Show Off Your Knowledge of Ancient Greece!
Welcome to the first of my Greek Mythology Trivia Quizzes! Some of these quizzes are tough, and may stump even students and fans of Greek mythology (which makes them a fun way to study for tests).
However, this quiz is for everybody, even if you've learned your Greek mythology from The Lightning Thief, Disney or Xena. Be sure to browse the "mini-myths," art and other goodies following each quiz!
Greek Mythology Quiz
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- How many labors did Herakles have?
- I didn't even know he was pregnant
- Who is the guard doggie of the underworld?
- Who's the fairest of them all (yes, I know, she bribed the judge)?
- Midas has the golden touch, but who will get you stoned?
- The Clashing Rocks
- Who has some major issues with mom and dad?
- Zeus was particularly well-known for his...
- dinner parties
- battle prowess
- extramarital affairs
- Elvis impersonation
- Sky, Sea, Underworld... who got what?
- Zeus, Hades, Poseidon
- Hades, Zeus, Poseidon
- Poseidon, Zeus, Hades
- Zeus, Poseidon, Hades
- Who shouldn't have looked back?
- Jason went to fetch the Golden Fleece. What else did he bring back?
- Golden fleas
- A witch
- The art of writing
- Several dozen amphoras of wine
- Who opened a box of all the world's ills?
- Who had the first hang-gliding accident?
- How many gods of Olympus are there?
- They have unlisted numbers
- extramarital affairs
- Zeus, Hades, Poseidon
- A witch
The Power of Twelve
What's with this twelve business, anyway?
Twelve labors of Hercules, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve signs of the Zodiac -- why 12? Why not 10?
The answer lies in the stars -- or rather, the moon! Ancient Mesopotamians figured out that there were twelve months in a year. Their method of dividing time and circles into twelve parts caught on, and was later adopted by the Greeks. They saw the number 12 as celestial ("heavenly") and important.
Finally, some modern scholars have noticed that you can count to 12 with one hand. Huh? We've got 5 fingers per hand! Yes, but try this: using the thumb of each hand, count finger bones of the other fingers. 1, 2, 3 on the pointer finger. 4, 5, 6 on the index finger. See?
Kerberos (Cerberus) the Guard Dog of Hades
Hercules' best prank
Kerberos is the Greek name for this hound; Cerberus is Latin. He's a popular figure in Greek art and mythology, because he's so much fun to draw or describe. His job is to scare the dead into staying down in Hades, and to keep the living from intruding on the land of the dead.
Some stories say his three heads represent past, present and future. Like many figures of Greek myth, his coat has a fringe of snakes, scary animals that seem to have powers over life (they shed their skin and become young again) and death (lethal bites).
The last of Hercules' twelve labors was to bring up Kerberos from the underworld, symbolizing his transition to immortality. His taskmaster was his cousin Eurystheus. There are several amusing Greek vases depicting Eurystheus hiding in a pot after his cousin shows up with the ferocious beastie.
Who's the Fairest of Them All?
The Judgment of Paris
The prequel to the Trojan War in 500 words or less:
Eris the goddess of discord was annoyed. Peleus and Thetis, future parents of Achilles the great hero of the Trojan War, had not sent her an invitation. So she showed up at the reception like a bad fairy and tossed out a golden apple inscribed with the words, "To the fairest." Zeus, wise politician, knew better than to judge between the three contenders: Athena, Aphrodite and Hera. He had Hermes the messenger-god lead the three goddesses down to Paris, ladies' man, for his expert judgment.
Each of the goddesses promised him something. Dominion, whispered Hera. Victory in battle, vowed Athena. Aphrodite just flashed him and said, "I'll give you the hottest babe in the world." Naturally, Aphrodite got the apple.
Paris forgot to check the terms and conditions, however. The hottest babe was Helen, wife of powerful King Menelaus. Her abduction was the spark that ignited the Trojan War. Paris wouldn't give her back, and was thus caused the destruction of his city, his father, his brothers, and eventually him. Oops.
