In ancient Greece and Rome, gods of mythology have been the focal point since its inception. The concept of a myth can be found in a book by Philip Matyszak called, “The Greek and Roman Myths: A Guide to the Classic Stories,” which describes a myth as, “the ancient’s view of the world.”
The mythological gods appear in a variety of ancient literary works, such as stories of lion-hearted hero’s and maidens in peril, as well as a plethora of powerful gods. Greek and Roman gods were considered to be anthropomorphic in nature; meaning they had human characteristics, such as jealousy, love, and hate. This helped the people of Rome and Greece relate to the myths. The god’s nature also helped the people to feel connected to the world around them, as well as the gods themselves.
The myths often taught valuable lessons like meeting one’s own destiny through strength, determination, and nobility. With these lessons at hand, they often helped an individual face the trials and tribulations of an unbelievably harsh world. Many times mankind and the gods stood together to fight the monsters and giants of the universe, equating to disorder and archaic destruction.
As reported by Ancient History Encyclopedia (AHE), Greek and Roman myths are different from fairy tales and folktales for one reason; myths are centered around the relationships between gods and humans, whereas fairy tales and folklore tell stories to entertain. The dichotomy of the relationship between the gods and the people of ancient times made real life issues bearable because the myths helped give them security.
Simply put, the myths should not be dismissed as just stories because they helped with important issues like the creation of the world, good and evil, and the afterlife. For these reasons alone, the myths have stood the test of time and have become part of present day culture.
Who are the Roman Gods in Greek Mythology?
- Zeus is the king of the Greek gods and carries a lightning bolt. In Rome, he is known as Jupiter.
- Hera is the Greek goddess of marriage and the wife of Zeus. In Rome, her name is Juno
- Poseidon is the Greek god of the sea, and he yields a trident. In Rome, his name is Neptune.
- Cronos is the Greek god who is the father of Zeus and the youngest son of Uranus. In Rome, the god’s name is Saturn, and he is the father of Jupiter.
- Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love. In Rome, she is known as Venus.
- Hades is the Greek god of the underworld and Zeus’ brother, he is also married to Persephone. In Rome, he is Pluto and is the brother of Jupiter.
- Demeter is the Greek goddess of the harvest. In Rome, she is called Ceres.
- Apollo is the Greek god of music and medicine and the son of Zeus. In Rome, his name is Apollo, and the son of Jupiter.
- Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom and Hercules (Roman god) is her half-brother. In Rome, she is known as Minerva, and since Hercules is a Roman god, he translates the same in Rome.
- Ares is the Greek god of war and the son of Zeus and Hera. In Rome, his name is Mars and his father is Jupiter and his mother is Juno.
- Persephone is the Greek goddess of the underworld who is married to Hades. In Rome, she is known as Proserpine and married to Pluto.
- Gaia is the Greek goddess of the Earth and gave birth to the first race of gods, the Titans, as well as the first humans. In Rome, she is known as Gaea.
- Dionysus is the Greek god of wine. In Rome, he is Bacchus.
- Hermes is the Greek messenger god. In Rome, he is known as Mercury.
- Eros is the god of love and the son of Aphrodite. In Rome, his name is Cupid and his mother is Venus.
Rome Takes Greece’s Culture as Their Own
As reported in AHE, Greek myths came from an old colorful oral tradition. They were, and still are, tales that have been passed down from generation to generation. First, the tales were passed down through spoken words and then were written down in 8th century B.C. Before Rome was founded in the 8th century, Greece had already been well established with Greek city-states and colonies that had been founded on the Italian peninsula and Sicily.
After the Macedonian Wars, the colonies became part of the Roman Republic. Being in close proximity to Greece, the Greek religion and mythology, left a long-lasting effect on the people of Rome. Romans adopted Greek art, literature, philosophy, drama, and mythology, however, they had to alter them to reflect the Roman values.
The influence of Greek myths can be seen everywhere in Rome, including their architecture, subject matter, temples, mosaics and ornamentation of sculptures. The difference in the way the Greeks and the Romans relayed their mythology were vastly diverse in the fact that the Greeks told theirs through poetry and drama, (plays) and the Romans wrote in short prose, which read like a history lesson and telling of all things Roman; their rituals and institutions. It is also different, in that Roman mythology was hard to differentiate between myth and history.
By Tracy Blake
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Roman-Empire.net: Roman Gods
For Dummies: Gods and Goddesses of Greek and Roman Mythology
Ancient History Encyclopedia: Roman Mythology
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Inline Image Courtesy of Jay’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License