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6.5.11

Los 10 mitos clásicos favoritos de Robin Lane Fox


 Visto en el Daily Mail

From Oedipus killing his father and making love to his mother, to why Narcissus fell in love with his own image to Helen's romantic triangle which sparked the Trojan War, here historian ROBIN LANE FOX chooses his favourite mythological tales

1. OEDIPUS

Oedipus committed his family crimes in error. His father had abandoned him as a baby and so when he killed a stranger at a crossroads near Thebes, it was only later he realised that the stranger was his father
Oedipus committed his family crimes in error. His father had abandoned him as a baby and so when he killed a stranger at a crossroads near Thebes, it was only later he realised that the stranger was his father
Oedipus killed his father and made love to his mother. Freud applied this story to explain what he saw as basic urges in every boy’s unconscious. Hence the Oedipus complex. In fact, Oedipus committed his family crimes in error. His father had abandoned him as a baby, but he was brought up safely by a shepherd in the hills. He returned as a young man and killed a stranger at a crossroads near Thebes. Only later did he realise that the stranger was his father. He then entered Thebes and married Queen Jocasta without knowing she was his mother. So the ancient Oedipus was not driven by an Oedipus complex; he made dreadful mistakes in ignorance.


2. NARCISSUS

The poet Ovid says Narcissus was being punished for his rejection of pretty young Echo, who wasted away with a broken heart. So the gods made him 'love, but not attain what he loved'
The poet Ovid says Narcissus was being punished for his rejection of pretty young Echo, who wasted away with a broken heart. So the gods made him 'love, but not attain what he loved'
He is the origin of narcissism, the mental disorder Freud named after him. He was the son of a nymph and a river god but he fell in love with his own image, reflected in a pool. The poet Ovid says he was being punished for his rejection of pretty young Echo, who wasted away with a broken heart. So the gods made Narcissus ‘love, but not attain what he loved’. He was then turned into a yellow flower with white petals – the first narcissus. Girls like Echo still ruin their lives for men who can only love themselves.


3. TIRESIAS

Tiresias is the one person who knows both sides of sex. 'Of ten parts,' he said, 'men enjoy one only, but a woman enjoys all ten'
Tiresias is the one person who knows both sides of sex. 'Of ten parts,' he said, 'men enjoy one only, but a woman enjoys all ten'
Tiresias lived to be a very old prophet, skilled in seeing the future. Once he battered two snakes when they were mating, so the gods turned him into a woman as a punishment. He later turned back into a man. He is therefore the one person who knows both sides of sex. ‘Of ten parts,’ he said, ‘men enjoy one only, but a woman enjoys all ten.’ No wonder women are still so reluctant to discuss the truth. TS Eliot names him in The Waste Land: ‘I, Tiresias, the old man, with wrinkled dugs’ who has known everything that couples ‘enact on this same divan or bed’. Tiresias was blinded by the gods for revealing his secret, and the Greeks believed that as a blind man he was able to see the future.

4. HYACINTHUS

Hyacinthus's blood gave birth to a flower with the Greek letters for 'Alas!' inscribed on its petals. Nowadays another flower is known in his honour as a hyacinth
Hyacinthus's blood gave birth to a flower with the Greek letters for 'Alas!' inscribed on its petals. Nowadays another flower is known in his honour as a hyacinth
He was such a beautiful boy that the West Wind loved him and so did Apollo, the god of music, the  arts and the sun. Apollo once threw a discus while exercising in Hyacinthus’s company. The jealous West Wind is said to have blown the discus off course and made it kill Hyacinthus, who was hardly more than a boy at the time – but the Greek gods had no scruples about that kind of thing. Hyacinthus’s blood gave birth to a flower with the Greek letters for ‘Alas!’ inscribed on its petals. Nowadays another flower is known in his honour as a hyacinth. This spring the Greek myths of Narcissus and Hyacinthus are still to be seen in full beauty in the flowers in our gardens.

5. HELEN OF TROY

When Helen, who was married to the hero Menelaus, ran off with the handsome young Trojan, Paris, her outraged husband cast around for Greek allies and with them declared the Trojan War
When Helen, who was married to the hero Menelaus, ran off with the handsome young Trojan, Paris, her outraged husband cast around for Greek allies and with them declared the Trojan War
She had been married to the hero Menelaus but when the handsome young Trojan, Paris, came to call in Sparta, Helen ran off with him instead. The outraged Menelaus cast around for Greek allies and with them declared the Trojan War. Later, when her husband Menelaus broke into the city, he is said to have dropped his sword at the sight of her. Homer in his Odyssey describes her living a solid married life with Menelaus afterwards. She has, however, learned to use a special potion to stop her tears.


6. TITHONUS

The predatory Eos, the Dawn, fell in love with Tithonus and carried him away to heaven
The predatory Eos, the Dawn, fell in love with Tithonus and carried him away to heaven. She begged Zeus to grant him the gift of immortality. He did, but she had forgotten to ask for the gift of eternal youth
Tithonus was a Trojan prince but the predatory Eos, the Dawn, fell in love with him and carried him away to heaven. She begged Zeus to grant Tithonus the gift of immortality. He did, but she had forgotten to ask for the gift of eternal youth. So Tithonus became ever older, shrivelling up like a grasshopper. Even now, when day breaks, Dawn is leaving Tithonus’s bed in heaven. The story is that she locked him in a bedroom cupboard and threw away the key in disgust.

