What Purpose Did Myths Serve for the Ancient Greek People?

The Ancient History Encyclopedia maintains that Ancient Greek people recited and orally passed down mythology to help explain the environment in which they lived and the nature of life on Earth. The word “myth” originally came from the Greek word “mythos,” which means “speech or discourse.” Later, the meaning of this word came to include fable and legend, suggesting fictionalization.

There are many different types of myths that serve different purposes. For example, creation myths serve the purpose of explaining the origins of the universe and life itself. According to the Encyclopedia Mythica, they typically involve some sort of battle between good and evil, featuring gods or animals with supernatural abilities. Myths can also serve the purpose of explaining why humans perform tasks or actions in the way that they do, or why societies function in the way that they do.

According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia, Greek mythology holds that human beings are ultimately controlled by fate and destiny under the auspices of powerful gods that have dominion over specific realms of human life and the surrounding environment. Much of Greek mythology was orally passed down within families, but pottery and sculpture depicting images of gods or battles have been recovered from the period. The ancient Greek people built many structures, such as the Pantheon, in honor of the gods of their mythology.