The Greek myths are some of the most fantastic of Western culture, and although their legends of battling monsters, toying gods, and the rigidity of the Fates have become a fairy tale rather than a religion, they endure. Here is the first of three authors that have shaped these ancient stories into something more relatable without losing the magic.
There are many, many stories from folklore on the Myths and Legends podcast and I recommend listening to any and all of them for a lively, silly, yet thoroughly researched retelling. Jason, the writer and storyteller, has a friendly voice that makes you sit back and wish there were a fire to gather ’round. He has the talent to take the old and dusty, and make it modern and funny. My son and I discovered this podcast while both lying around with mono a couple years ago and unable to read or handle anything on a screen. We were completely entertained and have been listeners ever since.
Jason has covered the ancient Greeks from time to time in the almost 200 episodes of his podcast from 46A “Argonauts: Some Assembly Required” to 65 “Oedipus: Motherboy” to the most recent 131B “Greek Mythology: All In The Family.” To get a feel for his style, here is the write up of the recent one:
Last week, Hera hid that she was pregnant. This week, we learn who the father isn’t, and see the births of two more important figures from Greek mythology. Also, if you’re going for the whole totalitarian dictator thing, make sure you don’t take your wine naps right next to all the people who hate you. Just saying.
Ancient tales were created for adults, though we like to tell them to our children, but if the sex and violence is more than PG in any particular episode of Myths and Legends, Jason always gives a disclaimer in the beginning verbally, and written in the show notes. I appreciate that he makes sure to mention if there will be rape (frequent in the Greek myths). On that topic, I also give kudos to Jason for not glossing over the amount of violence towards women and general misogyny in so much of folklore, sometimes coming out of the story for a moment to point out the ridiculous names given for rape, e.g., “silently took her in the night.” He often voices the imagined intelligent but thwarted thoughts of women, which is usually pretty amusing and sarcastic. Beyond humor, he points out when powerful women are portrayed as evil, even though they were showing the same traits of the lauded men of the time.
Although it’s mainly Jason’s voice, there is subtle sound and music editing that enhances rather than distracts from the story, provided by Carissa the sound engineer. The mood is always colorful and somewhat light, even when the stories get dark. Even the most ghastly of Greek myths are described in a palatable and surprisingly amusing way. Jason is talented at what he does. If you want to check out his resources or other versions of the story, he has links on his website.
By listening to the episodes that contain Greek myths, you will get a firm grasp of what they are all about from the Titans to the Olympians, demi-gods, and famous mortals (like Odysseus) along the way. Much of what we still call “heroic” comes from the characters in these tales, some that predate what we call Ancient Greece. I find it fascinating how human culture changes yet stays the same in so many ways. Myths and Legends podcast shows you both in an engaging way.
One of my favorite feature of each Myths and Legends podcast is the Creature of the Week. Not related to the story of the day, he picks creatures, both ridiculous and scary from all over the world, in a brief two minute tale right at the end of each podcast. So even while listening to the Greeks, you get to hear a snippet about about a fox from Japan, Yule Lads from Iceland, or the Impadulu from South Africa.
Myths and Legends is free to listen on many apps or right on the website. I highly recommend for junior high and up (or high school for disclaimer episodes).
Next for revisited Greek myths are my reviews of Circe by Madeline Miller and then The Cold is In Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale.