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A hero was more than human but less than a god, and various kinds of supernatural figures came to be assimilated to the class of heroes; the distinction between a hero and a god was less than certain, especially in the case of Heracles, the most prominent, but atypical hero. Greek hero-cults were distinct from the clan-based ancestor worship from which they developed,[4] in that as the polis evolved, they became a civic rather than familial affair, and in many cases none of the worshipers traced their descent back to the hero any longer: no shrine to a hero can be traced unbroken from Mycenaean times. Written sources emphasise the importance of heroes' tombs and the temenos or sanctuary, where chthonic rites appeased their spirits and induced them to continue to favour the people who looked to them as founders, of whom founding myths were related. In the hero's restricted and local scope he "retained the limited and partisan interests of his mortal life. He would help those who lived in the vicinity of his tomb or who belonged to the tribe of which he himself was the founder" Because the hero was not thought of as having ascended to Olympus or become a god: he was beneath the earth, and his power purely local. For this reason hero cults were chthonic in nature, and their rituals more closely resembled those for Hecate and Persephone than those for Zeus and Apollo: libations in the dark hours, sacrifices that were not shared by the living. Characteristics of hero worship: Altar is in a pit in the ground, sacrifice of black coat animal, worshipped during the night, hero felt to be close to human.
Goddess of fertility, love, war, sex, and power. Ishtar was the daughter of Anu. The Epic of Gilgamesh contains an episode[10] involving Ishtar which portrays her as bad-tempered, petulant and spoiled by her father. She asks the hero Gilgamesh to marry her, but he refuses, citing the fate that has befallen all her many lovers. Angered by Gilgamesh's refusal, Ishtar goes up to heaven and complains to her father the high god Anu that Gilgamesh has insulted her. She demands that Anu give her the Bull of Heaven. Anu points out that it was her fault for provoking Gilgamesh, but she warns that if he refuses, she will do exactly what she told the gatekeeper of the underworld she would do if he didn't let her in:

If you refuse to give me the Bull of Heaven [then] I will break in the doors of hell and smash the bolts; there will be confusion [i.e., mixing] of people, those above with those from the lower depths. I shall bring up the dead to eat food like the living; and the hosts of the dead will outnumber the living."[12]

Anu gives Ishtar the Bull of Heaven, and Ishtar sends it to attack Gilgamesh and his friend Enkidu. Gilgamesh and Enkidu kill the Bull and offer its heart to the Assyro-Babylonian sun-god Shamash.

While Gilgamesh and Enkidu are resting, Ishtar stands upon the walls of the city (which is Uruk) and curses Gilgamesh. Enkidu tears off the Bull's right thigh and throws it in Ishtar's face, saying, "If I could lay my hands on you, it is this I should do to you, and lash your entrails to your side."[13] (Enkidu later dies for this impiety.) Then Ishtar called together "her people, the dancing and singing girls, the prostitutes of the temple, the courtesans,"[13] and had them mourn for the Bull of Heaven.
A character in the Epic of Gilgamesh who is tasked by Enki (Ea) to abandon his worldly possessions and create a giant ship to be called The Preserver of Life. He was also tasked with bringing his wife, family, and relatives along with the craftsmen of his village, baby animals and grains.[1] The oncoming flood would wipe out all animals and humans that were not on the ship, a concept that was mirrored by the biblical story of Noah's Ark. After twelve days on the water, Utnapishtim opened the hatch of his ship to look around and saw the slopes of Mount Nisir, where he rested his ship for seven days. On the seventh day, he sent a dove out to see if the water had receded, and the dove could find nothing but water, so it returned. Then he sent out a swallow, and just as before, it returned, having found nothing. Finally, Utnapishtim sent out a raven, and the raven saw that the waters had receded, so it circled around, but did not return. Utnapishtim then set all the animals free, and made a sacrifice to the gods. The gods came, and because he had preserved the seed of man while remaining loyal and trusting of his gods, Utnapishtim and his wife were given immortality, as well as a place among the heavenly gods In the epic, overcome with the death of his friend Enkidu, the hero Gilgamesh sets out on a series of journeys to search for his ancestor Utnapishtim (Xisouthros) who lives at the mouth of the rivers and has been given eternal life. Utnapishtim counsels Gilgamesh to abandon his search for immortality but tells him about a plant that can make him young again. Gilgamesh obtains the plant from the bottom of the sea in Dilmun (current day Bahrain) but a serpent steals it, and Gilgamesh returns home to the city of Uruk having abandoned hope of either immortality or renewed youth.
Tyndareus was the stepfather of Helen. Helen was the most beautiful woman in the world, and when it was time for her to marry, many Greek kings and princes came to seek her heir behalf. Among the contenders were Odysseus, Ajax the Great, Diomedes, Idomeneus, and both Menelaus and Agamemnon. All but Odysseus brought many and rich gifts with them. Helen's favourite was Menelaus who, according to some sources, did not come in person but was represented by his brother Agamemnon, who chose to support his brother's case, and himself married Helen's half-sister Clytemnestra instead.[6]

Tyndareus would accept none of the gifts, nor would he send any of the suitors away for fear of offending them and giving grounds for a quarrel. Odysseus promised to solve the problem in a satisfactory manner if Tyndareus would support him in his courting of Penelope, the daughter of Icarius.[7] Tyndareus readily agreed and Odysseus proposed that, before the decision was made, all the suitors should swear a most solemn oath to defend the chosen husband against whoever should quarrel with the chosen one. This stratagem succeeded and Helen and Menelaus were married. Eventually, Tyndareus resigned in favour of his son-in-law and Menelaus became king.

