Humanities Final - Greek Terms
Terms in this set (48)
the study of origins or how things came to be. Many Greek myths and the early chapters of Genesis are etiological explanations of how things came to be. The Persephone story explains how we have seasons; the Tower of Babel story explains why we speak different languages.
the greatest Greek warrior during the Trojan War; his mother dipped him in the River Styx and his only vulnerable spot was his heel. Achilles could've lived a long life without fame and glory, but preferred fighting and a short life since that would mean winning fame and glory
King of Mycenae and husband to Leda's daughter Clytemnestra, Agamemnon was father of Iphigenia, Orestes and Electra. The leader of the Greeks in the Trojan War, he is one of the central figures in the Iliad, Homer's epic poem about the war. An arrogant man, he is eventually killed by his wife Clytemnestra because Agamemnon sacrificed his own daughter Iphigenia.
goddess of love and beauty. Latin/Roman name is Venus.
god of light, truth, music, medicine, and poetry. In Oedipus the King, he represents a cruel, powerful and distant god who treats humans like pawns in a game.
god of war. Latin/Roman name is Mars.
goddess of wisdom. In The Odyssey she represents the rational, intelligent thinking and civilization. Latin/Roman name is Minerva.
led the fight against Zeus and the Olympians. For punishment, he was condemned to bear the heavens on his shoulders.
captured the winged horse Pegasus, slew the chimera, attempted to fly to Olympus but Zeus sent a gadfly down to sting Pegasus and Bellerophon fell. He lived but he was lonely and crippled.
a whirlpool sea monster in The Odyssey
wife of Agamemnon. With her lover Aegisthus, she murders her husband Agamemnon when he returns from the Trojan War.
goddess of the grain
god of wine. His mother was a mortal woman who died when she observed Zeus in his full glory; she perished in the ensuing blaze. Zeus rescued the fetal Dionysus by sewing him into his thigh. A few months later, Dionysus was born from his thigh.
goddess of discord not invited to a wedding; she throws a golden apple to the gods inscribed with the words "To the Fairest," which begins the Trojan War.
beautiful maiden Zeus falls in love with. He changes himself into a white bull, she climbs on him and he carries her away.
god of the underworld. Latin/Roman name is Pluto.
Helen of Troy
the most beautiful woman in the world and wife of Menalaus, a Greek king. She is given as a bribe to Paris of Troy by Aphrodite so that he will select her over Hera and Athena as the fairest of the gods. The famous line about her comes from Christopher Marlowe's 16th-century play Doctor Faustus, a play about a man who sells his soul to the Devil: "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships / And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?"
the god of the sun
Hephaestus (Roman: Vulcan)
god of fire and the forge
goddess of marriage and jealous wife of Zeus. Zeus turned himself into a cuckoo that appeared to be frozen from the cold. Hera, feeling sorry for the bird turned to her motherly instincts as she held the bird tightly to her breast to warm it. Zeus then turned himself back into his normal shape and took advantage of the surprised state Hera was in. Unable to fight him off, Hera was raped and then persuaded to marry him to cover her shame.
son of Zeus and most powerful mortal man. He killed two serpents sent by jealous Hera and as an adult, after being driven mad by Hera, performed 12 labors to atone for killing two of his children. Some of them included slaying the Nemean lion, cleaning Augeas's stables in one day, retrieving the belt of the Amazon Queen, and retrieving the golden apples of the Hesperides. He was the only hero to become a god after his death.
messenger god and god of commerce and shepherds. Latin/Roman name is Mercury.
Titan god of light
father of the Olympians (Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, etc.) and king of the gods before Zeus overthrew him. He castrated his father to overthrow him. He swallowed all of his children (except Zeus) and was given a stone as a substitute for Zeus. He name refers to time and he is often called Father Time.
seduced by Zeus when he came to her in the form of a swan, Leda gave birth to an egg. From it hatched Helen of Troy, the most beautiful women in the world.
A once beautiful women who had sexual relations with Poseidon in Athena's temple. Athena turns Medusa's hair into serpents, and those who look into Medusa's eyes are turned to stone.
Titan goddess of memory and mother of the Muses.
Goddesses of fate who weave the thread of life.
goddesses of music, poetry, and dance
mortal who falls in love with his own reflection. The term narcissism (disturbed self-love) comes from his story.
murders his mother Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus to avenge his father's death.
mortal who travels to underworld to attempt to save his wife Eurydice. He plays his lyre so beautifully that Hades agrees to return Eurydice, but Orpheus looks back at his wife before she is out of the shadows of the underworld, so she must return.
the earliest god of the sky or heavens. But unlike Zeus, Ouranos was literally the sky and did not appear human. Father of the Titans, Cyclopes, and the Hecantonchires, Ouranos was castrated by Kronos.
daughter of Demeter who is kidnapped by Hades and becomes his wife; because she at 6 pomegranate seeds in the underworld she must remain there half the year. Her story is an illustration of the vegetative cycle metaphor.
Created by Zeus as a punishment for Prometheus's crime. Releases evils into the world when she opens a jar. Only hope remains.
son of Priam and Hecuba, the king and queen of Troy. Paris is selected to judge the beauty contest between Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera. They all bribe him. He selects Aphrodite because she promises him the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen.
son of Zeus who with the aide of Hermes and Athena beheads Medusa and turns his enemies into stone with her head
mortal who attempts to drive his father Helios' sun chariot. It is too powerful and he dies in his attempt to do what only gods can do.
god of the sea. In The Odyssey he represents irrational and emotional forces and bodily urges and savagery. Latin/Roman name is Neptune.
trickster titan who steals fire from Zeus and gives it to man; punished by having an eagle eat his liver everyday for eternity. Fire in the story symbolizes progress or technology. In Anthem, Equality 7-2521 is given the name Prometheus, so for Ayn Rand Prometheus is a rebel and a hero, a god who broke the rules because they needed to be broken.
Pygmalion and Galatea
Pygmalion was a sculptor who created a statue so beautiful that he fell in love with it. The goddess Aphrodite granted the statue life and Pygmalion married his creation.
a monster with six dog heads who lives near Charybdis and devours sailors if they get too close
women monsters with bird bodies who could sing beautifully and lure sailors to their rocky cliffs.
troublemaker who is punished in the underworld by having to continuously roll a huge boulder up a hill. Sisyphean is a term that describes a very difficult, futile task.
another troublemaker who is punished in the underworld by having to sit in a pool of water with a bough of fruit hanging over him. When he reaches for the fruit, the wind blows it away; when he attempts to drink from the pool below him, it recedes.
king of Athens who enters the Cretan labyrinth and slays the Minotaur and uses yarn to escape. When he forgets to change the sail on his return, his father throws himself off the Athenian cliffs thinking his son dead.
the children of Heaven (Ouranos) and Earth (Gaia).
king of the gods and god of the heavens. Known for his power and sexual potency. Latin/Roman name is Jupiter.
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