Our earliest sources for Greek mythology do not mention any account of the creation of mortals or human beings. According to some later sources, however, mortals were created by the Titan Prometheus.
According to ancient Greek authors, the mortals of their myths lived just before their own time, during what we now call the Greek Bronze Age (ca. 1600–1100 BCE).
Some extraordinary mortals were worshiped by the Greeks of the historical period; they were honored as ancestors, founders, or heroes. Only a handful of mythical mortals became full-fledged gods.
The mortals of Greek mythology were human beings who often found themselves subject to the whims of gods and heroes. Some Greek mortals, including kings, queens, and warriors, were powerful in their own right. Indeed, it can be hard to distinguish between “mortals” and “heroes” in Greek mythology: all Greek heroes, after all, were also mortal.
In ancient mythical narratives, however, the term “hero” is usually reserved for those who have somehow distinguished themselves as warriors, monster-slayers, or founders of great cities. Many heroes had special powers and abilities that went far beyond those of ordinary mortals, and some were even demigods. Greek mortals, then, can be thought of as more “average” than heroes, despite their shared mortality.
Unlike the immortal gods, mortals were doomed to die. Most were subject to a dreary and nondescript afterlife in the realm of Hades, the Greek Underworld.1 Only the greatest heroes could hope to transform into gods or dwell in the blissful Fields of Elysium or Isles of the Blessed. Occasionally, however, a mortal was worshipped after they died (another similarity with the more impressive heroes).