The mythology of ancient Greece and Rome is the Older Than Feudalismnamer of many tropes, in addition to well-known gods, heroes and monsters. An important element of Ancient Greece, The Roman Republic and The Roman Empire.
Classical mythology is sometimes referred to as "Greek Mythology" by people who don't think the Romans contributed much or take the two mythologies separately.
However, contrary to common belief, the Roman version isn't completely identical to the Greek one; Rome's own legends became closer to Greek mythology around the end of the monarchy and the foundation of The Republic. Before that, Roman mythology was probably (though records are sparse) more similar to that of their closer neighbours - the Etruscans. Take, for instance, the emphasis on complicated divination methods that were alien to the Greeks or the fact that some of their gods, such as Mars or Saturn, are largely different from their Greek counterparts. The Roman religion (the actual practice of worshipping the gods in question) was also extremely different from the Greek one, dealing more with human representatives of the remote gods rather than stories of the gods themselves.
Essentially, think of the Roman version as a Continuity Reboot if that helps. It's not really, but it's a close enough analogy.
The Aeneid was a sequel to and imitation of the Greek Iliad, which is attributed to Homer. The Odyssey was the original (surviving) sequel to the Iliad, written in Greek and supposedly by the same guy who wrote the Iliad, though we really don't know (especially since Homer was a blind, illiterate poet who relied solely on oral recitations). Both were part of the Trojan Cycle, which included six other lost epics.
The central figures of Greek mythology were the Twelve Olympians: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Ares, Hermes, Hephaestus, Aphrodite, Apollo, Artemis, and Hestia. While an important god, Hades lived in the Underworld and thus was not an Olympian; Hestia was sometimes not counted because she gave up her seat to the younger Dionysus.
In Homer's portrayal, they were basically super-powered humans without the super- that comes standard with powers these days. Zeus, for example, was a philandering rapist, responsible for a large share of the god-human hybrids running around. Many of these became great heroes, the most famous of which was Hercules/Heracles/Herakles. Though you'd think Zeus's wife and sister Hera would be a sympathetic character, she spends most of her time taking out her frustrations on said heroes, probably because Zeus, said to be more powerful than all the other gods and goddesses combined, was beyond her ability to take any meaningful revenge on. Other gods engaged in similar behavior. Hades, while not asevil as hisTheme Park Version, got his wife by kidnapping his niece Persephone (with Zeus's approval and assistance). This prompted the girl's mother, Demeter, to create summer in retaliation.note Yes, summer: Greece and Italy are considerably warmer than other parts of Europe, and their summers are the months of awful dry heat during which crops and other plants are threatened by drought, while the winter is pleasantly cool or mild and characterized by abundant rain. As the myth moved north, it became the explanation for winter instead. And then there's Ares... well, he just about defines the word Jerk Ass.
The Titans were a previous generation of gods overthrown by Zeus, though in The Theme Park Version they tend to be treated as another class of beings entirely. There were also minor gods such as the Muses, Graces, and countless nymphs, plus various monsters which you can today read about in the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual.
Also there are the oft forgotten, primordial gods that preceded the Titans, Gaia being the most well known of them (though often mistaken for a titan).
While the Romans generally tried to identify their deities with the Greek ones, there were a few Roman/Italic ones for which no exact Greek equivalent could be found, e.g. Flora and Bellona. The former was a nymph-like goddess of flowers and spring (most similar to Chloris), and the latter was a goddess of war variously identified as Mars' wife or sister (most similar to Enyo).
It should be noted that Greek and Roman religious ideas were not monolithic. In later years, people began worshiping all kinds of newfangled eastern gods. Plato wanted to outlaw Homer's epics because he thought their gods were bad role-models. Considering their lack of Comes Great Responsibility, he may have had a point. Philosophers exercised various degrees of skepticism towards the old myths, to the point that Socrates and the Epicureans were accused of atheism (though some scholars say that atheism in those days meant a lack of worship for the gods and not a lack of belief). Some historians, notably Euhemerus, tried to reinterpret the gods as having originally been great kings. In The Bible book, Acts of the Apostles, the apostle, Paul of Tarsus, invited to explain his religion to a group of intellectuals in Athens, only interested a few converts while the others were apparently asking questions he couldn't answer satisfactorily.
The Epicurean writer Lucian of Samosata was already deconstructing popular religious stories in the second century AD. Belief in classical mythology gradually waned between the second and fifth centuries, largely due to the spread of the then-new religion Christianity. In fact the Romans' dislike of Christians stemmed from the fact that Christians refused to accept any god but their own, which the Romans considered arrogant (as well as treasonous, in a state where the Emperor was also the head of the Imperial cult and many past Emperors had been deified). Later, the Greeks and Romans got tired of what they perceived as their gods' antics and weren't spiritually fulfilled, hence the conversion to Christianity.
In addition to all this, the Greeks (and, later, the Romans) had a habit of identifying and referring to other people's gods by the names of their own deities. So a Germanic tribe might be said to worship Mercury if their principal god was similar enough to the guy; it helped that many of the peoples they came in contact with (the Celts and Germans in particular) were Indo-European and thus their mythologies shared a common origin. There was also strong regional variation in worship of individual gods, both in emphasizing individual gods and particular attributes of the various gods.
Greek Mythology has been very influential in literature, art, and many other things so it's named a lot of tropes. In fact, of all the pagan mythologies of Europe, it had the largest impact on the modern occidental culture (hence, it is the Greek myths we call "classical", not the Norse, Celtic, or Slavic), as when the European artists and poets sought new inspirations outside the universal (for that time and region) Christian/biblical artistic dogma, they discovered them in the classical antiquity. This was particularly prevalent during The Renaissance, which was characterized by the rediscovery of ancient artistic canons and daring mergers of the Christian tradition with the classic paganism (codified by Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy).
Characters from this period are universally recognizable to viewers thanks to a dress code heavy in drape-and-cinch unpatterned linens, plus, they've all made the uncanny decision to speak with a BritishAccent. For further details, see the character sheet.
Works on the wiki that constitute Classical Mythology:
Achilles' Heel: Trope Namer that is surprisingly not The Iliad. That is the story of his rage, but it doesn't cover many of the famous parts of the Trojan War, including his death and the creation of the Trojan Horse (those are narrated in lost epics of the Trojan Cycle). In fact, the Achilles Heel myth is not even referenced in the text, and Achilles is more known for his skill, strength, speed, and ferocity than for being nigh-invulnerable.
