How meeting Percy Jackson shaped a generation of tween adventure books
What the jewelry of the Greek and Roman gods might have looked like
I’ll never forget the first time I read Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief. Oh, I loved that scene in the museum where everything goes wrong and the hero side of an awkward kid emerges with lots of magic and mythological characters coming to life. And the fact that the story continued with other novels and took us through all kinds of adventures meeting making real and mythic history come to life was so great. These books have shaped a generation ready for their own adventures and facing their own challenges.
My kids’ favorite things in the book included:
- His cool magical pen that turns into a sword
- His band of friends working together to solve a mystery
- How history comes to life with Greek mythology
In case you’ve never read the first book, here’s the back cover information:
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse – Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena – Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
What would the gods and goddesses have worn when Percy visited Olympus?
In honor of Percy’s birthday, which was August 18th, I thought you might enjoy a peek at what kind of jewelry those goddesses might have worn back in the day. As a gemologist I’m always looking for historic mysteries and the Etruscan and Roman periods of jewelry are among my favorite. And if you look closely, you’ll see some of those themes in the Greek mythology come to life in a culture that made beautiful objects all by hand.
Photo courtesy of Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief movie, 2oth Century Fox
Below are pictures of a wreath that would have been worn on the head (and can be found in burial areas), elaborate earrings with scenes from mythology or animal shapes, gem bead necklaces with golden adornments, additional earrings decorated with an elaborate technique (still a partial mystery to today’s gemologists) of applying miniature golden beads all over the designs called granulation, and an arm bracelet likely worn on the upper arm. They are so beautiful and you can see them in the Dallas Museum of Art!
All photos property of Elizabeth Van Tassel and taken at the Dallas Museum of Art.
To read more about Etruscan jewelry, you can look HERE or HERE and check back for future articles with more jewels too. You can also find contemporary fine jewelers who still use these classic forms in their designs such as Elizabeth Locke HERE and Temple St. Clair HERE.
Elizabeth Van Tassel writes compelling middle-grade fantasy. She brings her knowledge and expertise in the field of gemology to the page and infuses her love of folklore into modern adventures filled with mystery. A wildfire survivor, Elizabeth also understands the both power of loss and the power of hope. And she’s always on the hunt for a great story. Elizabeth currently resides in the Bay Area with her husband and two sons. She can be found wandering the gardens of Filoli House, enjoying her favorite coffee shops, and engaging with other writers.
You can find MMGM (Marvelous Middle Grade Monday) reviews from other authors, originally created by Shannon Messenger, and continued by author Greg Pattridge HERE.
Rosi Hollinbeck says
I loved the Percy Jackson books as well. What a fun post to show us all these beautiful things. Thanks for that.
Thanks Rosi! Glad you enjoyed it. You can have a lot o fun on Pinterest too if you enter “Etruscan jewelry” :).
Natalie Aguirre says
My daughter and I loved this series too. It really got her into reading and she read the series many times. Glad your kids and you enjoyed it too.
My kids loved the books. We also visit a lot of museums when we travel and it always makes them feel more alive and applicable to bring in stories or something to personalize statues and history lessons. Plus his voice is so fun! Glad your daughter enjoyed it!
Greg Pattridge says
Thanks so much for celebrating Percy’s birthday. I enjoyed his story so much and your expert background on the jewelry of the times was fascinating. Made me want to reread the whole series again.
Thanks Greg! I’ve been collecting photos of this jewelry for years. I’ll have to make a YouTube video or something fun. I’m using it for future book ideas perhaps too…I can’t believe they could be so detailed without our modern technology. I want to re-read the book again, too!
Pam Halter says
I loved that series, too! Research is so much fun. My favorite piece of jewelry I found while researching the novel I’m working on now is the chatelaine, worn in Civil War times. Now THAT is a cool piece that you can adapt for lots of things. I gotta get me one. 🙂
Oh how fun Pam! I’ve seen those in museums, where ladies would put little scissors and helpful things on a pretty chain. I also like watch fobs. I used to collect those for my husband when we first married.The chatelaine looks a bit magical, too, like you could put a secret potion or something mystical on it!
Pam Halter says
I’m totally gonna use it for that!
Just gotta figure out what my heroine likes to use. 🙂