Fast and Easy Extension Activities for Usborne Greek Myths retold by Heather Amery from Sonlight HBL B
I feel very awkward suggesting too many activities for this book. I don’t want my children coloring a lot of pages about false idols, nor do I want them watching a ton of Greek mythology videos or making a lot of crafts about false gods. So, this one will be relatively sparse on actual activities, on purpose. Keep in mind I am by no means a Biblical scholar, nor am I aware of all the teachings of all denominations, so feel free to adjust as needed. If you have any ways you used it for your own family that might benefit others, or your family found other new connections, please share in the comments.
PLEASE BE AWARE THERE ARE PRONUNCIATIONS IN THE BACK OF THE BOOK
Gift of Fire
Ask your children if this reminds them of any story they may know. Help them draw the connections between this story and the story of Adam and Eve, showing how one possible explanation for this myth is that some people might have heard the Bible stories but not understood or remembered them, causing them to add or change important details. Ask them to be alert to the other stories in this book to see if any more remind them of Bible stories.
Key points that might be taken from the Bible:
- The Greek gods lived in the heavens like our God.
- Zeus was the most powerful of them all, but our God is even more powerful.
- God makes the storms. He makes thunder and lightning.
- Adam, the first man, might be mistaken for Zeus. He married Eve and “they had many children.”
- The world was empty at first, but then God created animals. Many animals were roaming around at first, but no people yet. Then, God, who was “very good at making things,” made humans.
- The first humans were made out of mud in the image of God, and God breathed life into them.
- The people were happy, but God forbade them to have one thing. Instead of fire, it was fruit.
- God punished the people after they found out he had disobeyed his command. Eve would suffer great pain in childbirth, and Adam would be forced to work hard. And this would last for hundreds of years until sin was forgiven through Jesus.
- God placed cherubim in the garden to prevent Adam and Eve from returning. Their flaming swords might be the basis of the thunderbolts Zeus is famous for.
Lightning bolt craft (God created the lightning and thunder) (you can make the mobile or just one bolt)
- God punished Adam after he disobeyed.
- God made a very “special woman.” She was to be a wife for Adam after Adam had named all the animals on Earth.
- Instead of giving Eve a box, God warned her she must never eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
- When Adam and Eve married, “the world was a wonderful place to live in. No one grew old or ill. No one was kind or unpleasant.”
- Eve got curious when the snake tempted her to try the fruit to see what would happen. Even though she knew she should not, she still proceeded to eat it.
- When she did, all “hate and jealousy, cruelty and anger, hunger and poverty, pain and sickness, old age and death entered the world.”
- Once Eve ate from the fruit, it was too late to undo what had been done. People would now “suffer all kinds of terrible things.”
- God promised them Jesus in this moment, and “because they had hope, they would never despair.”
If you have the book Stories from Africa, from Sonlight P 4 /5, this might be the time to reread the story about the boy and the box.
Persephone and the Seasons
The story of Persephone isn’t a direct correlation to a Bible story as the first two were, but we can see hints of the Creation story in her story.
- Persephone lived in a beautiful world, where all the plants grew tall, there was ripe fruit to eat, and the weather was always fine. There was enough to eat all year. There were flowers to pick, and the world was beautiful (probably, I’m giving myself a wee bit of liberty)
- Hades arrived. In the Bible, he comes in the form of a serpent rather than on a horse-driven chariot, but the results from his visit were just as disastrous either way.
- The next part deviates a bit, but if we can imagine what the world outside of the garden would look like. Food was hard to grow, the world would have been more empty, and sadness would have enveloped them. Adam and Eve might have looked for the garden only to see that “flaming” torch Demeter took with her.
- Adam and Eve’s son was killed, making the first dead person. This story talks about the place people went to when they died. Since Jesus had not yet died for Abel’s sin, I don’t know where his soul went after he died, but if it stayed in the ground, it would have been very dark. Burying him in the ground might have seemed like the “underworld.” It’s also possible people might have confused hell with the place of all the dead.
- Persephone spent time in the underworld but then came back to earth again. The cyclical nature of this was tied to the seasons, but the reason behind it might be Biblical in nature. Part of the story might be a misunderstanding about the prophecies about Jesus.
The Story of Arachne
While I do not see Arachne as an allegory for a Bible story, we can make a few loose connections.
- Cain was jealous of his brother. They both had their talents that brought food to the table, but although Arachne was the better weaver, Athene didn’t want to admit hers wasn’t as good. Abel brought his gift offering to God. Cain also brought an offering to God, and we don’t know exactly why his gift was rejected (the Bible gives us hints but doesn’t tell us directly what the issue was); Cain was not happy with the results. Perhaps he viewed it as a competition.
- Whatever the cause of Cain’s anger, he took it out on his brother, just as Athene took her anger out on Arachne.
The Many Tasks of Heracles/Hercules
For me, Heracles most resembles Samson from the Bible. I also see some of David and a few others, so bear with me on this one. I don’t think the connections are solid, so feel free to skip ones you don’t care for. 🙂
- Samson also grew “famous for his brave deeds and great strength” He was also prone to great rages. (P 21)
- Judges 14:6. Samson also killed a lion with his bare hands. Instead of taking the carcass to the king, he took a riddle about the honey he found inside the carcass to use at his wedding. (P 23)
- There is a vague similarity between the Hydra (possibly the “crooked serpent of Job 26) and the story of Samson and the foxes. Samson’s foxes, with their tales tied together and set off in pairs, might have seemed like a hydra. Every time they stopped one pair, two or three more would have emerged, causing damage in their wake. (P 24)
- I’m not sure if I should list this one, but the story of the stag and the jawbone of a donkey could have similar origins. If someone didn’t understand he used the jawbone of a donkey instead of the whole donkey, and then the donkey turned into a stag through storytelling…. Mix that with the carrying of the gate over his shoulders….(P 26)
- A vague suggestion, but one of my children mentioned the bull of Crete reminded him of the golden calf the Israelites made. (P 34)
- Atlas holding up the sky might be symbolic of Samson pushing apart the pillars, bringing the structure crashing down. (P 43)
- The guard dog of the underworld story might also now represent Jesus fighting with Satan in the underworld, emerging victorious. (P 45)
Echo and Narcissus
- We found ways to compare this story with the tower of Babel, where people thought so much of themselves they turned away from God and looked at the great thing they were making instead of the great God who enabled them to make it together.
Daedalus and Icarus
- The imagery of flying too close to the sun can represent many Biblical characters. We chose to discuss Saul, who was chosen by God, but once he let fame, power, and riches go to his head, he began to lose everything he had built. Other good examples would be Nebuchadnezzar, who lost his kingdom to go live like a beast in the fields, and Judas, who was close to Jesus, and a disciple, yet got blinded by the world and fell.
Bellerophon and the Flying Horse
- Bellerophon reminds me of King David before he was king. LIke Bellerophon, King David had a king who wanted to destroy him. David killed lions, Goliath, and other beasts and monsters. As a reward for one of his good deeds, the king gave him his daughter to marry. Later, he grew conceited, which caused him to make mistakes in how he went about selecting a wife, as well as mistakes in raising his children. He had to roam the land with no place to settle for a while because the king was angry with him because he knew David would take his place.
Jason and the Golden Fleece
Jason’s journey brought to mind many Bible characters.
- (P 59) The beginning of Jason’s journey reminded us of Joshua, who was raised in the desert until the time was right for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. He was given the place that was rightfully his by both God and Moses. They first had to cross a wide river, and he helped the women, men, and children cross by parting the river for them. He came to the city, and although the city was his, he still had many tasks to complete before anyone could settle there.
- The Harpies (P 64) reminded us of a reverse Elijah.
- The Clashing Rocks (P65) reminded us of the walls of Jericho falling down.
- The story of the fire-breathing bulls and how Medea helped Jason reminded us of how Rahab helped the spies in Jericho before the walls fell.
- The Golden Fleece reminded us of the many times people wanted to steal the Ark and how the Ark protected itself each time.
- King Midas brought to mind King Nebuchadnezzar again. Everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. His kingdom grew, and he achieved greatness. And he was warned to listen to God. Yet, he refused, and God sent him to live like a beast of the field who eats grass, much like a donkey will.
The Adventuers of Perseus
- Perseus’s origin story reminded us of Moses, the baby in a basket.
- Medusa (P 78) reminded us of how the enemy might have viewed Samson. Instead of being his hair that scared them, it was his strength and his temper, and instead of cutting off his head, he was defeated by cutting off his huge braids of hair woven into the loom.
The Chariot of the Sun
- We can’t read this story without thinking of Elijah’s chariot ride to heaven.
The Adventures of Odysseus
I believe the tales of Odysseus are based on a non-Biblical set of stories, but we can always find God.
- (P88) David also started a war over Bathsheeba, someone else’s wife he wanted for his own.
- In Joshua 9, the Gibeonites also had a plan to trick the Israelites (P90). Also, Gideon was able to trick an entire army with only a few men.
- Cyclops (P 93) brought to mind the kings of Babylonia, taking Daniel and putting him in a lion’s den, and placing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendago in the fiery furnace with people standing guard to make sure they could not escape.
- One of my children aptly reminded me that Jesus controls the winds (P 98)
- Many of the people of Israel, including Solomon, were led astray by women who enticed them to go beyond their beliefs. (P 100)
- Odysseus’s test of strength reminds us of the story of David and Goliath, where the one person who was able to accomplish the task was the one of whom it was least expected to be able to do so. (P 113)
Theseus and the Minotaur
- This story also reminded us of David and Goliath
Pygmalion and His Wife
- This story reminded us of the Israelites’ worship of false idols, yet those idols could not save them or make them happy.
Eros and Psyche