<Standard 7.31
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Describe the myths and stories of classical Greece; give examples of Greek gods and goddesses, heroes, and events, and where and how we see their names used today.

Domenico Guidi: Andromeda, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Domenico Guidi: Andromeda, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Topics on this page

Gods and Goddesses
  • How New Moons and Asteroids Get Their Names
  • Overview of Gods and Goddesses
    • Descriptions of 12 Olympian Gods and Goddesses
Teaching the Myths
  • Theseus and the Minotaur
  • Daedalus and Icarus
  • Jason and the Golden Fleece
  • Pegasus and Bellerephon
Modern Day Influences

Women's History Teaching Resources

Focus Question: What was the nature of Greek Mythology, and what do Greek myths tell us about ancient Greek society?

Gods and Goddesses in Ancient Greece

Click here for Meet the Greek Gods & Goddesses from young adult author Rick Riordan.

Click here for a quick video on the Greek Gods & Goddesses as well as a history article about Greek Mythology in general.

game_icon.svg.pngFor an interactive and extensive family tree of the gods (starting with Chaos), click here

How New Moons and Asteroids Get Their Names
external image Mars_animated_sim.gifAstronomers have rules for naming new moons and asteroids naming involving figures from ancient mythology
Family tree of Zeus and Hera.

Overview of Greek Gods and Goddesses

The ancient Greeks had a very large, well-developed pantheon of gods and goddesses as well as a myriad of stories about the activities of these gods and goddesses.
  • They also had many stories about heroic mortals who performed nearly impossible feats of strength, intellect, and cunning, usually thanks to their descent from or favor with particular gods. Taken together, these stories of gods and heroes comprised the entirety of what we call Greek Mythology.

  • This mythology provides a useful insight into the nature of Greek society and how they thought about the world around them.

  • Greek mythology shows how playful that the Gods could be, e.g. when Eros sent an arrow of love into the heart of Helen of Sparta. She would never have gone with Paris, as she was married to Menelaus, king of Sparta. Eros, in his playful way, caused the Trojan War.

  • One of the most striking features of these mythic stories is how the gods are portrayed as very similar to the mortals who worship them.
    • The gods bicker and quarrel amongst themselves, they fall in love and have affairs, they fall out of love and become moody and unpredictable, they become jealous of each other and try to one-up their rivals, and they use lesser creatures (i.e. mortals) as pawns in their games amongst themselves.
      • It is as if the gods are merely enlarged, very powerful humans who live forever.


The ancient Greeks viewed the world's events as being controlled by creatures very similar to themselves, and though deserving of worship and dangerous to anger, the separation between gods and humans was not an unbridgeable gulf by any means.
Gods Zeus and Hera, looking like wealthy Greek mortals
Gods Zeus and Hera, looking like wealthy Greek mortals

Descriptions of the 12 Olympian gods and goddesses:
  • Multimedia.pngClick here for a video from YouTube specially about the Greek gods.

Click here for a video from YouTube specially about the Greek goddesses.

This is a fun animated video about the Greek gods.

Click here for the British Museum's page on Greek gods and goddesses.

Teaching and Learning Resources:
  • Click here for the myths of Greek heroes told through cartoon images.
multicultural.pngClick here for explanations about the gods and goddesses and how they influenced ancient Greek daily life.

game_icon.svg.pngClick here for interactive games about ancient Greece and Greek gods and goddesses.

Theseus and the Minotaur

Multimedia.pngClick here for an online video of the Greek Myth, Theseus and the Minotaur.
    • Click here for audio versions of the Greek Myths, Bag of Winds, Narcissus, and Pandora.

Daedalus and Icarus

The Fall of Icarus, Pieter Bruegel, 1590
The Fall of Icarus, Pieter Bruegel, 1590

primary_sources.PNGDaedalus and Icarus

Multimedia.pngThe Myth of Icarus and Daedalus. Amy Adkins, TEDEd

Jason with the Golden Fleece, about 1540
Jason with the Golden Fleece, about 1540

Jason and the Golden Fleece

Summary of The Golden Fleece

The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Archilles

Evidence Suggests Jason and the Golden Fleece was Based on True Events

Jason and the Argonauts from PBS Myths & Heroes

Multimedia.pngSearching for the Golden Fleece with Jason and the Argonauts. Great Voyages Lecture, Penn Museum

Pegasus and Bellerephon

Link to images for Bellerephon and Pegasus from Smithsonian American Art Museum

Lesson plan/project ideas:

