Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

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The Wolf, the Bear and Cat Ivanovitch
two-part story
Music: Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky
A faithful but unprepossessing pet is turned out of hearth and home.

ONCE upon a time, a peasant decided that his ginger cat, a battle-scarred mouser with one ear, was not the sort of pet to be seen with. So he popped old Tom in a sack, and dumped him in the forest.

Tom clawed his way out of his sack, and set off to explore his new world.

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The Gordian Knot
Music: Henry Purcell
Alexander fulfilled the letter of a prophecy and he did become ruler of the world, but it wasn’t quite fair.

A PEASANT farmer from Phrygia named Gordias was ploughing a field when an eagle came and perched on the yoke of his oxen, a sign, he was told, that he was destined to become a father of kings.

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The Fox and the Grapes
Music: Edward German
Some people disparage what they can’t have.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

A FOX was padding about a vineyard in the mountains, when he spotted some bunches of grapes hanging from a trellis.

He scampered over to them, as they were ripe and deep black, harvested in peak condition by someone who knew his business.

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Perseus and Andromeda
Music: George Frideric Handel
Wielding the Gorgon’s head, Perseus saves a beautiful maiden from a ravening sea-monster.

AS Perseus passed by the Libyan coast, he heard a pitiable cry. It came from a lovely young woman, chained by hands and feet to a rock, who told him that she was the Princess Andromeda, and that her mother Cassiopeia had angered Poseidon by comparing the beautiful Nereids, the spirits of the waves, unfavourably with her.

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Heracles and the Cretan Bull
Music: Richard Jones
Heracles seems to be the only one who can keep Poseidon’s rampaging white bull under control.

WHEN King Minos of Crete promised to sacrifice to Poseidon whatever should next emerge from the sea, Poseidon kindly sent him a superb white bull. Minos, however, could not bring himself to destroy so magnificent a beast, so he kept it for himself and substituted another from his own herds.

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The Lambton Worm
two-part story
Music: Malcolm Arnold
Part One. John Lambton goes fishing on a Sunday, and lets loose all kinds of trouble.

ONE Sunday morning, John, the young heir of Lambton Hall, skipped Mass and went fishing in the Wear. No good could come of that, and no good did.

That morning, he hooked only an ugly-looking worm, tossed it with disgust down a well, and promptly forgot about it.

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The Legend of Pollard’s Lands
two-part story
Music: George Frideric Handel
An enterprising knight rids the Bishop of Durham of a troublesome boar, but the price comes as a shock to his lordship.

THE estates around Auckland Castle, seat of the Bishops of Durham, were troubled by a wild boar, so much so that the Bishop and even the King had each put up a princely reward for his head.

