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Myth / Classical Mythology
aka: Greek Mythology

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"We will go to worship Zeus
Though his morals are quite loose
He gave Leda quite a goose
And he's good enough for me!"

The mythology of ancient Greece and ancient Rome is the Older Than Feudalism namer 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. Ancient Greek and Roman religions descend from a common Proto-Indo-European religion, hence the similar characters not only to each other but also Norse Mythology and Hindu Mythology. That said, Roman mythology was probably (though records are sparse) influenced by that of the neighboring Etruscans, while Greek mythology was probably influenced by their Near Eastern neighbours in Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Take, for instance, the Roman emphasis on complicated divination methods that were alien to the Greeks (of which augury—reading the future from the behavior of birds—is merely the most famous). Or the fact that some of their gods, such as Mars (his Greek counterpart Ares is a dumb brute, while Mars is a highly competent badass) 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, Roman mythology is a little bit like a Continuity Reboot of Greek mythology.


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 as evil as his Theme 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 winter in retaliation. And then there's Ares... well, he just about defines the word Jerkass.


The Titans were a previous generation of gods overthrown by Zeus. Though in modern times they are often depicted as another class of beings entirely, more primordial and elemental, the ancient Greeks conceived them as just as humanoid as the Olympians. 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-others have argued atheism as we know this did exist, though in any case the two appear to have been conflated) because they had very different conceptions of the gods (Socrates believed one entirely good god existed, and the Epicureans believed in gods that did not care about humans at all, living in eternal bliss somewhere far away). 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 if not most past Emperors had been deifiednote ). 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. See how Mars was the god of War making the Romance languages' Tuesday mardi, marti, and martes and Tiw was the Saxon (English) god of War.

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 Mythology), 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 The Divine Comedy).

It's useful to note that a lot of the epics we get from Classical Mythology are some of the biggest Crossovers in history: as an example, Ariadne was helped by Icarus to learn the route of the Labyrinth so the pair and Theseus escaped. Theseus had his ship but Icarus didn't. So he built a pair of wings to get off Crete because his father had been banished there by the Athenians. Minos wasn't too pleased about the escape but good thing his wife's father was the Sun, right?

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 British Accent. For further details, see the character sheet.

    Works on the wiki that constitute Classical Mythology: 

    Works based on (or including elements of) Classical Mythology: 

Anime and Manga


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  • Wonder Woman is an Amazon. Her backstory and lore got increasingly filled with Olympian gods and other classical mythology figures over the decades.



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Classical Mythology provides examples of:

