Pandora's Box - An Ancient Greek Myth

Author        This text is written and published on a website alled 'Myths and Legends'
Illustrator    unknown
Publisher   'E2BN Myths and Legends', Hertfordshire, U.K. SG7 5EZ
Date             2006

Pandora's Box - Text

'It was just a simple box. What was in it? Could it be gold, or silver, even precious stones? Surely just taking a very quick look inside couldn't do any harm - could it?'

Text Features
This narrative style text is published in a website called 'Myths and Legends' which has been designed for use by school children.  The text is presented in an easy to read chronological format with narrative features of orientation, complication and resolution.
The characters in the story are typical of many myths, namely a powerful God (Zeus), and other gods (Athene, Aphrodite and Hermes) two mortals (brothers called Prometheus and Epimetheus) and a beautiful female character (Pandora).  The characters are recognisable by the reader which aids comprehension. The story itself reflects the ideas of good and evil which are typical of many myths, legends and fairy tales and the story contains an important message or moral which requires the students to infer meaning from the text. 

Language Features
The text consists largely of compound and complex sentences and incorporates descriptive language, e.g. 'the look of excitement on her face quickly turned to one of disappointment and then horror'.
The regular use of verbs and adverbs help to build the excitement of the story, e.g. 'Epimetheous ran into the room to see why she was crying in pain'.

Other Textual Features
In addition to the Text, the website contains an outline of the Origins of Pandora's Box and a Movie. These additional features of the website provide opportunities for the students to understand the background of the myth and how it developed, and to experience the story with a variety of senses. 

Middle to Upper Primary (Year 5 - Year 7)


Before Reading

Activity 1 - Introduce Myths and Legends
Everyone has favourite stories from childhood and many of these are based on myths and legends.  Some are frightening and some are fascinating. 
Many myths begin because people want to explain things that they don't know or understand, like illness, disease and death, love, hate and war, and natural disasters
like floods and earthquakes. 
Explain that story telling is an important part of all societies and common to many cultures.  
Myths are one way of telling stories and explaining things that people don't understand.

Brainstorm a list of favourite stories from childhood, e.g. Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Boy Who Cired Wolf, The Pied Piper of Hamlin, Noah's Ark.

Activity 2 - Think, Pair, Share
In pairs discuss the reasons for why stories are told.  Record your ideas to share with
the class. 
Brainstorm a list of reasons why people talk and share stories, yarns, myths, legends and tales? e.g.
- to bring people together
- to communicate history or the way things are
- to help people understand their culture
- to show people how to behave and what is expected and acceptable
- to explain how the world works
- for entertainment
- to pass on knowledge
- for fame, money and recognition

Activity 3 - Library visit and myth exploration
Students explore the library and read about various myths.  Students select one myth
that interests them and examine the characters, the setting and what happened in the story of the myth.  Students can take notes.
Brainstorm a list of myths discovered by the students:
King Arthurs Knights of the roundtable
The Three Muskateers
The Lost City of Atlantis
The Tooth Fairy

Activity 4 - What are myths?
With the whole class discuss and develop a working definition of a myth.
For example:
'A myth is a story based on tradition or legend, which has a deep symbolic meaning.
A myth 'conveys a truth' to those who tell it and hear it, rather than necessarily
recording a true event. Although some myths can be accounts of actual events, they
have become transformed by symbolic meaning or shifted in time or place. Myths are often used to explain universal and local beginnings and involve supernatural beings. The great power of the meaning of these stories, to the culture in which they
developed, is a major reason why they survive as long as they do - sometimes for thousands of years' 
(extracted from E2Bn website in June 2011).

Activity 5 - View and listen to an Aboriginal Myth
The Rainbow Serpent - see above You Tube video
- The characters, the setting, what happens. 
- Identify what this myth is telling us?
- What do the aboriginal people attempt to explain or understand with this myth,
  e.g. the shaping of the land, mountains and rivers, the origins of trees, birds and
  animals and natural disasters like earthquakes and floods.  Helps to explain the
  aboriginal connection to the land.
- Think, Pair, Share - do you think 'The Rainbow Serpent' is true or not?  Discuss
Explain that this is an example of an origin myth.  
Discuss how this myth has been passed down through the generations. 
Explain the importance story telling to the aboriginal people and explain that 'The Rainbow Serpent' may contain elements of truth, e.g perhaps there was a great earthquake that people were trying to understand.
Incorporate an aboriginal guest speaker if possible.

