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CC 220 : Semester project
Introduction Requirements Milestones Content Devices Names

For the semester project, students will write a traditionally original Greek myth in English. The final product will be a well-crafted story at least 1500 words in length.

The purpose of the project is to enable students to approach myth from a different direction — to encode rather than decode. Students will take what they have learned about myth-making over the course of the semester and put it to work.

Although there are many ways to measure originality (see Content, below), the subject matter and style of your myth will draw upon traditional elements of Greek mythology, not limited to the following:

  • Mythical beings: gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines, monsters.
  • Mythical motifs: hieros gamos, succession, fraternal rivalry, fate.
  • Mythical genres: creation, metamorphoses, aetiology, hymns, journeys.

Your myth will be graded for both content (especially its balance of tradition and originality) and presentation (especially clarity and grammar).

The project is worth 25% of your final grade in CC 220. The work will be ongoing and will require a preliminary thesis, an outline, a rough draft, and a final version. The final version is due at our last class session on Friday, December 8.

The following sections describe guidelines and milestones for successful completion of the project. Although we will review them in class, students should take time to read them through, process them, and follow them exactingly. Work that fails to measure up will ultimately result in a lower grade.


Follow these requirements as you develop your myth. They might seem needlessly picky, but they are intended to ensure a certain uniform standard by which your efforts and those of your peers may be evaluated.

NOTE: Work that deviates from these requirements without prior approval from Prof. Curley will not be accepted.


All submitted work, from the thesis to the final product must

  • be typed and double-spaced;
  • have numbered pages (except for page 1) and 1.25-inch margins;
  • use a standard 12-point font (such as Times New Roman);
  • be in PDF format (no MS Word or other kinds of documents);
  • have your name on page 1; and
  • be emailed to Prof. Curley by or before the deadline.
See each Milestone (below) for specific formatting requirements.


Your myth must be set somewhere in the ancient Mediterranean. Some region of Greece, even an unspecified one, is often best.


You may make up mortals and gods as needed to tell your story, but you must also feature at least one traditional character we have studied.

See below (under Names) for suggestions on naming characters.


Your story may partake of any genre we have studied (e.g., epic, hymn, drama), as long as it complies with the required word count.

That said, the straightforward prose style of short stories is highly recommended. This format will probably be the easiest in which to work and the clearest to read.

A note on illustrations

Are drawings, paintings, or other illustrations are permitted? The answer is a qualified yes, provided that

  • the text of your myth is within the word count, and
  • the illustrations enhance (not replace) your text.

The text is primary; illustrations, secondary.


Some judiciously-spaced milestones will help keep the project on track. At each stage, Prof. Curley will offer guidance toward refining your myth, as necessary.

Note that several milestones are due via email on Saturday evenings by 11:00 p.m. Attach your work to your email, and make sure it follows both the general format requirements (above) as well as any additional requirements (below).

September 18 (in class)

A review of the project page, and an opportunity for students to ask questions.

September 30 (11:00 p.m. via email)

Summarize three possible ideas for your original myth, one paragraph per idea. Be succinct: What is each myth about? What happens? Who is involved?

In a fourth paragraph, state which idea you have decided to pursue this semester, and why.

Length and format: at least 600 words. Otherwise, follow the general format requirements (above).

October 28 (11:00 p.m. via email)

Outline the plot of your myth, describing its major developments and characters. The reader must be able to grasp the beginning, middle, and end, as well as who the main characters are.

Length: at least 900 words.

Format: Y
ou may use traditional outline structure if you wish, but all you need do is get the major points across in several paragraphs. Regardless, observe the word count and follow the general format requirements (above).

NOTE: In addition to Prof. Curley's feedback, you will receive peer critiques in class on November 1 (see below).

Peer critiques
November 1 (in class)

Students will meet in pre-assigned peer groups (3–4 peers per group) and offer helpful critiques of each other's outlines.

Groups will be announced and outlines distributed during the previous class, so you must come to this session prepared, that is, having read and made notes on your peers' outlines.

Critiques should be thoughtful, constructive, and succinct. The last is particularly important: allot 12–15 minutes for discussion of each outline.

During this session, students should identify potential problems in the outline — actions without sufficient motivation, convoluted plotting, surfeit of characters — and help their peer think them through. The goal is to help peers take their stories to the next level.

Of course, no one likes to hear negative comments, but at this stage the negative should be stressed with good intentions. That said, don't be shy about accentuating the positive aspects of your peers' work.

Rough draft
November 18 (11:00 p.m. via email)

Working from your outline and the comments of your instructor and peers, write a near-complete version of your myth.