[Sources for this myth: various authors translated on theoi.com]
Everybody Must Get Stoned
At least until Perseus spoils the fun
Perseus' mother Danae was in big trouble: she'd been banished by her father after giving birth to a boy out of wedlock (not her fault; Zeus, as usual, was playing around). She washed up on an island ruled by King Polydektes. Unfortunately, he had the hots for Danae as well.
The king thought he would get rid of young Perseus by sending the aspiring hero on a quest to prove himself. His assignment: bring back the head of Medusa, a fearsome monster whose gaze turned anyone to stone who looked at her. Luckily for Perseus, his half-siblings Athena and Hermes were looking out for him. They loaned him winged sandals, a cap of invisibility, and various other goodies to help him on his quest, and advised him to look into his shield so as not to get petrified.
That worked. He lopped of Medusa's head and brought it back. When King Polydektes stupidly said, "Well, have you got it, then?" Perseus brought it out and petrified him.
[Ancient source for Perseus myth: Apollodorus 2.4 in translation]
Photo Gallery: Glimpses of Greece - From My Trip to Greece
Oedipus Gets a Bum Rap
If his real story wasn't bad enough, Freud had to give him a complex
Oedipus will kill his father and marry his mother.
When his parents heard this terrible prophecy, they exposed their newborn son. A kind-hearted shepherd rescued the baby and passed it off to a friend in a neighboring kingdom. There the childless king and queen received Oedipus with joy, raising him as their own, never telling him he was adopted. So when he heard a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother, he fled to protect his parents from himself. On the road to Thebes, he was nearly run over by an elderly man in a chariot and killed him in self-defense.
Thebes was then being ravaged by a terrible monster, the sphinx, who would eat anyone that could not guess her riddle. (Can you?) Oedipus solved the riddle, drove the monster to kill herself, and married the grateful queen, recently widowed. The couple ruled Thebes happily until a plague swept through the kingdom.
Deeply worried for his people, Oedipus consulted oracles and prophets to learn why the gods were angry. He boasted that the fate of Thebes was in his hands, not the gods', and he would save them. Finally the truth came out: his pollution for his sins was the cause of divine punishment. The queen committed suicide. Oedipus put out his own eyes in self-loathing and banished himself.
In modern times, Freud named a complex after Oedipus, claiming that he'd done all that because he wanted to kill his father and marry his mother. But in the original story, Oedipus did everything he could to avoid his fate. He's actually a lot like Job, except that at first he does not have humility, and only after the awful truth comes out does he realize that there is no escaping god's will.
[Chief source for this myth: Sophocles' Oedipus in translation]
Affairs of Zeus - Making up for his castrated grandfather, maybe
Earth, Air, Water
The three senior Olympians
Threes and twelves -- Greeks do love their numbers.
In classical mythology, the three sons of Cronos divide up all parts of the world into respective dominions. Zeus is king of the gods, rules the sky and wilds a thunderbolt. Hades is lord of the underworld and the dead, and also of wealth, since minerals are delved from under the earth. Poseidon rules the sea.
At right is a cult statue of Poseidon that I photographed in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
Don't Look Back
Orpheus and Eurydice
Orpheus is the mythical founder of popular "mysteries" which promised a blessed afterlife for followers who emulate him. They purify themselves with vegetarianism, with special garments, and with prayer and ascetic practices. There are many stories about how Orpheus descended and returned from the land of the dead. In some versions, he succeeds in bringing Eurydice back!
However, late classical writers seized upon a tragic variant of the Orpheus myth. In this version, his journey to Hades ends in disaster. He uses the sweet music of his lyre to calm Kerberos and the fearsome beasts of the underworld. Even Hades and Persephone, king and queen of the dead, are moved by his music. They allow him to take Eurydice home if he does not look back. Orpheus nearly makes it to the surface, but he cannot hear her, cannot tell she's behind him, and looks over his shoulder. She vanishes like mist.
