De-myth-ify: Oedipus (Part 3)

Let’s talk about some classic Greek mythology, the Sophoclean tragedy, Oedipus Rex(also called Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King) today. This is part three of a three-part series on Oedipus. This continues from where part two left off. If you haven’t read the previous parts, do go and read Part one and Part two before you continue here.

Now that the story is done, let’s talk about it.

Oedipus Rex has all the elements of a pretty classic Greek tragedy and is considered by many if not the greatest, one of the greatest Greek dramas ever written. The first in Sophocles’ Theban trilogy, I’m sure you’ll not argue with me when I say that the tale itself is pretty macabre. It has quite a few deaths; out of which two are suicides(Jocasta and the Sphinx), two are natural deaths(Polybus and of course, Oedipus himself) and god knows how many are murders(Laius, his charioteer, other people travelling with Laius, all of the Sphinx’s victims, the list goes on.) There is also a healthy dose of incest, patricide, possible intent to harm an infant, possible indirect infanticide, self-harm and what I’m positive is some sort of sadism(Or whatever you’d choose to call what the shepherd who dropped baby Oedipus off at Corinth, who knew everything did, by choosing to say nothing while Oedipus went off killing his dad and marrying his mom and then turning up at the very last minute to drop his dramatic reveal)

(Some of)The deaths in Oedipus Rex

This entire story banks on one of the most popular tropes of classic Greek dramas; the self-fulfilling nature of prophecies, seemingly triggered by its knowledge. Basically, the fact that the whole mess can almost always be traced to just one integral prophecy. If you’ll notice, whenever one of the characters finds out about the prophecy, they end up taking a drastic step which in their mind is preventing the prophecy but ends up ensuring that it comes to be. (Be it Laius trying to indirectly kill his child and ensuring his child wouldn’t recognise him in the future or Oedipus trying to go away from who he thought were his parents but actually ending up going towards his real parents and the many more times that it happens throughout the story, go on, read it again if you’d like. )

And before you fight me and say that the prophecy probably still would have happened, no matter what, I’ll have to tell you that I know that but still hear me out. What if Laius never knew about the prophecy and chose to raise his son himself and with love and then Oedipus would have at least certainly known who his parents were and would at least definitely not have married his mom even if the first half could not be averted. In my opinion, even the first half wouldn’t have happened simply if the characters did not know about the prophecy. Ah well, we can never know for sure, it is all speculation and it wouldn’t make for a good story, would it?

There is also the fact that if you look at every character, they are all victims of their fates, tied to their destiny. First, there’s Laius, cursed to fear his own child and live with the knowledge that his own child would be the cause of his death. Then there’s Jocasta, cursed to be widowed and to eventually marry her own son and beget his children. Then come, the King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth, Oedipus’ adopted parents cursed to have no biological children and then to be denied time with their adopted child because of his fears due to a prophecy that never referred to them. There are so many more characters to go into but the bottom line is the same: everyone is a slave to their fate. I mean, the apparent hero of our tale, Oedipus has it the worst of all, cursed to perform incest and patricide, cursed because of performing them. Can he even be considered a hero then at all?

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The man of the hour himself: Sophocles

This is something that Sophocles did happen to acknowledge in his play and is considered one of the central themes of his story. I’d like to conclude our sojourn with this myth with the closing line of the play, a common Greek maxim, “No man should be considered fortunate until he is dead.”

Until our next Greek adventure! (Or wherever we choose to go)

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What were your thoughts on this series on Oedipus?Which myth should I do next? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

De-myth-ify: Oedipus (Part 2)

Let’s talk about some classic Greek mythology, the Sophoclean tragedy, Oedipus Rex(also called Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King) today. This is part two of a three-part series on Oedipus. This continues from where part one left off. If you haven’t read it, do go and read Part one before you continue here.

The Sphinx would ask every person who encountered it the same riddle and upon getting the wrong answer would murder and devour them.(A bit of an overreaction, if you ask me) So, she asked Oedipus the riddle that many unfortunate souls before him had lost their lives to, “What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night?” Oedipus was a clever man, he thought carefully and did what no one else before him had done; he solved the riddle. I’ll let you take a second to think about it, try to see if your smarts measure up to Oedipus’. If you already know, shush, don’t spoil it for anyone else.

