She gets on with life as a wannabe music journalist,
She’s a charismatic kinda gal.
She likes chilling on Sundays,
She likes reading in the week.
She likes to contemplate owning a goat.
But when she starts to daydream,
Her mind turns straight back to her cat-Tatty Anna
Sometimes I look at her and I look into her eyes,
I notice the way she idolises about Tatiana with a smile,
sensual lips she can’t disguise.
But she thinks it’s GOAT making her life worthwhile.
Why is it so hard for her to decide which she loves more?
She likes to use words like ‘eish man
She likes to use words like ‘sorry.’
She likes to use words about GOAT finds
But when she stops her talking,
Her mind turns straight back to Tatiana having a heart attack.
She likes to hang out with Pinkie
She likes to kick back with Belle,
But when left alone,
Her mind turns inwards she obsesses over losing her Tats
She’s not too fond of gossip,
She really loves cheesecake & wants a goat
But she just thinks back to Tatiana
And she’s happy once again. knowing she is owned.
This essay seeks to demonstrate how valid some form of knowledge and belief in mythology was, during the Classical era, in Athens. It remained a potent force in many different contexts, this will be evidenced by analysing four ancient primary sources.
The first is related to Performance: in ‘old comedy’. Specifically focusing on a section of Aristophanes’ ‘the Frogs’ (136-64.) work ‘, the second examines a source on ‘sacred disease’, by a possible Hippocratic doctor (I-II), The third primary source will explore the ‘Homeric hymn to Demeter’ (2) (1-495) and its relevance in classical society and finally the fourth source presented will look to the relevance and what’ mythos’ meant in terms of ‘logos’ during the Classical period by looking at one of Plato’s famous works ‘the republic’ (2.377b5-3.3.389d5). The main themes to be covered are the gods, life, ethics and the afterlife.
Myth’s continued appearance in entertainment gave playwrights a broader spectrum of themes to play out in relation to the God’s character traits, ideas of the afterlife and what was considered to be good and bad gods. Aristophanes play ‘the Frogs’ which won first place at the annual Dionysus festival is often looked at in a political context.
This essay simply seeks to look at the play from a more surface value perspective. This play proves that myth was indeed a powerful antidote to the serious more philosophical and everyday issues that Athenians were confronted with.
It depends on how informed the internal or external audience were as to how much an individual gained from the experience.
There is a scene that occurs that is completely sardonic where Xanthias expresses his discomfort of going to the underworld and a dialogue takes place between a corpse and himself whereby he is trying to barter with a corpse to go with Dionysus in place of him, “Hey you the dead one, I am talking to you, do you want to carry some luggage to Hades? “(136-64.).
This kind of baldy alternative take on Hades underworld shows how myth was still a huge inspiration for artists in Greek society in regards to the issues and questions relating to the Gods and the afterlife . Myth in this context was contorted and manipulated to tease an audience and provide entertainment.
Then contemporary audiences would have to have some familiarity with myth and Greek culture to fully appreciate the wit that Aristophanes regularly makes reference to. An example: Dionysus preparing to go to the underworld when Herakles is describing the directions to take: “Next …. Of hands”. Dionysus wants to know who these men and women are. Herakles tells him that (they are) ‘the blessed’ ‘the initiate’s’.
This reference is proof that outside of this play there is some other knowledge about the ‘Eleusinian mysteries’ –specifically the cult of Demeter. It appears that on stage nobody was safe from being mocked.
According to ‘Homeric hymn to Demeter’ (471-482) “Happy is the one of mortals of the earth. But those who are uninitiated into the holy rites and have no part are never destined to a similar joy when they are dead in the gloomy realm below”.
Cults of religious worship were colossal in Athens during the classical period even whilst supposed ‘scientific’ and philosophical debate was occurring. The exact rituals and full commentary of worship which occurred in this particular cult were kept extremely secrete. Modern excavations show that at the sanctuary there was holy place dedicated to Demeter (M&L, pg344). The cult did not discriminate class, age nor gender.