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    Tropes A to H 
  • Abduction Is Love: The Rape of the Sabine Women may be the most iconic example of this trope. Note that the word "rape" is used here in the archaic sense, referring only to abduction and not necessarily to forced sex. Even so, the story basically involves the Roman men kidnapping women from the Sabine tribe, and then the Sabine women loving the Roman men so much that they refuse to let the Sabine men rescue them.
  • Above the Gods: While nigh-omnipotent over the world, the gods were still considered just as subject to fate as mortals were. Cronus' attempt at fighting it only caused his fate to be sealed.
  • 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.
  • Achilles in His Tent: Trope Namer again, though not the only example.
  • Action Girl:
    • Athena the goddess of war strategy.
    • Artemis the goddess of hunting.
    • the Amazons were an entire tribe of warrior women.
    • Atalanta: raised by bears, brought up to be a huntress, outran all of the men who challenged her (save the last one, and he tricked her), the only female member of the Argonauts, and one of two Badass Normals numbered among the great Greek heroes.
    • The Keres were goddesses of violent death who roamed battlefields for wounded and dying men they could eat.
  • Actually, I Am Him: Odysseus disguised as a tramp.
  • Adam and Eve Plot: Deucalion and Pyrrha.
  • 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".
  • An Aesop: Trope namer and Ur-Example(s).
  • Aesop Amnesia: How many times will mortals have to learn that to provoke any god or goddess is certain death?
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Trope Maker in the version of the myth where Amazon queen Hippolyta falls in love with Heracles.
  • 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.
    • It's implied with Persephone and Hades too in some myths. She's happy to get to the Underworld after six months as it gets her away from her over protective mother.
  • All of the Other Reindeer:
    • The other gods ostracized, mocked and pitied Hephaestus because he was ugly, despite him being the creator of all their Iconic Items. 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.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: This is due to their common origin in the Indo-European warrior tribes that expanded out from the plains region north of the Black Sea.
    • Indra and Zeus are very similar characters. Both are Jerkass chief god of the pantheons, wielding Bolts of Divine Retribution and have pretty amusing sexual lives.
    • Also Apollo and Freyr, Hades and Tuoni and etc.
    • 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.)
  • And I Must Scream: There are quite a few examples:
    • Medusa inflicted this on anyone who made eye-contact with her.
    • Prometheus was chained to a rock where a bird would come every day to eat his liver, only for it to grow back each day.
    • As his personal Ironic Hell, Sisyphus was forever forced to roll a boulder up a mountain, just to watch it roll back down every time he reached the top.
    • Atlas had to hold up the heavens forever.
    • 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.
    • Niobe after losing all her children, if the stone she turned into still shedding tears long afterwards is anything to go by.
    • What Medea did to her husband Jason after he decided to marry another woman. It was so bad that Hera, who as the goddess who got them together had all reasons to punish Jason, couldn't find anything worse than not killing him when Medea decided to let him live with it.
  • Angel Unaware: Zeus and Hermes did this in the legend of Baucis and Philemon.
    • Zeus also does this in the case of Lycaon. The results... are very different.
  • Animalistic Abomination: In some myths, Eurynome (a dove) and Ophion (a serpent) were primordial deities even older than Gaia.
  • Answering Echo: The story of Echo and Narcissus is the Trope Maker.
  • Ant War: Unbuilt Trope, with the Myrmidons, whose name literally meant "ant-people", created from ants, to be warriors for a depopulated country.
  • Anti-Regeneration:
    • One of Hercules' task was to kill the Hydra, which he succeeded at when his nephew Iolaus cauterized the stumps with his torch.
    • The giant Antaeus challenged travelers to a wrestling match to the death, without mentioning that every time he was in contact with his mother the Earth (i.e., thrown to the ground), his health and energy were completely restored. When Heracles came along, he solved the problem by hoisting Antaeus in the air with one hand and strangling him with the other.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Nyx (personification of night), her husband and little brother Erebus, and every. Single. One. Of. Her. Children. And grandchildren, too.
  • Antlion Monster: Charybdis is a giant nautical version of this, with a whirlpool in place of a pit.
  • Arc Villain: Mythology rarely ever had one set villain with the possible exception of Typhon. Examples of arc villains are:
  • Artifact of Doom: Several, including Pandora's Box, the box Aphrodite gave to Psyche for Persephone to fill, the necklace of Harmonia...
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Whether or not the Thracians were an Indo-Iranian people, still there's no way Polymestor could be the man's true name.
  • 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).note  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) that they conflated with Hecate 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.
  • Atlantis: The Trope Namer may or may not have originated in Plato's writing as an allegory, an island nation that tried and failed to attack Athens and sunk to the bottom of the sea after losing favor with the gods.
  • 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 acquitted.
    • 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.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Atalanta, who's distracted from a footrace by sparkly golden apples.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: While Zeus himself does a lot of morally ambiguous things to mortals, if anyone besides him tries to make a move on Hera (or Leto), he reacts instantly and violently.
    • 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.
  • Back from the Dead: The god Dionysus, whose cult thrived on the image of him dying and coming back to life, and Persephone's metaphorical death in her trip to the Underworld and yearly return.
    • Very rarely, mortals get this privilege. Alcestis was such a faithful wife, dying in her husband's stead, that Heracles, her husband's friend, marched to Hades and demanded her return. Pelops was brought back after the Gods realized Tantalus, his dad, had served him for dinner. Tantalus was zapped and damned, but innocent Pelops was restored.
  • Badass Bookworm:
  • Badass Gay: In some versions of the myth, Hyacinthus is a Spartan Prince.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Medusa, Scylla, Arachne, Io and the major theme of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Many of these transformations are afflicted by the gods.
    • Not to mention the sailors who landed on Circe's Island...
    • When the satyr Marsyas challenged Apollo to a music contest, King Midas was one of the judges. Midas was the only judge who preferred Marsyas's performance to Apollo's. After he skinned Marsyas alive for daring to challenge him, Apollo gave Midas a pair of donkey ears for refusing to recognize good music when he heard it.
  • Beak Attack: Prometheus' punishment for bringing fire to mankind is to be chained to a rock and have his liver pecked out and eaten by an eagle. Repeatedly.
