In Theogony, Hesiod pulls together all the popular stories of his day into one narrative. Since it’s one narrative explaining the common thread of many narratives, let’s call it a meta-narrative.
Meta-narrative = an overarching account or interpretation of events and circumstances that provides a pattern or structure for people’s beliefs and gives meaning to their experiences. – Oxford Dictionary
The Greeks wanted one narrative story that tied together all the common stories of their day. Through the one common meta-narrative, the Greeks found knowledge of their shared human condition.
The stories of Theogony include the massive Titans, the powerful Zeus, the forethinker Prometheus giving knowledge to man, and the gods’ punishment in response: the first woman Pandora who unleashes a box of evils upon humankind. Lightning bolts tore the sky and babies emerged from the force of love. From top-down, these stories justified worldly events and human behavior.
From bottom-up, a narrative is formed by human biological processes that interpret the world; these processes manifest as human behaviors; these combine into archetypes (“good” behaviors and “bad” behaviors); archetypes then map to language in a narrative story.
Different human people groups create different types of stories. This is because the biological processes and worldly events differ. Humans in arctic adopt different behavior than those in the desert.
But even in disparate people groups, common narratives emerge. For example, many groups strangely spoke about the common Flood Myths. Since the events and behaviors in the Flood narrative appear so widely, a catastrophic flood may have occurred and affected many humans in recent history. Or, many humans have experienced a tragic calamity that destroyed lives and resources. So, a flood should be in our human meta-narrative.
Humans thus share a common drive to “prepare for the flood,” by sacrificing present pleasure for the future benefits: e.g. by working to exchange time for money, or by social distancing to trade short-term contact for long-term health.
Narratives emerge from many different groups. A meta-narrative like Theogony incorporates all narratives. Thus, it explains what’s common among all of the narratives it uses. The commonalities are what we share. What we share is what it means to be human.