Week 11 - Everything I Needed to Know About Greek Mythology
I've always had a fascination with Greek myths and heroes since I played Age of Mythology as a kid for hours on end. Not only was it a fun game, it also did a decent job of giving me backstory on certain mythological heroes and creatures (which would actually be helpful in school).
Then, a few years later, I became obsessed with the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan and continued to rabbit-hole education into the mythological world.
Due to the wide variety of heroes in the Greek mythos, I'll only be able to bring up a handful. This selection will be completely arbitrary, based mostly on my previous knowledge and other rabbit-holes I'll fall into while researching them.
So, in this week's post, I want to take a look at everything I needed to know about ancient Greek mythology, from the creation of the universe to the paradox of the Laelaps and Teumessian fox.
Achilles: well known for his role in the Trojan war, and his heel, Achilles was a mythological figure that exuded beauty, strength, courage, loyalty, and pride. As a baby, his mother (a nymph) tried every trick in the book to make him immortal, including but not limited to:
Roasting him over a fire every day and then using special ointment
Dunking him in the River Styx, the river of hell, which gave him invulnerability (except for his heel)
And when all else failed, disguised him as a girl and sent him to a remote island to be kept safe
As we know from the various epics, none of it worked, and Achilles met his end at the hands of Paris (see below) and Apollo.
For those who have never read the Iliad, here is a brief synopsis of Achilles' role. He was the leader of the Myrmidon army, an elite fighting force in Thessaly. He led this army to Troy with the rest of Greece to reclaim Helen (the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta) from the Trojans.
After much winning, Achilles captured two women, one he kept for himself and one for another king, Agamemnon. The issue? One of the woman's father was a priest of Apollo, who then cursed the whole army and slowly killed them.
When Agamemnon learned that they were being cursed because of their capture of the priest's daughter, he released her. In her place, Agamemnon took Achilles' woman for himself. Achilles, like any guy who just had his concubine stolen from him, refuses to continue fighting in the war. As the most skilled fighter in the army, his absence led to a slew of defeats. It wasn't until his friend, Patroclus, was slain that he rejoined the battle and killed The Trojan hero Hector.
Agamemnon: king of Mycenae, son of King Atreus, and brother of Menelaus. He was a main character in the Trojan war. Before setting out to war though, he angered the goddess Artemis. In order to appease her, Agamemnon had to sacrifice one of his daughters. Whether she accepted her fate or not, and whether she actually died or not is up for debate, either way, Agamemnon straight up killed his daughter so he could go to war. Upon returning home from war, however, Agamemnon was killed by his daughter and her lover, Aegisthus. Agamemnon would later be avenged by his son, Orestes.
Ajax (the Greater): second only to Achilles in strength and courage, Ajax was a one-man army during the Trojan war. Not only was he able to fight Hector and live, but was also able to reclaim Achilles' body from the Trojans after Achilles was killed by Paris.
According to legend, the armor of Achilles would go to either Ajax or Aeneas. When the Achaeans learned that the Trojans feared Aeneas more than Ajax, he went mad and killed himself.
Odysseus: clever, brave, renowned leader, Odysseus was also a key player in the Trojan war and had many adventures after it as well. Praised by Homer as an equal to Zeus in intellect, and favored by Athena, Odysseus was able to escape many unfortunate situations (like being trapped in a cave with a cyclops) and seduce many people with his words. Odysseus was actually the one to convince Achilles to join the war and received Achilles' armor after his death.
And it was Odysseus, with the help of Athena, that came up with the idea of the wooden horse to infiltrate Troy and sneak into the city. Unfortunately, due to their trickery in defeating the Trojans, the Achaeans were cursed by the gods to have a perilous return journey. As one of the few survivors, Odysseus slowly made his way home, picking up many side-quests along the way. You can read all about it in The Odyssey.
Aeneas: son of the goddess of love Aphrodite, Aeneas was a Trojan hero. He was right under Hector in terms of strength and courage. He was the hero of the epic, The Aeneid by Virgil, which outlined his journeys after the war and the eventual founding of Rome.