  • Beast in the Maze: The Trope Codifier is the legendary Minotaur of King Minos who kept him within a gigantic labyrinth.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Greek myth gave us the Fates themselves, a set of three goddesses named Clotho, Atropos, and Lachesis, who measure out a mortal's life on a thread, weave the thread with the lives of others, and cut it at its appointed hour of death. Even Zeus has no power over the Fates. And don't think you have much in the way of free will during life—even falling in love is commanded by Aphrodite and Eros.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Midas is one of the most famous examples of this trope in action. When the god Dionysus owed him a favor, he wished that everything he touched would turn to gold. Within a day he turned nearly everything in his castle unusable, realized he could never eat anything again for the rest of his life, and worst of all, turned his daughter into a pure gold statue when he hugged her. He ended up begging Dionysus to take back the wish and set everything aright again... which he did. It's one of the very few examples where the gods do take back their gifts: most of the time, wishers aren't so lucky.
    • Eos, goddess of the dawn, wished that her mortal husband Tithonus would live forever. But she didn't ask that he'd stay young forever, and he ended up shriveling and shriveling into a miserable cricket. Selene, Eos' sister, averted this trope by asking that her crush, the mortal Endymion, remain frozen in time — and asleep — forever.
    • A slightly less straight example comes late in the Trojan War. When asked to judge between three goddesses in a beauty competition, Paris chose Aphrodite because she bribed him with the most beautiful woman in the world. In some stories, at least, after ten years of warfare, all the divinely-induced sparks between Paris and Helen have faded, and now they utterly despise each other. Also, there's an awful siege war destroying Troy.
  • Bed Trick: Herakles's conception by Zeus. Zeus, to seduce Alcmene, made himself into the dead ringer of Amphitrion, her husband.
  • 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 (or a better craftsman, especially weaving), 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.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Atalanta only agreed to marry whoever could outrun her in a footrace.
  • 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.
  • Blasphemous Boast: The gods are quick to take offense and retaliate when they catch anybody doing this.
    • Odysseus would have saved himself several years of hardships had he not bragged to Poseidon to the point of refusing him a sacrifice, or mocking his son Polyphemus after blinding him. As a man of proverbial wit, you'd expect him to know better than anger the god of seas, especially if you and home sweet home are hundreds miles of sea apart.
    • Queen Niobe brags in public that she has more children than "poor" Leto (the mother of Apollo and Artemis!). The two promptly take it upon themselves to avenge their mother by killing each and every one of the queen's children and she turns to stone from grief.
    • A certain Arachne claims she's a better weaver than Athena? 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 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 the Nereids, daughters of the Sea God Nereus who had good relationship with Poseidon. Poseidon is the one who got pissed and then drowns the whole kingdom with the ultimatum of sacrificing Andromeda to his sea monster to stop the assault.
    • 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.
    • Aphrodite had to deal with this a lot, apparently, since suitors were saying that Psyche (who ended up being the one to catch flack for their boasting) was more beautiful than her. Or there's one time that a mother of a certain woman named Myrrha did the same boast to the daughter, pissing off Aphrodite, but indirectly leading for the Goddess herself to Pet the Dog through Myrrha's son Adonis.
    • Adonis himself in one version of his story died through a boar sent by Artemis because Adonis made a boast that he's a better hunter than Artemis. Really, just see Berserk Button above and see which part shouldn't be boasted when compared to what Gods. They never end well.
  • 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 along with the fact that her tapestry just happened to be insulting Gods, especially Zeus, in front of Athena.
  • Blind Seer: Tiresias.
    • Also, Phineas.
  • Bolt of Divine Retribution: Zeus was known for hurling thunderbolts at people who annoyed him.
  • Born as an Adult: Athena, who is perhaps one of the most classic examples of this trope.
  • 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: The Greek gods 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.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Artemis and Apollo, naturally.
  • Cain and Abel: Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome.
  • The Call Twinks You: Perseus.
  • 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.
  • Cassandra Truth: Trope Namer. Cassandra always prophesied the truth; Apollo's curse meant no one would ever believe her.
  • Celibate Hero:
    • Hestia, Athena and Artemis are three virgin goddesses.
    • Hippolytus, the son of Theseus, who had sworn to be a virgin.
    • Subverted by Pygmalion. At first he had no interest in women, but he fell in love with his statue and Aphrodite brought her to life.
  • Chained to a Rock: Andromeda and Hesione.
  • Chariot Pulled by Cats: Greek gods travelled cool in chariots pulled by mythical or awesome animals.
    • Dionysus is shown in artwork as being in a chariot drawn by panthers.
    • Aphrodite's chariot is drawn by swans or geese when not being pulled by the Erotes.
    • Apollo is the God of light, archery and the arts and his sacred swans pulled his chariot.
    • Artemis's chariot was pulled by a pair of her sacred deer.
    • Demeter gave Triptolemus a serpent drawn winged chariot after she was reunited with her daughter Persephone and her own chariot was drawn by her dragons.
    • Medea's chariot was pulled by flying dragons that were born of Titans blood.
    • Poseidon had a pair of hippocamps draw his chariot.
  • Charm Person: Peitho is the goddess of persuasion and seduction.
  • 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.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The Ring of Polycrates.
  • Coins for the Dead: It was considered proper to place coins with the dead so they could pay the ferryman Charon for passage across the river Styx. Orpheus instead paid with a song.
  • 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.
  • Complete Immortality: The Olympian gods, and their ancestors the Titans, had Complete Immortality, which is why the first five Olympians (Hestia, Hades, Demeter, Poseidon and Hera) did not die when their father Cronus ate them as infants and they emerged alive and full-grown when he was tricked by Zeus and Rhea into vomiting them up. Likewise, this is why the Olympians imprisoned most of the Titans in Tartarus. As true immortals they could not even kill each other.
  • 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.
  • Create Your Own Hero: Done by accident several times: when a king hears a prophecy that their son/grandson will cause their death/be greater than them, the steps they take to avert this result in it happening:
    • A prophecy foretold that Priam's son Paris would be the downfall of Troy, so he was sent away to Mount Ida. Then he judged which of the three goddesses was most beautiful and promised the hand of Helen, and was recognized as Priam's son, who could not send away his newfound son but also had no wish to see all of Greece allied against him.
    • Oedipus' parents, the king and queen of Thebes, heard a prophecy that their son would kill his father and have children with his mother. Horrified, they had the child taken away to be killed, but he was saved and raised by a different couple. When Oedipus learned of the prophecy, he thought it applied to his (unknowingly adoptive) parents, and left, killing an older man and marrying the recently widowed queen of Thebes...
    • Perseus' grandfather Acrisius learned that his grandson would kill him, so he locked his daughter in a tower. This didn't stop Zeus from entering and impregnating her, and she and her son Perseus were cast out to sea. Perseus grew up to slay the Medusa, and ended up accidentally killing his grandfather during a sports contest.
  • Crossover: 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.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: 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, for several reasons;