Right: "Orpheus" by Canova. Photo by Yair Haklai, CC.
Jason and Medea
The twit and the witch
Greek writers portray Jason as rather a sap. He takes a whole band of adventurers with him to the north shore of the Black Sea retrieve the Golden Fleece. There he seduces and gains the aid of the king's daughter Medea, granddaughter of the sun-god Helios.
She helps Jason slay the dragon guarding the Golden Fleece and guides him through various perils. He brings her home, then ditches her to marry another king's daughter as a stepping-stone to power. Medea avenges herself by sending the bride a poisoned gown. Then she kills her children by Jason (they would have been killed as bastards) and flies up to heaven on her grandfather's chariot.
Later writers have a field day portraying Medea as a sinister, terrifying villainess. Euripides' Medea is a more subtle drama that leaves you trying to decide whether she was a woman backed into a corner in a man's world or a psychopath.
Pandora: A Riddle for the Ages
What happened to hope?
Most people know the myth of Pandora, but there's a riddle buried in it which has no answer.
Pandora was yet another early Greek goddess who suffered a serious demotion in the archaic period. The early writer Hesiod told two stories about how the first woman, Pandora ("all-gifted"), was created by the gods to torment mankind.
She comes with a box containing all the world's ills. She does not know what's inside; she's simply been told not to open it. Naturally, she yields to temptation. Out fly disease, old age, and every other form of suffering. Just in time, she slams down the lid and traps Hope inside.
But wait. Does that mean she kept Hope away from us? Or saved it? My own thought is that this kind of hope is not what we now mean by hope; it's more of a concept of knowing the future, anticipation. Not knowing, we can still hope. But that's a stretch, and many have debated what this myth really means.
Not Too High, Not Too Low
The myth of Daedalus and Icarus
Daedalus the great architect and inventor is trapped on the island of Krete by King Minos, so he creates wings for himself and his son to fly away.
The Roman poet Ovid tells a poignant version of their story, describing young Icarus innocently playing with the feathers and the wax.
Daedalus instructs his son not to fly too low or too high. However, the boy forgets his father's instructions (of course) and flies too near the sun, melting the wax fastenings of his wings. He plummets into the sea.
Their names are Daidalos and Ikaros in Greek, but I love Ovid's poem, so I use their Latin names.
© 2009 Ellen Brundige
Guestbook for Greek Mythology Fans - How did you do?
April Seldon from New Orleans on February 15, 2018:
I enjoyed this.
Nobody on October 15, 2015:
Last one is wrong, i got them all right but the last answer came back wrong. someone needs to refresh their memory (and it ain't me)
Samantha on February 27, 2015:
Hi, enjoyed your page. Took the quiz and the answer to #7 is wrong. Sky = Zeus, Sea = Poseidon, Underworld = Hades. Unless I misread the question.
Scindhia from Chennai on May 29, 2014:
Got only 8.. fun quiz!
Andromachi Polychroniou from Maurothalassa, Serres, Greece on May 09, 2014:
12 out of 12. Thank you for the quiz. I enjoyed it.
John Dyhouse from UK on March 19, 2014:
Did much better with this one 10/12. But I see you call it the easy one, mmmm.
Laura Brown from Ontario, Canada on February 24, 2014:
I like how you built your lens with the quiz first and then the answers.
Lynn Klobuchar on January 17, 2014:
9/12. And I knew better on one of them but I can't tell me anything. Fun.
artsy-geek on October 20, 2013:
That was fun. Got 10 out of 12 though : )
kevkev227 lm on March 25, 2013:
This was fun...thanks :)
suepogson on January 16, 2013:
I enjoyed that - well written and funny. Thanks
Short_n_Sweet on December 28, 2012:
Got 67%... That was a fun quiz..and all the answers afterwards (why didn't I peek:-) was very informative and fun!!
cody everette on December 27, 2012:
That was a lot of fun, I enjoyed all the background info after the quiz.
