[Audio] An Introduction (or Refresher) to Greek Mythology

This is an essay and audio recording by Brandon Monk.

When Alicia and I were in Greece we went into a little shop and were browsing for a gift for my mom. The attendant asked, in English, what we were doing while in Greece and I told her about our trip to Delphi and the Temple of Poseidon. She gave us a little chuckle. I think she was laughing at the fact that we were going to visit several sets of ruins during our trip. She’d never been to either spot despite living in Greece her entire life. If there’s a message there it’s either that I am far too interested in the archaeological sites or that you shouldn’t overlook the gems in your own backyard.

From the myths of the past we get a new appreciation for the present. I think it’s a worthwhile exercise to spend some time thinking about the nature of the myths of ancient cultures. If we’re lucky, and a trace of us remains, someday we may be thought of as an “ancient culture.” It’s humbling to know that you might not have all the answers. It’s educational to understand that our society is still struggling with many of the same problems that faced the citizens of Greece in 500 B.C.

Before Alicia and I left for our vacation I spent some time going over ancient Greek mythology because I knew we’d be visiting some archaeological sites in Greece. I re-read Mythology by Edith Hamilton and took out my old text-book from a mythology class I’d taken, Classical Mythology, Mark P.O. Morford and Robert J. Lenardon. To really get the stuff down before we left I decided to record a series of podcasts related to what I’d read. I want to put those up here over time and today I’m going to offer the first one to you. I think I have about six of these done and each one is at or less than 15 minutes long so you can listen to them pretty quickly.

In this podcast episode you’ll hear a 15 minute introduction to mythology. This will help set the stage for some later discussions. You can download the audio or access the audio at the bottom of this post.

The general content outline is as follows:

  • What is a myth?
  • What is a classical myth?
  • What is so special about Greek myths?
  • Myths aren’t religion.
  • 7 ways to read myths.


  1. Amarie Fox

    Fantastic post! Delphi is one of the many places I want to visit before I die. When I took Classical Literature a few semesters ago, my professor shared some photographs of the omphalos at Apollo’s temple at Delphi. One day I want to sit near it and feel at one with everything.

    As someone who studies and is obsessed with mythology and classical literature, I thank you for this post, Brandon. After all, there is a lot to take from the ancient world and in this insane world that we live in people need to be reminded of that.

  2. Read.Learn.Write

    Thank you very much. We saw the omphalos. The sense of several cultures that lived and worshipped at that spot is awe-inspiring.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’m a huge Joseph Campbell fan and I only wish he had done more with Greek and Roman myth before he passed away. He seemed to avoid it for some reason that I’ve never heard fully explained.

    I look forward to hearing about your trip one day.

  3. Chris

    Great post! I was at Sounion, but didn’t make it to Delphi, it was too far from Athens for our weekend trip.

  4. Joseph

    I used to be completely obsessed with mythology when I was younger. I actually even wrote a few creation myths myself and won awards for them at the literary fair in our county. My teacher called me the myth monster.

    I’ve had a few relatives go and see Greece for themselves and they say it’s one of the most beautiful places they’ve visited. Must have been exciting!

    1. Read.Learn.Write

      “Myth Monster.” I like it. I had a lot of nicknames growing up, but none that cool.

      It is a very beautiful place and worth going. Very awe inspiring.

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