Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Percy Jackson, Demigod

Percy's dad, Poseidon (left) and uncles Zeus and Hades (center and right)

Click to see Vol. I, Issue 3 of the newsletter in which this article first appeared.

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Percy Jackson & the Olympians is a series of five books that teaches cultural knowledge while capturing the readers' imagination. Percy is a normal American boy who happens to be the son of Poseidon, Greek God of the Sea. Like Harry Potter, he is just living his life--struggling with nothing more frightening than dyslexia and ADHD--when a series of events reveals to him his true heritage. (The fact that his real name was "Perseus" might have been a clue! In Greek mythology, Perseus slew the Gorgon Medusa and rescued Andromeda from a sea monster. That Perseus was a son of Zeus.)

In the first book, The Lightning Thief, Percy is attacked on a school trip by a teacher who turns out to be one of the Furies, the Greek deities of vengeance. He is saved by a magical sword-pen lent to him by another teacher, and by his best friend Grover, whom he discovers is a satyr.

He ends up in a sort of "summer camp" called Camp Half-blood for other kids who, like Percy, are demigods: half god, half human. There he meets Luke, a son of Hermes, Messenger to the Gods; and Annabeth, a daughter of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom--and War. Chiron, a centaur, is his "counselor," and is in fact the teacher who, in disguise, lent him the magic pen.

Percy's father, Poseidon, is brother to Zeus (Chief of the Gods) and Hades; together they represent sea, sky, and the underworld. They had sworn not to have children by mortal women, but Percy's father broke the oath. This causes mistrust, and at last Percy is suspected of being the thief who stole Zeus's lightning bolt.

Percy, Annabeth, and Grover journey to see Hades, thinking him the most likely god to have stolen the bolt. They meet supernatural challenges along the way, but the Olympian Ares, God of War, helps them on their quest, giving them a backpack full of supplies. When at last they meet Hades, he tells them that his Helm of Darkness has been stolen, and accuses Percy of taking this, too.

It turns out the bolt was in Ares's backpack! Percy fights Ares on a beach--fortunately near to the power of his father Poseidon--and wins.

Percy later discovers that Luke, acting on orders of Kronos--one of the Titans and father to the Olympian gods--stole the sacred items, laying the groundwork for the overthrow of the gods. (In Greek mythology, Kronos indeed overthrew his own father, and was overthrown by Zeus.)

At the end of the book, with war between the gods on the horizon, Percy returns to school for another year, waiting for the events of the book's four sequels.


Vocabulary: Match the words to their meaning. Answers in the first comment below.

2. a centaur
3. demi-
4. dyslexia
5. helm
6. the Olympians
7. on the horizon
8. a satyr
9. vengeance
10. the underworld

A. punishment for wrongdoing
B. a condition that makes it difficult for children to pay attention, causing misbehavior
C. a protective hat
D. half-man, half-goat
E. a learning disorder that causes difficulty with reading
F. a root meaning "half"
G. the place where the dead live
H. Greek gods who live on a mountaintop
I. coming soon
J. half-man, half-horse

Character Matching: Match the character to a "fact," either from mythology or from the Percy Jackson book. Answers in the first comment below.

1. Ares
2. Athena
3. Chiron
4. the Furies
5. Hades
6. Hermes
7. Kronos
8. Perseus
9. Poseidon
10. Zeus

A. a centaur, and Percy's teacher
B. a son of Zeus, and Percy's namesake
C. one of the Titans, father to the Olympian gods who plans their overthrow
D. the God of the Underworld, who accuses Percy of taking his Helm of Darkness
E. the God of War, who tricks Percy
F. the God of the Sea, and Percy's father
G. the Greek deities of vengeance
H. the Goddess of Wisdom and War, and Annabeth's mother
I. the Chief of the Gods, who lost his lightning bolt
J. the Messenger to the Gods, and Luke's father

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Vocabulary: 1. B; 2. J; 3. F; 4. E; 5. C; 6. H; 7. I; 8. D; 9. A; 10. G

    Answers to the Character Matching: 1. E; 2. H; 3. A; 4. G; 5. D; 6. J; 7. C; 8. B; 9. F; 10. I