Saturday, May 07, 2011
The Greeks were wrong about a lot of things
They used to play a lot of cool old films on TV in the afternoons when I was a kid, and whenever I was home sick from school I always made sure to watch as many of them as I could. (It's how I got to watch all the Road movies even though I was born 20 or 30 years after they were made).
One of the series of films that I particularly loved were the ones made in the late 50s and early 60s about the Greek myths. They had a lot of statues coming to life, and skeletons springing up out of the ground and monsters and harpies and all manner of good things. And loads of sword fighting. My two favourites were Jason and the Argonauts and 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
I remember one scene from one of these cool old classics in which someone has to battle the Hydra. You know the schtick, you cut one head off and two more, or seven more, or something, grow back, so you can't win unless you have some kind of magic object or some other clever trick up your sleeve. Or you're a favourite of one of those good-for-nothing Greek gods.
It was supposed to be symbolic in a typically fatalistic Greek, pagan, Kobayashi Maru kind of way. You know, it's the usual, 'everything's hopeless and life sucks because the gods run everything and they hate us, so we lose. Wah'.
I have written before about this attitude in reference to the story of Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Iphegenia and Whatsisface. I've said that when the soothsayers tell you you have to sacrifice your daughter so the storms will stop and allow the fleet to sail for Troy, but you know that sacrificing your daughter is a horrible unnatural crime and your wife will probably kill you when you get back (and poor old Cassandra) so your son will be thrown into an impossible connundrum where he has to avenge you but that means killing his mother so the furies will follow him to the end of his life and everything will suck...
The solution is before your eyes: kill. the. soothsayers.
Same with the hydra. It's not rocket science: you kill the bastard.
You keep on chopping off those damn heads until the ----er just lies down and quits. Or better yet, you get some clever Greek to equip you with a stock of grenades made of Greek Fire, and you just lob one straight down one or all of its throats and Kaboombah! Problem solved.
Shee. What's so tough to figure out?