Matriarchal: A matriarchy is a society in which females, especially mothers, have the central roles of political leadership, moral authority, and control of property. This society was evident in mythological times.
A legendary matriarchy related by classical Greek writers was the Amazon society, most notable the Amazon women: "frequently hunting on horseback with their husbands; in war taking the field; and wearing the very same dress as the men". Moreover, said Herodotus, "[n]o girl shall wed till she has killed a man in battle".
Patriarchal: a social system in which the male acts as the primary authority figure central to social organization, and where fathers hold authority over women, children, and property. This type of society was much more prevalent in the early years of our nation’s birth, and - to some extent – still holds true today for some families, religions, and cultures.
A prominent Greek general Meno sums up the prevailing Greek sentiment about the respective virtues of men and women. He says:
“Let us take first the virtue of a man—he should know how to administer the state, and in the administration of it to benefit his friends and harm his enemies; and he must also be careful not to suffer harm himself. A woman's virtue, if you wish to know about that, may also be easily described: her duty is to order her house, and keep what is indoors, and obey her husband."
Agrarian: relating to land, land tenure, or the division of landed property: agrarian laws. Agriculture was hugely important during mythological times.
Hesiod & Aristotle promoted agrarian ideas. Even more influential were such Roman thinkers as Cato, Cicero, Horace, and Virgil. They all praised the virtues of a life devoted to the tilling of the soil.
Areté: Skill or talent that a hero possesses.
Areté is frequently associated with bravery, but more often, with effectiveness. The man or woman of Areté is a person of the highest effectiveness; they use all their faculties: strength, bravery, wit, and deceptiveness, to achieve real results. In the Homeric world, then, Areté involves all of the abilities available to humans
Ate: The action performed by the hero, usually because of hubris (excessive pride), that often leads to his or her death or downfall. The hero’s weakness
Hubris: extreme pride or arrogance
Hubris referred to actions that shamed and humiliated the victim for the pleasure or gratification of the abuser.
Homer: The believed author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, Homer is revered as the greatest of ancient Greek epic poets. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature. In ancient times, these great works were spoken and passed down through the ages. Even more amazing to note is that Homer was blind.
Epic: a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Epics were often told orally or through song.
Achilles Heel: A deadly weakness in spite of overall strength, that can actually or potentially lead to downfall. While the mythological origin refers to a physical vulnerability, idiomatic references to other attributes or qualities that can lead to downfall are common.
When Achilles was a baby it was foretold that he would die in battle. To prevent his death, his mother Thetis took Achilles to the River Styx which was supposed to offer powers of invulnerability and dipped his body into the water. But as Thetis held Achilles by the heel, his heel was not washed over by the water of the magical river. Achilles grew up to be a man of war who survived many great battles. But one day, a poisonous arrow shot at him was lodged in his heel, killing him shortly after.
Pandora’s Box: The "box" was given to Pandora and it contained all the evils of the world. Curiosity led her to open the box, letting out evil. Spirit of hope remained in the box.