A List of Timeless Concepts from the Ancient Myths

A list of lessons that repeat constantly in our art, along with their original source material

At least 10 times a month I find myself in a book and they make a reference to some ancient concept, like Narcissus, or Oedepus, or whatever.

I’m usually familiar with the concept to some degree, but it always makes me question how well I know it. And I wish I had a list of all of these concepts, along with their source material, so I can go read them.

Well, here’s a great start.

PROMPT: Give me a list of the most timeless, ubiquitous, and commonly referenced stories and parables that appear in today's art. I want them ordered by prevalence and importance, and the output should be the concept/lesson itself, followed by the source material. Give me the top 50. 

1. The Tragedy of Fate and Free Will

- Source: "Oedipus Rex" by Sophocles

2. Power and Corruption

- Source: "The Ring of Gyges" from Plato's "Republic"

3. Honor and Duty

- Source: "The Iliad" by Homer

4. Resisting Temptation

- Source: "The Odyssey" by Homer (The story of Circe)

5. The Fleeting Nature of Life

- Source: "The Epic of Gilgamesh"

6. Justice and Morality

- Source: "Antigone" by Sophocles

7. The Dangers of Playing God

- Source: "Prometheus" from Hesiod's "Theogony"

8. The Value of Wisdom Over Strength

- Source: "The Odyssey" by Homer (The story of the Cyclops)

9. Persistence and Ingenuity

- Source: "The Aeneid" by Virgil (The story of Aeneas)

10. Value of Humility

- Source: "The Odyssey" by Homer (The story of Odysseus and Polyphemus)

11. Hubris and Self-love

- Source: "Narcissus" from Ovid's "Metamorphoses"

12. The Consequences of Greed

- Source: "King Midas" from Ovid's "Metamorphoses"

13. Pride and Consequences of Disobedience

- Source: "Icarus" from Ovid's "Metamorphoses"

14. Revenge and its Consequences

- Source: "The Oresteia" by Aeschylus

15. Sacrifice for Love

- Source: "Orpheus and Eurydice" from Ovid's "Metamorphoses"

16. The Nature of Reality and Illusion

- Source: "The Allegory of the Cave" from Plato's "Republic"

17. Excess in Anything is Dangerous

- Source: "The Bacchae" by Euripides

18. Fatal Attraction and the Perils of Curiosity

- Source: "The Odyssey" by Homer (The story of the Sirens)

19. Love and its Consequences

- Source: "Romeo and Juliet" by William Shakespeare

20. The Inevitability of Change

- Source: "Pygmalion and Galatea" from Ovid's "Metamorphoses"

21. The Consequences of Deception

- Source: "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" - Aesop's Fables

22. Knowing Oneself

- Source: "Apology" by Plato (The story of Socrates)

23. Understanding Human Nature

- Source: "The Prince" by Niccolò Machiavelli

24. Man vs. Nature

- Source: "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville

25. The Struggle for Identity

- Source: "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare

26. Dangers of Blind Ambition

- Source: "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare

27. Evils of Racism and Prejudice

- Source: "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

28. Religion and Morality

- Source: "Paradise Lost" by John Milton

29. Importance of Being True to Oneself

- Source: "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde

30. The Cycle of Life and Death

- Source: "The Bhagavad Gita"

31. Unintended Consequences

- Source: "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley

32. Consequences of Ignorance

- Source: "The Allegory of the Blind Men and the Elephant" - Buddhist Parable

33. Nature of War and Peace

- Source: "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy

34. Perils of Absolute Power

- Source: "1984" by George Orwell

35. Resilience in the Face of Oppression

- Source: "The Diary of Anne Frank"

36. The Cost of Social Conformity

- Source: "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

37. Dystopia and Loss of Individuality

- Source: "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley

38. Human's Relationship with Nature

- Source: "Walden" by Henry David Thoreau

39. The Pursuit of Happiness

- Source: "Candide" by Voltaire

40. The Complexity of Human Emotions

- Source: "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

41. The Thin Line Between Civilization and Savagery

- Source: "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding

42. Man's Inhumanity to Man

- Source: "Night" by Elie Wiesel

43. Value of Friendship and Loyalty

- Source: "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain

44. Death as a Part of Life

- Source: "Because I could not stop for Death" by Emily Dickinson

45. Moral Relativism

- Source: "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad

46. The Illusion of Free Will

- Source: "A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess

47. Balance Between Passion and Reason

- Source: "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë

48. Chaos and Order in Society

- Source: "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens

49. The Search for Meaning

- Source: "The Trial" by Franz Kafka

50. The Role of Memory in Shaping Identity

- Source: "Remembrance of Things Past" by Marcel Proust