Monday, January 12, 2009

Mask of Agamemnon

I snapped the above photo at the National Museum in Athens. Supposedly, it's the golden death mask worn by Agamemnon. An archaeologist (Schliemann) found it in Mycenae, but really, who's to say who this is. So much of what we rely on in history was defined by educated guesses. What's that scientific word? Oh yeah, hypothesis. Over time though, the lines blur. Guesses turn to fact. Myths and stories transform into truth.

I suppose that is one reason I find ancient Greece so fascinating. Many of its old stories (and certainly its myths) are probably not true, but that is what makes it fun to come in and add to an unfinished storyline. I did this with "PHAIAKIA". I'll do it with others, too. Dan Brown did well taking early church history and changing it ("DaVinci Code"). Brown pretends that his work stems from truth (probably to help sell books), but I make no such pretense when tackling the Greek classics.

You know what is great? Neither did the ancient Greeks and Romans. When Virgil wrote the "Aeneid" for Augustus and filled Rome's history with lineage back to Troy, he told a sweeping tale and made use of the old stories. The educated of that time certainly knew it to be nothing more than a tale, though its roots probably came from some old campfire tale told long before Virgil. Same for Homer and so on ... My point is that the Greek myths were made to be enjoyed and that for 3,000 years mankind has been re-telling these stories. Add me to the list -- Virgil, Ovid, ... D.A. Riser. Go ahead, rewrite one yourself and add your name. Granted, this is likely the only time you'll see my name penned beside those great poets of old, but the concept is the same.

Not interested in re-writing or adding onto the Greek myths? I still think they are worth studying as you can utilize many of their themes and stories for your own work. Does anyone find a particular Greek myth or play that they've made use of? For me, in "PHAIAKIA", it's Homer's "Odyssey."

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