Greek mythology has been one of my interests for about five years now. I got into it through school. In the sixth-grade, I had to write a story using Greek mythology in our time period. So I wrote a little story about an eleven-year-old girl named Diana whose parents were Apollo—god of music—and Aphrodite—goddess of love and beauty. The story was set in modern-day Disney World. This was in ’06 or ’07. Unfortunately, I lost the electronic and hard copies of the story. All I really remember is that I got a B, and this sparked my interest in mythology.
I have no idea why, but I never did anything about my interest in Greek mythology. I never went to the school or public library, and looked for books on it. In fact, I kind of forgot all about it, until I was a freshman.
Freshman year of high-school, I had to read some books from Homer’s The Odyssey for English. Before we read the book, my teacher asked us to name as many gods and goddesses that we could, and what they were the god/goddess of. I was surprised at how many I named (I was the only kid in the class who could correctly name someone and what their gift was). This list, and The Odyssey reminded me of my story (which I had lost by that point, late 2010), and I was like, “Hey, I used to be really into these people!”
Soon after that, I went to the school library and checked out a book called Oh My Gods!, which gave a basic profile of each Greek god, their family/significant others, enemies, and the ten most important facts about them. There is a goddess book called She’s All That!, but the school library doesn’t have that one.
My favourite myth would have to be the story about the golden apple. Zeus and the gods were having a wedding party, which Eris, the goddess of discord, was not invited to. For revenge, Eris tossed a golden apple into the middle of the party, with a note saying it was for the fairest. Aphrodite—goddess of love and beauty, Athena, and Hera—queen of the gods—were fighting over it, so Zeus—king of the gods and god of the sky—told a prince named Paris to act as the judge. Each of the goddesses offered a bribe if Paris chose her. Aphrodite promised to make him an irresistible lover, Athena promised to make him a victorious warrior, and Hera promised to make him a powerful ruler. Paris eventually chose Aphrodite and they went to live together in Sparta.
Another myth I really like is how the city of Athens got its name. Both Athena and Poseidon, god of the sea (and Athena’s uncle), wanted to name the city—which was called Attika back then—and Zeus couldn’t decide who deserved it more—his brother or his daughter. It was determined that Athena and Poseidon would each make a gift for the city, and whoever provided the best gift would get to name the city. Poseidon’s gift was a spring called Erekhtheis, but since the water was salty just like the ocean it wasn’t terribly exciting or useful. Athena’s gift was an olive tree—the first one the people had seen—and it had three uses: Food, oil, and wood. Athena was declared the winner, and she named the city Athens.
The Greek myths are fascinating—some more than others—and there are thousands of stories out there. A specific book of Greek myths I’d recommend is D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. It’s great for kids because it’s full of illustrations. As opposed to Oh My Gods!, and She’s All That!, which is just an introduction to the gods and goddesses so you know who they are, D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths is about the actual stories—like naming Athens and the apple story. The book is perfect for kids with its colourful illustrations.
I’d definitely recommend reading or learning about Greek mythology.