This month's topic is the portrait miniature and manuscripts from medieval cathedrals. Mythology should precede this theme. A starting point is the ancient Atalanta and the Golden Apple tale, as it is like the old, familiar story about Eve. Myth is a wonderful icebreaker in its usage of oral storytelling: ancient mythology. It transcends generation barriers because of direct message. Mythology fulfills the objectives of many curricula agendas.

     Atalanta is only one sympathetic heroine to emerge from oral legend as true to life. In context of ancient contest and deadly foe, the tale is a backdrop for dreaded, but typical conflict. Bravery, yearning, and personal sacrifice convey timeless struggles with oppression, disloyalty, and disobedience.

     The myth's bad girl image conveys an ancient stereotype. Her failure to resist temptation and conform to acceptable convention is "weak." A monstrous Calydonian Boar lurks around Atalanta as she hunts. Later, Atalanta resigns to marrying a suitor, Hippomenes, despite a preference to hunt. The catch is he outsmarted her in a footrace.

     Our Adaptation of the Atalanta Tale

    Long ago in Boetia (Voiot√≠a, Greece) lived King Iasus and his queen. This king longed for a son, but when the queen gave birth to a girl instead, he took the baby and abandoned i t in a nearby forest. Brown bears raised the infant. Atalanta grew up among hunters passing through the forest and she became a courageous skilled archer, runner, and huntress. Soon, Atalanta surpassed the power of every hunter and animal in the land, especially a Calydonian Boar that snarled, growled, clawed, and chewed the entire land. One day Atalanta and her male companians spotted the fierce boar creeping along the forest as it bared its fangs and prepared to pounce on some small animals. She bravely drew out her bow and arrow, helmet, shield, and was first to aim for the boar's huge hairy head. She killed it instantly. Atalanta won its warm furry skin as a prize and from thereon she held firstplace as a champion huntress, and wore one of the boar's fangs around her neck as an amulet charm.

     When King Iasus saw Atalanta's success with the boar, he was secretly proud, but wanted her to lead a safe, domestic life. To prevent her from joining the Argonauts, he invited all the eligible suitors of his kingdom to compete for his daughter's hand in marriage at the funeral games for King Pelias. As King Iasus received many proposals for his daughter's hand, he welcomed Atalanta into the castle on condition that she marry one of the suitors. But Atalanta's biggest wish was to join the Argonauts and train for the Olympic Games. Atalanta vowed she would marry a suitor quick enough to outrun her in a footrace. Now, Atalanta had played among the forest animals all her life and could outrun every prince in the kingdom. Atalanta did not want to marry; she wanted to hunt. So Atalanta decided to trick her suitor, Hippomenes, into loosing the footrace. Hippomenes had heard the king boast that Atalanta could outrun any man in a competition, so he too devised a plan to prevent her from winning the footrace.

     Early on the day of King Pelias' funeral games, Hippomenes prayed for help at the Temple of Artemis, for he loved Atalanta beyond words. Hippomenes had heard of Atalanta's fascination with items of gold because of their precious value and he planned a cunning prank to pull on Atalanta to make her lose the footrace. Artemis, goddess of animals and hunting, suddenly appeared and led Hippomenes into a garden that contained a huge tree filled with golden branches. Artemis plucked several apples from its branches and they turned to gold as she handed them to Hippomenes. Then, Artemis disappeared. Later, when Atalanta and Hippomenes began the footrace, he cast several golden apples into Atalanta's path as she raced past him. As if under a spell, Atalanta stooped to retrieve each of the beautiful apples as they rolled away, and Hippomenes won the race. 


Admirable Amulet Argonauts Archer Archery Arrow Artemis  Atalanta Aphrodite  Apples Bite Bow Bravery Calydonian Boar Centaur Chew Claw Con Conman Courage Competition Crawl Creep Cunning Fang Ferocious Fierce Footrace Funeral Games Furry Goddess Golden Growl Hairy Helmet Heroine Hero Hippomenes Huge Hunt Hunter Huntress Howl King Iasus Love Marriage Mean Minotaur Myth Oath Olympics Pantheon Paw Pelias Powerful Pounce Prank Prowl Queen Clymene Run Sacrifice Shield Siren Snarl Sneak Spear Spell Swift Teeth Temple Trick Tunic Toga Vicious Vow

