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10 Stories from Greek Mythology that Kids will Love

· Greek Myths for Kids ·

Date
Jan, 06, 2021

Last Updated on May 16, 2021 by Celeste

Greek Mythology is fun. Its endless stories are entertaining, educative and fascinating. Greek myths consist of magical creatures, jealous gods, and even a robot! If you want to find out which great tales of Greek Mythology your kids will love to read, stay tuned!

Kids Love Greek Mythology

My daughter entered 3rd grade at the Greek primary school this year. That year, History is added to the students’ curriculum. And in that first year of history lessons, it is all about Greek Mythology. We like working on the history homework together and that inspired me to write this post.

Greek Mythology for Kids
Pan and Syrinx by Adam Elsheimer

Both my kids love their Greek history classes about Greek Mythology with its numerous gods, goddesses and Greek heroes. And it’s my experience that most students in their class get excited by the fascinating myths and stories. Judging from the popularity of children’s’ books, movies, video games and toys about ancient myths, it seems that many kids love Greek Mythology!

Pandora’s box by Charles Edward Perugini

Greek Mythology Stories that Kids Love

Greek Mythology consists of many short and long tales. In fact, several volumes of books are needed to cover most of the stories. Many are still famous in our times. Who hasn’t heard of Pandora’s box or Aphrodite? Greek Mythology inspired artists throughout time as well as authors of modern tales such as Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Some Greek myths are more beloved than others. Some are in particular interesting for kids. In this post, I have collected the 10 most famous stories from Greek Mythology that your kids will love.

Cupid and Psyche by Anthony Van Dyck

Greek Mythology in Ancient Greece

The ancient Greeks told stories about their gods. We call these stories myths (short for mythology, or stories about gods.) Greek mythology consists of all the stories and tales about the Greek gods, goddesses, and heroes. Greek Mythology is also the religion of Ancient Greece. The Greeks built temples and offered sacrifices to their major gods.

Greek mythology was a way for people to explain the creation of the world, the surrounding nature, understand weather conditions and generally anything superhuman that was happening in their lives.

Initially, one transmitted the Greek myths orally, and they were usually narrated in the form of songs. Only in the 5th century, BC were the Greek mythology stories written down in plays. These myths were usually the main theme of the ancient Greek plays.

Greek Myths for Kids 

The magical world of the ancient Greek gods was a world full of envious gods, fights and wars, compromise, fear and fun and punishment and love. The courageous heroes in the epic adventures and myths were based on the fact that heroes and gods, like mortal men, could be punished or rewarded for their actions.

Here are my recommended stories from Greek Mythology that kids will love.

1 Chaos

Once upon a time…Greek Mythology starts with Chaos. Chaos was, according to Greek myths, the origin of everything. The empty, unfathomable space at the beginning of time. Chaos is the state the universe was in before it was created. Chaos is often identified as a god, who filled the gap between Heaven and Earth. Born out of chaos were the first beings: Gaia, Mother Earth, Tartarus, the Underworld, Uranus, the Sky, Nyx, the Night and Erebos, the Darkness of the Underworld.

Greek Mythology
Chaos (Cosmogony) by George Frederic Watts

2 The Titans

The Titans came next. They were the Greek gods that ruled the world before the Olympians (also called the first gods or elder gods). The first twelve Titans were the children of the original gods Uranus (father Sky) and Gaia (Mother Earth). Some of the children of the Titans are also famous gods in Greek mythology. You may have heard of some of them. Atlas, for instance, is a famous Titan. After losing the war against Zeus, Atlas was punished and he had to hold up the heavens on his shoulders. We often show Atlas holding the Earth.

Attacus Atlas (wiki.nus.edu.sg)

The Titanomachy

Cronos was the King of the Titans. But a prophecy said that his sons would one day overthrow him. In order to protect himself, each time his wife Rhea had a child he would swallow it. This worked until Rhea, unhappy at the loss of her children, tricked Cronus into swallowing a rock, instead of her baby (Zeus) who she hid away in a cave.

