It feels like the house has settled in a different direction, as though some sort of tectonic shift has pushed the living room into the kitchen a few inches. I always feel this way after a vacation; home doesn’t feel like home for a few hours to a few days. I get settled in and comfortable most of the places I go, and am sad to leave the new for the old.
Xander is interested in Greek Mythology (with my thanks and gratitude to Rick Riordan). He’s been gobbling up books that talk about how the gods are related, and what their symbols are, and likes telling us small bits of trivia that he reads. The day we returned from Florida he popped open his big Mythology book, read a few pages, then told us that the word “panic” comes from the god Pan. Minutes later he listed the gods that have Kronos as a father, and that Kronos ate his children and they lived in his stomach.Today Xander told me that he believes the Greek gods are real, and asked if I knew if they ever existed. I said that many people believed in them, but I didn’t know for sure, and that anyone who knew for sure lived and died a very long time ago.
When I was a sophomore I took a course in Greek and Roman mythology, and fell a bit in love with my teacher. He made the myths seem very real and enchanting, and claimed that he believed in the integration of all religious myths and stories. That the stories are all very similar across all cultures back to our ancient parts, the barbaric parts that maim and kill and love without much remorse. I studied very hard in that class, and made several extra credit projects (one involved finding the evidence of the old symbols representing the myths in modern art and pop culture. I did a collage of Versace’s seal (a golden depiction of Medusa), ads for Atlas Van Lines and FTD Florist (which has the winged foot of Hermes as their logo), a Barbie Pegasus, Venus (Aphrodite) on her half-shell. I read both The Iliad and The Odyssey, as well as several Greek Tragedies. I tried to understand what was going on in each morsel of verse, each rhyming metered fable, attacking the study of that ancient faith much more than I had ever delved into my CCD classes as a girl.
It was that teacher who pointed out the parallels between the stories of Eve and Pandora, Cain and Abel and Acrisius and Proetus, Jesus and Zeus.
He wanted to put on a Greek Tragedy in the school’s outdoor amphitheater, in conjunction with his Latin and Greek Mythology classes, and the Latin Club. This wouldn’t be an odd request to administration; they allowed him to facilitate chariot races, where football players acted as horses, pulling the wooden, student-made chariots. He pulled me aside after class one day, and told me his plans, and asked if I would play Medea, since I was involved in theatre and seemed to understand the art of Greek Tragedy so well. I remember feeling all shaky and special, like I was lit up from within. I agreed, and fantasized about the white-robed chorus that would tell my sad story while standing behind me on stage, their golden masks glinting in the hot Ohio sunlight. Unfortunately, his request was not approved, and I never got to portray Medea (probably a good thing, I was weird enough in high school without adding simulated infanticide to my already full oddball resume).
In college, I did play Eurydice in a production of Antigone. It was a mainstage production, so the fact that I was cast at all was a sort of miracle, since I was a freshman and had only been at school a few weeks. It was the Anouilh version, so all I was required to do was sit in the shadows and hold a ball of yarn and some knitting needles, and look depressed. I had no lines, but my parents and grandparents still drove the two hours from Dayton to see me on stage.
Something I haven’t mentioned to Xander during our talks about mythology, but has been fascinating me for a little while now, are the old cults that worshiped the gods. They were shrouded in mystery, not unlike the secrets in a Mormon temple or an Opus Dei gathering. Fascinating stuff.