Hector: the beloved hero and prince of the Trojan army, Hector was the personification of nobility, courage, and strength. He was known to be a selfless father and husband, and never did anything with ill intention. Due to the fact that he disapproved of the war, he presented a duel with the Achaeans to decide the outcome. The Achaeans sent Ajax to fight Hector, and after fighting all day, the duel ended in a draw. Out of respect for each other, Hector gave Ajax his sword (which Ajax would later use to kill himself), and Hector gave Ajax his girdle (which Achilles would later use to drag Hector's corpse behind his chariot). Hector was slain by Achilles after he killed Achilles' friend Patroclus.
Paris: abandoned and not hugged enough as a child, Paris was the son of the king and queen of Troy. As a baby, it was prophesied that he would cause the fall of Troy and thus was sent to a shepherd to be killed. When the shepherd couldn't do it, he sent Paris back to Troy, where he would later fall in love with a nymph. The prophecy was fulfilled, however, when Paris became the judge of a beauty contest between the goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. After telling them to all undress, he couldn't decide who was more beautiful. So naturally, the three goddesses try to bribe him.
Hera - become king of the world
Athena - become a skilled and intelligent warrior
Aphrodite - get the most beautiful woman in the world
In classic Paris fashion, he chooses Aphrodite and claims his reward, which happens to be Helen, the queen of Sparta. After he elopes with Helen, the Greeks muster their forces and sail to Troy to reclaim her.
Jason: leader of the Argonauts, great-grandson of the messenger god Hermes. His claim to fame was his quest for the Golden Fleece, a symbol of authority and leadership. His crew was a whole team of A-rank heroes like Hercules, Orpheus, Castor, Pollux, Atlanta, and the twin sons of the North Wind. He was killed when his own rotting ship fell on top of him.
Theseus: embodying all the classical characteristics of ancient heroes, Theseus was also credited with aiding the Athenian government and army, even receiving credit for the creation of democracy. Theseus was most known for his journey through the labyrinth and slaying of the Minotaur. Unfortunately, Theseus suffered from a mid-life crisis and started making bad decisions, which earned him the ill-favor of the Athenian people. This led to his death in exile and nobody caring to bring his body back until his ghost appears during the Persian Wars, which led to Athenian general Kimon being commanded by the Oracle at Delphi to find his bones and return them.
Perseus: the story goes that Perseus' mother, Danae, was locked away in a tower due to his grandfather, King Acrisius, fearing a prophecy that one day his daughter would birth a son that would kill him. Even though Danae had no access to the outside world, Zeus visited her in her prison and impregnated her, leading to the birth of Perseus. When Acrisius learned of Perseus' birth, he locked both Danae and Perseus in a box and threw them into the ocean.
As all good stories go, they survive the ordeal and get rescued by a fisherman. Perseus grew up to be a well-rounded man, which prevented the king from marrying Danae by force. So, he threw a fake wedding with someone else, and when Perseus brought no gift, the king pretended to be angry. Perseus stated that he would bring whatever the king wanted, to which he said he wanted the head of Medusa.
Perseus, aided by his siblings Hermes and Athena, defeats Medusa and brings her head back to the king. On his return home, he slew a sea monster, married a princess, killed his grandfather (thus fulfilling the prophecy), and turned the Titan Atlas to stone.
Bellerophon: son of Poseidon, Bellerophon was an honorable man, both on earth and to the gods. His first major quest involved taming the winged horse, Pegasus, which was he was able to do with the help of Athena and a golden bridle.
In a series of unfortunate events, he is framed for seducing a queen and sent to another kingdom to be unknowingly killed. After completing various tasks, like killing the chimera and defeating an entire army, he finally is proven innocent and given half a kingdom. He married the king's daughter and had four children, but this apparently wasn't good enough for him. He decided that he would take Pegasus and fly to Olympus to visit the gods. Zeus said hellll no and had a gadfly bite Pegasus, causing Bellerophon to be unmounted and fall back to earth. While he survived the fall, he was also badly crippled and uncared for due to his disrespect of the gods.
Daedalus: famed inventor and innovator, Daedalus lived a turbulent lift of dealing with the consequences of his creations and genius. He is known for his creation of the labyrinth that was home to the minotaur, and the wings that he gave to Icarus that were used to escape from Crete.