The Infant Zeus Nurtured by the Goat Amalthea by Nicolas Poussin

Once Zeus was born, his father was forced to spit up his siblings. Once grown, Zeus managed to free his siblings, and with the help of their gigantic half-siblings, the three Cyclopes and three fifty-headed monsters, the Olympians triumphed over the Titans. They ruled over the affairs of mankind from their palace atop Mount Olympus. 

3 The Twelve Olympians

Greek Mythology is most famous for its Olympian Gods. These twelve gods and goddesses ruled the universe from Greece’s Mount Olympus. They had come to power after their leader, Zeus, overthrew his father, Cronos, leader of the Titans. All the Olympians are related to one another. The Romans adopted most of these Greek gods and goddesses, but with new names. Do you know the Greek Olympian God names?

12 Olympian Gods

1. Zeus was the God of the sky and lightning and considered the most important. 2. Poseidon was the son of Titans Cronus and Rhea, and he was the brother of Zeus. We all know him as the feared God of the sea. 3. Athena is the daughter of Zeus. A brave and wise goddess. 4. Aphrodite was the goddess of love, and she liked doves, sparrows, and swans.

5. Hades, in Greek mythology, is the King of the Underworld, the place down below where the souls would end up after dying. 6. Hera was the queen of the gods and the protector of women and marriage. 7. Hestia was the oldest of the gods of Olympus. She disliked gossip and that is why there are not many stories about her. But it would be a mistake to think she wasn’t important. In some ways, she was the most important of all the gods. 8. Hephaestus was the god of fire. He was a blacksmith whose forge was in a volcano. He had helpers called Cyclopes: one-eyed giants.

9. Ares was the god of war. He wore armour and a helmet, and he carried a shield, sword, and spear. 10. Hermis was the messenger god. He was young and intelligent-looking. He wore a winged hat and winged sandals, and he carried a magic wand. 11. Apollo was the twin brother of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and the moon. Like his sister, Apollo loved hunting with a bow and arrow. He was the god of wisdom, poetry, and music. 12. Demeter was the goddess of the harvest, fertility, agriculture, nature and the seasons. She presided over grains and the fertility of the earth.

Poseidon, the god of the sea

4 Greek Myths: Goddess Athena

My kids favorite Olympian is the goddess Athena. Her birth seems especially fascinating to my kids. Zeus, the father of gods and goddesses, was Athena’s father. Her mother was Metis, a mortal woman. Older gods had warned Zeus that he would be in trouble if Metis gave birth to a daughter. So he swallowed Metis whole. But when it came time for Athena to be born, she sprang full-grown out of Zeus’s head. She was completely dressed in armor, as she always would be. She also carried a shield and a spear. Athena turned out to be a great warrior.

Athena

Athene and Poseidon

Athena didn’t get along with the sea god Poseidon. They were always rivalling over one thing or another. So when the people of a new city were looking for a god to watch over and protect them, Athena and Poseidon both wanted the job. To impress the city’s citizens, the two gods gave them gifts. Poseidon struck the ground with his three-pointed spear, and water poured out. The water turned into a river that flowed into the sea. Poseidon told the people to build ships to sail to the sea. He said that they could travel everywhere. They could become the most powerful people on earth. The citizens were indeed impressed. But then Athena told them to taste the water. It tasted awful. It was salt water, which is impossible to drink.

Poseidon and Athena

The city of Athens

Then Athena gave the citizens her gift. When she hit the ground with her spear, a tree magically grew up within seconds. She explained that it was a special tree—an olive tree. Its wood was good both for building houses and for heating those houses in winter. Better still, the tree’s little green fruits, called “olives,” were delicious. And oil made out of the olives was useful for cooking. The citizens liked Athena’s gift better than Poseidon’s. Not only did they choose Athena to watch over them, they named the city after her.

Athens

They called it Athens. Poseidon left in a huff, causing a serious flood on his way. But the Athenians weren’t bothered very much. With Athena’s help, their city grew to be strong and wealthy. Athens became one of the greatest cities of all time. Today it’s the capital and the largest city of Greece.