By now you should have plotted your story, settled on a format, and resolved other issues of presentation. Some gaps here and there are acceptable, as long as you summarize what is missing. Nevertheless, the more work you put into this draft, the better your final myth will be.

Length and format: at least 1200 words. Otherwise, follow the general format requirements (above).

Final version
December 8 (in class)

The ultimate version of your myth, which should be complete in every respect: content, format, grammar, and spelling. It is in many ways the culmination of what you have learned in CC 200.

Length and format: at least 1500 words. Otherwise, follow the general format requirements (above). You do not need a separate title page.

Prof. Curley will read your myth and return it, with comments and a grade, at the Final examination (Tuesday, December 12).


Can't get your myth going? Underway but stuck? Here are some suggestions to help you jump-start your project.

Tack on

Add your myth to one of those already in the canon.

What if there were another age of mankind? What if Heracles had to perform a 13th labor?


Present a canonical myth from the viewpoint of a different character.

What would Odysseus' return look like through Penelope's eyes? What would Persephone say about her marriage to Hades?


Reject a canonical story in favor of your own.

Everyone knows what Hesiod says about the birth of Aphrodite, but what if there were another tradition? What really happened to Ariadne after Theseus left her?


Sometimes consulting an authoritative reference work will inspire a story, or help a stuck story regain momentum.

See our Resources page for print and web reference works that will inform your project.


Remember that, for grading purposes, presentation (how you write) is equally as important as content (what you write). That is, your myth should not only adopt traditional subject matter, but should look like a traditional story.

Try one or more of the following devices.


Similes enliven descriptions of action. Why say "It melted," when you can say (as Hesiod does in the Theogony), "Melted as tin is melted in well-bored crucibles by workmen's skill"?

Similes avoid prosaic descriptions of the extraordinary by having the audience envision the ordinary.


An ekphrasis is a description of artwork so elaborate that one seems to visualize the piece rather than read about it.

Homer's description of the shield of Achilles in Iliad 18 is the most famous ekphrasis in Western literature — you can almost see (and hear) those youths dancing.

Embedded narratives

The old story-within-a-story device, one used widely in ancient literature.

The most artful embedded narratives connect, not always harmoniously, with the external (framework) narratives.


So you want to compete with Ovid?  Note three of the master's techniques:

1. Metamorphosis is process. Ovid says that Lycaon "[turns] to wolf" (p. 24). But the poet also offers details: "His garments become a shaggy pelt, his arms turn into legs." Your reader should not only see the end-point of the transformation, but also visualize the transformation in progress.

2. New forms often resemble old forms. In Lycaon's case, the savage king makes for a savage wolf: "Greyness the same, the same cruel visage, the same cold eyes and bestial appearance."

3. Metamorphosis has cause. Changes happen for various reasons: divine punishment or reward, release from misery, rescue from harm. If you have a certain transformation in mind, try inventing a cause for it and then working out the details.


For help in naming your own human characters, see the following chart or consult with Prof. Curley.

Names of gods tend to hide their etymology. If you must invent a new god or goddess, do not use the chart. Calling a god "Megacles," for example, is like naming them "Dave." Not very epic, is it?

Parts of names

The following chart will generate approximately 300 ancient Greek names.

FORMULA: [any first part] + [any last part] = Greek name

ARISTO "best"   ANTHOS/ANTHO "flower"
CACO "evil"   CLES/CLEIA "glory"
CALLI "beautiful, fine"   IDES/IDE "child of"
EU "well, good"   IPPOS/IPPE "horse"
EURY "broad"   MACHOS/MACHE "battle"
HIPPO "horse"   MENES/MENE "strength"
LEUCO "white"   NOMOS/NOME "custom, law"
LYSI "loosen, destroy"   POLIS "city"
MEGA(LO) "great, big, very"   STRATOS/STRATA "army"
MELANO "black"   TELES/TELEIA "end, outcome"
MISO "hating"    
PHILO "loving"    
POLY "many, much"    
XANTHO "yellow"    
*Where there are two parts separated with a slash, the first is masculine; the second is feminine.

Some useful rules

1. The final vowel of the first part is kept before an initial consonant in the last:

PHILO + MENE = Philomene

2. The final vowel of the first part drops before an initial vowel in the last:

PHIL(O) + IPPE = Philippe
MEG(A) + ANTHOS = Meganthos

3. Exception to rule 2: A final -U or -Y is always kept:

EURY + ANTHO = Euryantho

 4. -IDES/-IDE can make any name longer:

CACOMACH(OS) + IDES = Cacomachides
(masculine ending on -MACHOS drops)

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