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Greek Mythology and Allusions

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Greek Mythology and Allusions
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Basics on the topic Greek Mythology and Allusions

Greek Mythology and Allusions

What are allusions and how are they connected to Greek mythology? Learn everything about the Greek myth allusion through a fun video, activities, and our article with many allusion examples for kids!

Allusions and Greek Mythology

What is Greek mythology? Greek mythology is a collection of ancient Greek myths. Greek myths are stories that ancient Greeks told each other to explain natural phenomena. People in Ancient Greece also used Greek mythology stories to teach about how people should act in a society and the consequences for not following the rules.

Why is it important to know about Greek mythology? Because it helps us understand and appreciate culture better! We can see a lot of inspiration by Greek mythology in art, literature, and even movies. Often, this inspiration comes in a form of allusions.

Allusions – Definition

Let’s look at a definition for the term allusion first:

An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to another well-known person, place, event, or piece of literature. Allusions help us understand the text better by creating a visual in our minds by linking the story we are reading to something we are already familiar with.

Take a look at one of the examples of allusion:

James got a top score in every math test this semester - he is like Einstein!

Do you see a reference to someone well-known in this sentence? The allusion is this sentence is he is like Einstein. In this sentence, James is being compared to Albert Einstein, a famous physicist. We understand that James is extremely intelligent, because we know who Einstein is.

Allusions to Greek Mythology – Gods, Monsters, and Creatures

One of the most common allusion examples in literature are allusions to Greek mythology. There are multiple stories and poems with allusions to Greek mythology, and in order to understand these texts better and make connections to references, we need to be aware of some well-known Greek myths. For example:

  • Lily told a funny joke during the class, which opened Pandora’s box of giggles.

An allusion in this sentence is Pandora’s box, so to understand the sentence fully, we need to ask ourselves, who is Pandora in Greek mythology? In the myth “Pandora’s Box”, Pandora was a woman who had a gift of curiosity. She was given a gift of a beautiful box, but was warned to never open it under any circumstances. Unfortunately, Pandora was too curious, so she opened the box and unleashed evil into the world. Now, when authors use allusions to Pandora’s box, they are connecting the actions or traits of their characters to that of Pandora.

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So why did the author of our example sentence allude to Pandora? The message here is that telling a joke during the class caused a lot more problems than Lily thought it would. Just like Pandora, who didn’t know about the horrible consequences of opening her box.

Allusions in Greek Mythology – Overview

Now you know interesting facts about Pandora and her box in Greek mythology. But what about other Greek mythology characters, as well as Greek mythology gods and goddesses? To understand the meaning of the most common allusions to Greek mythology, use this chart:

Greek Mythology Characters Short Character Description Allusion Meaning
Aphrodite in Greek mythology Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty. Alludes to someone who is extremely beautiful, is looking for love,
or encourages other people to fall in love.
Apollo in Greek mythology Apollo was the god of sun and light, who had talent in music. Alludes to someone who is positive and truthful; very good at music; perfect.
Hades in Greek mythology Hades was the god of the underworld. Alludes to darkness and death.
Zeus in Greek mythology Zeus was the god of lightning and thunder; the ruler of Greek gods. Alludes to someone who is extremely powerful.
Achilles in Greek mythology Achilles was one of the strongest warriors that could only be killed by a wound to his heel. Achilles’ heel alludes to weakness that a person has.
Narcissus in Greek mythology Narcissus was an extremely beautiful young man who was so obsessed with his beauty, that he fell in love with himself. Alludes to someone who is self-obsessed.
Perseus in Greek mythology Perseus was a strong hero who killed Medusa. Alludes to someone who is strong and brave.
Prometheus in Greek mythology Prometheus was a wise god of fire, who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans, so they can develop and progress. Alludes to someone who is an inventor and who shares his inventions with the others.
Medusa in Greek mythology Medusa was a beautiful girl obsessed with her beauty. As a punishment, she was turned into a monster with snakes on her head,
who could turn people into stone with only one look.
Alludes to a scary woman who gives frightening looks.
Titans in Greek mythology Titans were the old gods, before Zeus, Aphrodite, and the others. Alludes to someone who has a lot of power or to something huge.
Sirens in Greek mythology Sirens were creatures who hypnotized sailors with their magical songs. A “siren song” alludes to something that lures a person to something dangerous.

Greek Mythology and Allusions – Summary

Greek myths are stories that ancient Greeks told each other to explain natural phenomena or teach about how people should act in a society and the consequences for not following the rules.

Allusions are references that help us understand the text better by creating a visual in our minds by connecting what we are reading to something we already know about.

Authors use allusions to Greek mythology to describe events or a character’s personality. Understanding Greek myths helps us make connections to references used in the texts.

Now you can identify allusions and understand references to Greek mythology in books! If you want more practice, check out our video on Greek mythology and allusions, and try our activities!

Frequently Asked Questions about Allusions from Greek Mythology

What are some Greek mythology characters?
What is an allusion in figurative language?
What is an example of an allusion?
How do you identify an allusion?

