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3. The Beauty Contest!

Watching carefully over his father’s flock with his eyes firmly closed, Paris leapt abruptly to his
size thirteen feet when someone cleared their throat emphatically just by his cauliflower-like left
ear.
“Who…what?” stuttered the reluctant shepherd through his thin lips as he straightened up to his
full five foot height.
“Where, when and why?” added a slim youth who was wearing nothing but a pair of golden
sandals with white flapping swan wings attached. “I am Hermes, messenger of almighty Zeus,
and once again working overtime on a Sunday without any extra pay! I am going to have to talk
to my union about this!”
Paris, baby blue eyes wide in shock and awe, listened carefully for once in his short life as
Hermes, waving his tanned hands around dramatically, explained why he had come down from
the giddy, snow-tipped heights of Mount Olympus.
“You mean that I have been chosen to judge a beauty contest?” the young shepherd asked
eagerly, visions of incredible loveliness dancing through his tiny mind.
“Indeed. The contestants are…”
“Gorgeous, beautiful and stunning, I hope!” stated Paris with a snigger.
“Almost certainly but they are also immortals! You have to decide between Hera, Zeus’ wife and
queen of Olympus, Athene, the goddess of wisdom and Aphrodite, the love goddess! Best of
luck, mate!”
After handing Paris a golden apple to be the prize for the winner, Hermes leapt into the air and
flew rapidly away, relieved to have passed on Zeus’ instructions and to be out of the firing line.
Maybe it was time to take a long holiday? he mused as he headed upwards towards the clouds.
It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it, thought Paris with a grin as he held the apple and
watched the sun’s bright rays glint upon the polished surface. An inscription read ‘to the fairest’
and Paris smiled broadly, displaying his pearly-white teeth as he thought about the pleasure to
come. Tossing the apple up and down with his strong fingers as if it was a tennis ball, he sat
down on a nearby tree stump and waited impatiently for the first immortal to appear while the
sheep scattered across the fields.

Questions

1. What was the prize for the beauty contest?


2. How do we know that Paris was not doing his job as a shepherd properly?
3. What simile is used about the golden apple?
4. Who had sent Hermes?
5. Why do you think Hermes is keen to get as far away as possible from the beauty contest?
6. What evidence shows us that Hermes was not happy in his job?
7. What physical evidence do we have about Paris? You should be able to pick out at least five
things!
8. From what he says/does/thinks in the passage, what type of person do you think Paris is? Use
evidence to prove your answer!
9. Make a list of all the adverbs in the first sentence.
10. How does Paris treat the golden apple?
11. What does Paris sit on?
12. What was Hermes wearing?
Creative option
Now pick one of the three goddesses and write a physical description of them as they meet Paris!
Or be one of the goddesses and write their diary entry once the contest is over. Paris picks
Aphrodite in the legend as the most beautiful.

4. Odysseus and the Cyclops


“What are we going to do, captain?” asked one of the sailors anxiously, staring at the menacing
figure of Polyphemus, the Cyclops.
“Think!” replied Odysseus shortly, scratching his balding head as he tried to come up with a plan
that would enable everyone to escape from the dark, gloomy cavern.
The first problem was the huge bulk of Polyphemus with his one glaring eye situated right in the
middle of his forehead. The second difficulty was the massive stone that the giant had rolled
across the entrance to trap the Greeks inside along with his flock of enormous sheep.
“At least we won’t go hungry!” stated Polites, gazing at one of the blank-faced, curly-haired
sheep ravenously.
“Don’t even think about it!” snapped Odysseus, sitting down on a boulder and leaning back
against the damp wall of the cave for a moment before he cushioned his back with one of the
wineskins that they had brought with them. An idea took root in his mind as he made himself
comfortable and he looked around, grey eyes scanning carefully, to see what else was in the cave
that could help. The shepherd’s crook looked promising as did the steadily burning fire, flames
throwing off strange shadows that caused the crew to huddle together uncertainly as if they
feared other monsters would attack them from the darkness.
As the captain thought, Polyphemus slowly and methodically chewed his mouthful of Greek
sailor before he opened his mouth wide, displaying a fine set of pearly-white gnashers, and
picked the bones out. Maliciously he tossed them at the forlorn crew, chuckling into his grey
beard as they clattered on the rocky floor while his beady eye stared balefully towards the
shivering seamen.
“Some wine, monster?” asked Odysseus suddenly, offering up one of the leather wineskins while
his crew stared at him in amazement and disgust.
“Don’t mind if I do, pathetic little human!” snorted Polyphemus and the breath from his mouth
sent Odysseus staggering back as if he had encountered a hurricane.

Grabbing the skin, the Cyclops upended it and tipped the whole contents down his throat in an
instant then gulped.
“Hmm not bad. Any more?”
“A few,” replied the captain, beckoning to his crew to pass the wineskins along to him. They did
so slowly, unsure of his purpose but willing to trust the man who had helped them survive the
long war against Troy through his trickery.
It took a dozen whole skins to make Polyphemus feel a little tipsy. He yawned then settled down
by the fire, making a few loose boulders tumble down from the roof as he slumped to the ground.
“Good night, Greeks. Sleep well and I’ll eat you in the morning,” he crooned softly, chuckling
drunkenly until he started to snore. It was like a foghorn as it reverberated around the cavern and
the Greeks covered their ears as the sound threatened to deafen them.
“Grab his crook, lads, and bring it over to the fire!” bellowed Odysseus and his crew stumbled
over, picked up the colossal shepherd’s crook and staggered over to the roaring flames with it.
Ordering Polites to get the end hardened in the flames, Odysseus strolled over to the giant and
examined him carefully. Fortunately Polyphemus had slumped over on his side and so his single
eye was in reach. Odysseus’ plan was going to work!

Questions

1. What had Polyphemus eaten?


2. What two things prevented the Greeks escaping from the cave?
3. What simile is used about Polyphemus’ snoring?
4. Why were Odysseus’ crew prepared to trust him?
5. What helped Odysseus get an idea as he sat down?
6. Why was it malicious to toss the bones at the sailors?
7. How many wineskins did it take to get Polyphemus drunk?
8. What simile is used about Polyphemus’ breath?
9. Thinking about Polyphemus’ last statement, do you think that the Greeks would sleep well?
Explain your answer!
10. What do you think Odysseus’ plan is? What evidence from the passage is there to back up
your ideas?
11. What two things do we know about what Odysseus looks like?
12. From the first sentence, write down a verb, adverb, noun, adjective and pronoun.
Creative option
Write what happens next in the story. You do not have to stick to the real story of Greek myth
but can invent your own idea if you wish!