Heroes of Greek Mythology I

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Transcript Heroes of Greek Mythology I

Heroes
Of
Greek Mythology
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Definition of a Hero:
If a hero is properly defined as somebody who does something
dangerous to help somebody else, then the heroes of Greek mythology
do not qualify. They were a pretty selfish bunch, often with additional
antisocial tendencies thrown into the bargain--in other words, not exactly
role models for the younger generation of today. But knowing their
names and exploits is essential for understanding references in literature
and even popular culture today. So let's recognize and celebrate Hercules
and Perseus and the others by their proper dictionary definition: "In
mythology and legend, a man or woman, often of divine ancestry, who is
endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his or her bold
exploits, and favored by the gods.
Heroes
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Perseus
Theseus
Jason
Achilles
Atalanta
Hercules
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Perseus
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Perseus
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Perseus and Medusa
Perseus was the only son of Danae; they lived on the island of Seriphos
with a kindly fisherman, Dictys, who took them in when they were washed
ashore on the island. Perseus became a fine and good young man. One day
King Polydectes, who was Dictys’ brother, came to visit; he fell in love with
Danae and wanted to marry her. Polydectes was not a well-liked king, and
Perseus did not like the attentions he paid Danae. Polydectes knew that
Perseus would be an obstacle to his marriage to Danae and so he hatched a
plan to get rid of him.
Polydectes pretended that he wanted to marry another woman. In order to
woo her he gave a great feast at his palace and ordered everyone on the island
to bring a great gift. Perseus arrived at the feast but, being very poor, he had
no gift to give to the King. Polydectes was angry at this and so Perseus said, ‘I
will bring you any other gift that you desire.’ Polydectes seized his chance,
‘Bring me the head of Medusa the gorgon,’ he declared.
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Medusa was one of the gorgons; she had once been a beautiful
maiden, but she had offended the gods and so had been turned into a
hideous monster. She had snakes for hair, scaly skin and was very ugly;
anyone she looked at or who looked at her was instantly turned to stone.
Perseus was a brave young man, but he did not know where to find
the gorgons let alone how he was going to slay one. Nevertheless, he
set out on his quest. He was soon visited by the goddess Athena, who
gave him a shield that was so highly polished and shiny it was reflective.
She also told him that to find the gorgons he first needed to visit the
graeae.
The graeae were three old women who lived in a cave; they had one
eye and one tooth that were shared between them and the sisters took
turns in using them. They were also the sisters of the gorgons and so
knew where to find them. Perseus stole their eye when they were
passing it between them so they could all see him; he refused to give
it back unless they told him where the gorgons resided.
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On his journey to the gorgons Perseus travelled through Hades and at the
river Styx he met the water nymphs and the god Hermes. The water nymphs
gave him the cap of invisibility to help him escape unseen by Medusa’s gorgon
sisters and a magical bag to carry Medusa’s head in once he had chopped it
off, for Medusa’s eyes kept their power to turn anyone to stone even after she
was dead so he had to keep it hidden. Hermes gave Perseus a special curved
sword that could never be broken and a pair of winged sandals that would
enable him to fly.
So, Perseus set off with his magical equipment to Medusa’s lair. He made
his way in past the stone remains of her victims. Medusa and her sisters were
sleeping, so Perseus crept closer looking at her only in the reflection of his
shield so he would not be turned to stone. He cut off her head and placed it in
the magical bag. Putting on his cap of invisibility and his winged shoes,
Perseus made his escape before the other gorgons could take revenge.
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On returning to Seriphos, Perseus found that Polydectes was still pursuing
Danae against her wishes. Perseus went to see the King in his court to present
his gift. ‘What have you brought me’, enquired the King. ‘I have brought you
the head of the gorgon Medusa,’ Perseus replied, and with that he took the
head from the magical bag and the King and his entire court were instantly
turned to stone.
Perseus lived on happily in Seriphos and made
Dictys king. In return for her help he gave the head
of Medusa to the goddess Athena, who mounted it
on her shield to make it an even more powerful
weapon.
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The story of Perseus and Medusa
King Acrisius of Argos learned from an oracle that his daughter Danae would
have a son, and that son would kill him. To prevent this he locked Danae in an
underground room made of bronze, but Zeus turned himself into a shower of
gold and visited Danae. Danae gave birth to a son, Perseus; the king was very
angry and so he put Danae and Perseus into a wooden chest and set it adrift in
the sea. Eventually the chest washed ashore on the island of Seriphos. A kindly
fisherman, Dictys, took them in and looked after them as Perseus grew up.
Perseus became a fine and good young man. One day King Polydectes, who
was Dictys’ brother, came to visit; he fell in love with Danae and wanted to
marry her. Polydectes was not a well-liked king, and Perseus did not like the
attentions he paid Danae. Polydectes knew that Perseus would be an obstacle
to his marriage to Danae and so he hatched a plan to get rid of him.
