The Calydonian or Aetolian Boar is one of the monsters of Greek mythology that had to be overcome by heroes of the Olympian age. Sent by Artemis to ravage the region of Calydon in Aetolia because its king failed to honour her in his rites to the gods, it was killed in the Calydonian Hunt, in which many male heroes took part, but a powerful woman, who won its hide by first wounding it with an arrow; this outraged some of the men, with tragic results. Strabo was under the impression that the Calydonian Boar was an offspring of the Crommyonian Sow vanquished by Theseus; the Calydonian Boar is one of the chthonic monsters in Greek mythology, each set in a specific locale. Sent by Artemis to ravage the region of Calydon in Aetolia, it met its end in the Calydonian Hunt, in which all the heroes of the new age pressed to take part, with the exception of Heracles, who vanquished his own Goddess-sent Erymanthian Boar separately. Since the mythic event drew together numerous heroes—among whom were many who were venerated as progenitors of their local ruling houses among tribal groups of Hellenes into Classical times—the Calydonian Boar hunt offered a natural subject in classical art, for it was redolent with the web of myth that gathered around its protagonists on other occasions, around their half-divine descent and their offspring.
Like the quest for the Golden Fleece or the Trojan War that took place the following generation, the Calydonian Hunt is one of the nodes in which much Greek myth comes together. Both Homer and Hesiod and their listeners were aware of the details of this myth, but no surviving complete account exists: some papyrus fragments found at Oxyrhynchus are all that survive of Stesichorus' telling. King Oeneus of Calydon, an ancient city of west-central Greece north of the Gulf of Patras, held annual harvest sacrifices to the gods on the sacred hill. One year the king forgot to include Great "Artemis of the Golden Throne" in his offerings Insulted, the "Lady of the Bow", loosed the biggest, most ferocious wild boar imaginable on the countryside of Calydon, it rampaged throughout the countryside, destroying vineyards and crops, forcing people to take refuge inside the city walls, where they began to starve. Oeneus sent messengers out to look for the best hunters in Greece, offering them the boar's pelt and tusks as a prize.
Among those who responded were some of the Argonauts, Oeneus' own son Meleager, remarkably for the Hunt's eventual success, one woman— the huntress Atalanta, the "indomitable", suckled by Artemis as a she-bear and raised as a huntress, a proxy for Artemis herself. Artemis appears to have been divided in her motives, for it was said that she had sent the young huntress because she knew her presence would be a source of division, so it was: many of the men, led by Kepheus and Ankaios, refused to hunt alongside a woman, it was the smitten Meleager. Nonetheless it was Atalanta who first succeeded in wounding the boar with an arrow, although Meleager finished it off, offered the prize to Atalanta, who had drawn first blood, but the sons of Thestios, who considered it disgraceful that a woman should get the trophy where men were involved, took the skin from her, saying that it was properly theirs by right of birth, if Meleager chose not to accept it. Outraged by this, Meleager again gave the skin to Atalanta.
Meleager's mother, sister of Meleager's slain uncles, took the fatal brand from the chest where she had kept it and threw it once more on the fire. Thus Artemis achieved her revenge against King Oeneus. During the hunt, Peleus accidentally killed his host Eurytion. In the course of the hunt and its aftermath, many of the hunters turned upon one another, contesting the spoils, so the Goddess continued to be revenged: "But the goddess again made a great stir of anger and crying battle, over the head of the boar and the bristling boar's hide, between Kouretes and the high-hearted Aitolians"; the boar's hide, preserved in the Temple of Athena Alea at Tegea in Laconia was reputedly that of the Calydonian Boar, "rotted by age and by now altogether without bristles" by the time Pausanias saw it in the second century CE. He noted that the tusks had been taken to Rome as booty from the defeated allies of Mark Anthony by Augustus; the Calydonian Hunt was the theme of the temple's main pediment. The heroes who participated assembled according to Homer.
