”IO”: A New Netflix Sci-Fi Production Inspired by Mythology [attention – spoilers!]

“IO” is a new Netflix sci-fi production (directed by Jonathan Helpert, rated 13+) which presents the post-apocaliptyc version of the life on Earth.

In the movie we can find a lot of references to Greek and Roman myhology – especially to the myths of Jupiter (Zeus) and two of his lovers – Io and Leda.



The action of the movie takes place in the future, when the Earth is dying because of the toxic air pollution. We get to know that most of the people already left the planet and they are now living in the “Exodus” colony, at the space station called “IO”, which is localized on the one of the Jupiter’s moons (the naming becomes the first reference to the mythology in the movie).

In the first movie scene the main character – Sam Walden, is reading the poem of William Butler Yeats, entitled “Leda and the Swan” (written in 1923), placed on an art exhibition poster:


The Yeats’ interpretation of the Zeus and Leda’s myth is the key to understand the whole story presented in “IO”.

Sam Walden

The main character of the movie is Sam Walden – a young girl, daughter of the well-known scientist (doctor Walden). She decides to stay on Earth and fight for her planet. Sam is living in her scientific station, placed above the toxic clouds in a high attitude. The girl believes that humans and nature are able to adapt themselves to the new atmosphere. We can see that everyday she is trying to grow plants, vegetables and breed the bees. The girl wants to continue her fathers’ work – she is trying to convince people that they should stay on Earth, and she is doing that by broadcasting her fathers’ recorded lectures. Apparently someone listened…

In the movie we can see that each day Sam travels down to the city zone (of course with the stash of oxygen bottles). She seems to be interested in literature and art, as she visits the library very often. In one of the scenes we can see her taking a book about Mythology. Later we also discover, that her wish is to see the exhibition in the local Museum of Art, dedicated to Mythology.


In the movie we also get to know Micah – the teacher of classical history and literature, who listens to Sam’s broadcasts. He believes that they are transmitted live and that he can meet doctor Walden face to face, so he decides to visit him.

Micah as a character seems to be an allusion to the figure of Jupiter (Zeus), especially in a few scenes. For example: we see that he arrives to Sam’s station from the sky (as Zeus becomes a cloud to approach Io in the myth).


There is also a conversation between these two characters about the swan (a reference to the popular art symbol, of coursed based on the Greek version of the Zeus and Leda’s myth, where Zeus takes the swan’s shape to seduce her). Sam asks Micah if he has ever seen this animal (as he belongs to the generation from before the apocalypse). He admits that he saw the bird when he was a kid – the girl seems to be impressed by this fact. I think it won’t be a surprise that eventually Sam and Micah have a sexual intercourse.

Movie ending

One of the the last scenes of the movie takes us to the Museum of Art – Sam finally watches the exhibition about the Mythology and Micah is joining her as well.

While Sam is watching the “Leda and the Swan” painting by Paul Cézanne, she is also reading again the William Butler Yeats’ sonnet. Micah (a teacher) is explaining her the meaning of it:

Micah: “Leda gave birth to Helen – Helen of Troy. A face that launched a thousand ships. She was considered the most beautiful woman in the world. Her abduction by Paris, the Prince of Troy, brought upon a Trojan War. The broken wall, the burning roof and tower, and Agamemnon dead. Leda was related to the gods. And the swan is Zeus. Zeus in disguise. Leda gave birth to God’s children.”

Then Sam confess to him her prophetic dreams…

In the last movie scene we see that Micah is on his way to the “Exodus” colony, while Sam and… their child are standing without the masks on the beautiful beach (just as in her dream visions).

“Just as Leda gave birth to god’s children, Sam is suggested to have given birth to a new generation, the next stage of evolution and survival on the planet.”

Source – https://screenrant.com/io-netflix-movie-ending-explained/

Art and Philosophy in the movie

During the movie we can see a lot of beautiful art representations of the myths of Jupiter and Io and Leda.

