest of the maidens. Some say that Eros, induced him into action with one of his darts. Although, Zeus often made due with self motivation. In any case, Zeus appeared to the group as a white bull. A white bull more beautiful then any other. A bull that smelled of flowers, and lowed musically. A bull so obviously gentle that all the maidens rushed to stroke and pet it.

The bull laid down in front of Europa. She slid on to its back. Instantly, the bull charged off, plunging into the sea, and began to swim rapidly from the shore. Europa saw that a procesion had joined them, Nereids riding dolphins, Triton blowing his horn, even Poseidon. From this she realized that the bull must be a god. She pleaded with him to pity her. Zeus spoke to her and explained his love. He took her to Create, where he had been raised. He promised that she would bear him many famous sons.

Her sons included Minos I and Rhadamanthus.

Zeus fell in love with Io and seduced her. To try to keep Hera from noticing he covered the world with a thick blanket of clouds. This backfired, arousing Hera's suspicions. She came down from Mount Olympus and begain dispersing the clouds. Zeus did some quick thinking and changed Io's form from being a lovely maiden. So as the clouds dispersed Hera found Zeus standing next to a white heifer. He then swore that he had never seen the cow before, it had just sprang right out of the earth. Seeing right through this Hera complimented the cow and asked to have it as a present. As turning such a reasonable request down would have given the whole thing away, Zeus presented her with the cow.
She sent the cow away and arranged Arges to watch over it. Since Arges had a hundred eyes and could have some of them sleep while others were awake he made a fine watchman. Desperate, Zeus sent Hermes to fetch Io. Disgused as a shepard, Hermes had to employ all his skill as a musician and story teller to gain Arges confidence and lull him to sleep. Once asleep Hermes killed Arges. As a memorial, Hera took his eyes and set them into the tail of her favorite bird, the peacock.

While Io was now free Hera sent the mother of all gad-flys to sting the still bovine Io. This pushed her near madness, trying to escape she wandered the world. During her wanders she came across Prometheus while chained. He gave her hope. He predicted that she would have to wander for many years. But, she would eventually be changed back into human form and would bear a child. He predicted that a decendent of this child would be a great hero and set him free.

His predictions came true. During her wanderings many geographical features where named after her including the Ionian Sea, and the Bosphorus (which means ford of the cow). She eventually reached the Nile where Zeus did restore her to human form. She bore Epaphus and eleven generations later her descendant Hercules would set Prometheus free.

Semele was a Thebian princess. She is the only mortal to be the parent of a god. She was one of Zeus many lovers and like most came to an unfortunate end due to Hera's jealous hatred. She is best known as the mother of Dionysus. While she was killed shortly before giving birth the child was resuced by Zeus. Eventually Dionysus, who had never seen her, managed to rescue her from the underworld. and arrange for her to live on Mount Olympus.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 02, 2011, 06:01:19 PM
Athenia's Birth
Zeus came to lust after Metis, and chased her in his direct way. Metis tried to escape, going so far as to change her form many times. Turning into various creatures such as hawks, fish, and serpents. However, Zeus was both determined and equally proficient at changing form. He continued his persuit until she relented.
An Oracle of Gaea then prophesied that Metis first child would be a girl but, her second child would be a boy that would overthrow Zeus as had happened to his father and grandfather. Zeus took this warning to heart. When he next saw Metis he flattered her and put her at her ease. Then with Metis off gaurd Zeus suddenly opened his mouth and swallowed her. This was the end of Metis but, possibly the beginning of Zeus's wisdom.

After a time Zeus developed the mother of all headaches. He howled so loudly it could be heard throughout the earth. The other gods came to see what the problem was. Hermes realized what needed to be done and directed Hephaestus to take a wedge and split open Zeus's skull. Out of the skull sprang Athena, full grown and in a full set of armour. Due to her manor of birth she has dominion over all things of the intellect.

Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 02, 2011, 06:02:09 PM
The Wanderings of Dionysus
Once he had grown to manhood Dionysus decied to wander far and wide, including areas outside of greece. Where ever he went he taught men how to cultivate vines, and the mysteries of his cult. He was accepted until he returned to his own country of Thebes.
As he journeyed back to greece he was spotted by pirates. He appeared to them as a rich young man. He might even be the son of a king. He certainly looked like his parents would pay a rich ransom for his safe return. Happy at their good luck the pirates siezed him and brought him aboard their ship. They then attempted to tie him to the ship but, the ropes refused to hold. Anyplace a rope touched him it just fell apart. Dionysus watched calmly, smiling.

After some time the helmsman realized that only a god could be responsible. He called out that the crew should free Dionysus and beg his forgiveness. But, the captain mocked the helmsman as a fool and called for the crew to set sail. The crew raised the sail and caught the wind but, the ship did not move. Looking around they saw the ship quickly becoming overgrown with vines that held it fast. Dionysus then changed himself into a lion and began to chase the crewmen. To escape they leaped overboard but, as they did they were changed to dolphins. Only on the helmsman did Dionysus have mercy.

As he passed through Thrance he was insulted by King Lycurgus, who bitterly opposed his new religion. Initialy Dionysus retreated into the sea but, he returned, overpowered Lycurgus and imprisoned him in a rocky cave. Dionysus planned to let him reflect and learn from his mistakes. However, Zeus did not care to have the gods insulted, so he blinded then killed Lycurgus.

He pressed on to Thebes, ruled by his cousin Pentheus. However, Pentheus did not know of Dionysus. Dionysus was with a group of his followers, who were naturally singing and dancing loudly, flushed with wine. Pentheus disliked the loud, strangers, and ordered his guards to imprison them all. He refered to their leader as a cheating sorcerer from Lydia. When he said this the blind old phophet Teiresias, who had already dressed as one of Dionysus's followers gave Pentheus a warning: "The man you reject is a new god. He is Semele's child, whom Zeus rescued. He, along with Demeter, are the greatest upon earth for men." Pentheus, seeing the strange garb Teiresias had on, laughed at him and ordered his guards to continue.

The guards soon found that ropes fell apart, latches fell open, and there they could not imprison Dionysus's followers. The took Dionysus to Pentheus. Dionysus tried to explain at length his worship but, Pentheus listened only to his own anger and insulted Dionysus. Finally, Dionysus gave up and left Pentheus to his doom.

Pentheus persued Dionysus followers up into the hills where they had gone after walking away from his prison. Many of the local women including Pentheus's mother and sister had joined them there. Then Dionysus appeared to his followers in his most terrible aspect and drove them mad. To them Pentheus appeared to be a moutain lion. In a berserk rage they attacked him. Now Pentheus realized he had fought with a god and would die for it. His mother was the first to reach him, and ripped his head off, while the others tore off his limbs.


Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 02, 2011, 06:05:43 PM
The Principal Gods Family Tree

                     Uranus = Gaea
           |      |          |      |        |
         Cronus = Rhea       Coeus = Phoebe   Oceanus = Tethys
               |                  |                  |
   ----------------------        Leto = Zeus       Iapetus
   |   |    |     |   |              |               |
 Hestia | Poseidon | Demeter=Zeus     |         ----------------
     Hades   Zeus = Hera   |       |        |      |       |
               |   |   Persephone     |         | Prometheus |
           Athena |             ---------      |             |
                   |             |      |    Atlas   Epimetheus
           ---------------     Apollo Artemis |          |
           |     |       |                       |         |
         Aris Hebe Hephaestus             Zeus=Maia  Zeus=Dione
                                                 |         |
                                               Hermes   Aphrodite

From Edith Hamilton's Mythology
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 02, 2011, 06:22:31 PM
The Story Of Narcissus:

Once upon a time, there was a boy called Narcissus. He was the son of a god and he was very, very handsome. Many women fell in love with him, but he turned them away. One of the women who loved Narcissus was a nymph called Echo. Echo could not speak properly - she could only repeat what was said to her, so she couldn't tell Narcissus that she loved him. One day, when Narcissus was walking in the woods with some friends, he became separated from them. He called out "Is anyone here?" Echo replied "Here, Here". Echo stepped forward with open arms, wanting to cuddle him. But Narcissus refused to accept Echo's love. Echo was so upset that she left and hid in a cave, until nothing was left of her, except her voice.

