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Greek Mythology - Bible vs. Biblos

Homer was the most important writer for the ancient Greeks


The Bible is sometimes called the Good Book, which is fitting since the word Bible comes from the Greek word for book, biblos. For the Greeks, the bible was Homer, particularly, The Iliad, and Hesiod. The "Father of History", the Greek Classical period traveler Herodotus (c. 484-425 B.C.) writes:

Whence the gods severally sprang, whether or no they had all existed from eternity, what forms they bore - these are questions of which the Greeks knew nothing until the other day, so to speak. For Homer and Hesiod were the first to compose Theogonies, and give the gods their epithets, to allot them their several offices and occupations, and describe their forms; and they lived but four hundred years before my time, as I believe.
~Herodotus Book II

You can find a religious world view, morals, customs, genealogy, and more in Homer and Hesiod. However, The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Theogony were not sacred texts. (Depending on your definition, the Greeks had other sacred texts, like hymns and responses of the oracles.)

The Opening of The Iliad

The Iliad begins, not with the creation of the world in 6 days, but with an invocation of the goddess or muse:
Sing, O goddess,
followed by the story of the wrath of the great Greek hero of the Trojan War, Achilles:
the anger of Achilles son of Peleus, that brought countless ills upon the Achaeans. Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down to Hades, and many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures, for so were the counsels of Jove fulfilled from the day on which the son of Atreus, king of men, and great Achilles, first fell out with one another....
and his anger at the expedition's leader, Agamemnon, who has strained relations with his best man by stealing his beloved concubine and committed sacrilege:
And which of the gods was it that set them on to quarrel? It was the son of Jove and Leto [Apollo]; for he was angry with the king and sent a pestilence upon the host to plague the people, because the son of Atreus had dishonoured Chryses his priest.
(Samuel Butler translation)

The Place of Gods in Man's Life

Gods in Homer's ancient heroic age walked among men, but they were much more powerful than humans and could be prevailed upon by prayer and sacrifice to help human beings. We see this in the opening of The Iliad where the rhapsode (the composer/singer of the story) Homer seeks divine inspiration to create a great epic, and where an old man seeks the return of his abducted daughter.

There is nothing in this Greek great book (The Iliad) about taking clay and forming it in a certain likeness or taking a rib from said animated clay, although the latter, the story of the creation of woman (Pandora) by a craftsman, does appear differently elsewhere in the canon of Greek mythology.

Next Page: Creation Stories

Introduction to Greek Mythology

Myth in Daily Life | What Is Myth? | Myths vs. Legends | Gods in the Heroic Age - Bible vs. Biblos | Creation Stories | Uranos' Revenge | Titanomachy | Olympian Gods and Goddesses | Five Ages of Man | Philemon and Baucis | Prometheus | Trojan War | Bulfinch Mythology | Myths and Legends | Kingsley Tales from Mythology | Golden Fleece and the Tanglewood Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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