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Mythology and Roman Influences in The Hunger Games
Transcript of Mythology and Roman Influences in The Hunger Games
The arena in the Hunger Games is a lot like the Colosseum in Ancient Rome. The Colosseum was a place where people, mainly Christian martyrs, were sent into a huge arena and forced to fight to the death. Also, sometimes carnivorous animals like lions were sent in to finish off the tributes (victims). In the Hunger Games, the Capitol made muttations and released them into the arena to make things “more interesting”. Like Ancient Rome, the Hunger Games were a huge form of entertainment in the Capitol. So much so that the citizens of the Capitol would bet on or be sponsors of the tributes in the games; those that seemed most likely to win. Interestingly enough, the country is named Panem. Rome had a saying that was “panem et circenses” which translates to “bread and entertainment”. The Capitol exchanged food for entertainment, a.k.a. the Hunger Games. The actual name “hunger games” means they were competing for food. Whichever tribute won, their district was showered with food and gifts, and the victors were sent to live in the Victor’s Village where food was plentiful and living was good. It all comes down to the idea of the arena being like the Ancient Roman Colosseum.
An Arena of Death
Monsters in mythology are vicious and scary, and also made by some divine power; whether it is by gods or other monsters. Usually, monsters are formed to get results that the maker is looking for, like forcing a group of people to do what they want. An example of this is the serpent monster in Perseus, which was created by Poseidon because Cassiopeia boasted of her beauty. The people were very afraid and were forced to send their princess to be sacrificed to the monster, but Perseus saved her and killed the monster. Anyways, many monsters are created because of the god’s anger, also. Examples are the sea serpent, Medusa, Typhon, Minotaur, and the Furies. Some “monsters” though are created and aren’t bad or scary. They are just mutts pretty much.
Mutts in the Myths
The monsters in the Hunger Games are called muttations. They are genetically bred things that the Capitol makes. The first time they are heard of are at the end of the games when Katniss and Peeta are faced up against Cato. The mutts chase Cato out of the forest and the three run to the cornucopia to escape. Katniss looks into the mutts eyes and realize that these aren’t just animals, they are the other tributes! The Capitol has given these monsters the same hair color and what looks like the same exact eyes as the tributes to represent them. The mutts drag Cato inside the cornucopia and almost kill him once Katniss shoots him in the hand and he falls off of it. Katniss shoots Cato and kills him inside the cornucopia to save him from the pain. Another time we see the mutts is in the third book when Katniss and her team are underground trying to make their way to the capitol. The mutts are rose scented, Katniss despises this smell, and they also seem to be hissing her name. The Capitol sends them after her to finish her off! They seem to stop at nothing, even sewage and a giant meat grinder, but Katniss eventually escapes with only a few members of her team left.
The Game's Mutts
Monsters and Mutts
Gods of mythology are very manipulative. They find ways to get mortals to do what they want and/or think what they want them to. An example is when Hera manipulates Hercules’ mind to make him go crazy and kill his family. Examples are all in the Iliad and They Odyssey.
At the beginning of the Hunger Games, there was a lull in the excitement of the games so the game makers start a fire to send the tributes together. Katniss has to run for her life. Once she believes she's in the clear she hears a hiss and realizes fireballs are headed her way. She can't see where the fireballs are coming from and simply tries to avoid being struck by one. Katniss has a false sense of security when there is a pause in the excitement and doesn't continue moving forward. The game makers send one more fireball that strikes her on her leg, and so as not to kill her, stops the attack. The game makers are constantly manipulating the games, just as the gods do.
What is My Mind Telling Me?
In mythology, sacrifice plays a major role. The gods demand sacrifices and offerings from the mortals. Many heroes sacrifice themselves, or volunteer to do some impossible task for women they love or because some awesome prize awaits after their success. An example of this would be Hercules; he was forced to do hard labors for his evil cousin King Eurystheus in turn for his freedom. Hercules did many hard, impossible tasks all for the prize of getting out of slavery.
