Photo: Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures

“Troy”, “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”, “Hercules”, “Immortals” and “Wonder Woman” are some of the top 5 Hollywood movies inspired by Greek mythology. The plot, the cast, the costumes, the characters, the adventurous and heroic stories make us travel into epic times and holds our attention to the very last moment!

All those movies were inspired by Greek mythology – and did you know the real story? Its time you find out the myth behind the movies. 

Greek Mythology – Troy

Troy, is an epic historical war film directed by Wolfgang Petersen. It was released in 2004 and written by David Benioff. Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom led the cast, as well as Brian Cox, Sean Bean and Peter O’ Toole. The story is based on “The Iliad”, which is an epic by Homer. In this movie Achilles, portrayed by Brad Pitt, leads his warriors the Myrmidons, along with the rest of the Greek army to invade the historical city of Troy, defended by Hector’s Trojan army.

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What happened in the Trojan War in ancient Greece?

The Greek goddesses Athena, Hera and Aphrodite were given a golden apple by Eris with the inscription “To the most beautiful”. There was a dispute between them about who really deserved that apple. Zeus in order to resolve the dispute asked Paris, the Prince of Troy to choose. Paris chose Aphrodite. As a reward, she cast a spell to bless him with the most beautiful mortal woman, Helen, to fall in love with him. Paris took Helen and went to Troy.

There was a problem though, as Helen was already married to Menelaus, whose brother was the king of Mycenae, Agamemnon. Using this as a reason Agamemnon started a war and besieged Troy for ten years. Many heroes died in this war, such as Achilles, Aeada of Telamon, Hector and Paris, while the whole city was destroyed in the end after the cunning Trojan Horse ambush. The Trojan War was a huge inspiration for many ancient Greek writers such as Homer, the creator of the well-known epics, The Iliad and The Odyssey. In The Iliad he describes the final fifty one days of the Trojan War, while in The Odyssey he describes the ten year journey of Odysseus, King of Ithaca, known also as Ulysses.

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Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, is an action fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus. It stars Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Jake Abel, Rosario Dawson, Steve Coogan, Uma Thurman, Catherine Keener, Joe Pantoliano, Kevin McKidd, Sean Bean, Dylan Neal and Pierce Brosnan. The film is loosely based on the 2005 novel “The Lighting Thief” by Rick Riordan. Percy, a teenager with dyslexia, discovers that he is the descendant of a Greek god, Poseidon, and sets out on an adventure.

Who were the Gods of Olympus?

The Gods of Olympus are the main gods of Greek mythology who lived on top of mount Olympus. After a ten-year-long war with the Titans, they won and gained their supremacy. The twelve Olympians are the major deities of the Greek pantheon.

Zeus was the king of the gods and ruler of Mount Olympus. He was the god of lighting, the sky, thunder, justice, law and order. Hera was the queen of the gods and protector of marriage, family, women and childbirth. Poseidon was the god of the seas, horses, water, storms, hurricanes and earthquakes. Demeter was the goddess of the harvest, the seasons, fertility, agriculture and nature. Athena was the goddess of wisdom, handicraft, warfare and knowledge. Apollo was the god of light, the sun, prophecy, philosophy, inspiration, poetry, music, arts, manly beauty, medicine and healing.

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Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, the wilderness, virginity, the moon, archery and protection. Ares was the god of war, violence, bloodshed and manly virtues. Hephaestus was the Master Blacksmith and craftsman of the gods, god of invention, fire and volcanoes. Aphrodite was the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, passion and desire. Hermes was the Messenger of the gods, god of travel, commerce, communication and diplomacy. He was also the guide of dead souls to Ades, god of the underworld. Hestia or Dionysus are also mentioned in between the twelve Olympians. Hestia was the goddess of health, fire, domesticity and family. Dionysus was the god of wine, the grape vine, ecstasy, festivity, resurrection and madness.

In some part of the movie Percy and his friends encounter Medusa at a greenhouse garden. In Greek mythology Medusa, which means jellyfish in Greek, was one of the three Mermaids (Gorgones). Of these three sisters, Medusa was the only mortal one. Her other name was Gorgo, which means wild eyes. She was a beautiful priestess of Athens. Poseidon transformed her into a despicable monster, who had snakes instead of hair. Her ugliness was such that anyone who stared at her in the eyes was turned to stone. Medusa was beheaded by the hero Perseus who thereafter used her head, which retained its ability to turn onlookers to stone, as a weapon until he gave it to the goddess Athena who placed it on her shield.

