Myths and folklore, even though ancient, still hold charm and relevance in today’s times, especially when our grandmothers narrate it to us. The famous children’s literature author Rick Riordan, who was also a history teacher used to narrate Greek stories from his history classes to put his son to sleep which he eventually spun into the children’s favourite fantasy fiction, the Percy Jackson series.
The world of Greek myths opens us up to stories and tales of the Gods and Goddesses who are only human in their words and actions.
Packed with wisdom and adages, these 5 legendary tales from Greek mythology will leave you with a sense of wonder to read more and know more and who knows, might even turn you into a Greek Geek!
The Naming of the City of Athens
Cecropia, a flourishing city caught the eye of the Gods at Olympus, who all wanted to own this piece of land. A quarrel began between the Gods, mainly Poseidon, the God of the sea and Athena, the Goddess of wisdom. In order to settle the dispute, Zeus asks the Gods to gift the people of Cecropia gifts. Depending on whose gifts the people accepted ,that God would be named as the patron of the city.
Thrilled at this prospect, the Cecropians climbed atop the Acropolis Hill to watch the gifting ceremony. Poseidon struck his trident into a rock, which cracked open and a spring gushed forth, thus promising that the city would never face a drought. When the people tasted the water, it was salty and so they rejected this gift. Athena, then thrust her spear into the ground, out of which sprang an Olive tree, symbolising food, olives and firewood. The Cecropians gladly accepted this gift and Athena was declared the patron goddess of the city, and the city of Athens, as we know today, was named after her.
Pandora, the first woman on Earth
Zeus, the chief Greek deity, was the God of weather, fate and was considered the kings of all Gods. He used to often grant gifts to other Gods and didn’t share any with the humans because he was not very fond of them. This upset Prometheus, a Titan, who cared for the humans. He went to Mount Olympus, the abode of the Gods and the throne of Zeus and stole the fire from the workshop of Hephaestus (Greek God of Fire) and sent it to the humans with a reed as a gift. This would keep them warm and they could also use it to create tools.
This theft of fire angered Zeus so much that he sought revenge. He commanded Hephaestus to create a woman so beautiful that neither the Gods nor humans could refuse her. Pandora was moulded from clay and water and was breathed life into with unique gifts from the powers of each God and Goddess. Aphrodite granted her beauty, Athena granted her wisdom, Hermes granted her shrew, Apollo gifted her music, Hera gave her the gift of curiosity, Zeus gave her mischief and Poseidon even gave her a pearl necklace.
Thus, was born Pandora, the first woman on earth. She was god gifted, quite literally. In Greek, “pan” means all and “doron” means gift. Thus, Pandora means all-endowed or gifted.
Zeus sent Pandora with a “pithos” (jar, in Greek) and warned her against opening it and asked her to give it to Epimetheus, Prometheus’ brother. Although he was warned not to accept any gifts from any humans, the warning fell on deaf ears as he was now drawn towards Pandora, and even accepted her as his wife. Pandora fought her temptation to keep the box shut, but as they say, curiosity killed the cat. She opened the box and all the evil spirits such as hatred, sickness, death, hunger and were released and spread across the earth. Frightened by all these evils, she snapped the box shut, keeping Hope trapped inside, leaving humans to suffer. This was Zeus’ way of punishing those who disobeyed the Gods.
Narcissism and Echo
Narcissus, the son of the river God, was famed for his beauty. A fortune teller even predicted that he would live a long life till the day he came face to face with himself. As Narcissus was passing by a forest, Echo, a cursed mountain nymph caught sight of him and was enchanted by his beauty. She was cursed by Hera, who said she could not speak properly but only repeat the last words she hears. She decided to pursue him and followed him through the forest. Wondering if he was being stalked, he called out saying “Is anyone here?” only to have “here” echoed back to him. When she finally appeared before him, he rejected her for her dead looks, leaving her heartbroken.
The goddess of revenge, Nemesis, who wanted to punish him for his arrogance, lead him to a pool where all he could see was his own reflection in its waters. Stunned by his beauty, he lay there admiring his own reflection. He was unable to move till he ultimately died of starvation, breathing his last by saying “Farewell, dear boy. Beloved in vain”
Theseus and the Minotaur
King Minos of Crete had a son who was killed while he was in Athens. To avenge his son’s death, he ordered seven Athenians to be killed every year. These seven men were sent to the island of Crete and trapped in a labyrinth, as food for a Minotaur, a horrifying monster, who was half human and half bull. This butchery agitated Theseus, the heroic son of the King of Athens, who resolved to kill the Minotaur and end this war.
He went with the seven men sent for the third year, and met Ariadne, the daughter of Minos who decided to help him. She gave him a ball of yarn called “clew”, which he tied at the entrance of the labyrinth on her advice so that he could retrace his way out of it. Theseus marched into the dark aisles, slaughtered the beast and trailed his way out of the labyrinth by following the thread, thus emerging victorious.
Let me test your observation skills. Do you find anything similar between the Labyrinth and the QShala logo?
Fact or fiction? We leave that to your discretion. Reading these fables may have, shall I say, opened a Pandora’s box of tales, only for better, not worse.
We cannot speak about Greek mythology without speaking about Percy Jackson, where human traits and the powers of the Greek Gods blend so seamlessly to give us that timeless read for years to come.
At QShala let’s unfurl the “clew” to get to the heart of the fantasy world of Percy Jackson with a specially curated Percy Jackson workshop
Learn about life lessons on friendship and empathy and the Greek Gods all through 60 minutes of fun games and activities.
To sign up for the workshop, click here https://bit.ly/3sgrow3