Influence Of Mythology On Literature And Society Essay, Research Paper
Anthony Roldan P3
The Influence of Mythology on Literature and Society
Edith Hamilton is the author of the book Mythology. This book is about the Mythology of the Romans and Greeks through her eyes and the way she interprets it. In the beginning of the book Hamilton writes an introduction to Classical Mythology and how, and why it came about. She starts off by writing that Greek and Roman Mythology is meant to show us how people felt about the human race and about where they came from many years ago. She points out that Mythology describes the Earth when it was young and people cared for the Earth more than today. This is true, because in today’s world not many people are caring about the Earth and its going by us fast.
She also points out that these stories in Mythology and the characters are describe in such great detail that even through you cannot see them, that maybe just maybe they are real and believable. Mythology is the way the Greeks and Roman saw and understood the world around them and it is written in which a way that we may never truly understand it. Hamilton now describes the Mythology of the Greeks as a totally different picture than the one described in Classical Mythology. She describes it as being vile, and savage, but the reason for this is because the Greeks wrote about themselves when they had a brutal and poverty filled life. They wrote like this to show you how they came to power and what they went through to get there. Not only was Greece coming to power, but also they changed the world as it was back then and forever. The reason for this was, because when Greece came to power so did mankind, and because they finally saw how powerful they could be, mankind was born.
Greek originally obtained their gods from the Egyptians when they traveled into Egypt and saw the statues of their gods. The Greeks then took the same idea and changed its meaning around. An example would be how the Egyptian god’s have different body parts with other bodies and the Greek gods are humans. Hamilton states that the Egyptians made gods they thought up and made them in a way that no one has seen before. The Greeks therefore made their gods in there own image. That made it easier for them to understand them and know how they act. The major point Hamilton is showing in this introduction is that Mythology is a new to look at life and to understand it under a different light. Another point she states is that Greek Mythology it’s self, is so unique that it showed extreme beauty yet fear at that same time. The gods were not to be completely feared, but respected to the point where you didn’t anger them. Greek Mythology is also unique, because it doesn’t have many of the things that are in most religion or folklore. Hamilton states that Greek Mythology didn’t contain Magic or Witches, and in reality didn’t fear the dead, they actually pitied the dead. Hamilton’s main point in this whole introduction is that Mythology itself is completely and totally different from any other religion or folklore ever. Mythology was written in such a beautiful way that upon reading it, it seems real and it begins to take shape. She is also saying that Greek Mythology was in a way different than normal Mythology and therefore changed the face of Mythology forever.
Aside from mortals and immortals in Mythology there were many heroes in it as well. There are heroes such as the well-known Hercules and Hermes and Apollo, but there are many not as famous. Two examples of these are Prometheus and Io. Prometheus is a god who was the first to introduce fire to mankind. Zeus was very anger when he first learned of this and punished Prometheus for what he had done. Many other gods accommodated Prometheus for his courage to go against Zeus and do something that was right. Zeus sent Prometheus to the rock peak of Caucasus where he had to stay there till Zeus ordered him back down, but during this time other gods called him daring and enduring.
Upon first going to the rock peak he had a strange visitor. The visitor took shape of a heifer, at that Prometheus knew who she was. She was Io, a young princess who Zeus fell in love with, but hid her due to his jealous wife, Hera. One day Zeus was with Io and covered the earth with a huge cloud to hide Io from Hera, but Hera was smart and went down to earth and ordered the cloud to be moved. After that happened Hera saw Zeus with Io, but Zeus had changed Io into a heifer so Hera wouldn’t know it was Io. Hera was smarter than Zeus though and made Zeus give Io to her. Hera then made Io walk the earth as a heifer for the rest of her life. As Prometheus was sitting upon his new rock peak Io was telling him her story. Prometheus had no answers to give to Io, but had some small advice. He could only tell her in what direction to go, which was along the shore of the sea named Ionian after Io. The Prometheus told her to travel to the Nile where Zeus would find her, change her back to normal, and give her a child named Epaphus, and is a descendent of Hercules. Whom Prometheus would owe his freedom to. I understood in this story that two who are in need of something can help each get what they want. This is want exactly happened in this story, Prometheus told Io where to get help and that help which Io would get helps Prometheus become free. This relationship is Mutualism and both Io and Prometheus were heroes to each other.
Much like most people across the world, people are proud of their heritage. Americans especially are proud of who they are and have showed it by fighting in wars, making the Declaration of Independence, and by becoming the strongest nation in the world. As Americans and most people we have many things to look back on and to be proud of that makes us who we are. The Romans take great pride in who they are and they’re past accomplishments, because they were such a powerful nation. The Adventures of Aeneas is a prime example of why the Roman people are proud of who they are, the reason is that in the story the founder of Rome, Aeneas, is seen a very strong man and for that the Romans are proud. In the Adventures of Aeneas, Aeneas is the son of Venus and he was a famous hero who fought in the Trojan War. He escaped Troy with his father and his little son to Italy in search of a new home. After long traveling and adventures they finally reach Italy. There Aeneas married the daughter to a powerful king and founded the great city of Rome. For that the Romans are extremely proud of. Aeneas was a true man and a true soldier; he showed great courage and made the Roman people proud to be Romans. Aeneas throw his journey fought many battles and was always against Juno who would constantly try to stop Aeneas from doing what he had to do at the moment. Juno played many tricks against Aeneas, but Aeneas had help from many other gods such as, Venus, Apollo, Neptune, Mercury, and Cupid. Aeneas upon reaching Italy was told in a dream that his great city would be far to west and he would need to make a long journey to get there. On his way to the far west he was told that he would need to go the underworld in order to get a golden bough in order to see Pluto. Upon seeing Pluto he would take him to see his father Anchises who will give Aeneas advice for his journey. At once he set off in search for the golden bough and Pluto. He found the golden bough with ease like a true hero and went to Pluto immediately. Then Pluto took him to his father who told him many things and helped Aeneas grow more confidence to continue his journey. When Aeneas returned to the surface he had heard news about war in Italy. Juno and one of the Furies started the war in order to stop Aeneas’ journey from becoming complete. This did not slow down Aeneas; instead he joined the Trojans against the newly formed Latins and Rutulains, due to Juno and the Fury. Aeneas and his men bravely fought the Latins and Rutulains in battle upon battle that lasted for many days. The war was described as a bloodbath and the land smelled like blood for days after the battle. Aeneas and his fellow Trojans won the battle and build the city of Rome. Aeneas is the father of Rome and the founder of the Roman race, he married Lavinia and made Rome what is was today. For that the Roman people are proud of who they are, because is shows that a great man like Aeneas went through terrible times all for a dream that he believed in and he made that dream come true by making the powerful city of Rome.