The contest between Poseidon and Athena by Noël Hallé

5 The 12 Labors of Heracles

Besides many gods, Greek Mythology also represents countless demigods. The most famous is Heracles. Many popular stories were told of his life, the most famous being The Twelve Labours of Heracles. Each of these elaborate 12 labors stories are favorite tales amongst many kids.

Heracles and Omphale by Hubertus Quellinus

Heracles

This Greek heroe is incredibly strong, courageous, and intelligent. His father was Zeus, king of the gods, and his mother was Alcmene, a beautiful human princess. Even as a baby, Heracles was very strong. When the goddess Hera, Zeus’ wife, found out about the strong baby, she wanted to kill him. In order to do that, she snuck two large snakes into his crib. However, baby Heracles grabbed the snakes by the neck and strangled them with his bare hands. Heracles mother tried to raise him as a regular child. He attended a normal school with mortal children. But one day, he got mad and hit his music teacher with his lyre and killed him by accident.

The Infant Hercules Strangling Serpents in his Cradle

Heracles and Hera

Later on in life, Heracles married Megara, and he had a happy family life. This angered Hera once more. She tricked Hercules into thinking his family was a bunch of snakes. Heracles killed his children and Megara. After his madness had been cured, Heracles realized what he had done and fled to the Oracle of Delphi. Unbeknownst to him, the Oracle was guided by Hera. He was directed to serve King Eurystheus for ten years and perform any task Eurystheus required of him. The tasks the king gave him are called the Twelve Labors of Heracles.

Choice of Hercules by Annibale Carracci

The 12 Labors

King Eurystheus ordered Heracles to: 1) slay the Nemean Lion, 2) slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra, 3) capture the Golden Hind of Artemis, 4) capture the Erymanthian Boar, 5) clean the Augean stables in a single day, 6) slay the Stymphalian Birds, 7) capture the Cretan Bull, 8) steal the Mares of Diomedes, 9) obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, 10) obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon, 11) steal the golden apples of the Hesperides, and 12) capture and bring back Cerberus, the three-headed dog of Hades. Hercules managed to complete all twelve labors and free himself from the service of the king.  

Hercules kills the Symphalic bird by Albrecht Durer

My kids’ favorite Heracles stories? These two below made it to the top.

The Nemean Lion

The slay the Nemean Lion is the first of Heracles’ 12 tasks. The Nemean Lion had huge teeth, and skin so tough that it could not be pierced by arrows. Everyone in the land of Nemea was very scared of it and many hunters had tried to kill the beast, but none had succeeded. When Hercules got to Nemea and began tracking the terrible lion, he soon discovered his arrows were useless against the beast. Hercules picked up his club and went after the lion. Following it to a cave which had two entrances, Hercules blocked one of the doorways, then approached the fierce lion through the other. Grasping the lion in his strong arms, and ignoring its powerful claws, he choked the lion to death.

Heracles and the Nemea Lion by Rubens

The Lernaean Hydra

The slaying of the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra is another favorite tale. In this story, our heroe deals with one fire-breathing monster with multiple serpent heads that when one head was cut off, two would grow in its place. The Lernaean Hydra lived in a swamp near Lerna. Hera had sent it in the hope it would destroy Heracles’ home city because she thought it was invincible. But with the help from his nephew Iolaus, he defeated the ugly monster and dipped his arrows in its poisoned blood, thus envenoming them.

Heracles fighting with the Lernaean Hydra by Franscisco de Zurbaran

6 Perseus and the Gorgon Medusa

If your kids like monsters, they will also enjoy the famous tale about the terrifying Gorgon Medusa and the great hero Perseus. Demigod Perseus was the son of Olympian god Zeus and the mortal woman Danae. Perseus sought to kill Medusa, the only mortal of the three monstrous sisters. Instead of hair, Medusa had living venomous snakes on her head and anyone that would look at her eyes would immediately turn into stone. With the help and the wisdom of goddess Athena, Perseus approached the monster by looking through the reflection of a shield and cut off her head.

Perseus and Phineas Annibale Carracci and Domenichino

7 Theseus and the Minotaur

The most famous labyrinth is found in Greek mythology in the story of Theseus, prince of Athens. This labyrinth was designed by Daedalus for King Minos of Knossos on Crete to contain the ferocious half man – half bull known as the Minotaur.

