Iphigenia

All posts tagged Iphigenia

Subtitle Oopsy

Published September 6, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

I think I just won the “stupidest title for a blog post ever” award.

If there is such an award.

(I’m not sure if I’d actually want there to be one or not.)

Anyway, I just wanted to post about something stupid that actually tied in to my somewhat estranged “Greek mythology” theme.

So, I’m sorry to say that my birthday was last month, and as usual I couldn’t convince my family to pretend it wasn’t happening.  But at least they had the decency to only give me one present.  In this case, it was the Blu-Ray of the movie Iphigenia, based on the Euripides play Iphigenia at Aulis.  (But without the dea ex machina ending that scholars have been arguing about for centuries.)

I saw the movie years ago in a class, and I’d been trying to get my hands on it for a couple of years to see it again, but the DVD was long out of print, and apparently someone stole the Netflix lending copy.  (Seriously, it’s been on my brother’s queue for years.)  But it was finally released on Blu-ray recently by Olive Films (at least, I think that’s what the logo said) so I was finally able to see it again.

I hadn’t read the play yet when I first saw the movie, so I was surprised at just how much material there was before the start of the play.  (Must have been at least ten to fifteen minutes.)

The point of this post, though, is to tell you about a little goof they made in the subtitles.  (And yes, I only just got around to watching it yesterday.  On account of I have a slight problem with my television, and currently have to take Blu-rays to my brother’s place to watch them.)  For those who don’t know the story of the play, the only pertinent detail you need for my anecdote is that Agamemnon sent a letter back to Mycenae, asking that his eldest daughter, Iphigenia, be sent alone to Aulis, in order to marry Achilles.  Of course, his wife, Clytemnestra, wasn’t about to let her daughter go off alone, so she’s come to Aulis with her.  And when she’s talking to Agamemnon about the proposed marriage, she’s asking about what kind of man Achilles is.

And Agamemnon tells her that he’s “descended from Aesop.”

And I’m sitting here going “Um, what?”

Because I know that’s not what it said in Euripides.  Because while Aesop is one of those writers that — like Homer — has a partially (or entirely) mythologized life story, he’s still a real person.  (Probably.)  And lived in historical times.  And was a slave.

But the movie was going on, and I forgot about the line until after the movie was over.

Then I was suddenly like “Oh, duh!”

What the line actually said was that Achilles was descended from Asopos, not Aesop.  Asopos, of course, being a river god and the father of Aegina, who was kidnapped/ravished/impregnated by Zeus, giving birth to Aiakos, who was the father of Peleus, father of Achilles.

Now, it still strikes me as weird to pick Asopos rather than Zeus in order to talk about Achilles’ divine lineage (not to mention what about his mother, Thetis, the most powerful of the Nereids?) but presumably that was either because pretty much everyone in the mythic nobility is descended from Zeus, or — more likely — for metrical reasons.

But writing Aesop instead of Asopos…

…it’s hard to find rhyme or reason for that one.

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Still have writer’s block

Published January 16, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

I just can’t figure out how to continue book 2 of the trilogy I started with this year’s NaNo novel.  I mean, I know what needs to happen in the scene, and the following scenes, and I’m looking forward to much of what’s to come later on, particularly the scenes between Sondra and Eddie (aka Cassandra and Odysseus), but somehow I just can’t find the way to get that one scene moving.

I think there are two reasons I can’t get it to move:

1) I don’t really know the characters very well.  Their mythological counterparts (Agamemnon and Iphigenia) haven’t really played much of a role in any of my directly myth-based fiction.  (Well, technically they have, but indirectly in Agamemnon’s case, and in Iphigenia’s case…she was a very different character then.)

2) The type of scene–behind the scenes power play as a minor battle is taking place on the front lines–is one that I’m particularly alien to, not only in my writing, but even in reading and watching.

There’s not much I can do about reason two, but I think maybe if I work on reason one, I can jump-start the process.

