Myths were a big part of Greek culture. They told stories about what the Gods did, how they acted, and what they were like. Most of the Myths had a moral. We are going to tell you seven such myths.
Arachne was a weaver and a very good one at that. She weaved a
lot and got better and better. Soon she felt very confident about
her skill. Unfortunately, this confidence turned into conceit.
She got a big head. She got such a big head, she decided to
challenge Athena, the greatest weaver in the land, to a weaving
contest. She had no way of knowing would be a terrible mistake.
Before Arachne could challenge the god, Athena heard of this and
was furious. She decide to make and attempt to change Arachne's
mind. She changed her appearance to look like a common old woman
and went to Arachne's home. Athena knocked on her door and when
Arachne opened it she said,
"I have heard you wish to challenge Athena. I advise you to call it off."
"Ha! What do you know, old hag?" Arachne retorted haughtily.
Once again Athena was furious with Arachne. Immediately she transformed back into godly form. Her thin gray hair grew back long and pretty, her wrinkled skin smoothened, her shabby common-woman clothing fell away revealing a beautiful dress. Arachne gasped and begged for forgiveness.
"You wanted a weaving contest? Well you're gonna' get one!" Athena cried.
"W-w-when?" Arachne stammered.
Arachne paled but did not back down, "Then it shall be held in my hut. I hope you have a loom."
Soon they were both hard at work, each doing her best.
At last they were both finished. They held up their work. Athena's blanket showed all of the gods. Arachne's blanket not only showed all of the gods, but it showed stories of the gods. Clearly Arachne had won. She smiled triumphantly.
"No, it CAN'T be! I am the best weaver in all the land!" Athena cried.
Then in her rage, she transformed Arachne into a spider.
"Now you can weave all the time!" Athena yelled, "only now it will be for your survival!" with that, Athena turned and walked out of the hut. That is how the Greeks said the spider(Arachnid) was created.
Zeus, king of gods, had
punished Prometheus for giving man fire, but he had not yet
punished man for accepting it. Now he was ready to take revenge.
He told his son Hephaestus to make the first woman. After he had made woman in the shape of a lovely goddess, the Four Winds breathed life into her.
Then each god gave her a gift to make her beautiful and appealing to man. Aphrodite gave her the gift of great beauty, and other gods and goddesses gave her the gifts of music and the power of persuasion, among other gifts. Next they dressed her in silvery robes and a crown of gold. They named her Pandora, which means "gift-of-all."
Lastly, Zeus gave Pandora his gift-the gift of curiosity. He also gave her a jar and warned her not to open it.
Now she was finished and his plan could be put to work. He sent her down to Earth accompanied by the god, Hermes, who gave her Pandora to Epimetheus as a gift from Zeus.
Epimetheus was immediately charmed by Pandora and wanted to marry her. His brother, Prometheus, had warned him about Zeus's tricks and he said never accept any of his gifts. Epimetheus could resist, though. Soon he and Pandora were married and had made a home together.
Epimetheus and Pandora were happy, but something troubled Pandora. She wanted very badly to know why Zeus had sent her with a jar she couldn't open. Everyday she would walk past it and force herself not to open it.
Whatever's in that jar must be marvelous and unusual, she thought.
One day the curiosity became too overwhelming. I'll just take one quick look, she said to herself.
She pulled and pulled at the lid of the jar until it finally came off. A cloud of buzzing evils flew out. Disease and envy, spite and revenge, anxiety and misfortune swarmed around her head. Pandora batted at them and screamed for them to go a way. She tried to put the lid back on the jar, but when she did, all the evils had flown out into the world to plague mankind forever. Nothing was left but hope, and that was a fortunate thing. For no matter how many evils people are faced with, hope gives them the ability to endure.
