Zeus: King of the Gods—Questions
The first six pages establish the setting of the story, relying on lots of space and few words. How does this choice convey the setting? How would you rewrite those first few pages if you could rely only on words to convey the same feeling? If you were making a movie, what would the music for this scene sound like?
Gaea is female. Does this surprise you? Why or why not? Do you think of the Earth as being either male or female? How about God?
Page 4—5: It's strange that the gods of time were ageless. They are also described as tall and beautiful, but somehow they have siblings who are ugly and horrible. What do you make of this? Does O'Connor offer an explanation? Look at all the places where time is mentioned—what's the big deal with time?
How many Titans were there? Can you name them and list their characteristics?
Page 14—15: These two pages are visually very striking. Page 14 has just one panel with a full picture of Zeus in front of some mountains. Then on page 15, we see many panels, each with a small piece of Zeus. Why do you think O'Connor chose to do this? What effect does it have?
There are many women in Zeus's life. Who are they and how do they influence him?
Page 30: There are no words on this page. Why? Would you add words? If so, what would they be?
How does the myth of Zeus explain why our continents are laid out the way they are? What is a modern explanation?
Size, scale, and time are hugely important in the story of Zeus, and O'Connor's art takes full advantage of this in his drawings, for example, page 41. Where else do size and time matter?
Page 62: "But Zeus had too much of his father in him." Compare this to page 10: Who else had too much of his father in him? What does this mean? How are fathers and sons depicted in this story?
This book ends after a series of great battles. Much has changed for Zeus and his family. And yet, there is still a great deal of tension. What do you think will happen next? Why?
Was Zeus real? What other ancient Greek heroes have you heard of? Which are "real?" How do myths blur the lines between gods and people?
There is a whole lot of family drama in Zeus's life. If he's a god, why can't he just solve this nonsense? Which other family members could be seen as part of the problem? Is there a family member you would expect might be more helpful?
Several times we are told, "That's a story for another day." What do you make of this? What effect does this self conscious appearance of the narrator have on the story?
Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess—Questions
How do you think Metis felt when she was eaten and forgotten by Zeus? Have you ever had a similar experience with betrayal?
Page 9: "He had too much of his father in him," the narrator tells us after Zeus has eaten his wife Metis—just as his father, Kronos, ate all of Zeus's siblings. Do you think that eating your family members can be an inherited trait? Can the desire for control and power that lead to the eating of family members be inherited? Why or why not? What sort of traits or characteristics are inherited?
Page 11: When Zeus's head begins to hurt, the other gods decide to remedy it by splitting his skull open—clearly not a solution to recommend to mortal man! What other things can the gods in this story do that humans cannot? Why do you think the Greeks gave their gods these specific powers and capabilities?
Athena is born a teenager. Do you think that was difficult for her to deal with? What do you think it would be like to be born at age sixteen?
Most of the Greek pursuits that Athena learns at Triton's camp—archery, discus-throwing, swordplay—are not the sports you learn in school today. Why do you think that is? Would you rather learn discus-throwing than play volleyball or basketball?
Page 24: When Zeus accidentally causes Athena to kill her friend Pallas, he gives her his cloak to make amends. Do you think that was a good way for Zeus to try to fix things? What might have been a better option?
The Greek gods are like the superheroes of the past. In fact, many modern superhero stories are based on ancient Greeks. Wonder Woman, for example, was said to have come from Ancient Greece. Who does Athena remind you of? Who might play her in a movie?
Page 31: The Gigantes, some of the first children of Mother Earth, draw power from the Earth, similar to the way that trees and plants do. Why don't humans have the ability to draw power in a similar way? What do people get power from instead?
Page 40: "Unfortunately for Medusa, her beauty caught the eye of Poseidon." Can being beautiful ever be a bad thing? Can you think of examples from other myths, from histories, and from your own life of how being beautiful had negative effects?
In Ancient Greece, gods frequently appeared to heroes to give them help. If the Greek gods were around today, who do you think they would be helping?
Page 47: When Perseus goes to see the Graeae, he steals their eye and tells them he will only return it if they give him information. Are stealing and bribery generally good tactics to get what you want? Do you think there are situations in which they would be excusable? If so, is this one of them?
The Greek gods often punish humans who oppose their wishes—for example, giving Medusa snake-hair, and turning Arachne into a spider. Do you think these two punishments were just? How do you think your life would be different if you believed there was a god who might descend at any instant to chastise you?
Page 66: "Our picture of Athena is now complete," say the Fates, standing in front of a tapestry of Athena. How does the visual representation on that page (the tapestry) differ from the "picture of Athena" made up of the words and pictures of Athena's story? Which, in your opinion, is a better representation of Athena? Why?
Athena and Ares share the role of the patron god/goddess of war. Ares is described as the god of battle and warfare, while Athena is known as the goddess of "the beneficial side of war." Does war have a beneficial side, and if so, what do you think it is?
Athena's story is narrated by the three Fates, who measure the spans of human lives. The Fates are the incarnation of the belief that everything that happens is preordained, and that nothing happens through chance or through human agency. How would you look at your life differently if you thought everything that happened in it was fate? How would it be the same?