Myths and Legends
By N.S. Gill, About.com Guide
- Classical Myths
- Define Myth
- Stars & Constellations
- Flood Myths
- Modern Versions of Classical Myths
- Trojan War
- Hercules (Heracles)
- Thebes - Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus
- Proverbial Expressions Based on Legends
- Myth Writers
- Ancient Literature & Art
- Gods and Goddesses
- Classical Myth-Makers
Here are individual stories from Greek mythology and some from the Romans. These are the ones most often told and re-told, so they should either be familiar or help with references in movies and elsewhere. Some of the versions are really my adaptations rather than faithful renderings, but such is the nature of myths that they change with the retelling.
- The Odyssey
- 12 Labors of Hercules
- Athena and Arachne
- Baucis and Philemon
- Theseus and the Minotaur
- Jason and the Argonauts
- Persephone Eats Pomegranate Seeds
- Zeus and Io
- Calydonian Boar Hunt
- Cupid and Psyche
- The Judgment of Paris
- Deucalion and Pyrrha
- Romulus and Remus
- Pandora's Box
- Apollo and Daphne
What we mean by mythology is subject to discussion. For the purposes of this site, it is used to cover religions with multiple gods and the stories about the involvement of the gods in the life of humans. Usually, it refers to Greek mythology and the Roman re-tellings of the ancient Greek myths.
- What Is Myth?
- Myth vs. Religion
- How Would You Define Myth? - Readers Respond
- Which Myth Do You Like Most? - Readers Respond
- Myth Introduction
- Myths in Pictures
- Kids' Myths
- Myth in Modern Life
- Need to Know Myths and Legends
- Who's Who in Greek Legend?
- Greek Mythology Stories About the Greek Gods and Heroes
- Norse Mythology
Stories about creation of the gods, mankind, and the world feature creator gods and almost spontaneous generation. Here are some of the ancient explanations of our existence on this earth.
Some Greek and Roman heroes visited the Underworld, the land of the dead. There they met the deceased. While going to the land of the dead may have been frightening, it was returning from the Underworld that was the heroic task.
- About the Greek Underworld and Its Gods
- The Abduction of Persephone
- Orpheus and Eurydice
- Cupid and Psyche
- Odysseus' Trip to the Underworld
- Aeneas' Trip to the Underworld
- How Many Trips Did Hercules Make to the Underworld?
- Roman Ghosts
- The Dream of Scipio
Stars & Constellations
In Greek and Latin mythology when deserving humans died, the gods sometimes turned them into constellations.
There are stories of floods from all over the world, including the famous story of Noah and the Ark. Here are flood myths and articles on characters involved in the Greco-Roman flood story.
Modern Versions of Classical Myths
There are some wonderful, inspiring, stories in myth and legend and some that may make you scratch your head wondering why. The stories have been re-told so many times that for many of them there is no longer a single, coherent version.
- The Stories Retold by Thomas Bulfinch
- The Golden Fleece Retold by Padraic Colum
- Tanglewood Tales - Greek Myth Retold by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- The Myths in Tanglewood Tales
- Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg
Information on Homer, the name credited with the creation of the epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, as well as information on the Trojan War, mostly from Greek mythology.
- Trojan War Gods: Pro Greek vs Pro Trojan
- The Life and Work of Homer
- Iliad Study Guide
- Odyssey Study Guides
- Quizzes on the Books of the Odyssey
- Trojan War People
- Women of the Trojan War
- Trojan War
- Labors of Aeneas
- Vergil (Virgil)
- Helen of Troy Basics
- Schliemann - Archaeologist of Troy
- Dorpfeld - Archaeologist of Troy
- The Epic Cycle
- Homeric Questions
Hercules to the Romans and Heracles to the Greeks, is just one mythological hero and demigod, but his innumerable adventures warrant their own section.
Thebes - Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus
Thebes was founded by Cadmus, husband of Ares' daughter Harmonia. They sowed the land with dragon's teeth to produce the sown men and also bore children the normal way. Their family suffered from a series of curses making the city of Cadmus a popular topic in the Greek tragedies.
- Aeschylus - "Seven Against Thebes"
- Sophocles - "Oedipus Tyrannos" ("Oedipus Rex")
- Euripides - "The Bacchae"
- Cadmus and the Founding of Thebes
Most of the Greek myths focus on one of these usually divinely-sired heroes.
Proverbial Expressions Based on Legends
These stories from myth, legend, ancient history, and fable are often used to add color to discourse. Because they are so familiar, the moral or point is often used without need to provide background, but they have been in use as sayings for so long that many have forgotten their origins.
There were some ancient authors who are still looked to for information on the stories from mythology. These writers tied ancient myths together or used them to illustrate points. The works in which the major myths are located are indicated after the writer's name.
The main glossary is the place for the most basic information on names in ancient/classical history.
Ancient Literature & Art
Ancient literature, especially epic poetry and tragedy tells most of the major stories we know of as myth. Scenes from art also fill in gaps and show up many of the inconsistencies in the stories.
- Ancient Poets
- Meter in Poetry
- Art in Greece vs. Rome
- Stories From Ovid's Metamorphoses in Art
- Greek Art - Pottery
- Classical Writers
Gods and Goddesses
Gods and goddesses interact with humans and heroic demigods in myths.
- The Gods and Goddesses
- Roman and Greek Gods
- Fast Facts About the Olympians
- Which Goddess Are You Quiz
- Major Gods and Goddesses Index
The people who wrote down the stories of classical mythology include the poets Homer and Hesiod, Latin poets Vergil (Virgil) and Ovid, as well as later prose writers, and the writers of Greek tragedy.