Adaptational Villainy: Odysseus (or Ulysses) was considered a slimy villain by the Romans, who thought of themselves as the descendants of the Trojans, and their portrayals of him tended to reflect this - this is why Dante has him in Hell in The Divine Comedy.
Although e. g. the Julian family was proud to claim descent from Ulysses through Aeneas' wife Lavinia (who was descended from Odysseus' grandsons Latinus and Italus).
Aerith and Bob: For modern readers, anyway. Amongst names like Heracles, Theseus and the like, it's strange to come across the still common name "Jason".
All Girls Want Bad Boys: After marrying the homely smith-god Hephaestus, Aphrodite had an affair with Ares, the god of war, behind his back.
Some versions of the story say that she chose Hephaestus as a husband precisely because he wouldn't mind if she had an affair or two. Or twelve.
All Men Are Perverts: The myths are so filled with perversion that it might be harder to find one where no man does anything perverse.
In one classic tale, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite are having a competition to see who was the fairest. They choose some yokel shepherd prince, a fellow named Paris, to judge. Each offers bribes: Athena wisdom and martial prowess; Hera success, fame, and all of Asia for an empire; and Aphrodite a chance to get laid with the hottest woman alive. Paris thinks with his smaller brain and goes for the girl. Turns out she was already married and didn't much care for him, but what's the worst that could happen?note If Paris had any sense, he'd have known that offending Hera rarely ends well.
Ganymedes was an example of when he did that to a guy; he then made Ganymede his cupbearer, kicking out Hebe, his daughter by Hera. Ganymede was Trojan, giving Hera yet another reason to hate Troy. Then again she tends to hate everything.
There are very few subversions in any of the myths. Perseus is one, as are Hector and Protesilaus. Eros and Psyche avert the trope—which in this pantheon is arguably miraculous—as they do not cheat on one another after they are married and remain happily so... forever, ostensibly.
And Bellerophon who had an entire city's women strip off and throw themselves at him (he was threatening to use his father Poseidon's power to destroy the city). He panicked and fled.
Some myths state his own mother (Hera) threw him out of Olympus after his birth when she saw that he was deformed... Fortunately there were some nice nymphs that raised him (and he gets his revenge on her later on when he returns to Olympus).
Sometimes Hades as well.
This is the reason why Pan refused to live on Olympus when offered by his father.
All-Star Cast: About half the point of the story of the Argo, Hunt of the Calydonian Boar, and the Battle of the Lapiths were to gather a ridiculous number of well-known heroes together in one place.
The weekdays Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are named after the Norse/Germanic gods Tiw, Wodan, Thor, and Freya. In the Romance languages, their names are different: For example, in Italian, they're called Martedi (Mars), Mercoledi (Mercury), Giovedi (Jove/Jupiter), and Venerdi (Venus). The implication is that Mars is equivalent to Tiw, Mercury to Wodan, Jupiter to Thor, and Venus to Freya. (Incidentally, it also means that the names of the days of the week are named after the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn—the seven planets of traditional Western astrology.)
Much like Sisyphus, Tantalus was also stuck in an Ironic Hell of his own, in a lake that he couldn't drink from, with a fruit branch above him that he couldn't eat from, because the water and the branch always moved just out of reach whenever he tried to drink or eat.
Typhon. Being trapped forever under Mount Etna.
Angel Unaware: Zeus and Hermes did this in the legend of Baucis and Philemon.
Archer Archetype: Among the many, many characters who use bows, the following stand out as possessing the analytical personality of this trope:
Apollo, the distant deadly archer, also god of reason and music.
Odysseus, the Guile Hero par excellence and an early example of the bow stringing challenge.
Artifact of Doom: Several, including Pandora's Box, the box Venus gave to Psyche for Persephone to fill, the necklace of Harmonia...
At the Crossroads: The Ur-example and Trope Maker is probably the goddess Hecate, who was goddess of the crossroads as well as her prominent realms of the dead, ghosts, magic, night and moonlight (if you didn't live in a region big on Artemis or Selene). Like other deities of paths such as Hermes or the Roman Janus, her offerings would be placed at the crossroads so she would control the evil spirits that walked along them. The Romans had a comparable deity Trivia (though one a bit Darker and Edgier) so this aspect continued strongest. This rite survived for quite a while into the Christianisation of Europe, which leads to religious figures specifically demonising the practice, which leads to the strong Deal with the Devil associations throughout Western Civilisation.
Attempted Rape: When Poseidon's son Alirrothios tried to rape Ares's daughter Alkippe, Ares went Papa Wolf and killed him. Poseidon tried to prosecute him, but he was acquited.
Also Hephaestus, to his half-sister Athena.
There's also Atalanta, who, after making a vow of chastity to Artemis, had to kill two centaurs, Rhaecus and Hylaeus, who tried to rape her (some accounts say Meleager killed them). In fact, Centaurs are a common victim (or criminal?) of this trope. They go around trying to rape just about anything with a vagina. The whole Centauromachy happened because the centaur Eurytion tried to rape a woman in a wedding and that woman happened to be the bride. One centaur with amazingly big balls called Nessus tried to rape Deianeira, Heracles' wife. Heracles killed him.
Zeus certainly loves Hera but is willing to punish her severely when she crosses a line. A great example is when he suspended her in the air with an anvil tied to her feet, then used her for target practice with his thunder. Zeus' angry outbursts could also instill deep fear within her. Yes, the woman who regularly tried to make Hercules' life miserable was terrified when Zeus had a temper tantrum.
Berserk Button: The Greek Gods tended to take a very dim view of mortals proclaiming themselves to better than them in some way. If you're a character in a Greek myth, don't say that you're more beautiful than Aphrodite, a greater warrior than Ares, a better hunter than Artemis, wiser than Athena, richer than Hades, a better smith than Hephaestus, a mightier king than Zeus or anything else along those lines. They'll chew you up and spit you out.
Pretty much the only thing that will make Hades attack a mortal is trying to cheat death, for the most part.
Also if they try to abduct his wife Persephone. Just ask Theseus and Pirithous.
Bi the Way: Nearly everyone has had sex with at least one member of the same sex, and yet are married. In the case of goddesses and important human females, this was more implied, while in with males it was more obvious.