The Maiden, a goddess, found out about this, and she was very angry. She made Narcissus fall in love with himself. When Narcissus looked at his reflection in a pond one day, he fell in love. He stayed on that spot forever, until he died one day. Where he died a flower grew, and that flower is called a Narcissus.

The Story Of Echo:

Hera, the Queen of Mt. Olympus, cast a spell over her servant Echo for talking too much. As a punishment, Echo could henceforth only repeat what someone else said.

Poor Echo! She was in love with handsome Narcissus, and yearned to tell him so! One day Echo saw Narcissus admiring himself in a clear pond. Looking at his reflection, he vainly said to the face in the water, "I love you."

Echo repeated, "I love you," and meant it. But Narcissus thought it was his reflection that spoke and stood gazing at himself until he died and Hermes led him away to the Land of the Dead. Echo pined for him till she, too, faded away. All that was left of her was her voice that can still be heard in certain hollow places, senselessly repeating the words of others.

Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 02, 2011, 06:25:52 PM
Roman Half God, Half Man: Hercules

All the gods knew that Hercules was half man and half god. His mother was a mortal. But his father was a king - the king of all the gods, the mighty Jupiter. But Hercules did not know he was part god until he had grown into a man.   

Juno, Jupiter' wife, was very jealous of Hercules. She tried all kinds of ways to kill him, including sending a couple of really big snakes into his crib. He was just a baby, but Hercules crushed those snakes and barely noticed. Hercules was incredibly strong, magically strong, even as a baby!

Jupiter admired strength. He loved his little son. He figured that sooner or later, Juno might actually find a way to kill little Hercules. To keep Hercules safe from attack, Jupiter sent him to live with a mortal family on earth. 

Hercules grew up loved and noble. But he didn't fit in on earth. He was too big and too strong. One day, his earth father told him he was a god, well, part god anyway. 

The rest of the story of Hercules is a series of stories, tasks, and adventures, as Hercules earned his way into the heavens, to take his place with the gods.   

As the story goes ..... 

Eurystheus was the mortal cousin of Hercules. He hated his cousin, Hercules. When Juno offered to help Eurystheus design 12 Labors (missions or tasks) that Hercules had to complete, tasks that could get Hercules killed, Eurystheus jumped at it.

Hercules believed that when he had completed the 12 missions, he would have earned immortality. That's what the Oracle at Delphi had said. Actually, the oracle had said, "If you complete 12 Labors, immorality will be yours." Of course, being an oracle, she never explained what she meant by "immortality" - would he live forever in legend or for real? Hercules never asked. (She would not have told him anyway.)


Eurystheus did not want Hercules coming after his crown. It would never have occurred to Hercules to do so. But an evil little man like Eurystheus would never have believed that. Each time Eurystheus and Juno gave Hercules a task to accomplish, they were sure that Hercules would never live through it.

But Hercules surprised them. He not only lived, he had great adventures, discovered true friends, and rid the world of some really nasty critters.

Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:05:40 PM
The most famous feats of Hercules, are collectively known as "The Labors of Hercules". Here is a little background on the story:

At a time of his life, Hercules became insane and as a result he killed his children. When his sanity returned,he received instructions from Pythia ,the priestess of the oracle in Delphi,to go to Tiryns and perform any ten labors devised from him by king Eurystheus . As we will later see, the ten labors were increased to twelve, since Eurystheus at some time challenged the fact whether Hercules had truly completed two of the labors assigned to him.

By successfully completing these labors, Hercules would not only pay for his crime, but also achieve immortality and take his rightful place among the gods.

Reluctantly, Hercules agreed to submit to the will of the hated Eurystheus, to whom Hera had given the throne that Zeus had intended for Hercules.

Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:12:32 PM
Hercules's family origin comes from Argos, since his mother was Alcmene, daughter of the Mycenaean king Electryon (the son of Perseus and Andromeda). Alcmene was married to her cousin Amphitryon whose father Alcedes was also a son of Perseus and Andromeda. Alcmene and Amphitryon had been forced to flee Argos because Amphitryon had killed his father-in-law. The family thus settled in Thebes. There, Zeus came to earth and disguised as gold snow, lay with Alcmene, who became pregnant. By a slightly different version, Zeus impersonated Amphitryon - who was away fighting the Taphians- and seduced Alcmene, whom he convinced he was truly her husband. Zeus is said to have stayed with Alcmene for three whole nights, which is why the hero is sometimes called triesperos (from tria, or three, and esperos, or evenings). As the myth goes, Zeus had the sun god Helius unharness his chariot for a day. So the world remained dark an extra 24 hours, and Zeus romanced Alcmene for the length of a 36 hour night.
The next day, when the real Amphitryon returned, learned what had happened from the seer Teiresias. Amphitryon and Alcmene also lay together on his return and from the union, Iphicles was conceived.

Just before the hero was born, Hera overheard Zeus bragging that a son of his blood would be born that day, who would rule over the house of Perseus . Having received Zeus's assurance that this would be true, Hera then delayed Alcmene's labor and shortened by two months the pregnancy of the wife of Sthenelus, who was also a descendant of Perseus. Thus, the prematurely born Eurystheus was born first and became king of the Mycenaenans.

One of the mythological accounts that mentions Alcmene's difficulties while in labor, says Hera had sent the childbirth goddess Eileithyia to sit cross-legged in Alcmene's room (the ancient Greeks believed that sitting cross-legged prevented childbirth). But then, a childhood friend of Alcmene's, Galanthis, tricked Eileithyia by opening the door to the room and announcing that Alcmene is giving birth to a son, by the will of Zeus. Panic stricken, Eileithyia rose from her position and thus the spell was broken. Alcmene then went immediately into labor and gave birth to Hercules and his twin brother, Iphicles.

Hera did not rest after the hero's birth and relentlessly pursued the infant in an attempt to kill him. When the baby was eight months old, she sent two enormous snakes to stangle him. As soon as Iphicles saw the snakes, he was terrified and began to wail. His brother, however, grabbed them by the neck and choked them

According to a different myth, in an attempt to trigger motherly insticts on Hera, Zeus enlisted the aid of Athena to trick Hera into suckling the infant. Athena found the infant outside the walls of Thebes, where Alcmene had abandoned him in fear of Hera's jealousy. Athena showed the child to Hera and urged the goddess to take pity on the neglected infant. Without thinking, Hera bared her breast to the baby, but he sucked with such force that she tore him from her breast. The milk that spurted from the breast across the sky, is the Milky Way .

The hero's training
Amphitryon and Alcmene made various arrangements for the education of their child, whom they had initially named Alcaeus:

Linos, a son of Apollo, tutored him in music and taught him to read and write.
Amphitryon taught him how to drive a chariot.
Autolycus, son of Hermes and a notorious thief, taught him how to wrestle.
Eurytus, king of Oeschalia and a renowned bowman, taught him archery.
Castor, a renowned horseman, tutored him in combat strategy, cavalry tactics and in the art of fencing.
Cheiron, one of the Centaurs (half human, half horse creatures)taught him to be virtuous and fair.
.But one day, the young Hercules was angered when admonished by Linos, so he threw an object at his tutor. Linos was killed on the spot and Amphitryon, fearing a similar fate, sent Hercules off to Mount Cithaeron.
Hercules reached manhood on the mountain. He grew to four pychis (about twelve feet)tall and became very strong.

After completing his training, Hercules received warfare gifts from some of the Olympian gods:

Zeus gave him an unbreakable shield, made by Hephaestus
Athena gave him a helmet and a coat of arms.
Apollo gave him a bow and a quiver.
Hermes , gave him a sword.
Hephaestus, provided him a golden breastplate and protective footwear.
Poseidon , offered him a beautiful team of horses.
As Prodicus, one of the sophists or traveling teachers that flourished in Athens writes, during this period the hero chose the long and rough path of Virtue rather than the easy and hedonistic path of Evil.

