Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Golden Greeks: Myths, Fables and Folktales

The Olympian Gods
by Monsiau 1754-1837 
The Summer Olympic Games are here and so I decided to do a bit of research to refresh my memory on the ancient beginnings of the games. It has been wonderful watching one of my favorite sports, swimming, so you will also find folktales connected to the water, and of course, Greek myths and fables.

Whichever country you are cheering on, I hope you will find something interesting, fun and useful below.

Originally, the Olympic Games were held in Olympia, Greece beginning in the 8th century B.C.
The Ancient Olympic Games were a series of competitions held between representatives of several city-states and kingdoms in Ancient Greece. These games featured mainly athletic but also combat and chariot racing events.

At the start of the Olympic Games, the Greeks would ignite a cauldron of flames upon Hera's altar. They lit the flame using a hollow disc or mirror called a skaphia, which focused the sun's rays into a single point to light the flame. The flame would burn throughout the Games as a sign of purity, reason, and peace. During the games, all conflicts among the participating city-states were postponed until the games were finished.

The origin of these Olympics is a mystery but some myths identify Heracles and his father Zeus as the progenitors of the Games.The Ancient Games featured running events, a pentathlon (consisting of a jumping event, discus and javelin throws, a foot race, and wrestling), boxing, wrestling, pankration, and equestrian events.

The Olympics were of religious importance, featuring sporting events alongside ritual sacrifices honoring both Zeus and Pelops, divine hero and mythical king of Olympia.

While there is exact date as to when the Games officially ended, the most commonly held date is 393 A.D. In 1896 Baron Pierre de Coubertin, tried to revive the games. He initially planned to hold the games in France, but was convinced that Greece was the appropriate country to host the first modern Olympics. Thirteen countries competed in nines sports: cycling, fencing, gymnastics, lawn tennis, shooting, swimming, track and field, weight lifting and wrestling.

Information from the following websites:

Aesop Fables No post about Greece would be complete without sharing some Aesop Fables.

Greek Mythology for Kids – This site offers myths but also activities and lesson plans connected to Greece. http://greece.mrdonn.org/myths.html


Since one of the most popular sports in the modern day Olympic Games is swimming here are some stories connected to water.

Bear Lake Monster - United States
The Good Ferryman and the Water Nymphs - Poland
The King of the Sharks – Hawaii

The Golden Fish - Russia
The Heart of the Monkey - Africa
The Seal’s Skin – Iceland 

Sam-Chung and the Water Demon - China
Water Faeries - Scotland
Why Dogs Wag Their Tails - Philippines
Wild Goose Island – United States


Two previous blog posts with stories of the sea!

Siren’s of the Sea 

Water, Water Everywhere! 


Kaboose.com -  Make your own Olympic torch. Easy for ages 4 and up.

Activity Village – More crafts connected to the Olympics; medals, Olympic Rings and other patriotic crafts.


A-Z Teacher Stuff – Seventeen lesson plans connected to the Olympics from grades K-12.

History for Kids.org – Learn about the ancient Greeks; religion, mythology, ancient life and more.


Kid Friendly Olympic Recipes 

If you find this information and the links helpful in your work please consider taking a moment to leave a comment at the end of the blog. I love hearing from you!

Karen Chace 2012 ©
This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at storybug@aol.com. Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.