Greek myths my grandmother taught me


Photos courtesy Alona


This story is by Alona from Ukraine—the mother of Andrei (i.e. Dr.Surprise) one of our regular writers. Alona is equally comfortable speaking Russian or Ukrainian, and loves learning English! She is a speech specialist, working with young children in her community.

MY grandmother Lena was a teacher of history. She taught ancient history. I was named after her. In the summer I lived with her and my grandfather. When I was little I didn’t go out much into the garden. I stayed inside with my grandmother. But we had a tradition. After dinner when all our work was done we sat together on the steps at the back door of the house and she told me Greek myths. Most of all, I remember from the myths that everything around me was alive: the trees, the river, the flowers, even the smallest creek had its own spirit. The spirit was called a nymph. It was the spirit of a young girl.  

     Every night Grandmother would tell me a new story, but often I would ask her to repeat a story I liked.  We were sitting there until the sun set.  Sometimes I couldn’t stop listening until the stars came out.  My favorite story was about spring and the daughter of Zeus.  She was stolen by the god-king of the underworld, Hades.  Her mother missed her very much and was very sad.  She asked her husband Zeus to do something to help get their daughter back.  Zeus could not bring their back from Hades, but Hades agreed to give her back half of the year. When their daughter was away, on earth it was autumn and winter, and everything in nature died from sorrow.  But when Hades let the daughter go home, on the earth came spring.  The real story took my grandmother many days to tell!   

     There is no way to say how many interesting stories and interesting things Grandmother told me. Those were such happy times together!

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