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Next
Polydectes pretended that he wanted to marry another woman. In
order to woo her he gave a great feast at his palace and ordered everyone
on the island to bring a great gift. Perseus arrived at the feast but, being
very poor, he had no gift to give to the King. Polydectes was angry at this
and so Perseus said, ‘I will bring you any other gift that you desire’.
Polydectes seized his chance, ‘Bring me the head of Medusa the gorgon’
he declared. Medusa was one of the gorgons. She had once been a
beautiful maiden, but she had offended the gods and so had been turned
into a hideous monster. She had snakes for hair, scaly skin and was very
ugly; anyone she looked at or who looked at her was instantly turned to
stone.
Perseus was a brave young man, but he did not know where to find the
gorgons let alone how he was going to slay one. Nevertheless, he set out
on his quest. He was soon visited by the goddess Athena, who gave him a
shield that was so highly polished and shiny it was reflective. She also told
him that to find the gorgons he first needed to visit the graeae.
Previous
Next
The graeae were three old women who lived in a cave; they had one eye
and one tooth that were shared between them and the sisters took turns in
using them. They were also the sisters of the gorgons and so knew where to
find them. Perseus stole their eye when they were passing it between them
so they could all see him; he refused to give it back unless they told him
where the gorgons resided.
On his journey to the gorgons Perseus travelled through Hades and at
the river Styx he met the water nymphs and the god Hermes. The water
nymphs gave him the cap of invisibility to help him escape unseen by
Medusa’s gorgon sisters and a magical bag to carry Medusa’s head in once
he had chopped it off, for Medusa’s eyes kept their power to turn anyone to
stone even after she was dead so he had to keep it hidden. Hermes gave
Perseus a special curved sword that could never be broken and a pair of
winged sandals that would enable him to fly.
Previous
Next
So, Perseus set off with his magical equipment to Medusa’s lair; he made his
way in past the stone remains of her victims. Medusa and her sisters were
sleeping, so Perseus crept closer looking at her only in the reflection of his shield
so he would not be turned to stone. He cut off her head and placed it in the
magical bag. As he removed her head the winged horse Pegasus emerged from
her severed neck. Putting on his cap of invisibility and his winged shoes, Perseus
made his escape before the other gorgons could take revenge.
On his way home Perseus spied a beautiful maiden, chained to a rock in the
ocean. The maiden was Andromeda, who was to be sacrificed to a sea
monster. Perseus rescued Andromeda and took her with him back to Seriphos to
be his wife.
On returning to Seriphos, Perseus found that Polydectes was still pursuing
Danae against her wishes. Perseus went to see the King in his court to present
his gift. ‘What have you brought me’, enquired the King. ‘I have brought you the
head of the gorgon Medusa,’ Perseus replied, and with that he took the head
from the magical bag and the King and his entire court were instantly turned to
stone.
Previous
Next
Perseus lived on happily with Andromeda in Seriphos and made Dictys
king. In return for her help he gave the head of Medusa to the goddess
Athena, who mounted it on her shield to make it an even more powerful
weapon. Perseus decided to return to Argos and meet his grandfather,
Acrisius. All went well until Perseus took part in a sports contest;
unfortunately during the discus competition Perseus’s discus went further
than expected and into the crowd. It hit his grandfather on the head
and killed him, fulfilling the prophecy.
Previous
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Jason
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Jason and the Golden Fleece
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Jason and the Golden Fleece
In order to claim his birthright as king of Iolcus, Jason had to bring back the
golden fleece from the city of Colchis. The fleece was owned by King Aeetes, and
was guarded by a serpent that never slept. Jason gathered a group of heroes to set
sail and retrieve the magical fleece. Among these heroes were Hercules, Theseus,
Orpheus, Castor and Pollux. They set sail on the ship Argo, and thus called
themselves the Argonauts.
The Argonauts encountered many dangers along the way. Some of their brave
deeds include rescuing an oracle king from the harpies who tormented him, and
escaping a clan of women who killed all their men. As they neared Colchis, they
came to an inlet where two giant rocks stood on each side of the way through.
According to legend, these rocks would close together and crush any ship that
came through. Jason sent a dove through the rocks, and they closed together on it.
The dove escaped, but its tail was pinched as it flew out the other end. Taking this
as a sign from the gods, Jason went through the rocks. The Argo escaped, but the
tail of the Argo was crushed.
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Upon reaching Colchis, Jason met with King Aeetes. The king was reluctant to give
up his fleece, but he agreed that Jason could have it if he passed the test that would
be set before him. The test was for Jason to plant a field of dragon teeth. He was to
plow the field with bulls that breath fire. The dragon teeth would then grow into an
army of men, and he must defeat them. The king's daughter Medea fell in love with
Jason. Being a sorceress, she offered to help him pass the test. She gave Jason a
lotion that would protect him from the bulls' flames. She also told Jason to throw a
rock into the center of the army that rose from the dragon teeth. He did so and the
men turned and fought each other. After the test, Medea again used her sorcery to
tame the snake that guarded the golden fleece.
