Greek mythology is a group of stories (legends and, you guessed it, myths) that were used in Ancient Greece to explain natural events like the origin of the world, the seasons, etc. If you are new to this topic, feel free to watch this amazing video by DICE, who explains the basics of Greek myths in less than 10 minutes!
So basically, Greek mythology is just a whole lot of extensive and complicated stories – I really do not need to overexplain myself. You can clearly see why all different types of media have brought to life these myths. I mean, why wouldn’t they? Greek myths have all a story needs: adventure, romance, action, mystery… And they have no copyright since they are thousands of years old (the first mention of Greek Mythology was found in a ceramic vase of VIII B.C).
Traditional Adaptations of Greek Mythology
You have probably heard about numerous films that are based on Greek mythology, probably even watched them yourself. For example, big hit Troy (2004), directed by Wolfgang Petersen or even Wonder Woman (2017) – that is actually based on Roman mythology, but oh well, they are kind of similar. Yes, we can agree the film industry has brought Greek mythology to life multiple times. And do not get me wrong, it is a great media to adapt something as illustrative as Greek mythos; however, most of the adaptations are very far from what the “real” stories look like, which is not something bad per se – we have to take in account that they are usually modified to attract more audience.
Now, the downside of this cinematic adaptations is that there is no immediate feedback – at least not until the film is released; which I think is a huge downside nowadays, since it takes a lot of money and time to make a film. The same happens with books. There is also the fact that in books and films there is rarely any interaction between user and developer, at least until it is released, as I mentioned earlier. Still, there are some adaptations that I think they are worth watching/reading. Here are some:
- Hercules (1997) – Disney animated musical film. The story of Hercules and his 12 labours – adapted in a comical and romantic way!
- Troy (2004) – the stories of Paris and Helena, Achilles, Patroclus… and the war of Troy. Based on Homer’s Iliad.
- 300 (2006) – I am… not a big fan of this film, but it is a classic so. Tells the story of King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans.
- Clash of the Titans (2010) – the story of Perseus, son of Zeus.
When it comes to recommending books, what could I recommend if not the Percy Jackson saga by Rick Riordan. Riordan uses the young Percy Jackson, a 12-year-old that has just realized he is a demigod, to explain most of the myths of Ancient Greek, but this time in a modern setting. Even if it is fiction, most of my knowledge nowadays comes from reading these books. Another book I recommend is Circe by Madeline Miller, that tells the story of the witch goddess.
As a small subsection, I should mention that the myths that have been most adapted are the ones of Hercules (mostly the story of the 12 labours), Perseus (of how he killed Medusa and Ceto, saving Andromeda) and Theseus (of how he killed the Minotaur). Other myths that have been adapted are Antigone and Oedipus Rex – both plays by Sophocles – and some passages of the Iliad and the Odyssey – both by Homer.
Interactive Adaptations of Greek Mythology
What do I mean by “interactive” adaptations? Well, I consider an adaptation to be interactive if the user consuming the media can “interact” with the content, not just with immediate feedback. An excellent example of interactive media would be videogames. I personally think this is one of the best ways to adapt something as narrative as Greek mythology. A book and a film are great, but living the world we live nowadays, it is always better to make the user experience stories more personally – with a film or a book they are just spectators (I would even argue that books are more immersive), while with videogames they are the players; the user becomes the main character in the story. There are several videogames that are based on Greek myths, or Ancient Greece, here are some:
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (2018) – based on the Peloponnesian War (between Athens and Sparta).
- God of War (2005 – 2018) – follows the story of Kratos, a Spartan warrior.
- Immortals Fenyx Rising (2020) – inspired by the Greek Gods.
- Kid Icarus (1986 – 2012) – based on the myth of Icarus.
- Persona 3 (2006) – based on the concept of Tartarus.
I have to specially mention Hades, a game that was just released this year. The game follows Zagreus, the son of Hades, as he escapes the Underworld, and he is aided by the other Gods of Olympus. It is a rogue-like game, meaning that is a dungeon-based game. However, what I think makes this game incredibly interactive, even more than those I have mentioned before, is that the whole game is design like a maze, making the players choose from which chambers to enter – this way no run is the same.
Another example of what I consider interactive media are webcomics. Not comics per se, but “web”. The difference between a normally published comic and a webcomic is precisely what I mentioned previously – immediate feedback. Take for example, Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe, a webcomic published in Webtoon, that tells the Taking of Persephone in a modern setting. Each episode is published weekly in Webtoon, and the users can give feedback to the author through the comment sections. There is also interaction between the author and the audience – the author can reply to the comments and engage in discourse. Meaning the feedback is two-sided.
As a final say, if you are interested in Greek Mythology and want to learn about the original sources, I recommend these ones:
- The Homeric poems – the Iliad and the Odyssey.
- The works of Hesiod – Theogony and Works and Days.
I also recommend that you read Antigone and Oedipus Rex by Sophocles! (I really like these two).