Castor: twins that sailed on the Argo. The legend goes that when one of the twins died, the other pleaded with the Gods to become immortal so that he could stay with his brother forever. They were then turned in the constellation Gemini.
Endymion: a young shepherd king known for his choice to have eternal youth but only because it came with an eternal sleep.
Glaucus: as a common name, there were various Glauci of renown:
A fisherman that after eating a magical herb and jumping into the ocean, became a sea god and gifted with prophetic powers.
Father of the hero Bellerophon and raised his horses on human flesh. These horses later tore him to pieces.
Son of Minos, king of Crete, and died when falling into a jar of honey. He was later brought back to life by a seer using a magical herb.
Grandson of Bellerophon and ally of Priam, king of Troy, during the Trojan war. During the war, he came face-to-face with his friend, Diomedes, and exchanged his golden armor with Diomedes' bronze armor.
Ganymede: known in heaven and earth for his beauty, so much so that Zeus flies down in the form of an eagle to kidnap him and make him the cupbearer of Olympus
Orpheus: known for his otherworldly musical ability, Orpheus was the son of a Muse and the king of Thrace. He joined Jason and the Argonauts, protecting them from the song of the sirens by playing his own music to drown out everything else. After his adventures, he married Eurydice, who was then shortly after killed by a snake. As most lovers do, he descended into Hades to reclaim her, using his music to charm Charon the ferryman, Cerberus, and Hades himself. Hades let him bring his wife back, as long as neither of them looks back until they leave hell. Upon reaching the end of hell and seeing the sun, Orpheus looks back to enjoy the moment with his wife, who then disappears due to his breaking of the condition.
Day 2 - Famous Female Heroes
Atlanta: a strong, independent woman with no need for a man in her life. Abandoned by her father for being a girl, she was raised in the wilderness, becoming one of the fastest mortals. After many achievements, her father accepted her back, only to try to marry her off. Instead, she proposed a contest to marry any man that could beat her in a race. If she won, the suitor would be killed. She was eventually defeated by the man Melanion, with the help of Aphrodite, and married. When Melanion didn't make a sacrifice to thank Aphrodite, she filled them with lust and had them make love on another god's shrine. That god then turned them into lions.
Andromeda: daughter of the king and queen of Aethiopia (think upper Nile region). Her mother, Queen Cassiopeia boasted of her beauty, particularly referencing the Nereids. Because the Nereids were favored by Poseidon, he was offended and sent a sea monster to destroy the country. The king and queen consulted with the oracle, who told them they need to sacrifice their daughter to save their country. So naturally, they chained her to a rock to die. Luckily, Perseus was just passing through the region, shortly after beheading Medusa, and turned the sea monster to stone before it could kill Andromeda. Perseus and Andromeda then marry and head to Greece, where they go on to have nine children.
Arachne: a woman with renowned weaving skills, to the point where the goddess of weaving, Athena, had to step in and show her who was really better. As a majority of these myths go, there are a variety of beginnings and endings. But the gist of Arachne's story is this: Arachne thought so highly of herself that she was willing to challenge Athena. After losing, Arachne is then cursed for her insolence and pride by being turned into a spider. Other stories go that she either won, and Athena turned her into a spider out of spite, or she lost and killed herself, wherein Athena brought her back to life in the form of a spider.
Callisto: a member the goddess Artemis' hunting group of all women. As a member of this group, she was to remain a virgin her whole life. Zeus, the one who just can't stay away for some reason, had to be creative in how to seduce her. So, he disguised himself as Artemis to trick her into embracing him. Before she knows it, she gets pregnant, is turned into a bear (one version says by Artemis, another by Hera), is almost killed by her son, but is then saved by Zeus by being turned in a constellation (Ursa Major).
Cyrene: a real outdoorsy woman, Cyrene was just your normal shepherd girl that wrestles lions on the side. Her wrestling display caught the eye of Apollo, who kidnapped her and stole her away to Africa, where they founded Cyrene and had two children - Aristaeus (demigod of beekeeping) and Idom (the argonaut seer).
Danae: a princess of Argos who got lucky enough to have a father who learned that his daughter's son would kill him one day. So, he locked her up in a box to be safe. Zeus, since he really can't help himself, disguised himself as rays of light and impregnated her. When her father found her with child (who happened to be Perseus), he cast them into the ocean. They were eventually rescued and were raised on the island Seriphos.
