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Well if *you* can ramble about Theseus, so can I. :-)
I think that his lifepath began even before his conception. Childless Aegeus, goes to the Delphi to ask how he may get children - the oracle warns him *not* to drink wine; tells him how *not* to have children (which implies that it predicts either Aegeus's own death due to Theseus or Theseus' other deeds)
Aegeus doesn't understand the oracle, but Pittheus does - he gets him drunk and has him sleep with Aethra, Pitheus's daughter. It seems he desires to have his grandson on the throne of Athens - and for that cause he doesn't mind using his daughter. So Theseus is a "bastard" - but not the bastard of a love relationship, not even a bastard caused by lust such as Arthur was. He is a bastard whose birth was just a means to an end, a product of politics.
This *has* to screw him up in some ways. His father figure Pittheus is using him. Aethra never cared for Aegeus, and was herself used by her father in the worst way imaginable - could she subconsciously resent her own son because of that? And his relationship with his real father Aegeus begins through the test he places on him to see if he's worthy - talk about conditional love! Given the relationships which created him, it's no wonder that all the relationship he gets into are twisted and diseased in some way.
Then there's his idol: Heracles. While Theseus is still a kid Hercules comes to Troezen - among the children Theseus is the only one who is not terrified by the lion-skin that Hercules is wearing. He has to have noticed the admiration that everyone was giving to Hercules.
And even if Theseus can't know love, he *can* know admiration. So, when he grows up he goes out of his way to do heroic deeds - most other heroes of antiquity (Jason, Bellerophon, even Hercules to a large extent) had their quests forced on them - others like Odysseus simply stumbled upon heroism. But Theseus pursues heroism. He kills the robbers. But his sickened sense of relationships manifests itself: He 'ravishes' the daughters of both Sinis and Cercyon. One could think of a version where this is consentual - but in my mind it seems more reasonable to think that he saw them as trophies and rewards and didn't care what they thought.
He goes to Athens and once again pursues heroism by going to Crete: so as to kill the Minotaur, he doesn't hesitate to promise marriage to Ariadne - manipulation through lust once again - even though he already had a lover (Periboea) among the young women on the ship. He kills Ariadne's half-brother (the Minotaur) and her full brother Deucalion. And then he abandons her because of the wishes of the gods - but even if it was his own idea I don't mind that one - a woman who'd cause her brothers' death isn't one I'd like sleeping next to me - after all Medea was the last famous woman who did that, and Jason would have been better off if he had abandoned her also...
I agree that Antiope is the most 'equal' relationship he gets into, the most genuine one - Antiope seems to truly love or atleast be attracted to Theseus. But we can't forget that Theseus' mission to the Amazons was originally nothing more than another of his heroic quests: He went with the goal of kidnapping their queen - she was (in the beginning atleast) just another trophy... And in one version of the story he treats her as such abandoning her and marrying Phaedra (though in most versions Hippolyta dies
fighting on his side)
His wedding with Phaedra is once again loveless - no need to expand on that. And after his son's death he has to simply not know what to do but fall back to his own habits seeking something he can't have, vainly pursuing happiness through "heroism": And in the case of Helen, all his negative traits, his lovelessness, his rashness, his viewing women as trophies all manifest themselves...
So in my opinion he *is* a tragic character - His deeds seem to have been sprung through the situation which bore him - I can have pity and understanding for him as the product of an extremely disfunctional family. And he's a fascinating character: But if he's a hero, then I see him as providing a dark vision of what heroism can do when it's sought after, rather than stumbled upon.
Aris, as always, please ramble all you like...
You're version of the myth however, includes things that mine doesn't. This creates two obvious possibilities:
1) My version is whitewashed.
2) Your version is biased.
Either way, we've got some propaganda going.
Now it would be easy to assume that 1 is more likely than 2. After all, most of what we know from Greek myth, we know via the Athenian culture, where Theseus was a hero. One would tend to think that they'd want to present their guy in the best possible light -- thus the whitewashing. It's also possible that the Athenians told the story straight, and that the whitewashing came down the centuries as people tried to make Theseus more of a roll model than he really was.
