But a potentially deadly encounter with his father derailed these plans, and instead, Sheppard pursued a thirty-year career in aerospace, on the way marrying and fathering two children. Now, 32 years later, he fulfills his life-long literary dream on a three-month solo odyssey through Greece, a journey that quickly becomes a quest to understand his past. In the process of relating his own life stories to those of ancient Greek myth, Sheppard succeeds in creating his own personal mythology, with the goal of settling a complicated father-son relationship, a divorce from his wife of 18 years, and the disappearance of his only daughter.
Can he survive the search within while traveling this ancient land of murder and suicide? Travel with the author through this internal, mythic landscape as he uncovers startling revelations about his own life as a particular case of the human condition. His interests include history, traveling, mythology, and video-gaming. Greece is a land of mythology. A place where every relic and statue is intertwined with the deeds of heroes and the legacies of gods.
Being familiar with Greek myths thus imbues any Greek vacation with greater meaning and enjoyment. Here are 10 Greek myths to know for your dream holiday in this ancient land of the gods.
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In classic Greek myths, Theseus was the son of Athenian King Aegeus, though his father could also be said to be Poseidon, God of the Sea, as his mother was possessed by Poseidon when she slept with Aegeus. Separated from Aegeus at birth, the adult Theseus eventually learned about his royal parentage and successfully claimed his place beside his father. He did so after surviving six labors on his way to Athens. Each labor involved him slaying a notorious villain. At that time, Athens was subjugated by the powerful King Minos of Crete, and as tribute, the city was to send seven of her best youths and maidens to Crete once every seven years.
Unable to stomach this injustice, Theseus volunteered to be one of the youths and promised his father that should he survive, he would return on a ship with white sails. On reaching Crete, Theseus was stripped of his weapons and sent into the Labyrinth. Here, the young prince quickly discovered the grim truth behind what happened to previous tributes. All were eaten alive by the monster residing within the giant maze.
A half-bull, half-man known as the Minotaur. Not only did Ariadne give Theseus a ball of thread to mark his path within the Labyrinth, she also helped smuggle in a sword, which Theseus would ultimately use to slay the monstrous Minotaur. After escaping the Labyrinth, Theseus fulfilled his promise to Ariadne by fleeing back to Athens with her. For reasons unclear, though, Ariadne never made it to Athens. Midway through the journey, Theseus abandoned Ariadne on the island of Naxos.
Subsequently, the young prince was either so stricken with distress or guilt, he forgot to change the sails on his ship. On seeing a ship with black sails returning from afar, the devastated King Aegeus assumed Theseus had perished. In grief, he committed suicide by throwing himself into the sea. Some claim Minos attacked Athens after his son Androgeos was murdered while competing in Athenian games.
Rather than surrender the murderers to Minos, Aegeus handed Minos the city instead. In other accounts, Minos had simply conquered Athens with military might. After claiming the throne, though, Minos decided to keep the beautiful bull for himself, instead sacrificing a lesser beast of his own. The resulting offspring was the Minotaur. Again, versions disagree on why Theseus abandoned Ariadne. Some say he was instructed to do so by Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom. Others merely state the young prince grew tired of her, or have never truly loved her. Note, though, that there is no archeological evidence suggesting that these ruins are indeed the palace of Minos, or that the king even existed.
The labyrinthine impression largely stems from the numerous narrow corridors crisscrossing the ruins. To rid himself of Perseus, who disapproved of the relationship, the wily ruler tricked the hot-blooded young man into agreeing to bring the head of the Gorgon Medusa. This was considered to be an impossible task for the very gaze of Medusa was enough to turn any mortal being into stone.
Perseus ultimately succeeded in beheading Medusa by only viewing her reflection using his shield.
While returning to Seriphos, he also rescued Princess Andromeda from the sea monster Cetus, thus earning her hand in marriage. More famously known worldwide by his Roman name of Hercules, the adventures and tribulations of Heracles need little introduction. Yet another illegitimate son of Zeus, this time with the mortal beauty Alcmene, Heracles was originally named Alcides.
Famously, when Hera later sent serpents to kill the infant, Alcides effortlessly strangled the two reptiles without suffering any injury. Alcides would continue to be tormented by Hera throughout his life. That he was renamed as Heracles i. These labors either involved killing a mythological menace or accomplishing what was commonly deemed an impossible task.