Activity 6 - Identify some characteristics of Myths?
Use information the students have gathered from the library and from viewing, listening and reading some myths to brainstorm common characteristics of myths. For example:
- myths are semi-true - they include elements of truth
- passed from person to person
- written, drawn or verbally told - sometimes immortalised forever as a statue (Greek) or
  a cave painting (Aboriginal)
- can be based on historic facts (e.g. there was a great earthquake that the
  aboriginal people tried to explain with their Rainbow serpent myth)
- they have heroic characters
- they take place in fantastic (fantasy) settings
- they can be about the spiritual beliefs of a culture, e.g. Noah's Ark (Christian), the
  Rainbow Serpent (Aboriginal)

Activity 7 - Website exploration
this website about Greek Myths and Legends to find out more about the characters, settings, plot and other elements of a myth.
Brainstorm with the class the names of some good and evil characters e.g.
Good/Hero characters - Pegasus, Leprechan, Fairy, Elf, Archilles,
Bad/Evil characters - Lochness Monster, Medusa, Bunyip, Orc, Sphyinx
Greek characters - Zeus (God of the Heavens), Poseiden (brother of Zeus), Hades, (Brother of Poseidon) Hera and Hermes (messenger god)


Students as text-participants: talking about texts

Students as text-analysts; why are stories told? How are myths developed?

Students as text participants

Students as code-breakers: what are myths?

Students as text-participants and code-breakers: viewing and listening to an aboriginal myth and working to de-code the text to discover the meaning.

Students as text-analysts:  what are the underlying assumptions about myths?


During Reading

Activity 8 - Reading
Read the myth of Pandora's Box (see 'Pandora's Box Text - link above)
Stop to clarify meanings of any words



After Reading

Activity 9 - Internet exploration
Enable students to access the movie and information about the origins of Pandora's Box via the internet.  Explore and take notes.

Activity 9 - small group discussion
In small groups, ask students to identify the main characters, setting, plot and main idea or message behind the myth of Pandora's Box.  (Provide an organiser for this purpose)

Activity 10 - Whole class discussion
Ask students to share their findings from activity 9 with the class. 
Discuss and clarify the characters, setting and plot.
Record student ideas on the main message/idea or moral of the story and discuss variations and interpretations
Explain- The myth of Pandora's Box originates in Ancient Greece between 600 and 500BC.  Explain that it's an 'origin myth' in that it attempts to explain the beginning of something.  In this case - the beginnings of disease, illness and death.
Display a timeline which includes BC and AC and explain this to the students to aid understanding of the age and origins of the myth.
Explain that the story of Pandora's Box is now entrenched in our English language
and, although the original plot of the story may no longer be widely known, the
message of the story remains and is still referred to today in daily conversations, for example, it can be said that if you talk to someone about something that is bothering them you may just open a Pandora's Box.  In other words - you may create more
trouble that there already is.

Activity 11 - Model writing activity
Summarise the myth of Pandora's Box using the information from the discussion in Activity 10.  Record students' responses on a graphic organiser with the following headings: Characters, Settings, Plot, My favourite part, Idea/Message

Activity 12 - Myth Analysis
Ask student to analyse a myth of their choice using the organiser provided and
following the format modelled above.

Activity 13 - The Story Graph
Provide students with a copy of The Story Graph (Jen McVeity, 2002)
Explain and discuss the process of successful writing - using the graph or
'rollercoaster' as a model.  For example:
- Start with action
- Backfil - a quick who and why
- Plot Development - plot and characters slowly unfold
- Gradual Build Up - good vs evil
- Huge Tension - Action sequence or major dilemma
- Action Climax - the moment of glory/the winner
- Character wrap-up - emotional resolution, message or moral
Model the use of 'The Story Graph' by filling in the information from the story of Pandora's Box.

Activity 14 - Create your own Myth using 'The Story Graph'
Explain that students will use The Story Graph, and what they have learned about Myths, to create their own Myth.
Provide opportunities for students to discuss their ideas with classmates.
Brainstorm some possible myths for the writing task, e.g. How dragons came to breath fire.
Conference and remind students to edit their writing

Activity 16 - Oral presentation.
Plan and prepare
and oral presentation about the myth the student has developed (provide an assessment rubric prior to commencement - discuss and explain)

Students practise reading aloud their Myths with a classmate and assist each other to edit their work.

Students present their Myth to the class in a 3 minute oral presentation
The presentation should begin with a brief overview of the characters, setting, plot and moral or main idea/message.

This website was used as a resource for the literacy ideas on this page






Students as text-users and text-participants

Text-users: students use their knowledge and experience of myths to plan and prepare their own myth - in narrative format, and present it in an oral presentation.