For example the painting “Jupiter and Io” by Correggio from ca. 1532:

Antonio Allegri, called Correggio - Jupiter and Io - Google Art Project.jpg

and Paul Cézanne‘s painting “Leda and the Swan” from ca. 1880:

Znalezione obrazy dla zapytania


In one of movie fragment Micah explains to Sam the love theory of Platon (The Myth of the Missing Half), to prove her that people are not meant to be be alone (below short reminder of the Platon’s theory):

Found by Dorota Bazylczyk

Elaborated by Dorota Bazylczyk

See more:

  • “IO” in IMDB – link
  • “IO” in “The Guardian” – link









“Un día de tormenta” (“A Stormy Day”) by Daniel Nesquens and Maguma

“Un día de tormenta” (“A Stormy Day”) created by the awarded (i.a., Internationale Jugendbibliothek’s White Raven in 2002, 2006, 2007, and 2010) children’s books author, Daniel Nesquens, and the illustrator and graphic designer Maguma, was published for Spanish children by a small Spanish publisher, A Buen Paso, in October 2018.


Two covers of “Un día de tormenta”

The text and illustrations of “Un día de tormenta” combine into an interesting whole. It presents two different perspectives on the same story: to grasp both meanings the reader must turn the book over and upside-down.

A huge wave, illustration by Maguma

Because of this particular feature, the book has two different covers and two plots which meet in the middle. The story is rather loca (crazy), as told me the bookseller in Barcelona, where I bought the book! The “human” version (with a person on the cover) tells the story of a group of people whose normal day was interrupted by a huge wave, coming-from-nowhere, destroying everything in its wake, and taking alongside not only furniture, but also people. Finally, at the end, they met a huge man (?) whose hair and beard are made from water.

People and the Water-Man (Poseidon), illustration by Maguma
The Water-Man (Poseidon), illustration by Maguma

The story of the water-man begins on the other side of the book (cover with a white hand). He is a huge creature with water-blue hair and beard, wearing a sandal and carrying a trident. These attributes (esp. the trident) resemble the Greek god Poseidon’s typical objects and in both text and illustrations, there are more or less obvious references to Homer’s “Odyssey” and to Classical Antiquity: the lotus flower (“hoja de loto,” Odysseus met Lotus-eaters), the name of the boat “La Odisea” (on one of the illustrations), a moon of Saturn (“una luna de Saturno”), etc.

A sandal with a classical meander motif, illustration by Maguma.

The book may be interpreted as an example of the tragic universal struggle of people confronting the “unknown” forces of nature or simply victims of bad luck. It also shows young readers that everything depends on the perspective and sometimes it is important to change one’s point of view in order to understand fully the surrounding world. Is there a better way to change our point of view than to turn the book upside-down?

See more:

  • More information about “Un día de tormenta” on the official website of A Buen Paso publishing house – link
  • The official website of Magumahttp://maguma.org/

Found by Krzysztof Rybak


A Feast on Olympus

On October 25, 2018 I had an opportunity to participate in a workshop for school teachers and to attend an open lecture about mythology for the 6th grade General Mariusz Zaruski 231st Primary School in Warsaw. The workshop was organized by two teachers – Anna Czernik (the 231st Primary School) and Agnieszka Czernik (the 387th Primary School). As I am not a school teacher, it was for me a great honour and pleasure to be invited to the workshop – all thanks to “Our Mythical Childhood” project!

I was most impressed by the lecture prepared by Anna Czernik. It was an example of a class given every year after finishing a course on mythology. For two hours the students – all extremely brave, active, and involved! – became Greek goddesses and gods. Each of them had a short presentation about the main mythical stories and features of gods, as well as their attributes.


Some students were more courageous than others, but all had very interesting presentations and divine appearances. They made their costumes themselves and prepared their own roles – it was their homework to find out about their particular deities and tell everybody what they learned. Some of them did it in verse, some were very theatrical, and all identified themselves with their gods. The students have transformed into gods to such an extent that during the following competition, solving riddles, they confused Irenka, Maciej, and Marysia, etc., with Demeter, Asclepius, and Athena.


And there were plenty of competitions, and questions, and riddles. The students were skilled, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic. Some had greater knowledge than others, some were quicker giving answers, some were as serious as gods should be, but it seemed that all of them liked the make-belief world they were in and the gods they impersonated.


And afterwards, there was a feast on Olympus for gods and goddesses:




After the class Anna Czernik said that these classes look different every year, because students are different, as are their interests and attitudes, but each time all of them are usually very involved and manage to create wonderful and great learning opportunity.

And of course, such events require a significant amount of work, but maybe this is why students are so committed and engaged.


