Common Myths

Myth Cycles

Some of the Greek myths are told in the form of a series of stories featuring the same heroes.

Jason and the Argonauts

One of the older, and lesser-known cycles concerns Jason and his changing band of heroes, that at times included the likes of Herakles and the twins Castor and Polledeukes.

Herakles

Recently adapted by Disney, in a version that seriously mangled the original story. Watched by myriad people in his TV series incarnation, Herakles must be one of the worlds most popular heroes.

Odysseus and the Illiad

Few stories are as well known as the ones about the siege of mighty Troy and the travels of the Greek hero Odysseus.

Origin myths

Quite a few of the Greek myths tell how certain animals, flowers and other things came into being. We know most of these objects, but not many know how they came by their name. You’ve already read about the laurel tree, here are a few more examples.

Syrinx

Syrinx was a nymph, whom Pan desired. He chased her through fields and valleys and finally cornered her on a river’s bank. In her panic the nymph changed into a stand of reeds. Pan smiled and cut teh reed into several lenghts and tied them together. This way he could always play syrinx.

Amethyst

Amethyst was a young girl who rose early to get some water from the well. Here she met Dionysos and his leopards. The big cats ran towards the girl, to devour her. The gods intervened and changed her quickly into a lump of rock-crystal. Dionysos, feeling guilty wroung a hand ful of grapes over the rock, staining it with their juice for all eternity.

Arachnea

Arachnea was a common girl whose skills in spinning and weaving surpassed all. Challenged she said she could do this even better than Athena. Disguised as an old woman Athena warned her of the dangers of hubris. Arachnea persisted and Athena accepted the challenge. Arachnea’s work didn’t please the goddess, who beat her with the shuttle. The girl hanged herself and was transformed by Athena into the first spider, so she and her descendants could weave for all eternity.