Stories Talk | Presentation Skills and Effective Storytelling
Archaeologist Konstantinos Loukopoulos narrates mythology in a unique way through “The Mythologist” Youtube channel that attracts thousands of viewers every day.
#history #mythology #archaelogy #science #culture #socialmedia
By Mia Kollia
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos
Did you have any inclination towards Archeology in the beginning? Why did you choose it?
I remember from a young age succeeding in tv documentaries of historical or archaeological content and thinking of myself in the position of the presenter or scientist talking about the subject. I think that was my first contact with the subject which then became a conscious choice in terms of studies in the Department of History and Archeology of EKPA. Finally, after a couple of weeks at school, I was won over by archeology and the idea of tangible contact with the past.
What is so fascinating about mythology that it makes one focus solely on it?
Mythology gives us the opportunity to study ancient people through very special aspects. Before the advent of science, when men were still trying to understand themselves, the world and their place in it, they made stories with their minds; stories about gods, heroes and monsters. These stories - the myths - have survived to this day and continue to fascinate and teach us by presenting patterns of imitation or avoidance. They also deal with concepts and emotions that have always affected people, something that makes them even more relevant and charming due to their age.
What were the biggest difficulties you faced in your life, how did you overcome them and what did they teach you?
The truth is that we live in times in which the meaning of the word "difficulty" has become much more important than in previous years. Personally, I consider myself lucky enough that I haven’t experienced terrible difficulties in the course of my life so far. Nevertheless, I am a person who needs to set and achieve goals. When these goals are not achieved, the difficulty lies in rebuilding, redefining and keeping the mental strength to continue learning from the mistakes. Actually, I received great teachings from failures of the past, which were overcome with stubbornness, clear mind and perseverance.
How do you manage recognition?
To receive recognition of my work and effort is something pleasant for me. Every time I experience that feeling, I am filled with appetite and inspiration to continue to the next step. Fame and recognition, except for confirming good work, immediately give me the love of the audience.
What is the secret to getting a right audience through YouTube? How can one combine popularisation with a scientific level of knowledge and validity?
There is no secret. There are so many different types of videos on YouTube that are so popular and successful, thus, each one follows a different pathway. My goal is to respect the people who watch my content, to make my videos interesting and to offer value, knowledge and entertainment always in relation to scientific correctness. This recipe, with the right doses of academic knowledge, careful research, humor and the promotion of critical thinking produces a result that can qualify in being recognised as "popular science".
How compatible or incompatible is technology and its rapid development with people? Would you like to have a real audience?
Technology is a creation of man so any compatibility is actually our responsibility. Technology has existed in human life since the very early days and as long as it solves problems and improves the quality of life, it’s perfectly compatible. There are contradictions, of course, which cannot be avoided, but the overall meaning is positive. The audience that follows me is real. The people who watch my videos are real and the value they provide is real too, in educational level or even entertainment.
Weekly contact with Mythology through YouTube brings real benefits and this audience is out there. As for whether I would like their physical presence, yes of course, having a physical audience cannot be compared to having a digital audience. But fortunately, sooner or later, we will have the opportunity to meet.
How dedicated should one be to research and how lonely does researching feel?
Research in my mind is by definition a solitary occupation. You do research in the morning, noon, evening, dawn, at any time of the day. Books and the computer are constantly open and many hours pass without human contact. There are times when you "get lost" and the hours flow like a river and there are others when you get upset and throw everything under the desk. At difficult times, devotion and perseverance are necessary.
In these moments you are alone, without this meaning that there are no people to support you in their own way after you find yourself in a quagmire or in despair. But, correspondingly, the fruits of this occupation are rich (not in financial level) and the satisfaction you receive in the end is not comparable.
How much can we compare mythological stories with real life and learn from them? Can you give us specific examples?
Myths were born out of life and created by people trying to teach, express themselves and explain things. All this has given myths a didactic value, which in some cases is great while in other cases is not a big deal. I think the most typical examples of this are the myths that deal with specific concepts. For instance, in a sculpture of Kifissodotus from the 4th century BC, we see the goddess Peace holding young god Pluto in her arms, which is a very clear statement of the belief that material and spiritual goods flourish in times of peace.
Where does mythology converge with history and possibly archeology?
Mythology certainly has a historical value, as it echoes real events that took place before the advent of writing and historiography. Over the centuries these events have acquired legendary and mythical dimensions. Thus, we have interventions of gods for the inexplicable phenomena, heroes who touch the divine element with their abilities and monsters who play a leading role as great obstacles of a myth.
Mythology isn’t history, but somewhere in this vast mythological content, there are pieces of history that outline a cultural and social context of an era for which we don’t know many things. If we talk about archeology, that’s a different conversation. The remains of antiquity are full of mythological episodes and we should be familiar with them in order to study them eloquently, as for the people of the time they were their religion, tradition and history.
Do you have any favourite stories and heroes and why?
My favourite story of all is that of Love and the Soul, two personalised concepts. In essence, it describes the turbulent relationship between logic and love, but also the difficulties one may face in trying to find happiness, which may come in myths but pretty often it doesn’t come in life.
Furthermore, because I am currently working on the second season of the "Epic Podcast" with Odyssey as my main subject, I’ve really started to love the journey of Odysseus; the difficulties of the journey to Ithaca, the wandering, the unknown, the monsters and Ithaca itself as the ultimate destination. This story reflects real life.