When it was time to create man for the earth, Zeus gave this job to two Titans named Prometheus and his brother, Epimetheus. Zeus also gave them the responsibility of giving man and animals, who already lived on earth, special gifts to insure their survival. Prometheus, whose name meant "forethought," was an inventor and extremely wise. Epimetheus, whose name meant "afterthought," was just the opposite. He was very rash. Epimetheus declared that he had to give the animals their gifts, so Prometheus set off to create man. He wanted man to be superior to animals, so he sat down by the ocean and thought for a long time. At last he decided. He took a handful of earth and mixed water with it to hold it together while he shaped it. Slowly and surely, he modeled the first man into the image of a god. He was sure to give it two feet so he could look up at the stars instead of directly at the ground as animals did. All the while, Epimetheus was giving gifts to the animals, who looked very different from what they look like today. He gave the tigers claws, wings to the birds, and horns to the cattle. Until then, they had no means of defense. Then he gave some animals swiftness, some cunning and courage, still others he gave strength. He also gave some animals fur to keep them warm and protect them. Epimetheus was very proud of his work, but he wasn't for long because Prometheus came running up shouting, "Epimetheus! I have done it! My man has come to life and I want to give him the greatest gift of all for he is by far the best creation in all the world!" Epimetheus hang his head and said, "I'm sorry, but I've already given the animals all of the gifts. I didn't think about man." Prometheus was angry. He thought for awhile and finally exclaimed, " I've got it! I will give man the gift of fire! With fire man will be able to cook, have light at night, and keep warm!" But how was he ever going to get fire when it only belonged to the gods? He asked the goddess Athena to help him. She led him to the sun. There he lit a torch and hurried back to give the most precious gift to man. Zeus saw that there were fires glowing. He was furious. "Prometheus stole fire! It was the gods' property only! Man may get too powerful for his own good! Maybe even stronger than the gods!" he roared,"I must punish him!" Zeus called on his servants, Force and Violence, and ordered them to capture Prometheus and chain him to a rock high in the Caucasus Mountains. So it was done. Everyday a vulture would swoop down and eat Prometheus's liver. It grew back daily, but it was eaten again and again. Prometheus suffered in silence, though. Though his body was bound, his mind and spirit was free. He did not regret giving man fire. He knew that what he had done was not wrong. He knew that he had given a wonderful gift to his wonderful creation. He also knew that he had changed man from a helpless creature, to a powerful master of his surroundings.
Echo was a very beautiful mountain nymph and she spent her days running thorough the forests. One day Zeus went out of Mt. Olympus. His wife, Hera, hated when he did this and he did it a lot. This time, he asked Echo to lie for him. Hera found out. She came down to Echo and punished the poor nymph. Hera put a curse on her that made her only able to repeat people. Later sometime, Echo saw a handsome young man traveling through the forest. She fell in love with him instantly. She followed him for awhile before he noticed her while he rested. "Hello!" he called. "Hello!" Echo repeated. "What are you doing back there? Come here," the young man asked. "Come here," Echo repeated. "You come here, what is your name? "Your name?" Echo repeated trying to ask his name. "My name is Narcissus, what is your name?" "Name?" "Yes, what is your name and why must you repeat me?" "Repeat," Echo said sadly. Echo was a very beautiful mountain nymph and she spent her days running thorough the forests. One day Zeus went out of Mt. Olympus. His wife, Hera, hated when he did this and he did it a lot. This time, he asked Echo to lie for him. Hera found out. She came down to Echo and punished the poor nymph. Hera put a curse on her that made her only able to repeat people. Later sometime, Echo saw a handsome young man traveling through the forest. She fell in love with him instantly. She followed him for awhile before he noticed her while he rested. "Hello!" he called. "Hello!" Echo repeated. "What are you doing back there? Come here," the young man asked. "Come here," Echo repeated. "You come here, what is your name? "Your name?" Echo repeated trying to ask his name. "My name is Narcissus, what is your name?" "Forget it! I have to be going," Narcissus was annoyed and he left. Echo burst into silent tears. Then she began to pray to the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Aphrodite heard her prayers and put a curse on Narcissus. The curse was that Narcissus would love himself so much it would be unhealthy and eventually fatal. Just as planned, as Narcissus looked into a pool, he saw his own reflection and fell deeply in love. He tried to kiss this beautiful creature but the reflection broke into ripples. He tried again, no luck. Again and again he tried in vain. Finally he died of starvation and dehydration. All the while Echo was pining away in a cave. She pined until she disappeared leaving nothing but the faint sound of her voice. That is how the Greeks explained the repeat of words now known as Echo.