Europa: seduced by Zeus in the form of a white bull and given ownership over the island of Crete after he swam to it with her on his back. She would later birth king Minos of Crete.
Helen: daughter of Zeus, queen of Sparta (until she eloped with Paris to Troy), most beautiful woman in the world, and the woman that launched a thousand ships.
Hippolyta: queen of the Amazonians, daughter of Ares, and a key player in the 9th labor of Hercules. After giving her girdle to Hercules for his trial, the Amazonians were tricked by Hera saying that Hercules was there to kidnap Hippolyta. HEaring this, they attack Hercules. During the battle, Hippolyta is killed and Hercules escapes.
Io: priestess of Hera and Zeus' nth lover, who is turned into a heifer when Hera shows up because Zeus freaks out. She then wanders all over because Hera curses her with a stinging gadfly, finally arriving in Egypt where she is turned back into a human and gives birth to a son and daughter, Epaphus and Keroessa.
Leda: mother of Helen (of Troy), Castor, and Pollux, and queen of Sparta. She is raped by Zeus in the form of a swan, wherein she lays eggs, which hold the above-mentioned children.
Pandora: the first human woman created by the gods (mainly Athena and Hephaestus), endowed with many gifts made to bring ruin to men. Zeus was angry at Prometheus for giving fire to mankind, so he saw Pandora as a way to bring ruin upon them using various seductive skills. As we all know, Pandora is given a jar (for some reason it's called a box today) that held pains, evils, diseases, etc. in it. She closed right before Hope was able to escape. As for why Hope was in a jar that held only evil and pain is a whole other question. Either way, Pandora's jar was the ancient Greek way of justifying evil in the world.
Pasiphae: daughter of the Titan Helios, sister of Circe, and wife to King Minos of Crete. According to legend, she was cursed by Poseidon to crave the embrace of a bull but had trouble having the bull reciprocate the feelings. So, she had the inventor Daedalus invent a bull-like covering she could hide in and mate with the bull that way. She soon became pregnant and gave birth to the Minotaur.
The Creation Story
The Greek mythology saw the beginning of the world as going from darkness and void to the creation of its first habitats/deities. Something I want to note is that the places that were created are also gods, i.e. Erebus is both the place where the dead go immediately after death but is also a deity born from Chaos.
All of a sudden, Love was born from Chaos, who then birthed Light and Gaea (earth). Erebus and Night (who was staying in Erebus), then had a few children: Doom, Fate, Death, Sleep, Dreams, Nemesis, and all those other things that like being in darkness.
Gaea, apparently not being totally down with sleeping with her siblings, decides to birth Ouranos (the sky) on her own, and then marry him. Thus, the earth was surrounded by the sky and was its/her protector. The sky and the earth then birthed 18 children:
Ouranos, being a fearful and power-hungry father, tried to ensure that his children would never challenge him. He imprisoned the Cyclops and Hecatonchires deep in the earth, basically just putting them back in Gaea's womb. Unsurprisingly, this annoyed Gaea, who then devised a plan with Cronus (the youngest Titan) to overthrow Ouranos.
As Ouranos slept with Gaea, Cronus sneaked in with a sickle made by Gaea and castrated his father, throwing his genitals into the ocean. From the blood that poured from Ouranos' wound came the Giants, the Ash Tree Nymphs, and the Furies. From the foam of Ouranos' genitals landing in the ocean came Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
With Cronus assuming the mantle of the master of the universe, he moved the Cyclops and Hecatoncheires into Tartarus (another realm born from Chaos) and then married his sister, Rhea. He also split the realms of the world with his siblings, giving the sea and rivers to Oceanus and the sun and stars to Hyperion.
Cronus, taking after his father, also feared his children overthrowing him (only strengthened when he heard the prophecy that his son would do that exact thing).
Rhea and Cronus' children include the many top-tier Olympians:
Cronus, taking a new approach to stop fate, decided to swallow all his children so they couldn't beat him. And he would've gotten away with if it wasn't for his meddling wife. Rhea, not a huge supporting of having her children eaten, hid away Zeus and disguised some rocks as Zeus for Cronus to eat. Not performing any sort of review process, Cronus eats the rocks and seals his fate.
