Mythology Part I: I am No Hero

by , Friday May 24, 2019
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Mythology Part I: I am No Hero

I am No Hero - A Look at Greek Myths​

“Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity...” — Odysseus in Troy (2004)

 

Before we delve into the mythological part of the new competition, I’d like to take a moment and look at the definition of two terms: myth and legend.

 

Myth

A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people, or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events. (Oxford Dictionary)

Legend

A traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but not authenticated. (ibid.)

Ever since I found out that the gods in the Greek mythology always rewarded ingenious, witty minds (as opposed to the Christian God for whom such a character would sooner reach the depths of Hell rather than climb the stairway to Heaven) my fascination with Greek mythology increased ten fold.

Why should you be meek like sheep and always follow one path because God says that that’s the only true one? I found it a bit like math: when the teacher ‘punishes’ you for reaching the same result but without the method they taught you. Why? There are more than one way of solving an issue and pure-heartedness, often dubbed as gullible, more often than not hinders the process rather than accelerates it.

This reminds me of Odysseus and his journey back home after the fight in Troy. It took him ten years to come back. But in those ten years, he had run ins with all kinds of gods, goddesses, monsters, and other creatures. As far as I remember, he spent around seven years on Ogygia which is Calypso’s island. He was her prisoner because she was trying to make him her immortal husband. Only when she was told by Zeus to release him, did she allow Odysseus to leave her island...

However, what marked me about this character was his ingenious mind. We all know that he came with the idea of the Trojan Horse to fool the Trojans, otherwise they wouldn’t have won the war. But he also fooled a cyclop. I’m talking about Polyphemus, and how he kills several of Odysseus’ men (because that’s what hospitality looks like when you're a cyclops) and so Odysseus devises a plan in which he blinds the cyclops and when Polyphemus asks him who he is, Odysseus replies with: Nobody. So when the other cyclops asks him who injured him, of course Polyphemus says that "Nobody did."

I named a few Ancient Greek heroes that have been around the media for quite some time already, and I’ll name another one: the myth of Persephone and Hades, where she is both the Goddess of Spring, but also the Goddess of Death. But let’s talk about the women of Greek mythology for a second.

 

The myth of Medusa, sister to three beasts, and the only one who was born with a beautiful face. That is, until she attracted the wrath of Athena who told Perseus to bring her Medusa’s head. It’s unclear if this extreme attack on a mortal was due to Medusa being as beautiful as she was or because she had a love affair with Poseidon. Somebody depicted a different take on the myth.

The myth of Hyppolyta, the Amazonian queen, daughter of Ares, who gave her a magical girdle. There are several versions of what happens to her in the mythology, but almost all of them end up with her dead because she fell in love with a man. Go figure.

The myth of Artemis. What I find interesting in this myth is that she and her brother, Apollo, are depicted as being very protective of their mother, Leto, to the point of killing Niobe’s six children (Apollo taking the males and Artemis the females) when she boasts that she ‘delivered a whole Olympus’ when Leto only gave birth to two gods. Later on they protected their mother from being raped by Tytius. More than that, Artemis asked her father, Zeus, if she could remain a maiden for all eternity, and she did, guarding her chastity even more fiercely than Athena and Hestia.

The myth of Echidna. This character was new for me, but I found it so much fun to read about! She “was a drakaina (female dragon). Also called Ekhidna, her name means she-viper in Greek. She is said to be the daughter of Tartarus and Gaia, according to Apollodorus.” She was mated to Typhon, and both were the parents of some of the most ferocious creatures in Greek mythology: Cerberus, Ladon, Chimera, Sphinx, etc. I’m sure she had a blast giving birth to all these creatures that later became such a pain in the Greeks’ butt! :D

 

For more inspiration, visit Phia’s blog, where you’ll find lots of poems about heroes. A personal favorite.

These are but just a few myths you could take inspiration from for the newly minted Mythology writing competition. May the muse be with you!

*The title of this blog comes from the 2014 movie Hercules with Dwayne Johnson

 

Thanks to DeeundDrang for authoring this awesome blog post :)

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