Jason returned to his home with the fleece, and was crowned king.
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Jason and the Argonauts
The Greek myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece is one of the oldest myths of a
hero's quest. It is a classic story of betrayal and vengeance and like many Greek
myths has a tragic ending. It begins when Jason's Uncle Pelias kills Jason's father,
the Greek King of Iolkos, and takes his throne. Jason's mother brings him to
Cheiron, a centaur (half man, half horse) who hides him away and raises him on
the Mountain of Pelion.
When Jason turns 20, he journeys to see Pelias to reclaim his throne. At a
nearby river, Hera the Queen of the Gods approaches him disguised as an old
woman. While carrying her across the river he loses a sandal and arrives at court
wearing only one. Pelias is nervous when he sees Jason missing a sandal, for an
oracle has prophesied that a man wearing only one sandal shall usurp his throne.
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Jason demands the return of his rightful throne. Pelias replies that Jason
should first accomplish a difficult task to prove his worth. The task is for Jason
to retrieve the Golden Fleece, kept beyond the edge of the known world in a
land called Colchis (modern-day Georgia in Southwest Asia). The story of the
fleece is an interesting tale in itself. Zeus, the King of the Gods, had given a
golden ram to Jason's ancestor Phrixus. Phrixus later flew on the golden ram
from Greece to Colchis, whose king was Aietes, the son of Helios the Sun God.
Aietes sacrificed the ram and hung the fleece in a sacred grove guarded by a
dragon, as an oracle had foretold that Aietes would lose his kingdom if he lost
the fleece.
Determined to reclaim his throne, Jason agrees to retrieve the Golden
Fleece. Jason assembles a team of great heroes for his crew and they sail
aboard the Argo. The first stop of the Argonauts is the Greek Isle of Lemnos,
populated only by women. Unknown to Jason and his crew, the women have
murdered their husbands. The Argonauts fare much better though; in fact the
women use the occasion as an opportunity to repopulate the island.
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After many more adventures, the Argo passes Constantinople, heading for
the Straits of Bosphorus. The Straits of Bosphorus are a narrow passageway of
water between the Sea of Marmara, the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea. To the
ancient Greeks, this was the edge of the known world. The Straits are
extremely dangerous due to the currents created by the flow of water from the
Black Sea. The ancient Greeks believed that clashing rocks guarded the straits
and that the rocks would close together and smash any ship sailing through.
Jason had been told by a blind prophet he assisted how to fool the rocks. He
was to send a bird ahead of him. The rocks would crash in on it and then
reopen, at which point he could successfully sail through.
When Jason finally arrives in Colchis he asks King Aietes to return the golden
fleece to him as it belonged to his ancestor. Reluctant, the king suggests yet
another series of challenges to Jason. He must yoke fire-breathing bulls, plough
and sow a field with dragons' teeth and then overcome the warriors who will
rise from the furrows. Aietes is confident the tasks are impossible but
unbeknownst to the king, his daughter Medea has taken a liking to Jason. She
offers to assist Jason if he will marry her. He agrees. Medea is a powerful
sorceress and Jason is successful.
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Next
Jason and Medea return to Greece where Jason claims his father's throne,
but their success is short-lived. Uncomfortable with Medea's magic, the locals
drive Medea and Jason out of Iolkos. They go into exile in Corinth where the
king offers Jason his daughter in marriage. He agrees and so violates his vow to
the gods to be true only to Medea. Furious, Medea kills the woman, kills
Medea and Jason's children and then ascends to Mount Olympus where she
eventually marries Achilles. Jason goes back to Iolkos where his boat the Argo
is on display. One day, while he sits next to the boat weeping, the decaying
beam of his ship the Argo falls off and hits him on the head, killing him
outright.
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Jason and the Golden Fleece
Jason and the Golden Fleece
(Mythic Warriors)
Jason and the Argonauts
(Documentary)
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Perseus: The Search for Medusa
(Mythic Warriors)
Perseus vs. Medusa
(Animated)
Perseus vs. Medusa ***warning: violent
(Clip from 2010 Clash of the Titans)
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Jason and the Golden Fleece
Questions to Consider
1. How does the following saying apply to Jason?
“There is dignity in effort, even though
one’s fate is preordained.”
2. What was Jason’s good deed, and how was he rewarded for it? Are all
good deeds rewarded? Is doing the good deed its own reward?
3. Oracles played an important role in many Greek myths and legends.
What might that face suggest about ancient Greek culture?
4. What role does love play in Jason and the Golden Fleece? Would it
be appropriate for Medea to help Jason, even if she didn’t love him?
