By Autumn Hutson
Greek mythology has a way of transporting a reader to another world. As a young reader, and even now, I have found that leaving the mundane behind to journey into a dreamscape was something that excited me.
Greek myths tell stories of a world long before our own where humans, monsters, and deities interacted on any given day. And because many myths give explanations for natural phenomena, it seemed to me that you couldn’t disprove them completely.
This kind of literary magic can be accessed by anyone, no matter their age. Here are some ways that Greek mythology can appeal to readers of every age group.
Greek Mythology can Answer the “Why’s”
It’s common knowledge that children are an inquisitive bunch, full of why’s and how’s. A fun way to answer their questions about the world around them can be through sharing a story from Greek mythology.
Why do spiders make webs?
Spiders make webs because the goddess Athena was challenged by a human girl named Arachne, who thought her skills in weaving could rival the wise goddess. During their weaving contest, Arachne’s tapestry was undoubtedly better than Athena’s. Out of anger, Athena turned Arachne into a spider and declared that she and all of her descendants would weave silky webs for all eternity.
Why does the sun rise and set?
The god Helios drives a great golden chariot with the sun inside. He crosses the skies on a journey from east to west all throughout the day. When it’s nighttime, he takes his time and lounges in a golden cup during his leisurely journey back to the east.
Of course, there are simplified versions of every myth, so those are probably the best to choose when giving a quick and age appropriate explanation about something to a child. But if you’re feeling mischievous, you could tell a longer version of a Greek myth during times like bedtime.
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A Sense of Adventure
When I was a freshman in high school, there wasn’t much I could do as far as big adventures go. I had to stick to movies and books if I wanted to escape the humdrum of being a teenager.
In my English class, we were assigned Homer’s The Odyssey. While other students groaned at the task, I was actually interested in this epic tale.
Odysseus certainly had a lot more going on than I did! The poem takes the hero on a daunting journey complete with seductive sirens, two deadly sea monsters, the witch-goddess Circe, a hungry cyclops, and much, much more.
There are plenty of tales like The Odyssey to keep you on your toes (i.e. The Iliad or The Twelve Labours of Hercules). Readers in both high school and college can get a kick out of these longer, more dramatic Greek myths.
And they also might be a welcomed change from every high school curriculum’s golden child, Romeo and Juliet. Sorry, Shakespeare.
Greek Mythology Goes Beyond Literature
In college, I took a course called Symbols and Stories in Art, and those stories happened to be of Greco-Roman origin. Again, the Greek myths depicted through sculptures and on vases captured my attention the most.
My professor devoted his career to learning about and discovering pieces of Greek mythology through ancient art. Whenever he told us the background stories of each art piece, his passion and excitement was palpable.
Greek mythology then took on another form: visual art. This only expanded my interest in the subject, because art has always been a source of wonder for me. Greek mythology can cross over into just about any medium of art and expression! That’s why it can be so universal.
That semester, I learned that it did not matter if you were a college student or a tenured professor–Greek mythology always had something to offer.
Whether you are a child, a teenager, or an adult, there is something for everyone in Greek mythology. The mystery, the excitement, the scandal, the drama–all of this and more can be found in such stories.
It doesn’t matter if you start your Greek mythology journey through The Odyssey or the Percy Jackson book series! Much like in myths themselves, anything goes. (Seriously, just read any myth about Zeus).
So, believe me, there are plenty of Greek myths to go around. I bet there’s at least one myth out there that you could call your favorite.