The Calydonian Boar and Other Monstrous Animals of Mythology,  Primary Level 3/4 

Discussion, Exploration, Creative Expression --

Related Concepts and Themes: Legend, Ballad, Fairy Tale , Folk Tale, Oral Legend


i) The student will be able to define and describe the three or more main elements of a myth: the beast, the hero, and the conman or prankster, and identify their importance with respect to message after reading or listening to the Atalanta myth.

ii) The student will be able to verbally describe by listing the potential dangers a hero may face with a beast and compare this to a real conflict during an exploration of related images by expressing ideas, using proper vocabulary and real examples from life, contemporary literature,  or the movies.

iii) The student will be able to clearly indicate the features of any other beast and hero in a myth after  an online keyword search through illustration and complete a short composition, using words from this new vocabulary list.


Images taken from mythology, such as the Tondo of a Laconian Black Figure Cup, by Naucratis; the adapted tale, Atalanta and the Golden Apples; pens, graph paper, markers or crayons, a felt storyboard, lined paper, blank paper, shelf books. 

Suggested Books on Shelf:

Cheryl Evans, Norse Myths and Legends; Ingri D'Aulaire, D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths;  Graeme Davis, Thor: Viking God of Thunder (Myths and Legends); Olivia E Coolidge, The Trojan War ; Marcia Williams, Greek Myths


     1. Read silently or aloud the adapted myth, Atalanta and the Golden Apples. Think and talk about the Calydonian Boar and why it was so important to capture the animal.

What special events surrounded Atalanta's birth and upbringing and what were her skills? Is the Calydonian Boar real? Who was Artemis? Was Hippomenes a nice guy?  What did Atalanta give up at the end of the footrace?  Who is your favorite athletic hero  or heroine today, and what is  he or she famous for?

     2. Examine and choose one image related to a myth. Divide yourselves into a group and focus on your image. On graph paper, list ideas which describe a hero's most admirable quality, probable features of a Calydonian Boar, and how Hippomenes tricked Atalanta. Next, pretend you have to design a picture poster about Atalanta's upcoming competition in a footrace.  Do this on a blank sheet of paper and use as much detail as you can.

What would you say about Atalanta? What would you say about Hippomenes? Tell the others about your beast on a storyboard! If you had a choice to play the part of these roles, which would you play?  Try to use all the vocabulary words on your list.

     3. On your own, pretend you have been hired to write a chapter in a science fiction novel. Do online research for images and stories about other mythical beasts and heroes. Use any supernatural animal or character you read about on the shelf to brain storm a typical scene set in the ancient world.  Here are some keywords to try: 

"animals mythology myth minotaur Minos siren mermaid unicorn mythological monsters Cyclops Flemish myth tapestry centaur Atalanta Greek Mythology Norse Mythology  Grendel Grendel's mother Boewulf Golden Apples Golden Tree Prometheus Midas Achilles Hercules Poseidon"

In what part of the world does your creature live? Does it take many hunters to control it? Why or why not? How you would make friends with the beast, and what tools you would use?   Be sure to use most concise language you can to describe your character's skills, the animal, and the conflicts represented in your chapter. Last, draw one most important detail of the hunt or conflict to go with your storyline, or a series of illustrations. Add short descriptions underneath.

Variation: Discussion and Follow-Up for Junior Level 5/6

Instructor Note: Same Learning Objectives; Similar Resources and Materials.

     1.  Read any myth of your choice and examine related images, or divide youselves into sections and examine one image each. Discuss the admirable qualities of the characters in the story.

What do these qualities reflect about ancient people?  Were they very different from us today? Are they very different from super-heroes in movies today? Explain, using as many descriptive words as possible and use your favorite cartoons or super-heroes as examples.

     2.  Examine your related images. Imagine you are caught in a remote and strange region without any ways to communicate with others. Write a two page news story about your adventures, and include the 5 W's. You are confronted with dangerous, monstrous creatures. Someone or something comes to your rescue. Describe that person or creature and what he or she says and does to gain your trust. Use as many details and ideas you can to add reality to your tale, even images or maps. Check for grammar and spelling errors before you turn it in.

     3.  Narrate this same story out loud to your friends and leader and have them take turns to change your ending. Is it a myth, fairy tale, or legend? Why?  Remember to use as many new vocabulary words as you can, and check for errors. 

                                                                                                        ¬©HistoryPLUSArt 2018