The Term 'Myths' stands for 'the knowledge of the myths'. The religion of
the Greek and
from the Ancient Classic History
was based on myths. Originally the term represented 'spoken words' or
stories. Nowadays myths represent a tale without any basis or proof of facts or truth: Fantasy.
In the classic period these stories had the same meaning as the stories
of the Bible had during the Middle
Ages. They lay on the basis of the principals of that period and could
be found in all aspects of society.
In nearly every civilization the people tried to get control over their surroundings and the things happening around them in order to make them less threatening. In the prehistoric cultures myths were used to explain the natural phenomena. This was the beginning of the nature-spiritualism. Ancient civilizations saw the earth as the true goddess. A female god because of both their fertility. The other phenomena like wind, sea, lightning and thunder also were brought into connection with supernatural forces. The people felt surrounded by gods and completely dependent.
The Greek Myths also originated like that but they had more functions than just explaining the supernatural phenomena. They also explained the beginning of the world and the origin of man. Besides, the myths kept the memories of the foundation of important cities and areas as well as the heroic deeds of civilizations and individuals alive. The tales about the heroes, human beings with often supernatural capacities and a moralizing function, symbolized the perfect examples for mankind. In the classic period people believed in the myths but during time the myths were taken less and less serious.
All through the Greek Period the myths were spread by word of mouth. The singing of mythical events was an important aspect of the religious ritual. Many singers traveled around to sing the tales they heard on their way.
The first collection of myths is the work of Homerus. Probably Homerus lived in the 9th century before Christ on the island Chios in Greece. He was blind and to survive he collected traditional stories and let them been written down by others. The books we know of him are the Ilias (about the Trojan War) and the Odyssey (about Odysseus' wanderings). The first author about the beginning of the world and its deities was Hesiodus from the 8th century.
It is not surprising that so much information about the Greek myths still is available because myths lay on the basis of nearly all Greek literature. Besides the religious literature the work of the poets, the drama and history authors and also the work of the philosopher formed a high source of information about the myths.