    • Have students make "baseball cards" about the Greek Gods and Goddesses with background about each, strengths, weaknesses, relationship to other Gods or Goddesses, etc.
      • Ask the students to collaboratively create a "school yearbook" of the Olympians and the minor gods. Sections would include hand drawn illustrations of the gods with their symbols in school pictures, what clubs and activities they participated in (Archery Club for Artemis and Eros, Chorus for Apollo, etc.), and a list of superlatives (Best Hair for Medusa, Best Gift Giver for Athena, etc.).
        • This site gives teaching resources with ideas for lesson plans, projects, and games.
    • Here is a series of 6 great lessons plan for 7th Graders called, It’s Greek to me: Greek Mythology as a way to introduce them to the topic of Greek Mythology.
      • This series of lessons was designed to meet the needs of gifted children for extension beyond the standard curriculum with the greatest ease of use for the educator. The lessons may be given to the students for individual self-guided work, or they may be taught in a classroom or a home-school setting. This particular lesson plan is primarily effective in a classroom setting. Assessment strategies and rubrics are included. The lessons were developed by Lisa Van Gemert, M.Ed.T., the Mensa Foundation’s Gifted Children Specialist.

Egyptian Influences:
This essay describes Greek and Egyptian Religious Parallels.

Focus Question: How has ancient Greek mythology influenced the modern world, and what uses are they put to today?

external image Lusieri_at_work_at_Parthenon.jpg

The gods and heroes of the ancient Greeks have an impact that continues to be felt today in many different ways. Materially, the ruins of Greek temples to their gods, such as the Parthenon at Athens, are scattered all around the Mediterranean today, and statues of Greek gods and heroes are in museums around the world.
Click here for a link to the Parthenon replica in Nashville, Tennessee.

18th-century engraving of Odysseus on the island of the lotus-eaters
18th-century engraving of Odysseus on the island of the lotus-eaters
In addition, the same stories the Greeks were telling thousands of years ago have survived to the present day, and continue to be retold and impact those exposed to them.

This article explaining how Greek mythology is still relevant today.

This Prezi has information how Greek mythology has influenced modern day language and media/movies.

This Weebly post explains subtle mythology references in popular movies like The Lion King and Inception, as well as modern language.

Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 4.24.09 PM.pngSee Influential Literature page on The Iliad and The Odyssey


Women's History Teaching Resources

Helen of Troy by Evelyn de Morgan, 1898
Helen of Troy by Evelyn de Morgan, 1898

Female_Rose.png Mortal Women of the Trojan Warbased on an article from Stanford University; includes a section on Helen of Troy.

Myth Set In Stone explores how Greek women like Persephone, Alcestis, and Eurydice who entered the Underworld were represented in art.

Women in Greek Myths is a website that compiles a "big list with lots of images...start to learn about all those women in Greek myths that you know you should know about, but just don't!"

Click here for the Mythology of the Seven Sisters, companions of Artemis until they were placed in the stars by Zeus.

Multimedia.pngClick here for a video about how women were treated in Ancient Greece by author, Doris Orgel

The daughter of Hades
The daughter of Hades

book.pngBook Recommendations:
Resource book: Reproducible activities and projects that integrate mythology, geography, creative writing, and storytelling:

Greek and Roman Mythology by Frank Edgar, Ph.D. Mark Twain Media, Inc. 1994. ISBN-13: 978-1580370202

We Goddesses: Athena, Aphrodite, Hera by Doris Orgel. DK Publishing; 1st edition (September 15, 1999). ISBN-13: 978-0789425867

More material on the role of gods and goddesses in Greek society

A Good example of how the gulf between the world of the gods and the world of humans could be bridged is found in the stories of the heroes, the mortals who did great deeds and won eternal fame.
  • These figures in many ways acted as a direct connection between the gods, who had typically either fathered the hero during a relationship with a mortal or favored them, especially for some other reason. These mortals had the favor of the gods, and as a result were able to perform tasks beyond the abilities of most mortals, such as Herakles (Hercules) completing the Twelve Labors or Perseus' defeat of Medusa.
  • These heroes were role models to Greek society of the time, and they set the standards for what an ideal Greek could achieve. Heroes can have a very vulnerable side to them.
  • Ulysses made the egregious error to blind the favorite son of Poseidon, which caused him to not see Ithaca for 10 years. One of his vulnerabilities was to wonder if his wife Penelope had been faithful. She indeed had been faithful for those 10 long years. That is why in literature, we refer to a faithful woman as a Penelope.

Documents and Sources