Tuesday, November 19, 2013


If not immortality, we mortals are obsessed with invincibility. We want no weapon to harm us, no disease to kill us, no misfortune to befall us. If we can't live forever, then we want the next best thing - to live a healthy and prosperous life into an old close-to-forever age.
It's a great aspiration. Something to strive for certainly, this state of invincibility, of being super protected. But, the thing is that the very nature of being mortal means that we can never achieve that goal. We forget that even Superman had Kryptonite to deal with.

Our ancestors did warn us...

What is myth? 
  • [ mith ]
    1. ancient story: a traditional story about heroes or supernatural beings, often attempting to explain the origins of natural phenomena or aspects of human behavior.

    Achilles and his pitiful Greek heel: 

    The son of a mortal Peleus and the immortal Nereid Thetis, Achilles was the un-defeatable warrior-hero of the Trojan War (or most of it.) It is said that upon his birth, his mother held baby Achilles by his right heel and dipped him in the River Styx to make his body invincible. The catch? Where she caught him - his right heel remained vulnerable causing his fall, and thus the legend of Achilles' Heel was born.

    Duryodhana and his vulnerable Indian groin: 

    His name itself means "One who can't be defeated" or "great fighter," was the son on of the blind King Dhritarashtra and Queen Gandhari. Gandhari chose to blind-fold herself forever the day she married the blind king because she wished to "see" the world just as her husband did. That act of immense courage (ahem, crack-pot stupidity IMO) pleased the Gods and they granted her a powerful boon. Just before the terrible Mahabharata War began (or during it, I forget) she asked her oldest son, Duryodhana, to come to her unclothed. She untied her blindfold and only for a second opened her eyes (the ones with the power) to sweep them over her son, use the boon to make him invincible. Duryodhana did not strip naked, thinking to cover his groin from his mother (a gentlemen, to be sure) and thus that became the only part of him that remained vulnerable causing his enemy to strike him dead there.

    In both Achilles and Duryodhana's cases, the protector strives to protect but fate (nature, understanding, limitations) gets in the way.

    What is the lesson we're supposed to learn from these myths? Should we not strive at all as the outcome of our actions may not be in our hands? Can we not survive without might and power? Is vulnerability such a bad thing? Is being human not in our best interests?

    (pic source: google search images)


    1. What I find interesting is that these myths are used to explain conditions of mankind throughout the rest of history. I can understand why Adam and Eve's curse was spread to all descendents, as that's how it was worded. But for one half-god to have a weakness that cursed all of mankind? Or a son to be defeated by a weak groin to grant vulnerability there to all men, forever before and after?

      1. Your take is more than interesting, Ellyjoybell. Though I don't think either the Greek or Indian myth (I only speak of these two) were meant to be objective...or were they? To show man's frailty in the face of destiny, rather than these two warriors' subjective ends. To show through myth that however much Man might surround himself with power, strength, money, position, family, an army...true invincibility is an illusion.

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