This was an annual and ritualistic event similar to the festival of Dionysus in that it attracted masses of people but for different and more serious reasons. The ‘Homeric hymn to Demeter’ contents are emotional, intimate, vengeful, god fearing and relies on the God and Goddess of fertility (which provides an under tone of birth and rebirth to the nature of worship) to carry on harvesting the crops so the mortal race could continue to survive.
The church and state stuck to a rigid programme of what was to occur on each day of this 9 day festival which took place during an important time in terms of agriculture produce is of concern.
The nine day celebrations tie in with the hymn “For nine days… her body.” (40-48). and is a particularly antagonizing quest for a mother looking for her daughter who had been abducted by Hades. It is believed a part of the myth of Persephone and Demeter was appropriated for ritualistic re-enactment. .This cult did not dissolve until it was repressed in Roman times.
This shows the unwavering worship of Gods of mythos despite other ways and methods of approaching myth during this period.
Another important area to highlight with regards to Greek mythology is the attitude towards medical treatment when it came to illness and the study of Biology.
Like in our modern day there are various methods and people to whom we can put our faith in to cure an illness.
The same can be said for the Classical period. This Hippocratic source talks about ‘the sacred disease ‘– (or Epilepsy as we know it).He states that: ‘in my opinion (it) is no more divine or more sacred than other diseases but has a natural cause.’ One could interpret this cause as not coming from a random bored God but coming from our complex brain and body which is divine because of its complexity in nature.
The source presents as wanting to reason and encourage people to look to alternative ways to curing maladies.
Instead to by following the norm by a “facile method of healing….consisting as it does of purifications and incantations” and then showing a reluctance to look at nature is pure ignorance. This source shows alternative thought that perhaps the Gods give us the internal make up to cure our own bodies. Indeed, this physician (II) has a strong opinion concerning the people who ‘christened’ epilepsy (mental illness) as a ‘sacred illness’. He terms them as ‘quacks’ and ‘charlatans’.
These supposed knowledgeable people ‘being at a loss’ in their ability to ‘cure’ or atone for an illness, have instead ‘spun’ as the Hippocratic doctor says “a plausible story and established a method a method of treatment to secure their own positions”.
He is not attacking people’s belief in the Gods. He is stating that respected people in the community had exploited ill people in their ignorance and that there is in fact a more natural way of finding a solution to the various ‘maladies’ by studying the body in its present ill state.
The majority of whom followed the Hippocratic non-traditional method of teaching did so for honourable means to genuinely find a cause and a solution to all illness even if s the prescription came in the form practical advice .Professor Helen King (Open University transcript on ‘Myth in Medicine conclusion) makes a valid point stating that ‘ Peoples beliefs about their bodies are complicated… Medicine doesn’t deal with questions like ‘Why me?’.
Treatment often went hand in hand with religious worship as one relates and attempts totreats the ill mind or body and the other relates and attemptsto treat our psyche .
Plato believed that the soul and the body were separate to one another. In his ‘the Republic’, a dialogue between Socrates and Adeimantus is essentially a discussion on ethics and morals as to what could be interpreted as the necessary elements needed to create a utopian society.
Socrates is not against the belief in the Gods –his argument is to do with content and how the ancient poets have portrayed the Gods in their epic poems; ‘the ones Hesiod and Homer .to people’ (2377. b5-6e.) He argues that these poets created ‘falsehoods’. Stories that make the Gods appear without virtues.
Socrates goes on to discourse (378.5c-e.). One critical viewpoint is that he doesn’t believe that children should be brought up on stories about Gods at war, killing their parents and stealing for example.
These kind of parables, he believes are not setting a solid foundation for people to model their own morals and code of ethics. Young people especially are impressionable .
There is further debate about what is good and bad and the two characters come to the decision that “Gods of course are really good and they must be described as such.’(379.10b.).
Socrates does state that if these stories need to be known then they should be censored to the correct and minimum of people. (378.5a.)
If one is to take on the idea that Gods are good then the idea that they are responsible for all that is not good is a contradiction. The overall summary of Socrates argument is that if people felt a personal sense of responsibility towards themselves to be good in this life then they should not have to fear the afterlife.