But I'm going to argue (from a pro-Thesean bias that I'll admit up-front) for #2. Because I think both versions of the myth come from Athens. Take the negative slant on Pittheus, for example. That sounds like propaganda to me. Aegeus has a kid out of wedlock. Don't blame the Athenian king, blame that Troezen trickster Pittheus. But the trickster (or villain label) doesn't sit with the old man that well. There's no hint of godly justice taking him down for that bit of nefarious business. No hint in the myths that he was trying to push young Theseus to claim the throne of Athens or to unite the kingdoms under Troezen control. So I prefer to assume something different. I prefer to think that there was something real between Aethra and Aegeus. I won't necessarily say love, since they hardly knew each other. But I'd like to think they made a real connection. And they made love. I'd also like to think that after Aegeus left, Poseidon showed up in Aegeus' form, and that he and Aethra made love too. That way NONE of them (including Poseidon) really know whether Theseus is the son of a king or of a god.
At any rate, Aegeus and Aethra didn't marry. Marrying a king is big business. Again, I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt. He was straight with her. She still wanted him. They swam out to the island. Shared a sweet night together. And he swam off, but not before leaving provisions as to what to do in the UNLIKELY event that the union resulted in issue. (Remember, he thought he was sterile.)
She didn't throw a fit. And even after she discovered she was pregnant, she let things ride. Pittheus raises the boy without complaint. Teaches him to be a man. At any rate, I don't believe he grew up not knowing love. I think his mother loved him. I think his grandfather loved him. So I won't give him that excuse for anything he did, good or bad.
As for the Herakles stuff... Well, sure young Theseus might have been impressed, but he always took Herc with a grain of salt. Yes, Herc inspired him to "Great Deeds", but I'm not sure that's as bad as you make it sound. And Theseus was always the thinking man's hero. Always using brains as often as -- or more often than -- brawn. And always in control of his faculties, never going mad and slaughtering loved ones mindlessly. Later, when Herc and Theseus went on a few adventures together, he helped keep the big man from going berserker.
Did he rape the bandits' daughters? I hope not. I'm not sure they ever existed. They're not IN every version of the myth. Again, keep in mind, Athens (or at least Athenians) would have been of two minds on Theseus. Yes, he was their hero. But he also abandoned them. Do you love him for the good days? Or do you revile him for the bad? Maybe, a little of both. And maybe both sides twist his story a bit to suit their interpretations. I can't help thinking the truth is in the middle.
Because, NO, I don't think Theseus is a good roll model. He's clearly more fascinating than flat-out heroic. And he didn't end nearly as well as he began. And there's no divine redemption either. No Herculean ascent to Olympus. No godhood. He is human right until the end. And probably after. He is a bastard. In all the negative and misunderstood and put-upon and over-coming connotations of the term. ALL OF THEM.
But back to the narrative...
Was it rape? Were they even the bandits' daughters? Or might they have been slaves that he set free (after a party)? I don't know. But again, I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. Because, I see this YOUNG Theseus as a guy struggling to be Lancelot. He's not like Lancelot. He's too damn clever for his own good to really play the Lancelot roll. Too much of a bastard. But he's trying, I think. Inspired not by the true Herakles but by the big man's press, he's setting out as a knight errant to do right. So that he can walk into Athens as a MAN. As someone who DESERVES his birthright. That's the kind of boy that I think Pittheus and Aethra raised. (As I've mentioned before, my thinking is heavily influenced by Mary Renault.)
It's the noble Lancelot in him that sends him to Crete. And yes, of course he kills the Minotaur. The New Olympians may have gotten us to look at this another way, but from his point of view the Minotaur is an out-and-out monster, literally eating the youth of Athens. And the people of Crete, who keep their dirty secret locked up and feed it on the tribute children of their conquered enemies aren't much better (or are arguably worse) than the creature itself. So I shed no tears for Ariadne's brother. This was a rebellion of slaves against their evil masters. If Deucalion got in Theseus' way, so be it.
As for his Athenian lover, well, again, I'd like to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. I'm assuming, for starters, that by custom if not inclination, that Theseus was bisexual. That most of the Athenian youth were. That desperate people in a desperate situation reached out to each other for comfort doesn't trouble me. That they had multiple partners over (do I have this right?) seven years, doesn't bother me either. I think that Periboea may have been one of many lovers. And that she may have had many herself (of both sexes). This doesn't get in the way of him having sincere feelings for Ariadne. Feelings he believed at the time were true love. Romantic infatuation. A Lancelot looking for his Guinevere, and thinking he has found her.
