Percy Jackson is based on actual Greek myths and it involves many of the gods, goddesses, and mythical beasts that we have covered in class. I thought it would be interesting to compare how closely the book and series relate to these myths. In this paper, I will compare and contrast the characters in the recent works to characters portrayed in actual myths. I will also look into the hierarchy and the birth of the gods to see how it compares to the storyline.
Lastly, I will discuss any creatures in the movie that are mentioned in the Greek myths and how they played a role in both storylines.
In the PowerPoint section, The Olympians are born, that we learned in class Rhea and Kronos produced many of the gods that are mentioned in Percy Jackson. Including, Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon, and Zeus. These are only half of the Olympians but they are who the series focuses on. The main character is Percy Jackson and the series tells the story of how he is a demi-god, son of Poseidon, and he completes many quests with his fellow demigods.
Percy’s “real” name is Perseus, a famous hero of Greek mythology who is known to have chopped off the head of Medusa. Which happened in a scene during “The Lightning Thief”. Zeus is also a main character in the series. The plot of the movie was based on him misplacing his thunderbolt, which is a crucial part of his identity in the myths as well.
This is also how the movie is called “The Lightning Thief” came about. The Theogony, which is a hymn to Zeus, talks about how he becomes king of the gods which is an important part of all the myths that everyone answers to Zeus.
In the first succession myth in the Theogony, we learned how Kronos regurgitated his children which made Zeus first-born, therefore superior. In class, we also learned that Zeus had three threats to his rule, one being a possible son that could overthrow him. But, in the movie, he actually has a daughter, Thalia Grace, who becomes great friends with Percy throughout the quests. Annabeth, who is the best fighter in the series is the daughter of Athena. Who is the goddess of wisdom? However, in Greek mythology, Athena was known to be child-free. She did have a smaller aspect called “Sweet Athena”, which may have resulted in a child such as Annabeth. But, this is one of the largest deviations from the Greek myth in Percy Jackson (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica). Aphrodite also made a small appearance in the first movie but a large group of her “daughters” frolic at Camp Half-Blood.
The myths that we have learned about are very interesting about Aphrodite. She is the goddess of sexual desire which makes sense as to why she has so many daughters. She was born from Ouranos’ genitals after Kronos threw them into the sea. Brother of both Poseidon and Zeus, Hades rules over the dead in the underworld which correlates exactly to greek myth. Beside him is his abducted bride, the beautiful Persephone. In the movies, he is portrayed with fiery wings which is nothing like the myths except for possibly describing him as a dragon. Bride of Hades, Persephone rules over the underworld with her husband. As in the movie, she is capable of exerting some independence, and depending on the myth you believe, might not find her life in darkness to be so bad. But, in the myth of Persephone, she seems miserable because she is there against her will (“Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods.”).
In Greek mythology, the gods sat on Mt. Olympus while Mt. Othrys is home to the Titans. Greece is mountainous so using tall locations to represent important spots is easy. This is why In Percy Jackson, the Empire State Building is the portal to Mt. Olympus and the gods. Demigods were the offspring of a god and a human. Percy Jackson is this generation’s demigod, son of Poseidon and Sally Jackson. Demigods are known to be the earthly heroes in stories, like Hercules. They are half-human and half god. This movie is based on the lives of a demigod in the real world. The legend of Medusa from Greek myth is not something we covered in class so I did research on it. She is the daughter of Phorcys and Ceto. She turns men to stone who glance at her. There is an epic battle in the movie where Percy defeats her by looking at her reflection in his iPhone, which speaks to the youth watching and makes it modern. Medusa was beautiful until she received the wrath of Athena after she had a love affair with Poseidon. Athena transformed Medusa into a monster with snakes for hair so when someone looked at her they would transform into stone. In the myths, she was killed by Perseus who used her head as a weapon. Which in the movie is what Percy did to battle monsters after killing Medusa (Garcia). In the myth of the 12 Labors of Hercules, his second task was to kill the Hydra in Lake Lerna. When you cut off a Hydra’s head, two more grow back.
Percy Jackson battles the Hydra in the Parthenon Museum of Nashville. Percy uses the shoes of Hermes to fly around and defeat the Hydra. This shows an interesting intra-god idea. The myth of the underworld does not change much. Hades kidnaps people and keep them in the underworld. People would have to enter his lair to bring them back. Orpheus had to go to rescue Eurydice. Percy had to go bring back his mother. The film does mention the legacy of underworld rescues. The demigods go on a search for orbs hidden by Persephone to enter the underworld and they come face to face with Hades. In The Odyssey, winds blew Odysseus and his crew to the land of the Lotus Eaters. They fed his crew flowers that created the feeling of joy which made them want to stay. Odysseus had to drag them back to the ship to save them when he realized that it was distracting them from their mission. In Percy Jackson, Percy and his friends go to Las Vegas and stay at the Lotus Casino. The hostesses feed them flowers that put the demigods in a euphoric state and made them never want to leave. Percy then found someone who had stayed there since The French Connection came out, he realized that this was all a trick and he then forced everyone to leave so they could continue their quest (Regula).
There is one creature that we learned about in class that was in a huge scene in the first Percy Jackson movie. The Typhon, which has 100 heads of snakes and is a fire breathing dragon. In the myths, Zeus fought the monster and cast him into Tartarus. When one of the heads of the monster was cut off two more grew back. This monster was in the movie when Percy was trying to get the last orb of Persephone. Percy beat the Typhon by pulling out Medusa’s head and turning it to stone.
Overall, when the Percy Jackson series is compared directly to Greek myths the similarities are obviously there. It involves many of the gods, goddesses, and mythical beasts that we have covered in class. After comparing and contrasting the characters in the recent works to characters portrayed in actual myths, looking into the hierarchy and the birth of the gods, and discussing the creatures in the movie that are mentioned in the Greek myths. The writers for the series clearly based it off the myths and in some parts exaggerated it a bit. The differences between them are minor and can somehow be explained.