Furthermore there is interesting discussion concerning the Gods and their changeability (379.10d.382a). This lengthy debate about there being something more wonderful than the divine form would only make sense. If there was a virtue better than goodness. Socrates again insists that poets must present the Gods as they are: good –virtuous and not in a way that allows them to assume many disguises lowering the basic morale of a society. “Nor should Mothers… children too cowardly.” (379. 5d-e.) It would appear that these snippets of dialogue from ‘the Republic’ reveals that Plato’s’ philosophizing was on other canonised version of the Gods.
These characters had strong views about how the Gods could come across as unreliable punishing, moody, and unstable and that these qualities could not instil unification of trust, virtue and stability in a society. One can clearly see that Classical philosophy was not mainly concerned with terminating myth but it questioned the beneficial effects certain mythological representation’s had on an individual and as a common people.
To conclude we can see that in antiquity Epic myth and Tragedy, Old comedy was never meant to come across as banal. Indeed people with influencing and fantastical ideas of Gods and the afterlife and the author’s agenda and ethics were displayed and debated about. Pre Homeric and Hesiod literature mythos was mostly told orally and so there were many contradictions and versions of myths and what mythical characters did. There were many determining factors. One for example, was the strength of the story teller skills, another was more concerned with demographics. One thing is certain is that Greek mythology was the inspiration and conversation /debate starter from many areas even outside of the western world for subject matter relating specifically to ethics, the afterlife and life and creation. A person can consider this as universal evolvement of thinking and it is not assumed that Greeks were the first humans to enquire on and seek reason on our existence through debate about mythology. There is simply not enough evidence to back this up. Finally Mythos on its own acted as a sacred harbinger to bring meaning to life and issues inside and outside of it.
*TMA Submition for Open University- Year one MA -Creative writing- fiction genre
My family. Here we all are, sitting around the circular dining room table- flecked with bits of gold. Ma sits under a hanging portrait of this Christmas just gone. Three weeks ago. We are all smiling in it including Poppy. Poppy sits playing with her Annabelle doll, on my husband’s lap. Sat opposite from Ma, closest to the electric fire hearth is Gran. I find myself sitting across from Gran. An iciness breathes mist over us. It separates me from them, cloaks me in a fog. I try to swallow. The air is so thick it chokes me, I’m forced to put my hands to my throat. Nobody notices me. Nobody notices me the way they used to. I tune in to the conversation-taking place.
‘Of course I’m not suggesting this is your fault. I should have known. Done more…’ Nan bursts into tears. A cry out for:
I need attention I’m suffering the most.
My skin bristles. Nan pulls her scarf tighter around her neck, and then throws out a familiar comment about it being draughty.
‘You know I could catch pneumonia with my Asthma.’ She coughs. Ma gets up to put on the electric fire.
‘I didn’t take her seriously. You know what Angie was like?’ Ma’s eyes are red as the rosary beads she is thumbing; she looks over to an unusually quiet Poppy.
‘Did she just do it to spite me?’ How could she just leave her own…?’
My husband throws a warning look at Ma,
‘Marie, for Poppies sake. Our Angie suffered more than she let on.’ Ma sits back down. ‘Let’s put on a cartoon, luv?’ Poppy shakes her head.
She doesn’t look at us. I look straight at her, willing her to leave this table. Leave this conversation. She lifts her head and looks me dead on in the eyes. I instinctively smile. Eddie and me always stood together when it came to Poppy. Her face is pale, her eyes sunken, her skin is drawn in so tight I can see cheek bones protrude. Beneath her eyes-, veiled shadows betray her youthful face. She clings onto Annabelle, still looking me dead on in the eyes.
‘When’s Mummy coming home?’
Silence. Her words enmesh with the silence. Her question disarms me. Marks me. The arrow leaves its bow splintering my heart. I open my mouth to scream out as many words as I can. Condensation steams the air distilling me into silence. I reach my hand across the table to grab hers. She doesn’t see me. I glare at my family sitting at the round table. They say nothing. Smothering themselves in sorrow, they witheringly curl inwards. I urge to shake them, uproot them from winters glaze.
-Answer her! Answer my daughter.