Thank you, Anna and Agnieszka, for doing it for your students and for sharing it with us!

Post by Hanna Paulouskaya, Postdoctoral Researcher in the “Our Mythical Childhood” Project

Pictures – courtesy of the School. We wish to thank also the UW Office of Research Administration for the contact with this School.

The Reception of Caesar in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture – a Seminar

Every Wednesday, a Seminar within the Our Mythical Childhood project takes place at the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw. The Seminar on December 12, 2018 was a special one, for it was joined by our colleagues from the Cluster The Past for the Present – International Research and Educational Programme, created by the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” UW, Dipartimento di Storia Culture Civiltà and Dipartimento di Filologia Classica e Italianistica of the Università di Bologna, and Fakultät für Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, in May 2017.

The Seminar began with a presentation of the invited guests and regular participants – the students of the Faculty’s curricula: Cultural Studies – Mediterranean Civilization, Artes Liberales, and PhD programmes. The University of Bologna was represented by Prof. Giovanna Alvoni, the University of Munich – by Prof. Markus Janka and his assistant Raimund Fichtel, the University of Vienna – by Dr. Sonja Schreiner, and, last but not least, there were also two members of the OMC team from the University of Roehampton: Dr. Sonya Nevin and Steve K. Simons, and Ulrich Rausch – a German magician and author of educational spectacles. Prof. Katarzyna Marciniak started with the introduction of the Seminar’s main topic: Caesar and particularly the biography of Caesar in the context of the reception theme in the cultural texts for young audiences.

At the Seminar, phot. K. Marciniak

The main presentation was given by Dr. Sonja Schreiner who showed to the participants a sample of relevant illustrated books: among the images there were some illustrations of Caesar painting graffiti, Caesar playing soccer, and even Caesar ordering hamburger in Latin.

Dr. Sonja Schreiner at her presentation, phot. K. Marciniak

Dr. Schreiner presented also some books about slavery in ancient times. The participants discussed the presence and the importance of this motif in the reception aimed at youth.

A slide from the presentation by Dr. Sonja Scheiner, phot. K. Marciniak

Furthermore, Dr. Schreiner discussed also the following books: Frank Schwieger’s Ich, Caesar, und die Bande vom Kapitol, Heinz Parigger’s Caesar und die Fäden der Macht, Carl Lindber’s Caesar: Ein Leben für Roms Macht und Glanz. The presentation by Dr. Schreiner is available here.

Next Dr. Sonya Nevin talked about a book from the famous UK series “Ladybird Histories”, with a whole spread dedicated to Caesar, his image also on the book cover:

Romans, book cover, phot. K. Marciniak
Romans, fragment, phot. K. Marciniak

Dr. Nevin presented also the picturebook Questions and Answers about Long Ago:

Questions and Answers about Long Ago, fragment, phot. K. Marciniak

Then, Prof. Markus Janka gave the participants some information about a recent theatrical drama staged at Deutsches Theater Berlin: Rom (nach Coriolan, Julius Cäsar und Antonius und Cleopatra von William Shakespeare), dir. Karin Henkel.

A sample of texts discussed at the Seminar, phot. K. Marciniak

Next, Prof. Marciniak showed some theatrical posters featuring Caesar from the Polish School of Posters. Dr. Hanna Paulouskaya gave a brief talk about illustrations for Belarussian books about Caesar published in 1934, 1943, and 1954. Then, Agnieszka Maciejewska, a PhD student in the Our Mythical Childhood project who is working on Cleopatra in children’s literature, discussed a book by Alain Surget and Fabrice Parme from their series “Children of the Nile”, entitled Caesar, Who’s He? The general discussion that followed was joined by other scholars and students.

Profs. Katarzyna Marciniak, Markus Janka, Giovanna Alvoni, phot. Raimund Fichtel
Prof. Markus Janka’s Caesarean outfit;-), phot. Raimund Fichtel

In the evening the Cluster members and invited guests attended the concert Many Languages of Music by Rafał Janiak from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music:

Poster by Zbigniew Karaszewski, phot. K. Marciniak

The concert was organized by the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music and the Faculty of “Artes Liberales” UW / Cluster The Past for the Present and took place in the Ball Room of the Tyszkiewicz-Potocki Palace UW. The Master of Ceremonies was Krzysztof Korwin-Piotrowski – TV, musical, and film director and a lecturer at our Faculty. Rafał Janiak, a laureate of numerous prizes and grants, is a young composer and conductor. Recently, he won an opera composition competition organized by the Teatr Wielki in Łódź. The Jury chaired by Prof. Krzysztof Penderecki awarded the Grand Prix in a unanimous vote. In addition, the composer won the audience award. The premiere of the opera Człowiek z Manufaktury [The Man from Manufaktura] will take place in 2019.