7. HIPPOLYTUS

Aphrodite, the goddess of sex and love, made Hippolytus's stepmother Phaedra fall in love with him. He refused her, so she denounced him falsely in a letter before killing herself
Aphrodite, the goddess of sex and love, made Hippolytus's stepmother Phaedra fall in love with him. He refused her, so she denounced him falsely in a letter before killing herself
Hippolytus was the son of king Theseus. As a young man he steered clear of sex and love and thus angered Aphrodite, the goddess of both. She made his stepmother Phaedra fall in love with him. Hippolytus refused her, so she denounced him falsely in a letter before killing herself. Unaware of the truth Theseus cursed his son and only learned of his innocence too late after Hippolytus had died in the ancient equivalent of a car-crash. Poseidon, the god of earthquakes and the sea, sent a wild bull to kill Hippolytus by overturning his chariot on the road. 

8. AGAVE

Agave was the mother of young Pentheus, who denied Dionysus's parentage. So Dionysus took revenge by driving the women of Thebes out of their wits
Agave was the mother of young Pentheus, who denied Dionysus's parentage. So Dionysus took revenge by driving the women of Thebes out of their wits
Agave was the mother of young Pentheus, who denied Dionysus's parentage. So Dionysus took revenge by driving the women of Thebes out of their wits. They retreated to the mountains where Pentheus, tricked by Dionysus into believing they had all gone o ff to have group sex, went to watch, but was torn to pieces by his mother and the maddened women. The dramatist Euripides brilliantly describes her being brought back to reality and realising the dreadful truth.

9. ODYSSEUS

Odysseus, the hero destined to wander for years away from home, passed into the world of Neverland, outwitted the one-eyed Cyclops and avoided temptations such as the sweet-singing Sirens
Odysseus, the hero destined to wander for years away from home, passed into the world of Neverland, outwitted the one-eyed Cyclops and avoided temptations such as the sweet-singing Sirens
Odysseus was the hero destined to wander for years away from home after the fall of Troy. He passed into the world of Neverland, outwitted the one-eyed Cyclops and avoided temptations such as the sweet-singing Sirens. All the while his virtuous wife Penelope outwitted the many suitors who competed for her hand. Her reunion with Odysseus is a tribute to married love - but he was destined to leave home all over again and would wander to a land some people claim is modern Switzerland.

10. TYPHON

Typhon stole Zeus's sinews and hid them in a cave but was gradually battered to death across the world and finally buried by Zeus beneath a snowy mountain
Typhon stole Zeus's sinews and hid them in a cave but was gradually battered to death across the world and finally buried by Zeus beneath a snowy mountain
A huge snaky monster with 50 heads hissing different sounds, Typhon stole Zeus’s sinews and hid them in a cave but was gradually battered to death across the world and finally buried by Zeus beneath a snowy mountain. I have spent many years travelling to find his tracks in the landscapes. In my recent book Travelling Heroes I track Typhon from a cave on  the south coast of Turkey to volcanic  Ischia and Mount Etna on Sicily. The BBC turned this book into a documentary film, shown last November. It enabled me to go once again to all Typhon’s sites, culminating with the crater of Etna itself. Seeing is believing. As the volcano roared, Typhon seemed no myth to me.




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4.5.11

De Aquiles a Obama, todos con el mismo problema... ¿y ahora qué hacemos con el fiambre?



Consejos históricos para deshacerse del enemigo muerto

El problema se ha planteado y resuelto de diferentes maneras a lo largo de la historia


¿Qué hacer con el enemigo muerto? El problema se ha planteado y resuelto de diferentes maneras desde que Aquiles se cebó con el cuerpo de Héctor, que es muy a menudo la primera reacción natural que tienes tras cargarte a alguien contra el que te las has tenido duras (el pélida luego se ablandó y lo devolvió, ajado, eso sí). Probablemente muchos en EE UU hubieran visto bien que Obama enganchara al abatido Bin Laden a un carro y lo arrastrara por, pongamos para hacerlo más homérico y ejemplar, el polvoriento Afganistán. En cambio ese hijo del desierto ha tenido un entierro de marino, qué cosa.

Deshonrar y hasta mutilar al líder enemigo caído, convertir su cráneo en copa, quedarte una mano o el pelo, ha sido habitual en la Historia -sin duda también en la prehistoria-, especialmente si el tipo había sido muy peligroso. La Biblia, siempre tan edificante, aporta numerosos ejemplos de trato poco amable con los enemigos caídos: se los echaba a los perros, previo corte del prepucio en caso de que no estuvieran circuncidados. David exhibió la cabeza de Goliath y sus armas y dio su cuerpo a las aves del cielo y los animales de la tierra, que suena poético pero es, hay que convenir, desconsiderado.

