Monday, October 29, 2012

Ancient Greek Seed Stories: The Myth of Clytie

David Brooke: Metamorphoses of Clytie
As we have begun our seed stories to explain the story behind our sunflower seeds, we turned to ancient Greek myths to think about how people have historically used story to explain what happens in nature.  One relatively unfamiliar Greek myth takes as its central theme the heliotropic sunflower, whose face follows the sun - the sad and lovely myth of Clytie: 

Legend has it that once upon a time, Clytie, a dryad (or water nymph), fell deeply in love with Apollo, the God of the Sun. But Apollo felt no love for her. Sadly, all she could do was sit and fix her eyes upon her beloved sun from sunrise until sunset, hoping that he would notice her. She sank into a deep sadness, and would not eat or drink for nine days.  She simply stared at her unrequited love as he traced his path across the sky. The other gods felt sorry for Clytie and transformed her into a beautiful sunflower so that she could always follow the path of the sun. Her feet took root and her legs turned into a stem, while her face became a beautiful flower. Her golden hair became the sunflower's yellow petals. Though in the form of a flower, Clytie still turned her face to the sun, and that is why the sunflower will always turn its head to the sun.

The children were then invited to interpret this ancient seed story in their own way:

Clytie being transformed

B's Apollo rides high above the transformed Clytie in his chariot in the sky

L. uses the storyboarding technique to show the various stages of transformation

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