Mythology has become a staple of modern-day literature, as it is often studied in many different schools across the world. “The Epic of Gilgamesh (written c. 2150-c.1400 BCE) developed in Mesopotamia from Sumerian poems relating to the historical Gilgamesh, king of Uruk, who was later elevated to the status of a demi-god” (Mark 1). The Mythology was created to talk about how things came to be, like the Earth. The former two originated from Greece and Ovid originated from the Roman empire. In my research paper, I will talk about 3 of the most famous mythology authors in Homer, Hesiod, and Ovid. I will talk about their most famous works, what they were about, and how these authors influenced people.
Homer was a famous mythology author that originated from Greek culture. “The next development in the presentation of myths was the creation of poems in Ionia and the celebrated poems of Homer and Hesiod around the 8th century BCE. “For the first time mythology was presented in written form” (Cartwright 1). This is why Greek mythology is often studied more than other cultures because a lot of their work was written down. Homer’s most famous works were the Iliad and Odyssey (Lloyd 1). “Homer’s Iliad recounts the final stages of the Trojan War – perhaps an amalgamation of many conflicts between Greeks and their eastern neighbors in the late Bronze Age (1800-1200 BCE) – and the Odyssey recounts the protracted voyage home of the hero Odysseus following the Trojan War”(Cartwright 1). Homer is a very unique author, which is one reason why he is being written about in this paper. The thing is, is that Homer may not have been just a single author. “Homer’s work was hugely influential on Greek culture, and scenes from his works appeared in Greek sculpture, on Greek pottery, and in Greek tragedy and comedy,”(Lloyd 1) and “influence Hellenistic culture, Roman culture, and far beyond” (Lloyd 1). For example, in the book Walden by Henry David Thoreau Overall, Thoreau talks about having Homer’s Iliad in his house. He talks about how people do not read the classics all that much, which kind of shows that Thoreau was highly influenced by Homer’s work because he kept a copy of the Iliad in his own house. Through his works, he has inspired many people to write about mythology and learn about him in general.
The next author that will be talked about is Hesiod. Like Homer, Hesiod also recorded his work down, so his work has been able to be learned about since his works were written. “Hesiod composed two complete works that have come down to us, the Theogony, and the Works and Days, both composed in the oral tradition”(Lloyd 1). These 2 books were Hesiod’s biggest works. “The Theogony is composed of around one thousand hexameter lines and is a unique account of the deities of Greece and their lineage” (Lloyd 1). This is the book that is used to study most of the Greek mythology, and that is a part of the reason as to why Hesiod is so famous.
When I took this class, I was very curious as to who wrote all of this stuff that we are learning about, and as I’ve learned, that was Hesiod. This book has led to many movies about the different parts of Greek mythology, like Clash of the Titans, Immortals, and more. “The ‘Works’ refer to the happenings of the farming year, and the ‘Days’ (with are recorded from around line 765) deals with recording the days of the month on which it is either lucky or unlucky to do certain things” (Lloyd 1). This piece by Hesiod may have been influential to farmers at the time, who wanted to know what days would be best for farming. “His poetic style was much imitated, particularly in Hellenistic times and in Roman times – both the Republic and Imperial Rome – when Hesiod’s works continued to be recited and set to music.” (Wasson 1).
The great Roman writer Ovid (43 BCE – 17 CE) would use many of the themes of the Theogony in his Metamorphoses” (Wasson 1). Hesiod did not just influence people back then, he’s also influenced people today as well.
After the Greeks fell, a new empire rose to power, which led to the Roman author known as Ovid. “His first book of poetry was the extremely successful Amores or ‘The Book of Love, published in 22 BCE”(Wasson 1). It told in a very lighthearted style about the misadventures of a young man and his love for an unobtainable young girl” (Wasson 1). Ovid has also written Heroides, Remedia Amoris, and Ars Amatoria (Wasson 1). Through these works, Ovid has inspired people with his themes about love. Ovid was picked for this research paper because there needed to be at least 1 non-Greek mythology author. “His most famous work, at least to most modern readers, is Metamorphoses, 15 books composed in dactylic hexameter, a collection of tales garnered from classical and Near Eastern myths and legends, a chronology from the creation of the world to the death of Caesar” (Wasson 1). The Metamorphoses by Ovid is similar to Hesiod’s Theogony because both tell about the history of their myths, The big difference between the 2 texts though, is that Ovid got a lot of influence from Hesiod, on his piece of writing, because characters like Perseus, who was famous in the Theogony, is also in Metamorphoses, which shows how Ovid got a lot of influence. Homer’s Iliad and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, both include things about the Trojan War, which, once again, shows how Ovid was influenced by these famous Greek authors. “It is those things that have recommended him, down the ages, to the troubadours and the poets of courtly love, to Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Ezra Pound” (Kenny 1). “His poetry is full of epigrammatic maxims and sententious utterances which, lifted from their contexts, made a respectable appearance in the excerpts in which medieval readers often studied their classics”(Kenney 1). Ovid inspired many, from back in his time, to even today. Through their work, authors like Homer, Hesiod, and Ovid have influenced many people.
The great thing about mythology is that anyone can come up with ways to explain how things happened. These authors’ works have inspired many authors later on in life, and their works are still being read in schools today. Even movies have been made about these authors’ most famous works, like Metamorphoses, Hercules, and more.