Elements appropriated or incorporated include the gods of varying stature, humans, demigods, titans, giants, monsters, nymphs, and famed locations. Their use can range from a brief allusion to the use of an actual Greek character as a character in a work. Some types of creatures—such as centaurs and nymphs—are used as a generic type rather than individuated characters out of myth.
Use by governments and public institutions
A coin, featuring the profile of Hera on one face, and Zeus on the other side, c. 210 AC
Roman conquerors allowed the incorporation of existing Greek mythological figures such as Zeus into their coinage in places like Phrygia, in order to "augment the fame" of the locality, while "creating a stronger civil identity" without "advertising" the imposition of Roman culture.
In modern times, the initial Greek 2 Euro coin featured the myth of Zeus and Europa, and sought to connect the new Europe through Western history to the ancient culture of Greece. As of December 2012, the European Central Bank has plans to incorporate Greek mythological figures into the designs used on its bank notes.
The Pegasus appears frequently on stamps, particularly for air mail. In 1906, Greece issued a series of stamps featuring the stories from Hercules' life. Australia commemorated the laying of an underwater cable linking it to the island of Tasmania through a stamp featuring an image of Amphitrite.
The United States military has used Greek mythology to name its equipment such as the Nike missile project and the Navy having over a dozen ships named from Greek mythology.[i] Greek mythology has been the source for names for a number of ships in the British navy,[ii] as well as the Australian Royal Navy[iii] which has also named a training facility in Victoria called HMAS Cerebus. The Canadair CP-107 Argus of the Royal Canadian Air Force is named in honor of both the hundred eyed Argus Panoptes the "all seeing" and Odysseus' dog Argus who was the only one who identified Odysseus upon his return home.
In science and technology
The Apollo 16 lunar module on the moon
The elements tantalum and niobium are always found together in nature, and have been named after the King Tantalus and his daughter Niobe. The element promethium also draws its name from Greek mythology, as does titanium, which was named after the titans who in mythology were locked away far underground, which reflected the difficulty of extracting titanium from ore.
The Trojan Horse, a seemingly benign gift that allowed entrance by a malicious force, gave its name to the computer hacking methodology called Trojans.
Biology and medicine
The medical profession is symbolized by the snake-entwined staff of the god of medicine, Asclepius. Today's medical professionals hold a similarly honored position as did the healer-priests of Asclepius.
Many celestial bodies have been named after elements of Greek mythology.
The constellation of Scorpius represents the scorpion that attacked Hercules and the scorpions that frighted the horses when Phaëton was driving the sun-chariot.
The constellation of Capricorn may represent Pan in a myth that tells of his escape from Typhon by jumping into the water while turning into an animal - the half in the water turned into a fish and the other half turned into a goat.
The U.S. Apollo Space Program to take astronauts to the moon, was named after Apollo, based on the god's ability as an archer to hit his target and being the god of light and knowledge.
In psychoanalytic theory, the term "Oedipus complex", coined by Sigmund Freud, denotes the emotions and ideas that the mind keeps in the unconscious, via dynamic repression, that concentrate upon a child's desire to sexually possess his/her mother, and kill his/her father. In his later writings Freud postulated an equivalent Oedipus situation for infant girls, the sexual fixation being on the father. Though not advocated by Freud himself, the term 'Electra complex' is sometimes used in this context.
A "Medea complex" is sometimes used to describe parents who murder or otherwise harm their children.
In film and television
A director providing instructions to actors during a film production of the story of Orpheus
The use of Greek mythology in children's television shows is credited with helping to bring "the great symbols of world literature and art" to a mass audience of children who would otherwise have limited exposure. Children's programming has included items such as a recurring segment on CKLW-TV[clarification needed] where Don Kolke would be dressed up as Hercules and discuss fitness and Greek mythology.
Netfix's original animated TV series Blood of Zeus featured Greek gods and goddess such as Hermes it premiered on 27 October 2020.
Amazons, prior to their appearance in American Hollywood films where they have been presented in "swimsuit-style costume without armor" and "western lingerie combined with various styles of 'tough' male" clothing, had been traditionally depicted in classical Greek warrior armor.