Some years later, Paris, a Trojan prince came to Sparta to marry Helen, whom he had been promised by Aphrodite. Helen left with him - either willingly because she had fallen in love with him, or because he kidnapped her, depending on the source - leaving behind Menelaus and Hermione, their nine-year-old daughter. Menelaus attempted to retrieve Helen by calling on all her former suitors to fulfil their oaths, leading to the Trojan War.
A Greek hero of the Trojan War and the central character and greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad. His mother was the immortal nymph Thetis, and his father, the mortal Peleus, was the king of the Myrmidons. Achilles' most notable feat during the Trojan War was the slaying of the Trojan hero Hector outside the gates of Troy. Although the death of Achilles is not presented in the Iliad, other sources concur that he was killed near the end of the Trojan War by Paris, who shot him in the heel with an arrow. Later legends (beginning with a poem by Statius in the 1st century AD) state that Achilles was invulnerable in all of his body except for his heel. Because of his death from a small wound in the heel, the term Achilles' heel has come to mean a point of weakness in what otherwise appears to be an impregnable façade. Homer's Iliad is the most famous narrative of Achilles' deeds in the Trojan War. Achilles' wrath is the central theme of the poem. The Homeric epic only covers a few weeks of the decade-long war, and does not narrate Achilles' death. It begins with Achilles' withdrawal from battle after he is dishonored by Agamemnon, the commander of the Achaean forces. Achilles helps take a servant girl from Agamemnon, so Agamemnon takes his prize servant girl as well. Achilles refuses to fight or lead his troops alongside the other Greek forces. At this same time, burning with rage over Agamemnon's theft, Achilles prays to Thetis to convince Zeus to help the Trojans gain ground in the war, so that he may regain his honor. As the battle turns against the Greeks, thanks to the influence of Zeus, Nestor declares that the Trojans are winning because Agamemnon has angered Achilles, and urges the king to appease the warrior. Agamemnon agrees and sends Odysseus and two other chieftains, Ajax and Phoenix, to Achilles with the offer of the return of Briseis and other gifts. Achilles rejects all Agamemnon offers him, and simply urges the Greeks to sail home as he was planning to do. The Trojans, led by Hector, subsequently push the Greek army back toward the beaches and assault the Greek ships. With the Greek forces on the verge of absolute destruction, Patroclus leads the Myrmidons into battle wearing Achilles' armor, though Achilles remains at his camp. Patroclus succeeds in pushing the Trojans back from the beaches, but is killed by Hector before he can lead a proper assault on the city of Troy. After receiving the news of the death of Patroclus from Antilochus, the son of Nestor, Achilles grieves over his beloved companion's death. His mother Thetis comes to comfort the distraught Achilles. She persuades Hephaestus to make new armor for him, in place of the armor that Patroclus had been wearing which was taken by Hector. The new armor includes the Shield of Achilles, described in great detail in the poem.

