This article, whilst giving an idea of what Ancient Greece was like, could never claim to be exhaustive. The topic is far too complex and convaluted to explain in the space of a relatively few pages. This is an attempt to introduce, to those who have very little or no knowledge of the subject, and expand upon the Myth's, Legend's and God's of Ancient Greece.
The boundaries between Myth and Legend become blurred; men become Gods; Gods live in the world of men; heroic men become Legends, to be raised to Godhood; Gods are punished and have human frailties. Anything was
possible in those ancient times. Both Myth and Legend started life as popular stories. Some told the tale, to a pre-literate society, of how natural phenomenon or a custom came into being; others told of supernatural beings of an age gone by, who had grown large in the peoples imagination and eventually held sway, via other people, over all their lives. Even in ancient times, some of these tales were old, their truth lost in the mists of time, and it is difficult to understand why these tales held such power, and why these capricious, frail Gods were worshipped in the first place.
Over the thousands of years, as Greece and it's culture evolved, there were invaders and external influences; Greece was not always the teacher or conqueror - it, too, was invaded, sacked and taught the bitter lessons of History. And those that settled, and those who conquered, brought with them their own Myth pool, their own stories and heroes that were, more often than not, assimilated by the Greeks, giving rise to newer versions, better Gods and more heroic heroes!
In the course of these pages, the most well known versions of legends and myths will be related. This doesn't detract from the 'truthfulness' of other stories, merely makes it easier to correalate.
Gods and Heroes had priviledges that no mere mortal could possibly be allowed to have. They achieved things of which humans could only dream.
Some of these Heroes have their roots in documented history, but their essence lies in the Legends that have grown up around them.
Gods were born of earth-bound creatures, or created from from drops of blood that fell on the surf; assumed fantastical form; married sisters or brothers; performed miraculous feats - and were nearly always used to try and explain something, in the real, mundane world, that people's very limited scientific knowledge could not.
At the time the Myths and Legends were written down, mainly during what is now known as the Classical Period, they were already ancient. For instance, when Homer1 was supposed to have composed the Iliad or the Odyssey, and spoken them to the accompaniment of a lyre, they were already, it is believed, 500 years old!
The land of Greece as we know it today, did not exist. The area was a land of small states and countries, ruled by grand Kings or Warlords, many of whom were to become part of the mythic legacy of the area.
And it is the Gods and Devils, Heroes and Villains of this golden time we hope to explore.