The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur is one of the most tragic and fascinating myths of the Greek Mythology. Theseus, a genuine Greek hero and Minotaur, one of the most devastating and terrifying monsters are the protagonists of a story connecting the two of the main city–states in the Hellenic world: Athens and Crete.

Theseus and the Minotaur by the Maestro di Tavarnelle

The Minotaur

The Minotaur was the son of Pasiphae, wife of King Minos of Crete. Queen Pasiphae slept with a bull sent by Zeus, and gave birth to Minotaur, a creature half man – half bull. King Minos was embarrassed, but did not want to kill the Minotaur, so he hid the monster in the Labyrinth at the Minoan Palace of Knossos. Minos was imprisoning his enemies in the Labyrinth so that the Minotaur could eat them. The labyrinth was such a complicated construction that no one could ever find the way out alive.

The Minotaur, tondo of an Attic bilingual kylix

Son of Minos, Androgeus, went to Athens to participate in the Panathenaic Games, but he was killed during the Marathon by the bull that impregnated his mother Pasiphae. Minos was infuriated, and demanded Aegeus, the king of Athens, to send seven men and women every year to the Minotaur to advert the plague caused by the death of Androgeus.

Athenians being delivered to the Minotaur in the Cretan Labyrinth by G. Moreau

Theseus

The third year, Theseus, son of Aegeus decided to be one of the seven young men that would go to Crete, in order to kill the Minotaur and end the human sacrifices to the monster. King Aegeus tried to make him change his mind, but Theseus was determined to slay the Minotaur. He promised his father that he would put up white sails coming back from Crete, allowing him to know in advance that he was coming back alive. The boat would return with the black sails if Theseus was killed.

Black Sails

Theseus announced to King Minos that he was going to kill the Monster, but Minos knew that even if he did manage to kill the Minotaur, Theseus would never be able to exit the Labyrinth.

Theseus and Ariadne by Jean-Baptiste Regnault

Ariadne’s thread

However, Theseus met Princess Ariadne, daughter of King Minos, who fell in love with him and decided to help Theseus. She gave him a thread (known as Ariadne’s thread) and told him to unravel it as he would penetrate deeper and deeper into the Labyrinth so that he knows the way out when he kills the monster. Theseus followed her suggestion and entered the labyrinth with the thread. He managed to kill the Minotaur and save the Athenians, and with Ariadne’s thread, he managed to retrace his way out. With Ariadne on his boat, Theseus left Crete sailing happily back to Athens.

Theseus victor of the Minotaur by Charles-Édouard Chaise

Aegeus and the Sails

Theseus’ boat stopped at Naxos and the Athenians had a long celebration dedicated to Theseus and Ariadne. After many hours of feasting and drinking, Ariadne fell asleep on the shore and didn’t enter the boat that sailed to Athens. Theseus figured out that Ariadne was not with them when it was too late, and he was so upset that he forgot the promise made to his father and did not change the sails.

Aegean Sea

King Aegeus was waiting at Cape Sounion to see the sails of the boat. He saw the black sails from afar and presumed his son was dead. He dropped himself to the waters, committing suicide and since then, this sea is called the Aegean Sea.

Medea, Theseus and Aegeus by Sir William Russell Flint

8 The Apple of Discord

My daughter loves the Apple of Discord, in some ways resembling the symbolism of a familiar fairy tale. The protagonist in this story is Eris. During the wedding of Thetis and Peleus, the goddess of discord, Eris, was not invited. Infuriated by this, she tossed a solid gold apple into the wedding. It had inscribed on it “to the fairest”. All the gods recoiled and most goddesses, but Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera fought over the title. They asked Zeus whom it belonged to, and he responded to ask Paris, a mortal prince. They showed him the apple, and asked the question, bribing him with gifts. He chose Aphrodite and would cause a war between the gods and mortals.

Golden Apple of Discord by Jacob Jordaens

9 Tales from Greek Mythology: Jason and the Argonauts

One of the most exciting stories of Greek Mythology is that of Jason and the Argonauts, and their quest for the Golden Fleece. In Greek mythology, Jason was the leader of a band of 50 adventurers who set out on a long journey to find the Golden Fleece.

