Greek Mythology

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Which Greek myths centralize the value of community?

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Several Greek myths have community as a central value. Ancient Greek societies valued loyalty, hospitality, and family, all of which contribute to a strong community. Whether approaching battle, appeasing the gods, or simply adhering to societal norms, community was at the forefront.

The myth of the Trojan horse shows how war could be won using communal strength of both mind and body. When Helen was kidnapped and held in Troy, many answered the call to ensure her safe return. The Greeks were faced with a problem, though, as the fortified border of Troy seemed impenetrable. Pretending to offer as a gift to the people of Troy a large wooden horse, with a carved-out center in which soldiers could hide, the Greeks sailed away. Once the horse was brought into Troy, the Greek soldiers waited until the Trojans were asleep, climbed out of the horse, rescued Helen, and defeated Troy. Working as a group helped to ensure their success.

The cautionary tale of King Midas also illustrates the value ancient Greeks placed on the individual's responsibility to the community. When greed led Midas to wish for "a golden touch," without thinking of the implications of such a wish, he found himself despairing and scared. He couldn't stop turning to gold everything he touched! Even his daughter fell victim to his "wish." When the gods took pity on him and removed his golden touch and returned his daughter, Midas was so grateful that he then ruled his kingdom with kindness and generosity. The reward for his newfound communal spirit was becoming very much loved and respected: a valued member of the community.

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