Research papers on the Greek gods can be written about any one Greek god or focus on the genre itself. Choose any Greek god and the writers at Paper Masters will explain that god's place in the mythical literature or history of the Greek
Each of the Greek gods and goddesses are associated with a particular area.
- Aphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty.
- Ares is the god of war.
- Hades is the god of the underworld.
There are three periods involving the myths of the gods. In the beginning, the stories are only concerned with the origins of the gods. Next came a period in which the gods mixed freely with mortal man. And lastly came a period where the gods are no longer seen nearly as much, and this is the age of heroes in Greece.
Though the gods sometimes appeared disguised as animals or other creatures, in many of the myths they come in contact with humans. Indeed, there are a number of instances in which gods and humans have relationships and trysts and end up producing children together. The gods show weaknesses, lusts, human frailties and other character traits in the myths. They hold grudges and pursue retribution. The Greek gods are persons, not abstract concepts that are hard to put a finger on. The Greek gods possessed all of the human short comings. Zeus had a number of alliances with mortal women who bore his children. And Zeus had to conquer his own father Cronus in a familial power struggle before assuming his position as "King" of the gods on Mount Olympus.
In The Iliad and The Odyssey, written by Homer, much of the model of what a Greek citizen is supposed to be and is supposed to behave like is effectively set down for posterity. The all-too-human failures of the gods provided perfect lessons to be learned from. One didn't go around, for example, stealing another man's wife as Paris of Troy did to the Spartan King Menelaus. (Paris is a Trojan Prince, and his mother is a goddess.) Only bad would come of such a thing, for example; Ten years of war, many tragedies and death and lives turned upside down.
This is where the reality of the myths could be located: In the lessons which Homer in particular sought to impart to the people. But even if these lessons are lost on an idolizing population, something else just as important is certainly not overlooked. In the battles of the Trojan War, and in the individual contests between great warriors including Achilles and Aeneas, Homer described and brought to life the highly valued virtues of courage, valor and bravery.
The gods also are divided into categories as being heroic or cowardly. Many of the heroic gods, Hera, Athena, Zeus, Ares, and Apollo participate in the war both actively and inactively, though on often on opposing sides. Their active participation in the war includes instances where they directly affect the outcome of a battle, as Athena did when empowering Diomedes with superhuman strength or when Ares intervenes to fight side by side with Hector. Their inactive participation includes instances where the gods use their powers of suggestion to affect the war. They sometimes do this through the use of dreams, as Zeus did with Agamemnon, or through using convincing speech in the form of a mortal man, as Athena did to convince Pandarus to shoot Menelaus. The gods who do not participate in the fighting, like Aphrodite and Artemis, are mocked by the other gods. Aphrodite often only protects her favorite, Paris, but is once wound by Diomedes, and is told by Zeus to avoid fighting.
This similarity between the heroic gods and men and the cowardly gods and men shows how Homer glorified participation in war. Those who participate are deemed heroic, regardless of how ridiculous the war in which they participate becomes. Although Homer often points out the childish, squabbling manner in which the gods engage in warfare, a similar pronouncement is not made up the mortal participants. The war, fought over a single woman, is waged between Menelaus and Paris after Paris takes Menelaus's wife, who has been given to him by the gods. The gods, lacking such motivation, are "either not motivated at all or perhaps--rather late in the poem--only by the judgment of Paris" who found Aphrodite more beautiful then Helen or Athena.
In a similar manner, Achilles, though portray as a hero, causes much death and destruction among the Greeks because he prays to Zeus to work against them. Even though "the character of Achilles continues to progress positively over the course of the poem, as he overcomes the pride that plagued him throughout his fight with Agamemnon" it is still his initial request that causes many of the Greek's defeats. Achilles is eventually glorified as the great hero who killed Hector.