Zeus was then raised by Nymphs on the island of Crete, hidden from the eyes of Cronus while his siblings grew inside Cronus' stomach. Once grown, he consulted with Metis (thought to be his first wife and mother of Athena) and created a mixture that would make Cronus vomit out Zeus' siblings.
Zeus worked his way into Mount Othrys as a cupbearer and slipped the mixture into Cronus' drink, thus succeeding in freeing his siblings. Cronus, not one to just roll over, declared war on his godly children, thus starting Titanomachy.
For a while, the Titans were winning under the leadership of Atlas, but Zeus being the smart guy he is, went to Tartarus and freed the Cyclops and Hecatoncheires. The Cyclops built Zeus' trademark lighting bolts for him, and Hecatoncheires laid an ambush and basically threw mountains on the Titans, and the Titans Prometheus and Epimetheus joined the young god's side.
After claiming victory over the Titans, Zeus banished all of them to Tartarus except for Atlas, who was punished by holding the weight of the world due to his leading of the Titans in the war.
Grandma Gaea wasn't happy about having all her children thrown into hell, and decided to go down swinging. She birthed one last Titan - Typhon, the father of all monsters.
Typhon made one last attempt to defeat the young gods and succeeded in scaring away or disabling most of them. Zeus was able to finally defeat him using his lightning bolts, casting the injured Titan into Mount Etna, a famous forge of Hephaestus.
The young gods made their headquarters on Mount Olympus, thus solidifying their identity as the Olympian gods. The giants would later try to invade Olympus, known as Gigantomachy, by stacking mountains on top of each other to reach it. By this time, however, the Olympians (aided by Hercules) had grown stronger and were able to repel the invasion.
The Human Race
Once Zeus had established authority among the gods, they decided that it would be fun to make imitations of themselves, but with less power and authority. These imitations turned out to be the human race, made in the image of the gods, but without the immense power or immortality.
The Titans Prometheus and Epimetheus were charged by Zeus with bestowing gifts upon the human race. While Epimetheus gave humans strength, courage, and agility, Prometheus gave them reason (stolen from Athena) and fire (stolen from Hephaestus). Fire, however, was seen as something only gods should have had access to, so Zeus punished Prometheus by chaining him to a rock and having an eagle eat his liver each day.
The Titans are the descendants of the primordial beings of the universe, like Gaea and Ouranos. The first generation of 12 Titans was birthed by Gaea and Ouranos, and the second generation was born by the intermingling of the original titans.
First Generation Titans
Titan of Intellect and one of the four pillars that kept the sky off the earth. He married Phoebe and together they birthed Leto and Asteria. Coeus was important during the castration of Ouranos because due to his position as one of the four pillars (he was the North pillar), Coeus held restrained Ouranos during the castration.
Titan of the stars and pillar of the South that helped in restraining Ouranos. He married Eurybia and they birthed Astraeus, Pallas, and Perses.
Titan of time and castrater of Ouranos. He married Rhea and together they birthed the first Olympians, which he promptly ate. He was later defeated by Zeus, and either died or was exiled to Italy.
Titan of light, wisdom, and thoughtfulness. He married Theia and together they birthed Helios (the sun), Selene (the moon), and Eos (the dawn). He was the pillar of the east and helped restrain Ouranos during the castration.
Titan of mortality and/or craftsmanship and father of Atlas, Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius. He was the pillar of the west and helped restrain Ouranos.
Titan of memory and mother of the nine Muses with help from Zeus.
Titan of the ocean and rivers and husband to Tethys. Oceanus and Tethys were so fertile that their offspring, gods of rivers, springs, etc. were so numerous that it caused flooding. This overproduction forced Oceanus and Tethys to divorce. Oceanus did not participate in Titanomachy and thus was not punished by Zeus when the Titans were defeated.
Titan of intellect, wife of Coeus, and grandmother of Apollo and Artemis. She held the oracle of Delphi until passing it on to Apollo.
Titan of female fertility and queen of the Titans through marriage to Cronus. Mother to the first Olympians and hid Zeus from Cronus during the feast of children.
Titan of freshwater, wife of Oceanus, and stepmother to Hera.