Why or why not?
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Theseus and the Minotaur
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Theseus and the Minotaur
Once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a king named Minos. King
Minos lived on a lovely island called Crete. King Minos had a powerful navy,
a beautiful daughter, and a really big palace. Still, now and then, King Minos
grew bored. Whenever King Minos was bored, he took his navy and
attacked Athens, a town on the other side of the sea.
In desperation, the king of Athens offered King Minos a deal. If Minos
would leave Athens alone, Athens would send seven Athenian boys and
seven Athenian girls to Crete every nine years to be eaten by the Minotaur.
The Minotaur was a horrible monster that lived in the center of a huge
maze on the island of Crete. King Minos loved that old monster. He did like
to give his monster a treat now and then. He knew his people would prefer
he fed his monster Athenian children rather than ... well, after thinking it
over, King Minos took the deal.
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Next
Nine years passed swiftly. It was just about time for Athens to send seven
boys and seven girls to Crete to be eaten by the Minotaur. Everyone in Athens
was crying.
Prince Theseus of Athens knew the importance of keeping your word. He
knew that a deal was a deal. But, he was also quite sure that it was wrong to
send small children to be eaten by a monster just to avoid a battle with King
Minos. Prince Theseus told his father (the king) that he was going to Crete as the
seventh son of Athens. He was going to kill the Minotaur and end the terror.
"The Minotaur is a terrible monster! What makes you think you can kill it?"
cried his father.
"I'll find a way," Theseus replied gently. "The gods will help me."
His father begged him not to go. But the prince took his place as the seventh
Athenian boy. Along with six other Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls,
Prince Theseus sailed towards Crete.
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When the prince and the children arrived on the island of Crete, King Minos
and his daughter, the Princess Ariadne, came out to greet them. The king told
the children that they would not be eaten until the next day and to enjoy
themselves in the palace in the meantime. The Princess Ariadne did not say
anything. But her eyes narrowed thoughtfully. Late that night, she wrote Prince
Theseus a note and slipped it under his bedroom door.
Dear Theseus (Ariadne wrote)
I am a beautiful princess as you probably noticed the minute you saw me. I
am also a very bored princess. Without my help, the Minotaur will surely
gobble you up. I know a trick or two that will save your life. If I help you kill the
monster, you must promise to take me away from this tiny island so that
others can admire my beauty. If interested in this deal, meet me by the gate to
the Labyrinth in one hour.
Yours very truly,
Princess Ariadne
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Next
Prince Theseus slipped out of the palace and waited patiently by the gate.
Princess Ariadne finally showed up. In her hands, she carried a sword and a ball
of string.
Ariadne gave the sword and the ball of string to Prince Theseus. "Hide these
inside the entrance to the maze. Tomorrow, when you and the other children
from Athens enter the Labyrinth, wait until the gate is closed, then tie the string
to the door. Unroll it as you move through the maze. That way, you can find your
way back again. The sword, well, you know what to do with the sword," she
laughed.
Theseus thanked the princess for her kindness.
"Don't forget, now," she cautioned Theseus. "You must take me with you so that
all the people can marvel at my beauty."
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The next morning, the Athenian children, including Prince Theseus, were
shoved into the maze. The door was locked firmly behind them. Following
Ariadne's directions, Theseus tied one end of the string to the door. He told
the children to stay by the door. Their job was to make sure the string stayed
tied so that Theseus could find his way back. Theseus entered the maze
alone.
He found his way to the center of the maze. Using the sword Ariadne had
given him, Theseus killed the monstrous beast. He followed the string back
and knocked on the door.
Princess Ariadne was waiting. She opened the door. Without anyone
noticing, Prince Theseus and the children of Athens ran to their ship and
sailed quietly away. Princess Ariadne sailed away with them.
On the way home, they stopped for supplies on the tiny island of Naxos.
Princess Ariadne insisted on coming ashore. There was nothing much to do
on the island. Soon, she fell asleep. All the people gathered to admire the
sleeping princess. She was a lovely sight indeed. Theseus sailed quietly away
with the children of Athens and left her there, sleeping.
After all, a deal is a deal.
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Theseus and the Minotaur
King Minos of Crete was a powerful man, feared by the rulers of the lands
around him. When he demanded goods or men for his great armies, they felt they
had to agree. When he demanded they send tributes to honour him, they sent
them without question. It was the only way they could stop him going to war with
them. But his demands on Athens became too much for them to bear.
King Minos had a great palace built for himself. Inside this palace, Minos had
built a giant maze, a Labyrinth, and, at the centre of the maze, he kept a terrifying
creature, - the Minotaur. Now this was no ordinary animal; it was a monster, half
man and half bull.
