Greek Mythology [NOOK Book]

Overview

Unleash your inner genius and become a master of mythology with this interactive trivia book from Jeopardy! champ and New York Times bestselling author Ken Jennings.

With this Junior Genius Guide to Greek mythology, you’ll become an expert and wow your friends and teachers with all the best ancient stories: how Prometheus outsmarted the gods, how Achilles’s heel led to his death, and how we mere mortals always seem to get mixed up in so many ...
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Greek Mythology

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Overview

Unleash your inner genius and become a master of mythology with this interactive trivia book from Jeopardy! champ and New York Times bestselling author Ken Jennings.

With this Junior Genius Guide to Greek mythology, you’ll become an expert and wow your friends and teachers with all the best ancient stories: how Prometheus outsmarted the gods, how Achilles’s heel led to his death, and how we mere mortals always seem to get mixed up in so many misadventures. With great illustrations, cool trivia, and fun quizzes to test your knowledge, this guide will have you on your way to whiz-kid status in no time!
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
If you’re looking for full versions of Greek myths, turn elsewhere. The first volume in the “Ken Jennings’ Junior Genius Guides” series, this work provides a general overview of the genre and some of its key players. The book is organized as if the reader is proceeding through a day of learning, with sections labeled “Introduction,” “First Period,” “Second Period,” “Recess,” “Third Period,” “Art Class,” “Fourth Period,” “Lunch,” “Fifth Period,” “Music Class,” “Sixth Period,” “Seventh Period,” “Official Junior Genius Certification Exam,” “Answers,” “Homework,” and “The Final Bell,” but the various section names give little clue about the content in within. (And, doesn’t homework actually come after the final school bell, really?) Readers may find this book useful as a refresher if they have read many Greek myths in the past. Otherwise, some passages will be hard to follow. Also hard to follow is Jennings’ intent in including a few jabs at women’s expense. For example, compared to Prometheus, who had a vulture fly in and devour his regenerating liver every single day, brother Epimetheus’s punishment was “even worse …marriage.” Jennings does not go into any more about the spouse or the marriage here, so apparently marriage itself is the great horror. See too his remark that he “wound up with [his] wife” because she, like Peleus, held onto him so tight he could not escape. Such jokes would better be made by the author, perhaps, to his wife than about her in this text. In-text references to previous page numbers are generally correct, although one such reference on page 134 sends the reader back to page 91 to read about the Trojan Horse, which is not on that page. There are some interesting elements of this text, such as a 12-page passage of pseudo-“trading cards” that provide key details about the gods and goddesses, directions for making a Trojan Horse-themed treat, and instructions for making constellations to shine on the ceiling. Note that the book is missing an index and phonetic cues are given for only a few of the Greek names. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green; Ages 8 to 12.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442473317
  • Publisher: Little Simon
  • Publication date: 2/4/2014
  • Series: Ken Jennings' Junior Genius Guides Series
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 111,137
  • Age range: 8 - 10 Years
  • File size: 17 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Ken Jennings
Ken Jennings grew up in Seoul, South Korea, where he became a daily devotee of the quiz show Jeopardy! In 2004, he successfully auditioned for a spot on the show and went on an unprecedented seventy-four game victory streak worth $2.52 million. Jennings’s book Brainiac, about his Jeopardy! adventures, was a critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, as were his follow-up books Maphead and Because I Said So! Jennings lives outside Seattle with his wife, Mindy, his son, Dylan, his daughter, Caitlin, and a small, excitable dog named Chance.

Mike Lowery is an illustrator and fine artist whose work has been seen in galleries and publications internationally. Mike is the illustrator of Moo Hoo and Ribbit Rabbit by Candace Ryan; The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray; and the Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder novels by Jo Nesbo. Currently he is a professor of illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta, Georgia, where he lives with a lovely German frau, Katrin, and his supergenius daughter, Allister. Visit him at MikeLowery.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Greek Mythology

Greece Is the Word


Every day we forget stories. I saw a funny video about a cat on the Internet this morning, but when I tried to tell a friend about it, I suddenly had no idea how it ended. A list of best-selling books from ten years ago would have authors on it that I don’t even remember. The thing you have to realize about Greek myths is that these are stories so good that we’ve managed to remember them for more than three thousand years.

Three thousand years! When these stories were first told around a banquet table or a campfire, paper hadn’t even been invented yet to write them down on. The entire world probably had only forty million people in it—roughly the population of the state of California today. Two of those people were your great-great-great-great- . . . great-grandparents.

