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February 10, 2013

Essay on Ancient Mythology


Greek mythology has several characteristics. The Greek gods have human form and showed human feelings. Unlike the ancient religions such as Hinduism or Judaism, Greek mythology does not appeal to revelation or a spiritual teaching. The practices and beliefs vary; there is no formal structure of the type religious government, or writing code such as the sacred book. The power structure in Greek mythology shows that though the Gods act in human manner vexing them even slightly was enough to bring their wrath.
Greek religion in general and with the exception of the mystery religions, had no body doctrine. It required that his followers observed the rituals in the suited mood. In addition, large religious festivals are held regularly during sacrifices, competitive athletics, processions and plays. Participation in these festivals is both religious and political act. But the great public events, like the Panathenaic Athens do not meet fully the religious needs of the population. Many acts of worship are practiced so in private or in the family. In rural society depicted by Hesiod, the farmer observes and performs many forbidden small ritual acts to attract the benevolence of the Gods. Later, small sanctuaries rose slightly everywhere in the countryside, but also in cities, where some families honored the deity of the house by offerings simple tokens like a garland of flowers, for example, or a few drops of wine as a libation. There was no clergy, but there were special liturgical functions such as the Pythia at Delphi or Eumolpidae hereditary priesthood at Eleusis. The statue of the god was kept inside the temple, but there were times a second to the outside public worship was practiced outdoors. Greek religion of the classical age was generally optimistic and rational. The Gods were interested in human affairs, the man expected to be well treated if he obeyed the Gods from which returns to the relationship. The ethical side is less well defined: the Gods had indeed great difference from the amoral Hermes of the Hymn to Hermes Homeric Zeus just to the Agamemnon of Aeschylus.   
The Greeks, who had their superstitions and fears about the future, practiced magic rites, usually simple, such as wearing amulets. However Omens and prophecies play an important place. Zeus and Apollo, in particular, are the future, they announce by voice oracles, the largest of which are those of Zeus at Dodona and of Apollo at Delphi. The latter center receives Delegations from all over the Greek world in search of political or religious guidance, but also people who consult privately. Apollo spoke through the mouth of a priestess, the Pythia, who was thought to be "Owned" by the god. His remarks were interpreted by priests and transcribed to the applicant's intention. Athens and other cities thus have "scholars", that is to say, "performers" officially designated as representatives of Apollo for advice in religious matters.
             Talking about hospitality as a major theme in the ancient mythology that may seem strange to modern readers. In the world of Homer, however, hospitality is one of the laws of Zeus, whether the guest is foreign entrant who could be dangerous or mere beggars. Welcoming a stranger into their home showed confidence and the good nature to the fellow human beings. It was important for the people in the ancient mythology because it was a means of finding news, and it was thought that a time may come when they will have to depend on his hospitality in the future. Hospitality or lack of it affected Odysseus throughout the epic. Odysseus’ Palace, while he was away, was taken by suitors who were looking for Penelope's hand in marriage. The suitors exhibit no hospitality to strangers, and abused the hospitality of Telemachus and Penelope. Telemachus is too old and lacks the strength to get rid of the suitors. During his journey, Odysseus receives support from Phaeacians who are those who bring Odysseus back to Ithaca and Circealoshelps him. Circe shows Ulysses and his men great hospitality after beating his scam. Cyclops Polyphemus, on the other hand show poor hospitality by eating some of the men of Odysseus.
High opinion for the Gods is made known in the ancient mythology through the frequent images of sacrifices and donations. For example Homer in Odyssey shows that before starting the extensive meal there was a ritual followed that involved "cutting the first strips for the Gods" having them "wrapped in sleek fat . . . sprinkling barley over them" then "burning the choice parts for the Gods that never die." Libations were also poured.
The myths show that disrespect for the Gods unavoidably led to catastrophe; the Gods do not forget disrespect and are not easily appeased. It is to be noted how often Odysseus pray, particularly following the mistake he makes with Polyphemus.
It is also in the mythology that the Gods could bring catastrophe on the people because of their negligent acts. The very first act which frustrated many Achaeans' homecoming in Odyssey was the work of the Achaeans himself: Ajax, meaning Ajax the Lesser who is relatively unimportant character and should not be confused with the "Greater Ajax”, mythological Greek hero, Odysseus meets in Hades, raped the Trojan priestess Cassandra in the temple, while the Greeks were robbing the fallen city. This act of impulse, impiety, and folly brought the wrath of Athena on the Achaean fleet, and set in motion the chain of events that has transformed the homecoming of Odysseus's return to a long nightmare. It can be seen that the Odyssey is started by such an event, as the many pitfalls that Odysseus and his men face are also constraints arising from a fatal weakness and inability to control it. Gods are made angry by the acts of neglect and temptation which distracted Odysseus and his crew out of their way: they give into hunger and slaughter cattle of the God of sun Helios, and eat the fruit of the lotus and forget their homes.
Even Odysseus’ Kleos hunger is an enticement. It is said that when revealing his name to Polyphemus, Poseidon was so angry against him and his men that he sent his wrath in a form of trouble for Odysseus. Homer is fascinated by his representative protagonist tormented by temptation: in general, Odysseus and his men want very badly to complete their “Nostos”, that is to go home, but this desire is constantly in conflict with the other pleasures that the world has to offer.
The character of women in the ancient mythology is shown to be in a negative light as they are depicted, like sexual hunters in the Odyssey. Crice is given as an example among the goddesses, who turns a foolish man into a pig after she seduced him, while Calypso keeps Odysseus as her immortal husband for years. Sirens, too, try to seduce Odysseus and his sailors with their beautiful voices. Similarly Penelope is also accused of teasing the suitors but the most negative portrayal is of Agamemnon’s wife Kyltaimnestra, Odysseus’s concern towards Penelope’s attitude is mostly because of the tale of Kyltaimnestra’s adultery and murder of her husband.

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