Lockdown Learning Spring/Summer 2020 to Back Together in School Autumn 2020
Greek Myths had been retold by storyteller to storyteller for generations before they were written down. Here is an oral retelling of the tale. Greek storytellers didn't have books, may not have been able to read and carried the tales about in their heads. This meant no two retellings were ever quite the same.
Greek Myths were not always to be found in books. In ancient Greek times, families and friends would sit around the fire and tell their stories by word of mouth; this is called an oral tradition and because of this the myths can be slippery, hard to put in any order and with different versions of the same tale. They entertained, informed and educated listeners, young and old. Autumn term's myths are from Geraldine McCaughrean's wonderful book Greek Gods and Goddesses. It starts with quite another tale of the Beginning, very different from the one you heard in Lockdown (and which you can find below).
You might have listened to the tale about how we little mud people came about back in April, but did you know about the race of gold, the races of silver, bronze and iron? This book opens with another Greek story of creation. One that not only attempts to explain how we humans came to be but answer the biggest question of all. What came before The Gods? Just like philosophers, theologians and thinkers of all ages today, Ancient Greeks would ask themselves big questions and their myths and their philosophy have much to teach us today, about our own beliefs and our very human nature.
Below are three A* books of tales from Ancient Greece. They are full of wisdom and excellent advice - as relvant to our lives as they were to the lives of those Greeks sitting around the fire listening to storytellers (called Homeridae) all those thousands of years ago.
March Myths 2020
27th March 2020 - Echo and NarcissusJohn William Waterhouses' painting is one of unrequited love and revenge. Waterhouse makes his narrative painting very naturalistic but there are dark, macabre undertones. Look closely at the flowers on the far left. There's nothing 'natural' about what's going on with Narcissus' left foot!
24th April 2020 - Daedalus and Icarus and Arachne the SpinnerDaedalus and Icarus has been interpreted (thought about) in many different ways but I chose it because it's about heeding (listening to and following your parents' advice). The second, Arachne the Spinner helped Ms S see a creature she was scared of and didn't like with new eyes. Now they are very welcome in her house and garden!
17th April 2020 - Persephone and the Pomegranate SeedsThe Greeks, like other ancient civilisations, didn't have radio telescopes, satellites and science to help them understand the world; but they had their myths and the myths explained the world to the ancient world much like our Scientists do for us today. What do you think this myth is explaining to the Greeks in the springtime evening all those thousands of years ago?
10th April 2020 - In The Beginning and Pandora's BoxThe Greek myths are not children's stories but were for people of all ages. They concern themselves with timeless things that fascinate us humans: why do people die? Why is life so hard. Prometheus and Pandora explained to the Greeks why life is hard but also why it is so worth living.
3rd April 2020 - One Fine Day in Summertime
22nd May 2020 - Theseus and the MinotaurJackson's love and enthusiasm for this one was infectious so I chose it for tonight's story.
15th May 2020 - PerseusPerhaps the most loved hero of all.
8th May 2020 - VE Day and The Wooden Horse of TroyThe story of the Wooden Horse tells how to win a war against a strong opponent you need brains as well as brawn (strength). It was cunning Odysseus' intelligence and trickery that won the war for the Greeks when Achilles' and Ajax's strength had failed. You can read more about Odysseus in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (the story of Odysseus' long journey home) - two great poems about ancient times.
1st May 2020 - King Midas and Antlanta's RaceTwo myths this week: a very silly King and a strong-headed, athletic young woman. You may hear people say someone has the 'Midas touch' when they can make lots of money. The Greeks thought about greed and wanting too much wealth very differently and this is reflected in the tale of King Midas.As for Atlanta, she never wanted to get married. Then along came Hippomenes...
26th June 2020 - Two myths about love - Daphne and Apollo and Orpheus and EurydiceLove in the Greek myths is no sweet, syrupy thing. Oh no! The Greeks had much wisdom and much to teach us on the subject love. They share their wisdom about all different sorts with us today, through their myths. Hera and Zeus bicker like an old married couple. One of the most beautiful love stories is in the Iliad, which tells of the deep love between two young men: Achilles and Patroclus. Clytemnestra's love for Agamemnon turns to hate when he sacrifices their daughter to the Gods for a fair wind to Tory. Penelope waits years for Odysseus to return from Troy and despite many years apart, her love for him stays the course. Greek love is full of twists, turns, tricks and its path does not run smoothly. The Gods are often found meddling and making life difficult. Have you ever seen a baby with wings and a bow and arrow in paintings? This is Cupid, son of Venus (Goddess of Love) and Mars (God of War). He uses his arrows for both - as Apollo finds out in this story. Orpheus begs the Gods to let him make the most dangerous journey of all to rescue Eurydice but at the last hurdle, as happens when Greeks try to beat fate, fate wins in the end.
19th June 2020 - Jason and the Golden FleeceJason braves clashing cliffs and a dragon that never sleeps for this quest. He has the help of the beautiful Princess Medea. Jason did marry Medea and their story is one of Sophocles' greatest tragedies. But that is definitely one for when you're a lot older!
12th June 2020 - OdysseusAfter they defeated the Trojans and finally got to go home, Odysseus takes his ship and his men on a voyage back to Ithaca where his wife Penelope is patiently awaiting his return. Homer calls him 'Cunning Odysseus' and Odysseus certainly needs all his cunning to defeat Polyphemus the cyclops, Circe the witch and a palace full of suitors back on Ithaca.
5th June 2020 - The Twelve Labours of HeraclesWe have been planning hard for people coming back into school. There have been lots of different things to think about: toilets, classrooms, cleaning and eating lunch...all before we even got to planning for learning! I wonder if that's why I chose this story!When, in times past, before COVID, children left the toilets a terrible mess Ms S would say 'It's like the Augean Stables in there!' Now you know what she means.
3rd July 2020 - Freedom for Prometheus, the Twilight of the Gods and Birth of PhilosophyThe Greek Gods are rather like humans with knobs on; just like us but more beautiful, faster, stronger, cleverer. They are also more greedy, stupid, spiteful and jealous. The Greeks got rather fed up of their Gods and, two and a half thousand years ago, they were thinking about Philosophy as an alternative to their religion, a better way to understand their world and think about doing the right thing.