    • 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. And in some versions of the story, Persephone wanted Hades to abduct her, because that was the only way they could get together without her overprotective mother interfering. 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. Death itself was actually Thanatos, one of his servants.
  • Death by Sex: Most of the immortals' human consorts... if they were lucky.
  • Death of the Old Gods: After the Heroic Age ended with the Trojan War, the gods stopped interacting with humans
  • Depending on the Writer: Lots of characters, lots of writers, lots of variation.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In the myth of Admetus and Alcestis, Hercules tackles Death... and wins.
    • 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.
  • Different for Girls: Achilles in a disguise. He was the only "girl" interested in weapons instead of jewels, or in another version, the only one that ran to defend the city instead of running for cover.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Tick off the gods, and they will go above and beyond with payback.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: If Actaeon had been thinking with the right head at the time, he probably would have realized it was not a good idea to stand around watching the adamantly virginal Artemis bathe. And he might have survived.
  • 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) in one night (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. Bellerophon is sometimes cited as a son of Poseidon as well.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Happens all the time, and yet, no one seems to be capable of remembering the consequences of doing so.
  • 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...
  • Don't Look Back: The Orpheus story.
  • Double Standard: See Calypso's rant at the beginning of the Odyssey about how gods get to sleep around, but goddesses don't. Note that bad things can happen to consorts of either.
    • The Double Standard was reversed in those days from what we're used to: All Women Are Lustful.
    • 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.
    • Hubris, or excessive pride, is seen as one of the worst sins people can commit in Greek and Roman mythology and humans who are too proud suffer a horrible fate. However, it's perfectly okay for the gods to be prideful jerkasses who can't stand for humans being better at anything.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Divine on Mortal: The poster boy for this trope (that's putting it mildly). See Karma Houdini.
  • Downer Ending: Many myths have this kind of ending, although there are some that have a somewhat happy ending.
    • 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.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The Iliad and The Aeneid.
  • 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. Though in another story, this falls into Driven To Idiocy, whereas the Goddess of Revenge, Nemesis, pissed off with his self-praising hubris, cursed him to fall in love with his reflection... and then makes him try to kiss it, fall down and drown.
    • 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.
    • Theseus's father Aegeus killed himself when he believed that Theseus had died in the Labyrinth.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Phaeton, son of Helios (the sun), tried to drive his father's chariot once. It didn't end well. (And yet they named first a type of carriage, and then a a kind of car, and then a Volkswagen after him...)
  • Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Endymion and Selene, except that it's Endymion (the dude) who is asleep.
  • Due to the Dead: Good guys bury the dead properly. Always. Insofar as you fail, you are not a good guy until you straighten out your act. Proper burial is a sacred act decreed by the gods.
    • Or you die because you actually DID it (or because of laws that want to prevent that)... ask Antigone...
  • Dwindling Party: Typhon and Echidna's family is an evil example; Echidna is killed by Argus, Typhon is buried by Zeus, the Nemean Lion, Lernean Hydra, Caucasian Eagle, Orthrus and Ladon were killed by Heracles, the Sphinx committed suicide, Chimera was killed by Bellerophon and the Crommyonian Sow was killed by Theseus. Among this crazy family, only Cerberus remains. Of course, this is entirely dependent on which myth you happen to be following.
    • The crew of Odysseus also, who are slowly but surely whittled down in numbers until only Odysseus survives to make it home.
  • Dying Candle: Justified in the myth of Meleager: At Meleager's birth, the Moirai predicted he would only live until a log burning in the hearth nearby would be consumed. Meleager's mother Althaea doused the fire and kept the log. When, many years later, Meleager killed two brothers of Althaea, she was so angry she placed the log in the fire; Meleager died when the log was burnt.
  • Dysfunction Junction: The Greek Pantheon is one of the earliest examples of this for a religion - which tends to be why it stands out as compared to other ancient theologies. Five of the six eldest siblings were eaten by their dad and their relationship is strained by all manner of issues like sexual-relationships, rivalries, and divine obligation. A Woman Scorned, Jealous older-brother, A socially isolated workaholic, Mood-Swinging Mama Bear, an oft ignored elder-sister and a king who can not keep it in his toga; And that is not even getting into the children there of.
  • Early Personality Signs: Heracles' very first act of fearless heroism as an infant was to strangle a pair of snakes that had been sent into his crib, foreshadowing the feats he would accomplish as an adult.
  • 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.
  • Elite Four: The four Titan Lords who were of higher rank than the other Titans and presided over the four corners of the earth. They consisted of: Krios, Titan of the South and the stars, Koios, Titan of the north and wisdom, Hyperion, Titan of the east and the sun, and Iapetus, Titan of the west and mortality. They were under the command of the King of the Titans, Kronos.
  • Empathic Environment: After losing her daughter Persephone to Hades, Demeter's grief was so great that the land itself became barren.
  • 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 Zeus 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.
  • Enemy Mine: Safe to say Hera was not a fan of Zeus's illegtimate children that resided on Mount Olympus with them, but that didn't stop her from allying herself with Athena, Hermes and Apollo in an attempt to overthrow Zeus.
  • Enslaved Tongue: Echo is cursed to repeat what she has already heard without ever putting anything in her own words.
  • Enthralling Siren: Between two and five of them, and they lured sailors to their death on the rocks.
  • Everybody Loves Zeus:
    • Helios (the charioteer of the Sun) is one of the more positively portrayed gods of Greek myth, probably because the best-known myth features him forced by his own oath to give his son Phaeton the reins of the sun chariot, leading to Phaeton's death.
    • He was later merged with Apollo, the god of poetry (who also gets a good rep, despite not being averse to chasing nymphs and mortals, and responsible for a few cases of Disproportionate Retribution as well).
  • Extranormal Prison: Tartarus, where the souls of the worst of humanity are tormented for eternity along with the monsters that have been banished there.
  • Eye Scream: Oedipus, and HOW.
  • Fallen Cupid: While the modern idea of Cupid is more of an idea of both Flanderization and Bowdlerization of the original myth, the Cupid of Ancient Rome was nowhere near as wholesome, making the trope much Older Than They Think. While Cupid (known to the Greeks as Eros) wielded golden arrows that induced desire, he also wielded lead arrows that destroyed it. He was also notoriously a terrible shot (or blind, depending on who you ask) and would frequently pair people off with the wrong people, causing mischief among gods and mortals, in line with the Roman belief that romantic infatuation was more a form of madness than the kind of thing you'd encourage in the population.
  • False Rape Accusation:
    • Phaedra makes one against her stepson Hippolytus.
