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Use traditional Ancient Greek setting or create an inspired one?

Poll closed May 28, 2015.
  1. Ancient Greek

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  2. Inspired

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  1. DC23
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    DC23 Member

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    Ancient Greek World or an Inspired Ancient Greek World?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by DC23, May 21, 2015.

    Hey guys,

    Run into a little bit of a problem and can't decide how I want/should proceed. So just wanted to see what your thoughts and opinions are!

    I'm writing a story that's quite heavily influenced by Ancient Greek mythology. There's monsters, heros, gods, Demi-gods and all sorts of things. In the story, the Demi-gods are a kind of monster hunter, that protect the people against the evil in the world.

    My question is within this setting/inspiration should I use the actual established mythology of Ancient Greece, so the Olympians, greek towns and names etc. Or would it be better to create a new world inspired by Ancient Greece?

    I've tried to sum the story up in a paragraph, there's a lot more to it, that's just it's bare bare bare bones. If I set a story in Ancient Greece how much can I change/adapt to my own story without it getting silly?

    Any thoughts would be great!
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    You mess with Ancient Greek mythology and there are lots of knowledgeable people (and lots of ignorant people!) who'll jump down your throat for getting it wrong.

    Stick with an "inspired by" vibe.
     
  3. DC23
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    So it's not wise to alter bits of Greek mythology and create like a different course of action, that was say covered up by scholars etc.
     
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you can prove that it was covered up by scholars, then by all means publish a correction. However, if you do that, you're not writing fiction, you're writing a rather more academic work, which won't have the same mass appeal, and you'll need to cite the references that support your interpretation. (One of my future projects involves a radical re-interpretation of how one particular king of England died, but I'll stand by my interpretation, and back it up - I hope!)

    Alternatively, you could write something along the lines of "Atlantis was built by aliens from space and I've found the time portal they left behind to prove it" and support it with some pseudo-science. There was a fashion in those back in the 60s/70s.

    Or, if you want to write a story, set in a world similar to Ancient Greece, but with important differences, my advice is make sure that the reader knows it's a different place (problem is making it different enough so that people don't just snort "rip-off" - George Martin's suffering a bit from that with GoT) because there will be some who know their mythology well enough to be annoyed at the errors. Or, you could just set it in mythological Greece, get your mythology bang on, just write about something that isn't covered by the mythology - there's plenty that happened in the past of Greece that isn't written down.

    Try reading some (really, I mean all of them!) of Mary Renault's books about Ancient Greece to get a flavour of how it can be done.
     
  5. DC23
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    Thanks a lot for your help mate. After reading that it makes a lot of sense, so may just create an Ancient Greek inspired world, with a fantasy twist. That way I can add and subtract elements as well as create an entirely new world.
     
  6. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think you can go either way. Both have been done successfully.

    Your decision depends a little bit on if you want to do more research or more world building.

    I don't think it matters if you stray from the original myths if you need to. After all it's mythology, not historical fact. Most myths have multiple different versions.
    You look up virtually any bit of Greek Mythology on Wikipedia and you find paragraphs such as:

    'Poseidon was the second son of Cronus and Rhea. In most accounts he is swallowed by Cronus at birth but later saved, with his other brothers and sisters, by Zeus. However in some versions of the story, he, like his brother Zeus, did not share the fate of his other brother and sisters who were eaten by Cronus. He was saved by his mother Rhea, who concealed him among a flock of lambs and pretended to have given birth to a colt, which she gave to Cronus to devour.'

    There just isn't a 'right' version of mythology.

    You should of course familiarise yourself with the myths, so that you can use traditional details that don't need to be altered, but I think if there are people who sneer that you've got it wrong, then they've got mythology confused with history.

    I think you can get away with straying from the original myths even more if your story has a lighter tone. Xena is not at all accurate, but it doesn't matter.

    Where you probably need to research to make sure you're accurate if you set it in the real world is the none mythological aspects such as technology level.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2015

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