Instead, Gran succumbs to a puddle of wrinkled tears, mechanically Ma gets off her chair, attempts to console Gran and naturally it’s up to Eddie to mediate. My calm, rational Eddie. His eyes read as vacant –his beard is wild and unkempt. It’s impossible to read his face. He clears his throat,
‘We’re gonna see Mummy when we give her… say a proper goodbye.’
Gran flounders in her anglers net of remorse. Great splotchy splashes of grief escape. She wails,
‘She’s with the angels –looking down at you, darling!’
I roll my eyes. Of course I love her! Lately, she grates my skin more frequently with her, melodramatics.
– Confess how you truly feel. Relieved!
I’m so fixated on evoking a response from Gran; unnoticed, a light flickers with an intensity to match my own. Eddie carries Poppy over to the sofa, sits her down to watch a cartoon. He covers her with a blanket then kisses her forehead.
‘We’ll see mummy soon? To say goodbye?’
Eddie nods his head, his voice cracks.
‘When will mummy come back from saying goodbye? In spring? My teacher says it’s winter – everything goes to sleep like her?’ Poppy points to ‘Sleeping Beauty’ on the television.
Eddie focuses on the image. The Prince is just about to kiss Aurora on the lips. He turns his head away from the television before he can see Aurora wake up to her true loves kiss. He grinds down on his teeth. Poppy’s eyes remain transfixed on the television. Eddie gets up, crosses the dining room table; I’m compelled to follow him, I have to stop him. Tell him I’m still here. I haven’t gone anywhere. I’ve so much to tell him.
-There is no God! We were right all along. Religion is for people who can’t think for themselves. We were right to take the piss.
Eddie flinches, puts his hands in his jean pockets. I follow him down Ma’s hallway and into the bathroom. He closes the door on me. It doesn’t ever close fully. I slip through the crack of the door that is always ajar.
Head down. Still. He sits on the toilet seat. I kneel down before him; go to lay my head on his knee. He flinches again. Hits himself in the head. Bangs his fist on the wall screams out:
‘Why? We could’ve figured it out, you fucking stubborn mare’ I bring out the best and worst in Eddie. Till death do us part. What are the chances?
He still refuses to let me go. Stubborn.
My symptoms intensify in the days leading up to the funeral. Everything‘s heightened especially emotions that seemingly walk precariously on stilts. I can’t walk through walls or levitate. Nothing like any of the horrors Eddie and me used to watch together, on the sofa.
Unheard, I bellow continuously,
-Just let me go!
Every time I hear my name called reflections of nostalgia flash and beam over and around me. Prompted, I gravitate towards the source. Someone needs me. These past three weeks, I’ve been teleported from one conversation to another. I find myself in a room; familiar or not familiar, with people I know and people I don’t know.
Today I’m summoned to the usual bickering between Ma and Gran. The familiar sound of Gran’s kettle boils in the background.
‘I want that picture of her on her graduation day and flowers- blown up .With azaleas. And roses – she loved roses- pink.’
‘She hates that picture! And she loves- loved yellow roses…’ Ma’s wobbly voice mirrors her jelly struck legs propping her up in her work shoes. She staggers backwards. Like the black dog with a bone, Gran won’t give in,
‘No, she’s my eldest grand daughter and I know her – it is… was pink!’
Ma sits down, doesn’t speak. I go over to her to put my arms around her then she dissolves into tears. Gran bulldozes her way over to us. Intimidated, I move out of her way. Gran holds Ma and Ma lets Gran hug her. Ma calms down, mentions something about pink and yellow roses
Vexed, I shriek
– don’t back down Ma, I love yellow. Yellow roses. The kettle whistles for attention. My voice is lost to an object.
‘I’ll go make that cup of tea’ Nan retreats to her kitchen.
Another opportunity to get close to Ma again. I need to hug her, give her some of my energy. As if on cue, Mum’s tear-stained face crumples just like my heart. A poking hot iron burns a hole right through it. Gran re-enters the room I scarper.
‘Here you go, love. Lost three of my own …, as you know, mind, they never got to Angie’s age. Yellow’s more of a quirky colour like our Angie… was.’ They smile at each other. I move back, the distance seems to illuminate their smiles.
