Symbols, Themes, & Motifs in Greek Mythology

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for Greek Mythology


Greek Mythology - Pandora's Box Themes

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Activity Overview


Themes, symbols, and motifs are valuable aspects of any literary work, and they add richness to stories. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to analyze without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements. For best practices, see our supplementary article with specific lesson plan steps on setting up your classroom and activities to teach themes, symbols, and motifs.

In the classroom, students can track the rich symbolism that occurs in the stories of the gods.


Themes, Motifs, and Symbols in Greek Mythology

Human Flaws

A fascinating theme throughout Greek mythology is the manifestation of vices, or flaws, in the Greek gods and goddesses. This may startle many people, because when they think of a 'god', the term is synonymous with ideal perfection. However, the gods of old were tempted by pity, jealousy, and adultery, like their human counterparts.


Temptation

Temptation is a related theme with deep roots in Greek myths. Many stories hinge on a temptation that a god or goddess must overcome. An archetypal example is Pandora's Box. In the story, Pandora is given a special box, with instructions not to open it. She is overtaken by the temptation, and unleashes evil into the world!


Payback and Reward

The gods believed that every action had a consequence. Good actions were always rewarded, whereas evil actions required punishment. The gods loved to banish, or eternally punish humans who disobeyed them!


Brains over Brawn

Although, many of the gods were powerful and mighty, possessing powers beyond human ability, they cherished a stable mind more than their strength. Many Greek myths incorporate the theme of brains over brawn, with protagonists outsmarting their opponents to achieve their objectives.


War

The gods love war! In the eyes of the Greeks, war was a part of their existence. They thought it was an honor to die in battle, and that cowards and deserters were not to be given a proper burial. They believed in an eye for an eye, and that bloodshed deserved bloodshed. Many of the gods involved themselves in mortal affairs, and would often choose sides. Battles were won by larger than life warriors like Odysseus or Achilles.


Love

Love in Greek Mythology is often one-sided and not returned, usually leading to tragedy and abandonment for one of the parties involved. Love between gods and humans seldom works out well. Selfish love often ends in suffering for one or both of the people involved.


Fate

The Greeks firmly believed that a person's life is predetermined, at least to some extent. They relied heavily on the gods' ability to change a mortal's fate, although it might not always be for the better!


Beauty

The Greeks valued beauty very much, in both women and men.



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Greek mythology. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from Greek mythology you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this theme.
  4. While working, save periodically.
  5. Write a description of each of the examples.
  6. Finalize images, edit, and proofread your work.
  7. Save and submit storyboard to assignment.

Template: Theme

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