Behind the Headlines
Explore our world, one headline at a time.
World Book Editors break down the news in our Behind the Headlines feature allowing for a deeper understanding of the complex events that shape our world today. Behind the Headlines articles are carefully crafted presenting the latest national and world news, science discoveries, current events and other top stories and are simplified for young readers.
Nymphs, in ancient Greek and Roman mythology, were minor goddesses or semidivine beings represented as lovely maidens. The word nymphcomes from Greek and Latin words describing a young girl of marriageable age, or a young bride.
The star of this week’s Mythic Monday is the Minotaur, a fearsome monster from Greek mythology that was half man and half bull. The Minotaur was the oversized offspring of a bull and a woman named Pasiphae.
This week’s Mythic Monday stars the great god Marduk, a major figure in ancient Babylonian mythology. He was the son of the god Ea, the Babylonian name for Enki, the Sumerian god of wisdom.
This week’s mythological figures are monstrous creatures called Gorgons. The Gorgons were so ugly that anyone who looked at them would turn to stone. Medusa and her two sisters made up the Gorgons of Greek mythology
This week’s mythology star, Mars, the god of war, held a special place in the hearts of the ancient Romans—not because of the god’s warlike nature but because the Romans considered him the father of the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.
This week’s Mythic Monday returns to the misty shores of Ireland. Heroic tales, romances, and sagas make up a major part of early Irish literature. These works are based on legends and were probably recorded from about A.D. 700 into the 1200’s. One of the most familiar figures of early Irish lore is Finn MacCool (or Fionn mac Cumhaill in Irish).
This week’s Mythic Monday features Anubis, one of the best-known gods of ancient Egyptian mythology. Famously depicted in ancient Egyptian art as a crouching jackal or dog, or as a man with a jackal’s head, Anubis served as the god of mummification, the ancient Egyptian technique of embalming the dead.
What do wine lovers, farmers, and thespians have in common? All owe a debt of gratitude to this week’s star of Mythic Monday, the Greek god Dionysus. Dionysus was the god of wine and farmers, and the art form of drama was first performed in his honor.
Daedalus, a skilled artisan of ancient Athens, was a colorful figure of Greek mythology. If Daedalus were a modern-day comic book superhero, his origin story might include a mad scientist piecing together the inquiring mind of Thomas Edison, the vision of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, the versatile genius of Leonardo da Vinci, and the rugged physicality of a rugby star.
Last Friday, March 17, was St. Patrick’s Day. And while each year on that day many people wear shamrocks in honor of the patron saint of Ireland, Hibernophiles (fans of Irish culture) might also want to honor the great mythological defender of all Ireland: Cuchulainn (koo KUHL ihn).
This week’s mythological figure is the hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest epic poems in world literature. It tells the adventures of the Sumerian king Gilgamesh. Sumer was an ancient region in southern Mesopotamia (now southeastern Iraq). Historians believe Gilgamesh probably existed, so like King Arthur, he is not technically an entirely mythic figure.
Brunhild, the beautiful, proud, and headstrong heroine of Teutonic mythology, had a complicated romantic life to say the least. Teutonic mythology, also called Norse mythology, consists of the myths and legends of Germany and Scandinavia that date from about the A.D. 400’s.
Beowulf is one of the great mythic heroes of medieval literature. His legend is described in the Anglo Saxon epic poem Beowulf. The poem describes the adventures of a mighty warrior who has the qualities the ancient Anglo-Saxons most admired—strength, courage, generosity, loyalty to chief and tribe, and vengeance toward enemies.
Whatever the historical truth, it is Arthur’s legend that has captivated people’s imaginations for centuries. The exploits of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are among the most famous of Western literature, and—real or not—Arthur is one of the most admired heroes in the history of British culture.
Orpheus was one of the greatest of all musicians in the mythology of ancient Greece. With his voice and lyre, Orpheus was said to be able to enchant animals and plants, and rivers stopped flowing in order to listen to him.
A beautiful and versatile star of Greek mythology, Apollo was known as the god of light, the god of shepherds, the god of music, and the god of divination. He was also often thought of as the god of the sun. Considered the ideal of male beauty, Apollo was also associated with archery, healing, poetry, prophecy, purification, and seafaring.
When it comes to matters of the heart, Aphrodite reigns supreme in Greek mythology. Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and beauty. The Romans, who named their gods and goddesses after planets and stars, called her Venus. Aphrodite was the daughter of Zeus, the king of the gods, and the goddess Dione.