Civilisation & Greek Mythology
Civilization can be described as the process through which a society develops into a centralized and urbanized structure. It is complex in nature and typically distinctive from other societies in terms of urban development, evolution and use of communication systems like writing that makes it stand apart from other ‘primitive’ societies of the time. Indus Valley Civilization that thrived during the Bronze Age period in the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent is an example of a great civilization that was far advanced for the time.
Ancient Greece played an important role in shaping the history of the world by greatly influencing civilisations around the world. We have ancient Greeks to thank for their philosophy, art and thought, which continues to influence modern world. Perhaps their greatest contribution is the idea of democracy which is ‘a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.’ It is also interesting to note that the English language, the lingua franca of the world, contains a large number of words of Greek origin. So the English idiom ‘it’s all Greek to me’ which is used to indicate that something is not understandable or difficult to understand, probably deserves a re-look!
Ancient Greeks possessed a collection of myths and teachings involving their gods and heroes and it was a part of their religion as practiced in ancient times. Greek mythology is a mixture of explicit narratives, and representational arts like vase-paintings which are more implicit in nature. The fascinating narratives try to explain things like how the world came into being, the noble lives their heroes and heroines led and the great exploits of their numerous gods and goddesses. They also had their fair share of mythological creatures.
The oral-poetic tradition, along with Greek literature, has largely been responsible for the preservation of rich accounts and narratives through successive generations. For example, Homer's Iliad and Odyssey focus on the Trojan War and its consequences, while Hesiod’s the Theogony and the Works and Days, take on such topics as the genesis of the world, the origin of human woes, and the origin of sacrificial practices. Artefacts and other archaeological findings also provide great details about Greek mythology.
Greek mythology has always had a profound influence on the culture, arts, and literature of Western civilization and language. The English language is richer for the contribution from Greek mythology. (It’s like) ‘Cleaning the Augean stables’ and (it’s) ‘a Herculean task’ are two phrases derived from Greek mythology, often used to describe impossible nature and enormity of a task. According to legend, King Augeas’ stables, where he kept 3000 oxen had not been cleaned for 30 years. The Greek Hero Hercules, who was known for his physical strength is said to have diverted the River Alpheus through them and cleaned them in a day.