Mythology Summary

The stories of mythology involve many tales about the gods and their interactions with each other and with mortals. The stories begin at the beginning of time and proceed through the first few generations of gods and goddesses until they begin to interact with humans. Doing so creates a wide variety of troubles for humans and gods alike.

Persephone: When Persephone is captured by Hades, her mother Demeter refuses to let the crops grow on earth. Zeus demands Persephone's return, but because she ate the pomegranate seed, she must return to the Underworld for several months each year.

Dionysus: Dionysus grew up in a verdant land and became the wine god. Like wine itself, he proves himself to be alternatively fun and harsh.

The Creation of the Earth: From the beginning of time, gods have fought over who controls the earth. Finally, Zeus wins the war and takes charge.

Prometheus: Prometheus grants humans the gift of fire, and Zeus becomes extremely angry. As punishment, Zeus ties Prometheus to a rock.

Pandora: As more punishment against the gift Prometheus gave humans, Zeus put all misfortunes into a box that the curious Pandora then opens.

Prometheus and Io: In the form of a cow, Io finds Prometheus tied to his rock. As the two characters empathize with one another, Prometheus tells Io her fortune and gives her courage to keep living.

Europa: Zeus pursues a fine maiden, Europa, in the shape of a bull. He takes her on a ride across the ocean and eventually bears two sons by her.

The Cyclops Polyphemus: The evil Cyclops traps Odysseus and his men inside a cave until Odysseus blinds the monster and escapes under the bellies of Polyphemus's rams.

Narcissus: A beautiful boy falls in love with his own reflection in a river. Eventually he perishes there.

Echo: A nymph named Echo falls in love with Narcissus, but Hera places a spell on her that allows her only to repeat spoken words but never to speak first.

Hyacinthus: Apollo and Hyacinthus are best friends, but Apollo accidentally kills Hyacinthus as they compete in a discus-throwing contest. Flowers grow where Hyacinthus dies.

Adonis: Adonis is a beautiful young man who wins the attentions of both Persephone and Aphrodite. Eventually he is killed by a wild boar.

Cupid and Psyche: Venus is jealous of a beautiful girl named Psyche, who wins the attention of her son Cupid. Although Psyche marries Cupid, she disobeys him and demands to see his figure in the light. Disowned by her husband, she then sets out to win his love and respect, and after many adventures, she eventually does.

Pyramus and Thisbe: Two young lovers run away to be with each other but accidentally lead each other to their deaths.

Orpheus and Eurydice: Eurydice dies when a viper stings her, and her lover, Orpheus, goes down to the Underworld to bring her back. Hades agrees, but when Orpheus fails to abide by his one condition (that he not turn around as he leads Eurydice back up), his lover goes back down to the Underworld.

Ceyx and Alcyone: Ceyx leaves his lover, Alcyone, and dies at sea. Alcyone jumps into the ocean for his body, and the two lovers turn into birds.

Daphne: Apollo chases after Daphne, who refuses his advances. Just before he catches her, she turns into a laurel tree.

Pygmalion: A talented artist falls in love with a sculpture he made of a woman. Just when he gives up on the futile relationship, Venus takes pity and turns the statue into a living woman.

Baucis and Philemon: When Jupiter and Mercury come down to earth to test humans' hospitality, only one elderly couple, Baucis and Philemon, prove generous. The gods reward the couple and grant them their wish of becoming intertwining trees when they die.

Endymion: A beautiful boy, Endymion, wins the affection of the Moon Goddess, Selene. She puts him under a spell that makes him forever asleep and continues to be lonely.

Arethusa and Alpheus: Arethusa, a mortal huntress, wins the attention of the river god, Alpheus. Arethusa wants nothing to do with him, so to spare her from rape, Artemis turns her into a river spring.

Phaethon: A young man, Phaethon, discovers that Apollo is his father and asks to ride the god's chariot. He does so against all advice and gets completely out of control until Zeus strikes him down with a thunderbolt.

Bellerophon: Bellerophon accidentally kills his brother. To purify himself, he rides Pegasus as he completes challenges.

Otus and Ephialtes: Otus and Ephialtes are two rambunctious and enormous twins, the sons of Poseidon, who believe themselves to be better than gods. Finally, Artemis takes revenge against their actions by tricking them into killing each other.

Daedalus: Deadalus, the brilliant architect who designed the labyrinth, devises wings to help him and his son, Icarus, escape King Minos. Against his father's warning, however, Icarus flies too close to the sun. His wings melt, and he falls to his death.

Perseus: One of the great Greek heroes, Perseus kills the Medusa and overcomes seemingly impossible challenges.

Theseus: A great Athenian hero, Theseus defeats the Minotaur with the help of Ariadne, whom he later marries.

Hercules: Considered the greatest Greek hero (and certainly the strongest), Hercules kills his children when Hera puts him under a spell. To purify himself, he embarks on incredible challenges and succeeds.

The Quest for the Golden Fleece: When Jason claims his rightful place as king, the reigning king, Pelias, demands that he acquire the golden fleece. With the help of Medea, Jason gets the fleece.

Tantalus: Tantalus loses favor with the gods after he murders all his children. As punishment, they "tantalize" him by putting food and water in front of him but never allowing him to eat or drink.

Iphigenia: Iphigenia is saved from human sacrifice and made queen of an island. She almost kills her own brother, Orestes, but with the help of the gods, they escape together.

Antigone: Antigone buries her brother despite the king's imposition of a law to the contrary. She is killed for the act but achieves honor in the process.

Oedipus: Unknowingly, Oedipus fulfills a prophecy by killing his father and marrying his mother. Tragedy unfolds as he learns the awful truth.