Saturday, September 28, 2013

Modernized Mythology

There are countless references to Greek/Roman mythology in the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series. Honestly, Miranda and I were hardly containing ourselves whenever we discovered one of these references during class these past two weeks. The more I think about it, the more I realize entire aspects of the plot are simply modernized mythology. For example, just like Aeneas, Percy and his friends enter the Underworld- but through the Hollywood sign. Mt. Olympus is located on the Empire State Building. And land of the Lotus Eaters (from the Odyssey) appears as the Lotus Casino in Las Vegas.

Percy, aka the epic hero, is a "demigod," meaning one of his parents is a god/goddess. Just like Aeneas mother is Venus. In Percy's case, his father is Poseidon. More than a few times Poseidon comes to Percy's rescue to help him fulfill his prophecy, just as Venus does for Aeneas.

Some might say that that Richard Riordan, the author of the series, does a disservice to the mythology he incorporated and modernized his novels. However, I would have to disagree. Let's face it, I don't know all that many people, besides various teachers and Joey, who are completely familiar with Greek/Roman mythology. By taking mythology and creating it into something that interests kids of the 21st century- Riordan, J.K. Rowling, and other authors are preserving these epic tales in the most creative of ways. Miranda and I read this series and had no idea until recently just how much knowledge we actually had on Greek and Roman mythology.


Joseph D'Amico said...

I agree with you completely. Even if Riordan does make a few mistakes and bends the mythology to his purposes, his novels are still pretty informative. I know that I personally learned a decent amount of mythology from his books. Not only that, I was so interested by some the stories that I began to look up others on wikipedia, which is always a great way to learn random stuff. I particularly liked how he mentioned Typhon, my favorite monster of all time. It really is a great series.

Kincy GIbson said...

I also have read this series. In fact in Middle School I read about three within in a month. I loved the modernized mythology because we were also reading Greek mythology in english class; it was so much fun finding parallels between the two. I remember learning that Medusa could turn people into stone with her stare. I learned about the culture of Mt. Olympus and the interaction between humans and the gods. Percy once got in a fight with a centaur like animal and I thought that the main character of the book had died by the end of the chapter! Little did I realize that Poseidon would continually save his son at the last minute like how the gods save Aeneas and Medea.