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May 8, 2013

Teen Board: Myths in Modern YA


Do you ever remember hearing the tales of Hercules the Strong or Anansi the Spider? Ever remember the tales of the Amazons or Thor the Mighty?

Mythology has made its mark on the modern-day literature. You are probably think the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series or the Kane Chronicles when I speak about mythology. You might think of the Avengers with Thor and Loki, or the Clash of the Titans with Perseus and the Greek Pantheon.

I am going to blow your mind with what I am about to say. Those are myth-inspired, but did you know that THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins was inspired by the myth of Theseus. The story of Theseus is a good and bad one. Theseus was a son of Poseidon, the god of the sea. Theseus was a great warrior and was able to defeat many of his opponents. He went to Athens to find the king, who claimed him as his son. Theseus became a prince, but he wasn’t satisfied.

He had heard about the Labyrinth: the king would have a total of 16 teens put into the Labyrinth to be sacrifices to the Minotaur, a monster that was half man and half bull. No one has ever been known to survive the Labyrinth because of the maze’s ever-changing pattern. Theseus was upset with this so he volunteered to go into the Labyrinth. The king was not happy with this, but let Theseus go. Theseus was able to defeat the Minotaur with the help of Ariadne’s string. This string was able to help Theseus find his way through the maze.

There are a lot of similarities between Katniss and Theseus. A major one is that they both volunteered to enter a deadly situation: for Katniss it's the Hunger Games and for Theseus, the Labyrinth. Their reasons may have been different, but there are many things alike in the stories, as well. Other similarities are that the battle-to-the-death scenarios. Also, the similar idea of tributes. The tributes are playing roles as human sacrifice to one monster or another --- President Snow represents the Minotaur. They are both antagonists to the heroes and are eventually defeated; Snow by Katniss in the concluding book in the series, MOCKINGJAY, and the Minotaur by Theseus. The last comparison would be Ariadne. Ariadne is the person that helps Theseus in his quest to defeat the Minotaur. She gives him the string, which allows him to navigate through the maze. In THE HUNGER GAMES, the best representation of this character would be Cinna. Cinna is Katniss’ fashion designer and friend. In the first book, he helped her gain support by making her The Girl Who is on Fire. He also gave her the MockingJay pin. This help gave her strength to compete in the games.

So, the next time when you watch a movie or read a book, remember that there may be myth within it!

Do you know any well-known books that are based on a myth?