A 15th century depiction of Amazons in battle armor
The Disney production of Hercules (1997) was inspired by Greek myths, but "greatly modernizes the narrative" as it goes "to great lengths to spice up its mythic materials with wacky comedy and cheerfully anachronistic dialogue," which, Keith Booker says, is playing a part in the "slow erosion of historical sense." Moreover, though the film depicts Greek mythology, the title character is named after the Roman hero, rather than the Greek "Heracles".
Tabletop Roleplaying Games
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition Age of Heroes Campaign Sourcebook (1994).
Dungeons & Dragons HWR3: The Milenian Empire (1992). A Greek-inspired country within the Hollow World setting.
Dungeons & Dragons Mythic Odysseys of Theros (2020). Based on the Greek-inspired Theros setting from the Magic: The Gathering collectible card game.
The 1988 arcade game Altered Beast is set in Ancient Greece and follows a player character resurrected by Zeus to rescue his daughter Athena from the ruler of the underworld, Neff.
The 1996 video game Wrath of the Gods is an adventure game set in mythical Greece, including an educational component where players can learn about Greek myths and history and see images of Greek art in cut-a-ways.
The 2006 game Persona 3 includes many personae based on mythical Greek figures, using Tartarus in particular as the game's main dungeon.
In 2003, GameSpy remarked that the 1986 video game Kid Icarus follows a trajectory similar to its namesake, Icarus, who had escaped imprisonment when his father created wings from feathers and wax. The same could be said of the sequel, Kid Icarus: Uprising.
The God of War franchise of video games is loosely based on Greek mythology, with the main character being named after Kratos (though not the same character). The video game Kratos is a warrior from Sparta and the son of King of the Greek Gods, Zeus and is the personification of power. The series follows Kratos, who initially serves the Gods and later becomes a God himself but later goes on a path of vengeance against them after they betray and try to kill him.
The 2020 game Hades incorporates gods and other figures of Greek mythology into narrative as a "dysfunctional family", which the player learns as they guide their character Zagreus to leave his father Hades and battle out of the underworld with the help of the other Olympian gods.
In the 2002 Ensemble Studios game Age of Mythology, Greek mythology plays a large role. The Greek culture can utilize creatures from Greek mythology such as the cyclopses, chimeras, and centaurs in combat, and worship twelve different Greek gods such as Ares, Poseidon, or Hephaestus, gaining different advantages depending on the chosen god. The main campaign, which centers around an original character named Arkantos, features figures from many Greek mythological tales, with Chiron and Ajax playing the greatest roles among the Greek heroes.
Corporations have used images and concepts from Greek mythology in their logos and in specific advertisements.
The wine Semeli is named after Semele, who was the mother of the god of wine Dionysus, drawing on the associations to give the product credibility.
Particularly starting in the Renaissance, artists across Europe produced thousands of works of art depicting the Greek deities and their myths, for reasons ranging from the erudite to the political to the erotic. In particular, in certain periods it was permissible to depict pagan deities nude when it would have been scandalous to so depict a human model or character.
Romans would frequently keep statuary of the Greek god Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and pleasure, in their homes to use as a method of sanctioning relaxation without "any intellectual demands."
The Italian poet Dante Alighieri used characters from the legend of Troy in his Divine Comedy, placing the Greek heroes in hell to show his contempt for their actions. Poets of the Renaissance began to widely write about Greek mythology, and "elicited as much praise for borrowing or reworking" such material as they did for truly original work. The poet John Milton used figures from classical mythology to "further Christianity: to teach a Christian moral or illustrate a Christian virtue."Euphrosyne, Hymen and Hebe appear in his L'Allegro. Works of Alexander Pope, such as "The Rape of the Lock", parody classical works, even as the income from his translations of Homer allowed him to become "the first English writer to earn a living solely through his literature."
In "The Waste Land", T. S. Eliot incorporates a range of elements and inspirations from Greek mythology to pop music to Elizabethan history to create a "tour-de-force exposition of Western culture, from the elite to the folk to the utterly primitive."
The work of Indian poet Henry Louis Vivian Derozio was heavily influenced by Greek mythology.
Nina Kosman published a book of poems inspired by Greek myths created by poets of the twentieth century from around the world which she intended to show not only the "durability" of the stories but how they are interpreted by "modern sensibility."
