3 ways to study Greek mythology

Table of contents:

3 ways to study Greek mythology
3 ways to study Greek mythology

The stories of the gods and mortals that the Greeks created thousands of years ago are still valid today (for example, in terms such as "Oedipus complex" and "Pandora's box", or in Hollywood films such as Clash of the Titans, Hercules and Troy). Knowing Greek mythology will make you more cultured. Plus, it's fun. There is a reason why Hollywood continues to look to Greek myths for inspiration, they are good stories. To study Greek mythology, you will first have to have an idea of what you need to know. Then you can enroll in a classroom or online class, or explore the mythology on your own through readings.


Method 1 of 3: Know the Basics

Study Greek Mythology Step 1
Study Greek Mythology Step 1

Step 1. Learn about the gods

Greek mythology has an amazing repertoire of characters. You don't need to know all of them, but learning about the important Olympian gods is a critical first step in understanding Greek mythology.

  • Zeus. King of the gods and the heavens. Control the weather.
  • Hera. Goddess of the family. She is the sister and wife of Zeus. The Greek gods were an incestuous group.
  • Poseidon. He is the brother of Zeus and god of the seas. He is the god of earthquakes and the father of Pegasus, which makes him in charge of the horses.
  • Hades. He is the brother of Zeus and the god of the underworld.
  • Demeter. She is the sister of Zeus and goddess of the harvest.
  • Athens. She is the daughter of Zeus and the titan Metis. The goddess of wisdom, war and crafts. He is a rival of Poseidon.
  • Apollo. He is the son of Zeus and the titan Leto. He is the god of music, prophecy, and medicine. Also, control the sun.
  • Sagebrush. She is the twin sister of Apollo. The goddess of the hunt and the moon. She is also the founder and leader of the Huntresses of Artemis, a group of young girls who dedicated their lives to hunting and Artemis, gave up all romance, and lived immortally (unless they died in battle).
  • Ares. He is the son of Zeus and Hera. He is the god of war.
  • Hephaestus. He is the son of Zeus and Hera. It is lame. He is the blacksmith of the gods and the one who made their weapons. His mother, Hera, threw him off the top of Olympus for being hideous.
  • Hermes. He is the son of Zeus and the minor goddess Maya. He is the messenger of the gods and the god of thieves, commerce and travelers.
  • Aphrodite. Depending on which myth you read, she may be the daughter of Zeus and the Titan Dione, or she may have emerged from the foam of the sea after the Titan Uranus was castrated and her testicles thrown into the sea. She is the goddess of love and beauty.
  • Dionisio. He is the son of Zeus and the mortal princess Semele. He is the god of wine and parties.
Study Greek Mythology Step 2
Study Greek Mythology Step 2

Step 2. Meet the greatest heroes of Greek mythology

Although the same gods appear in myth after myth, they are rarely the protagonists of Greek myths, who are usually human or half human (many have a divine father). These heroes are famous for a variety of reasons, including fighting monsters, winning glory on the battlefield, and suffering family tragedies. The following are some of the most famous:

  • Heracles (Hercules). He was the strongest human and also had a horrible temper. He did 12 jobs to rid himself of the guilt of having killed his own family in a fit of insanity.
  • Perseus. He was thrown into the sea in a chest as a child, defeated Medusa and the kraken, and married Andromeda.
  • Theseus. A cousin of Hercules. He was wise in the same proportion that Hercules was strong. He defeated the minotaur, escaped the Cretan labyrinth, and became the king of Athens.
  • Achilles. The hero of Homer's Iliad, which tells the story of the Trojan War. His mother, the nymph Thetis, submerged him in the River Styx as a child to make him immortal, but because she held him by the heel, that part of his body remained vulnerable. After killing Hector, the most important warrior of the Trojans, a poisoned arrow struck his heel and he died.
  • Odysseus. He is the hero of Homer's Odyssey. It was him that came up with the idea for the Trojan horse (a giant hollow horse with hidden Greek warriors inside), which was used to defeat Troy. After the war, he spent 10 years trying to return home, fighting monsters, gods, and witches along the way.
  • Jason. He set sail with the Argonauts and, after fighting monsters and mermaids, found the Golden Fleece with the help of the witch Medea, who fell in love with him.
Study Greek Mythology Step 3
Study Greek Mythology Step 3

Step 3. Study the main myths

Although each hero has their own stories, there are many other myths that have less prominent protagonists who have become famous, such as the story of Narcissus, who was so vain that he was paralyzed when he saw his reflection in a pond, which he stared at. until he died. The following are some other important myths:

