Greek mythology is the body of stories belonging to the Ancient Greeks concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars refer to the myths and study them in an attempt to throw light on the religious and political institutions of Ancient Greece and on the Ancient Greek civilization, and to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself.
Greek mythology is embodied explicitly in a large collection of narratives and implicitly in representational arts, such as vase-paintings and votive gifts. Greek myth explains the origins of the world and details the lives and adventures of a wide variety of gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines, and other mythological creatures. These accounts were initially disseminated in an oral-poetic tradition; the Greek myths are known today primarily from Greek literature. The oldest known literary sources, the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey, focus on events surrounding the Trojan War. Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, and the origin of sacrificial practices. Myths are also preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians of the 5th century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age and in writers of the time of the Roman Empire, for example, Plutarch and Pausanias.
Monumental evidence at Mycenaean and Minoan sites helped to explain many of the questions about Homer's epics and provided archaeological evidence of many of the mythological details about gods and heroes. Greek mythology was also depicted in artifacts; Geometric designs on pottery of the 8th century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle, as well as the adventures of Heracles. In the succeeding Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic periods, Homeric and various other mythological scenes appear to supplement the existing literary evidence.
Greek mythology has had extensive influence on the culture, the arts and the literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language. It has been a part of the educational fabric from childhood, while poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in classical mythological themes.
From here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_mythology
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