Tag Archives: Greek mythology

Odin Speaks: The Legend versus the Myth

Arf. I am Odin. When I speak, you listen, for I am all-knowing and wise.

OdinOnce again, I stumbled across a curious fact while reading some of my more unconventional fare (more specifically, while I was reading a couple books on Atlantis). Apparently, there is a distinction between a legend and a myth. Both are stories, of a sort. A Legend is based on some historical fact; it contains some kernel of truth; however, whatever truth it contains has been buried by an avalanche of distortion and historical debris that has been produced by the many intervening years between the telling of its story and the events that inspired it. A decent example of a Legend is the Legend of Atlantis, told by Plato. A number of the details of the story have been confirmed (specifically a handful of Athenian details), so it seems that some of the story is based on a truth that has been obscured by time.

In contrast to the Legend is the Myth. A myth is also a story concerning events from the deepest mists of time. However, a myth usually involves the activities of some supernatural force: like a hero, demigod, or god. They are heavily filled with symbols and interpretative meaning, but they were never intended to be taken as factual. For example, the Greek Myth of Phaethon’s disastrous attempt to drive the sun god Apollo’s chariot is an excellent example of a myth.

The skeptical lune lurking inside me, however, is not so sure that that distinction can be easily verified. Are we sure Phaethon’s chariot ride is just symbolic? It could (if we stretch the bounds of credulity) involve some half-alien hybrid who got a turn riding his father’s spaceship. That’s not likely, but it’s possible (that’s the problem with having a training in philosophy: just about anything goes—except contradictions—or, alternatively, nothing goes; it’s usually one or the other: Will the sun rise tomorrow? The scientist says, “Of course it will.” The philosopher says, “I don’t know.” It’s the difference between deductive logic, and inductive reasoning. Certainty and probability.)

Anyway, those are my thoughts for today. Woof.

Movie Review: Wrath of the Titans

First, there was Clash of the Titans, the remake of the film of the same name from the 1980’s. Although I liked the original better, I may be biased because that was one of the first adventure films I ever saw growing up, and I saw it at a very impressionable young age. In any event, I did like the remake fairly well. Particularly, I liked the fact that they took some liberties with the original story; I see no point in seeing the same movie just with different actors. Wrath of the Titans picks up several years after Clash of the Titans leaves off. Perseus, played by Sam Worthington, is now a father; his wife, unfortunately, has passed away, though. Perseus is informed by his father, Zeus, played by Liam Neeson, that the walls of Tartarus are beginning to fall; the apostasy of humanity is leading to a weakening of the power of the gods; hence, the prison of the underworld is weakening.

 

At this point, I feel the need to digress on a somewhat theological point. I have mixed feelings about the theology presented in the movie. I know, it’s just a movie, and the truth about gods and God is most probably unknowable for us mere mortals. But the basic premise of the movie is that the gods are dependent upon humans; they need their prayers to sustain their power. All throughout the film, there is an undertone that humans shouldn’t pray to the gods. Of course, in the movie, some of the gods have turned against the humans, so perhaps it is a semi-justified course of action. Still, I can’t help but feel that the film has very strong anti-god undercurrents which can be extrapolated into anti-God undercurrents. And I’m not sure that is a good thing as a social development, let alone as a movie whose target audience includes the young (I think it was PG-13, but I could be wrong). But, like I said, this is just a digression—one I could go on and on about, but I will not.

 

Anyway, the movie as a whole was a decent action flick. I did not see it in 3-D, because I’ve decided 3D effects aren’t worth the extra three bucks. Still, the action flowed, everything made a kind of cohesive unit. And the characters were… uh, okay, and the acting was decent. Beyond my theological issue, there were no major flaws in the movie, unless you want to get picky about actual Greek mythology (e.g. Perseus wasn’t the hero who fought the chimera, or the minotaur, or whatever).

 

Ultimately, I think it was a decent flick, but not exceptional. I’ll give it three out of five stars. And I do feel obliged to note that some religious people may be offended for the reasons given above.