Feb 25, 2021

The Top 12 Greek Myth Mash-Ups of "Atlantis"

In the first episode of Atlantis, (2013-2015), Jason (Jack Donnelly) goes off in a submarine to search for his missing father, and ends up in ancient Atlantis (fortunately, an English-speaking Atlantis), where he tries to discover the mystery of his parentage and learns that he is the Chosen One.  But don't worry about that; this is mostly a series about Jason taking his shirt off and encountering the "Greek myth of the week," along with his companions, the boozing, brawling Hercules (yes, that Hercules) and the meek polymath Pythagoras (yes, that Pythagoras). 

Atlantis starts out as ancient Crete, ruled by the tyrannical King Minos, power-hungry Queen Pasiphae, and their daughter Ariadne: The first adventure is "Theseus and the Minotaur," with Jason playing Theseus.  But then it becomes an ordinary Greek city-state, surrounded by desert or forest, depending on the episode, visited by dozens of figures from Greek mythology and literature.

You may expect that, knowing how the stories turn out, Jason would be at an advantage, but after a few episodes the writers forget that he is from the 21st Century,. They are busy going through the index of Edith Hamilton's Mythology and having every mythological and literary figure they can find drop by for a visit.

Here are the top 12 mash-up myths.

1. Hercules dates Medusa before she gets that snake-hair curse.  There's no Perseus to cut off her head, though.

2. Daedalus (Robert Lindsay) and his son Icarus (Joseph Timms, right)  are just regular inventors; there is no "flying too close to the sun."  Icarus, in fact, starts dating Pythagoras (on the sly; the writers keep them both closeted until the last scene of the last episode, lest homophobic audiences turn off the show).

3. Orpheus (Ronald Pickup) is a seer who loses Eurydice to a zombie plague.  But he doesn't go to the underworld to fetch her.  He's also not attractive enough to be torn apart by Maenids.

4. Pandora's Box pops up as a magical tailsman.

5.  Telamon  (Clive Standen, left) doesn't help Jason hunt for the Golden Fleece or hunt the Calydonian Boar.  Here he is an enemy who is working with Queen Pasiphae to take over the throne.

6. Medea doesn't help Jason acquire the Golden Fleece (strangely, even though his name is Jason, there are no Argonauts here).  She's an enemy who works with the exiled Queen Pasiphae to try to conquer Atlantis.

7. Circe doesn't turn men into pigs, but she is a powerful soceress, encountered by Jason instead of Odysseus.

8. Nestor (Sam Swainsbury, left), a hero of the Trojan War, becomes a hero on Jason and Ariadne's team.

9. Cassandra is still an oracle who predicts doom, but for Atlantis, not Troy.

10. Laius (Tristan Gemmill, left) and Jocasta drop by with the infant Oedipus, who is saved by Jason and company (but won't get around to killing his father and marrying his mother for about 20 years).

11. Leonidas (Phillip Correia), a hero of the real-life Persian Wars, is now a hero of the Atlantis Wars.

12. Real=life poet Alcaeus (Louis Maskell) is still a poet.


  1. Love Greek mythology whose heroes are at lot more gay than they appear in most movies/tv shows

    1. That Icarus can square my hypotenuse any day, even if Pythagoras isn't a myth, and being closeted would be odd, given that paiderastia (which was closer to late teens, but in mythology, is often what we would consider incest, e.g, Herakles' eromenos was also his nephew, and since he was a twin, young enough to be his son, so pretty taboo in 21st century gay culture).

      Too bad they lost the underworld. Why have Orpheus at all then?

      I do like that they place Atlantis in the world of Greek myth, rather than crystals everywhere and destroyed by nukes or whatever. Even if we all know how this ends. (Though Plato never finished it. Timaeus and Critias ends in mid-sentence, presumably just before Zeus destroys Atlantis. Like Plato was distracted for years and forgot about it.)

      Wait, deserts in Greece? I mean, if we include the places Alexander conquered, sure, places like Egypt and Syria have deserts, but still...

    2. They have zombies, so they can have deserts.


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