Bishōnen: Ganymede (which is why Zeus went after him).
Apollo counts, too.
Eros; every version of him is described as 'the fairest of the deathless gods'.
Hyakinthos (known more often as Hyacinthus or just Hyacinth) is often described as beautiful.
Big Badass Bird of Prey: Aethon, a giant eagle among the offspring of Typhon, sent to punish Prometheus. Also the Stymphalian birds (when not portrayed as corvids or cranes), and the harpies and sirens, gryphons and the peryton all had traits from them.
Blasphemous Boast: the gods are quick to take offense and retaliate when they catch anybody doing this.
A certain Arachne claims she's a better weaver than Athena? Let's just say there's a reason we call spiders 'arachnids' today...
This myth is referenced in Cryptonomicon, where the teller of the tale points out that Athena plays fair during the challenge and actually admits Arachne is as good as she thinks she is. It's not Arachne's blasphemy, but rather her hubris, that results in her being cursed.
Another version has Athena get angry when Arachne matches her, and blowing her off so rudely that Arachne tried hanging herself. That's when Athena came to her senses and saved her by turning her into a spider.
The reason Perseus had to save Andromeda from the sea monster was because her mother, Cassiopeia, claimed Andromeda was more beautiful than Aphrodite. Aphrodite got pissy and asked Poseidon to lay waste to the kingdom; then she told Cassiopeia her wrath could be forestayed if she let Andromeda get eaten.
In one version of the story, Medusa got turned into a monster after having an affair with Hephaestus, and then claiming that she was more beautiful than his wife Aphrodite, goddess of beauty.
Blasphemous Praise: Cassiopeia comparing the beauty of her daughter Andromeda to that of various goddesses ticks the gods off.
Based on the above, the 1981 film Clash of the Titans has Queen Cassiopeia of the city of Joppa saying that her daughter Princess Andromeda is more lovely than the goddess Thetis. Thetis is not pleased by this and orders that Andromeda be sacrificed to the Kraken. If they don't, the Kraken will destroy Joppa.
Also, Arachne receives this in her own story. When she claimed that her weaving could challenge the gods, Athena decides to come down and put that to the test. They both weave tapestries, and (in at least one version) when they have the people vote, they chose Arachne's tapestry. This is what doomed her.
Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Sisyphus managed to cheat death by chaining up Thanatos. However, doing so messed up the whole cycle of life and death. So eventually the impulsive Ares freed Thanatos (because a war without death would be boring), and Sisyphus was dragged to the underworld. He then gets back again by telling Hades that he has to punish his wife because she didn't bury him properly (he told her to do so, the cheater) and lives on like some insurance cheater for some decades until finally dying once and for all. His punishment? Sisyphus must roll a boulder up a steep hill... But it will always roll back down again whenever he's almost at the top, forcing him to perform this pointless task forever.
Broken Aesop: Considering how many of the gods and goddesses are Karma Houdinis in their stories, there aren't really any good lessons taught by them, aside from "Don't piss us off." Not to mention that they were frequently pissed by people just being born as beautiful as they are or more.
The Greek gods pretty much epitomized the idea of "do as we say, not as we do" even before Values Dissonance gets added in.
Brother-Sister Incest: Like most mythologies, Classical Myth also has lots of pairings between family members, as the various generations of gods are siblings and children of the previous one. Starting with Gaea and Uranus (mother and son), to their children Kronos (Saturn) and Rhea, to their children who are the current generation of gods. Notable sibling pairs among them are e.g. Zeus (Jupiter/Jove) and Hera (Juno), Demeter (Ceres) with both Zeus and Poseidon (Neptune), etc.
Calling the Old Man Out: Uranus cruelly imprisoned his children - including the Titans - until one Titan, Kronos, attacked and castrated him. Kronos then proved to be just as bad a ruler, swallowing his own children whole, until his son Zeus successfully overthrew him. Zeus proved to be as bad as his father and grandfather, but avoided their fate.
Canon Welding: The Roman Pantheon was originally distinct from the Greek one, but as Rome came under the influence of Greek culture, the Roman gods were equated with the Greek ones and by and by adopted all their attributes. The Aeneid finally extended the lineage of Rome's foundational hero, Romulus, to the Trojan Aeneas, and thus connected Roman legend to the Greek myths about the Trojan War.
The Casanova: Zeus's appetite for pretty mortal girls (and occasionally boys, according to a few authors) is quite storied. And with Hera breathing down his neck, he got very creative with disguises for his conquests. He once did the deed as an ant.
The Cassandra: Cassandra. Apollo offered her incredible prophetic powers if she'd sleep with him. She told him to pay up first; when she had the powers, she told him to get lost. He couldn't take the powers back, so he slapped on an update; no one would ever believe her.
Clingy Jealous Girl: Hera is a Jealous Wife, but rightfully so, because her job as goddess of family and marriage runs in direct opposition to her husband's very promiscuous ways. She even torments the poor girls Zeus rapes.
Persephone turned the nymph Minthe into the mint plant as revenge for trying to sleep with her husband.
Coitus Uninterruptus: Hephaestus captures Ares and Aphrodite in the act with a trapped bed, and puts them on display in "Lovers' embrace" so the rest of the Olympians can laugh at them (which they do). Ares is pretty thoroughly shamed, but Aphrodite turns out to... enjoy ... being on display and continues her business with the increasingly mortified Ares.
Conjoined Twins: Depending who you ask, Geryon is a group of conjoined triplets.
Continuity Snarl: Even if you stick to just the Roman or just the Greek myths, don't expect consistency.
The Coup: Happens twice, first when Kronos overthrows his father, and then again when Zeus overthrows him.
Hades, who contrary to modern adaptations was the stoic and gloomy but non-evil ruler of the dead who had no designs (that we're aware of) on his brother's throne. He was actually one of the less selfish or petty gods. Although Demeter would disagree considering he did abduct Persephone for his own.
Helps he pretty much got the raw end of the deal, he's overworked (thanks to all the Greek heroes and gods), no one likes him, and the prime reason why he kidnapped his wife Persephone was out of loneliness. At least the marriage worked out.
Ancient Greece considered marriage to be an abduction of a woman from her family. So in truth, back then, Hades wouldn't have been considered to be kidnapping Persephone, merely marrying her.