Today kids still love Greek myths, but they aren’t just fairy tales for children—they’ve become woven into our everyday life. Have you ever heard anyone say that someone has “the Midas touch” or “an Achilles’ heel”? If references like that are all Greek to you, don’t worry. It just means that today you’re going to hear some great stories for the very first time.

Best of the West


Greek mythology is still important today because so much of Western civilization was born in ancient Greece. Here’s a list of some of the things we still use today that the Greeks invented. (Note that some of these inventions cropped up elsewhere—India, China, the Middle East—around the same time.)

• DEMOCRACY

• AN ALPHABET with both consonants and vowels (our word “alphabet” even comes from the first two Greek letters, alpha and beta)

• LOGIC

• COMEDY AND DRAMA

• GEOMETRY

• WIND POWER

Not too shabby for a handful of small city-states founded by sheepherders! The Greeks even invented pizza . . . sort of. One of their favorite snacks was an ancestor of pizza called plakous: a delicious flatbread sprinkled with herbs, onion, and garlic. (Canadian bacon and pineapple hadn’t been invented yet.)

Hero Worship

The greatest Greek inventor was Hero of Alexandria, sometimes called Heron. Around AD 40 he invented the world’s first steam engine—but, not realizing the machine’s potential, only used it as a toy. For Greek temples, Hero invented the world’s first automatically opening doors and even a vending machine! (By inserting a coin into a slot, temple visitors could buy a specific amount of holy water.)

Ancient Greek buildings sometimes had showers and even central heating. Around 600 BC, the Greeks dug a two-thirds-mile tunnel on the island of Samos to supply the capital with water. And the Greek explorer Pytheas sailed as far north as Scandinavia!

Around 1960, scientists discovered that this ancient Greek device found in a ship-wreck was actually an early computer! Astronomers designed it to calculate positions of the sun, moon, and planets.

Greek scientists were not perfect, of course. Even bright guys like Aristotle thought that the Earth was the center of the universe, and that the heart was the center of human intelligence. (The brain, he said, was just a big cooling organ.) The great Greek mathematician Pythagoras refused to eat (or even touch) beans: He and his followers were sure that beans had souls!

But in general, the Greeks reached heights of scientific knowledge that wouldn’t be surpassed in Europe for almost two thousand years.

Myth Information


But apart from their scientific thinking, the Greeks also had a rich tradition of storytelling about gods and goddesses, brave heroes, and hideous monsters.

What we think of as ancient Greek civilization was actually a big clash of cultures: a series of migrations from the north into the prehistoric civilizations of the Greek isles. Each of these tribes brought their own oral traditions with them, and Greek mythology was what they created from this mishmash of different stories.

The Greeks were polytheists (“pah-lee-THEE-ists”), meaning they believed in many gods. They worshipped these gods by making offerings at stone altars. At home their courtyard would have an altar to a household god. Their village or city would have temples with larger altars and statues of different gods. Before a family meal, you might sacrifice to Hestia, the goddess of the hearth, with an offering of burned meat. Before beginning a journey, you might travel to a temple of Hermes, the god of travelers, to pray and leave a votive offering (an object like a coin or a small statue) in his sacred grove.

We Found Love

In 1970 a long-lost temple to Aphrodite was unearthed at Knidos, in modern-day Turkey. Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love, and one of her messengers was the rainbow goddess Iris. Weirdly, the archaeologist who rediscovered the temple was a New York socialite named Iris Love!

When they needed special guidance from the gods, Greeks would go to specific temples and consult oracles. Oracles were priests or (usually) priestesses who spoke on behalf of the gods. At the temple of Apollo at Delphi, the oracle would offer prophecies on the seventh day of every month. She would chew leaves from a sacred laurel tree and inhale volcanic fumes. In a frenzied state, she would then begin to utter strange sounds and words, which priests would translate to visitors.

In myth, the advice from oracles isn’t like a weather forecast—it’s always 100 percent accurate, no matter what you do to avoid your fate. For example, an oracle once told King Acrisius of Argos that his grandson would kill him one day—and even though he tried to abandon the grandson at sea, the baby survived and grew up to be Perseus, a great hero. Many years later, while Perseus was competing in an athletic contest, he accidentally threw a discus into the crowd—and killed his grandpa.