Gallery from the concert, phot. Jan Krzysztof Miziołek
Gallery from the concert, phot. Jan Krzysztof Miziołek
Gallery from the concert, phot. Jan Krzysztof Miziołek

Post prepared by Katarzyna Marciniak & Elżbieta Olechowska with the use of the report about the Seminar written by Tomasz Kunicki-Goldfinger, PhD-student from the Faculty of Artes Liberales” UW 


Teatr Wielki in Łódź: http://www.operalodz.com/

Rom, dir. Karin Henkel, Deutsches Theater Berlin: https://www.deutschestheater.de/programm/a-z/rom/

A short presentation of the workshops The Present Meets the Past within the Cluster and the Our Mythical Childhood project in May 2018 in Warsaw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2RizUWYMW0Q

A reportage about the Cluster:

We wish to acknowledge the support received from the “Artes Liberales Institute” Foundation in the organization of the Cluster’s endeavours.







Amazing Friendships with Homer by Emilia Dziubak

Emilia Dziubak (b. 1982) is a Polish illustrator. She graduated from the University of Fine Arts in Poznań. Her works are highly praised both in the country and abroad. In November 2018 Emilia Dziubak published her picturebook “Niezwykłe przyjaźnie. W świecie roślin i zwierząt” [Amazing Friendships. Among the Plants and Animals; Warsaw, Wydawnictwo Nasza Księgarnia]:


The protagonist of the book is a cat called Homer:


One day Homer departs for his “odyssey” in search for friends. He meets many interesting plants and animals who are able to live in symbiosis and support each other (in various, not always easy, ways). On his journey he even encounters… a labyrinth of the ants and is presented with many more surprises:


Emilia Dziubak draws on the classical tradition in a very subtle way. The name of the Poet and the motif of the travel permit her to create a beautifully illustrated story with educational value, both in regard to learning biology by her young readers (with all the shades of the laws of Nature) and to discovering by them the importance of friendship. At the end there can be only a happy end, of course:-). Homer gets back to his “Ithaca”, that however, unlike the island of Odysseus, is a realm of peace and happiness, because of the friends awaiting him there. The source of joy results to be the willingness to support each other and spend time together:


Post prepared by Katarzyna Marciniak


Sources of the illustrations: http://abc.tvp.pl/39913062/niezwykle-przyjaznie-w-swiecie-roslin-i-zwierzat and the publisher’s website: https://nk.com.pl/niezwykle-przyjaznie-w-swiecie-roslin-i-zwierzat/2613/ksiazka.html#.XBYV8ttKipo

Emilia Dziubak’s blog: https://emiliaszewczyk.blogspot.com/

Emilia Dziubak on Behance: https://www.behance.net/emiliadziubak

Entries by Krzysztof Rybak on two other books co-authored by Emilia Dziubak in the Our Mythical Childhood Survey: http://omc.obta.al.uw.edu.pl/myth-survey/item/44 and http://omc.obta.al.uw.edu.pl/myth-survey/item/68 and his blog post: https://ourmythicalchildhoodblog.wordpress.com/2017/11/08/tru-2016-by-barbara-kosmowska/

“Nić Ariadny: Mity i labirynty” (“Ariadne’s Thread: Myths and Labyrinths”) by Jan Bajtlik

“Nić Ariadny: Mity i labirynty” (“Ariadne’s Thread: Myths and Labyrinths”) by Jan Bajtlik is a Polish children’s book published by Wydawnictwo Dwie Siostry (specialising in artistic projects) in October 2018.

The cover of “Nić Ariadny” [source]

“Nić Ariadny” is a big format book, similar to the Mapy” (“Maps”, 2012) by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielińscy or Pszczoły (“The Book of Bees”, 2014) and “Drzewa” (“The Book of Trees”, 2018) by Piotr Socha and Wojciech Grajkowski (also published by Wydawnictwo Dwie Siostry). In “Nić Ariadny” two great ideas meet: one is a presentation of the classical world, both mythical and historical, in an attractive graphic form. The other is a popular form of activity (not only in children’s books) in which one must draw the way through a maze.

