The Minotaur

01/26/2009 § 1 Comment

You’ll be pleased to know that many of the authors whom you love (or at least were forced to read in high school) have written or rewritten fairy tales for contemporary children. (+1) One such writer is Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the 1850’s he wrote A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls, and Tanglewood Tales for Boys and Girls. Contemporary is relative and when I said “contemporary” earlier I meant contemporary for Nathaniel Hawthorne; and it is clear that children of the 1850’s had a much larger vocaulary. +2 for those kids.

Hawthorne is certainly not the first writer to have done this, nor is he alone in his pursuit. Lots of writers do this. Even Steinbeck worked on a retelling of some of the Arthurian legends, later abandoning the project, leaving it unfinished upon his death. I think it’s great when writers do this, but it seldom is mindblowing. And I kind of want it to be mindblowing.

The first story in Tanglewood Tales is a retelling of Theseus and his run-in with the Minotaur. I really love some of the ideas in Greek mythology but since it is usually about the Gods and how they are jerks without much humor, I tend to avoid them. But, the other day I decided to see if Nathaniel Hawthorne could change my mind about these myths.

I think he did change my mind (+1), but since I picked the one story out of the lot that I knew would be the most interesting, I’m reserving judgment.

Actually, I changed my mind. I mostly just like that in this story is something that I completely forgot about. How I forgot I’m still not sure, since this character is featured in one of my favorite movies of all time, Jason and the Argonauts.

When Theseus sails to Crete his ship must pass by Talos, the man of bronze (+8). Talos is a giant made out of bronze who patrols the coast. Like so many other oddities in the Greek world, it is unclear if he was a gift of the gods, or if he is a stop-motion creation of Ray Harryhausen,  or if he was made by the Cyclops, or if he is the offspring of Zeus and some giant brass woman. I favor the fourth but, as I said, it is unclear.

Oh. And also Talos has one giant vein, running from his head to his ankle (+2), which is his one vulnerable spot according to the film Jason and the Argonauts.

So, yes, I liked Nathaniel Hawthornes retelling of The Minotaur, but only because he reminded me why Greek mythology is worthwhile.


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You are currently reading The Minotaur at Tall tales. Fairy tales. Cock-and-Bull stories. Epics. Fables. Folk tales. Myths. Legends..


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