King Croesus of Lydia once asked the oracle at Delphi if he should go to war with the Persians. The oracle told him, “If you attack Persia, you will destroy a great empire.” Croesus was thrilled and marched his men to war, but lost badly. The empire he destroyed turned out to be his own!

School’s Out!

At larger religious feasts and festivals, whole cities would worship the gods together. Athens, the greatest of the ancient Greek mini-kingdoms, had more than one hundred of these festivals every year, so Athenian kids must have had it easy: that’s a different holiday every three days or so!

The Greek World

The Greeks believed that Apollo’s oracle at Delphi was the center of the world. In one myth Zeus had two birds fly from opposite edges of the world, and a big rock at Delphi called the omphalos marked the exact spot where the birds met. Omphalos is Greek for “navel”—they thought of this stone as the earth’s belly button! (The earth has an “outie.”)

Many Greek scientists, especially in later periods, believed that the earth was round, but in mythology, the earth is a flat disk divided into three continents: Europe, Asia (Asia Minor and the Near East), and Libya (Africa). These lands were surrounded on all sides by Oceanus, the source of all water. Oceanus was a Titan with six thousand children—can you imagine all the parent-teacher conferences that poor guy had to go to? His three thousand sons were the earth’s rivers and his three thousand daughters were ponds and springs.

Mountains were holy places where the gods were known to walk—like Mount Ida, where Zeus was raised, or Mount Helicon, where the Muses sang.

Riding High


The tallest mountain in Greece was Olympus, and because it was often shrouded in clouds, the Greeks believed their gods lived and ruled there. It was said that the mountain was so high that a bronze anvil falling from Olympus to earth would take nine full days and nights to land! (Depending on your math, that means the gods could live as high as 300,000 miles above the world—almost as high as the moon!)

The sky was a dome held up in the west by the Titan Atlas, and many gods traveled across it. The sun was Helios, who kept herds of cattle and sheep—one each for every day of the year—on a faraway island in the east. Every day he drove his fiery chariot across the sky, seeing and hearing everything, like a spy satellite, until he landed in the west at sunset. Then he would sail back home in a great golden cup and feast until dawn.

The moon goddess was Selene, who watched over the earth by night from her silver chariot. Eos, the rosy-fingered goddess of dawn, lived in the east, and the morning dew was her tears after her son Memnon died at Troy.

The Perks of Being a Small Flower


Lots of Greek myths are stories to explain the origin of things in nature, like lightning being the anger of Zeus, or dew being the tears of Eos. Here are three you might not know about.

1. THE HYACINTH FLOWER Hyacinthus was tossing a discus around with the god Apollo when Zephyrus, the mean west wind, blew Apollo’s throw off course. Hyacinthus was killed. A bright red hyacinth flower rose from his spilled blood, and the leaves were marked with a pattern like the letters AI AI, the sound of Apollo’s grief.

2. THE ROOSTER The gods Ares and Aphrodite asked young Alectryon to warn them when the sun came up, so that Helios wouldn’t catch them together. Alectryon fell asleep, so an angry Ares turned him into a rooster, which is why roosters always remember to announce the sunrise.

3. THE MILKY WAY The hero Heracles was incredibly strong, even as a baby. The first time he was given milk as a newborn, he sucked up so much that he coughed violently, spattering the milk on the heavens, which we can still see today as the Milky Way.

Rolling in the Deep


Beneath the earth was the land of the dead, sometimes called Hades (after the Greek god of the dead) or Erebus. It was a dark and gloomy place. The god Hermes led dead souls there, crossing five rivers:

ACHERON: the river of sorrow

COCYTUS: the river of lamentation

PHLEGETHON: the river of fire

LETHE: the river of forgetfulness

STYX: the river of hate

Greeks would put a coin in a corpse’s mouth before it was buried, so that the dead person could use it to pay the ferryman, Charon, to take him across the River Styx.

Three mythical kings—Rhadamanthus, Aeacus, and Minos—would then judge every soul.

Go to Hades! (A Helpful Guide)


ARE YOU BREATHING?

Yes STAY OUT!

No Welcome to Hades!

DID YOU LIVE A GOOD LIFE?

Yes The Elysian Fields. A paradise of cool west winds, sports, and music. The soil bears three crops a year, and earth’s dead heroes live in peace.

Sometimes The Asphodel Meadows. A vast, flowered plain, ghostly and boring. No one remembers their name—all memories of life have been wiped away by the River Lethe.

