Our Mythical History

We are pleased to share with you the programme of the conference Our Mythical History: Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture in Response to the Heritage of Ancient Greece and Rome:


Zbigniew Karaszewski, “Clio with a Teddy-Bear” (2018) 

The conference will take place in the period of May 22–26, 2019 at the Centre for Studies on the Classical Tradition (OBTA) of the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” at the University of Warsaw. The scholars from all over the world will present the results of their work within the second stage of the project “Our Mythical Childhood… The Reception of Classical Antiquity in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture in Response to Regional and Global Challenges” ERC Consolidator Grant (2016–2021).

During the conference also the results of the Schools Endeavour “De viris mulieribusque illustribus” will be pesented – a task carried out by four high schools in Poland within the project:


Moreover, we will know the winners of the video competition for youth “Antiquity–Camera–Action!” for the short movies inspired by the Ancient History. There will be also two workshops: on new approaches to ancient vases by Dr. Sonya Nevin and Steve K. Simons and on the use of the myth of Hercules in the work with the children on autism spectrum by Prof. Susan Deacy. Thus, we hope to contribute to establishing a new holistic model for work in the Humanities on the frontiers of research, education, and culture. For more materials see also here.

Post by Katarzyna Marciniak 

Antiquity for Publicity, or: Publicity for Antiquity?

The presence of Classical Antiquity in our world is sometimes stronger than we are aware of it. This potential is used by the creators of marketing campaigns. They use the associations the names of the ancient gods and heroes evoke to build a positive image of a given brand. Let’s have a look at three examples, chosen with the following criteria: one is crucial for the reception of Classical Antiquity in the history of marketing and the two next are the examples I have discovered most recently.

It is not widely known today that in 1947 Ajax the Great from the myth of the Trojan War gave his name to a line of detergents. This mythological hero is a bit forgotten in our times, but he belonged to the canon of education still in the late 1940s and the founders of the brand assured us that he was famous for his strength and “for marching into battle with the cleanest uniform” (http://ajaxlaundry.com/our-history/, no longer active). Ajax fitted perfectly also into the first slogans used in the brand’s advertisements: “Stronger than dirt”, or even “Stronger than grease”, which in English evokes an additional association with the land of myths – Greece. But if the Greek hero resembled sometimes a Mediaeval knight in these advertisements? Well… all is possible in the field of reception:

The time passes, but the power of Classical Antiquity is as strong as ever. Today, on 21th April, the birthday of Rome, it is worth to recall a recent commercial of a kind of chips with Julius Caesar in the leading role. Though there is room enough also for Brutus in the clip:

The commercial presentations have a say also in the reception of the fundamental myths, like the one of Sisyphus. One may wonder what Albert Camus would have thought had he been given the opportunity to come accross this clip:

The research into the reception of Classical Antiquity in marketing campaings is still awaiting for a deep elaboration. A topic particularly interesting in this context may be the branch of commercial presentations directed at young audience. But this is a theme for another blog post in the future. And probably it is also worth posing the following question: Do the commercial presentations only draw the inspiration from the ancient heritage or do they also inspire us to study the ancient myths and tales, or at least to re-check some details in the Internet, while watching an especially good campaign?…

Post by Katarzyna Marciniak


Martina Treu, “Ajax”, in: Rosanna Lauriola, Kyriakos N. Demetriou, ed., Brill’s Companion to the Reception of Sophocles, Brill, Leiden–Boston 2017, p. 69.

Amazing Friendships with Homer by Emilia Dziubak

Emilia Dziubak (b. 1982) is a Polish illustrator. She graduated from the University of Fine Arts in Poznań. Her works are highly praised both in the country and abroad. In November 2018 Emilia Dziubak published her picturebook “Niezwykłe przyjaźnie. W świecie roślin i zwierząt” [Amazing Friendships. Among the Plants and Animals; Warsaw, Wydawnictwo Nasza Księgarnia]:


The protagonist of the book is a cat called Homer:


One day Homer departs for his “odyssey” in search for friends. He meets many interesting plants and animals who are able to live in symbiosis and support each other (in various, not always easy, ways). On his journey he even encounters… a labyrinth of the ants and is presented with many more surprises:


Emilia Dziubak draws on the classical tradition in a very subtle way. The name of the Poet and the motif of the travel permit her to create a beautifully illustrated story with educational value, both in regard to learning biology by her young readers (with all the shades of the laws of Nature) and to discovering by them the importance of friendship. At the end there can be only a happy end, of course:-). Homer gets back to his “Ithaca”, that however, unlike the island of Odysseus, is a realm of peace and happiness, because of the friends awaiting him there. The source of joy results to be the willingness to support each other and spend time together:


Post prepared by Katarzyna Marciniak


Sources of the illustrations: http://abc.tvp.pl/39913062/niezwykle-przyjaznie-w-swiecie-roslin-i-zwierzat and the publisher’s website: https://nk.com.pl/niezwykle-przyjaznie-w-swiecie-roslin-i-zwierzat/2613/ksiazka.html#.XBYV8ttKipo

Emilia Dziubak’s blog: https://emiliaszewczyk.blogspot.com/

Emilia Dziubak on Behance: https://www.behance.net/emiliadziubak

Entries by Krzysztof Rybak on two other books co-authored by Emilia Dziubak in the Our Mythical Childhood Survey: http://omc.obta.al.uw.edu.pl/myth-survey/item/44 and http://omc.obta.al.uw.edu.pl/myth-survey/item/68 and his blog post: https://ourmythicalchildhoodblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/08/tru-2016-by-barbara-kosmowska/

Nature-Culture, an Exceptional PhD Programme

We are pleased to invite you to apply for a PhD programme called “Nature-Culture” at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw.


The programme combines the Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Exact Sciences. This is a unique opportunity to develop research ideas in an interdisciplinary milieu and to study Nature and Culture from Antiquity to the present.

More information here – we will be most grateful, if you help us share the link:



Trojan… Cheese

Historia de una gaviota y del gato que le enseñó a volar (1996, The Story of a Seagull and the Cat Who Taught Her to Fly) is an amazing novel by the Chilean writer Luis Sepúlveda, for children from 8 to 88 years of age, as the author declares:

Sepulveda English
Source: Books Google

In 1998 the Italian director Enzo D’Alò created an animation, La Gabbianella e il Gatto (in Engl. as Lucky and Zorba), based on the novel. His vision met with Sepúlveda’s approval who even agreed to give his voice to the character of the Poet in the animation. It is a “must-see” because of the touching story, artistic values, and a wonderful soundtrack. And the Antiquity-lovers will discover in the movie the traces of the Trojan myth:

DVD cover (Italian edition), phot. by K.M.

The Poet and his daughter live in a port city, they help a group of street cats and they feed birds. Both the book and the movie transmit a powerful ecological message, however, without moralizing, but in a deeply touching way. The protagonist is the cat Zorba who comes to know – in dramatic circumstances – a young seagull Kengah, wounded after the contact with “the curse of the humans”, that is a petrol spill due to an oil tankship disaster. She knows she is dying, so she uses all her strength to bear her egg and she beggs Zorba to make her three promises. (1) Not to eat the egg. (2) To incubate it. (3) And to learn the chick-to-be-born to fly. Kengah indeed dies and Zorba – “who always keeps the promises he makes” – becomes a cat mother-father for the little she-seagull who soon comes to the world. With his friends, he names her Fortunata (diminutively Fifì, in English Lucky), as she was lucky enough to be under their protection. As time passes, Fifì growns up, thinking she is a cat…

Source: https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_gabbianella_e_il_gatto

The charming story merits to be discovered in full directly, while reading and watching it, so here we will focus only on the ancient motif that appears in the animation. At a certain point Fifì gets kidnapped by the rats. The cats prepare a rescue expedition. They consult the Encyclopaedia, owing to the help of the library cat Diderot. They find the right strategy under the letter “H”, that is Homer and the myth of the Trojan Horse. A short council brings the clear plan: Zorba and his friends know what an equivalent for the Trojan Horse to use: a huge loaf of cheese – the Trojan Cheese, inside of which they will hide to jump unexpectedly at the rats:

Screenshot by K.M.

Will they succeed? And will Fifì-Lucky learn to fly? See for yourself and enjoy the story embedded in the timeless mythical tradition.