Each two-page spread in the first part of the book is dedicated to another topic from ancient Greek mythology or history: the Twelve Labours of Heracles, the Labyrinth of Crete, the Palace of Knossos, ancient beasts, Argonauts’ quest for the Golden Fleece, Trojan War, Odysseus’ journeys, the Acropolis of Athens, and Greek theatre, among others. The latter part includes some brief encyclopaedia-like entries explaining the most important characters, terms, and events.

World according to the Greeks (fragment), illustration by Jan Bajtlik.
The Twelve Labours of Heracles (fragment), illustration by Jan Bajtlik.
Trojan War, part II: Siege spread (fragment), illustration by Jan Bajtlik.
Houses of ancient Greeks (fragment), illustration by Jan Bajtlik.

Also Wydawnictwo Dwie Siostry published – as a gadget – a newspaper-like promotional publication, entitled “Greckie Fakty” (“Greek Facts”). The name and graphic form is a clear reference to the Polish tabloid “Fakt” (similar to British “The Sun” and German “Bild”); the “articles” are short versions of “Nić Ariadny” – they invite us in an attractive and funny way to read the book: the headlines of the “news” are, for example, the following: “Is Tartarus Appropriate for Children? Uranus Doesn’t Comment”; “No Progress in Sisyphus’ Work”; “Thrilling News from Crete: He Entered the Labyrinth – and Survived!”.

“Greckie Fakty” (“Greek Facts”), designed by Tomasz Domański from Wydawnictwo Dwie Siostry (based on “Nić Ariadny”)

“Nić Ariadny” is not only an activity-book, but it also contains many facts about ancient Greece usually absent in children’s literature, such as information about the dance (γερανός, geranos) linked with Theseus or the image of Medusa as a flying creature with monstrous face (as she was presented on some Greek vases). It is worth mentioning that Jan Bajtlik used the help of a historian of Antiquity Prof. Marek Węcowski from the Department of Ancient History of the Institute of History, University of Warsaw.

Prepared by Krzysztof Rybak

See more:

  • More details on the “Nić Ariadny” on the official official website of Dwie Siostry publishing house link
  • The official website of Jan Bajtliklink
  • Interview with Jan Bajtlik for – link (from “Najlepsze książki dla dzieci i młodszych dorosłych”, nr 5/2018, pages 20–23)


“Presenting: Mythical Cartoons (1)” by Anna Mik

Sometimes while looking for the examples of reception in children’s culture I tend to look too far away from the pretty obvious cases. My latest discovery was made by accident when I was googling ‘Cerberus Cartoon’. This discovery have opened the door not necessarily to Hades, but certainly to the world full of Antiquity: American cartoon series brimming with ancient concepts, heroes, beasts… In the next few posts I would like to present some of those examples, in my opinion worth recommendation: firstly, for wonderful examples of reception – as such, and as a lot of fun, according to the intention of the creators.

First example would be It’s All Greek to Scooby directed by Russell Calabrese, from the TV-series What’s New Scooby-Doo? (2002–2006). In this episode Mystery Inc. goes to Greece just for vacation, but unfortunately – the work follows them. As usual they have to solve a case of a disguised villain. This time it is the mythical centaur harassing an archaeologist who looks for the lost city of Atlantis. To defeat the monster, the members of Mystery Inc. dress up as mythical beasts: Minotaur, Medusa, hydra, Cyclops and – Cerberus. The concept of defeating a mythical monster, in a way – by its own weapon (fighting “monster with monster”), reminds me of the strategy of facing your own fears by making them less scary, making fun of them, deconstructing them, and uncovering their true nature. At the end, Cerberus is just a human in a costume. But it does not mean that Atlantis is not real.

Figure 1 – Scooby-Doo as Cerberus [source]

Figure 2 – Fred as Minotaur [source]

Figure 3 – Daphne as Medusa [source]
Prepared by Anna Mik

See more:

  • It’s All Greek to Scooby Preview:


  • The Official Scooby-Doo Site – link
  • Link for the IMDB page – link