Mythology has played an instrumental role in shaping art throughout history. From towering marble sculptures to delicate portraits, mythology has provided artists with endless sources of inspiration.
Waterhouse’s depiction of Narcissus mesmerized by his reflection and Echo helplessly watching, depicting an element of psychology to this story; while Titian’s painting of Bacchus and Ariadne shows a more sensual element.
Ancient Greeks saw mythology as an essential component of their culture. It provided an explanation for their world and helped cultivate national identities across their vast lands.
Greeks believed that gods or goddesses embodied certain aspects of life such as memory, justice and the universe. Greek gods were considered all-powerful and eternal but could also show human characteristics like jealousy, vanity or spitefulness.
Greeks worshiped hundreds of gods and goddesses, many with substantial cult followings. Each god had his or her own distinct genealogy, interests and field of expertise – for instance Apollo was known as “Lover of Music”, while Dionysus was revered as god of wine and madness.
Myths often depicted gods engaging in battle against one another, fighting off monsters or rivals, and using their powerful abilities in service of humanity. Such stories influenced rituals as well as explaining certain natural events; for instance, Zeus destroying Cretans and Hera renewing her virginity annually were seen as examples of religious rituals related to these myths.
Greek drama and poetry was full of stories of heroes and heroic feats, often written to encourage certain virtues such as courage and generosity; these tales would often show how doing good deeds on Earth could bring mortals a place among the gods in afterlife; as well as show why heroism and sacrifice were essential components for human survival.
Mythological characters and events provided inspiration for religions that would later develop, such as Christianity. Additionally, myths served as sources for literature by 5th-century authors like Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Pindar; Ovid and Dante used myths as their primary source for information about classical Greece while Jean Racine and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe also found motivation from Greek mythology for their works in 16th-century European societies.
Ancient Romans struggled to make sense of their world, so as a means of seeking comfort they cultivated an elaborate system of gods and goddesses to worship. Many saw these deities as direct descendants from their ancestors who had helped build their city; it provided comfort knowing they were present with them looking out for them.
As with the Greeks, Roman mythology borrowed extensively from other cultures for inspiration. This occurred both during their Hellenistic period with Greek influence and later when poets such as Virgil and Ovid included Greek legends into their writing. As a result, they created something known as Greco-Roman Mythology that encompasses beliefs from both cultures.
There can be little distinction between Greek and Roman mythologie, since their deities often had similar functions. Romans also added their own myths; turning some mortal heroes such as Romulus into gods or goddesses – including Romulus himself!
Myths from ancient Greece still resonate today, yet we also possess an immense body of mythology from other Mediterranean civilizations that existed at the time of Rome’s founding. Their stories offer a richness of insight into diverse beliefs of people who shared one language and culture.
Castor and Pollux appear as brothers forming Gemini constellation, making their appearance significant throughout history and still today. These stories stand out from fairytales or folklore because they address important topics like human-divine relationship. Therefore, these tales remain influential today and remain important through centuries to come.
One of the key Roman deities was Cybele, an earth mother goddess associated with fertility and depicted by an owl as her symbol. She had an influential cult at Rome that was heavily influenced by traditions from Asia Minor, while Vesta represented hearth and home – she even had a temple where an eternal flame burned to symbolize her divinity.
Ancient Egyptians created a rich mythology that was expressed through art, literature and daily life. Their religion centered around one god named Ra, who personified the sun. But many animals were worshiped as sacred beings with various symbols representing fertility, power, protection, wisdom and luck associated with each animal species – they may even represent strength, protection from predators or threats, nurturing qualities or connections to rebirth; all traits which Egyptians found appealing and desired to emulate.
Each god or goddess was often depicted in multiple forms to emphasize all their aspects and functions, with human bodies with animal heads or parts, the most common representation being human bodies with animal heads or parts adorning the bodies, often combined. Their symbols were then placed on temples, tombs and other buildings as well as amulets worn by Egyptian people such as ankhs, eyes of Horus or Scarabs to protect from disease or bad spirits.
Egypt was famed for its versatile gods. For instance, most deities had variable characters. For instance, the sun god was often beneficent but could turn vengeful at times; Nut symbolized nature’s rejuvenation power while her sister Geb stood for solidity and stability; Khepre, often depicted as a scarab beetle, represented creation as Egyptians often observed young scarab beetles rolling balls of dung across the ground as symbolizing birth and renewal – symbolic deities all.
After death, their spirit or Ka would travel from their body and come before the gods for judgment based on its performance in the afterlife, which could last anywhere from minutes to centuries. If its performance pleased the gods then the soul could move onto eternal life while otherwise it might be consumed by Ammut, an amulet that guarded the Gate of Netherworld.
Egypt mythology was also defined by its central theme of cohesion between all parts. This core value, called ma’at, formed the cornerstone of Egyptian mythology; even its most diverse stories revolved around this central value.
As in Greek and Roman mythologie, Norse mythology depicts a world populated by gods and giants locked in perpetual conflict that will eventually culminate in an enormous explosion known as Ragnarok. Although dark in tone, Norse mythology contains both grandiose scenes as well as humorous ones – it serves as the mythology for northernmost part of Europe: Scandinavia – Sweden Norway Denmark Iceland
No longer a major religion during its peak era, Germanic mythology remains alive today through family sagas of ancestors and heroes and works by earlier writers; Roman historian Tacitus mentions some Germanic myths in Germania for instance.
Norse deities were divided into two clans, the AEsir and Vanir, which engaged in an epic struggle that nearly destroyed creation. Odin, King of AEsir, became supreme god and father to all gods and humans, often depicted as an elderly beardless one-eyed old man wearing a cloak and hat and riding an eight-legged horse known as Sleipnir. Odin killed off primordial being Ymir while carving up his dead body to help form Earth; created Asklepia magical hammer; Helheim;
Other supernatural beings included elves – creatures with human-like traits; dwarfs (tiny men skilled crafts workers); and frost giants – enormous beings associated with snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Fenrir was an enormous wolf offspring while Jormungandr (the world serpent) was her offspring of Loki (a trickster god).
Mythology stressed the concept of good versus evil, with gods who sometimes tended towards treachery and cruelty defending order in the universe. Bravery against unavoidable fate was prized; heroes often received lasting fame and glory as rewards for their deeds.
Norse cosmology was dichotomous, with certain elements being represented by their opposites. For example, Sol represented the sun while Mani represented its moon. Units of time were also personified with Dagr representing day and Nott representing night.