And then there's the fact that Hades could and did occasionally bend the rules for mortals, such as with Orpheus and Eurydice. And when he did screw around with mortals, he was actually justified in doing so — Theseus and Peirithous tried to kidnap Persephone, Sisyphus (see above) tried to cheat death, and Zeus blasted Asclepius because Hades complained that Asclepius's efforts were cheating him of new subjects for his kingdom. In general, if you didn't bother Hades, he wouldn't bother you.
According to some versions of the story, Hades had no problem with a kickass healer like Asclepius until he started going from curing the deathly ill and mortally wounded to actually raising the dead. From his perspective, medicine is fine, but stealing Hades's subjects without his express permission is a Bad Idea.
Not to mention, one thing that's not commonly mentioned (Except in Rick Riordan's works or the city-building game Zeus) is that Hades was lord of the dead and the underworld, but also the lord of everything in the earth, including mineral wealth (His Roman name even comes from the word meaning wealth). Death itself was actually Thanatos, one of his servants.
Hercules incurred the wrath of Ares, who in a bloodlusted rage charged at the warrior. Stories differ on how but Hercules drove off the mad god either by driving a spear or sword into Ares' leg or, in a manner most fitting considering the trope name, by punching Ares in the thigh.
In the Iliad, with the help of Athena the mortal hero Diomedes wounds both Aphrodite and Ares and drives them off the battlefield. But Aphrodite got her revenge, making Diomedes' wife fall in love with another man, which led to him being driven into exile.
This list of the 8 Overkill Punishments Dished Out By Greek Gods goes to show that if the gods are not acting towards hubristic humans the way a human king would act towards a disrespectful subject, they are laying elaborate traps that make escape from punishment impossible.
Divine Conflict: The Olympians usurped the positions of gods of the world in a battle with their parents and uncles, the Titans.
Divine Date: Zeus was notorious for doing this behind Hera's back, though a fair number of other gods were willing to give it a try.
Divine Parentage: Lots and lots of examples. Many were children of Zeus, like Perseus, Heracles and Helen. Aeneas was a son of Aphrodite. Theseus, the legendary founder-king of Athens, has a particularly interesting one—he had two fathers, one a god (Poseidon) and the other mortal (the previous king of Attica, Aegus) who both slept with one woman (Aethra) (the Greeks weren't particularly up on their biology). (This supposedly explained why Athens was so awesome at everything to do with ships and the sea.)
Does Not Like Men: Artemis. While Athena and Hestia were also virgin goddesses, at least they weren't hostile towards the idea of even meeting a man. Ask poor Actaeon, who was transformed into a deer, then eaten by his own hunting dogs for accidentally peeping on her...
Another version of the myth had him create Scorpio to kill Orion; when Orion couldn't beat it by himself, he sought Artemis for help while she was practising archery on an island. Apollo still tricked her into sniping him, and she got revenge by killing Scorpio and immortalizing Orion as a constellation.
In the Homeric Hymns, it is said that while Hestia, Athena, and Artemis are immune to Aphrodite's power, Aphrodite had mated every god with mortal women, and every other goddess with mortal men. The hymn then recounts how Zeus saw to it that she got mated to a mortal man, to avoid too much trouble in Olympus.
Even the great heroes like Perseus, Theseus, Heracles, Jason and Bellerophon always meet unfortunate ends.
Dragon Hoard: Dragons sometimes appear as treasure-guardians in Greek myths, such as Ladon who guarded the Golden Apples of the Hesperides, or the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts. By the Roman era, Phaedrus' Beast Fable"The Fox and the Dragon" (c. 50 AD) documents a folk belief that dragons guard treasure as a natural instinct.
Driven to Suicide: When Oedipus answers the riddle correctly, the sphinx is so upset that she kills herself.
Also Narcissus, who was cursed to fall in love with his own reflection by Aphrodite as punishment for cruelly rejecting all the girls (and guys) who fancied him. Realising he could never love anyone else so much, he either stabbed himself or threw himself into a river.
This trope is hardly uncommon, especially in Greek tragedy: going back to Oedipus, Jocasta did not take the news of the revelation well. Then later we have Antigone, Haemon, Eurydice... and that's just the Oedipus trilogy.
Drives Like Crazy: Phaeton, son of Helios (the sun), tried to drive his father's chariot once. It didn't end well.
Eaten Alive: The god Cronos eats his children to prevent them from murdering him, but after being fed a drink that makes him throw up all his kids reappear again.
Eldritch Abomination: Chaos, according to Ovid, is "rather a crude and indigested mass, a lifeless lump, unfashioned and unframed, of jarring seeds and justly Chaos named."
Really, every single one of the protogenoi, specially Ouranos and Nix, fall into this, when not manifesting themselves as pretty people.
The Hekatonkheires. Embodiments of natural disasters like Tsunamis, Earthquakes & Volcanic Eruptions, born with fifty heads and one hundred arms, and big enough that mountains are literally throwing rocks to them.
Typhon the Storm Giant is another example. Lower half consisting of serpent coils, a human upper half that reaches the stars, arms that spanned the East and the West covered with live dragon heads, a body covered in mighty wings, and eyes that shot forth flames. When it first appeared, all of the Greek gods except Zeus ran like hell. And even Zeus, the most powerful god of them all, wielding his mighty thunderbolts in battle, lost the first round against Typhon (by Typhon stealing Zeus's sinews and hiding them) and barely managed to seal it away under Mount Aetna in round two. Before it was sealed away, Typhon also fathered most of the monsters present in Greek Mythology, such as Cerberus, the Sphinx, Orthus, the Nemean Lion, the Hydra, Ladon, and the Chimera (their mother Echidna might also fit the bill). And how did Gaia give birth to this beast? By sleeping with Tartarus, a.k.a. the Greek Underworld. The Earth slept with ancient Greek Hell to give birth to a monster that frightened the gods themselves.
Charybdis was apparently once a beautiful naiad, but was transformed by Zeus into a horrible and utterly inhuman monster. According to The Other Wiki, in some versions, she is a huge bladder of a creature whose face was all mouth and whose arms and legs were flippers that belches out whirlpools, while in others, she is a giant whirlpool. When forced to choose between Scylla and Charybdis, Odysseus quickly chose Scylla for good reason.