In the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers for her sister Primrose so she won’t have to go into the games. Katniss loves her sister so much and can’t bare the thought of seeing her die. As long as Prim is alive and well, Katniss will do anything for her sake. In this case of sacrifice, Katniss enters the games for the sole purpose of saving her sister, even if she didn’t want to go in in the first place.
A Willing Sacrifice for Both
The Trojans built a great wall to help them win battles. No one could defeat the Trojans due to this magnificent wall. If you remember in the Iliad, the Greeks tried to take down Troy because Paris took a price from a king. Story says that the Greeks made a horse out of an old ship and gave it to the Trojans out of respect and supposedly left. Well at night once the horse was past the walls in the town square, the Greeks came out and took the city.
There is a fence around District 12 and it is there to “protect” the citizens from the savage animals that are in the woods. The fence is electric but the city rarely it on.
As far as boundaries for the Capitol, the Rocky Mountains create a natural boundary to protect the people inside the city from attacks and another rebellion.
Gifts from Above
Zeus assigned Prometheus the task of forming
man from water and earth, which Prometheus did, but in the process, became fonder of men than Zeus had anticipated. Zeus didn't share Prometheus' feelings and wanted to prevent men from having power, especially over fire. Prometheus cared more for man than for the wrath of the increasingly powerful and autocratic king of the gods, so he stole fire from Zeus' lightning, concealed it in a hollow stalk of fennel, and brought it to man.
Mentors help get sponsors for kids in their district. The sponsors money help buy things for the tributes that they need in the arena to stay alive. The ones that are the most impressive during the trials of judging get the most sponsors and gifts. The gifts the tributes get are little parachutes. They can get as big as a small picnic basket, or as small as a vial of medicine. The parachutes can contain: food, medicine, bottle of water, or whatever the tributes may need at their time of distress.
Gifts in the Wind
The cornucopia, literally 'horn of plenty,' comes to the Thanksgiving table thanks to Greek mythology. The horn may have originally been that of a goat which the infant Zeus used to drink from. In the story of Zeus' childhood, it is told that he was sent away to a cave for safe-keeping to prevent his father Cronus from eating him. Sometimes it is said that he was nursed by a goat named Amalthea and sometimes that he was fostered by a nymph of the same name who fed him on goat's milk. While an infant, Zeus did what other babies do -- cry. To cover up the noise and keep Cronus from finding out his wife's plot to protect her son, Amalthea asked the Kuretes to come to the cave in which Zeus was hidden and make lots of noise.
The Cornucopia is a big cavern the represents the ideal of a cornucopia known by many around Thanksgiving. This Cornucopia has supplies of what the tributes need in order to win, or at least survive, the games. This also leads to a more interesting set of games, depending on what the gamemakers include in the "horn of plenty." The mouth of the cornucopia is at the front, once inside the cornucopia the tributes look for food and weapons. It is located in the center of the ring of tributes while they are on their pedestals right before the game begins.
Cornucopia of the Games
Zeus is the son of Cronos and most powerful of the gods; brother of Poseidon, Hades and the goddess, Hera, his wife; as lord of the sky, the thunderbolt is his most potent weapon. He responds to Thetis’ appeal by turning the battle against the Greeks in the Trojan War, so that they will honor Achilles. Throughout the Iliad, he acts as an overseer: he ensures that fated events, like the deaths of Petrakos and Hector, take place, and he prevents Troy from falling at the hands of Achilles against fate. At Hera’s insistence, he even allows his own mortal son, Sarpedon, to die, so that fate will not be overturned. Instead of playing with the humans, Zeus should either keep out of the situation or take control (he is the king of all the gods) of everything and tell them to knock it off.
