At the ancient period, both mythology and religion have kept a significant place in ancient civilizations making them unforgettable and unique over history. But why do we take these two aspect into consideration together? It is particularly important to emphasize that this is mainly related to their inseparable integration in that timeline. If mythology is a set of myths, antique traditions, fairytales concerning the authentic folklore, outlook of particular nation especially in ancient civilizations, religion is a set of beliefs and ritual practices concerning the divine, eternal life, gods and has been dominant through humanity in order to show people a correct path, give moral attitudes, and worship. Although religions and mythologies basically overlap each other, and a range of similar aspects can be found, every culture and civilization embraces its own values. To large extent, as seen from clarification, when mythology and religion integrate with each other, they enrich their intrinsic nature of culture. The best example can be ancient Greek civilization which have put a great and undeniable trace in humankind and played a crucial role in contributing other civilizations as well. Even Greek mythology and religious practices have such a kind of excellent harmony, one becomes incomplete and meaningless without the other. That is what makes ancient Greek civilization attractable, and from antiquity until now, the reason why when looking at that, it is impossible not to admire. Therefore, it can be remarkable to look through the multiple features of this great civilization which has a huge diffusion to others in terms of mythological, religious attributes and their interactive harmony as well.
In the first place, Greek mythology carries different characteristics for Greek history: it is extremely important for understanding surrounding, what happened around them, and gave chances to ancient Greek civilians to conceive nature and natural phenomenons, actions. When we say the “myth”, we just consider it as a legend or unreal, but in ancient Greek, people found explanations of a range of occurrences. For example, people explained the earthquakes, high sea rising or waves with myth of Poseidon. When Poseidon, god of sea, was getting angry, he would rise up from bottom of sea, and express his fury within terrible incidents. Additional example is the god of harvest, Demeter. When Demeter appeared in the world, ancient Greeks would perceive it as an indicator of increasing crop and understand that it was an appropriate time to begin to harvest. Also, because Zeus was a possessor of all sky over the world, the Athens believed that changes on the weather depended on Zeus. When any lighting, snow or fierce weather conditions happened, the Athens connect it to his mood. As seen from mentioned beliefs, people would conceive and explain such actions with myths. However, mythology was not just a tool for understanding environment, also it was significant for learning about heroic figures of Greek.
Moreover, Greek mythology is differentiated with its rich heroic legendary stories which embraces struggling, fighting, being brave and understanding significance of magnificent power. Ancient Greeks were growing up with the magical stories of those figures and were eager to be majestic. This is a not surprising because it is impossible not admire those legends who demonstrated their power and mighty potential. When talking about those, Hercules definitely comes to mind who was an illegitimate son of Zeus, and half god. Hercules possessed unbelievable strength and power, but he was not aware of his real personality and father. Hercules had undergone to Hera’s attempts to kill him from his childhood who was a jealous wife of king Zeus. However, at the end, Hercules struggled as a brave hero and completed his 12 tasks successfully which were assigned for him by Hera and his cousin king Eurystheus in order to kill him, thus he got immortality. Indeed, in Greek mythology, there is such a phrase called “Hercules and his 12 Labors (tasks). From my view, until now, Hercules has been located in mindset of different civilizations as a symbol of power and might, even it is not random that to film his life in order to deliver heroism. Besides Hercules, there are so many heroes like Achilles. He was a great, powerful military fighter during Trojan War. He was not just a typical warrior, he was dipped by special water. According to Greek mythology, Achilles’ mother dipped him with magical waters of river Styx under the world which made him immortal and powerful. When his mother dipped him, she held Achilles from his heels, thus the waters of river did not touch his heels. According to legend, the reason of his death was the poisonous arrow that pierced his heels. After that, “Achilles’ heels” phrase appeared in Greek mythology which means “the weakest place”. All these show how Greek mythology raises their heroic figures and still remains a symbol of heroism page in Greek culture and history.
Passing from the mythology to religion of Ancient Greek, as a dominant feature of civilization, religion played a key role in Ancient Greek culture. Like other ancient civilizations, the religion in Greece was based on polytheistic existing the beliefs to different gods and several deities. The Athens worshipped to different named gods in which every god was responsible for distinct fields of the world. Three brothers Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades shared the power and began to rule different stages of the world. Zeus received the sky, Poseidon was accountable for the seas, and Hades got the world of the dead. All gods were immortal and possessed forever life. Zeus was the head of all gods, manage the world from Olympus Mountain, and responsible for protecting the world from bad evils and ghosts. Zeus married his sister, Hera who was a jealous woman. His marriages did not finished with Hera, even Zeus married with several women who were not immortal and did not have forever life. After marriages with mortal women, Zeus had children the god Dionysus, heroes like Hercules, Perseus who were half person and half god. Poseidon was gods of all seas and water in the world, and he had marvelous residence under the water. The men who worked in sea had to pray for Poseidon, otherwise harsh death waited for them in the seas. Hades, the oldest brother, ruled the dead and their spirits under world, and lived there together with his wife, Persephone, the god of the fertility. Hera was sister and wife of Zeus, queen of the gods, responsible for marriage and preserving women who was known due to her spiteful personality. Athena, daughter of Zeus, the god of wisdom, and war in which now the capital is named by her name. Aphrodite was the goddess of beauty and love who often used her skills for self-entertainment. Apollo the god of many things like archery, music and Artemis was the goddess of hunt and twin sister of Apollo who were children of Zeus. As seen, the Athens believe in many gods according to different fields of the world.
When clarifying mythology and religion of ancient Greek civilization, it is impossible to separate them because the ancient Athens relate the myths to the gods. “Myths were also intricately connected to religion in the Greek world and explained the origin and lives of the gods, where humanity had come from and where it was going after death, and gave advice on the best way to lead a happy life” (Cartwright, 2012). If it is paid attention, almost many myths, stories, and legends are related to divinity and incredible power of gods. For example, as being in all civilizations, traditions of giving sacrifices existed in ancient Greek. Likewise, the ruler of Crete island, King Minos gave his bulls as sacrifices for Poseidon. Also, the Athens believed in trials and judgments under the world in which Hades and his wife ruled. Even ancient Greeks connected the seasons and time for collecting crops to story about Demeter, the goddess of farming and harvest. When Hades took her daughter Persephone to underworld, Demeter decided not to go outside, so famine began. Then Zeus released Persephone, and it was decided that Persephone had to remain in Hades 3 months of a year, and 9 months in Demeter. That was the reason Athens tried to explain why 3 months were cold when Demeter expect his daughter. These proved that the Athens possessed excellent mythology and religious practices that created harmony.
In conclusion, it is important to stress that Greek mythology and religion are harmonically connected. From my view, when comparing Greek myths with others like Egyptians, it is obvious that the Greeks described their gods not like animal, but as a huge, gigantic, and majestic human form in their mindset. I supposed the reason is that the Athens wanted to dream their god not as a wild animal or strange creature, but gorgeously. This is again how their mythology and religion are correlated with each other and makes this civilization unique in the list of other ancient cultures throughout the timeline
- Cartwright, M. (2012, July 29). Greek Mythology. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Mythology/