When Hercules turned eighteen, he fathered his first child with one of Thespius's, king of Thespia, fifty daughters. The king of Thespiae extended his hospitality to Hercules for fifty nights, sending a different daughter to his bed each night, even though he mistakenly thought he was sleeping with the same woman. Thespius explained his actions by stating that he wanted all of his daughters to bear a child by the son of Zeus.

Marriage and Madness
On his way back to Thebes from Mount Cithaeron, the hero ran into the emissaries of Erginus, king of Orchomenus, who were on their way to Thebes to collect the annual tax of one hundred cattle imposed on the Thebans, after their defeat by the Minyans of Orchomenus. Hercules cut off their noses and ears, tied their hands and sent them back to Erginus, with the message that this was his response to their demand.

This insult triggered a war between Orchomenus and Thebes, during which both Erginus and Amphitryon were killed. Thanks to Hercules and the support of the goddess Athena, the Thebans won and were thus released from having to pay this hefty duty. In return for his assistance, Creon, the king of Thebes, gave the hero the hand of his daughter Megara, while his brother Iphicles, married Megara's sister and Alcmene married Rhadamanthys.

Hercules acquired many children from his marriage to Megara. But Hera, whose jealousy had not subsided, drove him insane so that in a crazed fit he threw all of his children and two of his brother's children into the fire.

The Twelve Labors

When he came to his senses and realized what he had done, he left Thebes and went to Thespiae to be purified in Boeotia. He then went to the Oracle of Delphi to seek Apollo's advice on what he should do and where he should settle.

Pythia called him Hercules - the hero had been known as Alcaeus until then- and ordered him to go to Mycenae to serve Eurystheus for twelve years, executing whichever commands he was given. The oracle assured the hero that after completing these tasks, he would become immortal. Eurystheus, of course, was none other than the son of Sthenelus, whose birth Hera had expedited after making Zeus swear that he would rule all the peoples around him.According to the ancient writing of Apollodorus the Athenian, all of the twelve labors were completed in eight years and one month. Click here to find a detailed account of the hero's twelve labors.

Thrown Into Slavery
After completing his twelfth labor, Hercules was free. He returned to Thebes where he married off his wife Megara to Iolaus and left for Oechalia.

Eurytus, who was the hero's tutor in archery, was king in Oechalia. He declared that he would give the hand of his beautiful blonde daughter Iole as a prize to anyone who would compete against him and defeat him in archery.The hero defeated Eurytus, but the king refused to keep his promise and threw the hero out of his kingdom. Hercules then went to Tiryns. There he met Eurytus son, Iphitus. The king's son demanded that the hero return Eurytus's cattle, as the king was convinced that he had stolen them. Angered, Hercules threw Iphitus off the walls of Tiryns.

After this murder, the hero went to Delphi to be purified, but Apollo condemned him to be sold as a slave. The money earned would be given to Eurytus as compensation for his son's death.Hercules was sold by Hermes to the queen of the Lydians, Omphale for three years. During this time, he performed several feats:

He captured midget-thieves Cercopes;
he killed Syleus who forced strangers to work in his vineyards;
he tossed the giant Lytiersus, son of Midas, into the river Maenander because the giant killed strangers after forcing them to plow his fields.

Omphale admired the hero's daring and courage, so she freed him earlier than the time they had agreed he would remain in her service. According to the latin poets, Hercules became soft living with the Lydian queen and succumbed to various pleasures, such as wearing women's garments while Omphale wore his famed lion's pelt.

The Trojan Campaign
Some writers claim the hero set off for Troy after completing his ninth labor -retrieving Hippolyte's belt- while others claim he set off for Troy after being granted his freedom by Omphale. The cause of his war against Troy was the refusal of king Laodemon to compensate Apollo and Poseidon for the construction of the city's wall. The two gods were enraged and punished him: Apollo sent the plague and Poseidon sent a sea monster that devoured the citizens of Troy. Laomedon sought advice from oracles, which suggested that Laodemon sacrifice his daughter Hesione to Poseidon to appease the sea god. Thus, the young woman was tied to a rock to await her end.

Hercules appeared at that very moment. He promised her father that he would kill the sea monster and free Hesione, but requested in exchange that Laomedon would give him the magnificent horses the king had received from Zeus, as compensation for the abduction of Ganymede. Laodemon agreed and the hero killed the monster and saved Hesione. But then the king forfeited on his promise. Hercules was enraged and thus he went to war against Troy. After defeating the city, he gave Hesione as a trophy to Telamon, who had entered the city first. Telamon allowed the girl to choose one of her compatriots to take with her. Hesione chose her brother Priam and purchased his freedom with a golden veil. She then married Telamon and bore him a son, Teucer.

The Olympic Games
After the adventure in Troy, Hercules went to war against Elis and king Augeias seeking vengeance for the king's refusal to honor a promise to pay him a fee for cleaning the stables.

Hercules killed the king and his sons. He then went to Olympia where he organized a foot race with a kotinos, or wreath of wild olive branches, as the prize. He thus founded the Olympic Games and raised temples dedicated to the twelve gods of Mount Olympus and the hero Pelops.

The tragic death and apotheosis
After taking part in so many wars and becoming involved in so many amorous adventures, the hero went to Aetolia to seek the hand of Deianeira, daughter of king Oeneus of Calydon.

After defeating the river god Achelous who was his rival for Deianeira's hand, Hercules married his love. The couple lived for a while in Calydon, where they had their first son, Hyllus. However, after the hero's campaign against the Thesprotians and the accidental murder of Eunomus, a relative of his father-in-law, the family was forced to move to Trachis near king Ceyx.

On the way to Trachis, they came to the river Evenus, where the centaur Nessus would ferry travelers across for a fee. Hercules asked the centaur to take Deianeira across while he swam. But halfway across the river, the centaur tried to rape Deianeira. As soon as the hero realized this, he shot Nessus with an arrow, mortally wounding him. Before dying, Nessus told Deianeira to collect his sperm and blood and smear them on her husband's tunic, to ensure his life-long fidelity and love. Being naive and in love, Deianeira believed him and created, as she would soon find out, a lethal potion.

At Trachis, Hercules helped his friend Ceyx, in his fight against the Dryopes who had settled the slopes of Mount Oeta. He also helped the Dorian king Aegimius, against the Lapiths and killed king Amyntor in a duel that took place in Thessaly. He then raised an army and struck out against Eurytus, who many years ago forfeited on his promise to give Hercules the hand of his daughter Iole. As a consequence, Eurytus and his sons were killed and Iole was taken as a prisoner.

On the journey home, the hero made a stopover on Cape Cenaeum in northwestern Euboea, where he built an altar, in order to make a sacrifice to his father Zeus. For this purpose he sent his assistant Lichas to Trachis to bring him a white tunic. Learning that her husband had Iole with him, Deianeira became crazed with jealousy and decided to win back his love. She thus used to potion that Nessus gave her.

Back at the altar, as soon as the garment warmed to the touch of the hero's skin, the centaur's poisonous blood entered his body. Seared by pain, Hercules flung Lichas into the sea as he tried to tear the tunic off, but the venom had seeped into his skin. He was then taken back to Trachis. Seeing what she had done, Deianeira commited suicide. Hercules ordered his son Hyllus to marry Iole and then climbed Mount Oeta where he collected timber for the funerary pyre. Once the pyre was lit and the flames started to engulf the hero, a cloud came down from the sky and the pyre was struck by a lightning bolt, which snatched Hercules.

The hero was thus raised to Mount Olympus, where he became immortal. There, he was finally reconciled with Hera and married her daughter Hebe, with whom he had two sons: Alexiaris and Anicetus.

Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:15:03 PM
Labors of Hercules Nr. 1: The Nemean Lion
greek vase   
In the first of the labors of Hercules, Eurystheus commanded the hero to bring him the hide of the Nemean Lion. The lion that had been terrorizing the valley of Nemea, was one of the monstrous children of Echidna and either Orthus or Typhoeus, or had fallen to earth from Selene (Moon). At first, Hercules tried to shoot it with his arrows, but seeing that the lion's pelt could not be pierced, he attacked it with his clubs. The lion ran away and hid in a cave with two entrances. Hercules blocked the one entrance, then wrestled with the lion and strangled it.He then skinned it and wrapped himself in its skin, after first offering a sacrifice to Zeus the Savior.He then returned to Mycanae with the lion thrown over his shoulder.

Seeing Hercules dressed in the lion's pelt, Eurystheus was so frightened that he ordered him to leave all his future trophies outside the city's gates. He then had a large, bronze jar forged and buried in the earth. Thereafter, whenever Hercules approached, the cowardly Eurystheus hid in this jar and had a messenger relay his next orders to the hero.

Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:15:37 PM
Labors of Hercules Nr. 2: The Lerna Hydra
Hercules's second task was to kill the Lerna Hydra (water snake), daughter of Typhoeus and Echidna, and sister of Orthus and Cerberus. The Hydra, who lived in the marshes of Lerna, devoured people and animals. She was a horrifying monster with huge dog-like body and many serpentine heads (some say as few as seven, others claim 10,000), one of which was immortal. She had foul, poisonous breath that killed anyone who inhaled it.

Hercules's aide on this labor was his nephew and charioteer Iolaus, the son of his brother Iphicles and Automedusa. They arrived together at the Amynone Spring, which was the monster's hideaway. Hercules forced the beast out by shooting flaming arrows into the lair. Much to his surprise, Hercules saw that for every head he shot off, two more sprung in its place. A giant crab also helped the Hydra by biting on Hercules's leg. Hercules killed the crab. He then sought Iolaus's help, instructing him to sear each new wound with burning branches. This checked the flow of blood and prevented the growing of new heads.

After he killed the Hydra, Hercules dipped his arrows in its poisonous blood. Thereafter, anyone wounded with these arrows would die. He then buried the monster's head in the road between Lerna and Elaeus and placed a rock over it.

Although Hercules completed this labor, Eurystheus refused to give him credit for it, because he claimed Hercules had received assistance (from Iolaus) to accomplish the feat.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:16:15 PM
Labors of Hercules Nr. 3: The Cerynitian Hind
The third of the labors of Hercules was to capture alive the Cerynitian hind, which the nymph Taygette had dedicated to the goddess Artemis and which lived in the Sanctuary of Artemis on mount Cerynea.

A wonderful deer with golden antlers and brass hoofs, this hind roamed the hills of Cerynea between Arcadia and Achaea, in central Peloponnesus. Because the hind was sacred, Hercules hoped to capture it unharmed. After pursuing it for almost a year, the hero finally managed to capture the animal on the banks of the river Ladon, after having chased it as far as the land of the Hyperboreans.

While returning to Tiryns with the deer on his shoulders, Hercules met Artemis and Apollo. Artemis chastised Hercules, but let him pass with her deer when he insisted that Eurystheus should be blamed for this insult.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:17:26 PM
Labors of Hercules Nr. 4: The Erymanthian Boar
For his fourth labor, Hercules was ordered to capture the boar that lived on the Mount Erymanthus, and was ravaging the land of Psophis (near present day Kalavrita). Hercules first chased the boar out of its hiding place in the forest, pushed it into a snow covered ravine, and then captured it in chains.

On his way back to Eurystheus, Hercules clashed with the centaurs who attacked the hero by throwing rocks and tree trunks at him, after going mad from the smell of the wine Hercules had been offered by his friend centaur Pholus. Hercules killed many of his attackers and drove the rest to a new home on Mount Malea, where their king Cheiron lived, who was also an old friend and teacher of Hercules. By accident, however, Cheiron was mortally wounded by one of Hercules's poisonous arrows. His pain was so intense, that Cheiron, being immortal, resigned his immortality to Prometheus.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:17:58 PM
Labors of Hercules Nr. 5: The Augeian Stables
Perhaps to humiliate him, Eurystheus assigned Hercules as his sixth labor, to clean the stables of Augeias, king of Elis (located on the western coast of Peloponnesus) and a son of the sun god Helius.

Augeias, who had taken part in the expedition of the Argonauts, had countless herds. When Hercules asked for one-tenth of the king's animals as his fee for cleaning the stables, the king agreed because he was convinced that the task was impossible. But Hercules, proved to be more clever than the king had imagined: He tore down a wall and diverted the waters of the rivers Alpheius and Peneius into the stables.

The stables were cleaned in a matter of hours, but Augeias refused to keep his promise, insisting that Hercules had a duty to perform this labor for Eurystheus. To make matters worse, Eurystheus refused to give him credit for accomplishing the labor, contending that he had done it as a job for hire. As some other storytellers insist, Eurystheus withheld credit and Augeias refused payment, because they contended that the river gods Alpheius and Peneius, rather than Hercules himself, accomplished the feat.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:19:52 PM
Labors of Hercules Nr. 6: The Stymphalian Birds
The fifth of the labors of Hercules was to rid Lake Stymphalus in Arcadia of its vast flocks of man-eating birds. These Stymphalian birds had claws, beaks and wings of bronze and they were fed on both humans and beasts.

With the assistance of Athena, who lent him a pair of bronze castanets forged by Hephaestus, Hercules drove the birds far away from Arcadia: The noise of the clattering castanets frightened the birds, who flew as one into the air. Hercules shot with his arrows a great many of them, while the others quickly fled the scene. They were said to find shelter in a faraway island which belonged to Ares, the god of war. There, they were later to be encountered by Jason and the Argonauts.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:20:32 PM
Labors of Hercules Nr. 7: The Cretan Bull
The eighth of the labors of Hercules sent him to Crete to capture the Cretan bull,which was said to be the father of the Minotaur by Pasiphae, wife of the Cretan king Minos.

By one account, the Cretan bull was the beast that had carried Europa from Phoenicia to Crete for Zeus. In other myths, the bull was sent by Poseidon to Minos,to be sacrificed following the king's promise that he would sacrifice to the god anything that rose from the sea. But Minos, struck by the animal's beauty, sacrificed in its place another bull, thus provoking the god's rage. The sea god then in revenge drove the animal wild, ravaging the crops and orchards of Crete.

Hercules captured the beast after a lengthy struggle. He brought it all the way back across the sea to Tiryns, to present it to Eurystheus. He then set the beast free. It then roamed around Laconia and Arcadia, crossed the Corinth Isthmus and ended up in Marathon, to be later captured and killed by Theseus.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:33:42 PM
Labors of Hercules Nr. 8: The Mares Of Diomedes
Eurystheus next sent Hercules to Thrace, to capture the four man-eating mares of king Diomedes. The son of Ares, god of war, Diomedes fed his savage mares on the flesh of his innocent guests.

On his way to Thrace, Hercules enjoyed the hospitality of Admetus, king of Thessaly in northeastern Greece. Admetus was cursed by one of the gods to die at a young age. He could only be saved, if one of his parents or his wife, accepted to take his position. When he was seriously ill, his beautiful wife, Alcestis, offered herself to take his place. When Hercules reached their palace, Alcestis was dying. Touched by her sacrifice, Hercules decided to rescue her. He entered her room and when he saw Thanatos (Death) by her bed side, he wrestled with him and beat him.

After rescuing Alcestis, Hercules continued on to Thrace. There, he stole the king's horses and drove them to the sea. When Diomedes and his subjects pursued him, Hercules managed to kill the subjects, wrestle with Diomedes and feed him to his own mares. Hercules then harnessed the untamed mares to Diomedes's chariot and drove them all the way back to Tiryns. Eurystheus released the horses into the wild. They finally ascended into the Mount Olympus, where they became the prey of wild animals.

According to another version of the myth, the mares were in reality the extremely ugly daughters of Diomedes, who forced strangers to lay with them and then he killed them.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:34:19 PM
Labors of Hercules Nr. 9: The Belt of Hippolyte
Admete, the daughter of Eurystheus, asked her father to have Hercules bring her the exquisite belt of Hippolyte, queen of the Amazons. The belt was a gift of Ares, the god of war.