President Snow forces all the Districts to send 2 tributes each year to compete in the Hunger Games. Basically, he is killing innocent children, and he barely keeps the districts fed and taken care of throughout the year. President Snow's main concern in to keep order in Panem. The average person's death does not bother him or the direction he is taking the nation.
The Roman Empire incorporated a mixture of races and ethnicities, as much of the known world at that time was under the control of Rome. Worship of the gods in the Roman Empire was based on upholding religious rituals.
Panem like Rome
In the book, Katniss is portrayed as the “Girl on Fire”. While this is used mainly as a way to get sponsors, the symbol has a deeper meaning as the “Girl on Fire” goes on to represent the momentum that ignites the spirit of rebellion in the districts. In the Greek mythology story of creation, Prometheus created man and gave the humans fire. His gift allowed the human race to survive and eventually challenge the power of the gods. Prometheus was punished by Zeus for aiding the humans and giving them power that could potentially be used to defy the gods. Likewise, Katniss’ stylist Cinna was ultimately killed by President Snow because of his idea to portray Katniss as the “Girl on Fire” and “Mockingjay” which was used to encourage the rebellion of the districts to the Capitol.
Girl on Fire/Prometheus' Fire
In the Hunger Games, Katniss is a skilled archer who hunts to feed and provide for her family. She is very independent and has the attitude that she never wants to marry or have children. She snuck out of the fences of District 12 to hunt in the woods and often said how she felt most at peace in those woods. Artemis was the goddess of hunting, woods, and wild animals and refused to allow a man to marry her. She was an independent woman who relied on her own strength to provide for herself. Artemis also became the goddess who was known for protecting children. Katniss volunteered to be the tribute in place of her sister, protecting her childhood. Not to mention Katniss' interaction with Rue.
Katniss like Artemis
Cato like Hercules
In the Hunger Games, Cato is a “Career”, meaning he was a tribute who trained his entire life to compete in the Hunger Games. He was very strong and became the leader of the “Career Pack”- the alliance formed by the career tributes from Districts 1,2, and 4. He was determined to win the games and was not afraid of anyone else in the arena. He is the last tribute left, aside from Katniss and Peeta. He was nearly clawed to death by the muttations until Katniss shot an arrow through his head as an act of pity. Much like the character of Cato, Hercules was inhumanly strong and often volunteered himself to act in adventures, such as the quest for the golden fleece with Jason. Like Hercules, Cato’s strength caused his death to be long and drawn out until Katniss killed him out of pity. When Hercules was poisoned by the robe from his wife, his strength would not allow him to die from the poison. He had his friends build a funeral pyre and light it. The gods pitied him and brought him to Olympus.
The Ancient Greeks competed in the Olympic Games to show off their strengths and to honor the gods. The Hunger Games were started as a form of punishment, however the whole focus of the games was to highlight the Capitol of Panem and how the Districts should be thankful the Capitol was there to protect and lead them, much like the gods of ancient Greece. Specific events in the games were archery, boxing, throwing the discus or javelin, running and wrestling. In the training center, the tributes were prepared for the games by receiving training in specific areas of strengths, particularly archery, hand-to-hand combat, and wrestling. Much like the winner of the Olympic Games is held in high esteem, the winner of the Hunger Games was seen as a victor unmatched by others.
The Olympics like the Hunger Games
The training regimen of the classical Greeks was directed more at general physical conditioning than the development of specific military skills. The legions screened applicants for military service and selected only the best physical specimens. Equally important was the selection of men who could read, write, and do some mathematical calculations. The most intelligent were trained in the special skills needed by the army. As a professional army, the legions ran their own specialized training programs in everything from military engineering, medical support, to artillery gun repair. No army in the West equaled the level of training of the Roman army until at least the 17th century.
The Careers and Greek Soldiers
Career Tributes, commonly known simply as Careers, are Hunger Games tributes who train throughout their lives to be in the Games and then volunteer to participate. Typically, the Careers come from the wealthier districts, 1, 2, and 4, where being a tribute is seen as a great honor.