Tonight, I beg for there to be a heaven. This has to be hell. The familiar, incongruous, gravitational pull lures me out of my cavernous abyss. I blink my eyes several times to focus: orientate myself. Hung up around the wall are vintage Disney posters. My eyes settle on Poppies bed. Eddie bends over Poppy and kisses her goodnight,
‘Mummy loves you just as much as I do.’ He tucks her in.
He switches off the light before walking out. I stand and watch my worn out daughter in her bed. She sings herself to sleep just as she does every night. She sings our song: twinkle twinkle little star. With each inflection of her sweet singing voice, the words serve as a needle. Each word stipulates smelting hot ink into my flesh. My neck is ablaze. Before closing her eyes, she whispers,
‘I love you mummy.’
When I reply, scorching chains wrap and lasso me around my neck. My skin swells up in blisters. The familiar sound of her breathing evaporates the pain. I need to be close to her, I need to smell her, kiss her. Carelessly, I run over to her bed to touch her sleeping head. Startled I lunge backward as Poppy instantly wakes up screaming.
– I’m powerless
. Eddie barges into the room, throws on the light and takes Poppy into his arms. I watch her body stiffen; then relax. I watch him settle my daughter back to sleep. My hands ball into tight fists.
-She must know I’m here.
Before I can touch her face, she wakes up screaming like – like she has seen a- ghost.
-I’m that Ghost! I put my hands to my mouth in horror.
Envy bubbles inside me as I witness Eddie consoling Poppy again. I’m half hoping he won’t succeed.
What kind of a mother am I?
I’ve been telling everyone to let me go.
Where will I go?
I can’t drive, no one can see me. There are no other lost souls wondering about telling me to join the dead community!
I won’t give up on my daughter. She needs me. I have to be here.
The stroke of our clock announces its time; a primitive realisation slithers down my very core. Nausea spirals up into my throat. I run into our bathroom, heave over the toilet, nothing comes out. I catch sight of my reflection in the mirror; I see vicious V-shaped welts where the noose of the rope has cut into my neck. This is what Eddie came home to.
The cloying black dog of depression haunted me. Its delivered dose of pain was exquisite- nothing took it away. Not drinking, overdosing, drugging myself, talking-nothing. Eventually, I told it to sit down. I told Eddie repeatedly,
– I just want to disappear.
– How can I help you? His eyes pleaded for an answer. I would always lash out,
-Unless you help me disappear, you can’t!
I remained imprisoned in our bed and he would go back to work and look after Poppy and the house. He could walk away from me. I couldn’t. I resent him for that. I can see myself now, googling the various ways people commit suicide. One article struck my eye ‘Men are more successful at committing suicide’.
-They don’t mess about with poisoning themselves –they resort to more violent means.
That is the moment I reached out to the wrong Alpha.
The black dog and I began sleeping together. It became my obsession. Up-close, I could analyse it, experiment with it. As a couple, it didn’t take much to find that Alpha rage. One phone call from Ma,
-Just snap out of it. If you’re going to do it, get on with it.
-Fine, I will! I hung up on her before she could hang up on me.
My impulsiveness finds me trapped within this mirror. It’s cold. Everything I read is back to front. Everything I do is back to front. It doesn’t reflect my true intentions. When I reach out, in fact, the more I reach out the more pain I inflict. I back away from the mirror until I’m pressed up, with my back against the bathroom wall.
What have I done?
What right do I have trying to tell my family how to deal with their loss?
Eddie will never know that I was messing about; I didn’t know if I could actually go through with it. From a great height in a corner of the bathroom my body feels cut loose from itself. I can see it happen in front of my eyes. Like a rerun episode, I can’t pause. The noose around my neck, in the shower. Steam shrouds the mirror, with slippery feet, I accidently knock myself off that chair and in that moment I realise,
– I don’t want to die.
I can’t scream and tell anyone. I made the decision when I decided to sleep with my enemy. I’ve interrupted the natural course of life. A lost soul in life: a lost soul in death. There are no bright lights to come with this epiphany. I exit the bathroom, stumble down the staircase, out the front door, and walk aimlessly down the street. I sense a familiar pair of eyes examining me; I look up and see the black dog in its true form. It waits for me to catch up. We walk side by side. I don’t look back. I am the one preventing people from moving on. I have to let go.