Since the underlying theme in Greek mythology is Greek theology the teacher must introduce the concept of Greek Gods and Goddesses.
A. List the names of the major Gods and Goddesses on the black board, with their Special attributes:
Zeus: Ruler of the Gods, Controls lightning bolts
Hera: Queen of Heaven, wife of Zeus
Poseidon: Ruler of the Sea, carried trident
Ares: God of war
Aphrodite: Goddess of love and beauty
Pluto: God of the Underworld
When the students get a feel for the differences in theology some of the popular myths can be assigned as readings. The myths that function as “morality plays” are the most useful here because their lessons are parables which will help students see the Shaw concepts later on. Suggested readings might include the Story of Pluto and Persephone, The myth of Daedalus and Echo and Narcissus. These should be thoroughly discussed with the teacher giving away a lot of the meaning of the stories, and the lessons they contain.
B) A second activity which involves the students is to divide them into groups when they have read the stories. Explain that Greek theater was typified by actors wearing masks to indicate the characters that they are supposed to be. Have the students create their own masks, relying on what they think the characters look like. When that is done let them “put on” their story, from memory, as an improvisation with neither script nor rehearsal. Talking through the masks may well be an aid to letting the self conscious student “open up”.
At this point a simplified version of the Pygmalion story can be introduced. I suggest
The Lover of Beauty
from the collection
by Olivia Coolige, Houghton-Mifflin, 1949. This should be read aloud as a reading in the round. It is important that the details of the story are understood. It is not so important that any allegorical reference to life or other literature be drawn as of yet. The student need not understand the allegory, only the details.