Modern Mythology: Why It's a Good Thing and Where to Find It

Greek mythology is an exciting topic that has fascinated many with the deep storytelling of its gods, heroes, and monsters. What people fail to realize is that there are many versions of those myths. Many texts and different interpretations exist of well-known myths that were altered as time passed. Those alterations are still happening today with modern retellings…and honestly, they should be welcomed. Who doesn’t love a great timeless classic?

There might be a more popular version of a myth that has been told more than others, but there is no official canon of mythology. In fact, the myths that were written so long ago were all made and interpreted by men during times when extreme opposition against women and minorities was prevalent. These also took place during an era when men even performed roles of female characters in plays for live theater.

When we look at modern interpretations of mythology, these stories are being retold from storytellers who add more perspective and depth to the myths. One myth that can easily be interpreted differently is the myth regarding Athena and Medusa. While it may seem like Athena punished Medusa for being a victim of Poseidon, many now argue that Medusa’s transformation was actually an act of protection against the brutality of men. Medusa’s image is often used as a source of protection for women’s shelters and safe-houses.

top-down photo of filled theatre seats Alev Takil/Unsplash

Examples of modern interpretations of mythology include the Percy Jackson series, Lore Olympus and HadesTown. The Percy Jackson series has recently become the introduction of Greek mythology to young readers. Not only does the book series provide a fun and modern spin on the myths with a New York twist, but has a large cast of diverse characters taking on roles of heroes, including leading female, POC, and LGBT+ characters. The series is informative, inclusive, and downright hilarious at times with its snarky humor. It not only challenges the norms of young adult reading but also adds layers to the old myths, with the humanizing of demigods and their godly parentage (literally if you’re Apollo).

White and Brown Museum room Photo by Martin Péchy from Unsplash

Lore Olympus is an adult Webtoon series by New Zealand artist, Rachel Smythe, that retells the myth of Persephone and Hades. Luckily, Smythe does so in a much healthier way that doesn’t involve kidnapping and forced marriage. It also draws from texts that suggest that Persephone is more than the spring goddess that everyone seems to perceive her as. Hades also gets more development from being a king searching for a queen, to savvy businessman to genuine sweetheart. Not only is the art style unique, but all of the characters are so well developed under this thick web of intertwined plots. We also see modern interpretations of Eros and Psyche, and of Hera, who gets some redemption after being villainized in so many past myths. The series does cover mature themes of abuse and rape, so please proceed with caution.

Tony award-winning musical, HadesTown, directed by Rachel Chavkin and written by Anaïs Mitchell, is the most ambitious musical since Hamilton to grace Broadway. With this stylistic musical taking place in a depression-esque aesthetic, viewers are in for the ultimate storytelling experience of a Greek tragedy. The story follows the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice—the son of a muse and his love. Life is fragile and every moment is sacred, for the affairs of gods can affect everything. Would you be willing to defy the odds to be with the one you love? The musical brings this to life in a way like never before—coming to life again and again.

Not only should people indulge in these great pieces of literature and art, but they should also be inspired to draw their own inspiration and create their own interpretations. Mythology has so many characters and storylines, that it would be a crime to not give them each their own spotlight.