    • Proetus, King of Tiryns, takes in Bellerophon in his exile; Proetus' wife takes a shine to him and tries to seduce him. When Bellerophon refuses, she tells Proetus that Bellerophon has tried to rape her. Proetus, not wanting to take revenge openly because of Sacred Hospitality, sends Bellerophon on a mission to his friend King Iobates with a letter that asks Iobates to kill Bellerophon.
  • The Family That Slays Together: Typhon, Echidna and their children.
  • The Fatalist
  • Fate Worse than Death: Prometheus. Since gods are immortal, he was bound to a stake in the Caucasus where his ever-regenerating liver was eaten daily by an eagle.
  • Father Neptune: Or should we say Poseidon.
  • Feathered Fiend: 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.
  • Fear Is the Appropriate Response: Every single one of the gods flee to Egypt when Typhon storms Olympus, leaving Zeus and Athena alone to defeat him.
  • Femme Fatale: Aphrodite - perhaps the original model. She was a huge Jerkass when crossed, but not completely evil.
  • Fertile Blood:
    • The hyacinth flower grew from the blood of a divine hero named Hyacinth.
    • Also, after Uranus was castrated by his son, Cronus, his blood gave birth to Aphrodite, the Giants, the Erinyes and the Meliae.
    • The Anemone flower is said to have sprung up from the blood of the slain Adonis.
    • Some versions of the Narcissus myth use this. All agree that the flower grew on the spot where he died, but they disagree as to whether he drowned or stabbed himself.
    • The winged horse, Pegasus, was born from the blood of Medusa when Perseus cut her head off. Some versions state specifically that the birth was caused by the blood mixing with seawater.
  • Fiery Stoic: Hestia, goddess of hearth and home, symbolizing the domestic warmth of the fireplace and the flames of the sacred pyres and braziers of the temple altars. Despite her Odd Job God status, she is Zeus' eldest sister, and was one of the Twelve Olympians. However, instead of killing/raping mortals like her siblings, she prefers peace and stays a virgin. She even gave up her seat among the Twelve Olympians to Dionysus to prevent conflict. One of the Orphic Hymns sung in her name:
    Hestia . . . who dwellest amidst great fire's eternal flame; in sacred rites these ministers are thine, mystics much blessed, holy and divine. In thee the Gods have fixed their dwelling place, strong, stable basis of the mortal race.
  • Flanderization: At least, the way that we remember the myths nowadays is probably way Flanderized from the way that the ancient Greeks would have recalled the gods. Zeus, remember, was the god of law, hospitality, and civilization in general to them, not just The Casanova.
    • Also, nymphs were basically just elves, despite the fact that most people today think of them as benevolent versions of Horny Devils.
    • Demeter seemed to have gotten reduced to just being Persephone's overbearing, overprotective mother hellbent on keeping her daughter to herself and refusing to let her grow up. This has overshadowed her more minor but still notable moments in Greek mythology such as dealing with Erysichthon.
  • Food Chains: Persephone, whose snack in the Underworld binds her to stay there.
  • Food God:
    • Mars is the Roman god of agriculture as well as of war. Sensible as whatever politicians might think an ordinary legionary's motive is "get those blankety-blanks off my property/take some of theirs".
    • Greek Mythology had several gods with different culinary jurisdictions. Demeter was grain, Dionysus was grapes, Athena gets into the act a little with olives, and of course Poseidon was fish.
  • 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) and married her 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 Eros to use his arrows to cause Psyche (whose beauty is praised above Aphrodite's, naturally) to fall in love with the most hideous thing in the world. Eros 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 Aphrodite 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 Eros not intervened.
    • A very similar fate initially befell Semele, one of Zeus's lovers. But Psyche’s fate was different then Semele’s fate.
    • 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.
  • Fusion Dance: The origin of Hermaphroditus. Originally simply the son of Hermes and Aphrodite, he was so pretty that the nymph Salmacis tried wooing him. He rejected her, but she grabbed him and wished to never be parted from him. She got exactly what she wished for.
  • Gag Penis: Priapus, Pan. Hephaestus depending on the source.
  • Gate Guardian: Greek mythology has several gate guardians:
    • 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, Kampe, 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.
  • Gender Bender: Tiresias again.
    • Also the myth of Iphis and Ianthe.
    • 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.
    • Sipriotes was turned into a girl for peeking on Artemis' bathing. He was lucky.
  • 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-Blooded Leeroy 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.
  • Getting Eaten Is Harmless: Five of the original Olympians, Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades and Poseidon, were eaten by their father the Titan Kronos as soon as they were born. Years latter the sixth and youngest Olympian, Zeus, who had been raised in secret and so avoided sharing their fate, slipped Kronos an ipecac that resulted in the latter vomiting up Zeus' older siblings, who were of course no worse for wear. Justified in the fact that they were gods so the stomach was essentially a prison.
  • Girl in a Box: Danae (mother of Perseus).
  • God Is Evil: Zeus, the king of the gods, appears often as a rapist and a Manipulative Bastard in some myths, despite his modern usually benevolent portrayal. His father Kronos and his grandfather Uranus weren't any better... if not worse. See also Jerkass Gods.
  • Götterdämmerung: Happens when the gods challenge the current rulers, the Titans.
  • The Great Flood: Deucalion and Phyrra again, as well as two other stories.
  • Guile Hero: A popular trope in Greek mythology - the goddess Athena was the patron of all heroes, but clearly liked Guile Heroes more. Rather less popular in Roman mythology.
    • Odysseus was a great archer, but his brains were his most powerful weapon.
    • Daedalus, the man who built the Labyrinth and made artificial wings to escape from a desert island. Or an imprisoning tower.
    • Even Heracles had shades of this. His tricking of Atlas, for example.
  • Happily Married: Baucis and Philemon. Also Hades and Persephone.
    • As previously mentioned, Eros and Psyche, surprisingly.
  • Happy Ending: Though often overshadowed by Bittersweet Endings or Downer Endings, especially considering Greek Tragedy, there are actually several stories with happy endings in Greek and Roman mythology, including the story of Baucis and Philemon and that of Admetus and Alcestis, among others.
  • 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).
  • Heaven Above: Of all the places in Greece they could have lived, the Greek Gods decided to seat their thrones on the highest mountain in the nation, Mount Olympus, placing the gods on the point closest to the heavens.
  • 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 Family Up to Eleven.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Codrus, the last King of Athens, performed one according to the myths. There was a prophecy that the Dorians would conquer Athens as long as its king was not harmed. So Codrus sneaked out of the city disguised as a peasant and provoked a group of Dorian soldiers into a fight. He died in the quarrel, and the Dorians, realizing who they just killed, retreated out of fear of their prophesized defeat. After this, the Athenians decided that no king could possibly top such heroic selflessness, and so they abolished the monarchy.
  • He's Back: Odysseus returned to Ithaca after 20 years.
  • High-Class Call Girl: Aphrodite. She could be interpreted as a Companion at a Standard Royal Court.
  • Holy Is Not Safe: Seeing the undisguised glory of a god was deadly to mortals. Zeus was manipulated into causing the death of Semele, the mother of Dionysus, in this way.
  • Horned Humanoid: Minotaurs and Satyrs.