kopox on October 29, 2012:
A RovingReporter on October 26, 2012:
I fared so badly,
Thamisgith on October 22, 2012:
I got 100% - but I admit that one was a lucky guess.
christineallen on October 19, 2012:
Donnette Davis from South Africa on October 15, 2012:
Truthmusica on October 14, 2012:
alexiafeatherch on October 05, 2012:
I got 75%. It's been awhile since I've read anything about Greek Mythology, but this was a nice brush-up with the quiz and information.
vinodkpillai lm on September 05, 2012:
Not bad at all - I thought I would be a disaster - but it turned out pretty decent - so nice! I love quizzes and this one was particularly interesting - thanks!
OrlandoTipster on July 17, 2012:
Need to brush up on mythology
bensen32 lm on July 14, 2012:
50% not to good but I learned something so that's good.
Thanks for a fun and educational lens.
InternetMarketingTentacle on July 11, 2012:
Wowsers, pretty cool, got 92% right... and my mythology classes were some 20 years ago... phew :-)
Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on July 10, 2012:
Hi lot of fun, and I learned a lot about Greek Mythology.
anonymous on July 03, 2012:
I Love these lenses I will have to do them all now
Stephen Bush from Ohio on May 13, 2012:
This is obviously a lens I must return to.... Thank you!
top-holidays lm on May 12, 2012:
Love your lens, very interesting
SheilaMilne from Kent, UK on May 07, 2012:
Years and years and years ago, at about the age of eight, we learnt some Greek mythology at school with a book called "Favourite Greek Myths". I helped me more than I expected. :)
jeffersonline on May 01, 2012:
That was a wakeup call! I thought I was right on the money there, but stumbled slightly - thanks for putting this lens together to help unfog my memory!
anonymous on April 22, 2012:
I need to learn to read first and then take your quizzes, 50% only...always so well done!
MindPowerProofs1 on March 23, 2012:
Thank you for the information and fun
mcadloni on March 13, 2012:
Interesting lens, I read "Anything is Possible" about Aesop, I like Greek mythology.
There is so much you can learn about Greek Mythology and it is fun to read!
WilliamPower on March 02, 2012:
AMPSBDavis on January 29, 2012:
Hypersapien2 from U.S. on January 23, 2012:
Another enjoyable lens!
macsquared on January 17, 2012:
Ah, I was hoping for a perfect score! Looks like I have a little Greek Mythology to brush up on!
anonymous on December 27, 2011:
Interesting lens, fascinating material.
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage from southwestern Virginia on December 26, 2011:
83% - not bad for someone who hasn't thought about mythology for quit a while :+] Good quiz; interesting and attractive explanations, Thanks,
anonymous on December 26, 2011:
good lens...lots of information
Miha Gasper from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU on December 22, 2011:
Missed last one, nailed others!
Ellen Brundige (author) from California on December 05, 2011:
@anonymous: You know, it's been a while since I've taught, but that's the first time I've had a student try "I'm sure you're wrong" to get test scores changed.
So. Congratulations! You've discovered one mythological variant I've never heard of: that Hercules failed one of his labors. Please tell me this story, and I'll give you two points extra credit if you can point me to a classical Greek source where it's found! ("Cite a classical source or it didn't happen!" as a scholar would say. ;) )
Regardless, Hercules does have 12 labors; that's a convention about him in Greek mythology that's true even when it isn't, just as everyone knows that there's 9 Muses and 3 Fates despite mythological variants. The ancient Greeks called Hercules' main twelve labors the twelve feats ("dodekathlon", with dodeka, the number twelve), and any that didn't fit the canonical 12 were called extra works ("pererga"). Accordingly, you'll find Hercules' 12 labors depicted in 12 metopes (decorated squares spaces) over the east and west porches of the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, one of the two most important temples in the classical world. The twelve labors are also mentioned by many poets and writers. You can read some of them in translation here (see the sidebar):
As for the "get you stoned" -- sorry, nice try, but you're not gonna get the points for that one. Medusa is most famously the monster who turns people to stone. Polyphemos is associated with a lot of things -- cheese, sheep, one eye, caves, Poseidon, raunchy satyr plays, the nymph Galatea -- and he's far more liable to eat you than drop a rock on you. Or, if we are to believe the pastoral poets, he's far more liable to play his pipes and behave like a country bumpkin. Go figure. My point: "stoning" isn't especially associated with Polyphemos as a mythological figure, whereas it is with Medusa. If you'd asked an ancient Greek this question, they'd have picked "Medusa" without hesitation.