In sequence, the 12 labors were:. He would go on to have more adventures, including with other famous heroes from classic Greek myths, before ascending to Olympus after his mortal passing. In yet another example of his compulsive infidelity, Zeus fell in love and impregnated Leto, daughter of two Titans. Enraged, Hera then cursed Leto to never find any place on Earth to give birth to her children.
There, Leto safely gave birth to the divine twins. The girl, Artemis, became the Greek Goddess of the Moon and the Hunt, and eventually, of childbirth and virginity too. Appalling as it sounds, bloody family feuds recurred often in Greek myths.
The primordial sky god Ouranos was incapacitated by his son, Cronus, the latter thereafter ruling the world together with his siblings, the Titans. In turn, it was foretold that Cronus himself would one day be violently disposed of by his own sons. Fearful of this, Cronus devoured all of his children, swallowing them whole upon their births.
Unbeknownst to him, though, his wife Rhea managed to save their sixth child, Zeus, by fooling Cronus with a stone swaddled in cloths. Subsequently, Rhea also hid Zeus on Mount Ida in Crete, where the infant god was fed the milk of a goat named Amalthea. Once of age, the young Zeus used an emetic given to him by Gaia to force Cronus to disgorge all his siblings. Together, the new gods overthrew Cronus and took over ownership of the world as the Olympians. In some accounts, the disposed Cronus was imprisoned for eternity in the depths of Tartarus.
Oedipus was the son of King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes, and somewhat similar to the fate of Perseus, was left to die in the hills because Laius was told the prophecy that his own son would kill him. The act, expectedly, did not kill Oedipus, who was soon rescued and adopted by King Polybus of Corinth. Once of age, Oedipus himself was told he was destined to kill his father, and in the first of a series of tragedies, assumed this prophecy to refer to his foster father Polybus. Leaving Corinth, he then headed for Thebes to resettle.
During the journey, he had no notable adventures, except the killing of an older man after a trivial quarrel. At Thebes, Oedipus learned that the ruler, Laius, was deceased, with the city also besieged by a riddle-spouting monstrosity named the Sphinx. The intelligent Oedipus easily solved the riddle of the Sphinx and destroyed it, though, and as reward, was given the city and the hand of the recently widowed Jocasta.
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Later, while investigating who killed King Laius, he discovered the murderer was none other than himself. Laius was the old man he slew on the way to Thebes. Worse, he thus ended up marrying his own mother as the consequence of his actions. In extreme grief and shame, Jocasta committed suicide. In Greek mythology, Cecrops was the half-man, half-serpent founder of Athens. Wise and humane, he taught his subjects reading and writing, as well as instituted the concept of marriage.
Impressed by his accomplishments, many Greek gods desired to become the patron of Athens, the foremost contenders being Poseidon and Athena. To decide which god would enjoy the honor, a competition was held, the challenge being which god could offer Athens a better gift. In the case of Poseidon, the sea god struck the ground with his trident and brought forth a saltwater spring, thus promising Athenian domination over the seas. So it was said, Zeus wanted to determine where the center of the world was. To do so, he released his two sacred eagles in opposite directions.
When the two eagles eventually met at Delphi, Zeus declared the site to be the heart of the ancient world. Delphi was indeed a splendid location. High on the slopes of Mount Parnassus and overlooking the valley of Phocis. Unfortunately, though, it was also the nesting site of the huge serpent Python, and would have remained so, had Apollo not slain the giant snake with his golden arrows. Because of the deed, Delphi will forever associated with the Greek God of the Sun.
It will also be famous for the Delphic Oracle, which started many Greek myths and epics. Nowadays, the ruins of Delphi is recognized as a UNESCO site for its influence on the ancient world, and for its monuments and archeological relics. Today, many consider the Delphi Oracle nothing but political machinations. It was entirely up to the priest to decipher the nonsensical mutterings. He could say whatever benefited him. A minor god in Greek myths, Asclepius was the son of Apollo and a mortal woman named Coronis. Compassionate and intelligent, he was taught the secrets of medicine by a serpent whom Asclepius had shown kindness to.
