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.
In Greek mythology, Theseus was a young adventurer who became king of Athens. In the most well-known story about Theseus, he slew the fearful Minotaur—a beast with the body of a man and the head of a bull.
The Sphinx «sfihngks» was a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human, falcon, or ram. The Sphinx is found in both ancient Egyptian and Greek mythology.
Thor, the powerful god of thunder in Norse mythology, was the mighty defender of gods and goddesses, who were constantly under siege by the forces of chaos. Thor was the most popular god in the Norse pantheon, and his many exploits are recalled in many myths and tales—far more than any other Norse god or goddess.
Quetzalcoatl, whose name may be translated as feathered (or plumed) serpent or precious twin, was a great Mesoamerican god. He was also a culture hero, a legendary figure who represents the ideals of a cultural group.
Poseidon was the powerful god of the sea, earthquakes, and horses in ancient Greek mythology. The Romans identified him with their god Neptune. Poseidon was the son of Rhea and Cronus, members of an old race of gods called the Titans.
The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a legendary character in German folklore. According to a folk story, in 1284 the German town of Hamelin (Hameln in German) was suffering from a plague of rats. One day, a mysterious stranger dressed in a pied (many-colored) suit walked into Hamelin and offered to rid the town of the pests for a sum of money.
A fire rises… But the streaks of red and gold are not flames, they are feathers, and the blaze is a great bird taking flight. The fiery phoenix, the fabled bird of Greek mythology, appeared in many stories and inspired the name of Arizona’s capital and largest city.
The word horseman is simple enough: in common speech, it means a person who is skilled in riding or taking care of horses. The term may conjure strikingly different images, however, for readers of religious texts, popular fiction of yesteryear, or ancient myths.
The ancient Egyptians told countless stories about their gods and goddesses, but one, called the Osiris myth, was the most popular of them all. In this story, the Earth god Geb retired to heaven and appointed his son Osiris, god of agriculture and fertility, as the new king of Egypt.
Odysseus was a famous king of Ithaca and a brave and cunning hero in Greek mythology. His name is Odysseus in Greek and Ulysses in Latin. Odysseus was especially noted for his cleverness. In early Greek writings, he also was generous and noble.
Odin, the one-eyed Norse god of war and the battlefield was revered by Berserkers, frenzied Viking warriors who fought ferociously without armor and felt no wounds. But Odin was a complex character who also had domain over wisdom and poetry.
Juno was the most powerful goddess of ancient Roman mythology. She was married to Jupiter, the king of the gods, and she was the queen. The Romans considered Juno a protector who would warn them of danger to their empire.