I know, I know, this mean teacher gave two answers on a quiz, one more right than the other! (In fact, I gave three, since I mentioned the Clashing Rocks.) Teachers are evil that way.
Thanks for playing, though, and giving me some hope people are still studying Greek myth out there! Now, please, tell me a story. Where'd you hear this one about Herakles failing to complete a labor?
anonymous on December 05, 2011:
Hi. I'm sure you are wrong on some of these. Herakles had twelve labors to do, but the king said he didn't complete one of them and so gave him another one to do, therefore he did 13 labors. You could also say Polyphemos could 'get you stoned', as he is famous for throwing large stones at Odysseys as he left the island.
Carolan Ross from St. Louis, MO on November 29, 2011:
ALL of your lenses are SO creative and beautifully formatted, love this greek mythology quiz and am a fan. Best to you from CC in St. Lou
JoyfulReviewer on November 17, 2011:
Thanks for another fun and challenging quiz.
anonymous on November 15, 2011:
I did worst than i thought I would! Need some primer in Greek mythology:)
MintySea on October 27, 2011:
That quiz was really fun to take,
Jim Sterling from Franklin, Tennessee on October 18, 2011:
Thanks for the easier quiz.
franstan lm on September 08, 2011:
stickfigurine on September 03, 2011:
Awesome I'm greek and it's nice to see that other people enjoy ancient greek mythology as much as I do.
anonymous on September 01, 2011:
i've always been a fan of greek myths - in fact, my night table reading material are all mythology related...
dvpwli on July 21, 2011:
great lens - i never know about this kind of facts
Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on June 07, 2011:
Great lens, I enjoyed Greek in myths (adapted) as a kid, now they are infinte source of inspiration:)
mukeshdaji on May 28, 2011:
I passed your quiz before I read the lens, woohoo!
Jerrad28 on May 02, 2011:
Greek mythology always intrigues me
sdtechteacher on April 25, 2011:
It looks like I need to study more. Thanks!
Johncatanzaro on April 24, 2011:
Not a bad quiz, good mind-bender
NYThroughTheLens on April 16, 2011:
Ah. I didn't bomb this quiz! I love that you went over the answers. Great quiz lens.
Angela F from Seattle, WA on April 12, 2011:
8/10 - feeling better than I did on the Heroes quiz lol
stirko on April 11, 2011:
musicgurl333 on April 10, 2011:
I love Greek mythology. I'll have to try some of the other quizzes as well.
Bill Armstrong from Valencia, California on April 07, 2011:
Terrific lens, thanks for sharing
anonymous on March 22, 2011:
I love Greek mythology. Didn't really do well in the 2 quizzes I took but will be back to finish the rest in the series.
Steve Dizmon from Nashville, TN on March 11, 2011:
Lots of fun. Didn't do too badly. 10 for 12, then realized the answers were below. I could have cheated and got them all.
anonymous on March 03, 2011:
i really loved your test i got 100%
artistico on February 02, 2011:
beautiful quizz :) enjoy it !!!!!
Cheryl57 LM on January 24, 2011:
Got 8/10, so guess it wasn't "all Greek to me". I know, GROAN, bad pun. LOL!
