When I was a kid, I wanted to be a Greek Hero and I was about 11, when I knew I had to know more about them. Their life seemed to be so enthralling, with them training for wars, guarding boundaries, and living near a lake in cabins with mystical species of life like centaurs, satyrs, fairies, and flying horses. It was so much different than mine, which was always the same routine revolving around school and home and back again. An introverted girl, who lacked social skills, spending inordinate amount of time in fictions and fantasies, wanted to know – no! scratch that, needed to know who these people were and why were they being chased by a huge bull monster? Omg, is that a goat-boy? A horse legged man? It’s a pen – oh good lord no! that’s a sword? Winged shoes? I was amazed, mystified, thrilled and literally in love. Yeah, you guessed it right, it was my first-time watching Percy Jackson and the lightening thief. There started my thirst for the hero who piqued my interest and without nothing much mainstream in hand I started dwelling inside a world that gave me joys and thrills, scavenging for stories to quench my thirst, the more I had, the more I wanted – greedy much? Yep, and I went in. But what I didn’t know was that I was falling into a deep pit out of sheer curiosity without even an idea of where I am being dragged to. I travelled too far into a world which I thought was just a land of Utopia and unicorns and I learnt it in the hard way that “Expectation always hurt”.
Greek Mythology reflects past civilization providing crucial insights into historical events, ancient cultures and relationships. Some of the oldest stories in the world contains mysterious and exciting legends of Gods and Heroes in ancient Greece. They carry a sense of nostalgia that can only come from returning to something that helped shape your inner deep thoughts and comprehension.
Before Batman, Ironman, Daenerys Targaryen, Wonder woman, Cat Noir, Power Rangers, Merlin and even Arthur Pendragon, there were Greek Heroes, they knew how to fight – and fights those were – with their bare fists, swords, sabers, shields, spears, and knives. All the stories like The Adventures of Perseus, Labors of Heracles, Voyage of Jason, and the Argonauts, The Coming of The Immortals, The First Fall of Troy, The Trojan War, The Odysseus, Clash of Titans, Curse of Medusa, Achilles Heel and what not with “decapitating monsters, saving some kingdoms, raiding the Underworld, and stealing loot from evil people”, shows how much straining the mythical world is. It seems so much fun for us in getting to know the gods, heroes, nature spirits, monsters, beasts, far of lands, majestic ruins, great intricate architectures, fire breathing bulls, many headed dragons, clever witty sorceresses, manipulative siblings, and treacherous friends. We find it cool sailing too far off lands, unknown waters, soaring up to Mount Olympus, descending into Underworld, falling into Tartarus, going to find the fleece, getting trapped in a maze or pulverizing giants with bare fists.
But what we forget is, that each story has its own share of evil and darkness lurking within it. We simply just focus our mind on the greatness of the Gods, their ethereal beauty, attractiveness, ability, and strength of Heroes while we tend to forget their cruel acts, their insane aspects that they had no idea that it was odd, revolting, or morally disgusting. We forget their betrayals, manipulations, deceptions, heartbreaks, abuses and how they punished the innocents just out of pure hatred, envy, spite, and ego. We forget their vile words, crooked plans, incest relationships, lust and wild counterparts, horrific births, hostile lives, pitiless deaths, and cannibalisms were just to satisfy their pride and destroy the ones who were witty, clever and talented than they were, and to humiliate those who challenged them. We will be able to point out how immoral they were, and that they were such awful role models. Some of the Greek gods were a horny, raunchy lot. Certain Gods and Heroes were so cruel that they killed their own children, cutting them into pieces and cooking them and serving them in banquets. They manipulated certain humans to disobey their principles so that they would be punished by other Gods. Some Gods and Heroes were so power hungry that they beheaded their own father; manipulated their siblings to hate each other so that they could destroy each other; some were so deep into lust that they cheated on their spouse, engaged in bigamy, and even ended up marrying their own sisters. Some were so much considerate on their prestige that they disowned their own children, threw them down the mountains, drowned them in the ocean, abandoned them in faraway islands and even used them as slaves.
Many evil characters and beasts we know were not born evil, they were made evil and were forced to be evil. Arachne, Medusa and Pandora were victims. The Cerberus and Cholchian Dragon were ordered by their masters to be inhumane and ferocious. They were portrayed as necessary evil to create a source of terror, disgust, and horror, but they have a pitiful abusive background for what they have become. Their lives were made hard; they were forced to work while the Gods and heroes were at ease and splendor; they had to face cruel poverty; they were driven away from their families; they were isolated and humiliated; some of them were sexually abused; some were punished for turning down certain romantic advances; some were used as deception that was so potent and were used inflict punishment upon mankind. Gods lied to them, deceived them, and ignored them. Their hard works were not appreciated but stolen. Some were trapped in huge caves, labyrinths, tied to mountains, buried deep under just because of mere jealousy and fear of being challenged were ruling their mind.
Subsequently, the victims rose - strained in deception to punish and take vengeance, which we think of as evil. What we must understand here is to expect the unexpected from our blood, allies and enemies, the ones with us will not always be true to us and there are times when traitors will be loyal to us and times when enemies will show us kindness even when our own kin don’t. It must be in our wit to decipher that “childhood is all about loving heroes and maturity is all about understanding villains”.
“There are about four bajillion different versions of myths”, of how the world got made and how creations started, and civilizations evolved and evil rose. Spoiler Alert – It is MESSY! No matter what version it is, it still has the betrayals, mutilations, murders, and flesh-eating farmyard animals in all their gory and blood thirsty glory. So, if you the courage to take in “horror shows, bloodbaths, lying, poisoning, backstabbing and cannibalism”, only then venture into Greek myths, because it definitely was the Golden Age for all that. Nevertheless, at the end we learn that every story has three sides, the side of the hero, the side of the villain and finally the truth. Not every side of the story will have a happy ending, because a hero’s journey is never easy and often is fatal, a villain’s life will have lots of pains and frustrations, but along the way everyone will meet many loyal friends and unexpected courageous allies.