In adulthood, he also became so proficient in the art of healing, his skills surpassed even those of his divine father. Asclepius ultimately crossed the line when he raised the dead and accepted gold as reward. One of the longest and most elaborate Greek myths, the story of Jason and the Argonauts featured an ensemble cast of heroes from many other Greek legends. The son of King Aeson of Iolcus, who was overthrown by his treacherous brother Pelias, the infant Jason escaped death after his mother lied about him being still-born.
Years later, when confronted by a grown-up Jason, Pelias demanded the legendary Golden Fleece in exchange for his abdication, to which Jason readily agreed. To locate and retrieve the fleece, Jason assembled a large crew of legendary heroes, members of which included Heracles, Orpheus, Peleus, Castor and Pollux Gemini , etc.
He also commissioned the shipwright Argus to construct a magnificent ship to facilitate their journey. On completion, the vessel was named the Argo and blessed by none other than Hera, Queen of the Greek Gods. Hera then considered Jason her personal champion. Jason and his Argonauts faced many tribulations and disasters on their way to Colchis, where the Golden Fleece was. Surviving reasonably, their final task was to complete three challenges by Aeetes, the ruler of Colchis.
Top 10 Greek Myths to Know for Your Greek Vacation
Through the assistance of Medea's magical abilities, Jason succeeded in all three tasks and claimed the fleece. Jason, the Argonauts, and Medea then fled Colchis hurriedly when an enraged Aeetes renegaded on his promise. In a subsequent curious twist reminiscent of the story of Theseus, Jason and Medea would not settle down happily ever after as the king and queen of Iolcus. So as to strengthen political ties with Corinth, Jason agreed to marry a princess of Corinth, despite already having children with Medea.
Embittered, Medea killed the Corinthian princess with a cursed, flaming dress, in the process also incinerating the king of Corinth.
Before fleeing in a magical chariot, she also killed her own two sons, fearing they would be abused or enslaved as the consequence of her vengeance. Years later, he would have another son too. However, by breaking his vow of love to Medea, he permanently lost the favor of Hera, who was the Greek Goddess of Matrimony. Jason ultimately died lonely and unhappy.
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While sleeping under the rotting remains of the Argo, the stern fell on him, crushing him to death. Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites. Hey Catherine, thanks for your comment! I hope you get to visit wonderful Greece again. It's such a beautiful place, and history and magic is everywhere. I spent three weeks in Greece many years ago.
This would have been a useful guide for me back then. I loved Greece, even tho my knowledge of myth and history was minimal.
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There was a feeling of antiquity that was so immersive. Hey Tommy, thanks for commenting! As for American myths, hmmmm, Wonder Woman's my goddess since young. Oh, but wait, she's Greek I always found Greek Mythology to be very interesting along with Egyptian Mythology. What Mythology does America have? As a Greek myself, I am proud to read an article so thorough and well-researched like this. It truly makes justice to all of our archaelogical treasures. Well done, my friend!! Hey mts, thanks for commenting. It wouldn't have been fun, by most counts.
That is, unless you're a hero with magical weapons! I am not sure it would have been fun to live in those times but it certainly could have been entertaining Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners. HubPages and Hubbers authors may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others.
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HubPages Inc, a part of Maven Inc. As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so. Kuan Leong Yong more. Theseus and the Minotaur. In all versions of the myth, the Labyrinth was the brainchild of master artificer Daedalus. Its original purpose was to imprison the Minotaur. King Aegeus is said to have committed suicide at the Cape of Sounion.
Athenians believe this to be the story behind the naming of the Aegean Sea. Some myths claim Ariadne was eventually rescued by Dionysus, the God of Wine. She later became his bride. Both Aegeus and Minos were ultimately made into judges of the underworld. They became part of the trio that determines whether a soul would enjoy paradise in the Elysian Fields or be tormented for eternity in Tartarus.
The remaining member of the trio was Rhadamanthus, another Cretan king. Perseus and the Slaying of Medusa. Interesting to Know Medusa was not the only Gorgon, though she was the only mortal one. Some versions claim she willingly gave herself to the sea god As punishment for the desecration of her temple, Athena turned Medusa into a Gorgon, a horrific humanoid with a serpentine body and slithering snakes for hair.
Prior to her rescue, Andromeda was intended as a sacrifice to appease Poseidon.