End of an Age: There were five eras of the world: Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, Heroic Age and Iron Age. According to Hesiod the Golden Age ended, when Zues overthrew Cronos. The Silver Age ended, when people refused to worship gods and were destroyed for their arrogance. The Bronze Age ended when Zeus decided to flood the world and the Heroic Age ended with the Trojan War. After this point gods stopped actively interacting with humans.
Enthralling Siren: Between two and five of them, and they lured sailors to their death on the rocks.
Extranormal Prison: Tartarus, where the souls of the worst of humanity are tormented for eternity along with the monsters that have been banished there.
Also, nymphs were basically just elves, despite the fact that most people today think of them as benevolent versions of Horny Devils.
Food Chains: Persephone (Roman: Proserpine), whose ill-timed snack in the Underworld dooms her to stay there.
Forbidden Fruit: Pandora and the box she was told never to open. The Greek Gods, who were huge bastards at the best of times, gave her the box, told her not to open it, then gave her a huge amount of curiosity, so that eventually she WOULD open the box. And this was to punish mankind for accepting Prometheus' gift of fire. She opened it, and the world has been suffering for it ever since, though surprisingly, there wasn't a large line of angry Greeks ready to kill her. Since they were the first evils, maybe the typical reaction was: "Hmm. I wonder what this i—OHMYGODAAAAAHHH!"
Some variations include that Hope was the one good thing to come out of the box, although in some versions she had to open the box a second time for it to come out. In another, "Foreboding" (the foretelling of one's ills, such that mankind would always dread the future) was the one demon that Pandora was able to keep in the box.
Other variations imply that Hope was the worst evil to come out, as it stops people from giving up when they really should.
Depending on which version you read, Pandora herself was created by the gods and given to Epimetheus, brother of Prometheus. Before he was imprisoned by the gods for giving fire to mortals, Prometheus warned his brother never to accept any gifts from the gods. However, Epimetheus became so enchanted with Pandora that he accepted her (and the box she was carrying) without worrying about his brother's warning.
Prometheus means "forethought" and Epimethus means "afterthought". Which explains why Epithemus is so dumb.
In the Tale of Eros/Cupid and Psyche, jealous Aphrodite/Venus sends Cupid to use his arrows to cause Psyche (whose beauty is praised above Venus, naturally) to fall in love with the most hideous thing in the world. Cupid bungles the assignment and pricks himself with love's arrow, falling in love with Psyche instantly. Psyche finds herself living the good life with a god, but on the condition that she never see her new husband. Naturally, this works out no better than any of the other examples on this page.
Not to mention how, when Venus ordered her to bring her a portion of Persephone's beauty, Psyche was warned not to eat anything in the underworld except for bread and also not to open the box Persephone gave her. She obeys the first order but disobeys the second, and would have likely slept forever had Cupid not intervened.
Another example is the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice. Orpheus was a famed singer whose fiancee, Eurydice, was bitten on the heel by a poisonous snake and killed, while she was fleeing centaurs who were trying to rape her on her wedding day. Grieving for his lost wife, Orpheus travelled to the underworld and sang to Hades and Persephone, begging them to release Eurydice and allow her to live the rest of her life. They were so moved by his song that they relented, saying that Eurydice's spirit would follow him out of the underworld and she would be restored to life once they reached the surface. The one caveat to this agreement was that Orpheus was never to look back when he was leaving the underworld. Orpheus climbed back out the way he came but, as he reached the surface, suddenly began wondering if Eurydice was really following him... and guess what happened next. Unable to quench his doubt, he turned to check if Eurydice was behind him. She was just a few steps from leaving the Underworld and returning to life but, since he had broken his pledge, her spirit sank back into the underworld and, despite much more begging on Orpheus's behalf, Hades and Persephone wouldn't give him a second chance.
Friendly, Playful Dolphin: Boys riding dolphins were a common motif in Roman and Greek art and literature and in latter art inspired by Classical themes. In some of the stories, the boys are in fact gods or demigods. Palaimon and Cupid are common choices. However, there were also stories of mortal boys that befriended dolphins and rode them. Pliny the Younger's letter include such a tale of a boy in the North African town of Hippo. According to the tale, while swimming, the boy was befriended by a dolphin that allowed him to ride it.
Fun Personified: Dionysus. As god of both wine and entertainment, it's to be expected.
Cerberus is the guardian of Hades, preventing the dead from leaving as well as the living from entering the place.
Tartarus, the deep abyss of Hades, used to be guarded by a female dragon, Campe, before Zeus killed it to free the giants imprisoned there. Later the hundred-armed giants, Hecatonchires, became the new guardians. In Roman mythology, however, Tartarus was actually guarded by a hydra. Tisiphone of the Erinyes (also known as the Furies) was also said to keep guard on the top of a turret, slashing the prisoners with her whip.
Also Caeneus nee Caenis, who was raped by Neptune, who then turns her into a Nigh Invulnerable man when she wishes that no one would ever do it again.
Generation Xerox: The Titan Uranus was afraid of being overthrown by his children so he imprisoned them until one of them, Cronos escaped and castrated him. Cronos was afraid of being overthrown by his children, so he ate them until he was defeated by one of them, Zeus, who tricked him into vomiting up the others. Zeus heard of a prophesy that he would be overthrown by one of his children, so he turned the mother into a fly and ate her. The child, the goddess Athene, developed in Zeus's body and was born through his head. Since Athene was a virgin goddess, the cycle finally ended at this point.
Genius Bruiser: Athena, being the Greek goddess of both warfare and wisdom. Ares, the god of war, can never beat her in a fight. Minerva is her Roman equivalent.
Also Theseus and Odysseus.
Heracles is mostly recalled as a Hot-BloodedLeeroy Jenkins, but whenever he did allow himself to think things through a little more, he would be a master of the Indy Ploy.
Hephaestus bested Ares using his skills as a smith, considerable wit and formidable strength. Not bad for a guy often considered a joke by the other Gods.
Has Two Mommies: According to a Roman myth, Juno (Greek name: Hera) became pregnant with Mars (Ares) after being touched by a herb grown by the goddess Flora. She did this to get her own back at Jupiter (Zeus) for giving birth to Minerva (Athena).
Hereditary Curse: Tantalus prepared his own son Pelops as food for the gods. Not only was he himself punished for this gruesome act (but this is another story...) but also a curse was laid upon the next four generations of his house. How did this curse manifest itself? Let's just say that the House of Atreus (named after Tantalus' grandkid) took being a Dysfunctional FamilyUp to Eleven.
