Great Myths Think Alike: The Curiously Modern Ancient Greek Revival on ITV
By Maria Kern
American television, cinema, and the culture at large are experiencing a late, great, Greek revival. From endless Clash of the Titans sequels to the battle raging between yogurt labels, Grecian is in fashion.
Greek mythology has always had its hand in the stories we tell, but its role was covert, utilizing mythological archetypes as the skeleton for fresh, contemporary characters. Today, we seem to be embracing purer, distilled Greek stories – robes, wreathes, and all – though some emerging filmmakers are approaching it with a clever twist.
One such visionary is Miriam Pultro, creator and star of KoldCast TV’s award winning series Mythos, a mysterious, character-driven drama that centers on Morgan, a modern day incarnation of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war. Now happily married with two children and a devoted husband, love and family fill Morgan’s days but something deep inside, something ancient, disturbs her.
You are watching Episode 1 of Mythos
At the dawn of history, a secret is revealed.
Watch the exclusive new prequel to Mythos: “Dissonance”
When Pan, God of nature, interrupts Morgan’s idyllic life, ancient loyalties threaten to destroy her domestic bliss. Season two of Mythos is in the works, but for fans that simply can’t wait, Pultro has released Dissonance, a special episode that travels back in time to examine Pan and Morgan’s relationship before the great fall of Greek gods.
In terms of what really motivated her to create the show, Pultro cites a simple longtime fascination with mythology. “I’m very into ancient history and I noticed that a lot of myths are very similar across cultures. I started writing for myself, and I kept coming back to the story of Mythos. I got friends on board and it snowballed from there.”
Mythos is a map into not only the past, but the future as well. As post-apocalyptic entertainment increases in popularity, there is an expanding market for disaster-based stories rooted in Greek folklore. From The Hunger Games to Cloud Atlas, dystopian dramas are having a moment.
With their mortality in clear and present danger, the Mythos coterie faces threats that even the average human can relate to. Drawing from a variety of major and lesser-known characters across mythologies instead of adhering to any one particular archetype, the characters of Mythos have an overarching universality to them, something that was important to Pultro in developing the series. “All of the characters are combinations of other characters. But they do correlate specifically to Greek gods because I thought that would be more accessible,” she explains. The filmmaker drew connections between modern day characters and classic mythological figures to fashion each persona, resulting in a diverse cast, each with his or her own blended identity.
Television and movies rooted in classic mythology can be found across the genre spectrum — from Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite to Disney’s Hercules. As for how these characters resemble their pop culture contemporaries, the similarities are striking.
Allen’s film features Mira Sorvino in an Oscar-winning role as a version of the famed goddess of love. Known in Roman mythology as Venus, she is the ultimate sex symbol and the original screen siren, a woman so desirable that she causes all in her vicinity to act irrationally. Angelina Jolie has carried Venus’ baton for some time now here on Earth, both on and off screen. In 2007, she played an evil, medieval seductress in Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf, a story whose origins are tied to Homer’s The Odyssey. Keeping it in the family, Brad Pitt played Achilles in Troy, Hollywood’s summer blockbuster version of the Trojan War.
Interestingly, Pultro points to Breaking Bad’s antihero Walter White as the most current and surprisingly accurate take on the Greek legend of Prometheus. Once a family man and high school chemistry teacher, he transforms himself into a meth kingpin. When White’s newfound power goes to his head, he is more concerned over his status than with the original objective of supporting his family. “Breaking Bad deals with the issue of pride. You see that Prometheus arc in Walter White’s character. The power changes him,” says Pultro. Like Walter, Prometheus was a scientific thinker known for suffering the consequences of overstepping his bounds.
Other characters in Mythos have their counterparts in American culture as well. The poster boy for Mythos’ Pan is none other than John Mayer, whose reputation is a womanizing musician with a knack for troublemaking. Tabloid fodder for the last decade, Mayer has had his share of ungodly missteps and tawdry liaisons, getting by with his guitar in lieu of Pan’s lute.
More innocent is Artemis, original huntress and guardian of the young. She encompasses maternal values closely associated with contemporary female characters. Katniss Everdeen, heroine of The Hunger Games, aims to protect her younger sister from certain death, ultimately sacrificing herself in order to do so. Suzanne Collins, famed author of the book series and now hit movie franchise, clearly drew on the Greek myth of Theseus as well, in which Athen’s seven most courageous youths and beautiful maidens would be sent to a vengeful king as tribute for his slain son.
Unlike some of the blended Greek gods formed in her mind, Pultro is quite down to Earth given the show’s success. Mythos has won numerous awards this year, including an official selection at the Hollyweb Festival, two Indie Soap awards, and another two wins at the 2013 LA Web Series Festival. “It is so nice to have anybody watch it and then to be given this gift, I’m so grateful and it’s so exciting,” admits Pultro. “It boosts the profile of the show. I think anyone would be lying to say that it isn’t awesome.”
Click to watch Episode 2 of Mythos
Everyone’s journey is a lonely one.
Episode 3 of Mythos
Maria Kern is a contributing blogger at The Sixth Wall, Supercool Creative, and a student at Mills College in Oakland, CA. She is interested in creative marketing, film production, and the science of branding. Currently pursuing a degree in Legal Analysis, she finds creative inspiration in all things related to media and pop culture.