Titan of light and possibly beauty, wife to Hyperion, and goddess of oracles.
Titan of moral and natural order and one of Zeus' wives. Themis created all the laws that every being had to abide by, god or otherwise. Her aspect played out through the hours (never ceasing rotation of time and seasons), moral order (fair order, trial, and peace), and prophecy.
Second Generation Titans
Titan of nocturnal oracles and falling stars, wife of Perses, and mother to Hecate. While she lived on Olympus, she was pursued by Zeus, like every other woman on the planet, and transformed herself into a quail to escape him. She flew into the Aegean sea and there created Ortygia (quail island).
Titan of dusk and wind, married to Eos, and father of the Four Winds.
Leader of Titans during Titanomachy, brother of Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius, Titan of astronomy and navigation, and husband to Phoebe. The traditional image of titan holding the world is actually incorrect since his punishment for leading the Titans was to actually hold the sky (Ouranos) on his shoulders.
Titan of the dawn, sister to Helios and Selene, daughter of Hyperion and Theia, and wife to Astraeus. Their children represented what happened when dawn and dusk meet, like twilight. Another legend puts her as the consort of Ares, which makes Aphrodite jealous. Aphrodite then curses Eos with insatiable lust, causing her to look around to people to sleep with.
Titan of forethought (his brother Prometheus' opposite), giver of gifts to animals, and supposed husband to Pandora. Since Epimetheus lacked foresight, he gave all positive traits to animals, with nothing left to give humans.
Titan of the sun, which he pulled behind his chariot, and brother to Selene and Eos. Many accounts merge Helios and Apollo into the same deity, even though Helios is the Titan of the Sun and Apollo is the god of light.
Titan of motherhood, modesty, and protector of the young, wife of Zeus, and mother to Apollo and Artemis. She was chased by Hera during her pregnancy so that she wouldn't be able to find a place to give birth. She finally found refuge on Delos and gave birth to Apollo and Artemis.
Titan of hubris, rash action, violence, and anger, and brother of Atlas, Prometheus, and Epimetheus. He fought on the Titan's side during the war and was slain by Zeus and cast into Tartarus.
Titan of Warcraft, son of Crius and Eurybia, and brother to Astraeus and Perses. He was killed in Titanomachy by Athena.
Titan of destruction and peace, husband to Asteria, and father of Hecate.
Titan of forethought, protector of mankind, and bringer of fire. As punishment for bringing fire to mankind, he was cursed by Zeus to have his liver eaten by an eagle each day. Zeus then tasked Hephaestus to create the woman Pandora to seduce, deceive, and ruin men.
Titan of the River Styx, wife to Pallas, and daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. Through her marriage with Pallas, she became the mother of Nike (goddess of victory), Zelus (god of zeal/dedication), Kratos (god of strength and power), and Bia (goddess of force). Styx and her children sided with Zeus during Titanomachy.
What comes after death for all mortals is not exactly something to look forward to. As most people knew, once they died, their souls would descend into Hades, would pass over the River Styx on Charon's ferry, pass under the legs of Cerberus, and have their life judged by Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus. These judges decide whether they go to Tartarus (punishment), Elysium (blessed), or the Fields of Asphodel (bleak nothingness).
This hadn't always been the case, as we saw in Homer's Odyssey, Achilles was trapped in a bleak nothingness even though he was a celebrated hero. 400 years later, we see the afterlife change for the better, at least as long as you are remembered in death.
The ancient Greeks remembered their loved ones in death, focusing on their positive attributes and accomplishment in order to ensure an enjoyable afterlife for the remembered. This remembrance, called Eusebeia, wasn't just something nice to do, it was actually a term used for piety, reverence, and honor.
Not only was Eusebeia important when helping the dead, but just failing to do so was a serious breach in social custom and widely frowned upon. The tombstones or other objects of remembrance of the dead were depictions of normal life, generally focusing on enjoyable aspects of their life and a way to help others remember who they were.
In ancient Greece, death was not defeated by any god, but by the memory of others.
Day 5 - Random Other Mythological Creatures
Argus: a hundred-eyed giant and servant of Hera. He was tasked by Hera to kill Echidna, the mother of all monsters/wife of Typhon. He was also tasked with keeping Zeus away from Io, a priestess of Hera. Zeus used Hermes to kill Argus while sleeping, thus claiming Io for himself.
