The Environment in Popular Culture: Percy Jackson & The Olympians

Oct 9th, 2010 | By | Category: Youth Blog

Percy Jackson and the Olympians has to be one of my favorite series of all time. Steeped in Greek mythology, set in the modern United States, and now summarized in a major motion picture, the books have the perfect blend of creativity and substance. In the story, Percy is the demigod son of Poseidon and has recently discovered his powerful heritage.  In each book, Percy is involved in a quest of a sort, whether he has to return Zeus’ thunderbolt, find the Golden Fleece, save the Goddess Artemis, explore the Labyrinth, or destroy Kronos. Alongside Percy in each of his fateful adventures are Grover and Annabeth, a satyr and a daughter of the goddess Athena. Grover Underwood is a satyr, a half-man, half-goat who is a hardcore environmentalist. Throughout the books, he has a quest of his own: to find the Lord Pan, lord of the wild, and awake him from centuries of sleep. Grover is a perfect example of what the environmental movement represents and through the books he imparts various bits of knowledge and of wisdom through different sayings. Here, I chose one of them to reflect on.

(Excerpt taken from The Lightening Thief)

Percy: Oh, yeah. I guess you’d be an environmentalist.

Grover: Only a human wouldn’t be. Your species is clogging up the world so fast … ah, never mind. It’s useless to lecture a human. At the rate things are going, I’ll never find Pan.

In this scene, Percy, Grover, and Annabeth, are camping out on the side of the road where it is littered by flattened soda cans and fast food wrappers. Grover starts out by telling Percy about how sad the state of the environment makes him and how even the stars are impossible to see in the night sky. What Grover says is so true. Other than humans, what species would ever change the world so drastically and so devastatingly? Every other animal (and in this case, creature) lives in the wild. They require nothing but food, water, and fresh air to live comfortably and peacefully. But humans are a completely different case. An innately material species, we are never content with what we have and are unable to adjust. Every other species adapts to the environment. Humans have this misled conception that the environment is meant to adapt to us. This statement really spoke to me as I never realized the human mindset- I have always just accepted it. It would be incredibly difficult to break this mindset now- but just being aware of it is probably the biggest issue. In the book, not only is Grover strongly connected to the Earth, but Percy is also relatively free of technology. Man’s connection to nature is one of the underlying themes in the story, as Rick Riordan, the author himself has said. An engaging read with a deeper meaning and one of my personal favorites, I would highly recommend this series to anyone looking for a meaningful autumn read.

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