This page is designed to assist and hopefully inspire educators teaching mythology, whether they are teaching to kindergarteners, high school AP classes, students at university and beyond. Of course we’d love it if you worked with our novels – and Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus has been used by several high schools to complement Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, while several university students have consulted our Niobe trilogy – Children of Tantalus, The Road to Thebes, and Arrows of Artemis – while doing their theses. We can also recommend that you consider Antigone & Creon and Clytemnestra! But this page is less about pushing our books and more about mythology and teaching it. Myths, the stories that have inspired us for so long that they have been passed down for millennia, provide a common understanding of our world. They show us how people thought and behaved in the past; they enrich our present.
If you have lesson plans or other suggestions such as links to include, or questions to pose, please contact us at tapestryofbronze (at) yahoo (dot) com. We hope to be able to update this page frequently with new material.
Resources at the Tapestry of Bronze
Odes to Olympians: The Tapestry of Bronze used to have a poetry contest to honor each of the gods in turn; a page exists for the different Greek gods with the winners. Consider having your students create a poem about one of the gods.
Pronunciation: The names from the Greek myths can be intimidating. We provide a pronunciation guide for those who are concerned about saying these words aloud.
Using Mythology in Your Classes
Artists have been inspired by mythology for millennia. Color, draw, paint or even model in clay a Greek god or hero – or a scene from a myth.
Create masks based on the different heroes and/or gods and pretend to be them.
Many plays, ancient and modern, are based on these myths. Assign parts and do readings. Perform them. Watch them in theaters or as film. One class at Bishop Fenwick High School in Peabody, MA, has made Jocasta into a youtube video.
CONSULTING THE ORACLE:
Interpret a prophecy from the Oracle at Delphi. Famous instances from Herodotus’ The Histories include Croesus’ question about whether or not to go to war, in which the Oracle answered: “If you do, a great empire will be destroyed” and the Athenians’ asking for guidance when the Persians threatened: “Look to the wooden walls.” (The answers turned out to be that Croesus destroyed his own empire by going to war, and the Athenians finally decide that the wooden walls that would save them belonged to their fleet of ships.) Laius of Thebes learned that his son would murder him and marry his mother (Laius’ response was to send his infant son away to be exposed to die on a mountain.)
Debate or assign essay questions about how the ancients might have interpreted these oracles. Example questions include:
1. How do you tell what they mean?
2. How would you change your behavior if you received one of these oracles? (Note that not changing the behavior at all can be a valid response; there were many, especially among the followers of Socrates, who thought the divine pronouncements were dubious.)
EXPLORING CRIME & PUNISHMENT:
Some of the stories are scandalous from today’s point of view – even from the perspective of back then, too.
Do mock interviews of the gods/heroes and ask them to defend what they did. Possible settings include modern-day talk shows and/or a courtroom trial.
Consider punishments that were handed out, and debate or write essays about whether the sentences were just and if they served as deterrants:
To mortals while still alive:
Maiming (Oedipus blinded himself)
Exile (Oedipus went into exile)
Fines or Offerings to Temples
Labors (the labors of Hercules/Herakles)
To mortals after death:
Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a steep hill for all eternity, only to have it roll back to the ground just as he reaches the top
Tantalus reaching for fruit and drink that always move away
To the immortals, who do not die
Zeus (Jupiter) imprisoned his father Kronos (Saturn)
Hephaestus caught his wife Aphrodite and her lover Ares in a net
Prometheus was chained to a rock and had his liver devoured every day (until he was liberated by Hercules)
Gods frequently punished the mortals favored by other gods, as mortals made easier targets.
This subject is vast so we expect to add to it frequently. In the meantime, here’s a start of the topics that could be used for discussion, for essays, tests and homework, organized by literary work.
Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
1. In Oedipus Rex, blindness is a recurring theme. Who is blind literally? Who is blind figuratively? Who has the clearest vision of what is happening?
2. How many people does Oedipus blame for his problems before he blames himself?
3. If Oedipus was going to the oracle at Delphi to ask about his parentage, then why did he marry a woman much older than himself?
4. Would Oedipus have been better off had he not tried to avoid his fate?
Jocasta: The Mother-Wife of Oedipus by Victoria Grossack & Alice Underwood
1. In Jocasta, blindness is a recurring theme. Who is blind literally? Who is blind figuratively? Who has the clearest vision of what is happening?
2. In Jocasta, the characters – Jocasta, Oedipus, Creon, Menoeceus, Melanthe, Niobe – all have different attitudes toward the gods. Compare and contrast them.
3. If you are familiar with Sophocles play, Oedipus Rex, compare it with the version of the myth told in Jocasta.
4. In Jocasta, three different people served as the Tiresias. Which do you think was the most human? Could they all see the future equally well?
5. If you are familiar with the myth about the Sphinx controlling Thebes, contrast it with the version related in Jocasta. Which version seems most likely? Do you think something else really happened?
6. Did Jocasta trust Oedipus more than she trusted Creon?
7. Was Jocasta right to ask Pelorus to save her baby?
8. Do you think Jocasta was a good queen? Why or why not?
9. If you are familiar with the myth of Niobe and the death of her children, how does the version in Jocasta differ?
10. Jocasta, Laius and Oedipus were all a part of the prophecy that Oedipus would kill Laius and marry Jocasta. Compare and contrast their reactions when they learned their fate.
Parada's Greek Mythology Link: A tremendously detailed resource, and we want to thank Carlos Parada personally for all his work – his was the first in-depth website that we found.
The Theoi Project: this website has wonderful information about the temples devoted to various gods and information on plants and herbs of the past.
MythWeb: another website devoted to mythology.
Maps of Ancient Greece: Maps of ancient Greek world. Incredible detail!
Visiting Archaeological Sites in Greece: If you want to visit archaeological sites in modern day Greece. Named after Pausanias, the Roman who created the original tour guide scrolls
Perseus-Tufts Education Project: A project in which many of the classics are being put on line.
The Teaching Company: This has great sets of lectures by many professors on all sorts of subjects – we’ve watched nearly all the lecture sets on ancient Greece and archaeology. Yes, you have to pay, but this is great value for the money (as long as you wait for your course to be on sale).
Steven Saylor's website: Contains a list of historical fiction books relating to ancient Greece and ancient Rome.
Path Guy's thoughts about Oedipus Rex: Ed Friedlander, a pathologist (whence “path guy”) shares many thoughts about Oedipus Rex.
The Tapestry of Bronze is a series of interlocking novels set in ancient Greece, starting several generations before the Trojan War. Archaeological evidence indicates that this “Golden Age of Heroes” aligns with Bronze Age dates. Our series forms a tapestry, because the books tie together, though each novel focuses on one strand of story. Jocasta, Children of Tantalus, The Road to Thebes and Arrows of Artemis are available for purchase today. And more are in the works!
Not sure if you’ll like the books? Then electronically download a sample at Amazon. Clicking on the covers below will take you to that company’s website.
The Tapestry of Bronze is a series of novels set in Bronze Age Greece.
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