My relationship with myth runs true blue and quest deep – I’m constantly observing ‘signs’ in the world around me, weaving messages from feathers, shells and sea air. I see patterns of fairytales echoed everywhere in people I know, or don’t; love or loathe. Dreams ferry graphic messengers from the universal unconscious and the purely personal. Stare at the gods long enough and you’ll find yourself reflected there.
One particular Greek myth was made into a movie the year I was born: the tragic tale of Iphigenia (meaning: born of strength) who paid the proverbial price for her father’s arrogance (you know what they say about the sins of the father?). Myth being what is, there’re various versions of the truth (modern and old) but here’s the story I know:
Big general of troops in Troy, Daddy Agamemnon pisses off Artemis, She The Huntress, through a spot of sacrilege (killing a sacred deer/dear?), rubbing salt into the wound and boasting about his skill (typical misogynist: he a better shot than She) *sigh* gods and goddesses, no better than man: egos got bruised so justifying a little wrathful retaliation. When will they ever learn?
Artemis stops wind which renders the grand Greek fleet impotent (haha). Which, as you’d imagine, pisses Daddy A off no end – he has a war to get to! Power thus thwarted, he goes looking for a Grecian sangoma who quickly divines atonement =
sacrifice 1 x daughter (eish, women sure have it in for each other) and ye gods will be duly pleased and appeased.
But instead of levelling with the family, daddy dearest devises a devious plan and tricks his wife into bringing young Iphigenia home under the guise of wedding her to famous warrior, Achilles (the heel). Mother of the bride bumps into the groom who, surprise!surprise! knows nothing of the nuptials. Truth comes to light (as is its wont) and noble Achilles vows to prevent the inevitable from happening but the young lass says no, she’ll happily go quietly and sacrifice herself for the greater good (WTF girl?!) But on the altar, as she’s lain to be slain, Artemis (presumably) intercedes and turns her into a deer.
Moral of the story? Women can be ridiculously stupid and martyr themselves to protect/keep weak men happy. Fathers think all their daughters want in life is get married. Mothers should get to know prospective son-in-laws to suss out the truth as soon as possible. Men will make wild promises before the wedding. Children will do anything (including die) to please their parents. Gods will be gods and eventually turn us all into animals under the auspicises of saving us from ourselves/our family/fate/the world and everything else.
A happy tale (note tongue jammed firmly in cheek) of family drama and metamorphosis on a rainy Sunday afternoon.