The table lists: Those seen by Pausanias on the Temple of Athena Alea at Tegea. Those listed by Latin mythographer Hyginus; those noted in Ovid's list from the 8th Book of his Metamorphoses. Those who appear in Book I of the Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus. Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca I, VIII, 2–3; the Heroes of the Greeks pp114ff, et passim Ovid, Metamorphoses VIII, 267–525. Ruck, Carl A. P. and Danny Staples, 1994. The World of Classical Myth p Algernon Charles. "Atalanta in Calydon"
Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he represents the physical or violent and untamed aspect of war, in contrast to his sister, the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship; the Greeks were ambivalent toward Ares: although he embodied the physical valor necessary for success in war, he was a dangerous force, "overwhelming, insatiable in battle and man-slaughtering." His sons Phobos and Deimos and his lover, or sister, Enyo accompanied him on his war chariot. In the Iliad, his father Zeus tells him. An association with Ares endows objects with a savage, dangerous, or militarized quality, his value as a war god is placed in doubt: during the Trojan War, Ares was on the losing side, while Athena depicted in Greek art as holding Nike in her hand, favoured the triumphant Greeks. Ares plays a limited role in Greek mythology as represented in literary narratives, though his numerous love affairs and abundant offspring are alluded to.
When Ares does appear in myths, he faces humiliation. He is well known as the lover of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, married to Hephaestus, god of craftsmanship; the most famous story related to Ares and Aphrodite shows them exposed to ridicule through the wronged husband's device. The counterpart of Ares among the Roman gods is Mars, who as a father of the Roman people was given a more important and dignified place in ancient Roman religion as a guardian deity. During the Hellenization of Latin literature, the myths of Ares were reinterpreted by Roman writers under the name of Mars. Greek writers under Roman rule recorded cult practices and beliefs pertaining to Mars under the name of Ares, thus in the classical tradition of Western art and literature, the mythology of the two figures became indistinguishable. The etymology of the name Ares is traditionally connected with the Greek word ἀρή, the Ionic form of the Doric ἀρά, "bane, curse, imprecation". There may be a connection with the Roman god of war, via hypothetical Proto-Indo-European *M̥rēs.
Walter Burkert notes that "Ares is an ancient abstract noun meaning throng of battle, war." R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin of the name; the earliest attested form of the name is the Mycenaean Greek, a-re, written in the Linear B syllabic script. The adjectival epithet, was appended to the names of other gods when they took on a warrior aspect or became involved in warfare: Zeus Areios, Athena Areia Aphrodite Areia. In the Iliad, the word ares is used as a common noun synonymous with "battle."Inscriptions as early as Mycenaean times, continuing into the Classical period, attest to Enyalios as another name for the god of war. Ares was one of the Twelve Olympians in the archaic tradition represented by the Odyssey. Zeus expresses a recurring Greek revulsion toward the god when Ares returns wounded and complaining from the battlefield at Troy: Then looking at him darkly Zeus who gathers the clouds spoke to him:"Do not sit beside me and whine, you double-faced liar. To me you are the most hateful of all gods.
Forever quarrelling is dear to your heart and battles.... And yet I will not long endure to see you in pain, sinceyou are my child, it was to me that your mother bore you, but were you born of some other god and proved so ruinouslong since you would have been dropped beneath the gods of the bright sky." This ambivalence is expressed in the Greeks' association of Ares with the Thracians, whom they regarded as a barbarous and warlike people. Thrace was Ares's birthplace, his true home, his refuge after the affair with Aphrodite was exposed to the general mockery of the other gods. A late-6th-century BC funerary inscription from Attica emphasizes the consequences of coming under Ares's sway:Stay and mourn at the tomb of dead KroisosWhom raging Ares destroyed one day, fighting in the foremost ranks. In Sparta, Ares was viewed as a model soldier: his resilience, physical strength, military intelligence were unrivaled. An ancient statue, representing the god in chains, suggests that the martial spirit and victory were to be kept in the city of Sparta.
