Lesson 1: How did Greek mythology shape the lives of Greeks?
- Students will be able to *describe how Greek lives were influenced by religion, the arts, and architecture
Key Terms to Know
Directions: Look up each term in your textbook (pages 154-156) and define each term in your social studies notebook.
- Mt. Olympus
Ancient Greeks believed gods and goddesses controlled nature and guided their lives. They built monuments, buildings, and statues to honor them. Stories of the gods and goddesses and their adventures were told in myths. The Greeks did not believe that gods and goddesses were all-powerful. They did have special powers, but they were just as flawed as humans. The gods and goddesses married humans, had children, fought wars, and argued with each other. The 12 most important gods and goddesses lived on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. Zeus was the king of all the gods. Each god and goddess ruled over some aspect of life and was represented by certain objects or animals. To honor their gods and goddesses, ancient Greeks practiced rituals to please them and to ensure their good fortune. They built altars, prayed, presented gifts, and dedicated festivals to them. The Olympics was a festival created to honor the god Zeus, held in the city of Olympia.
The ancient Greeks also believed in fate and prophecy (predictions about the future). They went to oracles to find out about the future and advice about what to do. The most famous oracle was at the Temple of Apollo in the city of Delphi. Priests and priestesses spoke to the gods. The priestess received the message and it was translated by the priest. Answers were often given in riddles, which was sometimes misleading to the leaders and kings that went seeking advice.
Watch the video below to learn about the mysteries of the oracle at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. How did the priestesses communicate with the gods? Was it magical or science?
- Why do you think the ancient Greeks believed in so many gods and goddesses?
- Why did the ancient Greeks dedicate so many rituals, festivals, statues, and buildings to their gods?
- In what ways are the religious beliefs of the ancient Greeks like some religious beliefs practiced today?
Watch the story of Perseus and Medusa. After you watch all 3 episodes, answer the following questions in your social studies notebook.
- Why is Perseus sent out to kill Medusa?
- What was Perseus given take with him on his mission to slay Medusa and who gave them to him?
- How did Perseus find out how to find Medusa?
- What is Medusa's power?
- How did Perseus figure out how to slay Medusa?
- What do you think the ancient Greeks learned from this story?
Imagine you were alive in ancient times. What position would you have: politician, land owner, soldier, housewife? As an ancient Greek, which god or goddess would your family have an alter for? Choose a god or goddess that you are interested in and write a profile for them. In your profile:
- Identify the god or goddess
- Identify any object or animal used to represent them
- Identify the aspect of life they ruled over (sun, sea, war)
- Identify his or her relationship to other gods/goddesses
- Identify an interesting fun fact about the god or goddess
- Tell why you chose this god or goddess for your "family's" alter. (Think about what your position in Greek society would have been)
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