Some of the myths to be studied should include along with the three already mentionedi Hero and Leander, Zeus and Io, Eros and Psyche, Orpheus and Eurydice, Peleus and Thetis, Zeus and Europa, Theseus and Adriadne, Echo and Narcissus, Perseus and Andromeda, Jason and Medea, Philemon and Baucis, Apollo and Hyacinth, Alcestis and Admetus, and Pan and Syrinx,
There are an infinite number of possibilities in introducing the subject, One can probably begin with current amorous crimes committed against women such as rape or sexual harassment on the job, A discussion encouraging students to express what they might have experienced would furnish a wealth of information, Once this is accomplished, the instructor, through his or her role as facilitator, could have the students compare these crimes with seduction to determine what type of punishment, if any, the crime would merit.
The innovative educational possibilities of this unit are limitless, Before the skits are presented, a brief resume of the Greek and Roman gods and heroes should be given, To do this, one could borrow as many books as needed from the public library and keep them in the classroom as reference since so many of the students lack good library research techniques, This in itself will encourage further research and study on the part of the student, Thus, the students can be required to do more detailed oral and written presentations. Concurrently, the pronunciation of Greek and Roman deities and heroes should be practiced through oral drills and repetition. (See appendix I for phonetic pronunciation list.)
To give students visual stimulation, the teacher should locate and bring into the classroom plates or reproductions with mythological themes, Consequently, this unit can at the same time be used to teach the study of art very efficaciously, This can be done by introducing a maximum of five major artists who have painted masterpieces dealing with mythological themes, It would be wiser to study painters and paintings that would be accessible. By selecting certain artists and paintings located at either the Yale Art Gallery or at the British Art Museum, the instructor would then take the students for a guided tour, For example, the Jarves Collection at the Yale Art Gallery includes a magnificent painting by Antonio Pollaiollo titles,
The Rape of Dejanira.
Many reproductions of paintings can be easily found. Before introducing them, the teacher should recount the legends behind them, After exhibiting a reproduction of the
Rape of Dejanira,
one should encourage the students to write compositions describing the scene while including the colors, One should also have them describe Heracules and the teacher should have the students also interpret scenes without telling them the myths beforehand. This of course can all be done orally also.
When introducing the painting, the instructor should also give historical resumes of the artist and of the art movement. Because of the importance of visual stimulation, I encourage teachers to teach art through mythology also. At the same time, groups of students should be taken on the guided tours of the Yale Art Gallery and the British Art Museum since they are available free of charge. Free bus transportation is also provided, Students will get very excited upon seeing the ‘real thing‘ especially if they have studied it because they thus .have a concept of mythology and art.
Other painters that have treated mythological themes in their art include: Veronese, Titian, Michelangelo, Velazquez, Picasso, Botticelli, Crespi, Rosso Fiorention, Correggio, Tintoretto, Raffaello, Cezanne, Bonnard, Rubens, etc. (the list is endless.) The Yale Art Gallery has sets of photographs mounted on lightweight cardboard which are available for free loan to any New Haven public school.
Since art is visual, it continuously generates new ideas or approaches for its presentations. Another technique that could be implemented is the comparison of two different artists’ treatment of the same topic, For example, how does Bernini‘s statue of Daphne and Apollo differ from Pollaiolo’s painting, Which expresses more life? Which would one prefer? A variety of similar questions can be posed to the students.
Through the artist, Diego Valazquez, the teacher can introduce the mythological themes of
The Triumph of Bacchus, The Toilet of Venus, The Forge of Vulcan, The Fable of Arachne,
The Rape of Europa,
which is depicted in the tapestry behind the scene of
The Fable of Arachne.
When studying this renowned artist, the teacher should have the students research Bacchus, When presenting the reproductions, the teacher should also have the students discuss the youthfulness and effeminate qualities of this god. In the
Toilet of Venus,
mention the influence of the great Venetians Titian and Giorgione. The relationship between Aphrodite and her son, Cupid should be mentioned, Is it a normal mother-son relationship? The myths of Cupid and Psyche and of Vulcan and Venus should also be introduced.
Once the class has been exposed to mythology, they will be ready to tackle the skits, If the students have a limited ability to speak English, the teacher can test the students to assure that the vocabulary is not going over their heads. If the words become too laborious, revise the skits by substituting easier, more modern words,
The skits that are included in this unit have been adapted from
because exposure to Victorian English will in my opinion create a need to learn proper English, since it is music to the ears, Many of our students will only have this one fleeting opportunity to study an affluent dialect of English, Many will only be exposed to Black English. Thus, learning the skits in Victorian English will give them a much needed exposure to another dialect: and it would be more advantageous to study a different dialect, Once this task is accomplished and the desired exposure is achieved students can even be asked to revise the mythological skits by substituting their own words or colloquialisms. It would be interesting, to say the least, to hear how Pyramus and Thisbe would communicate to each other if they were present day “Punk-rockers.”
Also, upon introducing the skit, an ingenious instructor can also teach grammatical structures, Some of these may include: the comparative, the superlative, the present, the past, the present perfect, the imperative, and much more.
Another method that would assure learning vocabulary would be to translate the main idea into the student’s native language. By so doing, the student will have to memorize the lexicon, This would ensure that students know what they say.
The teacher should now utilize the skits that have been prepared especially for this unit to economize on both material and time, Prior taping of the skits by native speakers is strongly recommended since students need to listen, repeat, and imitate. By so doing, the teacher can conserve physical energy and thus channel it more creatively, I would suggest that the teacher spend a minimum of two weeks on each skit since students will need the time to memorize it,
Finally, the teacher should provide the students with an opportunity to adapt their own skits. This can best be accomplished by having the students work together in groups first, The students should be permitted to choose their own story and to assign a part to each member of the group, If there are not enough parts to go around, the students must then decide on their own how to solve this dilemma. Some solutions can include dividing each part or including other characters as done in the sample skits. This technique is a wonderful tool that gives students an opportunity to practice their writing skills.