From mythological figures like Medusa and Achilles to creatures like Pegasus and the Minotaur, ancient Greek mythology has had a huge impact on Western culture. However, most people probably don’t know that there are plenty of interesting facts about Greek mythology they don’t know! Here are eight fun facts about Greek mythology you might not have heard before!
Aphrodite is the goddess of love, and beauty. She was born from sea foam. She was sometimes depicted with a shell or riding on a scallop shell. She was also associated with dolphins, doves, swans, and pearls. When Hephaestus became injured because Hera threw him off Mount Olympus, Aphrodite helped protect him by making new legs for him to walk on. As the wife of Vulcan, she assisted him in crafting thunderbolts for Zeus to use as weapons.
Though the gods were powerful, they weren’t invincible. They could be injured and even killed. For example, Ares, the god of war, was wounded by Diomedes, and Apollo was shot by arrows from Heracles. However, the only way to kill a god was if someone had knowledge of their true name; otherwise they couldn’t die. The only exception to this rule is when it came to Zeus’ children: Hera’s daughter Eris (Discord) and Hades’ son Plouton (Pluto).
In Greek mythology, Typhon was the most fearsome monster of all time. He was so big and powerful that he could actually destroy the world. The term typhoon is derived from his name. In addition to being a terrifying giant, Typhon also had a hundred dragon heads with poisonous breath and blazing eyes which could turn people into stone. Thankfully, he was defeated by Zeus and imprisoned beneath Mount Etna.
Did you know that Zeus, the king of the gods, was known for disguising himself as various animals? One time he disguised himself as a bull to kidnap Europa. He also often took on the form of an eagle. Perhaps the most famous animal transformations from ancient mythology come from The Odyssey, where Odysseus is turned into a pig by Circe before finally becoming human again.
If you thought the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus were perfect, think again! They may have been immortal and powerful, but they were also very vain. Aphrodite would give anything to be more beautiful than Athena, who was supposedly more beautiful than all other goddesses. Apollo wanted to be able to make music as well as Hermes could – he even went so far as to challenge Hermes to a musical contest. Hermes won by playing his lyre for longer than Apollo could play his pipe. And when Dionysus couldn’t win over Demeter in a wine-tasting contest, he offered her some barley cakes soaked in wine instead – which she gladly accepted.
In Greek mythology, Hecate is the goddess of magic, crossroads, and ghosts. She’s often associated with dark things, but she also played a crucial role in helping Persephone escape from Hades. After tricking him into eating some pomegranate seeds while they were together on Earth, he became so angry that he refused to let her leave. When Demeter came looking for her daughter, Hecate showed her where to find Persephone so that she could rescue her daughter.
Did you know that Zeus, the king of the gods, once turned two lovers into constellations? It’s true! The story goes that Zeus fell in love with a mortal woman named Io. To keep her safe from his jealous wife Hera, he turned her into a cow. He also changed the shape of Io’s horns so they would be different from those of other cows. Hera wasn’t fooled though, and she put a watchful eye on Io in the form of a fly. Zeus then turned the fly and Io into constellations to keep them together forever.