    Tropes I to O 
  • I Ate WHAT?!:
    • Tantalus, in an attempt to trick the gods, invited them to his home for a feast. Tantalus, gunning for Dad of the Year, had his own son, Pelops murdered and had his flesh served to the gods. None of them (save Demeter, who was otherwise distracted) actually ate any of him, having suspected Tantalus was up to something and brought Pelops back to life and had Tantalus Dragged Off to Hell.
    • After Pelops died again, his heir Atreus was very pissed with his brother Thyestes for seducing Queen Aërope and trying to seize the throne. He pretended to extend the olive branch, and held a private feast for Thyestes, only telling him afterwords that "You ate your own children!"
  • 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.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Artemis usually Does Not Like Men, but according to some myths she fell in love with the great human hunter Orion. This led Apollo, who disliked this relationship, to spot Orion while he was swimming, and then tell his sister, in essence, "I bet you can't hit that tiny thing in the sea from this far away;" of course, being the goddess of archery, she could, and when she saw that she had killed her beloved Orion she put him in the sky as a constellation along with his dogs (Canis Major and Minor).
  • 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.
  • Immortality Field: Antaeus remains invincible as long as he remains in contact with his mother, Gaia (the Earth). He challenges passers-by to wrestling matches and because Greek wrestling, like its modern equivalent, typically involves forcing opponents to the ground, he always wins and kills his opponents. Antaeus fights Heracles on the latter's way to the Garden of Hesperides for his 11th Labor. Heracles realizes that he could not beat Antaeus by throwing or pinning him so he lifts and then crushes him to death in a Bear Hug.
  • Incest Subtext: Apollo was not happy when he heard about Artemis and Orion. It didn't end well for Orion.
  • Information Wants to Be Free: The Prometheus myth. Secret of fire given to the mortals against the gods' will. Older Than They Think? Yup.
  • 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 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.
  • Kinslaying Is a Special Kind of Evil: Killing one's relatives is considered one of the biggest taboos in Ancient Greece. The other two are violating Sacred Hospitality and cannibalism.
  • Life/Death Juxtaposition: Hades, god of the Underworld, kidnaps and marries Persephone, a goddess of vegetation and fertility.
  • 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.
  • Lord of the Ocean: Oceanus, Poseidon/Neptunus, Amphitrite and every other god associated with the seas, lakes, rivers, etc.
  • Loser Deity:
    • The Greek god Hephaestus, though the creator of many of his fellow Olympians' best weapons and items, was otherwise rejected and scorned. Upon being born, his mother Hera threw him down Mount Olympus for being ugly (making him the only unattractive god), which crippled him. He was given Aphrodite as a wife only to prevent other gods from warring over her, and even then she ended up cheating on him with Ares in his own home.
    • The Greek god Ares is basically divine Dumb Muscle, once ending up trapped in a jar and even sent packing by a mortal during the Trojan War. His Roman equivalent Mars, on the other hand, is one of Rome's most important gods and portrayed much more positively.
  • 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.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Trope Namer from The Odyssey.
  • 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 . 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 . 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.
    • Aphrodite either had this, Cuteness Proximity or a Wife Husbandry version of Lust At First Sight when it came to Canon Immigrant Adonis given he was a baby, but she apparently knew he'd grow up to be hot and left him with Persephone to raise until he was legal, which lead to Sickening Sweethearts and a Love Triangle against the underworld goddess. Or alternatively in some stories, she came to met Adonis after accidentally pricking herself with Eros/Cupid's arrow.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Along with Love Makes You Dumb. Helen of Troynote , at the very least. Happily married until some upstart prince and the goddess of love come along. In some versions Paris kidnaps her.
  • Lover and Beloved: Goes hand-in-hand with the Ho Yay.
  • Mama Bear: Demeter, when Persephone went missing. To the point of making the Earth barren until she was returned!
    • On a sidenote, in very many modern interpretations, Demeter falls under the My Beloved Smother trope. (See for example Hercules the Legendary Journeys on this Wiki.)
  • The Marvelous Deer: The Golden Hind sacred to the goddess Artemis. Heracles had to catch it, alive and unharmed, in one labor.
  • Miracle Food: The Cornucopia is a magical horn created by Zeus (or Herakles in some versions) which is said to be able to create a never-ending supply of fruits and vegetables.
  • Mr. Seahorse: Zeus gave birth to at least two of his children — he sewed the fetal Dionysus into his calf after his mother died and carried him to term there, and when Athena was swallowed alongside her mother Metis she survived and grew inside Zeus' body and had to be forcefully released from his cranium.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Hera, Hera, Hera... well she is goddess of marriage, so she can't exactly let that go...
  • Naked First Impression: Never peep on a goddess. IT WILL NOT END WELL.
    • Referring to the myth where a hunter (Actaeon) 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.
    • As well as the myth of a young boy (Sipriotes) who also peeked in on Artemis, presumably at the same spring. Perhaps because he was so young, or because he had the good sense to look away when she noticed him, or because she was feeling in a better mood that time, Artemis merely turned him into a girl.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Achilles was totally invulnerable, as he was bathed in the waters of the River Styx as a baby. His only weakness was his famous heel, which his mother held him by when she dipped him into Styx.
  • Night and Day Duo:
    • Artemis and Apollo are the twins who rule over night and day. Artemis is further associated with femininity and nature, while Apollo is masculine and associated with cultured pursuits like art and medicine.
    • Before them came Helios and Selene, Titans of the sun and moon. They were believed to control the movement of the sun and moon with their chariots. Their Roman equivalents were Sol and Luna, and they had a third sibling, being Eos, the dawn.
  • No Eye in Magic: Perseus looked at the Gorgon through a mirror/his shield so he didn't get killed by looking directly at it.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Prometheus stole fire from Olympus and gave it to mankind. His punishment was to be chained to a rock for all eternity, where a giant eagle would visit him each day to peck out his liver (which would regrow each night).
  • Non-Human Head: In the original myths, the Minotaur only had the head of a bull, and the rest of its body was human.
  • Not So Above It All: Even the more reasonable, level-headed gods ended up engaging in petty, spiteful, or entitled behavior at one point or another.
  • 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.
  • The Old North Wind: Boreas is the Greek god of the north wind, who is often depicted as a winged man who flies down from the mountains to chill the air with his cold breath. Boreas also had sons who were part of the Argonaut expedition, where they helped to fight off the harpies. Boreas was also responsible for the Classical Greek name for Britain: Hyperborea, the land beyond the North Wind (ie, unbelievably remote and equally unbelievably cold, bleak, and inhospitable).
  • One Steve Limit: Frequently averted:
    • Ajax the Great (Ajax son of Telamon) and Ajax the Lesser (Ajax of Locris) were both Greek warlords in The Trojan War, and figure in The Iliad.
    • Zeus has two sons named Sarpedon; one is the son of Europa and brother to Minos and Rhadamanthys and the other is the son of Laomedia and a hero in the Trojan War.
    • Zeus has two daughters named Thalia, one of the muses and one of the Charities.
    • The titaness Tethys is often confused with Thetis, the mother of Achilles, who is her granddaughter.
    • Cronos was the leader of the titans, Chronos was the personification of time. The former is also sometimes spelled Cronus or Kronos, while the latter is also spelled Chronus or Khronos. Which doesn't really help matters. Even the Greeks got them confused from time to time, and by the Renaissance the figure of Father Time was usually depicted as carrying a scythe, the weapon the other Cronos used to castrate Uranus.
    • The rule also gets trampled by the dozen mythical figures named Eurypylus. Two of them fought on opposite sides of the Trojan War. At the same time, a third one was among the suitors of Penelope. One generation back, another Eurypylus had helped Heracles sack Troy. Yet another was a son of Heracles, not to be confused with the one who was killed by Heracles... and so on.
  • Only Sane Woman: Hestia, who is well aware her family is divinely messed up, and so abdicated her place among the Olympians to Dionysus.
  • Orphean Rescue: Orpheus went into the underworld to retrieve his wife.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: Wild, raunchy and crude men with horse bodies, though there were a few exceptions such as Chiron.
  • Our Elves Are Better: The nymphs were essentially Greek version of elves.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger:
    • The Gigantes, who once waged war against the gods, were giants with snake trunks instead of legs. There were also the Cyclopes and the Hundred-Handed Ones, giants of varying degrees of monstrousness. The Titans may also count, though they were an older set of god — the term only came to be synonymous to "giant" after classical Greek times.
    • Greek gods and heroes in general (men and women alike) were often described as being twice or three times the height of an ordinary man. It went along with the whole "human, but MORE" idea.
  • Our Hydras Are Different: Greek mythology is the Trope Maker through the Lernaean Hydra, a monstrous nine-headed snake that lived in the swamps of Lerna and guarded one of the entrances to the underworld. A creature of poison, its breath and blood were both fatally toxic and, in some versions, even its scent was deadly. The creature was a daughter of the primordial monsters Typhon and Echidna, like many of the other multi-headed or hybrid monsters of Classical myth, and was eventually slain by Heracles during his second labor, scorching the stumps of the Hydra's heads to keep them from growing back and burying its last immortal head beneath a rock. He then dipped his arrows in the Hydra's blood, turning them permanently poisonous. One interpretation of the original hydra myth was that it served as a symbol of the Lernean swamp itself, where plugging up one spring would cause another to spring up shortly after.
  • Outsourcing Fate: A recurring theme, with gods asking a human to judge between their disputes.

