When it comes to Greek mythology there are hundreds of myths and many different versions of them. There aren’t many ways to tell which versions are the original ones, however, it is interesting to read each one. Of course, they all have the same outcome but the way they reach it can be very different. Here a few of my favorite myths and legends.
5. Pandora’s Jar
This is one of the most known myths in Greek mythology. In the story, Pandora was the first woman on earth and was created by the gods as a punishment to mankind for being gifted fire which was stolen by Prometheus. Once created Pandora was then given a jar called “Pithos” and was told that the jar held gifts but she was not allowed to open it. She was then sent to Epimetheus to become his wife. She started to become curious about the things in the box. She tried her hardest not to open the jar, but she couldn’t take the curiosity any longer. All the illnesses and hardships that gods had hidden in the box started coming out. Shocked and frightened Pandora closed the Jar as quickly as possible trapping in the last spirit, Hope.
4. Hades and Persephone
This myth is as well known as Pandora’s box. In this myth, Demeter takes her daughter Persephone down to earth to let her play with a few sea nymphs while she looked over a few of her crops. Persephone noticed a valley nearby and couldn’t take her eyes off a yellow narcissus flower. She then asked the sea nymphs to come with her into the valley but they refused. So she went by herself into the valley to pick the flower. It was almost impossible, draining all of her energy in desperation for having the narcissus. After she finally picked the flower, Persephone noticed the ground opening-up and Hades emerging from the cracked ground and grabbing her. Once Demeter returned form checking her crops she saw all of the nymphs crying and Persephone nowhere to be found. She cursed the nymphs and transformed them into heinous women with plumed bodies and scaly feet, called the sirens. After searching for her daughter for days, Demeter finally found her and begged Hades to let Persephone come back to the living. After consulting with Zeus, Hades decided to let Persephone go back to the livings for six months. If you ate anything given to you from your captor your are to return to them, Persephone was persuaded into eating four pomegranate seeds before leaving to grantee that she would be coming back to the underworld for four months.
3. Athena and Arachne
Arachne was a young and talented weaver, who often boasted about how she was a better weaver than the goddess Athena. None of the gods like to be considered equal or below the humans so this angered the goddess. Athena appeared and confronted Arachne for saying that she was better. The two then held a challenge to see who was truly better. Athena weaved four scenes of the gods punishing the humans who thought they were equal to the gods. Arachne weaved four scenes of the gods abusing humans. Arachne’s work had come out better than Athena’s which made her angrier because of what Arachne’s weavings depicted. The goddess threw Hecate’s potion onto Arachne which transformed her to a spider, so she could weave for eternity.
2. Psyche and Eros
Psyche was a woman gifted with extraordinary beauty and grace. She became very famous with men due to this. Since men were so amazed by her beauty it caused the goddess Aphrodite to become jealous of her. Aphrodite then asked her son Eros to poison the men’s souls in order for their admiration for Psyche to die out. But when he went to carry out the plan he was also amazed by her beauty and instantly fell in love with her. No matter how many men came to Psyche, she remained unmarried. Her parents became desperate for her to wed, and asked an oracle to give their daughter a husband. Eros asked Apollo to give the oracle that Psyche would marry an ugly beast whose face she would never be able to see, and he would wait for her at the top of the mountains. Although they were disappointed with their daughter’s fate they arranged a wedding for their daughter and the beast. After the wedding Psyche was only able to see her husband at night. But the love and tenderness that he showed to Psyche were enough to make her happy. She told her sisters about how able she was which made them jealous. They convinced her that her husband was out to kill her. One night with an oil lamp and knife in her hands, Psyche was ready to murder her beast of a husband, but when she enlightened the face of her beast-husband she saw the beautiful God Eros. This caught her by surprise and she spilled the oil on his face, waking him up. Eros flew away telling Psyche that she betrayed him and that their relationship was ruined and they could never be united again.
The story of Narcissus is my absolute favorite. The story starts with his parents being worried about the extraordinary beauty their son held. They went to a prophet to ask about Narcissus’ future. The prophet told them that their son would live a long life, as long as he didn’t “get to know himself”. One day 16-year-old Narcissus was walking through the woods when the nymph, Echo saw him and instantly fell in love. She followed the young boy around before he shouted out “Who’s there?” and she replied with the same question. This continued for a while before she finally showed herself to him and tried to hug onto him, Narcissus stepped away from the nymph and told her to go away which left her heartbroken, and spent the rest of her life in the woods until nothing but her voice was left. Nemesis the goddess of revenge heard Echo’s story and decided to punish Narcissus. Taking another walk in the woods, he spotted his reflection in a nearby pond and fell in love with it. Once he figured out that his love for the reflection could not be requited, he killed himself.