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The Monster’s Tale – competition winners

Back in spring we held our fourth Athena’s Owls competition, asking 5-14 year-olds in the UK and ROI to get inside the head of a famous mythical monster and give them a voice, re-telling an old tale from a new perspective. We were hoping for some monstrous twists on these famous myths, and we certainly weren’t disappointed! With nearly two hundred fantastic entries our team of judges had an incredibly difficult task trying to pick winners, but after much deliberation we are delighted to announce the winners, runners up, and highly commended stories.

There were three age categories – 5-7 years, 8-11 years, and 12-14 years – and you can read the stories by clicking on the names below. We’re sure that you’ll have as much fun reading them as we did!

Age category 1: 5-7 years

Winner:  Alex, 6, from Bedworth
Runner up: Alberto, 6, from Hampton

Age category 2: 8-11 years

Winner: Arthur, 11, from York
Runner up:  Allegra, 10, from London

Age category 3: 12-14 years

Winner:  Maia, aged 14, from Bristol
Runner up:  Lewis, aged 14, from Eye

Highly commended entrants

Daisy, aged 13 

Maddy, aged 13

Dhruv, aged 11

Bruno, aged 12 

Hafsa, aged 11 

Charlie, aged 11

Katie, aged 12 

Sophia, aged 12

The Cyclops and Odysseus – Kim’s blog

Here we have an exciting treat in the form of a new blog post all about everyone’s favourite grizzly giant, the Cyclops Polyphemus! This is from Kim, a PhD student in Classics at the Open University and member of the Athena’s Owls team who has worked tirelessly to set up a branch of the project in Liverpool. Kim’s research focuses on the reception of Polyphemus in literature from the Odyssey to Frankenstein, and she’s written this post discussing Odysseus’ treatment of Polyphemus to give some inspiration to budding writers for our latest competition!

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The Cyclops, Polyphemus, and his blinding by Odysseus

Just in case you are in need of a little inspiration for your story, I thought I would tell you a little bit about the work I am doing on monsters at the Open University.

Myths about heroes and monsters are usually told from the hero’s point of view – how these brave and powerful men save everyone from the dangerous monster. But how dangerous are they really? Often the monsters are not being a threat to humans but are busily getting on with their lives when the heroes come to seek them out. For example, Medusa may have been able to turn people into stone if she looked at them, but she lived at the far ends of the earth and it took Perseus a very long time to find her in order to cut off her head. The Cyclops Polyphemus lived all alone in a cave by the sea tending his sheep and goats when Odysseus and his men arrived in his land, entered his home and blinded him with a red-hot stake.

It is the myths about Polyphemus that form the basis of my work, but I will be considering the stories from the perspective of the monster rather than the hero. I begin with his blinding by Odysseus as told in the epic poem, the Odyssey, by Homer.

The war with Troy had ended and Odysseus and his companions were sailing home. On their way they stopped off at a beautiful, deserted island where they found as much food and water as they could wish for. But Odysseus saw smoke coming from the nearby mainland and finding out who lived there and whether they would give him fine gifts was more important to him than carrying on with his journey home. So, with a few of his men he went to find out. They came across a large cave by the sea and went in uninvited. The place was full of pails of milk, wonderful cheeses and lambs and kids well looked after in various pens. The companions wanted to steal everything and get back to their ship as quickly as possible, but Odysseus was greedy and wanted to wait to meet the owner of the cave in case he would give him even more things! So, they stayed and ate some cheese and possibly killed and roasted a lamb or two.

The owner of the cave was a shepherd, a one-eyed giant Cyclops, named Polyphemus. He never killed his sheep or goats for food but just drank their milk and ate the cheese that he made from it. He lived all alone and so to him his flocks were his friends and companions, especially the biggest ram whom he loved above all the rest. When he returned and found Odysseus and his men in his home, he was very angry, so angry that he picked up two of Odysseus’ companions and ate them. He ate two more the next morning before blocking up the entrance to the cave with a heavy rock, trapping Odysseus and his men inside, then went out up the mountain for the day with his flock. He then ate another two when he returned in the evening. So, Odysseus got him very drunk on strong wine and after Polyphemus fell asleep, Odysseus and his men drove a red-hot stake into his only eye and blinded him. The next morning Polyphemus, blind and in pain, opened up the cave again to let out his flocks, feeling each one to make sure none of the men were amongst them. But Odysseus and his companions managed to escape by clinging to the underside of the sheep and, when they were safely outside, they herded the flocks onto their ship and sailed away back to the deserted island. There they killed all of Polyphemus’ sheep and goats, including his favourite ram, and ate them.

The poem also tells us that when Odysseus eventually arrived home, he found a lot of uninvited strangers in his house eating his food and drinking his wine and so in revenge he killed them all with the help of the goddess Athena.

Polyphemus killed and ate six of Odysseus’ companions but Odyssseus and the rest of his men killed and ate all of Polyphemus’ companions, and Odysseus also killed 148 men when he returned home to find them doing exactly what he had done in Polyphemus’ home!

So, what is the difference between Polyphemus and Odysseus? Why is Polyphemus the monster and Odysseus the hero? Why is Odysseus’ killing justified but that of Polyphemus, is considered monstrous? Is it just that Odysseus is a man, a hero, and Polyphemus is a Cyclops – a monster, ugly and different?

I hope this little example of my work helps you to come up with your own story! Good luck!

