April 10, 2014 by Dadinator
This post is rated M for strong language. Or something. Look I swear a bit, this topic means a lot to me. Don’t look at me like that, you’ve got your things too.
μῦθος • (muthos) (genitive μύθου) m, second declension
1. Word, public speech, conversation, saying
2. Story or tale.
If I had to sit through a swords and sandals epic with myself, I’d end up with a black eye. I would take a swing at my smug face before the first half hour was over. If a movie has any claim to be based on ancient Greek or Roman mythology or history, just cross me off your list now. I will either be pissing myself with laughter (like I did through 300) or be yelling at the screen shouting “No, that’s not what happened” every 30 seconds (Like I did with Troy) (I avoided seeing Clash of The Titans for my own safety). Possibly I’d be doing both. It would be irritating.
Fortunately my dear wife is the same. She once sat down with a friend to watch Disney’s “Hercules”. She warned her friend that she was going to hate it and didn’t really want to watch it. “That’s okay, just tell me when the movie isn’t sticking to the mythology, okay?”. The Mamanator agreed. Her friend lasted 15 minutes before shouting “SHUT UP!” at The Mamanator who could now add “Told you so” to the litany of irritating things she had been saying through the movie. Let me fill you in on what they would be:
- The name is wrong. Hercules is originally “Herakles” in Greek
- Herakles IS NOT the son of Zeus and Hera. Zeus went off and shagged a mortal woman called Alcmene to conceive Herakles. He apparently stopped the sun rising for 3 days so he could really bonk her senseless to do it.
- Herakles was not tormented by “Hades”. He was tormented by his step-mother Hera.
- Hades is not evil in Greek myth, in fact he is renowned for his strict and emotionless/impartial sense of justice.
- Herakles had absolutely nothing to do with Pegasus. That was Bellerophon, a hero who pre-dates Herakles.
- Herakles was not trained by a Satyr called Ph……
Okay okay I’ll stop now. You can see why people yell “Shut Up” at people like us…..
A personal age or two ago I did classical studies at University. I studied Latin and Ancient Greek among other things because I loved the languages and because your early youth is one of the few times in your life when you are at liberty to do these kinds of things. My dearest wife did similar studies (although she also did English Literature, and didn’t go into the languages the way I did).
This made me a bit of a puritan throughout my life. I could never abide by a simplification or an “adulteration” of the stories. I would decry any sanitisation or censorship of the material. People know a bit about Greek Myth, right? They know some names, Zeus, Herakles(Hercules), Ares, Hera, Athena… Xena Warrior Princess (Hah! Tricked you, there is no Xena in Greek Myth). Do they know that Zeus and Hera are brother and sister as well as husband and wife? That all bar one of Zeus’ children are born through extra-martial relations? That there are 3 different myths which involves fathers eating or cooking up THEIR CHILDREN? That there is bestiality in Greek Myth too? And not just some once off thing either….
Seriously, Greek Mythology is fucked up. And it’s fucked upedness is what makes it interesting. As an adult reader.
Now I read for different reasons though. I still read for myself, when I have the time, but much of the time I’m reading in front of the wide-open and highly absorbent eyes of my boy. He’s a sponge. I weave stories for him all the time. He weaves them back. He loves them, so do I.
Now….. When I want to share my love of Ancient Mythology with him, what will I do? Will I stick to my guns? Give him the truth, the whole truth and let him make his own mind up, as I have advocated for as I yelled at movie screens through my life?
Of course not. Do you think I am insane? Do you think I want to fuck my children up in the head? Give them nightmares and explain words like incest and bestiality to them? Transmit messages from myth that say: life is all about suffering, the world is unfair, the powerful can get away with anything….
No no no. Suddenly I find myself in a new position. Suddenly I will be the one glossing over details, editing these stories I love in the hope my kids will love them too. Suddenly my implacable moral crusade to tell the whole truth of these stories has been found. Well. Placable.
So picture book writers who leave out the scary bits, I am sorry for cursing your names.
Children’s movie makers who fudge the details for the eyes of children, I am sorry for calling you idiots.
Audience members who glared at me in cinemas as I laughed/yelled at the screen, I am sorry.
And Lad and Lass, who will one day find out that I edited and censored these stories for your enjoyment, I am sorry….
And to the makers of the movie Troy. I am not sorry at all. The book was better.
And so I find that parenting has knocked me off yet another high horse. I guess it does it to all of us, right? As usual, share below!