    Tropes P to Z 
  • Painting the Frost on Windows: Most forces of nature were explained (or at least poetically dramatized) as having been caused by gods. Ergo lightning bolts were actually Zeus' javelins, volcanoes were the Cyclopes' forges powered by the imprisoned Typhon, the sun was Helios' chariot, stampedes were caused by Pan's feral shrieks, etc. etc.
  • Pegasus: Trope Namer.
  • Phlebotinum Battery: Antaeus draws his power from the earth.
  • Plant Person: Dryads.
  • Practically Different Generations: While the age difference isn't that elaborated on, the gods' Immortality and, in most cases, promiscuity, would lead to half-siblings centuries in age different at least, especially when it comes to Zeus' divine children and his innumerable demi-god offspring.
  • Primordial Chaos: Literally called Chaos, who is a primal god that existed before everything and everyone else. Chaos gave birth to Gaia and Ouranos, along with a few other immortals such as Eros and one part of the Underworld. Is very rarely mentioned in Myths, but surrounds Creation.
  • Proper Lady: What Hera was supposed to be, before she was flanderized into Zeus's Yandere. Zeus's sister, Hestia, is more of a straight example.
  • Prophecy Twist: Too numerous to list.
  • Proud Beauty: Every incarnation of Aphrodite has this trait. Justified since she is the goddess of love and beauty. But it is also her Berserk Button.
    • In the Tale of Eros/Cupid and Psyche, she become jelaous of Psyche (whose beauty is praised above her) and sends her son Cupid to use his arrows to cause Psyche to fall in love with the most hideous thing in the world.
    • 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.
    • The trope applies to other goddess also. In Apple of Discord tale, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite are having a competition to see who was the fairest. The three demanded Zeus choose who was the "fairest", but he wisely declined. Instead, he chose a mortal man to arbitrate. Each goddess presented their beauty to him while also offering a prize should he choose them. Eventually he chose Aphrodite as winner and accepted her promise of the most beautiful woman in Greece. The man? Paris of Troy. The woman? Helen of Sparta. Thus began The Trojan War.
  • The Punishment: Medusa, famously cursed with snakes for hair and causing anyone who looked at her to be Taken for Granite. Her crime? Being violated on Holy Ground. However, this is because Aphrodite, her patron, couldn't punish the actually guilty party, Poseidon, so she had to punish Medusa instead. According to some scholars, the punishment was deliberately chosen as a comfort to poor Medusa, to ensure that she'd Never Be Hurt Again. The emblem of Medusa was often used to mark a house as a Women's Shelter, lending credence to this.
  • Purgatory and Limbo: Erebus in the Underworld was pretty much a shadowy limbo for "neutral" souls, between Tartarus (Hell) and Elysium (Heaven).
  • Pygmalion Plot: Trope Namer
  • 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.
      • Damage to the environment? Despite what people tend to indicate today, apparently, she still didn't give a damn.
      • 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.
  • RevengeSVP: 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.
  • Ride the Rainbow: Iris was a goddess that acted as a personal messenger of Hera, rainbows being her iconic method of transportation between Earth and the Heavens.
  • Riddle of the Sphinx: From the story of Oedipus.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Cerberus.
  • Rock of Limitless Water: Several examples:
    • 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.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Pretty much all the big-name mortal characters, although how much their individual stories emphasize that will vary. Of course, with the kings and queens of the era "merely" ruling individual city-states there are also a lot of royal families for both heroes and villains to hail from.
  • Rule 34: And much Older Than They Think, at that, what with Agostino Carraci's I Modi
  • Russian Reversal: In a strange sort of Fridge Brilliance / Hilarious in Hindsight example, the Amazons. In the myths, they were just about the only civilization at the time where women oppressed men instead of the other way around. And according to Herodotus, they inhabited parts of what is now Ukraine and Russia.
  • Sacred Bow and Arrows: Apollo, god of archery, and Artemis, goddess of the hunt.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Very, very sacred. As noted below, Ixion breached this trope.
    • The reason the Trojan War went for so long was that Paris took Helen while a guest in her husband's Menelaus' home, and the Greeks were furious at that.
  • The Sandman: The lesser-known Greek god of dreams, Morpheus, is sometimes conflated with the Sandman (as in The Sandman comic book). The drug morphine is named after him.
  • Scales of Justice: Themis, Dike, Astraea, Nemesis/Invidia, Adrestia and Justitia all use them since all of them are at least affiliated with justice, law, judgment or order if not a outright goddess of it. Themis and Dike (one of them or both are the Greek equivalent to Justitia) are the providers of the Tropenamer.
  • 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.
  • Scylla and Charybdis: Trope Namer from The Odyssey.
  • Sea Monster: Several, although the Cetea are the best fit for the traditional image of a sea monster.
  • Seahorse Steed: Poseidon was often shown with his chariot pulled by horses or seahorses (as King Triton does in The Little Mermaid).
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Pandora's Box, the Titans and Typhon.
  • 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.
  • Shape Shifter Mashup: What happened to Scylla.
  • Sleeps with Both Eyes Open: Endymion was granted the ability to sleep with his eyes open so he could keep watch over his lover, Selene.
  • The Smart Gal: Athena. She is the goddess of wisdom, craftsmanship, and strategy. Oh yes, and Athens named themselves after her which shows that Athenians were not humble about their reputation in such matters.
  • 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": With the Greek names of the mythological figures, this is 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. However, this is not a problem with Roman names, as English indirectly borrows its alphabet from Latin.
    • Likewise, English 'C' is always kappa (K) in Greek. Therefore Kirke (Circe), not Sirse.
    • Back when the stories are set, most Greek languages retained the /w/ and /h/ sounds, and Mycenean Greek still had labiovelars (/gw/, /kw/, and /khw/) before some vowels. Eteocles' name, for example would have actually been Ἐτεϝοκλέϝες (Etewoklewes).
  • 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.
    • In that sense, it could be an aversion to potential Misandry, but instead of resorting to egalitarianism the Greeks resorted to Misogyny.
  • Supernatural Fear Inducer: Trickster god Pan likes to sneak up on people and then let out a bloodcurdling scream, causing them to flee in mindless terror. This is the origin of the word 'panic'.
  • Supporting the Monster Loved One: The Minotaur was the Queen's daughter (by a bull, thanks to a curse from the Gods; some versions have the bull in question as the one Heracles had to capture as one of his labours). In some versions anyway. The King kept his step-son in The Labyrinth and had sacrifices brought in (seven young men and seven young women a year) to feed him, until Theseus came along to slay it.
  • 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.
  • Tempting Fate: Happens a lot.
    • 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.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Athena; the Fates; Philomenia; Lucretia.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Apollo and Artemis; Ares and Enyo
  • To Hell and Back: Orpheus, Heracles, Odysseus, Psyche, Aeneas, even Theseus (though Heracles had to give him a hand)... apparently, Hades has Swiss Cheese Security.
    • 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.
  • Trapped with Monster Plot: Theseus vs. the Minotaur.
  • 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.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Hephaestus and Aphrodite. Depending on the version, it was either to stop the marriage squabbles over her, that he impressed her with his craftsmanship, or a promise Hephaestus extracted from Hera in return for freeing her from a chair he made.
  • Unbuilt Trope: The story of Oedipus is possibly the most well-known example of You Can't Fight Fate except that nobody in the story actually fights it. When it is foretold that Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother, his parents just accept it and choose to leave him in the wilderness to die instead of raising him to prove that the prophecy is wrong. Similar to Oedipus, he too just accepts it and runs away from his foster parents instead of staying with them to prove that the prophecy is nonsense. They don't fight fate, they accept it and try to run away, putting themselves in the hand of fate again.
  • Unstoppable Rage: "The wrath of Achilles."
    • 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.
  • The Weird Sisters:
    • In Theogony, there are three Moirai or goddesses of fate: Clotho ("spinner") spins the thread of life at the birth of a human being, Lachesis ("allotter") measures it, and Atropos ("inevitable"), also called Aisa ("destiny"), cuts it when life is at its end. The Moirai are sometimes described as ugly old women, but are also depicted as young women in works of art. Their parentage varies between sources, but they are always sisters. Atropos is usually given as the oldest. The notion of three Moirai was codified by Theogony; in traditions predating Hesiod there are two Moirai or only one Moira. The basic meaning of moira is "lot" or "share".
    • The Roman equivalent of the Moirai are the Parcae, later also Fata "Fates", whose names are Nona, Decuma and Morta.
    • Hecate, the goddess of magic, necromancy, and crossroads, is often depicted as "triplicate" in Ancient Greek art, i.e. as three young and beautiful women standing back to back to each other or against a column. Paradoxically, all three women are Hecate.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Tithonos, who was granted eternal life as a favour to his lover Eos, the goddess of the dawn. He was not granted eternal youth, so the gods decided to turn him into a cicada, which sheds its skin to remain eternally young, and chirps at the sign of his love.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser:
  • Who's on First?: Odysseus pulls this on the Cyclops.
  • Wild Child: Romulus and Remus.
    • 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).
  • Wolverine Publicity: A lot of characters get this, but mostly Zeus, Hercules, Cupid, and Medusa.
  • Womanliness as Pathos:
    • The Greek myth of Pandora states that Zeus wanted to punish Prometheus for stealing fire to give to mankind (which, at this point, is literally made of only men). So after chaining him to a rock and having his liver ripped out every night by an eagle, Zeus gives his dumb brother Epimetheus a "gift" in the form of Pandora, the first woman. Pandora is absolutely beautiful, and also absolutely good at everything (her name literally means all-gifted), so Epimetheus takes her in right away. Unfortunately, Pandora also carries a jar that Zeus tells her never to open, but her curiosity gets the better of her. When she opens it, all manner of suffering flies out.
    • Almost all of the misery in Heracles' life was caused by women—first, his father's wife Hera, who couldn't punish her husband for infidelity and so took out her rage on one myth causing him to go mad and kill his wife and children. Later, his wife Deianeira is almost raped by the centaur Nessus and after Heracles defeats him, the dying Nessus somehow convinces Deianeira that a magic shirt will keep Heracles faithful to her. When she becomes afraid that Heracles is falling for another woman, she puts the shirt on him which causes Heracles horrible agony that he can only relieve by burning hismelf to death.
    • The Trojan War. The whole thing was started by Eris, the goddess of discord, tossing a golden apple into Olympus "for the fairest". As a result, the goddesses fight over it, resulting in Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena choosing Paris as the 'judge'. Aphrodite bribing Paris with Helen of Sparta, the World's Most Beautiful Woman and the famous 'face that launched a thousand ships', is what gets the war going. This causes the men around Helen, including her husband King Menelaus, to start and sustain a conflict that lasts over a decade while Helen herself remains relatively passive in Troy.
    • Aphrodite, in general, was a constant source of this; to the Greeks, her status as a Love Goddess made her one of the most dangerous gods in the entire Olympian pantheon. A human could reasonably avoid pissing off gods like Helios, Poseidon or Hades simply by not being involved with anything involving them. But love is an entirely different story, and Aphrodite's myths are full of men and women who angered, offended, or slighted her in some way and earned her wrath. Typically, causing her to retaliate by having them (or a loved one) fall in love with something troublesome. This, for example, is how the infamous Minotaur was born. Aphrodite herself also constantly fell in love with mortals (which usually ended badly), feuded with other gods for various reasons (usually over a lover) and cuckolded her own husband Hephaestus with Ares. She was even involved with the creation of Pandora.
    • The Iliad: The driving conflict of Achilles being in his tent for the first half is Agamemnon refusing to hand over the conquest he wanted, the priest's daughter Briseis.
  • World Pillars: The Pillars of Herakles. Some say they are not just the markers for the end of the world as the Greeks knew it, but also held up the sky (usually the task of Atlas, who Herakles once asked to get some golden apples Atlas' daughters were guarding.)
  • World's Strongest Man: Heracles, famously so. He was so strong that he could hold up the sky itself, successfully defeat death himself in a wrestling match and all manner of other feats.
  • Yandere: Medea. Sweet merciful Zeus, Medea. What she does to her own kids, and their father, is almost too gruesome to believe. And then there's her rival's fate.
    • Hera, too. Doesn't help that her husband is none other than Zeus.
    • In one possible story of the death of Adonis, apparently Ares didn't take about Aphrodite not paying much attention to him well, so he retaliated by killing Adonis while disguised as a boar.
    • Zephyr, in some tellings of the myth of Hyacinth.
  • You Cannot Change The Future: An aesop in just about every Greek story. Otherwise unstoppable Designated Heroes are brought down by the gods for hubris for merely thinking they can change their future.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: The Odyssey, The Aeneid.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: While the gods look like immortal humanoids with supernatural powers, they are actually the living embodiment of the world's elements and simply took human form to interact with humans. They are more than capable of changing their shape into any animal or object they want to be. If Dionysus' birth is any indication, the gods' true form is by no means something easy to understand or safe to interact with.
  • Weak to Fire: The Hydra's heads stop regenerating when the stumps from decapitation are cauterized.

Alternative Title(s): Roman Mythology, Greek Mythology


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