In ancient times, the cultures that were present had many gods and goddesses being worshipped. Natural things such as the sun, moon or trees were perceived as deities who could be prayed to, as sacrifices were offered. Human activities such as hunting and farming had patron gods and goddesses associated with them. The various stages of life, such as birth or death, were often thought to be under the protection of specific gods or spirits. Many of the stories of the ancient gods we hear today can be traced back to the prehistoric Greco-Roman period. I first learned about these ancient gods when I was in primary school. I’m sure you have heard about the Percy Jackson book series written by Rick Riordan. Well, that was how I fell in love with these mythologies. The reason why they fascinated me so much was because of how the people in the past related these gods to everything they do. For an example, people used to pray to the Greek God Hermes, who was the god of thieves and the Greek god Ares, who was the god of war before performing the very activities that these gods represented, which were theft and war.
This article will present just a few short stories on several ancient gods, which are not limited to only the Greek Gods.
The first god that I am going to talk about is the most famous one, Zeus, who is the most powerful of all the Greed Gods. He was the god of the sky and the king of Olympus. The most famous story about Zeus was that of his birth. In Greek mythology, they believed that creation started with Chaos, which was a just an empty void of nothingness. Then, out of the void emerged Gaia (the earth) and some other primary divine beings, commonly known in the present as Titans. Gaia birthed many beings but, the most important one was Cronus, who had a sister wife named Rhea as his consort. As the father-against-son conflict was initiated by Cronus to overthrow his father, he feared that something similar would happen to him. Because of such fear, Cronus would snatch and eat every child that Rhea gave birth to. Rhea hated this so much that at one time, she tricked Cronus by after giving birth to Zeus by wrapping a stone in a blanket and giving it to him to eat. When Zeus has fully grown, he drugged Cronus’ drink which caused him to vomit out all of Rhea’s other children including the other Greek Gods who were Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, Hera and many more. Zeus then challenged Cronus to war for kingship of the Gods. At last, with the help of Cyclops (whom Zeus freed from Tartarus), Zeus and his siblings won, while Cronus and the Titans were hurled down into a prison in Tartarus.
The next ancient god I will be talking about is Loki – the Norse God of mischief. Most notably portrayed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by Tom Hiddleston, Loki was the brother of Thor, the God of Thunder. He was known as the trickster. Some call him the trickster god, but Loki was not a god. He was a Jotun, also known as a giant. Loki was not evil; nor was he good. He lived in Asgard even though he was from Jotunheim (the land of the Giants). One story about Loki that not many people know is how he became the mother of a horse. Very weird, I know. Now, the Norse Gods wanted to keep Asgard safe by building a wall around it but they were too stingy to pay for it. So they came up with a clever plan which was to tell the stonemason that he would get paid if he finished the work by the end of winter. They thought of this as a clever plan, assuming that he might fail. What they did not know was that the stonemason possessed a magic horse that could build walls very quickly because of its great speed. The Norse Gods, in realising that they will have to pay up, then held a council and decided to use Loki as a scapegoat for this incident as most of the problems that occurred there was caused by him anyway. So, Loki shape-shifted into a beautiful horse to lure the stonemason’s magical horse away before proceeding to mate with the horse, where he eventually got himself pregnant and spent the next nine months sharing a love nest together with the magical horse. Loki then returned to the gods with an eight-legged baby horse in tow. In the meantime, the other gods got tired of waiting and got Thor to smash the stonemason’s head in with a hammer — partly because they found out that he was secretly a giant, but mostly just to be extra sure that they didn’t have to pay that bill. This was how Asgard was built, and the elders gifted every Viking child with this beautiful story. Indeed this tale provides a valuable lesson: Murder and bestiality are perfectly acceptable if it gets you out of paying a contractor.
Going back to Greek mythology, the Titan Prometheus, who was one of the original Titans that Zeus overthrew, had a reputation as being something of a clever trickster himself (seems we’re getting into a pattern here). He was the one who famously gave the human race the gift of fire and the skill of metalwork – an action that led him to be punished by Zeus, who ensured that everyday, an eagle would feast on the liver of Prometheus while he was chained to a rock. The story went like this: as Prometheus felt sorry for man’s weak and naked state, he raided the workshop of Hephestus and Athena on Mount Olympus and stole fire, by hiding it in a hollow fennel-stalk, which is a type pf plant. The titan also taught men how to use their gift and so the skill of metalwork began. He also became associated with science and culture. Zeus, outraged by Prometheus’ theft, punished him by having him taken to the far east and chained to a rock. Zeus then sent an eagle to eat his liver. Even worse, the liver re-grew every night and the eagle returned every day to perpetually torment Prometheus. Fortunately for Prometheus, a hero by the name of Hercules killed the eagle with one of his arrows. In other legends, Zeus punished men for receiving fire by creating the first woman, Pandora, from clay and through her, all the negative aspects life would befall the human race. For example, war, illness and death separated mankind from the gods. Prometheus was worshipped in Athens, particularly among potters who needed fire for thei creations.
Those are just a few of the ancient Gods that I like talking about as the stories fascinate me. There are many more that I highly recommend you to check out as it will broaden your mind as well.