Ash Tree Nymphs: the Nymphs that were created from the blood flowing from Ouranos' castration. They were the nymphs that nursed Zeus in Crete while hiding him from Cronus.
Automatons: lifelike mechanical creatures, both humanoid and animalistic, and crafted by the god Hephaestus and the hero Daedalus. These machines could act, think and feel like flesh and blood humans and fulfilled a variety of roles, from protecting islands (Talos) to pulling chariots (Horses of the Cabeiri).
Centaur: with the upper body of a man and the lower body of a horse, centaurs were known to be drunkards and revelers. While the most famous centaur, Chiron, was the son Cronus, the rest of the centaur species were the children of nymph Nephele and King Ixion. Chiron was different from all other centaurs due to his calm and respectful nature and care for others.
Cerberus: the three-headed guard dog of Hades, Cerberus was the spawn of Typhon and Echidna and ensured that no one was able to leave the underworld. Cerberus was also the final labor of Hercules, where he had to capture the dog without using any weapons.
Charybdis: initially thought to just be a sea monster then later thought to be a large whirlpool, Charybdis was the other half of the coin to the monster Scylla. Together, they protected the Strait of Messina. Charybdis lived on one side of the strait, sucking in water, ships, and people and then spitting it back out, while Scylla lived on the other side and picked off men from their ships.
Chimera: a combination of multiple animals, traditionally depicted as a lion with a goat's head on its back and having a snake for the tail. The Chimera was the spawn of Typhon and Echidna, breathed fire, and was generally a bad omen when seen.
Cretan Bull: in order for Minos to become king of Crete, he prayed to Poseidon to give him a sign for his right to rule. Poseidon sent him a white bull that was to be sacrificed to the god. When Minos decided that the bull was too beautiful to sacrifice, he instead sacrificed a regular bull to Poseidon. The god, in his anger, cursed Minos' wife, Pasiphae to fall in love with the bull. Pasiphae, unable to control her desires, tasked the inventor Daedalus to construct a fake bull she could hide in so she could mate with the bull. Their mating resulted in the creation of the Minotaur.
Echidna: the mother of all monsters and wife of Typhon, Echidna was generally depicted as being a half-woman, half-snake monsters. There does not seem to be a clear definition of who parented her, but authors do agree that she was both beautiful and terrible.
Empusa: ancient Greek vampires, the empusa were servants of Hecate and were depicted as beautiful women with one leg of bronze and the other of an ass. They would seduce young men and then drink their blood and eat their flesh. If an empusa is insulted, it will scream and run away.
Griffin: a classic creature, the griffin had the body of a lion, but the head and wings of an eagle. They protected large stores of gold from their aggressive neighbors, the Arimaspians.
Gorgons: a half-woman, half-snake creature that had the snakes for hair and could turn any living thing to stone with its gaze. The most well-known gorgon was Medusa, but it was also believed there were two other sisters, Stheno and Euryale.
Harpies: having a body of birds and the heads of women, the harpies were the servants of Zeus and the Furies. They were famously known for punishing the king of Thrace, Phineus, when he used his gift of prophecy, given to him by Zeus, to reveal Zeus' plans. Phineus was blinded, banished to an island of food, but cursed to never eat because the harpies would steal the food away each time he tried to eat. He was eventually rescued by Jason and the Argonauts, who chased away the harpies.
Hecatoncheires: the three, hundred-handed giants and children of Gaea and Ouranos. They represented the natural forces of nature, like earthquakes and tsunamis. The Hecatoncheires were imprisoned with their siblings, the Cyclops, in Tartarus after being born. They were then freed by Zeus and helped the Olympians defeat the Titans.
Hippocampus: half-fish, half-horse, the hippocampi were essentially merhorses and were used by sea Nymphs and Poseidon for travel.
Hydra: another child of Typhon and Echidna, the hydra was an aquatic serpent that spat fire and poison and had multiple heads. It was the second of Hercules' 12 labors and was said to have a regenerative ability that grew two heads each time one was cut off.