  • Sisyphus. A liar who deceived the gods more than once. He is famous for the punishment he was given after he died. In the underworld of Hades, he was condemned to forever roll a rock to the top of a steep hill. As soon as he reached the top, the rock rolled downhill and he had to start over.
  • Tantalum. He was a favorite son of the gods, whom he invited to a banquet in his house, in which he cooked his son and served them. This was not a good idea. He also became famous because of his punishment, which was to always stand in a pool of clean water and see delicious fruits on the trees above his head. However, when he was about to reach the fruit, the wind would push the branches out of his reach and when he bent down to drink, the water would withdraw.
  • Pygmalion and Galatea. Pygmalion was a sculptor who created such a beautiful and real statue that he fell in love with it. Aphrodite took pity on him and brought the statue to life by turning it into Galatea.
  • Persephone. The beautiful daughter of Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, whom Hades kidnapped by taking her to the underworld and making her his wife. He had to live there four months out of the year to be able to spend the rest of his time on Earth. This myth explains the seasons. The winter months are those in which she is in Hades.
  • Midas and the touch of gold. He was the king of Phrygia. Midas won the favor of the god Dionysus, who offered to grant him whatever he wanted. He asked for the power to turn anything he touched into gold. Very soon he realized that he had made a mistake, because everything he tried to eat or drink turned to gold.
  • Prometheus, the thief of fire. He stole fire from Zeus and taught humans to use it. As punishment, he was chained to a rock and every day an eagle came to eat his liver, which was magically restored during the night.
  • Europe. She was such a beautiful woman that Zeus fell in love with her. He appeared before her in the guise of a beautiful white bull and bowed to her. When he climbed on his back, he led her to a cave where he revealed his true nature. The continent is named after him.
  • Daedalus and Icarus. Daedalus designed the labyrinth of Crete, where later, King Minos, held him and his son Icarus prisoners. Daedalus made wings out of wax and feathers for his son and himself in order to fly and escape, but Icarus flew too high and the wax on the wings melted. Then, he fell and drowned in the Icarian Sea, which bears his name.
  • Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus was a great musician. When Eurydice, the love of his life, died, he descended to the underworld and played his lyre so beautifully that Hades agreed to let Eurydice go, as long as Orpheus did not look at her until she reached the surface. However, fearing that she had fooled him, Orpheus turned a few feet from the surface only to see Eurydice being dragged back to the underworld for looking ahead of time.

Method 2 of 3: Find Study Tools

Study Greek Mythology Step 4
Study Greek Mythology Step 4

Step 1. Take a class at a local college

If you're not in a mythology class yet, you can try taking one at your local or community college. Greek Mythology is a popular course and many universities offer it during the spring and fall semesters, as well as during the summer. Courses typically cost from $ 100 at community colleges to over $ 1,000 at other colleges. In the United States, senior citizens can often take free classes at community colleges.

Study Greek Mythology Step 5
Study Greek Mythology Step 5

Step 2. Take an online course

If you can't attend a college class, you can take an online course. Many universities offer courses online, but you can also find ones offered by for-profit companies or even some free.

  • University courses. Universities such as Oxford, Duke, Brown, Harvard, and Yale offer online courses on Greek myths and heroes. Some of these, like Harvard Professor Nagy's course "Concepts of the Hero in Greek Civilization," are free.
  • Paid online courses. The Great Courses offers the most popular series of business courses at www.thegreatcourses.com.
  • Free online courses. There are a variety of sites that bring together free mythology courses from around the web, including www.mooc-list.com (for Massive Open Online Course project courses) and oedb.org (Open Education Database (Open Education Database).
Study Greek Mythology Step 6
Study Greek Mythology Step 6

Step 3. Use an app

It seems that there is an application for almost everything and Greek mythology is no exception. Download one and learn the basics of mythology from your phone. The following are some useful applications:

  • Learn Mythology Basics (iPhone and iPad).
  • GreekMythology.com (Android).
  • Greek Mythology by Anduin (Google and Android).
  • Greek Mythology from Socratica (Google and Android).
  • Greek Mythology (iPhone and iPad). Provides more detailed information on mythology and the ancient Greek world.
Study Greek Mythology Step 7
Study Greek Mythology Step 7

Step 4. Explore websites dedicated to Greek mythology

There are many excellent websites that contain free information on the gods, heroes, myths, and settings of Greek mythology. They are useful as a reference or as an introduction to mythology. The following are some good websites:

  • https://www.theoi.com
  • https://www.greekmythology.com
  • https://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com

