Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Trojan War Would Never Happen Today

My mother hurt the back of her heel today.  She showed the injury to me proudly, stating "I almost took out my Achilles.  It could have been the end of me."
This immediately brought the image of my aged grandmother, who I think was a Quaker, dipping my mother in the River Styx, then placing my mother as a baby in the open fire in her dining room.  My grandmother held Christian ceremonies in her front room, so the transfer of the image of Thetis trying to make her son immortal took on a Satanic bent in my imagination.  I imagined my grandmother garbed in black, her head covered a little like the Emperor in Star Wars, drowning my mother in the waters of Hell and then placing her in the fire by which I had warmed myself as a child.  The image was so unlike my memories of my extremely devout grandmother, in front of whom I was not even allowed to exclaim "Jeez," it amused me very much.  I started laughing and then had to explain myself to my mother.  Fortunately, her sense of humour is warped, much like my own.  My grandmother has since passed away, so she cannot be offended by this image.
This, however, made me think about how the events which led to the Trojan War would never have had the same effect in today's world.  Most ancient and historians and classicists have played the hypothetical game "what work from antiquity do you wish had survived?"  I personally bemoan the loss of the complete original Trojan cycle.  The loss of the original poems has led to the story of the cause of Trojan War not being as well known as I personally think it should.  
In an act which I think has inspired many a Disney film, Strife (Eris) gate-crashed the wedding (great, now I am imagining Eris as Owen Wilson - damn my imagination!) of Thetis to Achilles' father and threw into the crowd of goddesses, not a wedding bouquet, but a golden apple inscribed "To the fairest."  This, of course, led to the beauty competition between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, which in turn led to each goddess attempting to bribe the judge, and resulted in the judge "abducting" Helen from Sparta, thus kicking off the Trojan War.
But would this have been the result in today's day and age?
I think not.  Not because we don't have goddesses, beauty pageants and gate-crashes.  Today we have divas who think they are goddesses, beauty pageants and gate-crashes.  No, the difference today is the manner in which brides are regarded on their wedding day.  Western society dictates that no woman is more beautiful on her wedding day than the bride.  Guests are shunned for wearing the same colour as the bride, because the bride is the centre of attention.  Even bridesmaids' dresses are designed in a manner to ensure that the attendants don't look better than the bride.  If Owen Wilson wedding-crashed the wedding of Thetis and Peleus today, the apple would be immediately regarded an wedding gift.  No matter who was attending who might be regarded better looking, no one would be so rude as to suggest that it be anything else but an extremely quirky (and if it were solid gold - extremely expensive) gift.
I guess what I'm saying is that if you take the stories of the Trojan Cycle and contextualise them into today's world, if Owen Wilson gate-crashed the wedding of Senator Palpatine (the Emperor) to Brad Pitt's father, the Trojan War would never have happened.  
And people question why I love classical mythology?

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