Sunday, 9 December 2012

The durability of myth

Pandora's box, the Midas Touch, Titanic, tantalising - you can't live long in Western culture without stumbling across references to these and many other Greek myths. They seem indestructible. The latest re-telling for children is written by experienced storyteller Sally "Pomme" Clayton and illustrated beautifully by Jane Ray (Frances Lincoln).

It contains ten stories "of sun, stone and sea," which sums up some of the appeal of tales set in Greece, blessed in its climate if not in its economy. Pandora releasing a swarm of stinging insects, Medusa, not just snake-haired but tusked like a boar, Pegasus, the Chimaera, Midas with his ass's ears, Atalanta running - they are all here, bringing their familiar magic. It's a good introduction for a child who hasn't met these stories before too.

An earlier re-telling was Lucy Coats' Atticus the Storyteller's 100 Greek Myths, illustrated by Anthony Lewis (Orion).

They were re-issued in 2009/10 as a series of 12 story books, Greek Beasts and Heroes, but earlier this month they had an even more up-to-date incarnation as Lucy used them as the basis for writing a hundred Greek Myths in 140 characters as, yes, you've guessed it, Twitter Fiction!

Here's an example:
Sulky Cronos swallows 5 godlets! Wife Rhea devastated! Gran Gaia’s secret stone supper saves baby Zeus from dad’s greedy gob

That one was read by Lucy to Martha Kearney on radio 4's World at One and is the second of the abbreviated Creation Myths.

Amazing, isn't it? Millennia since the Heroic Age and now a version for the nimble-thumbed smartphone generation makes the radio News.  Just notice the next time you meet an allusion to one of these enduring stories. There is no truth more durable than myth.

You can read them all on Lucy's blog Scribble City Central.estival-100-myths-in.html


Sue Bursztynski said...

I had heard about this Twitter version. Very entertaining to those of us who already know the myth! A child will probably need the books you mention, though I admit that that kind of book was spoiled for me already when I was in mid primary school. My sister brought home the Robert Graves version, which I read cover to cover, notes and all. After that children's retellings just didn't work for me any more.

Janetta Otter-Barry said...

I love Lucy's Twitter version. I think it's fun and intriguing, and would encourage a child to explore the stories at greater length. More please!