Daphne, a river nymph; the daughter of the Peneus River (or Pheneus River or Ladon River), was Apollo's first love, and it was not blind chance which brought this about, but Eros' savage spite. Not long \before, Apollo, still exultant over his slaying of the serpent, had seen Eros bending his taut bow, and had taunted him unmercifully as being a boy with a soldier's weapon. But Eros got even. He swiftly winged his way through the air, till he alighted on the shady summit of Parnassus. From his quiver, full of arrows, he drew two darts, with different properties. The one puts love to flight, the other kindles it. That which kindles love is golden, and shining, sharp-tipped; but that which puts it to flight is blunt, its shaft tipped with lead. With this arrow the god pierced the nymph, Daphne, but Apollo he wounded with the other, shooting it into the marrow of his bones. Immediately the one fell in love; the other, fleeing the very word "lover," took her delight in woodland haunts and in the spoils of captured beasts, emulating Diana, the maiden goddess, with her hair carelessly caught back by a single ribbon. Many a suitor wooed her but, turning away from their entreaties, she roamed the pathless woods, knowing nothing of men, and caring nothing for them, heedless of what marriage or love or wedded life might be. As soon as Apollo saw Daphne, he fell in love with her, and wanted to marry her. His own prophetic powers deceived him and he hoped to achieve his desire. As the light stubble blazes up in a harvested field,or as the hedge is set alight, if a traveler chance to kindle a fire too close, or leaves one smoldering when he goes off at daybreak, so the god was all on fire, his whole heart was aflame, and he nourished his fruitless love on hope. He eyed her hair as it hung carelessly about her neck, and sighed: "What if it were properly arranged!" He looked at her eyes, sparkling bright as stars, he looked at her lips, and wanted to do more than look at them. He praised her fingers, her hands and arms, bare almost to the shoulder. Her hidden charms he imagined lovelier still. But Daphne ran off, swifter than the wind's breath, and did not stop to hear his words. The frightened maiden fled from him; even then, she was graceful to see, as the wind bared her limbs and its gusts stirred her garments, blowing them out behind her. Her hair streamed in the light breeze, and her beauty was enhanced by her flight. But the youthful god could not endure to waste his time on further blandishments and, as love itself prompted, sped swiftly after her. Even so, when a Gallic hound spies a hare in some open meadow he tries by his swiftness to secure his prey, while the hare, by her swiftness, seeks safety: the dog, seeming just about to fasten on his quarry, hopes at every moment that he has her, and grazes her hind quarters with outstretched muzzle, but the hare, uncertain whether she has not already been caught, snatches herself out of his very jaws, and escapes the teeth which almost touch her. Thus the god and the nymph sped on, one made swift by hope and one by fear; but he who pursued was swifter, for he was assisted by love's wings. He gave the fleeing maiden no respite, but followed close on her heels, and his breath touched the locks that lay scattered on her neck, till Daphne's strength was spent, and she grew pale and weary with the effort of her swift flight. Then she saw the waters of the Peneus: "Oh, father," she cried, "help me! If your rivers really have divine powers, work some transformation, and destroy this beauty which makes me please all to well!" Her prayer was scarcely ended when a deep languor took hold on her limbs, her soft breast was enclosed in thin bark, her hair grew into leaves, her arms into branches, and her feet that were lately so swift were held fast by sluggish roots, while her face became the treetop. Nothing of her was left, except her shining loveliness. Even as a tree, Apollo loved her. He placed his hand against the trunk, and felt her heart still beating under the new bark. Embracing the branches as if they were limbs he kissed the wood: but, even as a tree, she shrank from his kisses. Then the god said: "Since you cannot be my bride, surely you will at least be my tree. My hair, my lyre, my quivers will always display the laurel. Further, as my head is ever young, my tresses never shorn, so do you also, at all times, wear the crowning glory of never-fading foliage." The laurel tree inclined her new made branches, and seemed to nod her leafy top, as if it were a head, in consent.