Being a literature lover, I can vow that I have never heard as interesting stories as Greek mythologies. From the myth of Moirai to the myth of Sisyphus, you will find yourself delving more and more deeply into the details about these myths. They have always been an essential part of the Greek mentality and culture. Greeks created myths to explain the origins of the world and to give details about the life of various gods, goddesses and mythological characters. These myths no doubt give us the idea about how creative ancient Greek people were. Their fascination, imagination and originality gave birth to these myths which continue to be a subject of great interest for the knowledge explorers till now.
Here are the three Greek Myths which I love the most and yes, you will find them interesting too.
- The Myth of Sisyphus
The downfall of Sisyphus started when he betrayed God Zeus by telling Asopus (the river god) about the abduction of Aegina (Asopus’ daughter). Zeus then ordered Thanatos, the personification of death, to chain Sisyphus down below in the Underworld. Sisyphus, however, through his cunningness, trapped Thanatos in chains and since the “Death” was trapped now, no mortal could die. This resulted in chaos and Ares, who was annoyed with the fact that the opponents whom he killed in the battle are not dying, went to free the “Death”.
After Thanatos was freed, Sisyphus knew that he can no longer escape him. He then told his wife not to offer any traditional burial rites and cast his unburied body in the public square. When he woke up in the Underworld, he was annoyed by his wife’s behaviour to follow blindly the order which he gave her. He then took permission to go back to earth to chastise his wife for not performing traditional rituals. Once granted this second lease on life, Sisyphus refused to return to Underworld. God Mercury then forced him to go back to the Underworld where a huge stone was waiting for him. For not following the God’s orders, he was condemned to ceaselessly roll that rock up to the top of a mountain, only to see it rolling back to the bottom again. The gods were wise in perceiving that an eternity of the futile labor is a hideous punishment.
- The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice
Orpheus was a legendary Greek musician who fell in love with a beautiful maiden Eurydice. One day, Aristaeus (a shepherd) saw Eurydice in the meadows and was beguiled by her beauty. He then started chasing her and Eurydice, in order to escape, steps on a poisonous snake. As a result, she gets bitten by the snake and dies on spot. Orpheus who loved Eurydice so much, goes to the Underworld and begs Hades (the god of Underworld) to let his wife go back to earth with him. Impressed by his musical charms, Hades then permits him to take his sweetheart back to the home.
Here comes the real twist. He allowed him to do so- on one condition. The condition was simple- Orpheus has to lead Eurydice back to the earth without looking back even once at his wife. He agreed to follow this condition and they both started their journey. When Orpheus was about to reach at the end of the cave, his patience gave up and he turned back to see if Eurydice was following him. As a result, Eurydice was pulled back to the Underworld forever. Orpheus then vowed not to love any other woman in his life.
- The Myth of Psyche and Eros
The story of Psyche (soul) and Eros (desire) is like a fairy tale one. Psyche was a mortal woman whose beauty and charms surpassed even the goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. People begin to admire and worship her and the temples of Aphrodite were abandoned. Aphrodite being jealous of Psyche ordered her son Eros to make her fall in love with a beast. Eros was the symbol of a Cupid. He had the power to make people fall in love with each other just by shooting arrows in their heart. He then went to earth to follow his mother’s order but on seeing Psyche, he couldn’t control himself by falling in love with her.
On the other hand, Psyche was worried because her beauty was so intimidating that men only wanted to admire her and not marry her. Her father then consulted Apollo’s oracle about what he should do with his beautiful daughter. The Oracle told him that Psyche was destined to marry a hideous flying snake creature and that she should be tied to a mountain crag and the creature will carry her off itself. Her father obeyed the Oracle and sent her daughter off to the mountain.
Eros, who was madly in love with her, told the West wind Zephyr to waft her from the mountain to his palace. There she was served by the invisible servants who after feeding and bathing her, told her that her husband will come in the evening. When Eros arrived there, they both consummated their love, though in total darkness as Eros has forbidden her to look at her. However curiosity was aroused in Psyche by her two jealous sisters to look at the face of her husband after all she was destined to marry some monster. She did so by lighting the oil lamp when Eros had already fallen asleep. She was enchanted to see a divine handsome young man and was so lost in her thoughts that she was unable to notice the hot oil which began to spill out from the lamp. The oil fell on Eros, who immediately woke up and leaped from the bed telling Psyche that she has ruined everything.
Poor Psyche wandered from place to place in search of her husband. She then decided to pray Aphrodite to intervene with his son. Aphrodite agreed to help her but told her to first complete her three quests. Psyche somehow gets success in completing first two quests. The third and final quest which Aphrodite gave her was to fetch Persephone’s “box of beauty” from the Underworld. She was warned before not to open that box but she ultimately did so and fell asleep. In the box along with the elixir was Morpheus (God of sleep and dreams) due to which she fell unconscious. When Eros came to know about this incident, he begged Zeus to save his Psyche. Amazed by their love, Zeus not only brought her back to consciousness but also made her immortal so that Psyche and Eros could stay together forever.