G is for Greek Myth and Legend #atozchallenge

Posted April 8, 2013 in A-Z Challenge / 14 Comments

‘Olympus’ by A V Brown

Today I’m continuing with the Blogging from A-Z Challenge hosted by Arlee Bird and his team of awesome bloggers. My theme is: Elements and features of speculative fiction and entertainment. So throughout April I will be blogging about characters, objects and themes that appear in sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian series. Today’s post is all about Greek myth and legend.

Greek mythology has been very popular in fantasy fiction for the past few years, encouraged by movies like Wrath of the Titans, Troy, Alexander and Immortals.

Here are some examples:

Percy Jackson and The Olympians

  • The modern fantasy series is based on the world of Greek mythology. Teenager Percy Jackson discovers he is a demigod-son of Posiedon, god of the sea.
  • The books feature many characters from Greek mythology including Athena, Zeus, Posiedon, Hades, Ares, Kronos, Atlas and Medusa. Creatures such as satyrs (half goat, half man), furies, minotaurs and centaurs also appear.
  • In The Sea of Monsters, Percy and his friends go on a quest to find the golden fleece, as in the legend of Jason and the Argonauts.

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

  • Starcrossed brings Greek mythology into a modern setting in which the gods are passive beings that no longer have a role in human’s lives.
  • The book’s title comes from the phrase ‘star-crossed lovers’, which describes a couple whose relationship is thwarted by outside forces, such as fate. Star-crossed lovers featured often in Greek tragedy.
  • Helen and the Delos family are demigods who are controlled by the Furies and Fate, which cannot be thwarted. The demigods of all four houses of Zeus are cursed to relive the errors of their predecessors whom they are named after. Since the Trojan War, a pair of starcrossed lovers have been doomed to never be able to be together. Helen and Lucas are determined to find an end to the curse.
  • Helen’s character is based on Helen of Troy, the daughter of Zeus and Leda. She was thought to be the most beautiful woman alive, and had many suitors. In Starcrossed, Helen knows she is beautiful but instead of seeing it as an asset, she doesn’t like the attention it brings her.

Harry Potter

  • Many of the creatures from Harry Potter, such as centaurs and giants, feature heavily in Greek mythology. The creature ‘hippocampus’ is mentioned in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s half sea-creature and half horse, and was said to pull the chariot of Poseidon, god of the sea.
  • The three-headed dog that guards the chamber of secrets, ‘Fluffy’, is based on the three-headed dog called Cerberus who guarded the underworld in Greek myth. Hagrid even says he bought Fluffy from a ‘Greek chappie’ he met in the pub. Cerberus was once lulled to sleep by the musician Orpheus playing a lyre, and similarly Harry and co. have to get past Fluffy by playing him music (a flute in the books, a harp in the film).
  • The symbol of the god Zeus is a lightning bolt, just like Harry’s scar.
  • Hermione is named after the daughter of King Menelaus of Sparta and Helen of Troy.
  • Watchful caretaker Argus Filch is named after Argus-a beast with a hundred eyes that kept watch over Princess Lo for Hera. 
  • Percy’s owl, Hermes, is named after the Greek messenger God. In Greek mythology owls were the symbol of Athena, goddess of war and wisdom. 
  • Professor McGonagall’s first name is Minerva-the Roman name for Athena. Athena disguises herself often, taking on the form of men, children and other women. Likewise, McGonagall can take on the form of a cat, and teaches Transfiguration. 
  • In the maze at the Triwizard Tournament, Harry encounters a sphinx that asks him a riddle, just like the creature King Oedipus meets.
  • Sybill Trelawney is named after Cumean Sybil, a prophetess at Cumae in Greece. The word sybil itself means prophetess.
  • Nymphadora Tonks takes her name from the nymphs-Greek spirits with a fondness for song and dance who possess the ability to morph into trees, flowers and other natural elements. Tonks’ mum is named Andromeda after the princess who was rescued by the hero Perseus and later made into a constellation when she died.
  • Alecto Carrow, the Death Eater that delights in torturing students in The Deathly Hallows, is much like the fury Alecto from Greek mythology, a winged deity of vengeance. 
  • Narcissa Malfoy’s name comes from Narcissus, an exeptionally vain man who fell in love with his own reflection.

Recommended Reads:

What’s your favourite Greek myth?

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14 responses to “G is for Greek Myth and Legend #atozchallenge

  1. I knew Harry Potter had some Greek Myths in it, but I didn't realize how many. Wow.

    The cover for Betrayal is gorgeous, and I haven't heard of it before so of course I must go hunt it down now…

  2. I've always loved Greek mythology. My hero, Victor Standish, "died" on the last night of Troy, killing Apollo (long story) LOL. I have Bacchus as the Dean of a high school in the French Quarter where humans are the main study by various students from all the world's mythologies. (my urban fantasy,END OF DAYS)

    As you can see Greek myths influence my imagination a lot!

    You have once again captured my imagination and wonder. Roland

  3. I'm going to be doing at least one post referencing Greek mythology later this month for my A to Z theme in world building.

    You have some great examples here. I'm pleased to see that you have Brodi Ashton's Everneath here- I just met her at an author talk here in the Bay Area, and I finished her book in just two days.

  4. Wonderful post…I like your blog.^^
    Maybe follow each other on bloglovin???
    Let me know follow you then back.
    Lovely greets Nessa

  5. I loved the insight into Harry Potter, there were a lot of things I came across that I thought had originated somewhere else. For example, I'm pretty sure Sirius and maybe even Bellatrix were names of stars.

    Have fun with a-z.

  6. @Kate- yes I only discovered it recently too. The cover was enough to draw me in!

    @Brett- great minds read alike! Good luck with your first A-Z!

    @Janeal-yeah HP is bursting at the seams with Greek mythology. I'm sure there are many more examples that I didn't mention, too. And I'm with you on Betrayal's cover-stunning!

    @sassyspeaks-Greek mythology can be a pretty heavy topic if you're not used to it. I had a fun cartoon-style book that explained the stories in a simple way when I was younger, and made the myths seem much more accessible than trying to trawl through a big book like The Odyssey.

    @Silvia- yes it's surprising how much it crops up, much more than I realised actually. Yay, another HP fan.

    @Roland-thanks for your kind words. Glad to hear your books include Greek mythology. Yet another compelling reason for me to get them asap!

    @Laura-she certainly did do a lot of research!

    @Al-I think chickens were supposed to be a symbol of fertility, love and desire! Strange.

    @Daniel-yeah Percy Jackson sort of made it popular again, which is great. Didn't think the film was up to much, though.

    @Cynthia-great, I'll be sure to check out your posts. You met Brodi Ashton? Lucky!

    @Nessa-sure, I've added you on Bloglovin'. Thanks for visiting!

    @Jessica-Yep, JK used loads of allusions to mythology-not just Greek but Roman, Celtic, Norse and more. All the details are packed with symbolism.

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