Biggest Misconceptions About Ancient Greece and Its Myths

Ancient Greece is filled with lots of captivating stories, both mythological and political, some of which are still well-known even to this day. Despite our extensive knowledge of these people, it seems that not everything we read is true as a lot of information either got lost in translation or were just straight up lies. Some of these misunderstandings are still being uncovered by historians and scholars, even to this day and we wanted to share them with you in this article. 

1. They Weren’t All That Democratic

The Athenian ruler Cleisthenes is often credited as the father of democracy, a move which allowed every Greek citizen to have a say in public matters. However not everyone who lived in Athens qualified as a citizen, such as the 10,000 foreigners or the 150,000 slaves who existed during that time. Of the 100,000 actual citizens, only males over the age of 18 were allowed to vote and there were only 40,000 of them. Then there were the corrupt elections and court systems. It’s no wonder that wealthy people and their families were “picked” far more frequently than the odds in a random lottery would fairly allow.

2. Pandora Never Opened a Box

The infamous Pandora’s box myth was the Greeks’ way of explaining away all the wrongdoings in the world. The box was said to be gifted to Pandora by Zeus himself, who instructed her to never open it – but she eventually did, releasing evil into the world. But what he gave her wasn’t actually a box, but a jar or pythos, as it was called. Historians believe that 16th-century writer Erasamus mixed up the word pythos with pyxis, which meant box. Pandora’s jar doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

3. Eros Was Not a Chubby Baby

Eros, the god of passion and fertility, is often portrayed as a chubby, winged baby whose arrows can make anyone fall in love. But he was originally depicted as a full-grown man, one who was strong, athletic and handsome too. And much like the baby version, he often sported a bow and quiver of arrows, some tipped with gold and others with lead. In one of his stories, he used the gold-tipped arrows to make the god Apollo fall in love with the nymph Daphne, then he used the lead-tipped ones to make her repulsed by him. What a sticky situation!

4. There Was Never a Trojan Horse

According to Homer, the Trojan War was a time when tens of thousands of Greeks warriors marched into the city of Troy to rescue the king’s captured wife, Helen. The ten-year long battle finally came to an end when Spartan soldiers infiltrated the city by hiding in a huge wooden horse. But current archeological evidence hardly supports Homer’s accounts. Instead, it is believed that Troy was already destroyed by the time the war was supposed to have occurred. Also, there’s barely any proof that wooden horses played a role in its downfall.

5. Hades Was Not Evil

Aside from luring Persephone into the Underworld, Hades was actually a pretty chill guy. Most people see him as a sort of fallen angel who was thrown into hell after failing to overthrow his brother Zeus. But the Underworld wasn’t just a place of punishment for sinners, it also included the Asphodel Meadows, where the majority of souls ended up and the Elysian Fields, where heroes were bound. So he basically spent most of his time just relaxing down there and hardly ever mingling with the living, unlike Zeus and his many, MANY, escapades.

 

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