Myths In Classical Literature I Oxford Open Learning

Myths In Classical Literature

Myths of classical literature have been passed down through generations, used to teach important moral lessons, and served as a way to explain the natural world. While many of these myths are still studied and revered today, they also contain subliminal messages that have often gone unnoticed. This article will explore some of the most common myths in classical literature, and examine the subliminal messages that they contain.

Pandora’s Box

One of the most well-known myths is the story of Pandora’s Box. The story goes that Pandora was given a box that she was told not to open, but her curiosity got the best of her, and she opened the box, releasing all evils into the world. While this myth is often interpreted as a warning against curiosity, more controversially it has also been seen by some as a cautionary tale against female sexuality. Pandora is often portrayed as a seductress who was punished for her sexuality. This interpretation reinforces the idea that women should be chaste and obedient, and that female sexuality is something to be feared.

Persephone And Hades

Another myth that contains subliminal messages is the story of Persephone and Hades. Here, Hades kidnaps Persephone and takes her to the underworld, where she becomes his queen. This myth has often been interpreted as a way to explain the changing seasons, with Persephone’s time in the underworld representing the winter months. However, the myth also contains a subliminal message about male dominance and control. Persephone is portrayed as a victim, with no agency or choice in her situation. This reinforces the notion that women are powerless and should be subservient to men.


The story of Narcissus is another myth that contains subliminal messaging. Narcissus is described as a beautiful youth who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. He was so enamoured with his own image that he eventually died of thirst and starvation. While the myth is often interpreted as a warning against vanity, it can also be seen as a commentary on the dangers of narcissism (the term being directly derived from the myth). Narcissus’s love for himself is portrayed as a negative trait, which reinforces the idea that individuals should not focus on their own needs and desires.

Pygmalion And Galatea

Finally, the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea contains subliminal messages about gender roles and the objectification of women. According to this myth, Pygmalion was a sculptor who fell in love with one of his statues, Galatea. He prayed to the goddess of love, Aphrodite, who brought the statue to life, and Pygmalion and Galatea lived happily ever after. While the myth is often interpreted as a love story, it can also be seen as a commentary on the objectification of women. Galatea is portrayed as a passive object, devoid of agency or voice. This reinforces the idea that women are objects to be desired and possessed, rather than individuals with their own thoughts and feelings.

The Subliminal Messages In Classic Literary Myths

While classical literary myths are often revered for their moral lessons and their ability to explain the natural world, they also contain subliminal messages that have gone unnoticed. These messages reinforce harmful ideas about gender roles, sexuality, and individualism. It is important to examine these myths critically, and to consider the messages that they contain. By doing so, we can work to challenge and dismantle these harmful ideas, and promote a more equitable and just society.

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