Athena’s Owls Competition: The Monster’s Tale

Calling all Owls!

The Greeks had plenty of stories about valiant heroes swooping in to save the day from a dreaded and vicious monster, from Hercules’ defeat of the Hydra to Odysseus’ clever deception of the Cyclops – but what did the monsters think about all this? What would Medusa say, if asked for her side of the story?

That’s where you come in! For our fourth Athena’s Owls competition, we want you to give one of the famous Greek mythic monsters a voice and re-tell the story we all know from their point of view. Will it be Polyphemus complaining about Odysseus’ dirty tricks and the loss of his lovely sheep? Or the Minotaur telling anyone who will listen about how lonely it was to be locked in the Labyrinth?

Simply choose from one of these monsters and get creative!

The Sphinx – Polyphemus the Cyclops – The Minotaur – Medusa – Typhon – The Hydra

If you are looking for some inspiration, why not have a read of some of the myths from the hero’s point of view to get you started! Click the links below for some of our stories.

Zeus’ battle with Typhon
Odysseus’ encounter with Polyphemus
Hercules’ defeat of the Hydrayou can now listen to our reading of this myth on our Sound Cloud!

HOW TO ENTER

This competition is open to anyone aged between 5 and 14 years old in the UK and Ireland. There are three age categories and word limits for this competition:

Category 1: 5-7 years old – up to 300 words
Category 2: 8-11 years old – up to 500 words
Category 3: 12-14 years old – up to 750 words

You are welcome to illustrate your story, but entries will be judged based on how entertaining and creative your retelling is. There will be prizes of Book Tokens for the winners and runners up in each category. The closing date is 5pm on Sunday 11th April, and we will announce the winner via Twitter shortly afterwards.

To enter, either write up your story on a computer and save in .doc or .pdf format, or write it up by hand, scan it into your computer or take a photo, and then upload it to our entry form here: https://forms.gle/dunnihdX5bRfkR4u7.

Entries are limited to one per child and are completely free. UK & Ireland only. Winners will be contacted via email following the competition.

Click here to download a PDF of the competition details.

Athena’s Owls: The Shield of Achilles

CALLING ALL OWLS!

We have decided to extend the closing date for the latest Athena’s Owls competition to the 10th January: all you need is some paper and pens or pencils to design your person version of Achilles’ famous shield, complete with the people, places, and things that are important to you! Will your shield showcase your family, pets, or even your favourite hobbies? Whatever you choose is entirely up to you – we can’t wait to see what you come up with!

To enter, send us a photo of your shield (.jpg or .png format) through our entry form here: https://forms.gle/vvsW8CnKJSPcEeSb7.

If you’re in need of some inspiration, you can now read our version of the myth of Achilles’ shield here, or keep reading for the some designs by the Athena’s Owls team and full competition details.

Competition details:

This competition will open right after our live session on the 19th December and we welcome entries from anyone aged between 5 and 14 years old in the UK and Ireland. There are three age categories for this competition:

Category 1: 5-7 years old | Category 2: 8-11 years old | Category 3: 12-14 years old

We’re looking for the most inventive and original shields, showcasing what is most important to you – will your shield show your family, friends, pets, favourite story, or perhaps your favourite place to visit? There will be prizes of Book Tokens for the winners and runners up in each category. The closing date is 5pm on Sunday 10th January, and we will announce the winner via Twitter in January.

To enter, send us a photo of your shield (.jpg or .png format) through our entry form here: https://forms.gle/vvsW8CnKJSPcEeSb7.

Entries are limited to one per child and are completely free. UK & Ireland only. Winners will be contacted via email following the competition.

Athena’s Owls Live!

CALLING ALL OWLS!

All of us at Athena’s Owls HQ have missed our sessions so much that we’ve decided to hold a live workshop via Zoom from 11.15am-12.15pm on the 19th December!

We can’t wait to welcome our Owls back to hear our brand-new story about one of the greatest Greek heroes, Achilles, and have the chance to design their very own shield complete with all their favourite memories.

Spaces for the online session will be very limited, so please sign up via Eventbrite if you would like to attend. Full information is on our Eventbrite page, but all attendees must be supervised by an adult for the whole session (who could even make their own shield!). All you will need is some paper or card (preferably a large paper plate) and colouring pens or pencils.

Sign up here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/athenas-owls-live-tickets-131253309181

We’ll also be combining this session with a new competition, open to everyone (not just those who attend the live workshop!) from the 19th December: we want as many of you as possible to design your own shield and send it to us so we can combine them into a huge Athena’s Owls shield, and give some prizes for the most inventive designs! 

HOW TO ENTER THE COMPETITION:

This competition will open right after our live session on the 19th December and we welcome entries from anyone aged between 5 and 14 years old in the UK and Ireland. There are three age categories for this competition:

Category 1: 5-7 years old | Category 2: 8-11 years old | Category 3: 12-14 years old

We’re looking for the most inventive and original shields, showcasing what is most important to you – will your shield show your family, friends, pets, favourite story, or perhaps your favourite place to visit? There will be prizes of Book Tokens for the winners and runners up in each category. The closing date is 5pm on Thursday 31st December, and we will announce the winner via Twitter in January.

To enter, send us a photo of your shield (.jpg or .png format) through our entry form here: https://forms.gle/vvsW8CnKJSPcEeSb7.

Entries are limited to one per child and are completely free. UK & Ireland only. Winners will be contacted via email following the competition.