Insights on Ancient Greek Mythology – Gods and Goddesses
Ancient Greek gods and mythology
Greek mythology is the body of teachings and myths belonging to the Ancient Greeks. With stories built around their gods, goddesses, heroes and the nature of the world, much of our own civilization originates from this prosperous and fascinating time period.
Festivals and games
Festivals were an important aspect of ancient Greek culture. As the central part of the worship of the gods and goddesses, the festivals of old usually included a procession followed by a sacrifice.
The festivals of Ancient Greece also included various competitions, not unlike those held in modern times. The main difference is that in ancient times they were intended to honour the gods, while we ourselves play to pass the time and entertain ourselves. Then again, despite there being very little academic work on the subject, the Ancient Greeks did have their own board games. Not dissimilar to the Cheekybingo.com game 90 Ball Bingo, ‘Five Lines’ (named so by scholars) was a game of chance where each player had five pieces upon five lines. Bingo, by comparison, has tokens that are placed on up to eighteen squares. Back in Ancient Greece, competing in tournaments in the categories of music, poetry, drama and athletics was considered the highest honour, because they were performed before the gods on Olympus.
The most important festivals of Ancient Greece involved athletic competition, the most famous of which still exists today. The Ancient Olympic Games originate from around 776 BC according to historical records and were originally held in honour of Zeus in Olympia. Although there are competing legends that confuse the origins of the genesis of the games, there were a number of events that took place, including: boxing, chariot racing, wrestling and running, three of which still exist in the modern games. Other competitions held in honour of the gods are: the Heraea Games, the Nemean Games, the Isthmian Games and the Panathenaic Games.
Three key gods from Greek Mythology
With twelve main gods and goddesses in mythology, it’s difficult to remember exactly which legends belongs to whom. If you need help memorising their roles, print out the Ancient Greek Mythology bingo card here and write accurate descriptions for each figure who’s name is written in one of the squares. Some are gods and goddesses, the rest are central characters from their stories. Pick a description out of a hat and match it with the correct character on your bingo card.
To give you a head start, two gods and one goddess has been described below:
Zeus was the king of the gods. Depicted in most modern tellings of mythology with a lightning bolt in his hand, he was the controller of the weather. The ancient Greek poet, Hesiod called him ‘thunderer’ and ‘cloud-gatherer’, hence his most powerful weapon being the thunderbolt. Most people understand that lightning signified the presence of Zeus on Earth, but did you know that he was also concerned with hospitality too? It would outrage Zeus if you treated a guest or a stranger badly.
The brother of Zeus and Hades, Poseidon is the ‘God of the Sea’ and well known in mythology for his frightful temper. An earthquake was usually traced back to him, earning him the additional name ‘Earth-Shaker’, while his affinity with horses also gave him the title of the ‘Tamer of Horses’. According to some folklore, he was saved by his mother Rhea when she concealed him in a flock of lambs and pretended to have given birth to a colt which was devoured by Cronos.
The wife of Zeus, Hera, is the queen of the gods and the goddess of weddings and marriage. Zeus was depicted in mythology as unfaithful, and therefore Hera was extremely jealous and vengeful towards the many lovers he took behind her back. The illegitimate children of her husband didn’t fair well either. And then when Paris, son of the king of Troy declared Aphrodite as the most beautiful goddess, she turned her wrath on the mortal too.
Who is the most fascinating of the Ancient Greek gods and goddesses?