Introduction to Mythology
Ashley Zhang
May 20, 2014

Mythology is a collection of myths. Myths are stories created to give values to persons, places, and things. They respond to our need for some kind of reassurance and meaning in the universe. Myths are attempts to explain how things like simple speech, food, and drink, came to be. They also try to explain a certain custom or a natural process.

Who Is Hestia?

Hestia, also known as Vesta, was the firstborn child of Kronos and Rhea, and was the first one to be swallowed by Kronos. Being the first one to be swallowed, she was the last one to be disgorged, and was called both the eldest and the youngest of the six Kronoids. She was also an eternal virgin. She presides over the fire used for cooking, warmth, and scaring beasts. She is the "custodian" of family life. Her presence made a place holy, because she was the protectoress of the hearth, including the sacrificial flame. She possesses the powers of the Olympians: superhuman strength, vitality, longevity, and resistance to injury. She can also fly at great speed, shape-shift, and be invisible. Her symbols include: the hearth, the home, the living flame, architecture (because she helped redesign Mount Olympus), the bowl, veils, the pantry, and keys. Her sacred animals are the donkey and the pig. Her sacred plants are the angel's trumpet, the California poppy, the goldenrod, the hollyhock, the purple coneflower, and yarrow. Her sacred scents are angelica, iris, lavender, and peony. Her sacred gems are the amethyst, the garnet, gold, silver, and brass. Her sacred colors are gold, dark rose, lavender, silver, and black.

Who was Lamia?

The monster Lamia was, according to myth, once a Libyan queen who had an affair with Zeus. When Hera found out, she killed Lamia's children. According to one version of her story, Zeus transformed her into a monster so she could exact her revenge by killing other women's children. The other version is that Hera, along with killing Lamia's children, turned her into a monster and rendered her unable to close her eyes, so she would be forever haunted by the image of her dead children. When Zeus saw what Hera had done, he took pity on Lamia and gave her the power to take out her eyes and put them back in again.  Lamia can, as mentioned, take out her eyes and put them back in again.

What is the myth of Tantalus about?

There are differing stories on this myth, but probably the most famous one is the one where Tantalus tried to trick the gods. He served to the gods the body of his son. His idea was that if they ate it, he could blackmail the gods into doing whatever he wanted. However, the gods noticed, and restored his son back to life. As a punishment, the gods made it so when Tantalus reached for food, it would "run" away from him. The other story was that Tantalus tried to bring ambrosia back with him and let the other mortals eat it, with the same end result. The lesson: don't try to accomplish something you can't do. Tantalus tried to trick to trick the gods, and he got a severe punishment for that. It doesn't really explain anything, but it might explain how the word tantalize came to be.

How does mythology still connect to today's world?

Apollo: Apollo Photonics is named that way because Apollo is the god of light, and this company provides photonic (light) integrated circuit and devices.
Atlas: the moving company Atlas Van Lines was named because Atlas was forever doomed to hold the world on his shoulders.
Bacchus: the company Bacchus Restaurant are wine makers, and Bacchus is the god of wine.
Centaur: Centaur Pharmaceuticals manufactures veterinarian medicine, and centaurs are animals (half man, half horse).

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