Are you a fan of movies based on ancient Greek mythology? Alexander, Hercules, and the great cities of Troy and Alexandria. How did history pan out back in the time of Greek rule?
With its pantheon of gods, epic heroes, and timeless tales, the allure of Greek mythology’s ancient stories lies in their complex characters, dramatic conflicts, and the universal themes they embody. Past stories of battle, kings, princes, princesses, and gods have inspired various popular movies. Film studios keep looking to this old mythology because the tales have interesting main characters and deal with timeless themes.
For movie-goers, watching a film set in ancient Greece with mighty heroes and angry gods is an easy escape from everyday life.
Today, we give you the most watched films and series based on Greek Mythology to watch chronologically. It is the perfect way to binge-watch the history of the Greeks, known for being some of the toughest fighting forces and hearts and minds for combat on the battlefield.
Zack Snyder goes full epic with his adaptation of the legendary last stand of 300 Spartans versus the massive Persian Army. Outnumbered by a gazillion to one, the Spartans show serious guts. Their brave sacrifice became the stuff of legend! It takes place during the Battle of Thermopylae back in 480 BC between King Leonidas of Sparta and a small Spartan fighting force against the much bigger Persian army headed up by King Xerxes. This battle is seriously one of the most well-known military events from ancient history.
The movie is adapted from a comic book called 300 which was created by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley in 1998. It gives a very stylized version of what went down at Thermopylae. Even though the movie pushes what actually happened into legend territory at times for dramatic effect, it really captures how hardcore and defiant the Spartan warriors were when defending their homeland against the invading Persians. The visuals in 300 are super impressive and I think Snyder did justice to the spirit of the Spartans last stand and Miller’s dynamic drawings. It may stretch the truth but makes for an awesome and action-packed movie.
- 480 BC during the Greco-Persian Wars
Alexander: The Making of a God (2023)
Alexander the Great came right after Greek myths ended but his conquests were so epic, that he became a legend too. This upcoming drama will uncover how his short life inspired future myths. The title Alexander: The Making of a God hints that the work will center on the life and military victories of Alexander the Great, ruler of ancient Macedonia.
As king, Alexander led his army on successful campaigns across parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, greatly expanding his empire in his short life. The book likely explores key events like when he invaded Persia in 334 BC, his visit to Egypt in 331 BC where he established the city of Alexandria, his expeditions into India up to the Hyphasis River in 326 BC, and his efforts to blend Greek and Persian cultures.
Also, probably examined is Alexander’s premature death in Babylon in 323 BC at only 32 years old, just as his reign reached its greatest territorial extent. Ancient historians have left detailed accounts of Alexander’s actions as a military leader bent on conquest, allowing for a thorough biographical portrait.
- 323 to 336 BC
The Odyssey (1997)
This Emmy winner brought Homer’s epic poem to life. From one wild adventure to the next, Odysseus tries to get home after the Trojan War. With so many monsters, gods, and larger-than-life characters, it captures the non-stop excitement of the myths.
- Early 11th-century BC
Director Wolfgang Petersen grounded this mythical war story in human drama, not fancy gods or creatures. But with Brad Pitt as Achilles plus brutal battle scenes, it still feels pretty epic! It asks timeless questions about glory, hubris and the hero’s journey.
The 2004 film Troy brings the mythic Trojan War to life on the big screen. As envisioned by director Wolfgang Petersen, the movie loosely adapts tales of combat between ancient Troy and Greece, mostly drawing from Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad. Of course, these stories are mythology rather than documented history. But they’ve been passed down for centuries as part of an oral storytelling tradition before being recorded in epic poems.
According to popular legend, the war happened sometime in the late Bronze Age, maybe around 1200 BCE. A few ancient writers even floated specific years like 1194-1184 BCE. However, these dates are speculatory rather than definitive when it comes to pinpointing real events lost over time. The actual historical facts behind the myths remain shrouded in uncertainty even now.
So while Troy brings mythical combat to vivid cinematic life through creative license, the true story lingers as legend rather than cold hard facts. The movie imagines how events may have happened long ago to inspire these timeless larger-than-life tales.
- Scholars cite the approximate date of Troy between 1184 and 1194 BC
Helen of Troy (2003)
The TV mini-series ‘Helen of Troy’ came out in 2003 and looks at what went down leading up to and during the whole Trojan War saga. You know, the one from all the Greek myths with Helen ditching her husband Menelaus, the King of Sparta, to run off with Prince Paris of Troy. Major drama! Just like the movie ‘Troy’ starring Brad Pitt showed the next year, this story follows how Helen’s scandalous romance caused the Greeks to band together and siege Troy.