Enraged over the death of Patroclus, Achilles ends his refusal to fight and takes the field killing many men in his rage but always seeking out Hector. Achilles even engages in battle with the river god Scamander who becomes angry that Achilles is choking his waters with all the men he has killed. The god tries to drown Achilles but is stopped by Hera and Hephaestus. Zeus himself takes note of Achilles' rage and sends the gods to restrain him so that he will not go on to sack Troy itself before the time allotted for its destruction, seeming to show that the unhindered rage of Achilles can defy fate itself. Finally, Achilles finds his prey. Achilles chases Hector around the wall of Troy three times before Athena, in the form of Hector's favorite and dearest brother, Deiphobus, persuades Hector to stop running and fight Achilles face to face. After Hector realizes the trick, he knows the battle is inevitable. Wanting to go down fighting, he charges at Achilles with his only weapon, his sword, but misses. Accepting his fate, Hector begs Achilles, not to spare his life, but to treat his body with respect after killing him. Achilles tells Hector it is hopeless to expect that of him, declaring that "my rage, my fury would drive me now to hack your flesh away and eat you raw - such agonies you have caused me".[14] Achilles then kills Hector and drags his corpse by its heels behind his chariot. After having a dream where Patroclus begs Achilles hold his funeral, Achilles hosts a series of funeral games in his honor.[15] With the assistance of the god Hermes, Hector's father, Priam, goes to Achilles' tent to plead with Achilles for the return of Hector's body so that he can be buried. Achilles relents and promises a truce for the duration of the funeral. The poem ends with a description of Hector's funeral, with the doom of Troy and Achilles himself still to come. Achilles, after his temporary truce with Priam, fought and killed the Amazonian warrior queen Penthesilea, but later grieved over her death. At first, he was so distracted by her beauty, he did not fight as intensely as usual. Once he realized that his distraction was endangering his life, he refocused and killed her. Following the death of Patroclus, Achilles' closest companion was Nestor's son Antilochus. When Memnon, king of Ethiopia slew Antilochus, Achilles once more obtained revenge on the battlefield, killing Memnon. The fight between Achilles and Memnon over Antilochus echoes that of Achilles and Hector over Patroclus, except that Memnon (unlike Hector) was also the son of a goddess. The death of Achilles, as predicted by Hector with his dying breath, was brought about by Paris with an arrow (to the heel according to Statius). In some versions, the god Apollo guided Paris' arrow. Some retellings also state that Achilles was scaling the gates of Troy and was hit with a poisoned arrow. All of these versions deny Paris any sort of valor, owing to the common conception that Paris was a coward and not the man his brother Hector was, and Achilles remained undefeated on the battlefield. His bones were mingled with those of Patroclus, and funeral games were held. He was represented in the Aethiopis as living after his death in the island of Leuke at the mouth of the river Danube.
There are several Greek myths about how the games were started. The most common myth was the story of the hero Pelops, after whom the Peloponnese is named ("Pelops' isle"). The story of Pelops was displayed prominently on the east pedimental sculptures of the Temple of Zeus. Pelops was a prince from Lydia in Asia Minor who sought the hand of Hippodamia, the daughter of King Oinomaos of Pisa. Oinomaos challenged his daughter's suitors to a chariot race under the guarantee that any young man who won the chariot race could have Hippodamia as a wife. Any young man who lost the race would be beheaded, and the heads would be used as decoration for the palace of Oinomaos. With the help of his charioteer Myrtilos, Pelops devised a plan to beat Oinomaos in the chariot race. Pelops and Myrtilos secretly replaced the bronze linchpins of the King's chariot with linchpins made of wax. When Oinomaos was about to pass Pelops in the chariot race, the wax melted and Oinomaos was thrown to his death. Pelops married Hippodamia and instituted the Olympic games to celebrate his victory. A different version of the myth refers to the Olympic games as funeral games in the memory of Oinomaos. Tantalus (Pelops' father) is known for having been welcomed to Zeus' table in Olympus, like Ixion. There he too misbehaved, stole ambrosia, brought it back to his people,[5] and revealed the secrets of the gods.[6]
Tantalus offered up his son, Pelops, as a sacrifice to the gods. He cut Pelops up, boiled him, and served him up as food for the gods. The gods were said to be aware of his plan for their feast, so they didn't touch the offering; only Demeter, distraught by the loss of her daughter, Persephone, "did not realize what it was" and ate part of the boy's shoulder. Fate, ordered by Zeus, brought the boy to life again (she collected the parts of the body and boiled them in a sacred cauldron), rebuilding his shoulder with one wrought of ivory made by Hephaestus and presented by Demeter.