It was powerful, and savage and it loved to eat the flesh of the humans who
had been shut into the labyrinth by King Minos. They would wander through the
maze, completely lost, until at last they came face to face with the Minotaur. Not a
great way to die really.
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Theseus insisted that he understood the dangers but would succeed. "I
will return to you, father," cried Theseus, as the ship left the harbour wall,
"and you will be proud of your son."
"Then I wish you good luck, my son," cried his father, "I shall keep watch
for you every day. If you are successful, take down these black sails and
replace them with white ones. That way I will know you are coming home
safe to me."
As the ship docked in Crete, King Minos himself came down to inspect the
prisoners from Athens. He enjoyed the chance to taunt the Athenians and to
humiliate them even further.
"Is this all your king has to offer this year?" he jeered. "Such puny
creatures. Hardly even a snack for the mighty creature within the labyrinth.
Anyway, let's get on with it. I am not a hard-hearted man, so I will let you
choose which one goes first into the Minotaur's den. Who is it to be?"
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Theseus stepped forward.
"I will go first. I am Theseus, Prince of Athens and I do not fear what is within
the walls of your maze."
"Those are brave words for one so young and so feeble. But the Minotaur will
soon have you between its horns. Guards, open the labyrinth and send him in."
Standing behind the king, listening, was his daughter, Ariadne. From the
moment she set eyes on Theseus, Ariadne fell in love with him. As she listened to
her father goading and taunting the young prince, she decided that she would help
him. As he entered the labyrinth and the guards walked away, she called softly to
him.
"Theseus, take this," she whispered. "Even if you kill the Minotaur, you will
never find your way out again."
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She threw him a great ball of string and he tied one end of it to the entrance.
He smiled at her, turned and began to make his way into the maze, the string
playing out behind him as he went.
Theseus walked carefully through the dark, foul-smelling passages of the
labyrinth, expecting at any moment to come face-to-face with the creature. He
did not have long to wait. Turning a corner, with his hands held out in front of
him feeling his way, he suddenly touched what felt like a huge bony horn.
In an instant his world turned upside-down, quite literally. He was picked up
between the Minotaur's horns and tossed high into the air. When he landed on
the hard cold stone, he felt the animal's huge hooves come down on his chest.
Every last breath seemed to be knocked out of him and he struggled to stay alive
in the darkness.
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But Theseus was no ordinary man. He was the son of the King, he was brave
and he was stubborn. As the Minotaur bellowed in his ear and grabbed at him
with its hairy arms, Theseus found a strength which he did not know he
possessed.
He grabbed the animal's huge horns, and kept on twisting the great head from
side to side. As the animal grew weak, Theseus gave one almighty tug on the
head, turning it almost right around. The creature's neck snapped, it gurgled its
last breath and fell to the floor with an enormous thud.
It was over, he had done it. The Minotaur was dead. All he had to do was make
his way out of...and then he realised the awful truth. In the struggle, he had let go
of the string, his lifeline. Theseus felt all over the floor in the pitch darkness and
kept thinking he had found it, only to realise that he all he had was a long wiry
hair from the Minotaur.
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Despair set in and Theseus wondered if this was where his life would end,
down in the dark, all alone, next to the stinking body. Then, his hand brushed
a piece of string and, with a whoop of delight, he knew he had found the
thread which would lead him back out. As he neared the entrance of the
labyrinth, the darkness began to fade and he made out the figure of Ariadne,
waiting for his return.
"You must take me back to Athens with you," she cried, "My father will kill
me when he finds out that I have helped you."
"But of course you must come with us," said Theseus, "it would be cruel to
leave you here." Quickly and quietly, they unfurled the great black sails of
their ship and headed for home.
"I cannot believe how my life as changed," said Ariadne, as they sailed
across the calm seas towards Athens. "To think that I am free of my cruel
father and that I will soon be married to a great prince."
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"Married?" said Theseus, "Oh, yes, that will be...er... wonderful." But in truth,
Theseus did not really find her attractive.
So, when their ship docked at an island on their way home, to collect fresh
water, Theseus sent Ariadne off to find bread and fruit. The moment she was
gone, he set sail and left her on the island. Now, you might think that this was a
bad way to reward someone who had helped him and had saved him from
certain death.
The Gods clearly thought the same thing, for they had a further horror in
store for him, as a punishment for his ungrateful treatment of the young girl.
In his haste to get away, Theseus forgot to change his sails to white. King
Aegeus, waiting on the headland, saw the ship approaching with its black sails
flying in the wind.
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"My son has failed and he is dead," he cried. And in despair, he flung
himself from the cliff into the raging waters below. From that day on, the sea
was named in memory of Theseus' father, and to this day, it is known as the
Aegean Sea.
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Theseus and the Minotaur
(Mythic Warriors)
Theseus and the Minotaur
(Ink Art)
Theseus and the Minotaur
(Documentary and Storytelling)
A little silly, but a fun example of how technology can be used
at the amateur level to retell stories.