And I don't need the "Medea-excuse" to justify him leaving her later. I've read enough versions of the myth where Dionysus didn't give Theseus a choice in the matter. And that was before I saw Renault's version wherein -- SPOILERS HERE -- Theseus is horrified to see what Ariadne does during the Dionysian rites. He does still love her. But he won't bring someone capable of that back to Athens as his bride.
And I'm not troubled that his intentions en route to battle the Amazons were less than honorable. After all, he was a king, setting out to conquer. It was part of the job description. Besides, it's what he ultimately did, not what he originally intended that truly frames his character. And I think here, as I've said before, he truly fell in love. A love of equals. One of the ONLY Greek heros to fall for a woman who truly was his equal. Instead of conquering the Amazons, he allies with them. He does right by Antiope, until she dies in battle, by his side. This is the true Theseus. Not the kid looking to be a hero. Not the bitter guy he'd become. This is the hero -- in fact, not by design or default, but defined by his actions. The man who loves equally. Who brings constitutional monarchy to his people. This is the great man. But then she dies. And so it can't last.
Phaedra. Yeah. A political marriage. I like to think he was, at least, fond of her. That maybe he hoped to see a bit of Ariadne in her. But she f**ked with his head. And, yes, he was open to it. He let himself be rashly used. He clearly sinned here. I refuse to absolve him for Hyppolytus' death. But that doesn't mean that I don't think he wasn't more sinned against than sinning. Antiope's death killed something in him. He didn't truly know how to raise Hyppolytus without her. I think he indulged the kid and wound up distanced from him. And he indulged his new young wife and wound up a stranger to her. And then he indulged his own bitter temper. And wound up broken.
Broken, but ironically not bent. He's no longer young. But he's still virile. And in a way, that works out very BADLY for him. No sitting back and enjoying the fruits of his labors. He's got too much damn energy for that. So the energy gets channeled into bad friends, stupid choices and wild schemes.
After Hyppolytus' death, well, I have to agree that it's all downhill. (Though I'd change the subconcious motivations, based on my interpretations.) He doesn't care any more. He's empty. This is the third Theseus. Not the young Lancelot. Not the true hero. But the guy left over. The good-looking, well-trained, virile, vital, empty wreck. He did some truly stupid stuff here. But even with the wildly nutty Helen stunt, I can't help loving him all the more for it.
But that's my problem, I guess. :)
Thanks for the comments on Theseus - I do have to wonder how he'd fit in the Gargoyles universe, especially since it seems that in it much of the minotaur story seems to have been human propaganda... :-)
Another fascinating character connected to Theseus is to me Minos - for different reasons. He has no specific 'heroic deed' attributed to him: on the other hand he has had a long rule of benevolent and just rule, holding a kingdom "of many nations and tongues" together (and yeah, I go by Plutarch's and Plato's belief that the tale of him sacrificing men and women to the minotaur was just a case of Athenean propaganda :-) Such a rule may not have the sparkling heroism of such deeds as those of Theseus and Heracles - yet I wonder if that task was in the end even more beneficient and difficult than the ones of most monster-slayers we hear about...
I really appreciate the suggestion of Mary Renault books - I've definitely put them in my "To Read" list... thanks.
You're welcome. Let me know what you think.
Why didn't the gargoyles on New Olympus reveal themselves to
Goliath and Angela? The rare discovery of other clans was my favorite part of the series so I would have loved to see them.
Good question. And I'm honestly not sure I have a good answer, other than the truth that there wasn't time in the episode to cover THAT too.
Eventually, I'd have had to come up with an answer. Were they present at Elisa's trial? Do they live "in town"? Is they're leader unprepared to make contact with three gargoyles who are making a LOUD point to defend a human being? I haven't decided yet. But now you've got me thinking.
How large do you envision New Olympus's population to be? Counted in a few hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands?
And for that matter how large would New Olympus itself be? And where is it located? (I doubt it's in the Mediterannean because it would have most probably been discovered by humans before they managed to discover the cloaking device...
I'm guessing Atlantic or Pacific. It's fairly big, but not huge. And populated in the thousands.
You mentioned in your post on Sleipnir this evening (January 12) that it's possible that New Olympus might be filled with all manner of "bizarre beasts" that were the offspring of Oberon's Children by animals. Would these include, not only the half-human/half-animal beings that we actually saw in that episode (such as minotaurs and centaurs) but also the fully-animal creatures of Greek mythology (e.g., Cerberus, the Chimera, the Hydra, the Nemean Lion, etc.)? I'd been wondering for some time now about their role in the Gargoyles Universe.
I won't be specific about any of these, but yes, the idea is possible.
Oops, sorry that last one was me.
As long as I'm here I might as well ask those New Olympian questions.
1) What was Spynx's occupation before she became an ambassador to the outside world?
2) When Taurus said Proteus wasn't like other Olympians did he mean that Proteus was the only criminal on New Olympus or that he was the only one that was an insane murderer?
3) On a scale of one to ten, with ten being a sentient android like Data from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and one being a Steel Clan robot, how inteligent is Talos?
4) Do the Illuminati know about the existence of New Olympus? If not, how would they react when the New Olympians revealed themselves to the human world?
5) If The New Olympians were to become a cartoon show how much of the series would take place in New York and how much of it would take place in New Olympus?
Thank you very much.
2. Generally, the latter.
3. I hate quantifying things. I'm not a numbers guy. He's smart, o.k.?
4b. Quickly and with determination.
5. Again, don't ask me for percentages. A good amount in both, but I also saw the series as international in scope.
You said once that the different varieties of New Olympians have various different life-spans ranging from 13 years to 250 years. Just out of curiosity:
1) Which sub-species of New Olympian (centaur, minotaur, sphinx, winged humanoid a la Boreas, snake-person a la Ekidne, shape-shifter, etc.) do you see as having the 13 year life-span?
2) Which sub-species do you see as having the 250 year life-span?
I won't be held to this, but it seems to me that any New Olympian who has the blood of a species with a short life span would tend to water down the fay blood and lifespan more.
If the show continued, would you might have introduced other mythology characters, such as Pegasus, unicorns, dragons (besides the stone one), etc. If so, would they be considered New Olympians or Fay? And would they speak?
Everything we did would be decided on a case-by-case basis. There's no way to answer this blanketly.
Judging from Sleipnir, as well as the brief appearance of a Pegasus-type animal in 'The Gathering I" and ofcourse from one's of various mythologies... is there a species of non-sentient "fay beasts"? Or is Sleipnir, Pegasus, Fenrir and so on all sentient fays which simply choose animal forms as their 'favourite' ones?
There may be fauna on Avalon. And the magic of the place may have had some small effect on them. Like sorcerous radiation.
But fauna would not have attended the Gathering. So any seeming beast you saw there, like Anansi for example, is one of the Children in a form of his or her choosing. (If you see a polar bear walking around the palace, the odds are it's Odin.)
Now Slepnir is another story. If the legends are true, then Slepnir's mother was the trickster Loki, and his father was an actual horse. Making Slepnir half-horse and half-fey. (Which might serve to explain his modern transition from eight legs to four.) I haven't decided 100% if that's the route I'm taking in the Gargoyles universe, but the notion is appealing.
And it would suggest that New Olympus is filled with all sorts of bizarre beasts who are the descendents of various unions between the fey and so-called lower animals.
I recently saw the "Hercules" episode you wrote, "Grim Avenger"
I laughed my butt off during it. Great job. I particularly liked the bits where Theseus/Grim Avenger kept narrating outloud without realizing it.
I also liked the bits you wrote with Cassandra falling in love with Theseus. She's usually such a cynic, it was fun to see this other side of her.
On the whole, great job. You are great at everything you write.
Thanks. I liked writing that one. I've always loved the Superman/Batman relationship. And Herakles/Theseus is the original. I just pointed it up a bit more.
Though I should say that the wordless stuff where Cass is running across the beach toward Theseus wasn't mine. I guess the board artist added it.
It was also fun to have Michael Dorn playing another Minotaur.