That the Spartans admired him is indicative of the cultural divisions that existed between themselves and other Greeks the Athenians. Ares was worshipped by the inhabitants of Tylos, it is not known if he was worshipped in the form of an Arabian god or if he was worshipped in his Greek form. According to Herodotus' Histories, the Scythians worshipped a god. While ranking beneath Tabiti and Papaios in the divine hierarchy, this god was worshipped differently from other Scythian gods, with statues and complex altars devoted to him; this type of worship is noted to be present among the Alans. Noting how Greek mythological Amazons are devotees of Ares and most based on Scythian warriors, some researchers have considered the possibility that a Scythian warrior women cult of this deity existed. Others have posited that the "Sword of Mars" alludes to the Huns having adopted this deity; the birds of Ares were a flock of feather-dart-dropping birds that guarded the Amazons' shrine of the god on a coastal island in the Black Sea.
Although Ares received occasional sacrifice from armies going to war, the god had a formal temple and cult
In Greek mythology, Meleager was a hero venerated in his temenos at Calydon in Aetolia. He was famed as the host of the Calydonian boar hunt in the epic tradition, reworked by Homer. Meleager is mentioned as one of the Argonauts. Meleager was a Calydonian prince as the son of Althaea and the vintner King Oeneus or according to some, of the god Ares, he was the brother of Deianeira, Clymenus, Agelaus, Gorge and Melanippe. Meleager was the father of Parthenopeus by Atalanta but he married Cleopatra, daughter of Idas and Marpessa, they had a daughter, who became the bride of Protesilaus, who left her bed on their wedding-night to join the expedition to Troy. When Meleager was born, the Moirai predicted he would only live until a piece of wood, burning in the family hearth, was consumed by fire. Overhearing them, Althaea doused and hid it. Oeneus sent Meleager to gather up heroes from all over Greece to hunt the Calydonian Boar, terrorizing the area and rooting up the vines, as Oeneus had omitted Artemis at a festival in which he honored the other gods.
In addition to the heroes he required, he chose a fierce huntress, whom he loved. According to one account of the hunt, when Hylaeus and Rhaecus, two centaurs, tried to rape Atalanta, Meleager killed them. Atalanta wounded the boar and Meleager killed it, he awarded her the hide. Meleager's uncles Toxeus, the "archer", Plexippus grew enraged that the prize was given to a woman. Meleager killed them in the following argument, he killed Iphicles and Eurypylus for insulting Atalanta. When Althaea found out that Meleager had killed her brother and one of her sons, Althaea placed the piece of wood that she had stolen from the Fates upon the fire, thus fulfilling the prophecy and killing Meleager, her own son; the women who mourned his death were turned into guineafowl. In Hades, his is the only shade. In Bacchylides' Ode V, Meleager is still in his shining armor, so formidable, in Bacchylides' account, that Heracles reaches for his bow to defend himself. Heracles is moved to tears by Meleager's account.
Among the Romans, the heroes assembled by Meleager for the Calydonian hunt provided a theme of multiple nudes in striking action, to be portrayed frieze-like on sarcophagi. Meleager's story has similarities with the Scandinavian Norna-Gests þáttr. Meleager in art Bacchylides Fr 5.93 Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica I, 190–201. Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca I, viii, 1-3. Ovid, Metamorphoses VIII, 269–525. Media related to Meleager at Wikimedia Commons
Dionysus is the god of the grape-harvest and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, theatre in ancient Greek religion and myth. Wine played an important role in Greek culture, the cult of Dionysus was the main religious focus for its unrestrained consumption, his worship became established in the seventh century BC. He may have been worshipped as early as c. 1500–1100 BC by Mycenaean Greeks. His origins are uncertain, his cults took many forms. In some cults, he arrives as an Asiatic foreigner; some scholars believe that Dionysus is a syncretism of a local Greek nature deity and a more powerful god from Thrace or Phrygia such as Sabazios or Zalmoxis. He is a god of epiphany, "the god that comes", his "foreignness" as an arriving outsider-god may be inherent and essential to his cults, he is a major, popular figure of Greek mythology and religion, becoming important over time, included in some lists of the twelve Olympians, as the last of their number, the only god born from a mortal mother.