Text by Katarzyna Marciniak

Post scriptum:

“Siamo gatti” – “We are cats”, a song from the movie (Italian version):




A Classic from Florence

There are many amazing points on the map of Florence for all interested in the reception of Classical Antiquity. But it is worth also peeking into via Taddea to see the house in which Carlo Lorenzini in 1826 was born. He is known in the history of children’s classics under a different name – Carlo Collodi, the father of Pinocchio:



Nearby, you will see also a sculpture commemorating Pinocchio by Thomas Cecchi unveiled in 2006:




This part of Piazza del Mercato Centrale is a perfect place to sit for a while and to read the book anew, and to admire the skills of its illustrators. For example, the Polish edition (transl. Zofia Jachimecka) was illustrated by the famous artist, called also “the King of children’s illustration in Poland”, Jan Marcin Szancer (1902–1973). [Please excuse me the state of the cover, but it is a testimony to the book’s intense life;-)]



And it is worth reading the Latin translation, by Ugo Enrico Paoli (1884–1963):


As Prof. Wilfried Stroh (see phot. below) remarks, the Latin language seals the status of a Classic, and Pinocchio merits this kind of homage definitely:


Let’s quote a few phrases on Pinocchio’s birth in Paoli’s translation, as chosen by Prof. Stroh in his analysis of the Latin version (Stroh, “De fabulis Latinis…” 2016:273):

Nec mora, acutam securim adripuit [sc. Magister Cerasum – WS], ut dempto cortice lignum dolando poliret. Cum uero primum ictum illaturus eset, bracchio in altum sublato, immobilis suspensusque haesit; audiuerat enim tenuem quandam subtilemque uocem, suppliciter orantem: “Ne me grauius, precor, percusseris!” (ed. 1983:6)


With a Pinocchio-pencil, a must-have from Florence, you can continue your literary journey through the city or you can even visit Pinocchio’s Park in Tuscany. Each Grand (or Petit) Tour has its roots in Our Mythical Childhood…

For more details:

Text and all other pictures by Katarzyna Marciniak.

Teaching Ancient Culture to Young Children

On Monday 4th June 2018 Katerina Volioti gave a talk entitled Teaching Ancient Culture to Young Children at the Early Childhood Research Centre, University of Roehampton. Katerina’s main argument was the need to recast style to culture in illustrated children’s books. The audience was comprised chiefly of graduate students and staff from the Education and Humanities Departments, including Susan Deacy who leads the Roehampton wing of the OMC project. Nanci Santos, one of the OMC Survey contributors, also attended. A most inspirational discussion followed on the Survey, on adult views of how children should respond to museum exhibits, and on whether children’s books should show Classical statues in colour.

4 June 2018 Katerina Volioti and Nanci Santos

In the picture: Nanci Santos (left) and Katerina Volioti (right). Also in the picture: cover of Greek book about the Cycladic culture, ancient and modern: The Cyclades: Jewels in the Aegean (Papadopoulos Publications, 2017).

Prepared by Katerina Volioti



International Children’s Day!

Dear All,

We wish to send you Our Mythical Greetings on the International Children’s Day!

This is the best day to invite you to explore Our Mythical Childhood Survey – a database of classical references in the works of children’s and young adults’ culture – a joint task of Our Mythical Team and many engaged contributors and experts:



On the Antipodean Odyssey Blog you can find also a post by Liz Hale on the big opening of the Survey during Our Mythical Workshops, on May 15, 2018, in Warsaw:

16 Antipodean Odyssey IMG_2083


Have a Good Time with Our Mythical Childhood! 


Post by Katarzyna Marciniak

“Circe” by Madeline Miller

The fans of Greek Mythology can enjoy a new novel by the American writer Madeline Miller, whose retelling of Achilles’ fate (“The Song of Achilles”, 2011) has been a huge success since its publication and it won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2012:


The new novel is entitled “Circe”. It was published on April 10, 2018, and it retells the story of the most famous enchantress of Classical Mythology:


Here you can listen to the Author reading from her book:

Nunc est legendum!

For more information see for example:

Found by Katarzyna Marciniak

Growing Up with the Little Ancyclops

“Ancyklopek” (“The Little Ancyclops”) is a Polish three-book cycle (so far…) with the text by Piotr Dobry and the ilustrations by Łukasz Majewski, published in 2016 by TADAM:






All three parts feature the Little Ancyclops and they are ajdusted to the perception of a small child (for example, the first part is in black-and-white). The authors draw on the potential of the ancient myth: for example, the readers observe the Little Ancyclops in the sandpit and they learn that the Cyclops are very talented builders.

Indeed, to confirm, it is enough to have a look at the “Cyclopean Wall” at Mycenae;-) (phot. by Athinaios at English Wikipedia):

The books are funny and simple, however, they convey a serious message of tollerance and acceptance for other beings.

Read more:

Found by Katarzyna Marciniak