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Mad for Mythology (page 2)

Mad for Mythology

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Updated on Dec 30, 2008

Prometheus is associated with rebellion and artistic freedom, and forward-thinking organizations adopt his name, like Promethean Planet, which provides educator resources. Also, in tech-speak, a hacker is described as "Promethean."

Brainstorm: Ponder the qualities of a modern-day Prometheus. What kinds of people help others? What types defy authority? Create two lists on a piece of paper. For the first, write down actions deemed “good,” like donating food to the poor. Keeping Prometheus’ defiant spirit in mind, compile another column of acts that may better society, but break the rules, like destroying an animal-testing lab.

Aphrodite was the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, known as Venus in Roman mythology. She had a son, Eros, who wandered about with a bow and arrows, pricking people with darts of love. (Cupid is Eros’ more recognizable Roman counterpart.) Today, Aphrodite is considered a deity of lust and petty desire, but is a fixture in classical art, like Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” or the famed Venus de Milo statue.

Create: Draft a scene for an episode of “Mount Olympus Hospital” or “The Gods of Our Lives.” Use Aphrodite and Eros to induce sparks between two unsuspecting characters.

Sisyphus was a king of Corinth whose punishment was to push a boulder up a steep hill. When he reached the top, it slipped from his grasp and rolled down, forcing him to repeat the process for eternity.

The feared spirit of retribution and justice, Nemesis, saw that good and evil were repaid. She was the sister of the three Fates: frail goddesses who controlled man’s lifespan.

The nymph Echo, a spirit of nature, was too talkative. After Hera, the wife of Zeus, silenced her, she could no longer form words, and resorted to repeating the words of others. (She fell in love with Narcissus, who, in turn, loved himself.)

Write: When someone faces a “Sisyphean task,” the person undertakes an impossible mission: Kasey hadn’t studied all week, so acing the test would be a Sisyphean task. Craft a sentence using “Sisyphean,” and do the same for “nemesis” and “echo.”

Pandora was the first woman on earth: a curious being created by Zeus in revenge for Prometheus’ theft of fire. Given a box she was told not to open, she opened it, and unleashed envy, slander, and other evils onto mankind. When she closed the box, she left one value inside: hope.

Metaphorically speaking, to open Pandora’s Box is to set loose an unavoidable flurry of problems. The box also represents the source of life. In the film Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life, Pandora’s Box describes an object holding the key to biological weapons. In the video game House of the Dead 4, the box involves a final level of the game.

Construct: Find and decorate a cube-shaped paper gift box (or an unused shoebox), and label it “Pandora’s Box.” Sift through your memory of movies, books, shows, and video games. When you identify an allusion to this powerful box, note it on a slip of paper and place it inside. See how many references you collect over time. In the meantime, read a fun rendition of this tale, like Carolyn Hennessy’s Pandora Gets Jealous.

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