I Ate What?: O hai Tantalus! Listen, it was really nice of you to invite us gods over for dinner, especially after we threw you off Olympus for stealing our ambrosia. But no harm, no foul! Mmmm... this sure is tasty... how did you get the meat so soft and... wait a second... where's your son?!
Idiot Ball: Probably not the only case, but the biggest: Rhea fooled her husband Kronos from devouring little baby Zeus by giving him a stone in diapers.
I Gave My Word: When they swear by the Styx, even the gods have to come through.
I Have Many Names: The Romans' practice of labeling foreign gods as versions of their own added to this effect. Roman religious ceremonies involved the priest listing all of the names for a given god - which could be quite extensive.
Illegal Religion: Defied by Dionysus, who is known for killing mortal rulers who dare to make worship of him illegal.
Inhumanly Beautiful Race: Most immortals, particularly the Olympian deities, though there are some notable exceptions. Hephaestus (known to the Romans as Vulcan), for example, was one of the few gods noted for his bad looks.
Injury Bookend: Tireseus was turned into a woman when he saw two snakes having sex. He was told by the Oracle that he would remain a woman until he saw the same two snakes having sex. He eventually did and was turned back into a man.
Instrument of Murder: During a music lesson from the lyrist Linus, Heracles once took some criticism the wrong way, and bashed Linus' head in with his own lyre.
Jerkass: Umm...have you been reading this page? Gods and men alike tend to fall in here.
Jerkass Gods: None of the Greek pantheon were capital E evil, but they could all be petty, spiteful, vindictive, and a host of other unpleasant adjectives.
This is averted by the likes of Hestia (the goddess of the hearth), Helios (the god of the sun), and Selene (the goddess of the moon), who were all actually pretty benign. (Note however that Helios and Selene weren't part of the main pantheon, and their functions were absorbed in whole or in part by Apollo and Artemis respectively; while those two were substantially less douchey than their father or Uncle Pos, Apollo could be a dick at times and Artemis was very—sometimes murderously—serious about not liking men.) Demeter and Hades were slightly different in that Hades never harassed mortals who didn't screw with him first, while Demeter was quite understandably upset by the loss of Persephone. When Persephone comes back for six months of the year in spring and summer, Demeter cheerfully attends to her duties as a fertility goddess.
Karma Houdini: Many gods and goddesses have a tendency to screw up the lives of various people and get away with it. One example: when Medusa had sex with Poseidon (or in some versions of the story, got raped by Poseidon) in Athena's temple, Athena punished the mortal Medusa by turning her into a snake-haired monster... Poseidon was never punished for this.
Also worth noting is Medea, who was deeply and tragically screwed by Jason, stitched together an over-the-top revenge and left Jason alone. The Gods sided with Medea instead, and Jason was left in a Fate Worse than Death. Many historians, Dante included, agreed that Jason was the bad guy and also sided with Medea.
She's sided with for a few reasons: First, Jason's patron goddess was Hera, goddess of marriage - fairly obvious why Jason betraying Medea after marrying her didn't go over well with Hera. Second and more importantly, Jason had initially been so moved by Medea's devotion to him that he swore an oath to all the Twelve Lords of Olympus that he would stay with her forever. Meaning that when he abandoned her later, this was a direct affront to the entire pantheon, and Medea was considered a tool of divine vengeance instead of a murdering psycho. Essentially, her actions are the result of Jason having his Karma Houdini privileges revoked.
Kill It with Fire: The Hydra's heads will regenerate if you destroy them. When Heracles fought the monster, he was assisted by his nephew Iolaus, who seared the heads with a burning torch and prevented them from growing back.
Light Is Not Good: Light gods like Apollo and, possibly, Hyperion, are no better than the other gods (Apollo, for instance, is also a god of plague). Also Aethon, the giant eagle that was sent to punish Prometheus, has a name meaning "burning" or "blazing".
Both Hesiod and Homer described the god of war Ares with light attributes, such as having golden armour and light.
Lightning/Fire Juxtaposition: The myth of Prometheus has Prometheus going against Zeus' will to give fire (and knowledge as a result) to man.
Limb-Sensation Fascination: The legend of Icarus contains a variation on this trope, likely making it the Ur Example. When Icarus gets given a pair of wings (made from wax and bird feathers), even though they just strap on rather than being actual appendages, he explores what he can do with them. His delight in seeing how low to the sea and close to the Sun he can fly is what leads to his death.
Loads and Loads of Races: Easily has more than 20 fantastic races, when you count all the bizarre Human Subspecies that have four legs, one leg, one eye, no mouth, no head, or ears bigger than their body, or live forever or for only 8 years or are one foot tall... Besides mortal humans there are gods (including titans and daimones), fauns, satyrs, centaurs, giants, cyclopes, gegenees, and nymphs. That's not counting the half-gods, the various one-off monsters like the Chimaera, and the little groups of monsters like the three Gorgons.
Lost in Translation: Zeus' reputation as a serial rapist. The Greeks had no exact word for the modern definition of rape and several different words are used in instances that might be modern rape. In ancient Greece, an unmarried virgin willingly sleeping with a man might be considered "rape." So thanks to different versions of the myths, different values, and translating difficulties rape, seduction, and abduction might all be used to describe the same event depending on the translation.
Love at First Sight: A few examples, usually caused directly by some god or goddess [Usually Eros and/or Aphrodite].
Eros, after a quarrel with Apollo, got back at him by shooting him with an arrow that made him fall in love with Daphne at first sight, after he shot Daphne with an arrow that made her (in simplest terms) hate at first sight.
Narcissus was considered so beautiful that every woman who looked upon his face fell instantly in love with him, but he would always spurn such people and break their hearts. He was cursed to fall in love with his own reflection after spurning several nymphs this way.
And in other versions, falling in love with his own reflection was punishment for spurning probably much older male suitors. Values Dissonance? Perhapsnote In Greek culture of the time young men were supposed to have older male suitors, as well as continue to be attracted to women. Creepy? Just a tad.