His festivals were the driving force behind the development of Greek theatre. He is known as Bacchus, the name adopted by the Romans and the frenzy he induces is bakkheia, his thyrsus, sometimes wound with ivy and dripping with honey, is both a beneficent wand and a weapon used to destroy those who oppose his cult and the freedoms he represents. As Eleutherios, his wine and ecstatic dance free his followers from self-conscious fear and care, subvert the oppressive restraints of the powerful; those who partake of his mysteries are empowered by the god himself. The cult of Dionysus is a "cult of the souls", he is sometimes categorised as a dying-and-rising god. Dionysus is depicted in myth as the son of Zeus and the mortal Semele, although in the Orphic tradition, he was identified as the son of Zeus and Persephone. In the Eleusinian Mysteries he was identified with the son of Demeter; the dio- element has been associated since antiquity with Zeus. The earliest attested form of the name is Mycenaean Greek, di-wo-nu-so, written in Linear B syllabic script for /Diwonūsoio/.
This is attested on two tablets, found at Mycenaean Pylos and dated to the 12th or 13th century BC, but at the time, there could be no certainty on whether this was indeed a theonym. But the 1989–90 Greek-Swedish Excavations at Kastelli Hill, unearthed, inter alia, four artefacts bearing Linear B inscriptions. Variants include Dionūsos and Diōnūsos in Boeotia. A Dio- prefix is found in other names, such as that of the Dioscures, may derive from Dios, the genitive of the name of Zeus; the second element -nūsos is associated with Mount Nysa, the birthplace of the god in Greek mythology, where he was nursed by nymphs, but according to Pherecydes of Syros, nũsa was an archaic word for "tree". Nonnus, in his Dionysiaca, writes that the name Dionysus means "Zeus-limp" and that Hermes named the new born Dionysus this, "because Zeus while he carried his burden lifted one foot with a limp from the weight of his thigh, nysos in Syracusan language means limping". In his note to these lines, W. H. D. Rouse writes "It need hardly be said that these etymologies are wrong".
The Suda, a Byzantine encyclopedia based on classical sources, states that Dionysus was so named "from accomplishing for each of those who live the wild life. Or from providing everything for those who live the wild life."R. S. P. Beekes has suggested a Pre-Greek origin of the name; the cult of Dionysus was associated with trees the fig tree, some of his bynames exhibit this, such as Endendros "he in the tree" or Dendritēs, "he of the tree". Peters suggests the original meaning as "he who runs among the trees", or that of a "runner in the woods". Janda accepts the etymology but proposes the more cosmological interpretation of "he who impels the tree"; this interpretation explains how Nysa could have been re-interpreted from a meaning of "tree" to the name of a mountain: the axis mundi of Indo-European mythology is represented both as a world-tree and as a world-mountain. The earliest cult images of Dionysus show a mature male and robed, he holds a fennel staff, known as a thyrsus. Images show him as a beardless, naked or half-naked androgynous youth: the literature describes him as womanly or "man-womanish".
