Greek Vs. Roman Mythology: Compare and Contrast

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Words: 2123 |

Pages: 5|

11 min read

Published: Jan 15, 2019

Words: 2123|Pages: 5|11 min read

Published: Jan 15, 2019

While analyzing Greek and Roman mythology we can see quite a few similarities, there are very few differences. Throughout much of the Roman mythology we see a heavy influence of Greek Mythology. However when looking further into the mythology we may find a few differences such as how the myths portray the time period, were they made to explain events that had occurred or were they made to glorify the land and happenings? This is what we see through both Greek and Roman mythology. Even after finding small differences in the mythology, it is still very clear just how prevalent the Greek mythology characteristics were within them.

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Many Roman gods and goddesses were derived from Greek mythology. Roman gods tended to be anthromophic, however they did not show as much dramatice emotion as the Greek gods did. Roman mythology tends to be made up of stories that paint a grand portrait of how Rome set its foundations. The stories we find in Roman mythology are often centered around politics, and morality. Roman mythology focuses more on ritual, augury, and institutions rather than theology or cosmogony. Roman tradition was to create stories that are full of historical significance, legends, myths, focusing on the rise of Rome. In many works writeen by roman writers we see that they employed Greek beliefs to fill in the gaps that were present in the current Roman traditions. Gods in Roman mythology represented distinctly the practical needs of every day life, also gods whose names were invoked to carry out every day activities like harvesting and more. There are two classes of gods in Roman Mythology, the first is indigetes, and secondly novensiles. Indigetes were gods that were not adopted from other religions. Novensiles were gods that were more obscurely found in other religions, and also applied to Roman gods (“Roman Mythology, Crystalinks,” 2016). A creation story for Roman mythology could not be found, however there were a similar set of beginning brothers by the name of Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto.

Greek mythology did not follow events in history to make them fit and to make sense. The myths were not only made to solve problems or make sense of events that were taking place. (Johnston, S.I., 2015. pg. 182). Greek Mytholgy bagan with a story explaining creation, in the beginning Chaos, which was a void that was ruled by the god Eurynome. Eurynome gave birth to Eros after coupling with Ophion, a powerful snake. Also born out of Eurynome, was Gaia, called Earth or Mother Earth. Gaia eventually mated with Uranus and then gave birth to Titans. The most formitable one, Cronus. Cronus eventually had children with his wife Rhea, whom eventually would bear a son that would over come Cronus, this child was Zues, who became the King of all Gods. That is where Greek Mythology begins (“Encyclopedia Mythica: Greek Creation Myths,” 2016).

When looking through the many gods and goddesses that there are between both the Greek and Roman Mythology, it became clear that almost every one of them reflected a counter part in the opposite set of mythology. There are three common gods that initially stuck out, which are the brothers of the Greek mythology known as Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades are almost mirror images of the Roman Gods called Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto. Zeus’ counterpart would be Jupiter. Zeus was king of all gods he had many magical power such as throwing lightning bolts, he could also create natural phenomena with air and sky, he could create massive storms, thunder and lightning, extreme darkness and much more with just his hands. Zeus also had a flying horse by the name of Pegasus, Zeus would fly on Pegasus and have him hold his lightning bolts, and he would have a trained eagle retrieve these bolts as well. Zeus seemed to represent the major parts of nature that are in balance with one another. Zeus was the ruler over all gods, and in becoming this he ensured that the gods performed actions as they were thought to and any misdeeds would be punished. Zeus also saw over mortals, he would reward mortals when they were kind and fair. He would also punish mortals for any wrong doings as well. Jupiter was also the king of all gods, Jupiter became king of all gods after his father Saturn passed away. Jupiter held many similarities to Zeus, he was also the over seer of all the things that other gods did, and he would make sure they followed what they were supposed to be doing as well, if they did things he disapproved of he would punish them. Jupiter also had a flying horse named Pegasus, he also held the same abilities that Zeus had, he could control elements of the weather, and throw lightning bolts as well. While looking over Jupiter and Zeus however we can find a few differences. The first difference is how these gods can be goverened themselves. Zeus was controlled partly by the Fates, he could have been outed by other gods, but they never did this to him, instead Zues eventually retired from his position. Jupiter however could not be outed by anyone, he was always the most powerful god that reigned supreme above all else and no one tried to knock him from his place of power (“Encyclopedia Mythica: Greek vs. Roman,” 2015). Overall when analyzing Zeus and Jupiter we see so many similarities that it seems as though the god was plucked right from the Greek mythology and simply renamed and placed on the side of Roman mythology under the name of Jupiter.