No matter who else got rejected by Narcissus, the last person is always Echo in an exceptionally cruel manner. Since she had the misfortune of getting cursed to repeat only what people said to her, it was a big problem when Narcissus needed directions to the nearest city. He had no way of knowing she was cursed, but it doesn't mean he should have called Echo an idiot and gone out of his way to avoid her. Rather understandable that Aphrodite considered this the last straw — especially since Echo was so in love with him that she couldn't bear to cause him harm, even to seek justice for herself.
Hades and Persephone. A bit one-sided, but basically he (also) gets shot with Eros' arrow of love. Instant attraction and abduction ensues.
Oddly enough, they end up the most stable (and presumably happy) couple in Greek mythology. It probably helped that he lavished gifts and non-sexual attention on her to genuinely win her over — and unlike Zeus, he (practically) never cheats on hernote Once or twice in three-thousand years of marriage according to different versions. That's leagues above a lot of people, let alone Zeus or Poseidon. Just because he's the king of the Underworld doesn't mean he can't respect his wife's feelings.
Even Eros was not immune to this. Aphrodite, Eros' mother, because she was jealous of the beautiful Psyche, asked Eros to shoot her with an arrow so that she would fall in love with someone repulsive at first sight, but Eros ended up falling in love at first sight with Psyche. Fortunately for him it was not one-sided.
Love Makes You Crazy, Love Makes You Dumb: Helen of Troynote "Helen of Sparta" is technically correct as she was Menelaus' wife. "Helen of Troy" is technically correct as well, at least after her defection (or kidnapping) to Troy. As to why people think of her as "Helen of Troy" regardless... chalk it up to Memetic Mutation. The whole Troy business is what she's most well-known for., at the very least. Happily married until some upstart prince and the goddess of love come along. In some versions Paris kidnaps her.
Referring to the myth where a hunter is out in the woods and comes upon a spring where Artemis is bathing. She catches him gawking, goes all "YOU PEEPING TOM!!!" and turns him into a stag. Then his own hounds tear his throat out.
The Nothing After Death: The Asphodel Meadows is the "neutral" afterlife for people who've lived quietly rather than being heroes or villains. Not specifically a place of torment like Tartarus, but rather grey and desolate.
Oedipus Complex: Uranus versus Cronus, Cronus versus Zeus, and of course there's Oedipus himself. After all, this is where Freud got most of his ideas.
Oh Crap: Several mortals have experienced this when they realize they've just crossed one of the gods, with Lycaon being just one example.
Subverted with Acoetes, who repeatedly tried to talk his fellow pirates out of kidnapping Dionysus. Dionysus destroys the rest of the crew (or turns them into dolphins, depending on the myth) and Acoetes has this reaction. Fortunately, Dionysus spares Acoetes for trying to talk the rest of the crew out of kidnapping him.
Rage Against the Heavens: Olympus is attacked more than once, and Heracles was known to get into fights with several gods.
Gaia, mother of Earth, did it the most; first she plotted to have her husband, Ouranos, overthrown and killed by Cronus because he locked away the Gigantes, Cyclopes and Hecatonchires for their ugliness. Then, when Cronus is stupid enough to lock away the newly-freed giants after they were just freed (not to mention devour his children) she plots for Zeus to kill him. Then, as vengeance for the Olympians killing her children, the Titans (which she herself pretty much caused by the previous plot; never mind that Zeus had freed the kyklopes and hekatonkheires), she sets Typhon and the Gigantes onto the Olympians. Basically, she took offense to pretty much every generation of the gods, even when she got them into power in the first place. Brings a whole new meaning to Gaia's Vengeance, doesn't it?
Gaia never was the benevolent entity that modern usage tends to attribute to her. All she cared about was her deity children being able to run all over the place. Them pummeling each other? Couldn't care less.
Although being the one who pretty much created just about everything, worrying about the environment doesn't make much sense, you can just remake it. She would care if someone was destroying her creation because it's hers. It's also possible that the place of the Mother Earth was passed down through generations like it was said in Creation Myths of the World: An Encyclopedia: "Demeter would take the place of her grandmother, Gaia, and her mother, Rhea, as goddess of the earth in a time when humans and gods thought the activities of the heavens more sacred than those of earth." After Demeter comes Persephone until she is kidnapped by Hades and turned into the Queen of the Underworld.
Reality Warper: Just about all of the Greek Gods. Zeus, for example, managed to get a woman pregnant just by touching her...while in the form of a bird!
Really Gets Around: ZEUS, probably the Ur Example, and possibly the Trope Maker. According to The Other Wiki, not including his wife, he slept with at at least 62 and as many as 69 assorted women, goddesses, nymphs and the like - some of whom were his daughters from previous encounters...
Hercules gives Zeus a run for his money in this department. For killing the lion of Cithaeron, the king of Thespiae gave Hercules a chance to sleep with his daughters. Hercules makes love to and impregnates every one of his daughters. All 50 of them. Hercules also married 4 different women, and there were numerous men in his life as well.
Lots of the other gods - including Poseidon, Hermes and Aphrodite - also had several lovers, and by them, lots of kids.
Apollo more than made up for his sister Artemis being a sworn virgin.
Revenge SVP: Eris wasn't invited to a wedding, so she throws the Apple of Discord onto the table and causes Hera, Aphrodite and Athena to fight over who is prettiest. In a roundabout way, this kickstarted the Trojan War.
One legend involves Athena and Poseidon dueling over the patronage of the city that would become Athens. As part of said duel, Poseidon creates a sea from a rock.
Another legend involves the winged horse Pegasus flying up to the top of Mt. Helicon and striking a rock with his hoof, creating a stream of water. It became known as the Hippocrene, literally the "Fountain of the Horse"
A third legend involves a woman named Niobe who thought herself above the goddess Leto. To avenge this insult to their mother's honor, Apollo and Artemis flew from Olympus and smote each of Niobe's children. In her grief, Niobe turned into a stone constantly awash in tears.
The Scrappy: Ares is an in universe example. Zeus flat out tells him in The Iliad that he hates him most out of all his children, and that if he saw reason for it, he wouldn't hesitate to kill the God of War and never regret it. Ares' actions that caused Zeus's outburst? Complaining that Athena had helped the mortal Diomedes try to kill him, causing him to suffer a severe stomach wound. A severe stomach wound he was suffering at that same moment. Given that Athena is Zeus's favorite child (she's the only one he ever allows to use his trademark thunderbolt) and also better than Ares at his own specialty (thus making the god of war somewhat redundant to the pantheon), this shouldn't come as any surprise.