Career Tributes tend to be the winners on the field- the strongest, most agile players in the Hunger Games, having been prepared and trained since birth. Even though training tributes before the Games begin is technically illegal, the Career districts generally get away with this because of their wealth.
Panem is a nation established during an unknown time period following the destruction of modern civilization. It is situated primarily on the western side of North America, and the Capitol is located in an area formerly known as the Rocky Mountains. Panem was run by a single-party dictatorship that was led by President Snow before the second rebellion. It is portrayed in the trilogy to be the dominant society in North America, and no other nations or civilized societies beyond Panem have been mentioned, so it is unknown if any exist at all. The name Panem derives from the Latin phrase panem et circenses, which literally translates into 'bread and circuses'. The phrase itself is used to describe entertainment used to distract public attention from more important matters. Furthermore, by the government providing ample food and entertainment, the citizens would give up their political rights. In Panem, the rules were harshly enforced. After The Dark Days, a sadistic, annual event known as The Hunger Games was established.
Approximately seventy-four years before the events of The Hunger Games trilogy, the various districts of Panem rebelled against the Capitol, primarily due to the oppressive fashion in which the Capitol government ruled over the districts. It is unknown how long the rebellion lasted or the exact number of casualties on either side (although the Capitol claims that for every dead Capitol citizen, two rebels died), but by the end of the conflict, the Capitol had quelled the rebellion, defeating twelve of the districts and obliterating the thirteenth entirely.
War Between Panem and the Capitol
This is similar to the flood Zeus caused. After Prometheus gave fire to earth, Zeus became infuriated with man and caused a long flood. This flood basically destroyed mankind except for one couple and there job was to repopulate the earth. The flood was a punishment for man much like the destruction of District 13 was a warning to the other districts.
An Avox is a person who has been punished for rebelling against the Capitol; in other words, a traitor or a runaway. The avoxes that serviced Katniss during the 74th Hunger Games had red hair and eyebrows. They wear red uniforms and stand in the room the tributes are in and wait to serve them. Avoxes have had their tongues cut out, rendering them unable to speak.
A very popular Greek myth was that of Tantalus and his famous punishment in the underworld. Tantalus, favored and trusted by the gods, was allowed to attend their banquets. At a banquet Tantalus tried to trick the gods into eating human meat from his own son, Pelops. After killing his son and chopping him up into pieces, Tantalus served it to all of the gods at the banquet, but most of them knew of his trick. Only Demeter ate a small portion of Pelops’ flesh. Because of this trick, Tantalus was punished in the underworld. His punishment was to be forever thirsty and hungry. In the Odyssey, Odysseus describes Tantalus’ punishment which Odysseus saw first hand on his trip to the underworld. Tantalus is said to sit in a pool of water, yet every time he tries to drink from the pool, the water recedes out of his reach. He is also supposed to have fruit trees hanging over his head, but every time he reaches for the fruit, they are lifted out of his reach. From this punishment the word “tantalize” is derived.
The gods punished people very brutally just as the capital did.
The Punishment of Tantalus
According to Anakreon when Zeus was beginning warfare against the Titans, brother of Kronos (saturn), saw an eagle fly nearby as a favourable omen for victory. In return for this happy omen, and particularly because it was indeed followed by victory, he put a golden eagle on his war standards and dedicated it as a protection for his valour.
The Mockingjay and Zeus' Eagle
A mockingjay is a bird, of course, but a hybrid one. They originate from a species known as the jabberjay. Jabberjays were birds that the Capitol genetically engineered to be spies during the rebellion of the past 13 districts. They mated with female mockingbirds. After a few generations, the hybrid birds could no longer repeat or carry information, but they instead learned to carry a tune and to repeat songs and melodies. Hence, the mockingjay was born.