ChrisDay LM on January 21, 2011:
Enjoyed it and got 90% - it's not the taking part that matters, it's the score!!! :-)
EuroSquid LM on January 14, 2011:
I love anything related to Greek Mythology. I love your lenses too. It would probably be easy to bless them all, but I picked this one to bless. Well done
chocsie on January 08, 2011:
actually had tons of fun taking this one! although i didn't do as well as i would have liked...
jasminesphotogr on December 16, 2010:
Great quiz. I took a world literature class in high school and Greek Mythology was one of the units. I didn't do too bad on the quiz, 8 out of 12. :) It was a lot of fun.
Joy Neasley from Nashville, TN on December 15, 2010:
fun quiz and great lens. thanks.
anonymous on December 12, 2010:
Great quiz thanks
MoonandMagic on December 07, 2010:
Loved it, I I managed 83% so I'm happy! yay, very interesting lens. Thanks
lilymom24 on December 04, 2010:
I love Greek mythology but I didn't do too good on this one. Looks like I need to hit the books again. =)
Mary from Chicago area on December 04, 2010:
75% -- I'll take it! Perfect level of difficulty & inspires me to peek back into my kids' mythology books :)
ChemKnitsBlog2 on November 17, 2010:
I got 8. I LOVE the way your framed your questions in this quiz. It was very lyrical.
anonymous on November 14, 2010:
got 11 questions right. whew. not too bad. i enjoyed it.
D Williams on November 14, 2010:
I enjoyed the quiz, thank you.
Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on November 07, 2010:
If I hadn't second myself I would have done better than half.
Kiwisoutback from Massachusetts on November 04, 2010:
I'm not even going to share my score because it was pretty low... okay, it was 20%! The graphic you've created for the quiz series is really cool. Any chance you'll be adding a tutorial on one of your lenses on how to create one like it? Squid Angel blessed in the meantime!
anonymous on November 02, 2010:
A Perfect Score, "Jason and Argonaunts" is one of my Favorite Classic Movies as well as other tales from that time period!! Of course Hercules is another!!
Amy Fricano from WNY on November 02, 2010:
How about one wrong? Medusa got me with the"stoned" reference, but I went to college a long time ago. What a great idea to build this kind of encyclopedic series of quizzes. Smarty pants.
boutiqueshops on November 01, 2010:
75% ~ sure had fun taking it too! Love all the info too. Awesome page
sammy9212 on November 01, 2010:
i don't remember much about greek mythology from school, but i didn't do to bad :D
Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on October 29, 2010:
I studied Greek mythology many moons ago in high school. I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention.
mikerbowman on October 26, 2010:
Great lens! This was a fun refresher course in some Greek mythology. Thanks for sharing!
spritequeen lm on October 21, 2010:
Well, 70% isn't toooo bad. Back to school for me, though, I guess! LOL Thanks for a fun quiz! Fun information, too!
Allison Whitehead on October 20, 2010:
80% - much better. Well done me! Great lens - I love Greek mythology!
surviving-2012 on October 16, 2010:
I love the way you phrased the questions! It makes it harder to cheat. Nicely done. 92%!!!
Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on October 16, 2010:
75% correct. Better on the "easy" one! :-) Fun lens series, Ellen. I love how you've got the background below.
Addy Bell on October 13, 2010:
10 out of 12.
Thomas F. Wuthrich from Michigan on October 07, 2010:
10 of 12 correct. Well, this certainly beat the score I posted on another of your Greek mythology quizzes. :) Thumbs up.
jp1978 on October 03, 2010:
Yay, perfect score! I love mythology! The questions were funny too!
anonymous on October 03, 2010:
kinda like it
emcueto on September 29, 2010:
I was going through the questions so fast, I though the subject of number 6 was Hercules, not Zeus. haha, got 11 out of 12 thanks to that mistake
anonymous on September 22, 2010:
8 out of 12, not good, not bad, I would say :)
Nice quiz, thank you!
The Afrikan on September 12, 2010:
im happy with my 8 out of 12
Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on September 12, 2010:
I did worst than expected! 8/12, one I did not read carefully, so lets say 9/12 shall we?:)
Dakka on September 11, 2010:
yay! only missed 1!