The Sphinx

Here is Oedipus’ answer: “Man-he crawls on all fours as a child, walks on two feet as an adult and uses a walking stick as an old man.” The Sphinx, in a very un-ladylike manner, was unable to handle her ego after her defeat and jumped off the rock it was sitting on and fell to its death. Hurray! The Sphinx was vanquished. Now Oedipus gets his prize! (Yikes.) The throne of his father(who, I have to remind you he killed) and his mother as his wife. Talk about tough luck.

And thus, Oedipus was crowned king and married Jocasta, both unaware of their true relationship and had four children: Eteocles, Polynices, Antigone, and Ismene. He ruled well for many years, with his mom-wife by his side. Then one day, a terrible plague struck Thebes. Determined to cure his city, he sends his brother-in-law/uncle Creon to the Oracle at Delphi to find out the cause for it. Creon comes back to report that is the gods’ punishment for the killer of Laius was never brought to justice. (Just by the way, Oedipus is Laius’ killer. And he doesn’t know that.)

Oedipus then swears to find and punish the man responsible. He summons the blind prophet Tiresias to seek answers. At first, Tiresias refuses to answer but when forced, he points an accusing finger at Oedipus himself. (Damn, that’s a power move right there.) Unable to fathom how he could be Laius’ murderer he decides that Tiresias had been paid by Creon to blame Oedipus and steal his throne. This is where shit, finally, totally hits the fan.

 

 

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Tiresias, the blind prophet.

 

 

Jocasta in an attempt to comfort her husband-son, tells Oedipus that Laius was killed by bandits on the road and narrates the circumstances of her husband’s(her actual husband) death. Oedipus is extremely unnerved by the similarity between one of the encounters he had on the road and his mom-wife’s narration. He is understandably, shaken up and sends for that one servant of Lauis’ who survived that encounter.

Before the servant, however, a messenger from Corinth arrives informing him of Polybus’ death (From natural causes). Oedipus is visibly relieved to hear this as that meant he had evaded the first half of the prophecy(You wish Oedipus, you wish.) but fearing that the second half might still come to be, declines to attend the funeral. The messenger, however, tells him to not worry about that as Merope and Polybus were never his real parents. How does this messenger know that? Get ready for the most telenovela and soap opera-esque twist. This messenger is none other than the shepherd who dropped him off at Corinth as a baby all those years ago. (Mic drop.)

 

 

Oedipus Separating from Jocasta by Alexandre Cabanel

 

 

Hearing this and realising that the prophecy had, in fact, had its way, Jocasta flees to her chamber and hangs herself in despair. Oedipus however, still needs more proof and it walks right in as the servant who he summoned comes and verifies the horrifying truth: Oedipus killed his father and married his mother. When Oedipus realises what he has done, he tried to find Jocasta and finds her lifeless body. At this point, he takes two golden pins from her dress and blinds himself in his fury. He banishes himself from Thebes, as he had promised to do to the killer of Laius and lives a long, miserable, guilt-ridden life, to eventually die, as all mortals do. And with that, we come to the disturbing end of Oedipus’s story. ( For real though, thank all the greek gods we’re finally here. The man has been through enough.)

To be continued.

THIS POST’ QUESTION: This is the story of characters with terrible luck.Who do you think has it worst of them all and why? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

De-myth-ify: Oedipus (Part 1)

Let’s talk about some classic Greek mythology, the Sophoclean tragedy, Oedipus Rex(also called Oedipus Tyrannus or Oedipus the King) today. This is part one of a three-part series on Oedipus.

Oedipus’ story begins in typical Greek fashion, with a prophecy. When Laius, the king of Thebes decided to consult the Oracle at Delphi(It was believed that Apollo, the god of prophecy spoke through the Oracle who sat in the ancient sanctuary in Delphi) on whether he and his wife would ever have a son. What he learned, however, was that any son they have is destined to kill Laius and marry Jocasta, Laius’ wife.

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The Oracle at Delphi. (I found this image at ancient-origins.net )

Then, Laius reacted in a way that would be expected of him, he avoided his wife’s bed and decided to do away with any and all hopes for children. However, in what is truly the ultimate millennial move all the way back in ancient Greece, alcohol got the best of him. Jocasta got pregnant and in 9 months, the drunken mistake(read: the baby) was here.

Some believe that Laius pierced the baby’s ankles so that it wouldn’t even be able to crawl, let alone hurt him. (Oedipus means swollen foot in ancient Greek) This is, however, a pretty disputed fact among researchers. This is also where I remind you that killing family was one of the biggest sins in ancient Greece and you would certainly end up cursed and facing the wrath of the gods. This is why Laius, that little sneak, found a loophole in this whole shebang and instead asked some shepherd to drop his baby off at the mountains to die.

The shepherd, just a regular dude was obviously not quite that cold-hearted and handed the baby to a second shepherd passing his infanticidal duties on to on him. This shepherd, also not an infanticidal maniac and a Corinthian, could not bring himself to leave him to die. Instead, he took him to the childless King and Queen of Corinth, Polybus and Merope, who took the baby in and raised him as their own.

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The Finding Of Oedipus, a 17th/18th-century painting depicting the adoption of baby Oedipus by King Polybus and Queen Merope of Corinth

So, Oedipus grew up, believing himself to be the prince of Corinth, that Polybus and Merope were his parents and blissfully unaware of the extraordinary circumstances that brought him to Corinth. One day, a drunkard told Oedipus that his parents were not his birth parents and you know, basically his whole life was a lie and all that and Oedipus obviously chose to give a drunk man’s word merit and investigate this little rumour. He ended up at Delphi, much like his father before him(you know Laius, his actual dad) seeking answers. This is where he heard the prophecy that had defined his life from even before he existed: he would kill his father and marry his mother. This is also where the intermission would come if this was a movie.

Then, Oedipus reacted in a way that would be expected of him, he decided to head far far away from Corinth and head north towards, you guessed it, Thebes. Along the way, at one point, his charioteer and another charioteer coming from the opposite direction got into a fight over who had the right to pass first. This little squabble ended with Oedipus killing the other charioteer and person he was carrying, who, surprise surprise, was none other than his actual daddy, the genius King of Thebes, Laius and just like that half the prophecy was fulfilled. Oh and also, a servant of Laius’ was the only survivor of Oedipus’ wrath. Keep that in mind. Moving on.

The Murder of Laius by Oedipus, by Joseph Blanc.

Oedipus was finally almost at his birthplace, Thebes. It was here that he encountered the legendary Sphinx with its head of a human, body of a lion and the wings of an eagle, an encounter that is part of popular lore and is pretty well known. The lesser-known fact of that story is that the Sphinx had been plaguing Thebes for a long time and it had been decreed that the one who managed to relieve Thebes of this terror would be crowned the king and get the widowed queen’s hand in marriage. I’m sure you can guess what happened next but I still have a story to tell and hence comes part two of this story.

To be continued.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: What do you think of Laius’ reaction to finding out about the prophecy ? Do you think it is cold or do you think it is justified,given the circumstances? Comment below with what you think about it,I’d love to hear from you!

 

My First Love.

Lets talk about my first love today.

I wanted to start off with a little apology cum explanation. I’d been having some eye trouble leading to complete gadget abstinence due to which I couldn’t post on here. I also have a major study load given my position in the last year of school that will only increase as the year passes, so I cannot promise posts always but I will try my best to update regularly. I’m so sorry and I want to thank you all for being the best people ever. I love you all so much! Now, let’s get back to topic.

Are you expecting a love story? A chance meeting, a funny joke, a shared experience and a fairytale-esque metaphorical falling? Now, lets gets you back down from the clouds by telling you that this is not a love story. Well, it is, but not the kind you’re expecting.

When I was about 3,I got acquainted with someone I grew to love so so much. A book. I learned to read earlier than most people and was soon addicted to it. I’ve loved stories for as far as I can remember, my parents used to read to me almost every night during my childhood and those are some of my absolute favourite childhood memories. I learned reading and that calmed down the hyperactive child that I was, physically and mentally. It gave my overactive imagination something to do and made me sit down in one corner, silent as a mouse, which was unheard of before.

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An accurate representation of how I was, although I did not engage in book sitting and would stuck to just chairs instead.

 

With the amount of reading that I did ,I also became really fast at it. As an example, there is an incident from my childhood that made me realise that everyone else did not read like me and was quite an eye opener. When I was 7,my school librarian used to give us books of her own  choice to take home for the week. We had to start reading it in the library and while everyone was at it, I generally would read through the entire book during that half hour and would then come back to her asking for a new book. She thought I was being troublesome and would just turn up to her without reading. I, at that age, didn’t realise that she could see it that way and went to her every time, insistent as ever. Eventually she stopped issuing books to me altogether saying that I didn’t read and would just keep swapping books. Then, when I laid the situation out to my mother, she spoke to her and explained that simply put, I read too fast. I finished every book I said I did and if she wanted to check she could always quiz me on it. So, my librarian, who was unaware of this, started quizzing me and realised that I enjoyed reading quite a lot, which made her like me very much. She kept books aside especially for me in a little drawer in her desk and would give me books way advanced than what other children my age were reading. Eventually, she even started a literary club in the school and I am proud to be the first member of that club. We sat and discussed books and wrote stories.Those were fun days, I’ve got so many fond memories from those.

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Us at the literary  club, basically.

 

My first official favourite author was Roald Dahl, he was the first whose multiple books I’d loved and he had written my first ever favourite book, Matilda, which was about a girl like me who absolutely loved to read! I finished up Roald Dahl,Enid Blyton, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew. Encyclopaedia Brown and all the classics by the time I was 8 or so, and then my librarian gave me the book she’d especially kept aside for me, the first book in the Harry Potter series ,Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and that began a love story of its own, that spanned many years. That though, is a tale for another time.

THIS POST’S QUESTION: Did you have a favourite book in your childhood? If yes, then what was it? Comment below with what you think about it, I’d love to hear from you!

The Beginner’s Guide To Understanding Fangirls.(2)

LEARNING THEIR LANGUAGE
Let’s talk about the language the fanboys and fangirls speak today.
For the previous post in the series,click here.


It is believed that speech was created for man’s need to socialise.Fangirls,though they may seem like aliens are humans too and hence the first step in socialising with a fangirl/fanboy is learning to talk his/her language.This segment of this series is aimed at exactly that.Today we will be decoding and translating the quirks in the language of a fangirl or fanboy.
Here are some of the more common features of a fangirl’s language.
1. Speaking what may seem like gibberish.
Ever heard or received text looking like,asdfghjkl or qwertyggyuj or another random collection of letters?
This comes under very normal fangirl speak and simply means that the fangirl/fanboy is simply undergoing too many emotions and simply not in the position to think coherently and type actual words. Usually an appropriate response would be to aassdfsgsjdkdld back at them and be happy with them ,because after all what do you lose being happy?

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2.Using words which seem to imply something completely different or are unheard to you before.
Some of the countless such words are defined below.

  • Fandom : Shortened form of fanatic domain, fandom is used to refer to the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc. regarded collectively as a community or subculture. So, if you and me like Harry Potter books we’re both in the Harry Potter fandom.
  • Ship : Originated from the word relationship it can have both noun and verb uses.     N: Short for romantic relationship, popularized by members of a fandom.
    V: To endorse a romantic relationship. So, if I consider Hermoine Granger and Ronald Weasley to be perfect for each other I ship them and they are my ship.
  • OTP: Short for one true pairing, this is used to refer to the ultimate character combination you endorse, your THE ship. So, if I ship Hermoine Granger and Ronald Weasley and consider them to be my ultimate ship, they’re my OTP.
  • Canon: Another word for official. Basically, what is true in the book series ,movie etc. is said to be canon. So, if I’ve been shipping Hermoine Granger and Ronald Weasley since Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire itself and they finally end up together, their ship is canon.
  •  Feels: A wave of emotions that sometimes(read mostly) cannot be adequately explained. So, If I get teary and nostalgic and happy and a lot of other things reading Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, it is giving me the feels.
3.Speaking incomplete grammatically and often,factually incorrect phrases (usually accompanied with a shriek or two)
Some of these phrases are given below:
  • I’m dead/dying/dead/I died :The state of being attacked by so many feels and being  not able to say much (Around asdfghjkl phase) where you feel simply so (usually) elated or sad that you feel as though death has descended upon you.
  • Right in the feels: The moment when some particular thing gives you such a severe case of feels all of a sudden, it is said to have hit you right in the feels.
  • I can’t even: Used on blogging sites, mostly Tumblr, is an expression that denotes so many emotional responses that the fangirl/fanboy can’t even comprehend what has been said or seen.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of fangirl speak. Upcoming will be sections on fanfiction, erratic emotions and more, that will also be enhancing your pre-learnt fangirl language.
Stay tuned and embrace your inner fangirl(or fanboy)!

 

The Beginner’s Guide To Understanding Fangirls.(1)

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Lets talk about fangirls(and fanboys)today.

We all know them. That one friend of ours who doesn’t believe in the concept of ‘liking’ things and is a perpetual ‘obsesser’. They speak a queer tongue, go from happy to sad in a nanosecond, let out screams and shrieks without warning, spend unhealthy amounts of time on the internet and completely befuddle the rest of us, the ‘normal’ human beings.I, as a representative of the aforementioned ‘species’ am happy to introduce this series aimed at understanding your friendly(They are, if you do it right)neighbourhood fangirl.

Fangirl,noun

[fan-gurl]

A rabid breed of human female who is obsessed with either a fictional character, book series, movie, band, singer or an actor or even, food. They are similar to the breed of fanboys. Fangirls congregate on the internet, in concerts, at conventions and at book stores.

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How to identify a fangirl?

Now that you know what a fangirl is, it’s time to apply that knowledge. The following are a few indicative factors to identify a fangirl :-

  1. Speaking in incomplete sentences(I can’t even) and using absurd words.(Ship.)
  2. Shrieking, screaming or crying incessantly, without warning and for no huge reason.
  3. Heavy and unhealthy usage of the internet.
  4. Them being too ‘busy ‘to go out while they are home doing seemingly nothing.
  5. Being slightly(varying amounts of slightly, that is) excited about most things.
  6. Staying up late at night to finish books.
  7. Their rooms being a shrine to their object of affection.(It’s a whole new world there.)
  8. Them being very attached to said shrines.
  9. Them owning clothing and accessories to do with their affections and obsessions.
Now that you know that the girl you thought was weird is a fangirl, your question obviously is, how do I understand her, get to know her and be social with her?
This is exactly what I aim to help you achieve through this series. Upcoming will be sections on understanding their language, how to deal with their erratic emotions and more.
Stay tuned and embrace your inner fangirl ( or fanboy)!

For the next post in the series click here.

Are Classics ‘Classic’?

Lets talk about classic literature today.

I’m an avid reader. I love reading and as far as I can remember, have always loved it. For someone with the kind of overactive imagination that I have, reading is like therapy. I don’t have a particular genre I read either, I read everything as long as it manages to capture my attention. So, that being said, I’ve read among other things, several classics. Sometimes for school, sometimes on my own, several books that feature on almost every “Top 100 Classics” list.

After reading this assortment of books from completely different genres that share only one thing that is there ‘classicness’ ,I had one question. What exactly does the term ‘classic’ mean in literature? Does it include just every other good, well-written book, that people liked and enjoyed at that point in time? Or is it actually books that are ever-appealing, ever-hilarious and ever-intriguing? The kind that are always relevant and change you to your very core?

This is where it gets nasty.(Meaning I might just say I don’t like your favourite book) This might just be my age, my sense of humour or the point at which I read these. But these are my opinions and how I felt after reading these. Sorry in advance.

First off, Three men In a Boat by Jerome K Jerome. I felt it was very dragged and slow and there wasn’t much happening . This book is often called one of the funniest books ever written and yes, I agree some bits were amusing but most of the time the comedy just felt slapstick and not that funny. We were asked to read this for school and that might be why I didn’t like it but I struggled to finish it and that’s why its right here(For the sake of one of my friends who simply loves the book.). The issue, I simply deduced was that the jokes, called timeless on the cover itself ironically, were anything but. They felt like they’d lost their appeal to the ravages of time. So, how was this a classic?

Secondly, Catcher In the Rye by J.D Salinger. Hailed and heralded to be ‘ the coming of age story’ every teenager should absolutely read, I was highly disappointed. This was one where the lack of time-less-ness really struck, I could see that it must have been great at the time it was written as I read it, but I just did not relate at absolutely any level. I read it ,but I didn’t enjoy it so much. The question again being, how was this a classic?

Next, My Family and The Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. This book was said to be very hilarious and very timeless but it ended up boring me and being reduced to nothing but a animal fact book. Again, I read this for school so maybe that was why I didn’t like it so much.The question, for the third time being, how was this a classic?

I had began believing that a book being ‘classic’ was just a fad and in all honesty, the best the book could be was a one-time read. But then, I read one real jewel. The one book I call ‘classic’ proudly and maybe there’s more like it that I simply haven’t read. This did what I thought and expected a classic to do, it stirred my very soul. This one being, To Kill A Mockingbird, By Harper Lee. This book was funny, sad, emotional, relatable and respected, all at the same time. It was timeless, truly, it talked about a time and place I had never been in and I could still relate, still laugh, still experience and still be affected. This is one of absolute favourite books and I like it the all the more because it broke my rather concreted belief that classics are anything but classic.

So, to answer the topic, Are Classics ‘Classic’? I’d say it depends on you, the kind of person you are, your age, your mental frame and your beliefs. For all of us, something will be classic, while for others, it won’t.