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Mythological Easter Eggs Hiding In Pop Culture

Updated April 9, 2019 3.9k votes 741 voters 61.1k views11 items

List RulesVote up your favorite Greek mythology Easter eggs from pop culture.

Greek mythology remains popular thousands of years after the stories were first penned. Modern culture is filled with retellings that include everything from the Percy Jackson books to Disney's Hercules; however, some pop culture references to Greek mythology are more obscure than others. 

The weird and wild world of Zeus and the Olympians is so embedded in Western culture that it can manifest without most people even noticing. Some of the most popular stories would hardly be as clever or visually striking without the details they borrowed from the ancient Greeks.

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    Ares - Marvin The Martian From 'Looney Tunes'

    Ares, the god of combat, is known for his aggression and lust for fighting. He's often depicted in classical Greek warrior armor, including a crested helm and short tunic. This costume is exactly the outfit worn by Marvin the Martian, one of Looney Tunes' most famous characters.

    Marvin is intentionally reminiscent of Ares, known as Mars in Roman mythology. Marvin even shares Ares's temper and penchant for starting fights, though they're presented through a comedic and cartoonish lens.

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    The Greek God Of Dreams - Morpheus From 'The Matrix'

    In Greek legend, the god of dreams is named Morpheus. To be dreaming is to be "in the arms of Morpheus," where he can deliver divine messages or visions of the future to the sleeping person. Morpheus and his family are said to live in a separate but linked world, the Dream World of Morpheus.

    Morpheus shares more than a name with the hero from The Matrix. Like his divine namesake, Morpheus leads Neo and others to and from the "dream world" - the Matrix - to the "waking world" - Earth. When he offers Neo the red and blue pills, he provides him with the option to wake or to remain in his dreams forever.

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    Polyphemus - Big Dan From 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'

    The Odyssey relays the epic story of Odysseus, who never controls his own journey but manages to affect the world around him through his witty, stubborn personality. He encounters the mighty Cyclops, Polyphemus, endures the luring cry of the beautiful Sirens, and returns home just in time to prevent his wife from marrying a cruel man.

    Many of these events play out in the Coen Brothers movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, widely understood to be a 1930s-era take on the Greek tale. Many of the details are cleverly disguised: Polyphemus becomes a devious, one-eyed Bible salesman and the Sirens become a group of bathing, folk-singing women.

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    Saturn Devouring His Son - The Pale Man From 'Pan's Labyrinth'

    When Saturn - or Cronus in Greek mythology - heard the prophecy that he would be overthrown by one of his sons, he devoured his children to prevent the prophecy from coming true. This myth was later painted by Spanish artist Francisco Goya as one of his "Black Paintings," which expressed his paranoia and depression during Spain's political turmoil.

    The terror of both Spanish political rule and gruesome mythology later came to life in the 2006 film Pan's Labyrinth. Director Guillermo del Toro drew on the image of Saturn devouring his son to depict a horrifying moment in the "Pale Man" sequence. When the Pale Man eats several fairies in gruesome fashion, the images call back to Goya's painting and the original myth.

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