Why Was Mythology Created? Where Did the Ideas Come From?
Historical Facts and Our Own Original Theories
The Greeks lived near the Mediterranean Sea, and thus relied on it for survival and general wellbeing which could explain the vast number of sea-gods. The Greeks spoke many languages, which led them to wonder where the origins of their existence lied. Homer and other poets entertained crowds with stories people could relate to. This was a crude science that presented a short-term explanation on everything from the supernatural to the mundane. Plato (427-327 BCE) was the earliest Greek to present the stories with the word mythologia, meaning "the creation of stories containing only invented characters." Some people thought the gods were simply notable men and women who did great deeds, and after they died, were given divine burials. The poet Hesiod decided to place Greek mythology in order through a family tree in seventh-century BCE. One of his works, The Theogony, was the original endeavor to classify everyone from gods and goddesses to earthly heroes*. Long afterward, Apollodorus made a diagram of the full mythological history of ancient Greece**.
Greek mythology had extreme influence over the Romans. Primitive Greek settlements near the edge of Italy showed them a more structured and complete mythological system than the Romans already had. The second-century BCE Roman invasion of Greece made differences among the gods virtually undeterminable. Prior to this, Romans only thought of their gods as divinities that had taken human form, without the human mindset. Once they saw that myths and religion could relate to reality, they decided to follow the Greeks’ ideas, hardly changing more than the names. Aeneas was the lone case of Roman mythological autonomy. The Greeks, in order to prove the Romans' antiquity but also distance them from their own Greek wonders, left Aeneas as a Trojan. The basis of Roman history was initiated when Aeneas ran away amid the consequences of the Greek obliteration of Troy.
* We will not have profiles of mortal heroes on this website, because our decided focus is presenting deities.
** This map is the one that is modernly used, and was found in a few of our mythology books.