The revived Pelops was kidnapped by Poseidon and taken to Olympus to be the god's eromenos. Later, Zeus threw Pelops out of Olympus due to his anger at Tantalus. The Greeks of classical times claimed to be horrified by Tantalus' doings; cannibalism, human sacrifice and parricide were atrocities and taboo. Tantalus was the founder of the cursed House of Atreus in which variations on these atrocities continued. Misfortunes also occurred as a result of these acts, making the house the subject of many Greek Tragedies.
Atreus and Thyestes were brothers, the sons of Pelops and Hippodameia. The brothers grew up together and played together. But instead of loving each other, they were always rivals in everything. This may have been partly because of the curses on Tantalus, their grandfather, and Pelops, their father. When they grew up, Atreus married the daughter of the King of Mycenae, and so he soon became the King of Mycenae himself. But Thyestes was jealous. One day, Atreus promised to sacrifice the best lamb in his flock to the goddess Artemis. Later that afternoon, as he went walking among his sheep, Atreus found a lamb with a golden fleece! Certainly he should have sacrificed that one to Artemis, but he didn't want to sacrifice such a beautiful thing, so he killed the lamb and kept the golden lambskin in a box instead. But Atreus' wife, the Queen, was secretly in love with Thyestes. She agreed to steal the golden lambskin and give it to Thyestes. Then Thyestes dared Atreus to make a deal with him. He said, "Let's say whoever has the golden sheepskin can be King of Mycenae." Well Atreus knew that he had it in his box, so he agreed. But then it turned out that Thyestes had it, so he got to be King. Atreus was very angry. Atreus went to Zeus (his great-grandfather through Tantalus) and complained. Zeus told Atreus to make a bet with Thyestes that if the sun ran backward, Atreus could be king again. Thyestes thought, "Nobody can make the sun run backward!" so he agreed. But the gods can do anything, so Zeus did make the sun run backwards. Atreus got to be King of Mycenae again, and he banished Thyestes from the kingdom. But Atreus couldn't let it go at that. He was still very angry at his wife and Thyestes. So he pretended to be friendly and invited Thyestes to come over for dinner, with his two little boys. Thyestes was happy that he was going to be reunited with his brother! When Thyestes arrived, Atreus sent the boys out to play and sat down for a good talk with Thyestes. Soon the slaves brought dinner in, and they ate course after course of delicious food. Then another slave brought in the dessert in a big covered dish. But when the slave took the cover off the dish, Thyestes was horrified to see his two sons' bloody heads and hands and feet! Atreus had murdered them and cooked them and served them to him for dinner. Thyestes just ran out of the palace and never came back again. He did, however, have one more son, Aegisthus, who eventually avenged his dead brothers.
The son of King Atreus and Queen Aerope of Mycenae, the brother of Menelaus, the husband of Clytemnestra and the father of Iphigenia, Electra or Laodike (Λαοδίκη), Orestes and Chrysothemis. Mythical legends make him the king of Mycenae or Argos, thought to be different names for the same area. When Helen, the wife of Menelaus, was taken to Troy by Paris, Agamemnon commanded the united Greek armed forces in the ensuing Trojan War. Upon Agamemnon's return from Troy, he was murdered (according to the oldest surviving account, Odyssey 11.409-11) by Aegisthus, the lover of his wife, Clytemnestra. In old versions of the story, the scene of the murder, when it is specified, is usually the house of Aegisthus, who has not taken up residence in Agamemnon's palace, and it involves an ambush and the deaths of Agamemnon's followers as well. Agamemnon gathered the reluctant Greek forces to sail for Troy. Preparing to depart from Aulis, which was a port in Boeotia, Agamemnon's army incurred the wrath of the goddess Artemis. There are several reasons throughout myth for such wrath: in Aeschylus' play Agamemnon, Artemis is angry for the young men who will die at Troy, whereas in Sophocles' Electra, Agamemnon has slain an animal sacred to Artemis, and subsequently boasted that he was Artemis' equal in hunting. Misfortunes, including a plague and a lack of wind, prevented the army from sailing. Finally, the prophet Calchas announced that the wrath of the goddess could only be propitiated by the sacrifice of Agamemnon's daughter Iphigenia. Classical dramatisations differ on how willing either father or daughter was to this fate, some include such trickery as claiming she was to be married to Achilles, but Agamemnon did eventually sacrifice Iphigenia. Her death appeased Artemis, and the Greek army set out for Troy.
Telemachus has his own hero journey, though less epic. The ordinary world for Telemachus opens up with him inside his home dealing with the suitors. As stated in the text, "God-like Telemachus observed Athena well before the others. He was sitting with the suitors, his heart troubled, wondering how his father might get back." This provides context to Telemachus's life and shows the issues he faces. It allows yout to identify with him.
Within the ordinary world you are introduced to Telemachus, the troubled hero who lost his father. He faces conflict and needs to find a solution.
"To you, I will indeed speak open... have not seen each other." (Book 1, Page 16, Line 236-284) This quote is Telemachus's call to adventure. Athena tells him his father may be alive and that means that he must go on a journey to find him.
The Threshold Guardian is also Athena. She is a part of the special world and introduces Telemachus to the wonders of it. She gives him the knowledge he needs to survive his journey into that world. She also tests his will to find his father and to fight the suitors.
The Herald in this instance is Athena. She tells Telemachus that his father may still be alive which is what spurs him to go on the journey.
The mentor is Athena. She provides him with the quest but also coaxes him into taking the journey. Without her help Telemachus would have sat and done nothing to find his father.
The shadow of Telemachus are the suitors. They are representing what will happen if Telemachus gives up his quest. They are the exact oppostie of him and his father and are savage towards him and his family.
Telemachus refuses the call because he worries about what will happen to his mother if she leaves her alone with the suitors. "Stranger, since you've questioned... and soon will be the death of me as well." (Book 1, Page 17, Line 312-342) This quote shows that he has extreme concern for the suitors and the problem they present towards his family.
Although Telemachus did not endure what his father had to he still had to deal with his own problems. His ordeal was that on the psychological side."He's been away so long. And we don't know if he's alive or dead." (Book 4, Page 67, Page 149) This quote illustrates that he had to undergo news repeatedly that his father was missing or gone, making it very tough to deal with.