The hero thus was off to the land of the Amazons, the famous tribe of female warriors who lived near the Thermodon river, which flowed through northeastern Asia Minor and emptied into the Black Sea. The Amazon were daughters of Ares and the Naiad Harmonia. They spent two months of the year with the Gargareis of Ida in order to perpetuate their tribe.

Some say that to keep their men devoted to household chores, the Amazons broke the arms and legs of male infants, making them unsuitable for war. Others say that Amazons killed all male infants. Their left breast was either uncovered, or cut off, so as not to obstruct the use of the bow, or hurling of a spear.

Hippolyte, after meeting with Hercules, at first agreed to offer her belt to him. But Hera, who continued to track the hero, changed into an Amazon and spread the rumor among the Amazons that Hercules wanted to abduct their queen. The Amazons thus rushed to attack their enemy. In the battle that followed, Hercules killed Hippolyte and obtained the belt. He and his companions then defeated the Amazons and returned to Tiryns with the prize.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:35:00 PM
Labors of Hercules Nr. 10: The Cattle of Geryon
For his next labor, Eurystheus sent Hercules to a faraway place in present-day Spain, with the order to fetch the cattle of Geryon.
Geryon was a monstrous giant with three upper bodies and was the son of Chrysaor and the oceanid Calliroe . He owned a herd of beautiful red cattle, kept under the watchful eye of Eurytion , a son of god Ares , and the two-headed dog Orthus , another monstrous child of Typhon and Echidna .

When Hercules reached the Strait of Gibraltar , he erected pillars on both sides (one in Europe, one in Africa) to mark the great distance he had traveled. Those pillars, still standing today, are called the Rock of Gibraltar (or Mount Calpe ) and Morocco's Jebel Musa (or Mount Abyla ).

Although both Orthus and Eurytion attacked him as he approached the cattle, Hercules killed both of them with a single blow of his mighty club. As he drove the cattle towards his ship - which by the way was an enormous golden cup lent to him by the sun god Helius - Geryon tried to stop him. Hercules, however, managed to kill him by shooting a single of his poisonous arrows through all his three bodies.

After leaving Spain, Hercules had a long and hard journey back to Tiryns. In Liguria (near present-day Marseilles in France), Hercules managed to kill two thieves who tried to steal the cattle. In retaliation, the Ligurians attacked him with such a numerous army, that Hercules ran out of arrows and was wounded. But, his immortal father Zeus helped him by sending a shower of stones against the attackers, thus allowing Hercules to force them to retreat.

Continuing his trip back home, Hercules arrived at the site that was to become later Rome . While Hercules was sleeping, a three-headed giant named Cacus - a son of Hephaestus and Medusa - stole some of Geryon's cattle. Not intimidated by the flames spewing from the giant's mouth, Hercules managed the next morning to enter the monster's cave and kill him with his bare hands. Hercules thanked the gods for his victory, by sacrificing some of his cattle on an altar that the Romans would later call the Ara Maxima ("Greatest Altar"). In Roman times, this Altar stood in the middle of the great city.

Hercules's misfortunes had no end: When he reached the straits of Messene , Geryon's finest bull escaped from the rest of the herd and swam from Italy to Sicily . Hercules pursued the animal and finally found it mingled among the herds of Eryx, a powerful boxer and wrestler, who was the son of sea god Poseidon and the goddess Aphrodite . Annoyed by Hercules, Eryx challenged the hero to a wrestling match, betting his island kingdom against the herd of cattle. Mightly Hercules killed his opponent by smashing him to the ground.

Eventually, the greek hero landed at Ambracia where he gathered the Geryon's cattle, actually what remained of it, and guided it to the Hellespont . Arriving at Scythia , he was united with the monster Echidna, with whom he had three sons: Agathyrsus , Gelonus and Scythes , from whom the Scythians descended.

From an entire herd of cattle, Hercules managed to bring Eurystheus only one ox, which the Mycenaean king sacrificed to Hera.

Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:35:41 PM
Labors of Hercules Nr. 11: The Apples of Hesperides
With the turning over of the cattle to Eurystheus, the labors of Hercules completed amounted to ten, equal to the number of labors originally postulated by the oracle of Delphi . But, since he was denied credit for the second (The Lerna Hydra) and fifth labors (Augeian stables), Hercules had to perfom two more labors.
For his eleventh labor, Eurystheus sent Hercules to the westernmost part of the then known world, to the Garden of Hesperides. There, he was mandated to obtain three Golden Apples from the tree that Gaia had given her granddaughter Hera , on her wedding day with Zeus . The golden-fruited tree was tended by nymphs known as Hesperides and guarded by a vicious hundred headed dragon named Ladon , the mostrous child of Typhon and Echidna . Over the garden towered the titan Atlas , who bore the heavy burden of holding up the sky.

First of all, Hercules had to find the location of the Garden. When he arrived at the Eridanus river , the nymphs there instructed him to ask the sea god Nereus , who was an oracle. Since the god was reluctant to reveal the information to Hercules, the hero tied him up until he succumbed. Apart from giving Hercules directions to find the Garden, he also advised him to talk Atlas into obtaining the fruit for him.

So, when Hercules finally reached the Garden, he offered Atlas to relieve him of his huge burden in return for the small favor of bringing him the apples. After Hercules shot and killed Ladon, Atlas was convinced to take up on the hero's offer.

However, when Atlas returned with the apples, he seemed unwilling to relieve Hercules of his position of holding the sky. Instead, he offered to take the apples to Eurystheus himslef. Being shrewd not only strong, Hercules complained that his shoulder ached from the huge load and pleaded Atlas to take his position for a little while, until he could put a cushion over his head to mitigate the load. The gullible titan agreed. As soon as Hercules was relieved from holding the heavens, he walked off with the precious apples.

On his way back home, Hercules again had to endure a lot of adventures. In Libya, he met a giant named Antaeus , son of Gaia and Poseidon , who liked to wrestle his guests to exhaustion and then kill them. As they fought, Hercules realized that the giant's strength and vigor were renewed each time he fell to the ground, thanks to his mother Earth. The hero then, held the giant high up in the air and crushed him to death in his arms.

Arriving to the Caucasus mountains, Hercules met with the titan Prometheus , who had been chained to a cliff for 30,000 years. Taking pity on him, Hercules shot and killed the eagle who had been feasting with the titan's liver every day all these years. He then arranged for the wounded centaur Cheiron (as we saw in the fourth of the labors of Hercules above) who begged to be freed from the pain caused by Hercules's poisonous arrow, to take Prometheus's place in the underworld, and then freed the titan from his chains.

When Hercules finally presented the Golden Apples to Eurystheus, the king immediately handed the fruit back to him, since the sacred fruit belonged to Hera and thus they could not remain out of the Garden. Hercules turned them over to Athena , who returned them to their original place in the Garden.

Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:36:22 PM
Labors of Hercules Nr. 12: Capturing Cerberus
The last of the twelve labors of Hercules, was the most dangerous and horrifying of all: Hercules was ordered from Eurystheus to bring from the Underworld Cerberus , the hideous three-headed guard dog of Hades , son of Typhon and Echidna .
Before setting off to complete his task, the hero was initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries . Accompanied by Athena and Hermes , he descended into the dark kingdom of the souls through a crevice known as Taenarum . After freeing Theseus and killing Hades's herdsman Menoetes in a wrestling match, Hercules presented himself before the ruler of the Underworld and explained his mission. Hades allowed Hercules to take Cerberus with him, provided that he would capture him with his bare hands and that he would return him back, after showing him to Eurystheus.

Hercules remained true to his promise. After a fierce fight, he managed to capture the monstrous dog and, accompanied by Hermes, he ascended to earth from a gap near Troezen. Then, after presenting Cerberus to Eurystheus in order to receive due credit, he returned him to Hades.

Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 04, 2011, 03:40:24 PM
                                                                              The story of the Trojan War

The Trojan War was a great military adventure of ancient times, undertaken by the kings of ancient Greece against the city of Troy. It lasted for ten years and cost many lives, but also produced many heroes.
The last battles of the war were beautifully described by the great poet Homer in his epic poem "The Iliad". It was called like that, because the ancient name of Troy was Ilion.

Excavations in Troy    

In the myths surrounding the Trojan War, fact is indeed mixed with fiction, as archaeological excavations bear evidence that really such an expedition took place in ancient times.

According to Homer, the apparent cause of the war was the abduction of beautiful Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, by Paris, a prince of Troy, while he was a guest staying at the palace in Sparta.

The real reason, however, behind the conquest of Troy by the Greeks, was its strategic position on the Hellespont.

According to another mythical version, the reason behind the Trojan War was founded on the belief of the ancient Greeks, that god Zeus arranged the whole thing, because he was convinced that such a war which would cause many deaths, would be the right solution for the problem of overcrowding, which plagued the earth at the time!

How it all started
The events that led to the Trojan War began long before the war itself did.
As a matter of fact, all started at the celebrated wedding of Peleus and Thetis, who would later become the parents of hero Achilles.

The judgment of Paris  

As the myth goes, the goddess Eris, enraged for not being invited to the wedding, decided to toss a Golden Apple, inscribed "For the Fairest", among the goddesses. Immediately, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite started to fight over the apple.

To put an end to the incident, god Zeus ordered the three goddesses to take their quarrel elsewhere and instructed Hermes to lead them to Troy, a great walled city on the Aegean coast of Asia Minor.

Furthermore, Zeus appointed Paris, a Trojan prince and reputedly the handsomest of all men, to be the judge who would decide which of the three competitors was to win the controversial trophy.

Rather than trust the prince's impartial judgement, all three goddesses attempted to win by bribery:

Hera promised him dominion over the whole world

Athena offered certain victory in every battle

Aphrodite merely offered the most beautiful woman in the world: Helen, a daughter of Zeus and a sister of the Dioscuri, Castor and Polydeuces.

Paris did not hesitate for a moment, quickly accepting the offer made by the goddess of love.

The abduction of Helen
Claiming his "prize", was not an easy task for Paris.

Helen at the time was married to Menelaus, king of Sparta and brother of the wealthy Agamemnon, king of Mycenae.

Despite this fact and ignoring the warnings he received from his brother and sister Helenus and Cassandra who were seers (they had the capacity to foretell the future), Paris left for Sparta.

Menelaus and Helen's brothers all welcomed him at their palace and entertained him for nine days. When the king left the palace to attend his grandfather's funeral, Paris seized the opportunity and left off for Troy, taking Helen with him.

Myth tellers disagree on whether Helen followed the handsome prince on her own will, or whether she was taken by force. The playwright Eurypides went as far to contend that Helen never made it to Troy. Hera, still bitter over being rejected by Paris, "spirited" Helen away to Egypt, putting a ghost in her place that she made up from a cloud. Thus, the Greeks and Trojans were engaged in the bloody Trojan War for 10 years, over nothing more than a cloud!

The Greek army sets off for TroyMenelaus, being furious at Paris for what he had done, called on all the Greek kings to help him punish the Trojan.
His campaign was successful: In a few months, a great army was gathered in Aulis, ready to set sail. Being the most powerful of all kings, Agamemnon, king of Mycenae and brother of Menelaus, took the position of Chief Commander.

According to the second book of the Iliad, the whole Greek army consisted of 28 contingents which originated from all over Greece. The total contribution of ships amounted to around 1,200 and the head count of warriors was estimated to reach 130,000.

But, unfortunately, unfavorable winds kept the fleet from setting out for Troy. Calchas, the most renowned seer at the time, blamed the ill winds on Agamemnon, whose boastful claim that he could hunt better than goddess Artemis had offended her and thus punished the Greeks.

In order to appease the angry goddess, the seer contended that Agamemnon should sacrifice on an altar, his beloved daughter Iphigenia.

Despite the king's reservations, the girl was finally brought to Aulis by Odysseus and Diomedes, under the pretext of her marrying Achilles.

At the time, however, that Iphigenia was placed on the altar ready to be sacrificed, a cloud descended and the girl was taken away by Artemis. In her place, the goddess left a deer to be sacrificed.

All the events taking place in Aulis are vividly described in Euripides's tragedy named Iphigenia in Tauris, in which it is claimed that the girl was rescued by Artemis and taken away to serve as her priestess in Tauris, the Crimean peninsula on the Black Sea.

Once the winds changed, the fleet set out. However, since no one knew the way to Troy, the fleet landed to the south of the city, in Mysia. There, the local king Telephus, who was a son of Hercules and the son-in-law of Priam king of Troy, led an army that attacked and killed a lot of Greeks.

When Achilles managed to wound him, Telephus consented to follow the Greeks back to Euboea where they originally set out from and then show them the way to Troy, on the condition that Achilles would cure him of his wound. His decision to follow the Greeks was based on old oracle which decreed that in case he was wounded, the only person who would be able to cure him would be his assailant himself, namely Achilles.

After getting underway again, Philoctetes - who as a boy had inherited Hercules's bow and arrows in return for lighting Hercules's funeral pyre, was bitten by a snake during a stopover at Lemnos (one of the Aegean islands). The stench of his wound and the sound of his agony were so unbearable, that his shipmates -urged by Odysseus - abandoned him there.

The long siege begins
The first battles of the Trojan War  
Before the Greek army disembarked from the ships, Menelaus and Odysseus went to meet king Priam to seek a diplomatic settlement of the issue, in order to avoid military conflict.

While the elderly king saw favorably the return of Helen and the spartan gold in order to avoid confrontation with the mighty Greeks on the battlefield, his 50 sons would not succumb to the threat of war, opting to stand by the side of their brother Paris.

Having no other option, the Greeks decided to land and start the Trojan War. But, one serious complication prevented them from disembarking: An oracle had foretold that the first warrior to set foot on Trojan soil, would be the first casualty of the Trojan War. As a result, none of the Greek soldiers was willing to get off the ship and hit the soil of Troy.

Trojan War Greek warriors   

Cunning Odysseus, seeing the impetuous and brave Protesilaus eager to start fighting, gave the order to jump, while he in the meantime threw his shield on the ground and jumped, avoiding in this way to physically touch ground himself. Protesilaus followed suit, jumping onshore and throwing himself into the battle.

To his great misfortune, however, Hector, prince of Troy and son of Priam, quickly spotted him, thrusting his sword against him and thus fatally wounding him. In this way, the prophecy was fulfilled, making Protesilaus the first Greek to die in the Trojan War.

Rather than mount a direct attack on the formidable fortress of Troy, the Greeks chose instead to destroy the surrounding towns and cities which all belonged in the wider region of Phrygia. Troy depended on these settlements for its supply of provisions and aid.

In the course of their campaign to isolate Troy, the Greeks committed many atrocities: Not only they looted the cities of everything they could get their hands on, but also raped and enslaved all the women.

The great stars of the battlefield
Poseidon speeds down a mountain to aid the Greeks in Trojan War   
Despite Zeus's strict directions to the immortals not to actively engage in the Trojan War, almost all of the Olympians lined up on either the Greek or the Trojan side. In summary, the gods and goddesses' line up was the following:

Aphrodite, chosen by Paris as the fairest of all goddesses, naturally sided with the Trojans. So did Artemis and her brother Apollo

Hera and Athena, being the ones who lost the beauty contest to Aphrodite, took the part of the Greeks. The same decision was taken by Poseidon, Hermes and Hephaestus

Ares, fought on both sides

Zeus, Hades, Demeter and Hestia, remained neutral throughout the Trojan War.

Furthemore, the Trojan War provided the opportunity to many warriors from both sides, to display their bravery and heroism.

