Greek Gods vs Roman Gods: Comparing the Mythos

greek gods vs roman godsGreek and Roman mythology informs a startling amount of culture that we’re exposed to every day. Understanding references to ancient myths can give us a lot of insight into modern art, culture, and our personal beliefs.

The thing is, not many people understand the difference between Greek mythology and Roman mythology. It can be difficult to discern the two, considering the fact that much of Roman myth is borrowed from the Greeks.

If you want to have your get your legends straight and really understand Greek gods vs Roman gods, read on because this guide will give you a good overview of the two.

Greek Gods vs Roman Gods

Many modern Western holidays, movies, and songs have references to Greek and Roman gods. Films like Percy Jackson, or Valentine’s day’s constant references to cupid are a good example of this.

That being said, there’s seldom any reference to the origin of the myths that these cultural pieces use to inform their stories. In order to really understand these cultural messages, you need to start with the Greeks.

Greek Mythology

It’s important to understand that Greek mythology came before Roman mythology, and was appropriated into Roman culture as it expanded into Greece. Much of what we know about their mythology comes from the great poet, Hesiod, who created a text called Theogony that outlined the birth of the gods and their stories.

This text comes from the seventh or eighth century B.C., and very little is known about the poet himself. His poem goes as follows:

Hesiod’s Account of the Gods

The story goes that before there was anything, there was Chaos. This Chaos was a formless substance, void of all color, and unpredictable in the sense that there was no order.

Five divine beings came into being out of the Chaos, creating an order out of the mixed-up universe that was previously void of form. These divine beings were Gaia, Tartarus, Erebus, Night, and Eros.

Gaia was mother Earth, Tartarus was the form of the underworld, Erebus was the darkness within the underworld, Night was the darkness within and around the Earth, and Eros was the force of love. Erebus and Night produced a number of children, most notably Light, Day, Doom, Death, Misery, Deceit, and Discord.

Gaia gave birth to the sky and named it Uranus. Gaia and Uranus had a number of children, the second generation is known as the Titans. Titans are especially important as they make up many of the gods that we still refer to in the West. The first three children that they produced were monsters, boasting hundreds of hands and fifty heads each.

The following three children were Cyclopes with giant eyes in the middle of their faces. The Cyclopes respectively represented three natural forces: Brontes represented Thunder, Steropes was Lightning, and Arges represented Shining. These gods would eventually work together to create thunderbolts for Zues, who would later become their nephew.

The Titans

Uranus was not a loving father, and aimed to shove all of Gaia’s children back inside of her as they were born. This will be relevant in a little bit.

The Titans were comprised of 12 children, six sons, and six daughters. There was Oceanus, the god of the sea, Thetis, wife of Oceanus, Hyperion, the god of the sun, Themis, an earth goddess, Rhea, another earth goddess, Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, and Cronos, the wisest and smartest of the Titans. There were a few more, but they don’t have any notable characteristics or responsibilities.

Ok, remember that these children were all lodged back into their mother upon birth, which understandably made Gaia very angry. Gaia plotted with Cronos to have him attack Uranus the next time that he came to have sex with her. So, the next time that Uranus came to make love to Gaia, Cronos castrated him from inside his mother’s womb.

He then proceeded to throw his father’s genitals into the sea, the blood from the wound leading to the creation of the Giants and the Furies. As this happened, the foam from the sea rose up and lead to the creation of Aphrodite.

The Olympians

Cronos made himself the king of heaven after he removed his father’s genitals. He then proceeded to marry his sister Rhea and make more children. He had the same complex as his father, leading him to eat all of his children as they came out of the womb.

Rhea consulted with her parents, Gaia and Uranus, to try and stop Cronos from doing this with her sixth child. The child, Zeus, was sneaked away to the island of Crete after being born, where he grew up safely. Once he reached adulthood, he conspired with Gaia to get his siblings back from the stomach of his father.

They succeeded, forcing Cronos to throw up Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, and Demeter. He then castrated his father in the spirit of tradition! Following that battle, Zeus cast all Titans away to the underworld, also sentencing Atlas to carry the sky on his shoulders for all time.

This is the source idea of the popular book, Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. That’s as far as we’ll go with the Greeks, as we’ve covered most of the origin story.

Roman Mythology

Most Roman gods are the equivalents of Greek gods, only having different names and sometimes representing different things. We’ll cover some of the most significant gods that are shared among Greek and Roman mythology.

When comparing, we’ll use the name of the Greek god first, followed by the Roman equivalent name. Aphrodite, the goddess of love, became Venus. Apollo, god of the sun, became Phoebus. Athena, goddess of love and military strategy, became Minerva.

Nike, goddess of victory, became Victoria. Poseidon, god of the sea, became Neptune. Finally, Zeus, king of the gods, became Jupiter. Those are the most notable developments that spanned across Greek and Roman mythologies.

Get in Better Touch With Your Spirituality

As you may have noticed, the collaboration with Greek gods vs Roman gods has lead to a number of things that bare their names today. This also goes with a lot of our values and spiritual beliefs.

There are many ancient factors that play parts in our spiritual lives, and learning more about them can only help us in our quest to better ourselves. If you’re interested in more topics such as spirituality, history, or astrology, we have everything you need.

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