El buen trato ha quedado normalmente para los rivales que no eran excesivamente peligrosos; se puede ser elegante con el cadáver del barón Rojo, por ejemplo, un individuo en el fondo irrelevante aunque derribara muchos aviones, o con Napoleón una vez desactivado por la vía de dejarlo vegetar un buen tiempo. O con Lee, al cabo uno de los nuestros, enterrado con gran pompa en Arlington. Eliminar o escamotear el cuerpo es un recurso corriente. El cadáver de un gran enemigo suele seguir siendo peligroso; sus partidarios pueden convertir en santuario su tumba y extraer fuerza de ella, y ya no lo puedes matar dos veces. O a veces sí: a Oliver Cromwell se lo desenterró para una insólita ejecución póstuma, el cadáver fue desmembrado y la cabeza empalada, aunque una tradición sugiere que el verdadero cuerpo fue sepultado por sus partidarios en el Támesis -una tumba húmeda, como la de Osama- para evitar precisamente las vejaciones.

Lord Kitchener, se sostiene, tras bombardear su tumba en Omdurman hizo desenterrar el venerado cuerpo del mesiánico Mahdi, que les había dado tanta guerra a los británicos en Sudán, y se hizo con su cráneo un tintero. Es conocido el revuelo con el cadáver del Che Guevara: enterrado de mala manera tras su tortura y asesinato, se le cercenaron las manos para poder cotejar sus huellas dactilares con las de la policía argentina (hoy hay medios más sutiles que se habrán empleado seguramente con Bin Laden). En 1997, tras revelarse el paradero del cuerpo, fue exhumado y repatriado a Cuba con gran ceremonia, aunque hay fundadas dudas de que se trate del auténtico.

Desconocemos el destino de los cadáveres de los grandes enemigos de la antigua y práctica Roma, de la que es tan heredero EE UU: ni Aníbal -aunque se le atribuye una en Turquía-, ni Vercingetorix (ejecutado miserablemente tras pasearlo en triunfo César), ni Arminio han tenido tumbas que podamos ubicar con certeza (y que podrían haber alentado resistencias). No es casual tampoco, probablemente, que ni Zahi Hawass pueda encontrar la de Cleopatra. Los romanos tenían experiencia del impacto de un cadáver en la opinión pública como muy bien experimenta el Brutus de Shakespeare.

Con los líderes nazis se fue con mucho tiento para no convertir sus últimas moradas en lugar de peregrinación y rearme ideológico. Los cuerpos de los ejecutados tras los juicios de Nurenberg fueron incinerados y las cenizas esparcidas en el río Issar. Las de Eichmann los judíos las arrojaron al mar. El cuerpo de Rudolf Hess fue devuelto a la familia pero con la condición de enterrarlo en secreto. El caso de Hitler, como todo él, es especial. Los rusos sepultaron, después de enterrarlos y exhumarlos el SMERSH varias veces por la paranoia de Stalin, sus restos carbonizados junto a los de Eva Braun y Goebbels y su mujer (los dos últimos solo algo braseados) en un lugar cuya localización se mantuvo oculta y tras conservar algunas cosillas.

En 1970 el KGB hizo desaparecer definitivamente todos los restos -que se sepa- quemándolos y arrojando las cenizas al Elba. Hay que tener cuidado, no obstante, con el impulso inicial de maltratar el cadáver del enemigo y deshacerte de él: luego te encuentras con las dudas sobre su identificación (aunque la fotografía ha ayudado mucho) y sin trofeo. Si humillas, además, aumentas el deseo de venganza. Exhibir la presa es fundamental para que se sepa que la has cobrado (y aleccionado). Recuérdense las imágenes del Mono Jojoy de las FARC el año pasado (y que a Tiro Fijo se le dio por muerto en varias ocasiones). En el pasado, se solía llegar a una solución de compromiso: te ensañabas con el cuerpo, al que le podías hacer mil pillerías, y conservabas la cabeza, como testimonio y ejemplo. Fue lo que hicieron en el siglo IX los árabes de Ibn Rustum tras ejecutar a los vikingos que habían asaltado Sevilla: las cabezas de los jefes fueron enviadas a Bagdad preservadas en miel.

Otro líder célebre, enemigo de EE UU, por cierto, del que se conservó villanamente la cabeza, que se exhibió en ferias disecada -fue devuelta a la familia en 1984-, es el Jefe José (Kintpuash), el valeroso caudillo de los indios Modoc, ahorcado en 1873 después de perder su tribu la guerra contra los cuchillos largos. Siempre se ha intentado evitar que los restos del líder caigan en manos del enemigo. No solo por honor: luego siempre puedes decir que ha sobrevivido y un día volverá (hay que ver la que se montó con ese resistente judío llamado Jesucristo); resulta imposible vencer a una sombra. Es legendaria -y la narró el recién desaparecido Ernesto Sábato- la cabalgada de varios días de los hombres del general Lavalle, de Jujuy a Huacalera, con el cuerpo putrefacto del jefe para evitar que se hicieran con él las tropas del general Oribe: al final los fieles soldados decidieron descarnar al amado mando y transportar solo los huesos...

 Fuente: El Pais


Artículos relacionados: De vencedores y vencidos




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