Since the days when man lived in caves and struggled to survive, he has wondered about the world that surrounds him. What makes the sun rise and set? Why are there seasons? Where do things go when they die? To the ancient Greeks, there were simple explanations to all these questions – it was the gods! Things that seemed unexplainable could suddenly make sense when there were gods and goddesses involved. And these stories of the gods that the Greeks created to help make sense of the universe have survived the years to become a treasured and integral part of the history of the Western world.
Everyone knows who Zeus is. But are they aware that Zeus shared his power with thirteen of his sisters, brothers, and children? First there was his sister, Hera, whom he had chosen from his many wives to be his queen. Then there was Ares, their son, who was the god of war. Next was Hephaestus, the god of fire, and his wife Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Another of Zeus’s children, Hermes, was the herald of the gods. And then there was Demeter, the goddess of the harvest, with her beloved daughter Persephone on her lap. Next there was Poseidon, the lord of the sea and Zeus’s brother, and then the four children of Zeus: Athena, goddess of wisdom; the twins Apollo (god of light and music) and Artemis (goddess of the hunt); and Dionysus, the god of wine. Zeus’s eldest sister Hestia also lived with these twelve great gods. She was the goddess of the hearth, and tended the sacred fires of the gods. Finally, of course, there was Hades, the lord of the underworld and the ruler of the dead. He preferred his gloomy palace to the light of the gods’ world, and chose to stay there.
Those were the twelve great gods of Mount Olympus, who ruled in splendor the lives of the mortals below them. But there were also many minor gods and goddesses, nature gods, and of course the many heroes that are involved in Greek mythology, Hercules being perhaps the most famous of these. The Greeks believed that every tree had its wood nymph and ever river had its river god. It was necessary to pray for the approval of these gods before boating across a river or chopping down a tree, lest they meet with disastrous results. Of course, on some occasions, even when one took the precaution of attempting to appease them, the gods might just be in a foul mood and decide to let a human suffer – there are many stories like this in Greek mythology.
So what did all these gods do all day long other than relax in their comfy palaces? Well, it was the belief of the ancient Greeks that their gods were involved in every aspect of daily human life, that they watched over all that was going on and at times stuck their noses in – sometimes to help a beloved devotee, other times to seek revenge on a human who has ignored them, and sometimes just for their own amusement. There was a great deal of fear and distrust involved in the Greek’s relationship with the deities, but they did believe with their whole hearts that the gods existed, and that they would protect and care for the devout.
Some aspects of the Greeks’ religion seem barbaric and ridiculous to the modern observer, but that is not really for us to judge. The importance of the ancient Greek religion lies not in their almost blind devotion to the gods, but in the major contribution to modern literature of the Greek mythology. These stories of gods and goddesses interacting with mortals are still familiar, and still enjoyed, by humans worldwide, thousands of years after they were written and told merely as simple tales to explain the unexplainable in life.
Filed Under: Ancient Greece, Greek Mythology, History
- The conclusion needs to 1. restate the paper’s main points 2. answer the question, “Who cares?”, and 3. finish the paper with something punchy.
You have written a beautiful introduction and body, and now you have to finish the draft off by writing the conclusion! You want to finish strong and leave the reader with an interesting closing thought.
That being said, your concluding paragraph has to 1. briefly summarize your work (without sounding redundant), 2. illustrate why your paper is significant, and 3. end with a punch.
The conclusion should be formatted like an upside-down introduction–from the most specific to the most general. Therefore, the first sentence of your conclusion paragraph should describe the main points of your paper:
“Although there were a variety of lesser factors, the ultimate demise of the Roman Empire was a result of three main ones: poor leadership, outside pressure from barbarian forces, and weakening cultural unity.”
“Although Microsoft, Google, and Apple have similar company roots–nerdy college-aged kids tinkering around in garages–they have developed into very different companies. Apple has developed around the personality of a single person, while Microsoft and Google–while heavily influenced by their founders–have taken a less centralized approach.”
The trick with this sentence (or two) is to reiterate your paper’s main idea without sounding redundant. Copying and pasting your thesis is not a good idea. Another bad idea is to start out with a hollow-sounding phrase like “In conclusion,” “In summary,” or “As a whole.” These not-so-subtle phrases are sure to bore your reader.
Next, your conclusion has to relate your issue to a broader idea or question. Let’s say you’re writing a paper on symbolism and social overtones in The Crucible (a play by Arthur Miller about the Salem Witch Trials). In your conclusion, you should explain why your paper is significant.
Who cares? Who cares about Miller’s use of symbolism?
Your conclusion should make a link between the contents of your paper and a larger issue. A larger issue could be something like
- How the social overtones in the book have influenced how people view the Salem Witch Trials in hindsight
- How Miller’s style has influenced other playwrights or authors
- How Miller’s use of symbolism was seen by his contemporaries
Now is not the time to make a wild, unsupported claim. A small connection will suffice.
[Sentence restating paper’s main points about symbols in Miller’s play.] Miller’s use of symbolism in The Crucible dramatizes the hypothetical Salem described in his play. Such dramatization calls into question how much the theoretical Salem in Miller’s play differed from the historical Salem, which is a key question that makes the play so controversial and enduring.
The ‘larger issue’ here is how Miller’s use of symbolism helps underscore the difference between the Salem described in the play and the historical Salem. The difference between the two is a key question.
Another technique you might use for your conclusion is to describe where additional study needs to be done–where your essay stops and another essay could start.
At the end of your conclusion, you should have a punchy sentence that leaves your reader with an interesting thought. One way of doing this is to reconnect your ending sentence with your title:
Say you’re writing a paper on the similarities of Zeus and his son Hercules:
Title: Like Father, Like Son: Exploring Paternal Relationships in Greek Mythology
Concluding sentences: Hercules’ demeanor, athleticism, and attitude are similar to that of his father, Zeus. Both gods exemplify Greek ideals of masculinity. Greek mythological texts, then, reinforce the idea that fathers should pass Greek cultural values onto their sons. The story of Hercules reinforces the colloquial phrase, “like father, like son.”
Here the ‘larger issue’ is how Greek cultural values are shaped by Greek mythology. The ending is punchy. It contains a nice, memorable phrase and circles back to the interesting title.