The Greek hero Teucer   

Some of the most notable of these warriors were the following:

Achilles: He was undoubtedly and by far the greatest of all Greek warriors during the Trojan War. He killed countless Trojans and he proved to be irreplaceable on the battlefield. The Greeks felt his absence the most, when Agamemnon stole from him his concubine and thus decided to refrain from any activity on the field. Click here to learn more about Achilles.

Hector: The eldest son of king Priam, Hector proved himself to be the mightiest of the Trojan warriors during the 10-year Trojan War. Noble and courageous, he proved his superior military ability on the battlefield.

When the war escalated into dangerous proportions, he tried to convince his brother Paris to meet his adversary Menelaus on a one-to-one duel to settle the matter once and for all. However, when Paris finally challenged the Greek king, he abandoned the combat in the middle, guided by Aphrodite.

Hector also killed Patroclus, a deed which in the end proved fatal for him. Achilles returned to the battle and killed the Trojan prince, bringing havoc to the Trojan army. After the Greeks returned Hector's body to the Trojans following the desperate pleas made by king Priam to Achilles, both sides called an 11-day truce in order to mourn the greatest of Trojan heroes.

Diomedes: A hero of Argos, Diomedes was second only to Achilles among Greek warriors. In addition to killing many Trojans, the hero even wounded two gods: Aphrodite and Ares.

Hector getting prepared for the Trojan War   

In the case of Aphrodite, the goddess was involved in a combat taking place between Diomedes and the Trojan hero Aineias, who was the goddess's son. When, in the course of the battle, the Greek hero threw a rock at his opponent smashing his hip, Aphrodite took Aineias is her arms, in order to protect him. Then, enraged, the king of Argos drew his sword and slashed the goddess's arm. That was the first time that a mortal managed to inflict a wound on a god.

Odysseus: The king of Ithaca was renowned for his cleverness, which he used not only for noble purposes, but also for his own benefit.

For example, when he and Diomedes captured Dolon, a Trojan spying on the Greek camp, they forced him to reveal the layout of the Trojan camp.

In addition, in order to convince the two Greeks to let him free, Dolon directed them to the place where Rheseus, king of Thrace, had camped outside the walls of Troy to spend the night. Rheseus was a friend of Hector and had come to Troy to assist his friend in the Trojan War. What was so special about this king which attracted the greed of cunning Odysseus, was the fact that Rhesus had in his possession 12 magnificent horses, which were very valuable.

As soon as Diomedes and Odysseus disposed themselves of the Trojan spy, they attacked king Rhesus, killed all of his men and captured his beautiful horses.

Ajax of Salamis: The son of Periboea and Telamon - the same one who had captured Troy with Hercules more than a generation earlier- Ajax was the tallest among the Greeks, an imposing figure on the battlefield.

At one time during the Trojan War and to end the needless slaughter on both sides, the gods Athena and Apollo sent a mental message to the Trojan prince Hector, urging him to challenge one of the Greek warriors to an one-on-one combat. He who would emerge victorious, could claim his side to be the winner of the war.

The Greek leaders drew lots among the heroes, and the lot fell to Ajax, who was to combat with Hector the following morning.

The next morning, the two opponents fought until their spears broke and their shields were battered to bits, without either one of them clearly winning the other. At the end, they decided to declare the duel a draw, showing respect to each other by exchanging gifts: Ajax gave Hector his belt, while the Trojan gave him a sword.

Odysseus quarrels with Ajax over Achilles' armor   

Ajax was destined to have a tragic end: After the funeral of Achilles, the Greek leaders were fighting over who would take into his possession the armor of the deceased hero. Following an advice by the wise king Nestor, they all agreed to draw lots. At the end, the trophy went to Odysseus, after the lots had been tampered with by goddess Athena.

Ajax was very embittered, feeling that he was entitled to the armor, because he and Achilles were the only ones who had been able to have a one-to-one combat with Hector and were not defeated. Overwhelmed by madness, he slaughtered the Greeks' herds of livestock, illusioned that these were the Greek generals who had insulted him. When he finally came to his senses, he was so embarrassed that he resorted to committing suicide, by falling on his own sword.

Teucer: Another son of Telamon (Hesione was his mother), Teucer was considered to be one of the best archers on the Greek side, second only to Philoctetes. He often fought from behind the shield of his half-brother Ajax.

Aeneas: A Trojan prince, Aeneas was one of the bravest Trojan warriors. When he was wounded, his mother Aphrodite rescued him and Artemis and Leto healed him.

Being one of the few fighters who survived the Trojan War, Aeneas led several other Trojans to a new home in Italy, where later the Romans claimed him as the ancestor of their first emperors.

The final year of the war
Achilles and Penthesileia   
After nine long years, despite their victories in the surrounding area of Troy, the Greeks never came close to penetrating the colossal walls of Troy, which were built by gods Apollo and Poseidon.

At the tenth year, the balance of the outcome of the Trojan War was apparently tipping in favor of the Trojans, thanks to the reinforcements they received from foreign lands.

Two of the most well known army leaders who came to Troy's rescue, were the Amazon queen Penthesileia and Memnon, the king of Ethiopia.

Both of them, managed to inflict great damages on the Greek army. Included among the victims of Memnon was Antilochus, the son of the wise king of Pylos, Nestor.

Death of Achilles   

However, in the end, the two leaders were destined to suffer a tragic end at the hands of Achilles. In the case of Memnon, the Ethiopian king was challenged to a duel from Nestor, who wanted to avenge his son's death. When his offer was declined by Memnon citing the advanced age of the Greek king, Achilles offered to take his place. Memnon accepted the challenge, but was later killed from the powerful Greek.

The Trojans managed a severe blow on the Greeks when Paris, with the aid of god Apollo, killed mighty Achilles by shooting a poisoned arrow on his heel, which was the only mortal part on his body (click here for a detailed account of Achilles's life).

The Greeks come up with a strategic plan   
After Achilles' death, Odysseus captured the Trojan seer Helenus, brother of Paris. After a lot of persuasion, the seer revealed to the Greeks that, in order, to win the Trojan War, they should pursue the following:

Neoptolemus, Achilles' son, should join the fighting

They should recover Philoctetes from the island of Lemnos, where he was left deserted. He should later use the bow and arrows of Hercules on the battlefield

One of the bones of Agamemnon's grandfather, Pelops, should be brought to Troy

Eventually, the Palladium, an ancient wooden statue of goddess Athena, should be captured from the Trojan citadel called the Pergamum.

Diomedes taking the Palladium from Troy   

The mission to fulfill all those prerequisites to win the Trojan War, was undertaken by none others than Odysseus and Diomedes.

They first sailed to the island of Scyrus, where they recruited young Neoptolemus. The young man was more than eager to engage in battle.

On their way back, they made a stopover at the island of Lemnos to pick up Philoctetes. Despite his initial grudge on Odysseus who was the one responsible for his being deserted there, he was finally persuaded to join his visitors on their journey back to Troy, when the spirit of Hercules appeared before him, urging him to get involved in the Trojan War.

When the four of them returned to Troy, they were happy to find out that the people of Elis had gladly sent to them a shoulder blade of Pelops.

As for the Palladium, Odysseus and Diomedes, under the cover of the night, slipped into Troy and stole the statue, carrying it to the Greek camp.

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts!
The Trojan Horse taken inside Troy   
As soon as Philoctetes was cured from his wound, he managed to kill Paris, using the bow and arrows of Hercules.

Despite, however, of some victories on the battlefield that quickly ensued as soon as the prerequisites stipulated by Helenus were fulfilled, the walls of Troy seemed impregnable, driving the Greeks into despair.

As a last resort, Odysseus came up with an ingenious plan to get inside the city: With Athena's help, Epeius, an artisan, constructed an enormous wooden horse, which was hollow inside.

Led by Odysseus, a small army of Greek soldiers hid inside the horse while the rest of the Greek fleet sailed away, as far as the island of Tenedos.

When the Trojans found the horse, which bore an inscription which said that it was a gift dedicated to Athena, they had a big debate about what to do with it. While some argued that it was a part of a Greek ploy and therefore they should push it over a cliff or burn it, others contended that they should bring it inside the city to replace their stolen Palladium, convinced that it would bring them luck.

