What Greek Myth Can Tell Us

Hypish sort of thing (I think) from Paul OMahoney in the Independent … here’s the end bit:

[…] But the Greek myths don’t just shed light on modern day Greece – they illuminate the whole world. The global financial crisis was created by a brand new banking breed of Midases, all of them hungry for gold. Midas was a king who did one good deed and was rewarded by the god Apollo who told him he would grant him one wish. What would Midas choose: world peace? An end to hunger? An Olympics that was delivered on budget? No. He wished that everything he touched would turn into gold. EVERYTHING. This included his daughter, as well as all the food he tried to eat. Not a smart move. The gods had to step in and revoke his wish, but not before the damage was already done…

There are further warnings from the past. We constantly worry nowadays about conservation – preserving the planet and its natural wonders for future generations. It is unbearably sad to think that our grandchildren may never see a panda bear (although I do think pandas are a bit overrated – how can one animal sleep for so long? They do nothing! And if they don’t want to have sex, well, you just can’t force it can you?), and it is awful to think of young people growing up in this century who may never witness the many beautiful animals this world has to offer. Well, that didn’t bother those ancient Greek heroes much did it? When’s the last time you caught David Attenborough narrating glorious high-definition footage of a Chimaera battling to the death with a Hydra? That’s right, never: because Bellerophon and Heracles got there first. In fact, Heracles must be responsible for the extinction of more species than any man before or since. If Disney’s Hercules had been in Disney’s Lion King then it would have been a very different film (and highly unlikely to get a ‘U’ certificate).

But the Greeks had the right idea. Their heroes had faults – plenty of them – but they didn’t have it all their own way. Yes Heracles was an eco-warrior’s worst nightmare, but he also died in excruciating pain wearing a poisoned cloak given to him by his wife. Odysseus must have sailed further than Dame Ellen MacArthur in his quest to make it home, and Midas ended up hungry and alone, with his ears replaced with those of an ass. If only we could mete out similar punishment to those who were foolish enough to think that everything they touched would turn to gold this time round.

The terrible problems that afflict Western culture today were woven into the myths of the people who gave us that culture in the first place. They really knew what was what those ancient Greeks – so maybe the solutions are in there too.

… personally, I always thought it important to recognize that his labours were a major ‘make work’ project and all those monsters Hercules battled probably would have died anyway … they were the only members of their species and don’t seem to have had any breeding partners …

One thought on “What Greek Myth Can Tell Us

  1. Do you understand the following text in Paul Omahoney’s article: “They really knew what was what those ancient Greeks.” and whom the personal pronom there refers to? If you really know what that text means, could you explain it tome.? Thank you very much!

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