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Mad for Mythology (page 3)

Mad for Mythology

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Updated on Dec 30, 2008

Beheaded by Perseus, a son of Zeus, Medusa – one of the ghastly Gorgon sisters – had a head of snakes and a gaze that turned creatures to stone. The 1981 film Clash of the Titans recounts the myth of Medusa with dated – but very cool – stop-motion animation, but the movie is only suitable for mature middle schoolers and up. Perseus and Medusa, a graphic Greek myth by World Almanac Library, and Ross Collins’ Medusa Jones are fitting alternatives.

Mold: After familiarizing yourself with Medusa’s tale, create your version of Medusa, using green clay to fashion her twirling tresses.

Hades, the eldest brother of Zeus, was the ruler of the dead who lurked in the Underworld. Rivers, such as the Styx, separated Hades’ underground realm from the land of the living. He had a three-headed dog, Cerberus, who guarded the gate. Hades was resurrected as the Merovingian, a villain in the Matrix trilogy, while his hound took the form of Fluffy at the Hogwarts School in Harry Potter. The grim reaper, of course, alludes to this lord of the afterlife.

Roleplay: Assuming the persona of Hades, spoof a classified ad seeking a roommate in your gloomy abode. Describe your Underworld: the pit of Tartarus, the dungeon of damned souls, and the Elysian Fields, where heroes go to rest. Be sure to state the prerequisites, including a tolerance for dogs and your temperamental attitude!

Mentored by the centaur Chiron, Achilles was the greatest Greek warrior. But Paris of Troy, aided by the sun god Apollo, struck an arrow in Achilles’ heel – his only vulnerable body part – leaving Achilles mortally wounded. Many protagonists have an Achilles’ heel: a weakness that affects a story’s plot or outcome. Superman’s Achilles’ heel, for example, was Kryptonite.

Screenwrite: Slip into the role of screenwriter and pick a hero (or villain) in a movie. Imagine a different Achilles’ heel for this character. Reconstruct a scene or draft a new ending. For instance, what if Superman wasn’t averse to the glowing green substance, but something else?

Kidnapped by Hades, the beautiful but somber Persephone was queen of the Underworld and daughter of Demeter, the goddess of harvest. Persephone’s journeys from earth to the Underworld explained the change in seasons. (When Persephone reunited with her mother, the earth bloomed, but when she descended to Hades, the land turned barren.) Persephone, also incarnated in the Matrix movies, is an icon in classical art.

Draw: Read about the abduction of Persephone, when Hades snatched her while she picked flowers in a field. On a small posterboard divided in half, draw two versions of the earth: one side illustrates the world when Persephone is above ground, and the other depicts it when she lives beneath us.

The Trojan Horse, as described in Virgil’s Aeneid, was a huge wooden horse in which thousands of Greek soldiers hid and used to infiltrate Troy during the Trojan War. After Troy fell into a slumber, the Greeks emerged from its belly, attacked the city, and won the battle. In the context of today’s technology, a Trojan horse is a computer worm or software that appears useful, but performs a malicious action, like a virus.

Produce: Scan the front page of a major newspaper. See the headlines and photos? Tape two 8.5” by 11” sheets of paper together so they fold open like a newspaper. Using a black marker, create a catchy headline at the top announcing the victory of the Greeks. Underneath, write text that describes the battle and its aftermath, and then draw a picture of this legendary horse on wheels.

As your child will discover, mythology saturates our culture. With a bit of exploration, he'll learn this ancient world of heroes and beasts is alive and well.

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