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All Posts
Tagged Myths, Fables and Legends (61 posts)
page 1
1 The Wolf, the Bear and Cat Ivanovitch
A faithful but unprepossessing pet is turned out of hearth and home.
2 Heracles and the Cattle of Geryon
Heracles must get the better of a three-bodied giant and steal his cattle.
3 Heracles and the Girdle of Hippolyte
A princess covets the belt of a warrior-queen, so Heracles is despatched to get it for her.
4 Heracles and the Mares of Diomedes
Eurystheus pits his cousin against a son of Ares and some man-eating horses.
5 Heracles and the Cretan Bull
Heracles seems to be the only one who can keep Poseidon’s rampaging white bull under control.
6 Heracles and the Birds of Lake Stymphalia
Our hero is sent to deal with some man-eating birds, but cannot reach their lakeside refuge.
page 2
7 The Tragedy of King Oedipus
Oedipus flees home in an attempt to escape a dreadful prophecy, unware that it is following at his heels.
8 The Peasant, the Penny and Marko the Rich
Marko adopts drastic measures to get out of repaying the loan of a penny.
9 Heracles and the Augean Stables
Heracles shows his capacity for thinking outside the box, but spoils it by trying to be just a little bit too clever.
10 The Legend of Pollard’s Lands
An enterprising knight rids the Bishop of Durham of a troublesome boar, but the price comes as a shock to his lordship.
11 Heracles and the Erymanthian Boar
Snaring a wild boar turns out to be much less dangerous than keeping centaurs away from their wine.
12 The Legend of King Leir
An early British king discovers what he is really worth to his daughters.
page 3
13 Bellerophon and the Chimera
The wronged hero vanquishes a dreadful monster with the help of a winged horse, but then it all goes to his head.
14 The Sword of Damocles
A reminder that those with extreme wealth and power have everything but the peace to enjoy it.
15 Heracles and the Cerynaean Hind
Eurystheus sends his cousin on another labour, this time hoping the task is too delicate for the big man.
16 Hera and the Boeotian Bride
Zeus employs a little psychology to effect a reunion with his offended wife.
17 Apple of Discord
Thetis snubs Eris, goddess of Discord, and sets off a series of events leading to the Trojan War.
18 Cap o’ Rushes
A girl’s choice of words sees her turned out of hearth and home.
page 4
19 The Bald Lover
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
A man’s mid-life crisis leaves him a little ... exposed.
20 Robin Hood and the Debt of Honour
The outlaw showed that strange as it may be, he did have a code of honour.
21 The Hare and the Tortoise
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
One had natural talent but no discipline, the other had discipline but no natural talent.
22 Romulus and the Sabine Women
The legend of how Rome was settled gave rise to the March festival of Roman motherhood.
23 The Knight, the Lady, and the Forest of Sorrow
Based on a fable by Jerome K. Jerome
(1859-1927)
A little fable of encouragement for all the suffering.
24 Belling the Cat
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
A council of mice comes up with a plan to outsmart the Cat, but volunteers are a bit thin on the ground.
page 5
25 The Siege of Troy: the Abduction of Helen
Paris, prince of Troy, takes the not unwilling Queen of Sparta back home with him, and sparks twenty years of retribution.
26 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
A knight issues a bizarre challenge to King Arthur and his court.
27 The Legend of Beowulf
The oldest surviving heroic legend in English begins with a wild creature of the fens that hunts men for prey.
28 How Brutus of Troy Became Britain’s First King
An early mediaeval myth linking British civilization to the Fall of Troy.
29 The Midas Touch
An ancient Greek myth about the dangers of easy wealth.
30 Pygmalion and Galatea
Pygmalion discovered that prudishness is not the same as purity.
page 6
31 Damon and Pythias
A tale of two friends with complete confidence in each other, and loyal to the death.
32 The Gordian Knot
Alexander fulfilled the letter of a prophecy and he did become ruler of the world, but it wasn’t quite fair.
33 Heracles and the Hydra
The Greek hero thinks he has paid off more of his debt to the gods, but an unpleasant surprise awaits him.
34 The Ugly Duckling
Based on a fable by Hans Christian Andersen
(1805-1875)
It’s not where you came from that matters, it’s where you belong.
35 The Princess on the Pea
Based on a fable by Hans Christian Andersen
(1805-1875)
A fastidious prince felt he deserved a girl of royal refinement, and he certainly found one.
36 Perseus and the Gorgon
When Polydectes, King of Seriphos, sent Perseus to get the Gorgon’s head, he hoped the boy would never come back.
page 7
37 Phrixus and the Golden Fleece
Long before Jason came to claim it, the golden fleece had already saved a boy’s life.
38 Jason and the Golden Fleece
A political rival sends Jason on a hopeless errand, to fetch the golden fleece.
39 The Eagle, the Jackdaw, and the Shepherd
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
An over-excited jackdaw goes out of his league, and pays the price.
40 The Farmer and the Buried Treasure
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
An affectionate father came up with an imaginative way to get his sons to work on the farm.
41 Hephaestus and the Love Net
When he caught his wife with her lover, the ugly blacksmith of the gods showed that he was not without his pride.
42 The Lion and the Mouse
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
A casual act of mercy brought an unexpected reward.
page 8
43 The Fox and the Bramble
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
A fox tries to save herself from a fall, but finds she would have been better off taking the tumble.
44 William of Cloudsley
William is Cumbria’s very own blend of Robin Hood and William Tell - with a happy ending, too.
45 The Fox and the Grapes
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
Some people disparage what they can’t have.
46 The Lambton Worm
Part One. John Lambton goes fishing on a Sunday, and lets loose all kinds of trouble.
47 The Hunt for the Wild Boar of Calydon
Artemis, goddess of the hunt, pursued a bitter and relentless vengeance upon a king who carelessly slighted her.
48 Theseus and the Minotaur
A warning not to be forgetful of others, even in triumph.
page 9
49 Orpheus and Eurydice
Orpheus would lose his beloved wife Eurydice to death not once, but twice.
50 Heracles and the Nemean Lion
Sending a hero off to ‘certain death’ never seems to work out...
51 Heracles at the Crossroads
The gods had given Heracles every grace of body and mind, but there was one thing he must do for himself: choose how to use them.
52 The Partridge and the Cockerels
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
It’s hard when messed-up people treat you badly, but if you take it personally it only makes it worse.
53 Perseus and Andromeda
Wielding the Gorgon’s head, Perseus saves a beautiful maiden from a ravening sea-monster.
54 Odysseus Comes Home
The wandering King was alive after all - unknown to his “widow’s” suitors.
page 10
55 The Debtor and his Pig
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
There are no lengths to which some people won’t go.
56 The Emperor’s New Clothes
Based on a fable by Hans Christian Andersen
(1805-1875)
A telling satire on fashionable thinking among the elite.
57 The Ape and the Fox
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
A valuable lesson when dealing with practised liars.
58 The Dog and the Bell
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
Notoriety is often mistaken for fame.
59 The Cat’s Wedding
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
It’s easier to change how you look than to hide who you are.
60 The Goose with the Golden Egg
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
Don’t get greedy when things are going well.
page 11
61 The Crow and the Pitcher
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos
Brute force is no substitute for quick thinking.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Confusables

Compose your own sentences to show the difference between these words:

Behind. Beyond.

JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Face’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Change ROCK into SALT, one letter at a time.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Do you know ‘a town like Bath’ (3 letters), and ‘deteriorate’ (6 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with MILE and finish with POST.
Do you know ‘glittering crown’ (6 letters), and ‘dark and gloomy’ (5 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
top topics
History (379)
Fiction (82)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: Longest Word (Letters Game) Games with Words

numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic