|Copy of Farnese Hercules |
at The National Gallery of Art
(photo belongs to and ©Amalia Dillin)
as their larger stories, such as they were, were lost.
And in Classical Greece, the myths were still in flux. The playwright Euripides never did make up his mind about Helen’s involvement during the Trojan War, and no one seems able to decide whether Heracles performed his labors before or after he murdered his wife, Megara, and their three children. Theseus is sometimes the son of Poseidon, other times simply a child of Aegeus, and in yet other stories, both! And let’s not even talk about the Argonauts. That myth contradicts itself in a hundred different ways.
The point is, the stories changed. The myths, the adventures of these heroes, they weren’t set in stone. Not even after the Greeks re-learned to write. And if, even then, the stories were told, retold, invented and reinvented, why should we not continue that grand tradition in the modern day? Why should we remain beholden to the ideas of morality and ethics of times long gone when we revisit these same heroes and gods?
In order to survive, mythology has to be made relevant. Snorri Sturluson knew that, when he wrote his Prose Edda in a last ditch attempt to preserve the poetic styles and stories of his culture and heritage. So he turned Thor into Hector, and the Aesir (the Norse gods) into “Asian” Trojans. He linked Norse Myth with Greek and Classical, because by doing so, he made his mythology more legitimate in the Christian world he lived in.
He did it to keep his myths alive.
As writers, I say we have the right and the responsibility to do the same.
So write those mythological mash-ups, those paranormal romances bringing mythic heroes into the modern world, those inspired Tolkien-esque fantasies, built from the bones of a dozen different cultural legends into something brand new, into a mythology for today’s world, and our time. Play fast and loose, or stick close to the most well-known story, but write them! Write them, and be proud!
Because the myths are meant to live and breathe and be reborn. And just like Snorri and Euripides, we’re meant to keep them alive.