Jason and the Golden Fleece

Jason and his adventurers travelled in the ship named Argo to fetch the Golden Fleece, the golden wool of a ram. Jason’s father, Aeson, was the rightful king of Iolcos in Thessaly, in what is now northern Greece. However, Jason’s uncle Pelias seized the throne. Pelias promised to step down and let Jason be king if Jason would get the Golden Fleece —an impossible task, it seemed. After setting off, the Argonauts had many experiences. 

Scenes from the story of the Argonauts by Jacopo del Sellaio

Although Jason succeeded in the quest, he never achieved his true goal—to become king of the land of Iolcus.

The Golden Fleece

The Golden Fleece is one of the most important elements in the myth of Jason. It was kept in a grove sacred to the god Ares in distant Colchis, a land of fabulous wealth at the eastern end of the Black Sea. A dragon who never slept guarded the fleece. The golden wool came from the ram Aries, who had been sacrificed to Zeus and then placed in the heavens as a constellation.

The Golden Fleece by Herbert James

The Centaur

Kids love the magical creatures in the adventures of Jason and the Argonauts. One of them is the centaur Chiron. Centaurs were mythical creatures with the upper body of a human and the lower body of a horse. When Jason was still a boy, his mother feared for his safety. She sent him away to be guarded by Chiron, a wise centaur who took charge of the boy’s education.

Chiron

Chiron taught Jason hunting and warfare, music and medicine. Some accounts say that the centaur also gave Jason his name, which means “healer,” in recognition of the boy’s skill in the medical arts. In Greek mythology, Chiron was held to be the superlative centaur amongst his brethren since he was considered the wisest and justest of all the centaurs.

Achilles and the Centaur Chiron by Pompeo Batoni 

Medea in Greek Mythology

Medea, in Greek mythology, is an enchantress or is a sorceress who helped Jason, to obtain the Golden Fleece. She is often depicted as a priestess or a witch. Medea was of divine descent and had the gift of prophecy. She married Jason and used her magic powers and advice to help him.

Medea by Frederick Sandys

10 The Talos: the first robot

A personal favorite is the story of the Talos. The Talos, also spelled Talus or Talon, was a giant automaton made of bronze built by Hephaestus, the Greek god of invention and blacksmithing. Endowed with superhuman strength, and powered by ichor, the life fluid of the gods, this automaton was unlike anything Hephaestus had made before. The god named his creation Talos: the first robot.

A Greek vase painting, dating to about 450 B.C., depicting the death of Talos

Talos was commissioned by Zeus, the king of gods, to protect the island of Crete from invaders. He marched around the island three times every day and hurled boulders at approaching enemy ships. Talos’ only weakness was his ankle (the same way Achilles was), where the single vein containing all of his life-fluid (ichor, the blood of the gods) was sealed with a thin membrane of skin or a bronze nail. 

Medea and the Death of Talos

As Jason and the Argonauts approached the shores of Crete, Talos noticed their ship and tried warding it off in his usual, ever effective manner. And who knows – he might have been successful yet again, had Medea not travelled on the Argo as well.

Fearless, she mounted on the deck of the ship, and after invoking the Death-spirits (the Keres) several times, she bewitched the eyes of Talos. Because of this, the bronze man was unable to see a sharp crag in front of him. As a result, he subsequently, grazed his ankle. The ichor gushed forth like melted lead, and Talos fell on the ground defeated.

Source: TedEd

Does your family love Greek Mythology? And if yes, what is your favorite story?

If you want to start reading Greek Myths with your children, have a look at our list of 20 Best Greek Mythology Books for Kids.

Celeste

Celeste was born and raised in the Netherlands but lives in Greece for 25 years. She studied at the Dutch Institute of Athens underneath the Acropolis and currently lives with her family in an Athenian suburb. Celeste is the founder of Family Experiences Blog. Whether you and your family live in Greece or are visiting, this blog will show you the very best ways in which to celebrate family life here.

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