Greek Myths That Need More Retellings
A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about fairytales retellings, which got me thinking about all the other daring and classic adventures that deserved the spotlight, and my mind went straight to Greek mythology. It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with the wonderful world that is Greek mythology! These tales of heroic adventures, love and Godly disputes will always be some of my favourites, but now I want more! Growing up, I fell head over heels with Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and would have given anything to be sent to Camp Half-Blood for the summer. So while I waited for my ticket to Long Island, I spent my summers going on make-believe quests with my friends and pretending I was either the daughter of Zeus or Athena.
Fast forward ten years later, and I still can’t resist a book that has even a hint of mythology, I love it! In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in the number of books that share and explore the unheard stories of mythological characters as well as many of the women, girls and goddesses who have often been silenced or cast into the background. One of my go-to authors for Greek mythology is the wonderful Madeline Miller, and if you haven’t read any of her books yet, then you are missing out. Circe is full of delicate and divine layers of love, heartbreak and acceptance and, then we have the enchanting masterpiece that is The Song of Achilles, that book emotionally destroyed me but in a good way! Next on my TBR is A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, but there are so many other tales that also need to be appreciated and transformed into powerful retellings for everyone to enjoy!
This has been another one of my favourite posts to write this year, and it’s even inspired me to start writing and planning some potential retellings based on misrepresented figures in mythology that I hope to share one day! So if you’re up for the challenge or are looking for a new writing prompt, then I challenge you to adapt one of your favourite myths.
Persephone, Queen of the Underworld – I’d sell my soul to read a Persephone retelling by Madeline Miller! One day Persephone, daughter of Demeter, is kidnapped by Hades and taken to the underworld to become Queen. I’m a sucker for a good-old enemies to lovers trope, but I’d also love to read a classic retelling that focuses on both Hades’ unrequited love for Persephone and Persephone’s journey to becoming the powerful Queen of the Underworld. In a lot of adaptations, Persephone is presented as being a whiny and frail woman, but there’s so much more to her story, she is a complex character that has so much potential and who’s strength and power deserves to be represented more in literature. She’s the Queen of the dead, you can’t any more badass than that!
Ida and Marpessa – This is a love story that even has a happily ever after, a rarity in mythology! Marpessa was the only daughter of Evenus, king of Etolia, so when it came to finding a husband, Evenus announced that any prince who wants to marry Marpessa would have to defeat him in a chariot race. Idas, the prince of Messenia, won the race, but Evenus refused to give up his daughter, so Idas did what any heartbroken man in mythology would do and kidnapped her. But Idas wasn’t the only man who wanted to wed Marpessa. The God Apollo had fallen for her and once again precede to kidnap her! After a clashing of swords, Zeus made Marpessa choose between the two suitors. She knew Apollo would be unfaithful and chose a simple but committed relationship with Idas and lived happily ever after.
The Three Sisters of Fate – When you think about the three sisters of fate, your mind probably jumps to the classic depiction of three ancient, decrepit and bickering sisters that control our hero’s fate, but they’re so much more than that! Although the trio is a package deal, each sister is unique and is responsible for one of the three phases. Clotho is the creatress. She sits on her pedestal, twisting, pulling, and spinning the threads of life. Then there’s Lachesis, who is responsible for deciding the details of our destiny, and finally, we have the eldest Atropos who makes the final cut. The whole idea surrounding the threads of fate and destinies fascinates me and is another storyline that holds so much potential. These women hold so much power and responsibility that has never been fully explored. Their word is final, but what would happen if they played with destiny or saved someone destined for death…
The Danaides – This myth is intense and follows the story of fifty women who commit a horrible by killing their husbands on their wedding night by order of their father and motive fuelled by revenge and greed! However, one of the girls, Hypermnestra, did not commit this horrible crime and spared her husband out of pity. As for the other forty-nine girls, they were forced to endure an eternity of torment for their unspeakable crimes.
Leto, the Mother of Apollo and Artermis – Zeus is a serious womaniser, and I’d love to read something from the perspective of the heart-broken lover, in this case, Leto. But Leto is more than just a broken-hearted woman, she is a strong and independent mother who endures so much suffering and misfortune caused by Hera’s jealousy, and it is Leto’s strength and power that protects her and children from harm. She is forced to endure NINE days of labour, as well as battling many earth-born creatures sent by Hera! Leto is such an underrated and forgotten character from Greek Mythology, and she deserves to have her story told.
The Myth of Arachne – Greek mythology is filled with shapeshifters, Gods who could transform at will and mortals who suffered the unfortunate fate of unwanted and cursed mutations. Such a transformation befell the poor spinner Arachne. Her talent for creating magnificent tapestries was unmatched and attracted the attention of people all over the land. She could often be heard boasting about her skills and declared that her talent surpassed anyone else’s, mortal or divine. Athena heard these claims and planned to teach a girl a lesson by disguising herself as an old woman and berating her in front of a crowd. But Arachne only laughed. Athena then revealed her true form and challenged her to a weaving contest. Athena’s tapestry depicted the strength and power of the gods, whereas Arachne’s showed the gods abusing their power. When Athena saw Arachne’s undeniably beautiful work she flew into a rage and transformed the poor girl into a spider.
The Amazons – You probably know about the legendary Amazons from the epic that was Wonder Woman, but if not, then let me fill you in! The Amazons were the daughters of Ares (the God of War) and were a race of warlike women noted for their riding skills, courage and pride, who lived on the outer limits of the known world. These legendary leading ladies deserve to have their story told, and I’d love to learn more about their battles against the Greeks and other male heroes.
Pandora’s box – According to legend, Pandora was the first human woman, breathed into being by Hephaestus, the God of fire. She was blessed with the gifts of language, craftsmanship, emotion and finally, the gift of curiosity from Zeus and a locked box whose contents could never be seen by human eyes. Pandora thrived in the world, but her thoughts were always plagued by the mysteries that lay within the box. Its enigma soon became maddening as her obsession with the box grew, until one day its presence became too overwhelming, and Pandora finally opened the box. Monstrous creatures and other evils escaped the darkness of the box and were unknowingly released into the world. This tale battles the duality of curiosity and sparks the debate on whether to encourage human inquiry or to accept that some mysteries are better left untold.