If we choose to see myths as more than literal stories–that is, as being about more than simply the surface events they depict–then we can see one way in which they are stories that live thousands of years and miles outside of their original context.
As the Dionysian Artist suggests, the stories of heroes and monsters don’t have to be only old adventure stories. They’ve survived so long because they are about more than just a series of events, they’re also about transformation and actualization. Monsters can be seen as the shadow, the chaos in the world, which are integrated by the hero’s triumph into something more.
(This was originally published on polytheist.com December 2014. As mentioned in previous posts I’m compiling all my writing here for posterity and for future reference.)
When we think of Greek mythology images of fantastic monsters and heroes often comes to mind. The stories are filled with hybrid beasts that haunt the lands as challengers to would be champions. We see these monsters as just that: monsters. An opposition, a narrative piece to add some excitement to tales of heroes. But what if monsters hold a greater significance? What do we gain by understanding their role in the heroes journey? Why do I feel a sympathy and even a reverence to monsters?
There is always a degree of kitsch when discussing Greek mythology. Many of us were introduced to the myths as children. Growing up in the 90’s I would watch the ultimate of camp: Hercules and Xena…
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