In 1903, Hugo von Hofmannsthal adopted Sophocles' version of the story of Electra for the stage. Hofmannsthal adapted his work to become the libretto for Richard Strauss' opera Elekra in 1909. The opera, although controversial for both its "modern" music and its depiction of Elektra through "psycho-sexual symbolism," inspired many more adaptations of Electra by other writers and composers during the twentieth century.
Sartre and Jean Anouilh used Greek myths as inspiration for their plays during the Nazi occupation of France, as the "distancing effect" of the ancient settings allowed their critique to bypass censors. Later, Heiner Müller also used the coding of Greek mythology to disguise his commentaries calling for reform within the German Democratic Republic.
The Architects (2012) is a play by the London-based Shunts predicated on the myth of the Minotaur, and is about a "return to when Greece was the cradle of civilisation and not about riots on the streets."
The Midas myth, from Nathaniel Hawthorne's A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys. Illustration by Walter Crane, published 1893.
The rainbow effect frequently seen at Niagara Falls had inspired the use of "Iris", the goddess of the rainbow, for local geographical features
Hydra the Revenge roller coaster
In the 19th century, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote children's versions of the Greek myths, which he intended to "entirely revolutionize the whole system of juvenile literature." His work, along with the works of Bulfinch and Kingsley, have been credited with "recast[ing] Greek mythology into a genteel Victorian subject."
The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan follows Percy Jackson as the son of Poseidon. Riordan states that he created the character of Percy when trying to tell a story to help his son who has ADHD get interested in reading. In the stories, Percy's ADHD characteristics are explained as being caused by his Olympian blood, thus Riordan was uses Greek mythology "as it has always been used: to explain something that is difficult to understand." Riordan continues exploring Greek mythology in his subsequent series The Heroes of Olympus and The Trials of Apollo, the latter being in the perspective of the Greek god Apollo.
In comics and graphic novels
In the opera within Girl Genius, the Heterodyne daughter who falls in love with the Storm King is Euphrosynia.
In 2016 the French philosopher Luc Ferry launched the comic book series La Sagesse des mythes (The Wisdom of the Myths), which retells the Greek myths in a popular form but informed by modern scholarship.
In geography, architecture, and other constructions
At Niagara Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls had previously been called Iris Falls, and Goat Island had previously been called Iris Island as namesakes of the Greek goddess of the rainbow, Iris, because of the rainbow effects that appear in the mists at the falls. A local newspaper which was published from 1846-1854 was also called The Iris, and the publication The Daily Iris became the Bingham Daily Republican.
The original interior of the Glyptothek, the first public sculpture museum, was adorned with frescoes of Norse mythology by Peter Cornelius and his students which provided a "lively dialogue" between the building and its contents. When the building was repaired after war-time damage, the frescoes were not restored.
The Greek myths have been the inspiration for a number of operas. Claudio Monteverdi and Giacomo Badoaro used a Greek text about the homecoming of Odysseus as the basis for Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria over which they attempted to overlay Christian beliefs and create in Zeus an omnipotent and merciful being. Cherubini's Médée takes the story which had been portrayed in many version on the French stage as a melodrama, and instead portrays Medea as a tragic heroine who deserves the audiences' sympathy.
During the Middle Ages, writers disdained the use of "pagan" influences such as Greek mythology which were seen to be a "slight to Christianity." From a current cultural perspective, the Greek Orthodox metropolitan Agustinos Kantiotis has denounced the use of Greek mythology such as the use of Hermes on a postage stamp and the incorporation of images from Greek mythology into universities' logos and buildings.
Within the cultures of Latin America, beginning in the 19th Century, the inspiration for culture has been dominated by elements from the Native American cultural myths, rather than those of the Greco-Roman inspiration.
Greek women poets of the modern era; such as Maria Polydouri, Pavlina Pamboudi, Myrtiotissa, Melissanthi and Rita Boumi-Pappa; rarely use mythological references, which Christopher Robinson attributes to the "problem of gender roles, both inside and outside the myths."
Martin Winter says that the idea that many commentaries about the widespread use of Greek myths throughout Western culture does not take into account the vast difference between what a modern viewer takes from the story and what it would have meant to an ancient Greek.
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