Secondly analyzing the brother of Zeus, named Poseidon, he also shows many similarities to his counter part Neptune of the Roman mythology. Poseidon was god, or better known as, “Lord of the sea.” Poseidon possesed many magical powers, he could make islands appear, and tidal waves rise. Poseidon also had a trident that was powerful enough to shake the Earth. Poseidon could cause earth quakes, he could also cause tempest, drown lands, he could shatter rocks as well. People that lived inland did not fear Poseidon, however people that lived on the coast line were terrified of what he would do if they displeased him. People built a temple in his honor near the coast line, they would bring presents to this place in hopes of pleasing the god, and convincing him to calm the waters. Neptune was very similar to Poseidon, it was believed he could control the seas and life within it as well. Ancient Romans built temples and brought gifts to please him too. Almost all elements of the two gods are similar, many just consider it to be the same god, with a different name. One difference that was found however was that Poseidon was considered to be one of the twelve Olympic Gods, and Neptune was not (“Greek God: Poseidon (Neptune) The god of the seas and Ocean,” 2014).

The last of the brothers with a very similar counter part was Hades, whos’ counter part was Pluto. Hades chose to rule the underworld when they were dividing up the responsibilities after he, Zues, and Poseidon’s father passed away. Hades was a very dark and gloomy god. Hades was not the lord of death, he did not decide who lived and who died up on earth. However, Hades was greedy, he did favor with people whose actions resulted in death, so that he may have more subjects in the underworld. Hades was responsible to decide however where the people that ended up in the underworld would live once they were down there. Hades, like his brother, was also considered an Olympian. Greeks had a superstition that if they had said his name they would some how be brought closer to death so they refrained from using his actual name, they would refer to him as Plouton, which was derived from the word for wealth, because of the precious metals that could be mined from under ground. Hades never did marry, but he did have a life-long companion, by the name of Cerebus, who was a three-headed dog. Cerebus gaurded the underworld, he allowed the dead to enter, but would not let them back out. Cerebus had three heads, a sepants tail, a mane of snakes, and claws of a lion (“Hades,” 2015). Similarly Pluto also had a three headed companion. The similarities do not end there either, he is also considered the rulder of the underworld, not the god of death (“Pluto: King of the Underworld,” 2016). His job was to rule the underworld and place people where they should live once they were down there as well. He was considered the “Judge of the dead.” Both of these gods were extremely similar beings. They both judged where souls should go once they entered the underworld, yet they were not the gods of death.

There were also similarities among the Greek and Roman Goddesses. One of the first duo’s that reflected each other quite a bit was Hera and Juno. Hera was queen of all gods. Hera was married to Zeus, who also happened to be her brother as well. Hera and Zeus had two children, Ares and Hephaetus. Hera was an extremely jealous, and vengeful goddess. Hera was jealous of the fact that Zeus had children with other women and he also had many affairs. Hera went so far to take revenge on Zeus and his lovers by being mean to their children, and she also attempted to kill Hercules at one point in time as well (“Encyclopedia Mythica: Roman vs. Greek,” 2016). Juno was in a similar position of power as Hera, she happened to be married to Jupiter. She was also considered queen of all gods. Juno was loved and worshiped by all, she was viewed as a housewife, mother, and matron. Juno watched over all women but her main concern was married women (“Juno, Ancient History Encyclopedia,” 2016). A difference in these two Goddesses was that while Hera was concerned with being spiteful, jealous, and focused on revenge, Juno did not have time for that kind of behavior. Juno would not waste time on that, she instead spent most of her time acting as a protector to guard over women. However the similarities between the two are much larger than the differences. They both were worshiped goddesses, it was believed by women that if they worshiped them, it would help them have a successful marriage, and it would also help them successfully bear children as well. Both Hera and Juno were considered goddesses of child birth and marriage (“Hera,” 2016).

Examining how both Greek and Roman Mythology effected the society at the time seemed to have many similarities as well. In Rome individual beliefs were not important, there was a rigid set of rituals that were more important. Cities in Rome would adopt their own deities and perform rituals of their own. These cities would build temples to honor these gods and goddesses. There was cult worship that eventually developed, one of the most influential cults was that of the Imperial Cult, which had the idea of deification of the Emperor Augustus. Augustus resisted to this, but he did however consider himeself a son of a god. Once Augustus passed away the Roman Senate rewarded him with deification (“Roman Religion: Ancient History Encyclopedia,” 2016).

Cities in Greece would devote themselves to particular gods, they would build temples to worship them. They would regularly have festivals to honor their gods. At these gathereings there would be poets reciting and singing about these gods, tellng legends and stories. This is how many greeek s would learn of the gods. An example of this would be Delphi, Delphi was a holy site that was dedicated to Apollo, there was a temple built there to worship him. Ath the temple there was an “Oracle,” who people would go to to ask about the future. Greek mythology really emphasixed that mortals were weak in comparison to the many gods who controlled the different elements of nature (“Greece, A History of Ancient Greece, Mythology,” 2014).

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While looking at the appearances of the Gods and Goddesses in Roman and Greek mythology, we see many similarities in how they are depicted. When depicted in stone carving the men tend to look stoic, and they stand tall and proud. Their bodies are well scuplted while not being overly muscular (“Theoi Project,” 2000). Looking at the Goddeses they tend to appear softer, and thoughtful. Thir faces seem to reflect as though they are thinkng of something, focusing (“Greek Gods and Goddesses – Facts and information,” 2016).

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Greek Vs. Roman Mythology: Compare and Contrast. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
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