In its developed form, his central cult imagery shows his triumphant, disorderly arrival or return, as if from some place beyond the borders of the known and civilized. His procession is made up of bearded satyrs with erect penises; the god himself is drawn in a chariot by exotic beasts such as lions or tigers, is sometimes attended by a bearded, drunken Silenus. This procession is presumed to be the cult model for the followers of his Dionysian Mysteries. Dionysus is represented by city religions as the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and he thus symbolizes the chaotic and unexpected
The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, Hellenistic period, it is succeeded by medieval Greek. Koine is regarded as a separate historical stage of its own, although in its earliest form it resembled Attic Greek and in its latest form it approaches Medieval Greek. Prior to the Koine period, Greek of the classic and earlier periods included several regional dialects. Ancient Greek was the language of Homer and of fifth-century Athenian historians and philosophers, it has contributed many words to English vocabulary and has been a standard subject of study in educational institutions of the Western world since the Renaissance. This article contains information about the Epic and Classical periods of the language. Ancient Greek was a pluricentric language, divided into many dialects; the main dialect groups are Attic and Ionic, Aeolic and Doric, many of them with several subdivisions.
Some dialects are found in standardized literary forms used in literature, while others are attested only in inscriptions. There are several historical forms. Homeric Greek is a literary form of Archaic Greek used in the epic poems, the "Iliad" and "Odyssey", in poems by other authors. Homeric Greek had significant differences in grammar and pronunciation from Classical Attic and other Classical-era dialects; the origins, early form and development of the Hellenic language family are not well understood because of a lack of contemporaneous evidence. Several theories exist about what Hellenic dialect groups may have existed between the divergence of early Greek-like speech from the common Proto-Indo-European language and the Classical period, they differ in some of the detail. The only attested dialect from this period is Mycenaean Greek, but its relationship to the historical dialects and the historical circumstances of the times imply that the overall groups existed in some form. Scholars assume that major Ancient Greek period dialect groups developed not than 1120 BCE, at the time of the Dorian invasion—and that their first appearances as precise alphabetic writing began in the 8th century BCE.
The invasion would not be "Dorian" unless the invaders had some cultural relationship to the historical Dorians. The invasion is known to have displaced population to the Attic-Ionic regions, who regarded themselves as descendants of the population displaced by or contending with the Dorians; the Greeks of this period believed there were three major divisions of all Greek people—Dorians and Ionians, each with their own defining and distinctive dialects. Allowing for their oversight of Arcadian, an obscure mountain dialect, Cypriot, far from the center of Greek scholarship, this division of people and language is quite similar to the results of modern archaeological-linguistic investigation. One standard formulation for the dialects is: West vs. non-west Greek is the strongest marked and earliest division, with non-west in subsets of Ionic-Attic and Aeolic vs. Arcadocypriot, or Aeolic and Arcado-Cypriot vs. Ionic-Attic. Non-west is called East Greek. Arcadocypriot descended more from the Mycenaean Greek of the Bronze Age.
Boeotian had come under a strong Northwest Greek influence, can in some respects be considered a transitional dialect. Thessalian had come under Northwest Greek influence, though to a lesser degree. Pamphylian Greek, spoken in a small area on the southwestern coast of Anatolia and little preserved in inscriptions, may be either a fifth major dialect group, or it is Mycenaean Greek overlaid by Doric, with a non-Greek native influence. Most of the dialect sub-groups listed above had further subdivisions equivalent to a city-state and its surrounding territory, or to an island. Doric notably had several intermediate divisions as well, into Island Doric, Southern Peloponnesus Doric, Northern Peloponnesus Doric; the Lesbian dialect was Aeolic Greek. All the groups were represented by colonies beyond Greece proper as well, these colonies developed local characteristics under the influence of settlers or neighbors speaking different Greek dialects; the dialects outside the Ionic group are known from inscriptions, notable exceptions being: fragments of the works of the poet Sappho from the island of Lesbos, in Aeolian, the poems of the Boeotian poet Pindar and other lyric poets in Doric.