Transcript Greek Mythology and Allusions

"Greek Mythology and Allusions" Greek myths are stories that were told by the ancient Greeks. Myths were a way for people to explain something in nature or teach about how people should act and the consequences of not following the rules. Ari and Zayd are visiting Greece to read more mythology when they come across a beautiful box. “Ohh, LOOK!” Let’s open it and find out what’s inside!” “I don’t think that’s a good idea." “It could be like opening Pandora’s Box!” “I can’t take it! I have to know what’s inside!” “I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas, anymore.” An allusion is a figure of speech that makes reference to another well-known person, place, event, or piece of literature. Allusions help us by creating a visual in our minds by connecting what we are reading to something we already know about. In modern-day literature, authors will sometimes use allusions to Greek mythology to describe a character’s personality or a story’s events. Understanding the stories of Greek mythology helps us make connections to references used in the stories we read. In the myth, “Pandora’s Box”, Pandora had the gift of curiosity. She was given a gift of a beautiful box and was given strict instructions to never open it under any circumstances. Her curiosity got the better of her, she opened the box and unleashed evil into the world. Now, when an author alludes to Pandora's Box in a story, they are connecting the actions or traits of their characters to that of Pandora. Here's an example of an allusion to this myth. Every time my mom tells me to clean my room, it's like opening Pandora's Box. The message here is that you are about to do something that is going to cause a lot of issues that you didn't know about beforehand. "There's someone, let's ask what is happening." "Excuse me, can you..." " Don't LOOK at her!" Medusa was a beautiful, young maiden who was very vain, meaning she only cared about her looks. She would boast about her beauty to everyone and could talk about nothing else. One day she said she was more beautiful than the Goddess Athena, so she was punished by being turned into a monster with a head full of snakes. Anyone who looked directly into her eyes would instantly turn to stone. Today, when a story alludes to Medusa it's referring to a scary woman or someone with unruly hair. The phrase, 'if looks could kill, I'd be dead right now' also alludes to the story of Medusa. It is used to describe when a character is very angry with someone. Ari had read enough myths to know who could help this situation... it was Perseus! Perseus was a demi-god and the son of Zeus. He is known for being a brave and clever hero who slayed the monster, Medusa, in order to save his mother from an evil king. When modern stories allude to or reference Perseus, it refers to characters showing great bravery and facing challenging quests. An example of an allusion would be... He faced off against the playground bully like Perseus and the Gorgons. Here, we can connect the actions of this character to the noble actions and traits of Perseus. While Perseus once again defeats Medusa...let's summarize. Remember... Greek myths are stories that were told by the ancient Greeks. An allusion is a figure of speech that makes reference to another well-known person, place, event, or piece of literature. Allusions help us by creating a visual in our minds by connecting what we are reading to something we already know about. Authors sometimes use allusions to Greek mythology to describe a character’s personality or a story’s events. Understanding the stories of Greek mythology helps us make connections to references used in the stories we read. " Zayd, things would be a lot easier if you just listen to me the first time." "Yes, sorry... "that seems to be my Achilles heel!"

3 comments
3 comments
  1. Anyway do you have fortnight

    From JAMES, 3 months ago
  2. Me to

    From JAMES, 3 months ago
  3. I LOVE GREEK MYTHOLOGY

    From Solana, 3 months ago

Greek Mythology and Allusions exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learned? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Greek Mythology and Allusions .
  • What are Greek Myths?

    Hints

    Ari and Zayne are in Greece surrounded by ancient ruins to learn more about Greek mythology.

    In the myth of Medusa, she was punished for her vanity by being turned into a monster.

    Solution

    Greek myths were stories that were told by the ancient Greeks. Myths were a way to explain something in nature or teach about the ways people should act and the consequences of not following the rules.

  • What is an allusion?

    Hints

    Would people understand a reference if it were obscure or not well-known?

    Greek myths are pieces of ancient literature!

    Solution

    An allusion is a figure of speech that makes reference to another well-known person, place, event or piece of literature.

  • Which myth is which?

    Hints

    When people use the phrase "if looks could kill, I'd be dead right now", they are referring to the myth of Medusa.

    In another myth, Perseus rescued Andromeda from a sea monster.

    Solution

    Pandora's actions released evil into the world.

    Medusa could turn people into stone just by looking at them in the eyes.

    Perseus defeated Medusa in order to save his mother.

  • Which Greek myth does this allusion represent?

    Hints

    In this text, consider that Mark's secret has gotten out and there is no way to recall it. Think about which of the myths had a character that made a mistake that could not be undone.

    Mark's secret spread far and wide. Which myth also had a far reaching impact?

    Solution

    The text is an allusion to the myth of Pandora's Box. Mark opened up about his secret, but like Pandora, once he opened up about it there was no way to undo telling Katie.

  • Myths and Allusions

    Hints

    Greek myths are generally well-known so can be references for many across the globe.

    Characters like Pandora, Perseus, and Medusa are often compared to characters in modern pieces.

    Solution

    Allusions are used by authors to help us create visuals by connecting what is being read to something we already know. Modern authors use allusions to Greek mythology to describe a character's personality or events in the story. Understanding Greek mythology helps us understand references in the stories of modern authors.

  • Can you match the allusion to the Greek myth?

    Hints

    In Greek mythology, Achilles was dipped in the River Styx to make him invincible. The only area not invincible was his heel that his mother held on to.

    Perseus is remembered as a great hero so characters compared with Perseus are considered to be heroic as well.

    Solution

    Take a look at each of the completed allusions!

    Now that I knew where my birthday gift was hidden, the temptation was great. My curiosity was so great I needed to know what was inside just like Pandora's Box.

    After running through the wind and rain I arrived at the party. I looked in the mirror and was horrified to see Medusa staring back at me.

    My older brother was my hero. He stood up to the group of bullies as if he were Perseus.

    I was determined to get in shape but I only had one weakness. Chocolate. It truly is my Achilles' heel.