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Roman Mythology vs. Greek Mythology

By Jose Delgado
ESL 0304

Mythology: “The body of myths (sacred stories) of a particular culture; the study and interpretation of such myths.” A long time ago mythology was something treated with respect. People respected and believed in it. The two major mythologies known are Greek and Roman. What are the similarities and differences between these two famous mythologies?

The Roman mythology has two types of creation. Certain people believe it was created around the 12th century BC, after the war between Greece and Asia. The legend says that after the war, Aeneas, a very strong and popular soldier of the Greek royal army, won the battle against Asia but then decided to leave for Carthage. There, the Queen Dido fell in love with him but Aeneas left her to travel to Italy, where he found Rome. From there, Aeneas knowing the gods from his culture decided to create a new mythology with new gods.

The other type of creation of the Roman mythology consists of two men from Greece, Romulus and Remus, who were the sons of the God Mars and a mortal woman named Rhea Silvia. These two brothers lived with their uncle. When their parents died the uncle decided to kill the two brothers so he could receive the power of their father, the God Mars. In the conflict, Remus died but Romulus escaped to a new city named Rome, where he became its first king. “The date that Romulus founded Rome was 753 BC” (Varro).

There were several more gods in the Roman Mythology. There were 21 considered very important for the people because they represented earth and the living on earth. They were pictured that way because they were related to touchable things on earth, sometimes not only to touchable objects, such as the rain or the water, but also to feelings and beliefs, like peace and prosperity at home. Jupiter and Minerva were the rulers of the 19 other gods. Each of them had a specific role in the mythology. Honored by the people, these gods didn’t have a physical appearance; they were only represented by the imagination of the people. Or sometimes people used to tell stories about how a god was beautiful. “Physical appearance wasn’t given to Roman Gods until the 6th century BC” (Varro).

According to Varro, the Romans worshipped their gods on both individual and communal levels. Individual would be a family that would pray at home for more food and the communal level was when a group of people, most of the time the citizens of a town, would go and meet for a communal celebration. For instance, the goddess Vesta protected the earth so when people wanted to honor her, they would throw a small cake into the fire. Or to honor the god of agriculture, so the harvest could be generous, farmers would offer corn meal and wine at the graves of their own families.

The Greek Mythology was created long time before the Roman Mythology. Around the years of 2000 BC, Atlantis rose up, created by Timaus and Critias, a powerful man and woman, whose origin no one knows. God Timaus and the Goddess Critias are cited in many stories about the beginning of the Greek Mythology. Like the Roman Mythology people presume that it was created from beliefs of ancient population that lived before them. A personal opinion about the creation of the Greek Mythology would be that it was created from the Egyptians who lived before them and also believed in different gods. If we pretend that the Romans took the idea for their mythology from the Greek Mythology, we can suppose that the Greek Mythology was created from Egyptian’s beliefs and myths.

Like the Roman Mythology, the Greek one was composed of 21 gods and goddesses. Compared to the Roman, the Greek gods were represented with gorgeous bodies, where muscles, eyes, faces an hair would give them the most beautiful appearance. Greek gods were named according to a place of a living or non-living thing.

Honoring Greek gods was similar to Roman’s way of worship. People used to bring meals to either Mount Olympus, where gods lived or to the graves of family members who died. Drawing a symbol of a god in a hall of the house could represent that the family needed help of a god. In the family, if a son were sick the father would draw an object representing the Goddess Hygeia, so she could enter the house and cure the young child.

The Roman and the Greek gods seem to relate to each other. A similarity between the two mythologies is that the symbols and designations of powers are the same in the two. The differences are present in the date of creation. Also, for both mythologies we don’t know where and how were they created because there is more than one story that describes their beginning.