Mythology and Literature: Melpomene

Melpomene was the one of the nine Greek muses, and the Muse of Tragedy. Muses were goddesses of music, song, and dance. She is often portrayed with a tragedy mask and a sword. Melpomene’s name means to celebrate with song. As part of Aristotle’s traditional definition of Tragedy, Aristotle talks about the important of song and music within a tragedy as the the chorus should contribute to the overall play and should link the other factors. So in traditional plays tragedies such as Oedipus Rex, there is a chorus but song and music feature in tragedies since then. In Othello, Desdemona sings a song that reflects and foreshadows her own situation called Willow willow, acting herself like a greek chorus:

Take this for my farewell and latest adieu, 
Write this on my tomb, that in love I was true… 

Melpomene features in the Disney movie Hercules as part of the chorus.

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Mythology and Literature: Lamia

In Ancient Greek mythology, Lamia is a child-eating daemon. She was the daughter of Poseidon, and a queen loved by Zeus. When Zeus’s wife, Hera grew jealous, and accounts vary, saying that she either killed all of Lamia’s children or stole them away. Lamia is driven mad and is transformed into a monster by devouring other children in revenge.

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Lamia was the influence of the poem by John Keats, entitled Lamia. In the poem there is no mention of Lamia being a children-eating monster, rather she is trapped in the form of a snake with a woman’s mouth and human teeth. Lamia desires to have the form of a woman and manages to become human through a deal with Hermes. The only possible link is that it is never explained why Lamia is in the form of snake, so Keats could be implying she is there in punishment for eating children.

Mythology and Literature: The Three Fates

Fate is a theme and motif that features throughout a range of literature. Within mythology, there are endless examples of fate and a principle controlling power that has power and control over heroes and villains alike. One example of mythological figures linked to fate are the Three Fates in Greek mythology.

The Three Fates, also known as the Moirae, are part of Ancient Greek Mythology. They were thought to control the destinies of mortals and the duration of life. They were thought to control all parts of life, all the successes and failures within a persons life. The Three Fate sisters are Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. Clotho was the ‘Spinner’ and she would spin the thread of life; she is linked the symbol of a spindle. Lachesis was the ‘Allotter’ and measures the thread of life, with control of life span. And finally Atropos was the ‘Inevitable’ and cuts the thread, deciding the manner and time of death.

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The Three Fates are often linked to tragedy as within traditional Greek plays there was an underlying message that one could not escape a foretold fate. Some example also would warn that one should not anger the gods or view themselves as equal to the gods as humans are bound by fate. An example of Greek play involving fate is Oedipus Rex, where as everyone tries to escape the predicated fate, including Oedipus, end up causing events to occur as warned, leading to suicide and bloody events. Further the idea of the three fates could compared to the 3 witches of Macbeth, as fate is a major theme in the play.

April Reads

April is a great time to read with Easter break allowing you to sit down and breathe for a moment, and even better a time for reading.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
I haven’t seen the film so when I saw the book, I thought I’d better read it and that was a great decision. The remarkable stories of the women at Langely are engaging and amazing. Dorothy, Katherine and Mary are brilliant individuals who have shaped the future and their story is a brilliant read. The book reveals so much history that has been wrongly untold, the engaging plot is so much more than the story of how an American made it into orbit.

Heroes and Villains by Angela Carter
The sad, but moving story of two people in a world of barbarians and lost. Communication becomes the bitter undoing of them as the promise of something better becomes slowly lost in a world of beautiful imagery and lions. A great read.

The Scorch Trails by James Dashner
The second of the trilogy is as good as the first. The mystery is maintained as well as the high morality rate of the trials. The introduction of new characters add to the story and the new setting is as deadly as the first and even crueler.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
The tragedy of Willy Loman as he falls apart to the audience’s eyes is incredible heart breaking and moving. The play gives a deep and profound emptiness as we watch something so human and yet so soul clenching. It is as brilliant as it was when it was written in 1949. Everyone should read it or see it as it shows the bitterness of failure and the human response to a bleak and hopeless future.

