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Myths & Legends by Joseph Kleinman

The ancients used myths and legends to illustrate truths and principals just as we do today. Many of them have come down to us and are useful in the teaching of valuable lessons to children. One remembers such stories as The Tortoise and the Hare, The Ant and the Grasshopper, The Fox and the Stork all to teach as well at to entertain. A number of these stories deal with people who actually may have lived. My favorite myth is the story of King Midas who acquired “The Golden Touch.” It teaches that having wealth alone leaves us empty and unfulfilled.

Lets look at some myths and see what principal they attempt to teach. Consider the story of Pegasus. The hero Perseus is given the task of slaying The Medusa, a snake haired monster who’s ability to turn men to stone if looked upon protects her from attack. Enter Athena, the goddess of war and wisdom who advises Perseus to polish the boss of his shield so that by looking into it he can see Medusa and cut off her head as she sleeps. From the blood of Medusa springs Pegasus the winged horse who flies to the acropolis of Corinth.

Another story is that of Persephone, the maiden kidnapped by Hades who must spend half the year in the underworld but comes to the surface in the spring so that the crops may begin to grow.

Likewise there is the story of Dionysus, the god associated with the annual grape and grain harvest. Persephone and Dionysus in ancient times had mysteries, what today we would call passion plays celebrated in their honor.

But all these myths had one common theme running through them. One principal that was so profound and important that the lesson had to remembered through these timeless stories. The theme is that of death, burial and resurrection — the core belief of the faith that still prevails in the western world.

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Click on images for larger versions.
Left — Athena on a Silver Double Drachma from Lucania, a region in the south of Italy colonized by Greeks.
It dates from the 4th century BC.
Right — Pegasus on a Silver Stater of Corinth.