MythBusters Ancient Greece!


MythBusters is a very popular American television show. Each episode focuses on two or more common myths or beliefs and tries to scientifically determine if the myth is true or false. If it is false then the myth is “busted.” The idea of “busting “ myths can easily be applied to the explanations for natural events the ancient Greeks gave in their famous stories. They have all been fully “busted” by science! Read the Greek myths below and the truth that follows.

1) THE GREEK MYTH: The young and beautiful nymph Echo would distract and amuse Zeus' wife Hera with long and entertaining stories while Zeus took advantage of the moment to spend time with other women. When Hera discovered the trickery she punished the talkative and immortal Echo by taking away her voice, except to repeat the words of others. This is why today we still hear an echo when we call into a cave or enclosed area; it is Echo calling back to us.

THE TRUTH: Sound travels in invisible waves, and when your voice (which is a sound) bounces off a wall or hard material the vibration rushes back n the other direction. You hear your own voice.

2) THE GREEK MYTH: Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the harvest goddess. Her uncle Hades wanted her for his wife. Zeus allowed Hades to carry Persephone away to the Underworld and marry her. Demeter wandered the Earth looking for her daughter and neglected the harvest, so famine resulted. Zeus decreed that Persephone would spend six months of each year in Hades Underworld and six months with her mother on the surface of the Earth. When she is on the surface it is spring and summer because her mother is happy; when she returns to Hades we have fall and winter.

THE TRUTH: We have seasons because the Earth is tilted and is always pointing to one side as it goes around the Sun. Your location on Earth will mean that you are leaning more toward the Sun for six months of the year (Spring and Summer) and lean more away from the Sun for six months (Fall and Winter).

3) THE GREEK MYTH: Argus the giant was Hera's servant. Hera's task for Argus was to guard a cow and protect her from Zeus, keeping her chained to a sacred olive tree. Hera knew that the cow was really Io, one of the many nymphs Zeus was dating. To free Io, Zeus had Argus blinded by Hermes. Hera was so angry with Argus that she put put every one of his eyes in the tail of the peacock. Today peacocks have eyes in their tails that once belonged to Argus.

THE TRUTH: The eyes in the peacock’s tails evolved naturally to frighten away potential predators by appearing to be a larger animal. Some species of potential predators have a type of vision that focuses more on shiny areas of another animal, like the eyes. This particular pattern protects the peacock from them. The eyes are also used to attract mates to other peacocks.

YOUR TASK: BECOME A MYTHBUSTER!

Investigate a Greek myth that was created to explain a natural event. Report on the explanation the Greeks had AND the truth behind the myth. You may use the format in the three examples as a guide to your work.

You can report it in writing on a sheet of looseleaf. The choice of myth is up to you, but if you need help some words below should lead you to just a few of the many ideas for Greek myths to explore to become a “MythBuster”!

Pandora

Iris

Arachne

Eros

Poseidon

Helios

Prometheus

Atlas

** Must include name of myth and summary, the truth behind it, and a visual representation of the myth.