My love for Greek mythology began in the second grade when I first read “The Odyssey.” It was a shortened version of the epic poem, yet it still introduced me to the world of Greek heroes, terrifying monsters and powerful Gods. I picked up any and every book that had to do with Greek mythology and become so invested that I could spend hours sitting in a corner by myself just reading. My love for Greek myths hasn’t changed as I’ve grown older, and I still hold the tales close to my heart. They’ve shaped the way I view the world, like remembering a certain story for the changing of seasons. I’d like to share three of my favorite stories with the hopes of getting you interested in the world of Greek mythology as much as I’m into it.
Cupid and Psyche
I feel like this myth isn’t as well known as a few of the others. It’s on the underrated side. The myth starts with Aphrodite (Cupid’s mother) wanting him to punish Psyche (a maiden) because she’s jealous of her natural beauty. Cupid goes with the intention of making Psyche fall in love with an unworthy man but accidentally nicks himself with his own arrow and falls in love with Psyche. Cupid visits Psyche every night but forbids her from ever trying to uncover his identity. Psyche is swayed by her sisters to uncover her lover’s appearance and does so, but wakes Cupid. Now knowing that he’s a God, an angry Cupid leaves Psyche. Psyche attempts to win back Cupid and is forced to pass a set of difficult, nearly impossible tasks by Aphrodite. In the end, Psyche is turned immortal so that she and Cupid may be together for all eternity. Romantic, right? I didn’t go into detail with Psyche’s trials, but you can find out what those are and some of the details I left out when you read this myth in its entirety!
Persephone and Hades
Hades (God of the Underworld) falls in love with Persephone (Goddess of Spring) when he first lays his eyes on her. At the time, Persephone lived with her mother Demeter (Goddess of Harvest) who loves her daughter wholeheartedly. Hades kidnaps an unknowing Persephone while she is picking flowers and takes her to the Underworld to make her his wife. A troubled Demeter does everything she can to get her daughter back and prevents the seeds of harvest from growing until she gets her back. Zeus then forces Hades to return Persephone back to Demeter, but before she leaves, Hades offers Persephone pomegranate seeds, which she eats six of. Persephone is now tied to Hades and must return to the Underworld for six months out of the year. Spring and summer signify the six months when Persephone is with her mother, and fall and winter signify the six months when Persephone is with Hades in the Underworld. During this time, the world is sad and gray because a melancholic Demeter misses her daughter.
Apollo and Daphne
This is another Greek myth that I find is not talked about much. In the myth, Apollo pisses off Cupid by being his arrogant self. So, out of spite, Cupid unleashes two arrows, one striking Apollo who instantly falls in love with a river nymph named Daphne. The other arrow strikes Daphne who becomes impervious to love. Madly in love, Apollo chases after Daphne who runs away and pleads for help from her father, Peneus, who transforms her into a laurel tree. But Apollo’s love never does wither and he takes the leaves of the tree and kisses the laurel tree claiming it as his. This is why the laurel tree is known as the sacred tree of Apollo.
I hope you enjoyed learning about these Greek myths almost as much as I enjoyed telling you about them. I only scratched the surface with these three tales — a world of different stories still awaits you!