Now, the show does get into the legendary tales and larger-than-life characters. But it also tries to bring some realistic, human angles to the old-school legends passed down about the epic war and these figures who’ve been iconic for centuries. Basically, expect some mythic fireworks mixed with some relatable, intimate character stories about the woman who launched a thousand ships!
- Set between 1184 and 1194 BC
Troy: Fall of a City (2018)
This collab between BBC and Netflix gives a 21st-century overhaul to the legendary Trojan War saga. It offers new views on how the infamous city actually fell, going deep into the human players in the battle between the gods. Love, surprise, deception, and a brutal look into the Greek empire, which depict the side of the forces that had no honor. Achilles stars as a mix between a brutal fighter and also a man of honor despite his savagery.
Although much of it is speculation and loosely based on real events, it has had Netflix in rage and in love. You’ll have to watch it for yourself because the twists and turns never turn out to be what you expect. Game of Thrones fans might find this one interesting.
- 1194–1184 BC (The Bronze Age)
Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
This adventure flick from Columbia Pictures really brought the legend of Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece to life. The visual effects by Ray Harryhausen were ahead of their time, especially the iconic skeleton warrior scene. It really captures the spirit of daring heroes and gods from Greek myths.
- 12th century BC or earlier
Only Disney could put a fun animated musical spin on Greek myths! Hercules is a lovable zero-to-hero story of Zeus’s kid learning to use his strength to become a true hero. The humor and heart make ancient Greece surprisingly relatable. This Emmy winner brought Homer’s epic poem to life. From one wild adventure to the next, Odysseus tries to get home after the Trojan War. With so many monsters, gods, and larger-than-life characters, it captures the non-stop excitement of the myths.
- 12th century BC or earlier
Clash of the Titans (1981)
The original Clash of the Titans was a blockbuster collab between MGM and United Artists. It follows Perseus battling Medusa and other crazy beasts from mythology to save Andromeda. Throw in Ray Harryhausen’s effects magic and Zeus played by Laurence Olivier? Chefs kiss!
- 12th to 13th century BC
The movie Immortals from 2011 plays around a ton with ancient Greek myths, but the creators were clearly inspired by those classic stories. It centers on Theseus who in legend was a heroic ancient king of Athens. You probably know he famously slayed the half-bull Minotaur monster and battled the Titans, those powerful godlike beings that ruled before the regular Greek gods. We don’t know exactly what century Theseus lived in if he even existed. But myths say his adventures went down before the famous Trojan War.
In the movie though, the director Tarsem Singh mashes up all kinds of mythic bits into this fantasy world with insane fight scenes between gods, mortals and beasties. So while Immortals for sure captures some of the fun excitement of Greek tales, fans know not to think it represents the actual OG stories or timelines accurately. The flick amps up the drama and effects around Thisus for entertainment, not sticking to historical facts.
- 13th century BC or earlier
Clash/Wrath of the Titans (2010/2012)
Hollywood brought back Perseus chopping up monsters, this time bigger and badder than ever! Updated effects and action make the mythical monsters feel straight-up real. Laurence Olivier’s Zeus would be proud. The legends of Perseus fighting Medusa and facing other supernatural challenges are part of ancient Greek mythology. These exciting tales of heroes, monsters, and gods don’t describe actual events that historians can attach firm dates to.
If we try to imagine when the stories of Perseus might take place, logically they would happen earlier than the famous Trojan War, perhaps many centuries before that. But it’s purely guesswork, not precise history.
Like the 1981 movie, the recent films Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans borrow from this mythical world to fuel their fantasy adventures. Their settings are imagined places and times, not real past eras. They aim to captivate audiences by unleashing heroic courage against magical forces, not factual period pieces. These Hollywood productions mine old folklore for timeless themes that still enthrall.
- 13th century BC or earlier
Movies similiar the Greek Mythology
There is an almost endless list of similar movies to those mentioned above civering Greek mythology in cinema with plenty of blood, tretory, and gore. Gladiator (2000), which this year Gladiator 2 will hit the big screens.
Other that may interest you include:
- The Eagle (2011) set in Roman Britain in AD 140
- Pompeii (2014) covers the destruction Roman city of Pompeii by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD
- Centurion (2010) covers the disappearance of the Ninth Legion in Caledonia in the early 2nd century AD
You may also be interested in Julius Caesar (2002) and Ben-Hur (2016), plus the Rome (TV Series, 2005–2007) chronicling the transition from Republic to Empire, starting with Julius Caesar’s civil war and ending with the rise of Augustus.