There are many Greek myths and legends; some you may know, and some you may not. We have all heard about Pandora’s Box or Athena; we just didn’t know all the juicy details. Some myths are so bizarre, you have to read them again.
Pandora’s Box: The most descriptive myth of human behaviour
Being nosy can get you into trouble and that is exactly what happened to Pandora. Zeus gave her a wedding gift when she married his son Epimetheus, but told her to never, ever open the box.
She couldn’t stand not knowing what was in that box, so she opened it, thinking that she would find gold coins or jewellery inside. But instead of treasure, Zeus had filled the box with all the evil things he could think of, from illness to poverty to sadness – all shaped like tiny moths. The moths stung Pandora over and over again, so she slammed the lid shut. But there was a tiny voice still inside, asking to be let out. This tiny voice was Hope, which came out in the shape of a beautiful dragonfly and healed Pandora’s wounds. So Pandora did let pain and sadness into the world, but she also let Hope out to follow them.
We are sure that most of you know this story, but did you know that Pandora’s Box was not a box? According to Hesiod’s story, it was a “phitos,” a jar of clay.
What you may also not know is that Pandora had a daughter named Pyrrha who married her cousin Deukalion, so the gods sent a massive flood to destroy the earth and the mortals. However, they managed to survive and cast the bones of Pandora to the ground so that the world would be repopulated. For that reason, Pandora is the grandmother of the human race, not just the nosy woman we all know her for being.
Demeter and her Daughter Persephone: A myth about how the seasons came to be
It is hard to believe, but spring, summer, fall and winter are the result of a family drama. Despite the fact that Demeter was the goddess of the harvest and fertility, she had only one daughter, Persephone, who was kidnapped by Hades, the god of the underworld. Demeter grieved so much that she subjected the world to extreme hunger and starvation. She caused crops and plants to wither and die.
Zeus intervened and asked Hades to return Persephone. Hades obeyed, but tricked her into eating pomegranate seeds before he let her out of the underworld. This meant that she couldn’t return to her mother permanently – if she ate anything from the land of mortals, she would have to return to him for part of every year. This is why every spring Demeter makes the land burst to life and every fall, when Persephone must return, Demeter ignores the flowers and lets them die. That is the reason for the seasons – winter, spring, summer and fall.
Hermaphroditus: The myth of origin
This is a story about a little boy, a child of Hermes and Aphrodite, but raised in caves on Mount Ida by nymphs. When he was 15 years old, he met in a pool a beautiful nymph named Salmacis. She fell in love with him, but he rejected her (a 15-year-old boy rejecting an attractive nymph?). She couldn’t handle the rejection, so she disappeared from the water, making him think she was no longer there, and then ambushed him as he started to bathe. She wrapped herself around him, asking the gods to never separate them. The gods merged them into one being, forming the first hermaphrodite.
Athena: The goddess of intelligence and wisdom...but do you know why?
A myth goes like this: Zeus fell in love with Metis, who tried to escape from him. She changed into various creatures such as a fish, a serpent and a hawk. But that didn’t stop Zeus; he pursued her until she relented. Then an oracle of Gaea prophesied that Metis would have two children: first a girl and then a boy, who would become more powerful than Zeus.
That is why Zeus swallowed her and her unborn child. This was the end of Metis and the beginning of Zeus’s wisdom. After some time, Zeus got a headache, so the gods decided to split open his skull to see what was wrong. Out of the skull sprang Athena, fully formed and in a full set of armour. Due to the way of her birth, she became a goddess of intelligence and wisdom.
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