Method 3 of 3: Read Books

Study Greek Mythology Step 8
Study Greek Mythology Step 8

Step 1. Start with an introductory text

There are several authors who have synthesized multiple ancient Greek authors to create compendia of mythology. The following are books to consider:

  • The Penguin Book of Classical Myths (2009) by Jane March. Professor March's work provides a clear, easy-to-read account of the most important myths, along with the most recent studies on their origins, evolution, and meanings.
  • The Complete World of Greek Mythology (2004) by Richard Buxton. Buxton offers an overview of mythology, placing myths in their social and cultural context. The book is also full of additional information such as genealogical charts and beautiful illustrations.
  • Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes (1942) by Edith Hamilton. Hamilton draws on all the great Greek writers (and some Roman ones too) to compile an introductory text that covers all the key gods and myths.
  • Early Greek Myth: A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources (1993) by Timothy Gantz. Gantz's book is the densest and most academic introduction to Greek mythology. It draws on both the Greek writers and the art of the first centuries to recreate the myths as they were in the days of Homer and Aeschylus.
  • The Greek Myths (1956) by Robert Graves. Graves is the opposite of Gantz. He is a great writer and the way he writes the myths is a simple and enjoyable introduction to Greek mythology. On the other hand, the academic aspect of the book is clearly inferior and its theories of the origins of Greek mythology and of the relationships between the characters have been more or less disproved.
Study Greek Mythology Step 9
Study Greek Mythology Step 9

Step 2. Read Apollodorus's Library

If you are really interested in Greek mythology, you must go beyond modern accounts and access the original sources. Although authorship is still credited to him, it has recently been concluded that this compilation from the 2nd century AD. Apolodoro of Athens did not write it. Regardless of who the author is, this compendium collects most of the major Greek myths and orders them in a way that keeps compendium writers using it today. You can find an indexed translation online at

Study Greek Mythology Step 10
Study Greek Mythology Step 10

Step 3. Review the work of the poet Hesiod to learn more about the origins of the gods

He was a Greek poet from the 8th century BC. In Theogony he details the origins and genealogy of the gods, while in the poem Works and Days he provides a perspective on daily life in ancient Greece. For a recently awarded translation, take a look at the book Works of Hesiod and the Homeric Myths by the poet Daryl Hine. Hesiod's works can also be found online at

Study Greek Mythology Step 11
Study Greek Mythology Step 11

Step 4. Take a look at Homer's epic poems

The two greatest epics of Greek mythology (The Iliad and The Odyssey) were written in the 8th or 7th century BC. C. and both are attributed to the poet Homer. While these focus on the Trojan War and Odysseus' travels respectively, they also include sections that touch on many other classic myths.

  • Robert Fagles has produced the official translation of The Iliad and The Odyssey.
  • You can find online translations of The Iliad at https://www.theoi.com/Text/HomerIliad1.html and of The Odyssey at
  • You can also find the original Greek version (with translations) at
Study Greek Mythology Step 12
Study Greek Mythology Step 12

Step 5. Learn more about Jason and the Argonauts by reading Apollonius of Rhodes, an Alexandrian born in 295 BC

The Argonáutica is the best known version of the adventures of Jason. This book is available online at

Study Greek Mythology Step 13
Study Greek Mythology Step 13

Step 6. Read the three great tragic playwrights

Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles were contemporaries and produced tragic works of deep psychological understanding, which have influenced writers to this day and are still performed in the theater.

  • Aeschylus. He was born approximately in the year 525 a. C., the most famous of his seven works that have survived are Prometheus in chains, The Oresteia: Agamemnon, Las coéforas and Las eumenides. Find his works at
  • Euripides. He was born approximately in the year 486 a. C. and was of humble origins. His works are exceptional in that his characters often question the gods and fight against their destinies. Nineteen of these have survived. Some of the most famous include The Bacchantes, The Trojans, Medea, Electra, and Orestes. Search his works online at
  • Sophocles. He was also born approximately in the year 486 a. C. He was a priest of Asclepius who wrote seven plays, including Oedipus, Electra, and Oedipus at Colonus. His works are online at
Study Greek Mythology Step 14
Study Greek Mythology Step 14

Step 7. Relax with the comic playwright Aristophanes

Greek theater was not exclusively about dark themes like men marrying their mothers or giving their children to the gods. Aristophanes, was born approximately in the year 450 a. C., is the only surviving comic playwright of the time. Eleven of his works have survived, including The Clouds, The Birds and The Wasps. You can find his works online at

Popular by topic