Self Fulfilling Prophecies: No kidding. Someone along the line should have learned that trying to prevent, kill, or throw away an infant with bad prophecy is a surefire way of it coming back and, often completely unaware, doing exactly what you tried to prevent it from doing (e.g. Perseus, Paris, Oedipus, Romulus and Remus, and many more).
Semi-Divine: Many, many demigods. Heracles is only the most famous.
Sore Loser: PROTIP: If you ever find yourself in a friendly contest with a Greek god, throw the match.
Poseidon and Athena have a contest in Athens, with the king judging. Poseidon creates a well, but it only produces salt water. Athena creates an olive tree and is deemed the winner. Poseidon then curses Athens with permanent fresh-water problems. (This was apparently a Just So Story to explain Athens' Real Life irrigation issues.)
Athena challenged Arachne to a weaving contest after the latter made a Blasphemous Boast about her skill. They're running neck-and-neck, but Athena gets annoyed at Arachne weaving scenes making fun of the gods, and transforms her into a spider.
The satyr Marsyas challenges Apollo to a flute-vs-harp contest. They're evenly matched until Apollo demands (depending on the version) either they play their instruments upside down (which doesn't work well with a flute) or that they play and sing at the same time. He then binds Marsyas to a tree and flays him alive.
A Bishōnen named Akhilleus challenges Aphrodite to a beauty contest, judged by Pan. When Pan judges in favor of the boy, the enraged Aphrodite not only transforms Akhilleus into an ugly shark, but curses Pan with unrequited love for good measure.
Spell My Name with an S: Not impossible considering the fact that Greek did and still does use a different alphabet than English. An example would be Heracles often being spelled Herakles as well.
Likewise, English 'C' is always kappa (K) in Greek. Therefore Kirke (Circe), not Sirse.
Stock Animal Name: According to The Other Wiki, the name of Cerberus (the three-headed dog, guardian of the gates of Hell) may derive from an Indo-European root meaning "Spotted". In which case, Hades, God of the Dead and Ruler of Hell, named his pet dog "Spot".
Straw Misogynist: This thinking pervades in the world of Greek myth. The likes of Medusa, the sirens, the Amazons and the goddesses Hera and Aphrodite show the frightening power of women and why it should be curbed.
Swallowed a Fly: Zeus swallows Metis after she transforms into a fly. Cranial pregnancy ensues.
Swallowed Whole: The god Cronos eats his children to prevent them from murdering him, but after being fed a drink that makes him throw up all his kids reappear again.
Taken for Granite: The Gorgons' victims, Niobe (turned to stone), Amethyst (turned to crystal). Daphne is a variation - she chooses to be turned into a tree to escape from Apollo's amorous advances.
In revenge for Diomedes wounding her before Troy, Aphrodite/Venus saw to it that he was driven into exile in Italy. Trying to cheer him up, his six companions told him him that at least Venus could do no worse to them. She could - she turned the six into birds.
Well, yeah. The method of getting past Cerberus in one myth is feeding him a frickin' cake.
On the other hand, people who visit the Underworld can't really do anything once they're there other than lament over the state of their loved ones and that they probably share the same fate. Removing somebody from the Underworld was impossible without Hades's permission, an issue he was generally immovable on (and even then there were conditions which even Hades might be unable to circumvent). Cerberus was more about keeping the dead in than keeping the living out (after all, where are the dead going to get cake from?)
Totalitarian Utilitarian: The Golden Age is identified (at least in some versions) with the reign of Kronos. Now there was a prophecy that one of his children would topple him, like he had toppled his father Uranos. So Kronos ate all his children to avoid this. Not sure whether he did that for concern that the Golden Age should continue or just because he himself didn't want to lose power, but if it was the former, this would be a case.
Tragic Hero: All of classic myth's heroes die in sad ways, to show that no matter how great they are, they are still mortal.
Trash of the Titans: Heracles having to deal with Augeas's stables. By driving two rivers through them.
The Trickster: Prometheus functioned as a pro-human trickster god until Zeus locked him up. Hermes has tricks and moral transgressions as one of his hats.
Troll: Eris enjoys stirring up trouble for its own sake.
Truly Single Parent: Nyx (although exactly which ones are just hers and which ones she had by Erebus are disputed). Also her daughter Eris, to either a lesser or further extent, depending on whether you're counting number of kids had or percentage of kids born by parthenogenesis.
TwincestSubtext: Apollo was not happy when he heard about Artemis and Orion. It didn't end well for Orion.
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Hephaestus and Aphrodite. Depending on the version, it was either to stop the marriage squabbles over her or that he impressed her with his craftsmanship.
Or a promise Hephaestus extracted from Hera in return for freeing her from a chair he made.
At his worst, Heracles is also known for this as well as being more unstoppable.
Virgin Power: Hestia/Vesta, Artemis/Diana and Athena/Minerva, obviously, but also somewhat unexpectedly Hera/Juno. According to a myth from Argos, Hera once every year restored her virginity by bathing in the spring of Kanathos. According to Hesiod, Hera had Hephaestus asexually, which may explain why according to one myth Hephaestus sided with his mother against Zeus in the matter of Herakles. According to the Romans, Jupiter was Vulcan's father, but Juno had Mars without male aid.
Some texts note that after a couple of peaceful years of crossdressing and housework, Heracles became a much more calm person. What are the odds?
Other texts state: At first he was her slave, as punishment for killing a guy when he (Heracles, that is) was insane. Then, she married him when she recognized who he was. Then, he became decadent, and the whole cross-dressing thing started. Later, he got better and left her again.
Also Herakles' son Telephos (raised by a hind) and Agamemnon's murderer Aegisthos (raised by goat).
Winged Humanoid: Ancient Greece imported the "winged humanoid" imagery from Mesopotamic cultures, resulting in various gods and personifications with (usually feathered bird-) wings, e.g. Nike, Eros, and the rest of Aphrodite's gang, the Erotes, many of the Wind Gods, the Putti. Eros's lover Psyche, as an exception from the usual bird wings, is depicted with butterfly wings.
And there is also a mound of usually non-winged animals and creatures with wings: Pegasus, gryphons, the Sphinx; then there's the harpies, and the Sirens (before they got warped into mermaids).