Death of Laocoon and his children    

When the two prophets Cassandra and Laocoon explicitly tried to warn their fellow Trojans that Greeks were actually hidden inside the horse, no one believed them!

When Laocoon, in an effort to prove his claim, hurled his spear against the horse, two enormous serpents rose out of the sea and attacked the seer's sons. After a tremendous struggle, the beasts finally killed the two boys and Laocoon, who rushed to their defence.

The Trojans interpreted this horrible tragedy as a punishment that goddess Athena sent to their priest, because he tried to desecrate her divine gift to the city.

Even those who doubted the good intentions of the Greeks were finally convinced to take the horse inside the city, when somewhere outside the walls they met Sinon, a Greek soldier who was tied and his clothes were torn to shreds.

According to his story, which apparently was ingeniously devised by cunning Odysseus, he had escaped from the Greeks when they wanted to sacrifice him to appease Athena, who was enraged when her palladium was stolen. Furthemore, Sinon claimed that the wooden horse was constructed as an additional gesture to appease the goddess. As a matter of fact, it was designed to be so enormous, so that it would not fit to get inside the walls: The Greeks knew that placing the horse inside the city, would certainly bring victory to the Trojans! Harming the horse, Sinon warned, would turn the wrath of Athena against the Trojans.

Sinon taken prisoner by the Trojans   

After the final shred of doubt was lifted, the Trojans breached their mighty walls and took the wooden horse inside, overjoyed by their victory over the Greeks.

When all of them fell drunken asleep following a wild celebration, Sinon quickly released the Greek soldiers from the inside of the horse and using a beacon, signaled to the Greek fleet to approach Troy.

Those inside opened the wall gates and the Greeks, without facing hardly any resistance, overtook the city in a single bloody night. This signaled the end of the Trojan War.

The Greeks ravage Troy
The Greeks burn Troy at the end of the Trojan War   
During the night that they sacked Troy, the Greeks committed a lot of horrible atrocities that offended both men and gods:

Neoptolemus slaughtered the elderly king Priam, after dragging him from the sacred altar of Zeus

Ajax of Locris raped Cassandra at the shrine of Athena. This sacrilegous act offended even Odysseus, who called on the Greeks to stone Ajax, in order to appease the goddess. But the Greeks did not dare, as Ajax clung to the statue of the goddess.

Neoptolemus sacrificed Polyxena, one of Priam's daughters, on the grave of his father Achilles

Odysseus threw Astyanax, the infant son of Hector, from the walls of the city to his death, thus ending the line of king Priam.

As for Helen, the culprit for the outbreak of the Trojan War, Menelaus could not bring himself to kill her as he had vowed to do, unable to resist her beauty and her pleas to be saved.

The long voyage back home
The long Trojan War cost both sides dearly.
As for Troy, the city never managed to recover after the total destruction it had suffered.

As for Greece, of the more than 1,000 ships which originally left for Troy 10 years earlier, less than 100 embarked on the journey to return home. Even most of these, were lost during the journey.

And of those who managed to survive and return home, almost none of them faced a warm welcome:

Both Diomedes and Idomeneus, king of Crete, returned home only to discover that their wives had taken lovers. They were finally exiled from their homeland, seeking refuge in Italy.

Philoctetes left Greece to find a new home in Italy

Odysseus wandered for ten years, before he finally returned to his faithful wife Penelope

Teucer was denied by his father Telamon to return home to Salamis, his father being convinced that he participated in the events which led to his half brother's Ajax tragic death

Nestor, king of Pylos, was an exception to the rule; he peacefully resumed his duties when he returned to his homeland

Neoptolemus, warned by his grandmother Thetis to avoid sea faring trips, took the long terrestrial route to his homeland, and eventually made it to Greece

Menelaus and Helen wandered for many years to far off lands, but finally returned to Sparta

The king who was destined to suffer the most tragic death, was Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek army in the Trojan War campaign.

The murder of Agamemnon by Clytemnestra   

When he returned, his wife Clytemnestra, who considered him to be responsible for the loss of her beloved daughter Iphigenia, conspired with her lover Aegisthus to slaughter Agamemnon with an axe, the first day that he arrived back home.

The saga of Agamemnon is figured prominently in the works of the great Greek playwrights. Three surviving plays by Aeschylus - Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides - are collectively known as Oresteia.

In addition, four plays by Eurypides - Iphigenia in Aulis, Orestes, Electra and Iphigenia in Tauris - as well as Electra by Sophocles, focus on the children of Agamemnon.

Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: shamsi on June 04, 2011, 04:01:53 PM
Dear Nusrat Madam,

Thanks for your post.I have started reading about Greek Mythology from your posts.I must say that our Forum is becoming more resourceful day by day.Thanks for your contribution.



Department of English
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: Shamim Ansary on June 05, 2011, 03:29:30 PM
Since the inception of my understanding on myth, I am curious about enriched Greek Mythology. It seems to me very interesting. Thank you for your inclusion.

Is there anybody who will incorporate anything related to Mohabharata too in DIU Forum?
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 06, 2011, 02:30:47 PM
Thanks Ansary for going through the topic and also for showing your interest. I've already started a topic on 'The Mahabharata'. It's specially for you.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: kulsum on June 11, 2011, 03:39:58 PM
Nice work Nusrat madam.

It's like soft copy of AD Hamilton's book.

can be a good source of students reading material.

I love the table...you know they are so confusing, also love to have the Greek and Roman names side by side.


Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 11, 2011, 05:57:52 PM
Thank you UK Apu for your inspiring note.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: nusrat-diu on June 18, 2011, 05:40:20 PM
One of the 12 Olympians of Greek Myth, Apollo is the god of light, youth, beauty, and prophesy. One of Apollo's great deeds was the killing of the serpent Python, the feared beast residing in the hills near Delphi. Apollo came down from Mount Olympus and with his silver bow and golden arrows, he slayed the beast in one shot to save the people of the land. In rememberance of his deed, it's said that Apollo created the Pythian Games, held every four years. Today we have a very similar form of games, the summer olympics. After taking control of the oracle from Python, he bestowed special abilities of prophecy upon one of his priestesses and named her Pythia.

Apollo is also well known for his big mistake in mocking a fellow god. One day he made fun of Eros, saying he had no archery skill and was too small to have much significance. Eros then shot an arrow at Apollo, making him infatuated with the sea nymph Daphne. He then shot another arrow at Daphne which made her unable to love anyone. Apollo continuously persued Daphne until she finally called for help from a river god and she was changed into a laural tree before Apollo could get to her. This is why the laurel is his sacred tree.

Another interesting myth about Apollo is his love for another guy...a mortal by the name of Cyparissus, decendent of Heracles. As a token of his love, Apollo gave to Cyparissus a deer. Cyparissus and the deer were close companions until Cyparissus accidently threw a javelin into the deer, killing it. Cyparissus begged Apollo to let him die and allow his tears to forever fall. With that, Apollo turned him into a tree...a Cypress. The sap of the tree falls like that of tears.

Apollo was the son of Zeus and Leto. He was also the twin brother of Artemis.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: Nahid Kaiser on July 14, 2011, 11:55:13 AM
Was it abduction / Or seduction ?
usually Hollywood film-makers tend to present it as an elopement rather than abduction or seduction!
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: Shamim Ansary on July 16, 2011, 09:20:14 AM
It should be seduction.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: Nahid Kaiser on July 16, 2011, 02:36:13 PM
But Ansary,
 seduction keeps Helen in the safe side whereas elopement represents her to be responsible. What do you think?
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: Shamim Ansary on July 16, 2011, 05:53:10 PM
She had 50% liability, Paris had the rest.

She was 'seduced' by the honeyed words of Paris & decided to 'elope' with him, I think.
Title: Re: Greek Mythology
Post by: Antara11 on July 17, 2011, 10:20:32 AM
It's nice to know about the story of creation.