Tomorrow, or maybe later tonight, I’ll try writing a short story about these two characters, not the original myth versions, but these new versions.  Something before the book started, to delve into their relationship with each other, and with the other characters in the book.  Maybe once I know them better, I’ll have less trouble with the scene.

Hmm, not much of a post, is it?

Well, I’ll go ahead and say a little about the book I’m working on, since I’m not sure how much I’ve said in previous posts that touch on the subject.  Originally, the book was going to be called “Helen of Space,” but that was before I realized it was merely part one of three.  That title is probably going to be the title of the third book, but I’m not sure what to call the first two now.  The series title is something like “The Ganymede War,” since it takes place on the moon of Ganymede.   Well, with some of the first book being on space stations in orbit around Jupiter, and probably at least half of the third book being in space around Ganymede and/or Jupiter in one way or another.

It’s very anime-inspired, particularly by shows like Gundam and Macross, so it involves–among other things–giant robots, though they’ve played a surprisingly small role so far, and will be all but absent from book two entirely, due to the structure of the story.  But most importantly, it’s not actually a re-telling of the Trojan War in space, though the original title might make you think so.  The characters are in fact the reincarnations of the various figures from the Trojan War, and over the five thousand years since the original war, they’ve been reincarnated repeatedly, and each time the war has played out essentially the same way over and over again.  Minor variations due to events outside the characters’ control (like the eruption of Vesuvius) and of course massive changes due to different historical circumstances, weapons technology, cultural conventions, et ceterea.  But always it’s started because Alexander/Paris seduces/abducts Helen, and the same people always die at the hands of the same foes.  (With a few variations.)  This time, however, Alexander/Paris is killed before he can meet Helen, so it looks like the war is off, until it’s stirred up for other reasons.

Naturally, no one remembers their past lives.  Except Cassandra.  But she’s still treated as insane, in part because she sometimes slips into other languages when she’s talking.

At first, I had hoped to make it unclear as to whether Sondra was really insane or not, to make it a point of mystery about whether or not the whole reincarnation thing was really going on, but as I started writing, I realized that there was no way of making Sondra seem insane to the reader.  One of the ways she sounds crazy to other people in her world is that she’s always referencing their past lives, things that are long forgotten two thousand(ish) years from now, but well known to us.  (For example, Sarpedon and Glaucos are named Sullivan and Gilbert this time around…so when Sondra meets up with both of them together, she starts cracking jokes about The Pirates of Penzance.  Modern people get that, but those around her don’t…and that makes it clear to the reader that she’s not actually insane.)

I’m not sure if I want to go ahead and ever get inside her head, though.  Well, okay, technically I’ve done that already; I wrote a short story that started out with the 20th century go-round of the war (where it was much smaller, needless to say, just a blood feud) and then had her waking up later in book 2 than I’ve gotten.  I could work it into the book itself, but…I dunno.  Doesn’t feel right.  It’s more about the relationship of that version of Patroclos and Achilles anyway.  (I’d come up with their story–more tragic than the usual Achilles-gets-his-friend/lover-killed-via-his-own-selfish-actions version–and wanted an excuse to write down at least part of it.)

The real question that I don’t have an answer for is whether or not Helen remembers.  Her name is always Helen, even when they’ve lived in places where that’s an impossibly weird name (Japan, China, Inca Peru), and Cassandra is so convinced that Helen remembers that for centuries she was sure that Helen was actually immortal, and kept re-starting the war intentionally.  She probably doesn’t fully remember, but has glimmers and glimpses of her previous lives.  Probably.

That’s something I can worry about later.

Right now I gotta find a way to get the story moving again.  This time last year I was writing up a storm.  It’s annoying that I’ve been spending far more time gaming and customizing dolls lately than I have spent writing.

Repost: Achilles is a slut.