Through out Mythology there are many Heroes, Omen, and Myths, but there are also many families. These families lived in big house and the number of family members in each house is large in amount. There are three major royal houses, The House of Atreus, The House of Athens, and the House of Thebes. Each house has its own story to tell and that story defines the way that family is. In each house there are many conflicts and adventures and these add up to the story of each house. The story about the House of Thebes starts off with King Laius of Thebes; he was the third in descent from Cadmus. Apollo’s oracle at Delphi play’s a big part in the families’ fortune through the story. As the story goes Apollo tells Laius that his son will kill him in the future. To make this prediction false Laius and his wife Jocasta tied their son to a mountain in order for him to die, despite this Laius was killed and Apollo’s prediction came true. Back in Corinth Apollo made another prediction; his prediction was that Oedipus was going to kill his father. To stop the prediction Oedipus traveled to Thebes in order to get away from his father. During this the house of Thebes was under turmoil due to a mysterious Sphinx that kills any man who does not answer her riddle correctly. So as Oedipus gets to Thebes and learns of the Sphinx and he is curious to challenge the Sphinx’s riddle. As Oedipus travels the countryside he comes across the Sphinx, the Sphinx asks the riddle and Oedipus answers it correctly. At that moment the Sphinx kills herself and Oedipus returns to Thebes as a hero and it’s new king. As Oedipus is king he tries to solve the mystery of the death of Laius and who killed him. As Oedipus investigates more into the matter he finds the killer. When Oedipus names the killer he goes to a room to find his mother Jocasta, who he thought was his wife, dead on the floor. Oedipus in extreme depression cut out his eyes to live in darkness once he saw his dead mother on the floor. Oedipus did not throw away everything he had by doing this, no; he had four children, two boys and two girls. The boys are named Polyneices and Creon, who was the heir to the throne. The girls were called Antigone and Ismene. This now separated the family, because his son Creon drove his father out of the city along with his sister Antigone. Antigone was her father’s only friend and tended to his needs. Ismene stood back in Thebes to let her father learn of any news concerning her father. The brothers now were fighting for the throne at Thebes, and this completely separated the family of the house of Thebes. The brothers ended up killing one another in a duel for the throne that put the family’s name to shame. The family of Thebes had a strong and powerful house that had potential to succeed greatly, but selfishness and greed destroyed the family name. That was the men of Thebes fault, but no fault should be laid on the women of Thebes. In reality they helped make the house of Thebes die with honor by burying their brothers despite orders telling them not to be buried. By the sisters burying their brothers they helped put their brother’s souls to rest. The reason the house of Thebes fell was that the family was dysfunctional and the family turned against itself.
Mythology has many topics in it and their range is very deep. One important topic in Mythology is Myths. There two major categories of Myths, which are: Norsemen and Greco-Roman Myths. The differences between these two Myths are few in numbers, but they are essentially different. Greco-Roman Myths deal with the history of Greek and Roman Mythology, and the Norseman Myths deal with the history of Norseman Mythology. Differences between these two is slim and really of no importance due to the fact that the only differences are of names and how the world and man were created. The differences are slim, but there is one major difference between the two Myths, and that is the way each look on a certain subject. That subject deals with honor, courage, and power. The Norseman gods are good and they fight evil, but unlike the Greco-Roman gods they do not always win against evil. The Greco-Roman gods are seen as unbeatable and extremely powerful, and they never even thought about even losing a battle. The Norseman gods on the other hand fought against evil with great courage and with honor, but did not fight with the same courage as the Greco-Roman gods because they knew of a possibility of them might losing. The Norseman gods were not afraid to die, because if they died fighting of good they knew that they were doing something good and that they would go to their heaven, which was called Valhalla. Valhalla was the Hall of the Slain where dead heroes who died in combat would go to when they died. This was the greatest honor for the Norsemen gods to achieve, but they knew it came at a heavy price. Apart for this the similarities between these to Myths are undisputable, because they basically have the same gods, but with different names or maybe different jobs to do. The Norsemen gods were gods of pride and gods that were not afraid to die and who wanted to fight the good fight. I believe that the Norsemen gods had something to die for, where as the Greco-Roman gods had everything to live for. The Greco-Roman gods were gods who indulged in their delights and who were in a way stuck up.
Both Greco-Roman and Norsemen Myths are similar in principal, but are different in meaning. The Norsemen gods seem more like people who are struggling for a common goal, and go through a lot to get their desired happiness. The Norsemen gods’ way of life is the way most people think of Mythology when they hear of it. That would be the whole good versus evil battle that supposed to take place between Heaven and Hell, but even though the Norsemen gods are not as strong as the Roman-Greco gods they are stronger in faith and that’s more important than any incredible power that the Greco-Roman gods will ever have.