Laelaps: a dog that never failed to catch what it was hunting. It was said to have been a gift from Zeus to Europa and then made its way down to Minos. The legend goes that Cephalus sent the Laelaps to hunt the Teumessian fox, a fox that could never be caught. So began the paradoxical chase of the dog that always caught what it hunted and a fox that could never be caught. Zeus eventually tired of the eternal chase and turned them both to stone and then into constellations, Canis Major (Laelaps) and Canis Minor (Teumessian fox).
Manticore: having the face of a man, the body of a lion, and a spiked tail, the Manticore was a man-eating beast that originated in Persia and India.
Minotaur: the spawn of the Cretan bull and the cursed love of Pasiphae, the minotaur was a half-man, half-bull creature that lived in a labyrinth constructed by Daedalus. King Minos would regularly sacrifice young people to the bull in order to sate it's cannibalistic tendencies until it was slain by Theseus.
Myrmekes: ants the side of dogs that were attracted to shiny objects, particularly gold.
Nemean Lion: another child of Typhon and Echidna, the Nemean lion had fur that could deflect any human weapon. The lion was eventually strangled by Hercules, accomplishing one of his 12 labors. Hercules then skinned the lion using its own claw, since nothing else could cut its fur.
Pegasus: the divine, winged steed of Bellerophon. Generally recognized as being created when Perseus beheaded Medusa and rising from her spilled blood.
Phoenix: a fiery bird that turns to ash upon dying, but then being reborn from its own ashes. It is said to have a life cycle of 500 years before being reborn.
Satyrs: low-level fertility spirits, satyrs were known to be constant suitors to nymphs and having the legs of goats and the body of a man. They were constant partiers and revelers, though not to the degree of centaurs.
Scylla: a monster living on the opposite side of the straits of Messina (and thus opposite Charybdis). The strait was narrow enough that it was impossible to avoid both Scylla and Charybdis while passing through. The origin of Scylla varies, but it seems to be that she was a nymph at one point that was cursed by a jealous lover and turned into an ugly monster.
Sirens: sea nymphs that seduced sailors to their death using song. They were most famously encountered by Jason and the Argonauts, who used Orpheus to drown out the siren's song, and Odysseus, who tied himself to the mast to hear their song while his crew put wax in their ears. The sirens, after seeing a man listen to their song but not die, killed themselves.
Sphinx: another classical monster, the Sphinx had the body of a lion and the head of a woman. In Greek mythology, the Sphinx of Thebes terrorized its people by asking them a riddle and eating those who answered incorrectly. The sphinx was eventually confronted by Oedipus, who answered the riddle correctly, thus causing the sphinx to kill itself.
Stymphalian Birds: vicious birds created by the god of war Ares. They had bronze beaks, metallic throwing feathers, and poisonous poop. They terrorized the Arcadian countryside until Hercules came to drive them out as part of his 12 labors.
Talos: a famous giant bronze automaton made by Hephaestus, Talos guarded the island of Crete against pirates and other unpleasant sailors. He was eventually defeated by Jason and the Argonauts after pulling a nail out of a vein that carried his lifeblood throughout his body, causing him to bleed to death.
Too Long; Didn't Read
The Greeks created very elaborate and rich stories for both their gods and their heroes. These stories explained all the forces in the universe, the causes of good and evil, and the accomplishments of mortals with the divine assistance of the gods.
Heroes remembered today are the ones believed to be thriving in the afterlife, like Achilles, Odysseus. Ajax, Theseus, Jason, Perseus, Andromeda, Hippolyta, Helen, and Pandora.
Before mankind, however, everything was Chaos. From Chaos came the first Titans, like Erebus, Love, Light, Gaea, and Night. Gaea then births Ouranos, who she then marries and give birth to the well-known Titans (Cronus, Atlas, Helios, etc.), the Cyclops, and the Hecatoncheires.
Cronus, after castrating and overthrowing his father, marries his sister and create the Olympian gods (though they weren't known as the Olympians until they established their base on Mount Olympus). A war, called Titanomachy, began between the Titans and the gods after Zeus successfully rescued his siblings from Cronus' stomach.
The young gods, after being assited by the Cyclops, Hecatoncheires, and other Titans, defeated the Titans and banished them to Tartarus.