"There is one leader held back by the sea somewhere, but still alive." (Book 4, Page 82, Line 668) This is what Telemachus had been searching for throughout his whole journey. He needed to know whether or not his father could be alive, and this news brought him exactly what he wanted to hear. That his father could still be alive.
Telemachus's journey back was not a journey per say but more another order from Athena. "Telemachus, it's not good to wander any longer from your home, abandoning your property and leaving your property to such overbearing men, who may divide up and use all your goods." (Book 15, Page 290, Line 13) The order was very specific but the journey itself was not told.
When Telemachus meets Athena she automatically assumes the role of mentor. "It's bad Odysseus... about what I've been telling you about." (Book 1, Page 17, Line 344-428) She tells Telemachus what he needs to know and sends him on his way. She tells him that he has to go and that he can not sit back anymore.
Allies: Athena, Odysseus, Penelope
Enemies: The suitors
Tests: Standing up to the suitors
Book 21 p. 425 Lines 467-471
"Old man, keep on moving up here with that bow. You'll soon
regret obeying them all. I'm younger than you,
but I might force you out into the fields and throw rocks at you."
Telemachus is tested by the suitors on how much he'll let them command Odysseus.
Book 2 p. 42 Lines 560-564
"Telemachus embarked. She sat in the stern. 560
Telemachus sat right beside her, as the men
untied the stern ropes, then climbed aboard the ship
and went to seat themselves beside their oarlocks."
Telemachus is preparing to leave the ordinary world by crossing the threshold. He now accpets his faith along his journey. The hope that his father may still be alive and that the pain brought from the suitors is enough to make him accept his journey.
Book 20 p. 409 Lines 483-487
"That's what the suitors said. But Telemachus
paid no attention to their words. He kept quiet,
looking at his father, always watching him
to see when his hands would fight the shameless suitors."
Telemachus and his dad are planning to kill the suitors. Telemachus is preparing and waiting for his dad to initiate the fighting.
Book 20 p. 405 Lines 326-332
"You suitors, make sure your hearts do not encourage you to gibes and blows, so that no arguments or fights will happen here." Once he'd finished speaking, 330 all the suitors bit their lips. They were astonished
Telemachus had talked to them so forcefully."
Throughout his journey Telemachus has matured and risen to manhood. He has transitioned and resurrected unlike any other.
Book 22 p.433 Lines 119-121
"But Telemachus moved in too quickly for him— he threw a bronze-tipped spear and hit him from behind between the shoulders."
Telemachus now returns to a normal life where his father is home and there are no more suitors to bother him (because they killed them all). His final and most important reward was his maturity, he became a strong and wise man on his journey, and we can all see it.
The trickster is assumed by Athena in this case because she manipulates Telemachus to go and search for his father.
After leaving from Troy, Odysseus and his crew land in the city of Ismaros and raid it for no good reason. The next day, the people (Kikonians) retaliate with a late-arriving cavalry and kill many of Odysseus' men.
Odysseus and his men suffer through three days of intense storms.
Ten days later, they land on the island of the Lotus Eaters. Odysseus explores the land with a scouting party. When he discovers that they lose their memory and all their will to go home after eating the lotus flower, he forces them all back to the ship as fast as he can and sails away.
They next arrive at the land of the Cyclopes, giants with only one eye, where Odysseus makes the mistake of not getting out as quickly as he can. There's a whole bunch of trickery, but Odysseus and (most) of his men escape—but not without seriously ticking off the now-blind Cyclops Polyphemos.
When Polyphemos learns Odysseus' real name, he asks Poseidon to curse him. Forever. Poseidon obliges.
There are more misadventures: winds blow them off course, the men turn into pigs, they visit the underworld, pass Skylla and Charybdis, and then make their worst and last mistake of eating the sun god Helios' sacred cattle.
When they next sail, Zeus strikes them down with a thunderbolt, destroying Odysseus' ship and killing everyone but our hero.
After escaping Skylla and Charybdis for a second time, Odysseus drifts for nine days until he washes ashore on Kalypso's island.
There he is seduced and trapped for seven years by the enraptured nymph Kalypso, although he chooses not to go into details and ends his story.
In Book Six of the Odyssey, Odysseus is shipwrecked on the coast of the island of Scheria (Phaeacia in some translations). Nausicaä and her handmaidens go to the sea-shore to wash clothes. Awoken by their games, Odysseus emerges from the forest completely naked, scaring the servants away, and begs Nausicaä for aid. Nausicaä gives Odysseus some of the laundry to wear, and takes him to the edge of the town. Realizing that rumors might arise if Odysseus is seen with her, she and the servants go ahead into town. But first she advises Odysseus to go directly to Alcinous' house and make his case to Nausicaä's mother, Arete. Arete is known as wiser even than Alcinous, and Alcinous trusts her judgment. Odysseus follows this advice, approaching Arete and winning her approval, and is received as a guest by Alcinous. Nausicaä is young and very pretty; Odysseus says that she resembles a goddess, particularly Artemis. While she is presented as a potential love interest to Odysseus - she says to her friend that she would like her husband to be like him, and her father tells Odysseus he would let him marry her - no romantic relationship takes place between the pair. Nausicaä is also a mother figure for Odysseus; she ensures Odysseus' return home, and thus says "Never forget me, for I gave you life," indicating her status as a "new mother" in Odysseus' rebirth. Odysseus never tells Penelope about his encounter with Nausicaä, out of all the women he met on his long journey home. Some suggest this indicates a deeper level of feeling for the girl.
There were two Cretan kings named Minos, the first being the father of the second. A son of Zeus and Europa, Minos I proved to be a progressive ruler, for under him Crete became the greatest naval power in the Mediterranean. He encouraged trade, constructed major public works, instituted an excellent legal code, established an educational system, and helped the arts to flourish. Through his wisdom Crete grew into an important civilization. His brother Rhadamanthus was also known for his just rulership, and when Minos I and Rhadamanthus died they were made judges in the netherworld.