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Stories of Hercules
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Hercules
(Sometimes known as Heracles)
Hercules was half man and half god. His mother was a mortal. But his father was
a king - a very special king, the king of all the gods, the mighty Zeus. But Hercules
did not know he was part god until he had grown into a man.
Right from the beginning, Hera, Zeus' wife, was very jealous of Hercules. She
tried all kinds of ways to kill him, including sending a couple of big snakes into his
crib. Hercules crushed those snakes in a flash! Hercules was incredibly strong, even
as a baby!
Zeus loved his little son. He figured that sooner or later Hera might actually find a
way to kill little Hercules. To keep his small son safe from attack, Zeus sent him to
live with a mortal family on earth. Hercules grew up loved and noble. But he didn't
fit in on earth. He was too big and too strong. One day, his earth father told him he
was a god, well, part god anyway.
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The rest of the story of Hercules is a bunch of little stories that together tell the
tale of how Hercules earned his way into the heavens, to take his place with the
gods.
As the story goes .....
Hercules had a cousin named Eurystheus (Eury for short). Eury was the king of a
little village in the city-state of Argos. Eury was an evil man. He thought everyone
wanted to steal his crown, especially Hercules. One day, when Hera and Eury were
chatting about their mutual hatred for Hercules, Hera came up with a plan - a plan
to kill Hercules! She was sure this one would work.
Hera helped Eury design 12 Labors (missions or tasks) that Hercules had to
complete. Supposedly, when Hercules had completed the 12 Labors, he would
earn his immortality, or so Hera promised.
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Hercules was no fool. He asked the Oracle at Delphi who agreed. Actually, the
oracle had said, "If you complete 12 Labors, immorality will be yours." Being an
oracle, she never explained what she meant by "immortality" - would he live forever
in legend or for real? Hercules never asked. (She would not have told him anyway.)
Hercules not only lived, he had great adventures, discovered true friends, and rid
the world of some really nasty critters. And that's the story of Hercules in a
nutshell.
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Hercules
Hercules was the greatest of the mythological Greek heroes. He was famous for
his incredible strength, courage, and intelligence. Hercules is actually his Roman
name. The Greeks called him Heracles.
Birth of Hercules
Hercules was a demigod. This means that he was half god, half human. His
father was Zeus, king of the gods, and his mother was Alcmene, a beautiful human
princess.
Even as a baby Hercules was very strong. When the goddess Hera, Zeus' wife,
found out about Hercules, she wanted to kill him. She snuck two large snakes into
his crib. However, baby Hercules grabbed the snakes by the neck and strangled
them with his bare hands!
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Growing Up
Hercules mother, Alcmene, tried to raise him like a regular kid. He went to
school like mortal children, learning subject like math, reading, and writing.
However, one day he got mad and hit his music teacher on the head with his
lyre and killed him by accident.
Hercules went to live in the hills where he worked as a cattle herder. He
enjoyed the outdoors. One day, when Hercules was eighteen years old, a
massive lion attacked his herd. Hercules killed the lion with his bare hands.
Hercules is Tricked
Hercules married a princess named Megara. They had a family and were
living a happy life. This made the goddess Hera angry. She tricked Hercules
into thinking his family was a bunch of snakes. Hercules killed the snakes
only to realize they were his wife and kids. He was very sad and riddled with
guilt.
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Oracle of Delphi
Hercules wanted to get rid of his guilt. He went to get advice from the
Oracle of Delphi. The Oracle told Hercules that he must serve King Eurystheus
for 10 years and do any task the king asked of him. If he did this, he would be
forgiven and wouldn't feel guilty any more. The tasks the king gave him are
called the Twelve Labors of Hercules.
The Twelve Labors of Hercules
Each of the Twelve Labors of Hercules is a story and adventure all to itself.
The king did not like Hercules and wanted him to fail. Each time he made the
tasks more and more difficult. The final task even involved traveling to the
Underworld and bringing back the fierce three-headed guardian Cerberus.
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The Twelve Labors:
1. Slay the Lion of Nemea
2. Slay the Lernean Hydra
3. Capture the Golden Hind of Artemis
4. Capture the Boar of Erymanthia
5. Clean the entire Augean stables in one day
6. Slay the Stymphalian Birds
7. Capture the Bull of Crete
8. Steal the Mares of Diomedes
9. Get the girdle from the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta
10. Take the cattle from the monster Geryon
11. Steal apples from the Hesperides
12. Bring back the three-headed dog Cerberus from the Underworld
***Stories of the twelve labors can be found on the link under the “difficult”
version of the Hercules stories.
