Myths for the Modern Age

The Greeks and Romans had lots of inventive stories to explain how birds, trees, mountains, rocks, islands, and many other things came into being, but since classical times, we don’t have any new Greek and Roman myths to explain things. As a final lockdown project of the year, Year Eight Classics students have been inventing modern myths to explain objects that have come into being since ancient times!

Read their stories below – more will be added as they arrive, so you can check back again to find out more.

The Tale of the Guitar

by Daan Goedeme

A few days after Daphne was turned into a tree, Apollo came to her tree. He was determined to have her in some way or another so he set out to carve a statue of Daphne out of the tree.

He was getting along quite well with the body when one day Peneus, her father, passed by and asked what he was doing. Reluctant to reveal his true intentions, Apollo replied that he was making an instrument. The father asked what kind of instrument would have this shape and Apollo improvised it was a new instrument which would have a big shape to produce a big sound and would have six strings.

At the time Apollo had no idea what he was talking about but Peneus was quite intrigued and asked whether he could help. He also asked where the sound would come from and Apollo said there was going to be a big hole on the middle of the body.

With Peneus watching his every move, Apollo had no choice but to turn the ‘statue’ into a new musical instrument. He poured all his love for Daphne into the instrument, which would later be known as the guitar. And to this days it remains one of the most popular instruments in the world.

The Tale of the Bore Wave

by Peter Goodrich Jones

The bore wave is an annual tidal wave that sweeps up rivers around the world but notable in the river Severn in England. It is a big wave that draws thousands of tourists and surfers who dare to ride the dangerous wave.

Every river has a spirit or god or goddess and they are tasked with the job of protecting and ensuring the health of their river. One of the most important parts of the river to their guardians is the source, because without a health source of the river, the river will not run well and if the source is blocked completely, the river will run dry. So every year the gods or goddess of each river make a journey up river to the source in a bore wave accompanied by an entourage of nymphs that make the wave.

The reason why not all rivers have a bore wave is because not all of the river deities still feel their sense of duty anymore and have neglected their duties.

The Tale of the Mirror

by Elsie-Mae Williams

Once there were two girls, identical in every way except for personality. One was quick-witted and outgoing, and any person who met her instantly fell in love with her. The other was quiet, finding her friends in the pages of books rather than in real life. Now, these two girls weren’t alive so long ago, but long enough ago that the only thing it was considered girls to be good for was to marry some old man with a lot of money, and run around after him cooking and cleaning and minding the children. Since these two girls were poor, they really had no choice but to marry soon, and marry rich, and therefore on the day of their sixteenth birthday, they stood in their finest dresses at the top of a staircase, ready to go to their first ball. Maria, the eldest by twenty minutes, was excited. She could think of nothing she wanted more than to dance all night. Peggy, however, dreaded the thought of it. Her sister would have every boy dancing with her and begging to marry her by the end of the evening, and she would be left behind with her mother and father’s disappointed glares. Nevertheless, Peggy went to the ball like the dutiful daughter she was, and danced the night away with any man who asked for her hand. 

Just when she was beginning to tire of waltzing, Peggy heard a voice. 

“May I have this dance?” 

It belonged to a young boy, around her age, with blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. She took his hand, and they danced. He danced like an angel. By the end of the night, Peggy was in love. They chatted all night, and Peggy didn’t dance with anyone else. Soon she heard her mother calling her, and she told him she had to go, but that she had enjoyed his company very much. 

“Wait!” He called as she turned away, catching her hand. The girl turned back to him, blushing, and he released her hand quickly. “Won’t you tell me your name?” 

She was over the moon, but dropped a curtsey like she had been taught, and looked up at him through her eyelashes. “I am Miss Taylor of Rose Hall.” 

On the way home, Maria told her mother Elizabeth about all her different dancing partners, and when Elizabeth had asked Peggy about who she had danced with the girl only replied “I have fallen in love, mother.” 

The following day, she was feverish and distracted, her mind dwelling on the dance last evening. She was distracted all the way through lessons, so much so that her mother insisted on taking her temperature and, to Peggy’s dismay, pronounced her too ill to attend the ball this evening. The girl protested, but was sent to bed. She was so glum that she stayed in bed for the rest of the week, and at breakfast she would have to listen to Maria’s stories of the men she danced with. 

“Mother, he’s a gentleman, truly. He came to me at the second ball of the season and said to me “Miss Taylor? May I have this dance?”. I accepted, of course, and we have danced every day since. He got down on one knee, and so of course I said yes. What else was I to do?” 

“My darling, I’m so happy for you!” Elizabeth had gushed. “When do we get to meet him?” 

“I have written to him and asked him to come down and stay with us for a while. He will arrive for lunch.” 

Peggy finished eating as soon as she could and went straight to the classroom to make a start on her work. She didn’t want to hear any more of her sister bragging about her marriage. Peggy loved writing, and soon she had lost track of time and was broken out of the spell her book had created by Maria’s horrified gasp. 

“Peggy, don’t tell me you’re coming to lunch in that? My fiance is coming, you must look your best. Here, you can borrow one of my dresses.” Maria dragged the girl off to her room and fussed over the girl, fixing her hair and applying a little makeup to her face. The girls were both silent the entire time, tension in the air. As soon as she was ready, Peggy ran to her own room, and Maria rushed downstairs. The younger waited until she could hear chatter downstairs before following her sister down. 

The sight she saw enraged her. There at the foot of the stairs stood her partner, the man she had danced with once and spent the rest of her days planning her life with. She let out a tearful gasp and pushed through the pair, running through the gadens to the tiny marble shrine she and her sister used to hide in from the rain when they were younger. She collapsed to the floor in tears. 

“Excuse me, ma’am?” Came a creaky voice. “Might I ask if you are ok?” 

“No!” Peggy sobbed. 

“Who has caused you such pain?” The woman asked. 

“My sister!” 

As if summoned, Maria came running down the field. 

“Is this her?” The woman asked. 

Peggy nodded. 

“Take this, my dear.” The woman held out a small piece of metal. “I shall see to it your sister gets a taste of her own medicine.” 

“Peggy! There you are! What came over you?” Maria yelled. 

“Me? You stole him from me!” Peggy replied. “I danced with him, Maria! Me!”

“He likes me more!” Maria said smugly. “How can I help it?” 

Peggy screamed in frustration, before throwing the metal she had been given at her sister. The clasp fell open in the air, and the younger sister watched in horror as her sister disappeared. She rushed over and picked up the metal. 

“Peggy! What have you done?” Came a voice. She saw herself reflected in the metal except… she hadn’t been wearing a red dress. 

Peggy ran back to the marble refuge and screamed at the woman.

“Who are you?” Peggy choked through tears. 

“I? I am Nemesis, my dear. And this is my shrine you are sitting in.” 

The Tale of Scissors

by Daniel McCagie

Once, before the gods of Olympus were in power, there was a great war between the gods and the Titans, great giants who ruled the earth.

During this great war, Hephaestus, the great god of blacksmiths and weaponry, was busy working. As he was the only blacksmith, the swords, and spears he handed out were still hot, as he didn’t have time to cool down. The blacksmiths on the Titans’ side had the same problem.

So many went into battles with hands burning as fiercely as their rage, and they clashed and clashed, the cries of war echoing through the land. And as two of the mightiest warriors from either side, Zeus the god, and Kronos the Titan, clashed their mighty swords together, on the third blow they forged together, falling into the earth.

Now the citizens of a village down below saw the mighty blades, but they could not reach, build or climb up to them, so they made their own. This is how scissors came to be. Legends say that the blades are still there on Mount Olympus…

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