Minos II was different from his father — proud and selfish. It was said of him that he pursued the maid Britomartis so relentlessly that she plunged to her death from a cliff rather than submit to him. Minos once offended Zeus, who decreed that any woman he lay with would die. However, he was cured by the exiled Procris, who fashioned a female model that drew off the poison in Minos as he lay with it. Minos took Pasiphaë as his queen and fathered several children on her, most of whom were badly fated. Thus Ariadne was deserted by Theseus; Phaedra committed suicide; Catreus was killed by his own son; Androgeus was killed by the bull of Marathon, which started the war with Athens; and Glaucus was drowned in a vat of honey, although the prophet Polyeidus brought him back to life with a magic herb.

The reason for these fatalities and misadventures lay with Minos. He had a knack for attracting disaster. In dedicating a temple to Poseidon he prayed to the god to send him a bull for sacrificial purposes. Poseidon rewarded him with a magnificent white bull, but Minos decided to keep it for himself and offer up another bull in its place. To punish this outrage Poseidon arranged that Pasiphaë, the wife of Minos, fall in love with the splendid bull. Pasiphaë confided her passion to the inventor Daedalus, who made a wooden cow to conceal her. In this manner the union was consummated, and Pasiphaë gave birth to the Minotaur, a beast with a man's body and the head of a bull. To conceal this monstrosity Minos had Daedalus build a huge palace with countless rooms and baffling passageways from which no one could escape. When this Labyrinth was completed Minos and his family and servants moved in, while the Minotaur was put in the nethermost region of the palace. Only Minos and Daedalus knew the key to this enormous place.

One day Minos received word from King Aegeus of Athens that Minos' son, Androgeus, had been killed by the bull of Marathon. Minos did not believe the report, suspecting political treachery. So he went on an expedition against Athens and its allies. In laying siege to the town of Megara, Minos attracted the love of Scylla, the daughter of King Nisus. Nisus was invulnerable because his life depended on a lock of purple hair above his forehead. However, Scylla, knowing the secret, betrayed her father and her city by cutting off the lock. Far from being grateful, Minos flew into a rage at the lovesick girl, who asked him to take her home with him. He punished Scylla by towing her through the water by her feet, which drowned her. Having conquered Megara, Minos attacked Athens and got the city to surrender. He then demanded a tribute of seven maids and seven youths to be sacrificed to the Minotaur every nine years.

When the next payment of human beings came due Minos took an instant dislike to young Theseus. He sent an undefeated giant of a boxer against Theseus, and the giant was trounced. Theseus offered the trophy of flowers to Ariadne, who fell in love with him and vowed to help him. She called upon Daedalus, who was an Athenian like Theseus. Having killed a nephew, an apprentice more skilled than he, in a rage of envy, Daedalus had had to flee to Crete. But he was homesick and resolved to aid his fellow townsman. He gave Theseus the thread by which to find his way out of the palace after destroying the Minotaur. In making his getaway Theseus set fire to the palace, sank a good portion of Minos' navy, and deserted Ariadne at Naxos. Minos was infuriated, knowing that Daedalus had helped Theseus, and he imprisoned the inventor and his son.

Daedalus fashioned a means of escape for himself and his boy Icarus — two pairs of wings made of a wooden frame and feathers glued with wax. The inventor instructed his son not to fly too high or the sun would melt the wax, or too low, for the water would destroy the wings. The pair then mounted the sky as Daedalus took the lead. Before they had gone very far, Icarus became intoxicated with his new powers of flight and began to ascend to get a better view of the Aegean Sea. Unthinkingly he soared dangerously close to the sun, which melted the wax holding together the feathers, and Icarus plunged into the sea and drowned.

Eventually Daedalus found refuge with the king of Sicily, Cocalus. In his new place of exile Daedalus constructed an impregnable fortress. Meanwhile, Minos came searching for the traitor who had undermined him, arriving at last at Cocalus' court. He had brought a spiral shell of intricate design and he offered a reward to the one who could thread it. Cocalus took the shell and gave it to Daedalus, who threaded it by tying a string to an ant and putting it in the spiral maze. When Cocalus handed back the shell Minos knew he had found Daedalus and demanded the fugitive. Cocalus temporized. That evening when Minos was in his bath Cocalus' daughters poured boiling water on him and he died. The Cretans besieged Cocalus' fortress for several years but to no avail. Since all of Minos' sons had died before him, the Cretan throne passed to others.


The stories of Minos II and Daedalus carry a strong element of poetic justice. When Minos withholds the sacred bull his wife become bestial, bringing scandal upon him. By killing Scylla, who betrayed her father and home for him, Minos seems to call down the betrayal of his own daughter, Ariadne, upon himself, not to mention her abandonment by Theseus. By requiring an unjust tribute of human beings from Athens he draws Theseus to his court, who kills the Minotaur, fires the palace, and sinks his ships. Daedalus must pay for killing his own nephew by becoming an exile, losing his only son and working for others as an honored slave. These are not coincidences but the fulfillment of a moral law by which sins are punished in kind. The Greeks knew that character determines its own calamities.

But these legends point to a larger reality than the merely personal. In them we see a condensed account of the rise and fall of Crete as a civilization. Early in this century when Sir Arthur Evans excavated at Cnossus he found a labyrinthine palace and ample evidence of a resplendent culture. Yet the legends of Crete show some grasp of how a culture grows and declines. Minos I is selfless, dedicated to producing a great civilization, and his personality is submerged in this effort. Under such a king a land is likely to prosper. Minos II, however, asserts his personality at the expense of Crete and his own family. He offends two major gods, leads his navy on missions of personal vengeance, builds a very costly palace for himself, and invites defeat by demanding a terrible tribute from Athens. Here we see Theseus from a different angle, not so much as the swashbuckling hero but as the instrument of Minos' humiliation and as an agent of Crete's decline. A king as selfish as Minos II seems likely to bring ruin to a small country with limited resources, and wealth and power tend to foster rulers like that. We have no way of knowing whether Crete deteriorated because of bad leadership, but these legends make it appear perfectly plausible. Kings with foolhardy arrogance could easily demoralize a people and weaken its will to resist invaders.
King Acrisius had a beautiful daughter named Danae. Oracle of Apollo told Acrisius that Danae's son would kill him, so she locked her in a tower. Zeus comes to her in the tower and she gives birth to Perseus. Acrisius casts them out to sea in a barrel. Arrived in Island of Seriphos. King Polydectes wanted Danae's hand in marriage, but Perseus was an obstacle. He arranged a fake wedding with another woman and asked for gifts, but Perseus had none to give. Polydectes pretended to be furious and asked him to bring him the head of Medusa. Athena and Hermes came to help him, since they were all siblings. Hermes offered him his winged sandals and the sickle that was used by Cronus to castrate Uranus; while Athena gave him her shield, so that Perseus would not have to look straight into Medusa's eyes. They also gave him further information on how to find the lair of Medusa. So Perseus went to the cave of the Graeae, who would lead him further in his adventure. The Graeae were three women who shared a single eye among them. So, when one of them was about to give the eye to one of the others, Perseus grabbed it and blackmailed them to aid him. So, the Graeae informed him that he should find the Nymphs of the North to get the Cap of Darkness which would make him invisible, as well as a magic bag. Perseus eventually went to the lair of Medusa and her sisters, whom he found sleeping. He wore the Cap of Darkness, and unseen managed to kill Medusa using the sickle; he then used the shield to carry the head and place it into the magic bag, for even though it was dead, the head still have the potential to turn someone into stone. Medusa's sisters woke up and attacked Perseus, but he flew away using his winged sandals. On his way back to Seriphus, he had many adventures; in one of them, he came across the Titan Atlas, who was condemned to carry the heavens on his shoulders. To release him of his pain, Perseus turned him into stone using Medusa's head, so that he would no longer feel the weight of his burden. Later on, he saw what looked like a statue chained to a rock, so he went to investigate. He saw that it was not a statue, but a woman, and asked her why she was chained to the rock. "My name is Andromeda", she replied, "and I have been punished because of my vain mother. She boasted that I was more beautiful than the Nereids. Poseidon was angered and said that I must be sacrificed to a sea monster," she said. Even as she spoke a monster rose from the sea. Perseus pulled Medusa's head out of the bag; the sea monster turned to stone and crumbled to pieces. Perseus cut Andromeda's chains and took her to her father, King Cepheus of Phoenicia. When Perseus asked Andromeda's hand in marriage, Cepheus gladly agreed. So, Perseus and Andromeda set off for Seriphus.
On the way they stopped at Larisa, so Perseus could compete in some games that were held at that time; however, when he threw a discus, it hit an old man who instantly died. The man was Acrisius and therefore, the prophecy became true; after mourning, Perseus and Andromeda set off again. When they arrived at Seriphus, the first person they met was Dictys, the fisherman who had brought Danae and Perseus ashore many years ago. Dictys told them how Polydectes had never really married, but since Danae wouldn't marry Polydectes, he forced her to be his handmaiden. Perseus was furious, so he asked Dictys to take care of Andromeda, in order to avenge for his mother's mistreatment.
Perseus stormed to the palace, walked in and said, "Let all who are my friends shield their eyes!" So saying he raised Medusa's head and Polydectes and his courtiers were immediately turned to stone. Perseus and Andromeda lived happily for many years and their descendants became great kings, the greatest of them all being Heracles, the strongest man in the world.
Eventually, Perseus was killed by Dionysus. To be immortalised, Perseus and Andromeda were turned into stars and would live together in the sky.
Herakles: a divine hero in Greek mythology, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, foster son of Amphitryon. A major factor in the well-known tragedies surrounding Heracles is the hatred that the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus, had for him. A full account of Heracles must render it clear why Heracles was so tormented by Hera, when there were many illegitimate offspring sired by Zeus. Heracles was the son of the affair Zeus had with the mortal woman Alcmene. Zeus made love to her after disguising himself as her husband, Amphitryon, home early from war (Amphitryon did return later the same night, and Alcmene became pregnant with his son at the same time, a case of heteropaternal superfecundation, where a woman carries twins sired by different fathers).[13] Thus, Heracles' very existence proved at least one of Zeus' many illicit affairs, and Hera often conspired against Zeus' mortal offspring as revenge for her husband's infidelities. His twin mortal brother, son of Amphitryon, was Iphicles, father of Heracles' charioteer Iolaus.

On the night the twins Heracles and Iphicles were to be born, Hera, knowing of her husband Zeus' adultery, persuaded Zeus to swear an oath that the child born that night to a member of the House of Perseus would become High King. Hera did this knowing that while Heracles was to be born a descendant of Perseus, so too was Eurystheus. Once the oath was sworn, Hera hurried to Alcmene's dwelling and slowed the birth of the twins Heracles and Iphicles by forcing Ilithyia, goddess of childbirth, to sit crosslegged with her clothing tied in knots, thereby causing the twins to be trapped in the womb. Meanwhile, Hera caused Eurystheus to be born prematurely, making him High King in place of Heracles. She would have permanently delayed Heracles' birth had she not been fooled by Galanthis, Alcmene's servant, who lied to Ilithyia, saying that Alcmene had already delivered the baby. Upon hearing this, she jumped in surprise, loosing the knots and inadvertently allowing Alcmene to give birth to Heracles and Iphicles.

Heracles as a boy strangling a snake (marble, Roman artwork, 2nd century CE)
Fear of Hera's revenge led Alcmene to expose the infant Heracles, but he was taken up and brought to Hera by his half-sister Athena, who played an important role as protectress of heroes. Hera did not recognize Heracles and nursed him out of pity. Heracles suckled so strongly that he caused Hera pain, and she pushed him away. Her milk sprayed across the heavens and there formed the Milky Way. But with divine milk, Heracles had acquired supernatural powers. Athena brought the infant back to his mother, and he was subsequently raised by his parents.

The child was originally given the name Alcides by his parents; it was only later that he became known as Heracles.[3] He was renamed Heracles in an unsuccessful attempt to mollify Hera. He and his twin were just eight months old when Hera sent two giant snakes into the children's chamber. Iphicles cried from fear, but his brother grabbed a snake in each hand and strangled them. He was found by his nurse playing with them on his cot as if they were toys. Astonished, Amphitryon sent for the seer Tiresias, who prophesied an unusual future for the boy, saying he would vanquish numerous monsters. After killing his music tutor Linus with a lyre, he was sent to tend cattle on a mountain by his foster father Amphitryon. Here, according to an allegorical parable, "The Choice of Heracles", invented by the sophist Prodicus (c. 400 BCE) and reported in Xenophon's Memorabilia 2.1.21-34, he was visited by two allegorical figures—Vice and Virtue—who offered him a choice between a pleasant and easy life or a severe but glorious life: he chose the latter. This was part of a pattern of "ethicizing" Heracles over the 5th century BCE.[14]

Later in Thebes, Heracles married King Creon's daughter, Megara. In a fit of madness, induced by Hera, Heracles killed his children by Megara. After his madness had been cured with hellebore by Antikyreus, the founder of Antikyra,[15] he realized what he had done and fled to the Oracle of Delphi. Unbeknownst to him, the Oracle was guided by Hera. He was directed to serve King Eurystheus for ten years and perform any task Eurystheus required of him. Eurystheus decided to give Heracles ten labours, but after completing them, Heracles was cheated by Eurystheus when he added two more, resulting in the Twelve Labors of Heracles. If he succeeded, he would be purified of his sin and, as myth says, he would be granted immortality. Heracles accomplished these tasks, but Eurystheus did not accept the cleansing of the Augean stables because Heracles was going to accept pay for the labor. Neither did he accept the killing of the Lernaean Hydra as Heracles' nephew, Iolaus, had helped him burn the stumps of the heads. Eurystheus set two more tasks (fetching the Golden Apples of Hesperides and capturing Cerberus), which Heracles performed successfully, bringing the total number of tasks up to twelve. Iphicles died in battleagainst either Hippocoon[2] or the Molionides.[3]
The Athenian democracy had been created on a trust that the average man could be depended upon to do right for his community. It was an orientation that differed from the more intensely religious society of Jews led by an authoritarian priesthood that preached trust and devotion to a wondrous, wise and powerful God. The Greeks did not claim their gods as wise. The gods of the Greeks, for example, were incestuous, while the Greeks abhorred incest. And seeing their gods as more human and with faults of their own, the Greeks were more inclined to put more trust in themselves, which made them more inclined toward democracy.

In Athens, physical training and education were extended to the male children of common families, and it became accepted that boys of commoners should be able to read and write. Schooling was inexpensive because teachers were paid little. Boys started school at the age of seven, and for many it continued for only three or four years, while some others continued until they were eighteen. In addition to reading and writing, the boys studied literature and grammar. They learned poetry by heart, especially the works of Homer. Prose authors were not studied, nor were mathematics and technical subjects. It was not yet a technology-scientific age. Physical education emphasized individual efforts rather than team sports. As before, education in Athens - and elsewhere in Greece - fostered loyalty to the group. It fostered pride in Athens and pride in being Greek as opposed to being "barbarian."

In Athens and some other Greek cities dramas and writing appeared that focused on the human condition rather than the gods. There was a lucid poetry about shared pleasures, love and other feelings. Dramas were written that touched upon human complexity and weakness, including flaws in exemplary heroes. There were insights that modern psychology would build upon: narcissism, the Oedipus complex, phobias and manias.

Mostly it was young men of leisure who were interested in fine literature and worldly knowledge. Democracy brought greater content to common people, but self-interest remained stronger than community interest. Of the forty thousand adult males free to participate in deciding issues, less than a sixth did so. Slaves and women remained without a voice in political affairs. In the city's market place one could see poverty, slave drivers, loud peddlers and those who cheated their customers.

Some wealthy Athenians grumbled about the vulgarity of democratic politics. Some of them found democratic government too slow in making judgments and getting things done. The playwright Aristophanes disliked the politically ambitious promising rewards and playing on superstitions.

Athens lacked a professional, responsible, civil service. The functioning of governmental offices remained the special knowledge of a few ambitious politicians who used this knowledge to gain or maintain power and influence. For decades a man had to pass property qualifications to run for high office. Politics and the judiciary in Athens remained under the influence of people of wealth. Venal judges presided at courts of law marked by corruption and perjury. Common people did not have the leisure to serve their city as officials or as members of juries. Not until after 460, when Athens acquired wealth from empire, would people be paid to participate in jury duty or paid to serve as one of the five hundred city council members - pay that would enable common people to leave their work for such activities.