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Hercules not only used his strength and courage to accomplish the twelve
labors, but he also used his intelligence. For example, when stealing the apples
from the Hesperides, the daughters of Atlas, Hercules got Atlas to get the
apples for him. He agreed to hold up the world for Atlas while Atlas got the
apples. Then, when Atlas tried to go back on the deal, Hercules had to trick
Atlas to once again take the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Another example of Hercules using his brain was when he was tasked with
cleaning the Augean stables in a day. There were over 3,000 cows in the
stables. There was no way he could clean them by hand in a day. So Hercules
built a dam and caused a river to flow through the stables. They were cleaned
out in no time.
Hercules went on a number of other adventures throughout Greek
mythology. He was a hero who helped people and fought monsters. He
continuously had to deal with the goddess Hera trying to trick him and get him
into trouble. In the end, Hercules died when his wife was tricked into poisoning
him. However, Zeus saved him and his immortal half went to Olympus to
become a god.
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Interesting Facts about Hercules
Hercules was originally only supposed to do ten labors, but the king said
that the Augean stables and the slaying of the hydra didn't count. This was
because his nephew Iolaus helped him kill the hydra and he took payment for
cleaning out the stables.
Walt Disney made a feature film called Hercules in 1997.
The story of the Hercules and the Hesperides is part of the popular book
The Titan's Curse from the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick
Riordan.
Hercules wore the pelt of the Lion of Nemea as a cloak. It was impervious
to weapons and made him even more powerful.
He joined the Argonauts on their search for the Golden Fleece. He also
helped the gods in fighting the Giants.
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The Labours of Hercules
(Mythic Warriors)
Hercules: The Movie
(Starring Steve Reeves, 1958)
***A fun way to view how Hollywood
has retold mythology
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Achilles
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Activities for the Story of Achilles
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about the medical
side of “Achilles”
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Video Clips of
the Trojan War
and Troy
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Achilles
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The Story of Achilles
Achilles was the best fighter of the Greeks besieging Troy in the Trojan
War. When the hero Odysseus journeyed to the Underworld to seek the
advice of the dead prophet Teiresias, he encountered the shade of Achilles.
This hero had slain the Trojan hero Hector in single combat and had himself
been brought down only by the connivance of Apollo. The god guided the
arrow of Hector's brother Paris to the only vulnerable spot on Achilles' body
- his heel.
Achilles would not have been vulnerable even in this part of his body had
his mother, the sea-goddess Thetis, been allowed to protect him as she
intended. When he was an infant, she rubbed him each day with godly
ambrosia, and each night she laid him upon the hearth fire. Unfortunately,
Achilles' father was unaware that this procedure would make his son
immortal. And when he unexpectedly came home one night to find his wife
holding their baby in the flames, he cried out in alarm. Thetis was offended
and went home to her father, the Old Man of the Sea, leaving Achilles to his
mortal fate.
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Another version of the myth has Thetis attempting to protect her infant by
dipping him in the river Styx. The infernal waters indeed rendered Achilles'
skin impervious to the likes of any mere Trojan arrow. But Thetis forgot that
she was holding him by the heel during the dipping process, so that part was
unprotected.
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The Trojan War: The Age of Heroes
(Documentary)
Troy: Of Gods and Warriors
(Documentary)
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The Story of Atalanta
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Activities for the Story of Atalanta
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Atalanta
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Atalanta
Atalanta's birth was not a joyous one, for soon after she was born the tiny girl
was taken into the woods and left to die. But Atalanta was spared of this cruel
fate.the bear who lived in the forest heard the cries of the baby. This she-bear took
Atlanta to her den and raised the child as one of her own cubs.
Many years later a band of hunters found Atalanta living in the bear's cave. The
amazed group of men took her and raised her, teaching Atalanta the skills of the
hunt. Each of the hunters viewed her his own daughter. At first they were
apprehensive about raising a girl in the woodland wilds, but their fears soon faded.
By the time she was a teenager she was more skillful with a bow and arrow and
any of the hunters in the group. In addition, she was more accurate with a spear
and could run faster than any of the others.
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On one such lonely hunt Atalanta was confronted by two malicious centaurs. These
half-human, half-horse beasts laughed at the sight of the youth who was alone in the
forest. They thought they would have some cruel fun with her and came barreling
down the mountainside, uttering blood-curdling words and with their hooves
thundering. But Atlanta did not flee. Instead she calmly fitted a bronze-tipped arrow to
her bow and shot it. While the first arrow was still in the air she quickly aimed and fired
a second one. In an instant the two centaurs came tumbling down with stones
clattering and dust flying in the air. Each lay motionless with an arrow though its heart.
The hunters often bragged about the skill of this maiden, And her fame spread
throughout Greece. As a result Atalanta was invited to come help hunt the Calydonian
boar. This fiendish animal was a huge, deadly creature with razor-sharp tusks. it had
been terrorizing the countryside, killing cattle and humans alike. The bravest and most
skillful hunters were called to some kill this dreaded menace.