Nope Tartarus. A pit of terrible winds, surrounded by three layers of night and locked by Poseidon’s great bronze doors. It’s full of imprisoned monsters as well as mortals who deserved special punishment.

The Buttless Wonder

The hero Theseus sat down on a magic bench in Hades to rest and found himself trapped in the dark for years. Eventually Heracles passed by and managed to pull him up—but Theseus’s bottom stayed stuck to the rock! For the rest of his life he was called Theseus Hypolipsos, meaning “rear end rubbed smooth.”

When in Rome . . .


Greek mythology got a second lease on life centuries later, when Rome became the world’s most powerful empire. The Romans admired the ancient Greeks and borrowed their myths, adapting them to their own gods. Even though the names changed—Zeus became Jupiter, Aphrodite became Venus—the stories stayed the same. (We’ll see a full list of the Greek and Roman gods during third period.)

Pop Quiz!

All the planets of our solar system are named after Roman (or Greek) gods—except one. Which one?

The Greek religion didn’t survive the spread of Christianity, but its stories have lived on. Our vocabulary has hundreds of words drawn from Greek myth: “hyacinth,” from Hyacinthus, whose blood bore the bright red flower, for example, or “ocean” from the waters of Oceanus. You can’t even go to the mall without seeing dozens of names and symbols from mythology:

Name

In Mythology

Today

Ajax

a Greek hero of the Trojan War

a cleaning powder

Amazon

a tribe of warrior women

an online retailer

Mercury

the Roman name for Hermes

a car

Midas

a king with a “golden touch”

a muffler shop

Nike

the goddess of victory

a shoe

Olympus

the mountain of the gods

a camera

Pandora

the first woman

an Internet radio service

Even three thousand years later, if you don’t know these stories, you’re really myth-ing out.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2014

    Hey,

    Wuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzup!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2014

    Bio

    My name: Astrid age 14 weapon silver bow and arrows and knife at belt face really light blue eyes lightish long blond hair in a braid clothing white tank top denim shorts black leggings underneth white combat boots personallty and other things about me: super competitive, nice and an extreamely great archer never misses loyal to friends and will stand up for them. Flexible artistic athletic plays music and can sing really well hates: when her friends get hurt by someone, losing and monsters. Realationship statuas: has no boyfriend...yet. if u wannna chat just .......do..it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2014

    Jack

    Bio at athenian constitution res 10

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2014

    BIOS

    C

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    Kara

    Age 12 weapons: bow and arrows and throwing knives and wit. Looks: really long blond hair in ponytail 4'11. Wears: t shirts sweatjackets jeans combat boots or sneakers. Personality: smart agile flexible great with tech and defensive strategy. Loves: math tech strategy archery. Hates: romance. Questions? Just ask.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2014

    James

    Walks to result 9

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2014

    Calli

    What?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2014

    Carly to Bumblebee

    May I join? Let me set up my bio. Gender: girl. Looks: brown hair, green eyes, and short. About 5'2". Age: 14. Status: single. Personality: very social. Sweet, smart, and lovible. Please let me join.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2014

    Dan to alison

    Ok

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2014

    Nathan

    Its ali not ally

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2014

    Alison

    Ok

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2014

    Bumblebee

    Hello

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2014

    Anika's bio

    Name: Anika
    Gender: female
    Godly parent: Athena
    Description: grey eyes, blonde hair with auburn highlights
    Personality: violent, smart, and tricky, a natural born leader.
    Who I Look Up To: Annabeth Chase
    Weapon of Choice: celestial bronze daggar, stratagey and trickery, and anything else that happens to be near.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2014

    Greysky

    Kisses her back while sliding his hands under her shirt

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2014

    This is what im learning in class!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is what im learning in school that is soo awesome because i didnt no tht tey had greek things!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2014

    This is awesome

    Read this book its the best.Cant wait to read another

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2014

    Jenna's bio

    Shortened for time. Name: jenna. Age: 17. Gender: female. Godly parent: hecate and zeus, but not a goddess. Loooong story. Ask. I usually refrain from killin on sight. Desc: long brown hair, vivid turquoise blue eyes. Usually wears a plain tshirt and blue skinny jeans with nlack converse and her twin swords anima(white) and mortem(black). She prefers to fight wth her swords, but can use anything well. She is single, bit will not rush into a relationship. Anything else, ask.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2014

    Andrews bio

    Name andrew godly parent artemis apperance slim but musculer smoky blue eyes tan skin short dark brown hair

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2014

    awesome

    It was a good book

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