During the Hunger Games, Katniss became associated with the mockingjay symbol because of the mockingjay pin she was given to take into the Hunger Games arena. This pin became very important to her. The connection between her and the mockingjay idea was strengthened by the final costume Cinna created for her. When Katniss put it on, she embodied the mockingjay. Both Katniss and the mockingjays are mouthpieces that want, ultimately, to find their very own voices. The mockingjays might be genetically unable to do so, but Katniss isn't.
In an interview with School Library Journal, Mockingjay author Suzanne Collins describes the particular role of the mockingjays:
Now the thing about the mockingjays is that they were never meant to be created. They were not a part of the Capitol's design. So here's this creature that the Capitol never meant to exist, and through the will of survival, this creature exists. (source)
In other words, mockingjays aren't supposed to be here, but somehow are. Despite all odds, they're still around. In that sense, it's easy to see why the rebels select the mockingjay as a symbol for themselves: they aren't supposed to be around, yet they persist. And they're determined to survive no matter what.
It's also logical that the rebels would see Katniss as the perfect embodiment of their mockingjay symbol. In fact, Collins goes on to explain that the mockingjay, as an unusual survivor, is a lot like Katniss:
So ultimately the mockingjay is a sign of hope much like Zeus’ eagle.
District 2 in The Hunger Games is a wealthier district and is responsible for provideing masonry products to the Capitol. Hephaestus, like District 2, is known for stone masonry. He is a patron of architectss, builders, and stonemasons.
InThe Hunger Games, District 4 is known for fishing, and for providing
the abundance of fish and other oceanic resources. This is similar to the god Poseidon, the god of the sea. His powers are directly associated with the ocean.
District 8 is known for textiles. The goddess Ahtena was also the goddess of textiles. She was also known for wisdom, arts and crafts, and household arts and crafts.
District 9 and 11
District 9 is known for grain and District 11 is known for agriculture in The Hunger Games Series. In Greek mythology, Demeter is the goddess of grain, agriculture and harvest. Perhaps the two Districts' similarities can be compared to teh relationship between Demeter and Persephone, mother and daughter, because Persephone helped Demeter with the harvest
In District 10 in The Hunger Games, livestock is very important. Within the District, there are several major companies that produce and market meat products. Similar to this in Greek mythology, Hermes is known as not only the messenger god, but teh protector of livestock. When he was only a day old, he stole the immortal cattle from Apollo. When Hermes created the lyre to compensate for the theft, Apollo rewarded hermes with a golden rod to herd the cattle.
District 6 is transportation. However, what is really memorable about District 6 is the "Morphling" addicts. Morphling is Panem's form of Morphine. While Hermes is the god of transport, I don't think he is a good representative of District 6 since transportation isn't what it's remembered for. In Greek mythology, Asclepius was the god of medicine and health. Since a pain reducing medicine is what District 6 is known for, Asclepius is a better allusion to Greek mythology
District 1 is the wealthiest district in Panem. It is responsible for providing luxury items to the Capitol, such as diamonds and other precious gems. This District reminds me of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. The tributes from this District even represent attributes of beauty. Their names are Glimmer, Marvel, Cashmere and Gloss. We often thing of diamonds and other jewels as beautiful, and so the Greek goddess of beauty could have been an influence in the creation of District 1.
"The mountains form a natural barrier between the Capitol and the eastern districts. It is almost impossible to enter from the east except through the tunnels. This geographical advantage was a major factor in the districts losing the war that led to my being a tribute today. Since the rebels had to scale the mountains, they were easy targets for the Capitol's air forces." Chapter 4,
The Hunger Games.
In the Hunger Games, the country Panem was ruled by the capitol, and consisted of 12 districts that focused on different industries. In Panem, the individuals and families who lived in the 12 districts lived by a rigid standard of rules, fearing the wrath of those in charge in the Capitol and the Peacekeepers who enforced the laws.
Created by: Chris, Amber, IA, Kathleen.
Edited and refined by: Chelsea McCown