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The hunt began and the band cautiously searched through the woods for the
savage beast, but had no success. At last the hunters came to a marshy thicket. So
dense were the bushes the trees that they unaware the deadly monster was
watching them. Suddenly the boar came crashing through the underbrush ripped
apart several dogs, and was upon the hunters before they could think. A few threw
their spears, but missed. As he turned to run, one man had his leg slashed by the
boar's flashing teeth. Another used his spear as a pole vault and was able to leap
into a tree just out of reach of the snarling beast.
The vicious creature turned and gashed the leg of another hero and would have
done greater harm. However, the two armed horseback riders came charging on
their milk white stallions and the boar turned to flee. Atalanta quickly fitted an
arrow to her bow and the shaft flew towards the retreating beast. The arrow made
a long wound on the boar's back and then stuck behind its ear.
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The race began and Atlanta soon outpaced the youth. but Hippomenes tossed
down one if the golden apples so that it landed near her feet and rolled to the side.
Atlanta stopped to pick it up and Hippomenes was able to catch up with her. Soon
Atlanta began to pull ahead once more and Hippomenes threw a second golden
apple a little further to the side.
When Atlanta had gathered in this apple, Hippomenes had gotten ahead. Once
again Atlanta's legs picked up the pace and she moved into the lead. Now the young
man hurled the final apple further to the side than the other two. Atlanta hesitated
for a second. The goal was now in sight. But the glistening golden apple was too
tempting of a prize to pass, so Atalanta swerved to the side to grab it.
Hippomenes now had a larger lead than before. But Atalanta ran faster than
anyone had ever seen her before. Though weighted down with the golden apples,
she went at a pace that would weary even Hermes, the messenger god. Hippomenes
was approaching the goal but his face was red with exhaustion and he was gasping
for air. Meanwhile Atlanta was rapidly gaining, like an arrow flying to its target. Then
suddenly the race was over Hippomenes crosses the finish line just barely a step in
front of Atlanta.
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Atlanta and Hippomenes were married but no one saw then after the wedding
feast. It is said that Atlanta and her husband were changed into lion. Thus Atlanta
and her golden maned companion continued as swift hunter of the forest for the
rest of their days.
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After you read the story, find a friend and discuss
the following questions and share in the activities.
1. What skills did Atalanta have?
2. Reread the section about the Calydonian boar. Describe the animal.
3. Why was Hippomenes able to win the race?
4. What type of creature was Atlanta changed into? Why was this a fitting
animal for her?
5. Illustrate a picture of either the fight with the Calydonian boar or the race
with Hippomenes.
6. Create a new ending for the story telling a different ending.
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Easy
Click here for an easy version of the story of
Atalanta
Medium
Click here for a more difficult version of the story of
Atalanta
Difficult
Click here for a difficult version of the story of
Atalanta
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The story of Atalanta
(Mythic Warriors)
The story of Atalanta
(Film Strip Video)
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Video Links
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlxY-JSz7N4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pl9tdR-EOeQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoqUiFUGlHA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lC2aIg3C_hM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOo4fqfcpsE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwOQ3YAhFpo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBfe9uXOXkO
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPJBovmveOA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on2oY44h7RO
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5TKOPnXMz4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVtl8NA1ea4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzG3-vA_DCA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaQbjeZ3XQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=624E4Y-HKXs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TypAwuwg6c
Website Links
Hercules –
http://mythologian.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/hercules-and-the-lernean-hydra2-469x2181.jpg
http://www.mythweb.com/hercules/index.html
http://ducksters.com/history/ancient_greece/hercules_questions.php
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/funny_old_game/games/4384654.stm
http://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/heracles.html
Atalanta –
http://atalantaandhippomenes.weebly.com/
http://www.hipark.austinisd.org/mythology/atalanta.html
http://www.authorama.com/old-greek-stories-13.html
http://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/heroines.html#Atalanta
Achilles –
http://www.history.com/topics/achilles
http://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/heroes2.html#Achilles
http://www.mythweb.com/encyc/entries/achilles.html
http://www.greekmedicine.net/mythology/achilles.html
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/achilles-tendon-injury
Theseus –
http://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/theseus.html
http://www.mythweb.com/heroes/theseus/index.html
http://www.logicmazes.com/theseus.html
http://greece.mrdonn.org/theseus.html
http://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/theseus.html
Jason –
http://www.mythweb.com/heroes/jason/
http://www.pbs.org/mythsandheroes/myths_four_jason.html
http://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/heroes1.html#Jason
Perseus –
http://www.mythweb.com/heroes/Perseus/index.html
http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Heroes/Perseus/perseus.html
http://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/myth-perseus-and-medusa/
http://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/perseus.html
http://www.global.oup.com/us/companion.websites/9780195397703/student/materials/chapter21/
flashcards/?view=usa