Letters and Sun

He was looking out the kitchen window. The dirty glass separating him from the garden. Outside it was sunny, the warm rays spread themselves across the glass. Light and warmth from outside seeped in. A small smile pulled at the left side of his lip. It was early spring, the perfect time to plant out the seeds he’d spent the winter growing on the window still.

He heard the letter box swing open and be stuffed with something, probably bills. There’s always bills. He turned and walked forward. Waddling like the old man he was. His hips aching and his knees battered by age. He constantly asked himself, when did he let himself become an old man? He wasn’t there yet, but his body was slipping ahead of him.

He bent down to pick up the letters that had scattered on the mat. Muttering to himself as he did. His rough fingers traced their way across the letters. It’s always bills. Until he looked at the last letter. It had a hand written address. It was addressed to him. He looked at the scrawl trying to see if he recognised it. The curled letters brought nothing to the front of his mind. He ripped open the letter, curiosity locking it’s jaw around his mind.

As he read the letter, his insides were slowly hollowed out like his guts were hacked with broad sweeping steps. The other letters and the torn envelope fluttered to the grown like a dying butterfly. His old hands shaking with small tremors.

I’m taking your lack of reply as a hint and this shall be my last letter.

He hadn’t seen any other letters. He didn’t know the full image, the letter only providing snippets of the story. It told him enough.

Footsteps ran down the stairs heavily. The slowed as they reached the bottom and approached him.

“What’s wrong?” She asked concerned. He turned to look at her. His eyes clouded with confusion and tight tears. Her eyes fluttered down to the letter. Her eyes flew wide with panic, followed by a wave of shame. She turned and walked towards the kitchen, flying like a bird from a cat. He looked at her for a second before following. The bills left littered on the floor.

“Do you know about this?” He asked putting the letter on the table in front of her. She turned to face the window as though the letter offended her. Her silence spoke loud.

“Is it true?” He asked.

“I don’t know everything-”

“What do you know?” He cut her off. She didn’t look at him. Instead her eyes jumped around the room, never looking at anything for more than a second.

Outside a blackbird jumped around the borders, pecking at weeds. It’s beady eyes scanning for food. It pecked at the bright green, spring growth. It could barely hear the rising voices inside the house.

“You knew about all of it?!” He spat in anger and shock. Her eyes darted away.

“I -”

“You knew!” He stated the confirmation. His tone left no argument.

“Why would you keep this from me?” His voice broke as the anger couldn’t carry it to the end of the sentence and sadness and hollowness took over.

“Why?”

“We thought it would be better for -”

“Don’t fucking lie!” He said his hand slamming into the wooden table. It shook on it’s old legs a little. The letter jumped away from his hand with the movement.

“You just wanted to fucking lie to me.” He said.

“I wanted to keep you -”

“Bloody lies!” He shouted. He wanted to hear the reasons, the cover-ups, the lies. He also couldn’t stand a single word she said. Every sound from her lips hurt and bruised deeper.

A thick silence settled and smothered them. A fog that swirled in and out of their lungs. Choking her with soot from the guilt fire that blazed in her heart. Drying his throat like a desert wind. Neither spoke. He let his head drop forward. His accusing gaze falling with it too. He was too old and tired to maintain it, but it was still there. They both knew it.

He left the room, marching out with curses muttered under his breath. He strolled into the garden. The grass gently stroking his shoes. The garden around him bathing in the sun, drinking in the light like honey. He sat down on the old garden chair. It sunk and sagged under his weight.

He looked around the garden. Looking at what he had built and nurtured into reality. Potential appearing and making more potential. What is potential other than something lost. Something he always lost. The seeds wouldn’t survive in the ground, the plants would die, the flowers would stop blooming. As though his eyes gave them damnation as he looked at them.

The grass was very green, the sky was extremely blue. And it disgusted him, because he knew the truth.