Why Kids Should Continue Learn About Greek Myths

Opinions on Debatable Issues #27

Since I was small, my imagination was often influenced by Greek myths. The excited and complex plot that differ from other fancy fairytales have always caught my attention and lured me back to them. However, many people are criticizing the nature and the influences of Greek myths on kids. Those there arguments have some merit, I believe kids can still benefit from those ancient stories on the whole.

30 of the Most Famous Tales from Greek Mythology
greek TravelTellers

According to Greek Mythology.com, Greek Mythology is the set of stories about the gods, goddesses, heroes, monsters, mortals, and rituals of Ancient Greeks and was part of the Ancient Greek religion.

First of all, there are valuable lessons in those mythologies, and reading greek myths is an effective and fun way for kids to learn them. Pandora’s box talks about the story that Zeus, the God of the sky, wanted to punish Prometheus for giving fire to humans. He created Pandora to be the most perfect woman ever and gave her curiosity and a box that looks very special. Then, Zeus sent Pandora to become the wife of Prometheus’s brother, who ignored Prometheus’s warning and married Pandora right away. Thus, when Pandora can no longer resist the temptation, she opened the box as Zeus anticipated, releasing all the evils into the world, except hope. This story tells us many lessons: 1. It is important to listen to wise people’s warnings and suggestions. 2. Nothing great and desirable comes without a price. 3. Curiosity can sometimes be dangerous. 

Pandora's Box: Hope in the Time of Covid-19
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The famous story of Medusa has the same implication. According to Classical Wisdom, Medusa was born human and grew into an extremely beautiful woman. “Every man who saw her face and her gorgeous, silken hair immediately asked for her hand in marriage”, except the sea god, Poseidon, who raped Medusa inside the sacred sanctuary of Athena, the virgin goddess. She was understandably enraged. However, instead of punishing the culprit, Poseidon, Athena chose to punish Medusa for her part in the whole affair by cursing Medusa’s beauty, turning her beautiful hair into a tangled mass of snakes and the ability to turn whoever looks upon her to stone. The development of the story shows the patriarchal social norm of the ancient Greeks and the greeks’ significant attention on women’s virginity. They obviously have an unequal perception of sexual freedoms for men and women as shown in their grandiose depiction of countless Zeus’ affairs with goddesses and mortals that he did not take responsibility for. Also, Medusa’s story highlights Athena’s most salient trait of jealousy. Athena was unhappy with the beauty of Medusa and intentionally destroyed her and any possibility for men to admire her by turning Medusa into a monster with petrifying power. It explains jealousy and shows that even God cannot be free of self-interest and evil spirits, which are realities and something important to know as kids grow up. According to imagination Soup, kids love Greek mythology books, fascinated by the monsters, adventures, and complex plots. Those vivid imageries and characters bring kids to the world of Greek Gods, making learning lessons and improving their reading skills a fun activity.

The gorgon Medusa - Ancient World Magazine
Ancient World Magazine

Second, learning about Greek Myths is a good and indispensable way to understand ancient Greek culture and civilization. As History.com describes, “they explained everything from religious rituals to the weather, and they gave meaning to the world people saw around them.” Many philosophers who wrote or commented on those myths tried to showcase “grand emotions including joy, sorrow, sacrifice, love, victory, jealousy, betrayal and loss” with vivid stories, according to the Center of Excellence. Though not scientifically true, these stories help people comprehend the understandings of humanity that ancient Greeks had. According to Britannica, the “drowning of the infant Zeus’s cries by the attendants of Zeus, the clashing of their weapons, and Hera’s annual restoration of her virginity by bathing in the spring, are all reflections of religious rituals of Greek culture. Those stories make learning history no longer a boring but desirable hobby. It is widely acknowledged that Greek culture is crucial for humanity’s advancement. It made “important contributions to philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine”, according to Khan Academy. Greek Mythologies are one of the most popular and comprehensible media for philosophers to convey their thinkings of humanity. Thus, having kids learn them at an early age can evoke their interests and introduce them to greek wisdom, which will be beneficial to their intelligence and personal growth. 

In fact, a famous psychologist named Carl Jung (1875-1961) “believed that myths and dreams were expressions of the “collective unconscious”, in that they express core ideas that are part of the human species as a whole. In other words, myths express wisdom that has been passed down for generations, perhaps by means of evolution or through some spiritual process.” That means greek myths are more than just the stories they convey, but they have a greater contribution to the society and history of human civilization. 

Beyond Socrates - Greek philosophers you might not know
Greek News Agenda

Greek Mythology also influences our everyday life. Many consumer products designed their brand based on inspirations drew from Greek mythology. For example, according to Center of Excellence. Nike sneakers are based on the name goddess of victory, and the website Amazon.com is named after the race of mythical female warriors, and Pandora, a jewelry manufacturer is named after the story of Pandora’s box. Eos, which is known as a line of cameras produced by Canon is the name of The goddess of dawn. Many high schools, colleges, and professional sports teams (Titans, Spartans, and Trojans, for instance) also get their names from mythological sources. “They also appear in Renaissance paintings such as Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Raphael’s Triumph of Galatea and writings like Dante’s Inferno; Romantic poetry and scores of more recent novels, plays, and films” according to History.com. If we do not know the greek Mythdoilogy, those names will become mere words with no meaning or spirit. It is always better to be informed than be ignorant.

A Guide to Dante's 9 Circles of Hell
ThoughtCo-A guide to Dante’s 9 Circles of Hell

In my opinion, Greek mythology is similar to Shakespeare’s works, which also occasionally discuss the dark side of humanity, violence, and hierarchy during the Elizebath Era. And there are lots of kids’ edition of Shakespeare’s stories. Similarly, Greek myths do not intend to tell a historical truth nor fancy fairytale. Instead, they showcase the splendor of ancient Greek culture, greeks’ imagination, and the complexity of humankind. 

Some also argue that stories teaching lessons directly are better because they are composed of many values that are no longer accepted in modern society. Yet, it is not hard to imagine kids fall asleep or chitchatting in class that teaches dry lessons. remember them. Also, not only do those Greek Myths do not extol those behaviors but also parents and teachers guide kids as they learn about Greek mythology just as they teach about slavery and the holocaust. 

In conclusion, Greek myths are interesting and valuable traditional stories that deserve kids’ attention. Many ancient ideas are no longer embraced by people today, but those are evidence of human progress and heritage of the past.

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Sources:

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