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Hercules

Hercules, is a 2014 American 3D action-adventure film directed by Brett Ratner, written by Ryan J. Condal and Evan Spiliotopoulos and starring Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Aksel Hennie, Ingrid Bolso Berdal. Reece Ritchie, Tobias Santelmann, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan, Rebecca Ferguson, Isaac Andrews, Irina Shayk and John Hurt. The movie is based on the graphic novel Hercules: The Thracian Wars. 

Hercules, the Greek demigod, having completed the legendary twelve labors, deals with another challenge as the King of Thrace and his daughter seeks his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord.

Who was Hercules and the twelve labors and what this has to do with the Olympic Games?

Hercules son of Zeus and Alcmene, was a demigod born in Thebes. He was regarded as the greatest and strongest of the Greek heroes. Hera, whose husband Zeus cheated on her with Alcmene, in order to avenge him drove their son Hercules mad and made him commit terrible crimes. Hercules felt so bad after what he did, that in order to purify his soul he went to live with his cousin, King Eurystheus who ordered him to complete twelve labors. Such as: to kill the Nemean lion, to kill the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra, to capture the Ceryneian Hind and then the Erymanthian Boar. To clean the Augean stables in one day and kill the Stymphalian birds. Then to capture the Cretan Bull and steal the Mares of Diomedes.

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To obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon, steal the apples of the Hesperides and finally capture and bring back Cerberus. After he completed all tasks, Hercules took part in several battles and established the Olympic Games. In the ancient writings of Diodoros Sikeliotis we read: “Hercules was the one that established these games in honor of Zeus his father. And he set a wreath prize for the winners, because he too benefited the human race, without receiving any salary. And in all competitions he won, because no one dared to compare him to his exalted virtue, though the sports were very different from one another.”

Since then the Olympic Games take place every four years and participants from all over the world compete in an array of sports. 

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Immortals

Immortals, is a 2011 American epic action film directed by Tarsem Singh and starring Henry Cavill as Theseus, Freida Pinto as Phaedra and Mickey Rourke as King Hyperion. The film also stars Luke Evans, Steve Byers, Kellan Lutz, Joseph Morgan, Stephen Dorff, Daniel Sharman, Alan van Sprang, Isabel Lucas, Corey Sevier and John Hurt. The movie illustrates the story of Theseus and his battle against King Hyperion. King Hyperion was on a mission to find the lost Epirus Bow to use against the gods. In his quest, King Hyperion killed Theseus’s mother and then took him captive. Theseus escaped and return to bury his mother, only to find the Epirus Bow lodged in a rock. Theseus retrieved the bow and killed the Minotaur, which was a half-bull and half-man creature.

Why did Theseus kill the Minotaur in Greek Mythology?

The Minotaur had a human body and a bull’s head and tail. His name was Asterian and dwelled in the Labyrinth built by Daedalus at the behest of King of Crete, Minos. Minos in order to punish the Athenians for killing his son, every nine years put seven Athenian girls and seven Athenian boys into the maze and the Minotaur killed them. To end this cruelty, Theseus pretended to be one of them and with the help of his beloved Ariadne who gave him a yarn to unfold in order to not lose track, he managed to kill the Minotaur and to find his way back.

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Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman, is an American 2017 superhero film directed by Patty Jenkins and it is based on a DC Comics character. The screenplay is by Allan Heinberg and the story by Heinberg, Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs. Wonder Woman stars Gal Gadot, alongside Chris Pine, Robin Right, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen and Elena Anaya. When a pilot (Chris Pine) crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana(Gal Gadot), an Amazonian warrior, leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

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Who were the Amazons in ancient Greek mythology?

The Amazons were people who lived in Eurasia. They were hunters and warriors who belonged to a group of nomadic tribes that the Greeks generally called Scythes. Women enjoyed a great deal of freedom and equality and fought alongside men. Their skills impressed the Greeks so much that they created the myth of the Amazons. The Amazon tribe consisted exclusively of women who lived without men and they were military trained. They lived as nomads who loved horses and hunting. According to the legend, the Amazon warriors descended from the god of war, Ares and the nymph Harmony. In another version they were descendants of the goddess Artemis who was the goddess of hunting, free living and protector of the young girls.

 If you haven’t seen the movies yet, then you definitely should!

By Aliki Valores

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