clash-of-the-gods-hercules.jpgIn my quest for putting Christian beliefs in perspective, I have been teaching Mika about Ancient Egyptian and Greek mythology – I figure, the most she knows about gods, the more she’ll realize that it’d be too arbitrary for any one of them to be real. We’ve been reading ancient myths, which is always fun, and now we’ve discovered a new, great resource for solidifying and expanding whatever knowledge we’ve acquired: the History’s Channel’s Clash of the Gods series (now available on DVD). The series has hour-long episodes on Hercules, Hades, Medusa, Zeus, the Minotaur, Odysseus, Tolkien’s Monsters, Beowulf and Thor. So far we’ve watched the first three I’ve listed.
The shows are great. Like typical History Channel productions they are shamelessly dramatic and sensationalistic, with vivid, dramatic and cartoonish recreations and a thundering voice leading the story. A little bit annoyingly – to me – there is a bit of repetition, things being told twice or thrice, but I think that’s probably good for children. Most importantly, the content is excellent. The stories are told mostly lineally, with cuts to actual historians and university professors, who (also very animatedly) provide clarification not just on the story but on the symbolism and meaning of the story. These are not very deep analysis, but enough to give you an idea of /why/ the ancient Greeks might have believed on what they believed. And indeed, why /we/ believe what /we/ believe. For example, Mika and I just watched the episode on Hades last night. I was clearly totally ignorant about Hades myself, as I didn’t realize that the Christian conception of Heaven and Hell (at least the post-Dante conception, I don’t know if the one before Dante was different, yet another hole in my knowledge base) is right out of Greek mythology. It’s no wonder, as Christianity is a product of Hellenistic culture – but I’d never made the connection before, even though I’d often wondered where the Christian concepts of heaven and hell came from (as these were not existent in the Old Testament, if I well remember).
While watching this show, I have come to realize that I have not been good about telling Mika about Hebrew and Christian mythology and beliefs – which is a problem, as she then ends up believing the idiocies her school mates tell her. I guess they get in many “theological” discussions, and as the other kids’ knowledge of religion(s) is null, they end up confusing themselves and Mika at the same time. For example, Mika seems to have talked to them about Zeus being the king of the gods, and the kids have thus appropriated him saying that he is Jesus’ father. I love playing Eris – but then again, you knew that 🙂
Anyway, going back to the show. I fully recommend it as great watching for parents and school-age kids together (I think it’d be a bit beyond Camila’s understanding, though she did like hearing about Medusas’ story when I told it to her, sans the pornographic parts). I’m certainly looking forward to watching the other episodes – and so is Mika.