After the conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BCE, a new international dialect known as Koine or Common Greek developed based on Attic Greek, but with influence from other dialects. This dialect replaced most of the older dialects, although Doric dialect has survived in the Tsakonian language, spoken in the region of modern Sparta. Doric has passed down its aorist terminations into most verbs of Demotic Greek. By about the 6th century CE, the Koine had metamorphosized into Medieval Greek. Ancient Macedonian was an Indo-European language at least related to Greek, but its exact relationship is unclear because of insufficient data: a dialect of Greek; the Macedonian dialect (or l
Clytemnestra was the wife of Agamemnon and queen of Mycenae in ancient Greek legend. In the Oresteia by Aeschylus, she murdered Agamemnon – said by Euripides to be her second husband – and the Trojan princess Cassandra, whom he had taken as a war prize following the sack of Troy, her Greek name Klytaimnḗstra is sometimes Latinized as Clytaemnestra. It is glossed as "famed for her suitors". However, this form is a misreading motivated by an erroneous etymological connection to the verb mnáomai; the original name form is believed to have been Klytaimḗstra without the -n-. The present form of the name does not appear before the middle Byzantine period. Aeschylus, in certain wordplays on her name, appears to assume an etymological link with the verb mḗdomai. Clytemnestra was the daughter of Tyndareus and Leda, the King and Queen of Sparta, making her a Spartan Princess. According to the myth, Zeus appeared to Leda in the form of a swan and impregnating her. Leda produced four offspring from two eggs: Castor and Clytemnestra from one egg, Helen and Polydeuces from the other.
Therefore and Clytemnestra were fathered by Tyndareus, whereas Helen and Polydeuces were fathered by Zeus. Her other sisters were Philonoe and Timandra. Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus were in exile at the home of Tyndareus. In a late variation, Euripides's Iphigenia at Aulis, Clytemnestra's first husband was Tantalus, King of Pisa. In another version, her first husband was King of Lydia; the kings of Lydia, according to Plutarch's The Greek Questions, 45, having succeeded Omphale who had received from Herakles Hippolyte's axe, carried this axe as one of their sacred insignia of office. In the tradition following the Sicilian lyric poet Stesichorus's Oresteia Clytemnestra used such a double-edged ax to assist her lover Aegisthus in the killing of Agamemnon, as depicted on the mixing bowl with the killing of Agamemnon by the Dokimasia Painter. After Helen went from Sparta to Troy, her husband, asked his brother Agamemnon for help. Greek forces gathered at Aulis; however weak winds prevented the fleet from sailing.
Through a subplot involving the gods and omens, the priest Calchas said the winds would be favorable if Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to the goddess Artemis. Agamemnon persuaded Clytemnestra to send Iphigenia to him, telling her he was going to marry her to Achilles; when Iphigenia arrived at Aulis, she was sacrificed, the winds turned, the troops set sail for Troy. The Trojan War lasted ten years. During this period of Agamemnon's long absence, Clytemnestra began a love affair with Aegisthus, her husband's cousin. Whether Clytemnestra was seduced into the affair or entered into it independently differs according to the respective author of the myth. Clytemnestra and Aegisthus began plotting Agamemnon's demise. Clytemnestra was enraged by Iphigenia's murder. Aegisthus saw his father Thyestes betrayed by Agamemnon's father Atreus. In old versions of the story, on returning from Troy, Agamemnon is murdered by Aegisthus, the lover of his wife, Clytemnestra. In some versions Clytemnestra helps him or does the killing herself in his own home.
The best-known version is that of Aeschylus: Agamemnon, having arrived at his palace with his concubine, the Trojan princess Cassandra, in tow and being greeted by his wife, entered the palace for a banquet while Cassandra remained in the chariot. Clytemnestra waited until he was in the bath, entangled him in a cloth net and stabbed him. Trapped in the web, Agamemnon could neither resist his murderer. Meanwhile, Cassandra saw Agamemnon being murdered, her attempts to elicit help failed. She realized she was fated to die, resolutely walked into the palace to receive her death. After the murders, Aegisthus replaced Agamemnon as king and ruled for seven years with Clytemnestra as his queen. In some traditions they have three children: a son Aletes, daughters Erigone and Helen. Clytemnestra was killed by her son by Agamemnon, Orestes; the infant Helen was killed. Aletes and Erigone grow up at Mycenae, but when Aletes comes of age, Orestes returns from Sparta, kills his half-brother, takes the throne.