Published September 11, 2014 by Iphis of Scyros

Pre-repost comment:  I actually grabbed the URL on the original for this one:  http://39years.blog.com/2014/08/31/achilles-is-a-slut/

Aug 31: Achilles is a slut.

No, seriously, he is! Er, was? Would have been?

Well, whatever the proper conjugation of “to be” is for such a statement about a mythological figure, it remains a true statement none the less.

Think about it, just within the firmly established mythic corpus. He has his one, true, abiding, life-long passion, which is either friendship or love depending on what you’re reading, and that is, of course, for Patroclos. But then he also has Deidamia, Iphigenia, Briseis, Diomede, Penthesileia and Polyxena. (Though admittedly he only actually managed to sleep with three of those women, but that’s somewhat immaterial.) Plus there were versions (now lost) in which he secretly met–and had sex with–Helen during the war. (And those versions were well-known enough that according to one of the ancient writers who went to his temple on the Euxene, the statue of him there depicted him in the process of making love to Helen. Although I rather doubt that was really the case, the sheer fact that someone was willing to claim it at a time when anyone with the time and money could go there and see for themselves is impressive!) And let us not forget that some of the later versions of the death of Troilos had Achilles fall in love with him, too. Plus in The Fall of Troy, during the funeral games, Quintus Smyrnaeus implied that Achilles had slept with all the female slaves being offered as prizes. Oh, and two authors–including Apollodorus–said that following his death he married Medea in the Elysian Fields.

If the man wore pants, he would have been unable to keep it in them.

And all that, of course, is on top of the fact that he also apparently had (free) women throwing themselves at him all the time. You know all those towns he sacked during the ten years of the Trojan War? For at least two of them, there are myths about a girl of the town–in both cases, the daughter of the king, I think–falling in love with him from a distance and therefore betraying her people for his sake. (Though in at least one of those cases, he had the girl killed afterwards, so perhaps it’s not the best of examples.) In any case, according to the Iliad, he was the most attractive man among the Greek forces in addition to being the strongest and most skillful warrior, so it’s hardly to be considered surprising if he was popular with the ladies.

Moving beyond that, I’m sure that plenty of non-classical sources have given him additional ladies (and/or men) to play with. (Even I’m guilty on that score: for my semi-Young Adult series, I not only gave him two more (in order to father new bastard children) but also had one of his former Myrmidons assume a completely different (yet still non-mythically accurate) mother for one of them.) Of course, for non-classical sources, that’s more or less just going with the pre-established character we’ve inherited, right?

But just looking at all the things that were written about him during the classical period, you have to wonder. Was he the original male wish-fulfillment fantasy character? Did the ancient Greek men read about all his women (and/or men/boys) and imagine what it would be like to be him? Was that the point? Were those snakes on the worship disks worshiper code for “send me some of your luck with the ladies!”? (Okay, yes, I realize that last one is ridiculous.) But as to the rest of it, I’m totally serious. If he didn’t have so many glaring character flaws, I’d wonder if he was the original “Gary Stu”. (Although the ancients didn’t seem to see his character flaws as being nearly as bad as we see them, they did still see them as flaws. I think.)

Admittedly, a lot of this argument would seem to hold true for Heracles as well. In fact, most of it does. The one thing that doesn’t, though, is the idea of the ancients imagining themselves wanting to be him. Because although Heracles was worshiped even more extensively than any other hero, he was also a figure of fun, almost of mockery. On the Athenian stage, Heracles was treated so comedically that some scholars have suggested that the Alcestis of Euripides was actually performed in lieu of a satyr play. Not only does no work survive that treated Achilles in such a light-hearted fashion, there isn’t even a hint of such a treatment of him among fragments, summaries and references in surviving works. The closest would be Iphigenia at Aulis, also by Euripides, but while he’s not treated as reverentially as usual, he still comes off a lot better than any other man in the play.

I don’t really have any particular reason to be saying all this, mind you. I just thought of it and wanted to get it off my chest. Or whatever.

Gave me something to write about, right?

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