Ancient Greek mythology symbolized the existential considerations of the Hellenic Greek their origin and the nature of things. The Greek Pantheon consists of anthropomorphic beings with supernatural powers and desires. Much like humans, they are capricious, intolerant and bored. Therefore, these Olympians account for a frightening, unpredictable reality and the gratuitous suffering of mortals.
The 20th century Algerian-French thinker Albert Camus chose Sisyphus as a metaphor of the human condition. The ancient Greeks invented Sisyphus to express their own sense of meaninglessness. For a slight indiscretion (helping mortals) Sisyphus was condemned to eternal and useless toil, horrifying in its gross senselessness. The absurdity symbolized by Sisyphus’ fate was no isolated instance but the symptom of a culture contaminated with a fundamental pessimism.
This wretchedness of life was further corroborated by their invention of tragedy. The classical tragedies utilized Greek myths to weave powerful yet pessimistic dramas that vividly reminded ancient audiences of the treacherous and traumatic circumstances of mortality. The dynasty of Cadmus consisting of generations (Cadmus, Creon, Oedipus, Antigone) was annihilated by a merciless and malignant destiny.
The most catastrophic reversal in theater belongs to Oedipus, whose crime was a lack of information. Other myths were dramatized to emphasize how innocent miscalculations initiated catastrophic disaster. Even though Plato, affected by this disillusionment, attempted to argue for a rationally ordered and harmonious universe, he conceded that human beings were spirits trapped in a filthy corporeal simulacrum.