Myths

Antarctica was seen by humans for the first time as recently as the early 19th century, and there are still no permanent residents. Very few Antarctic myths or legends exist.

  • Students could read and discuss myths from the northern polar regions, such as Norse or Germanic legends or Eskimo myths, or perhaps more appropriately Aboriginal Dreamtime creation stories, and then write their own 'Antarctic myths' to explain the savagery and beauty of the environment, the land of ice and snow, the raging blizzards, the blinding white, or the unique wildlife, especially the penguins.
  • Sharing our stories contains a collection of six Aboriginal dreaming stories, which you can listen to or watch. The University of Michigan's Windows to the Universe has a great resource on Mythology.

The myth of Terra Australis Incognito

The idea of the mythical continent Terra Australis Incognito originated with the Classical Greeks. Said to balance the known land masses of the Northern Hemisphere, the idea persisted until Captain James Cooks explored the Antarctic seas.

  • Have students imagine trying to describe the first sighting of Antarctica to people who have never seen it, and cannot imagine what it must be like. It may be useful for students to review their own reaction to experiencing snow, or the sea, for the first time.
This page was last modified on July 1, 2014.