A myth, known also as a fable, tale or legend, when defined translates to the meaning of a traditional story. Relating back and concerning to the early history of people or the explanation of some natural or social phenomenon, and commonly depicting the involvement of supernatural beings or events.
Myths generally tend to be quite widely held and well known, passed down in history through generations of people and communities. The act of passing a myth, story or legend through person to person and generation to generation, tends to bend and obscure the truth, creating a false belief or idea. Therefore a myth is a misrepresentation of the truth, becoming a fictitious, exaggerated version of an event or idolised person in history. The misconstrued interpretation of stories from one to the other tends to twist and combine several myths, fables and legends into one, completely transforming the meaning of each myth and their underlining story line and moral.
The term “Mythology” refers to both the study of myths or to a body of a collection of myths. A myth is seen as a sacred narrative, in folkloristics which usually explains how the world, the beginning, how mankind came to be in it’s present form. Put broadly, Mythology as a word can relate to any one given story. Myths are put in place, passed on and told to convey religious or idealised experience, establishing ground behavioural models, and also to teach. Mythology- a collection of myths, one belonging to a particular religious or cultural tradition.
Belonging to the Ancient Greeks, a civilisation belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity (ca. 600 AD). Concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, relating to their origins and the significance of their cult and ritual practices. Mythology, it’s stories and legends played a large part in the history of the ancient Greeks, their religion was based largely around the study, practice and power of these tale-based stories. Greek Mythology is displayed, told and depicted through a large collection of art-based narratives such as ceramics, vase paintings and votive gifts.
This method of story telling using arts and visual material is used to enhance and empower each individual myth and also as a combination of stories and morals to create a lasting effect and memory in the audiences mind to then pursue and carry on the story to generations down the line. The explanation of the origins of the world, gods, goddesses,heroes, heroines and mythological creatures details their lives and adventures they have carried out. This early practice of story telling has a high moral teaching people the difference between right and wrong, also depicting consequences for actions. Since the history of Greek Mythology there has been two important characters which can be related to religions and ways of life in modern day: Zeus- the ancient Greek father of the Gods and Men and Hades, the ancient Greek God of the underworld (the Dead and the Riches). These two contrasting people both create characters with distinctive characteristics and different morals which can be defined and recognised today as “good” and “evil”.
Ancient Greek Mythology is connected to stories, traditions and also religions of the present. Christianity as a religion uses and relates with the characters of Zeus and Hades. Hades relates to the Christian concept of Hell- a deep, gloomy part of hades used as a dungeon of torment and suffering.
During my time researching into Ancient Greece, Mythology and Traditions I have become particularly interested within the characters, portrayals and stories of the ‘Underworld. “Hell: (religion) the world of the dead; “No one goes to Hades with all his immense wealth”-Theognis”…”Underworld is a region in some religions and in mythologies which is thought to be under the surface of the earth. It could be a place where the souls of the recently departed go, and, in some traditions, it is identified with Hell. …” The mythical story of the underworld depicts it as a realm imagined below earth, the abode of the dead. Within the dark depths of the underworld, there is a leader, their god and ruler- Hades. Hades is the Ancient Greek God of the underworld, ruling the underworld, air, and sea, respectively; the solid earth. Rather interestingly, Hades is a brother of Zeus, the Ancient Greek father of the Gods and men. These two characters, despite being brothers, both have completely contrasting views and morals which oppose one another. The two brothers seem torn apart and separated literally by the sky and the depths of the ground.
Within Greek mythology as told through generations, the character of Hades was portrayed as a feared one. Hades translates to the ‘unseen’, the god of the underworld ruling a dungeon of torment and suffering. “Feared and loathed, Hades embodied the inexorable finality of death: “Why do we loathe Hades more than any god, if not because he is so adamantine and unyielding?” The rhetorical question is Agamemnon’s. He was not, however, an evil god, for although he was stern, cruel, and unpitying, he was still just. Hades ruled the Underworld and was therefore most often associated with death and feared by men, but he was not Death itself — the actual embodiment of Death was Thanatos.”
Through my body of research within most aspects and areas of Ancient Grecian stories and Mythology, I have widened my understanding and knowledge within the specialist subject areas. Most interestingly, to me, I have been intrigued and drawn to the darker stories within these traditions which seemed to scare and intimidate listeners which lead me to study into Cerberus- a multi (usually three) headed hound who guarded the gates of the underworld, worked, obeyed and ruled by Hades. According to traditions, Cerberus, Hades’ watchdog, guarded the realm of the dead and prevented any lifeless souls or living souls to either exit or enter. Cerberus was said to be the offspring of two beasts; Typhon, a fire breathing giant whom even the Greek Gods feared and Echidna, often portrayed as a juxtaposition of a woman of beauty and a deadly serpent. Similar to the Gorgons, Cerberus was said to be so dreadful to behold that anyone whom laid eyes upon the beast would turn to stone. The common depiction of Cerberus in Greek mythology and art is as having three heads. In most works the three-heads each respectively see and represent the past, the present, and the future, while other sources suggest the heads represent birth, youth, and old age. During research into myths, I came across plenty of art and paintings which depicted the stories of famous legendary characters, which lead me to wonder- where did these stories originate from? Is there any truth within these mysterious traditions? Will we ever design our own modern day myths?