Orestes and Erigone are said to have had Penthilus. She is one of the main characters in Aeschylus's Oresteia, is central to the plot of all three parts, she murders Agamemnon in the first play, is murdered herself in the second. Her death leads to the trial of Orestes by a jury composed of Athena and 10 Athenians in the final play. Alexandre Soumet's tragedy Clytemnestre was produced in 1822; the fictional protagonist Becky Sharp plays Clytemnestra in a charade described in chapter 51 of William M. Thackeray's novel Vanity Fair. In Ferdinando Baldi's The Forgotten Pistolero, a Spaghetti Western adaptation of the Oresteia, Clytemnestra is named Anna Carrasco and
Greek mythology is the body of myths told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities and mythological creatures, the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself; the Greek myths were propagated in an oral-poetic tradition most by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BC. Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, the origin of sacrificial practices. Myths are preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians and comedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.
Aside from this narrative deposit in ancient Greek literature, pictorial representations of gods and mythic episodes featured prominently in ancient vase-paintings and the decoration of votive gifts and many other artifacts. Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle as well as the adventures of Heracles. In the succeeding Archaic and Hellenistic periods and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence. Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language. Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes. Greek mythology is known today from Greek literature and representations on visual media dating from the Geometric period from c. 900 BC to c. 800 BC onward. In fact and archaeological sources integrate, sometimes mutually supportive and sometimes in conflict.
Mythical narration plays an important role in nearly every genre of Greek literature. The only general mythographical handbook to survive from Greek antiquity was the Library of Pseudo-Apollodorus; this work attempts to reconcile the contradictory tales of the poets and provides a grand summary of traditional Greek mythology and heroic legends. Apollodorus of Athens wrote on many of these topics, his writings may have formed the basis for the collection. Among the earliest literary sources are the Iliad and the Odyssey. Other poets completed the "epic cycle", but these and lesser poems now are lost entirely. Despite their traditional name, the "Homeric Hymns" have no direct connection with Homer, they are choral hymns from the earlier part of the so-called Lyric age. Hesiod, a possible contemporary with Homer, offers in his Theogony the fullest account of the earliest Greek myths, dealing with the creation of the world. Hesiod's Works and Days, a didactic poem about farming life includes the myths of Prometheus and the Five Ages.
The poet gives advice on the best way to succeed in a dangerous world, rendered yet more dangerous by its gods. Lyrical poets took their subjects from myth, but their treatment became less narrative and more allusive. Greek lyric poets, including Pindar and Simonides, bucolic poets such as Theocritus and Bion, relate individual mythological incidents. Additionally, myth was central to classical Athenian drama; the tragic playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides took most of their plots from myths of the age of heroes and the Trojan War. Many of the great tragic stories took on their classic form in these tragedies; the comic playwright Aristophanes used myths, in The Birds and The Frogs. Historians Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, geographers Pausanias and Strabo, who traveled throughout the Greek world and noted the stories they heard, supplied numerous local myths and legends giving little-known alternative versions. Herodotus in particular, searched the various traditions presented him and found the historical or mythological roots in the confrontation between Greece and the East.
Herodotus attempted to reconcile the blending of differing cultural concepts. The poetry of the Hellenistic and Roman ages was composed as a literary rather than cultic exercise, it contains many important details that would otherwise be lost. This category includes the works of: The Roman poets Ovid, Valerius Flaccus and Virgil with Servius's commentary; the Greek poets of the Late Antique period: Nonnus, Antoninus Liberalis, Quintus Smyrnaeus. The Greek poets of the Hellenistic period: Apollonius of Rhodes, Pseudo-Eratosthenes, Parthenius. Prose writers from the same periods who make reference to myths includ