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No, I am not going to try to convince you that treasured Bible stories like Noah and Jonah are myths (though I do believe they are). No. I want to climb onto one of my favorite soap boxes and expound upon the necessity of having a working knowledge of the Bible and, at a minimum, Greek mythology. I firmly believe children who grow up without it (as I did) are at a serious disadvantage culturally and educationally.

Those iconic stories and characters are basic to western culture. Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel. Noah. Jonah. Abraham and Isaac. Jacob. Joseph. Moses. David and Goliath. Samson and Delilah. Job and his “comforters.” And a host of others.

Regardless of your religious bent, you cannot consider your education complete without understanding the milestones of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. For the secular student as well as his devout classmate, all four of the gospels provide keys to that life, but the book of Luke is perhaps the most straightforward. Besides, Luke gives us those marvelous—iconic—stories of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.

Well, that’s a start. . . .

For the basics of Greek mythology, start with the pantheon of Greek gods goddesses. Learn what each symbolizes, his or her domain. For instance, Apollo, god of the sun, commands all light, including knowledge of virtually everything. After all, the muses are his minions. One cannot believe it accidental that Apollo sided the victorious Greeks while Ares, god of war, championed the losing Trojans.

Basic elements of the human condition are seen in Greek mythology: the battle of the sexes, pettiness, honor, loyalty, compassion, integrity. Also, mindless pursuit of wealth and power, violence, and jealousy. And, of course, some marvelous fantasy figures such as the Minotaur and Pegasus.

For an overview of Greek Myth, Edith Hamilton’s work is classic. Of course, one could do worse than just plunge directly into Homer’s Iliad or Odyssey—with a good dictionary or encyclopedia of mythology at hand—and just see where the adventure carries you.

Want bedtime stories for your children? Give them something that will be truly helpful in later studies: Bible stories and Greek myths.