Theseus:  Labyrinths and Shadows

Theseus: Labyrinths and Shadows PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Meaning of the Myth. Story as a political drama in which the Minotaur represents tyranny and Theseus symbolizes democracyStory as representative of the transfer power from Crete to Athens. Lineage. Mother: AethraFather: Aegeus (Posiedon?)The ambiguity over parentage is a common theme in myths, (

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Theseus: Labyrinths and Shadows

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1. Theseus: Labyrinths and Shadows Heroes and the Development of Identity

2. Meaning of the Myth Story as a political drama in which the Minotaur represents tyranny and Theseus symbolizes democracy Story as representative of the transfer power from Crete to Athens

3. Lineage Mother: Aethra Father: Aegeus (Posiedon? ) The ambiguity over parentage is a common theme in myths, (and in Hero stories) Is it an Illegitimate conception Or Divine conception? Symbolically the two are equivalent: If the conception does not occur under the proper circumstances it is outside the realm of matrimonial blessing and thus outside the realm of accepted societal mores 2 choices for identity of child: Bastard Divine

4. Lineage Proving himself worthy The Hero must undergo a series of trials in order to prepare him for his ultimate encounter with the Antagonist. On the Road to Athens

5. The Road to Athens Retrieving his Father’s Sword Perseus “the Sword of Troy” Arthur Beowulf Aragorn Harry Potter Luke Skywalker

6. The Road to Athens The Road Warriors: Periphetes (the clubman) Physically beating the hero (as you treat, so shall you be treated) Sinis (the pine bender) Tearing the hero apart psychologically (using natural tendencies in exaggerated ways) Sciron (the Foot-Washer) Humbling and humiliating the hero (taking advantage of the individuals tendency to be cooperative) Cercyon (the Wrestler) Physically challenging the hero; Theseus defeats him using “technique” NOT strength (man to man superiority) Procrustes (the Bed-Fitter) Forcing the hero to fit (the brutal effects of the unconscious “ought”)

7. Theseus Theseus the Hero: Unclear background, Competent, Smart The Monster (King Minos): Powerful as a result of selfishness and greed The Monster (the Minotaur): Emerges from an inability to control anti-social impulses Helpers- Ariadne: Represents Love as a supportive, creative, redemptive force Helpers- Daedalus: Represents the scientist/tinkerer in humans; [may take the form of a tool- like the string; may take the form of knowledge & understanding- how to solve the riddle of the Labyrinth]

8. Theseus: Cast of Characters The Labyrinth The journey through the labyrinth can be compared to virtually every mysterious or circuitous process you care to name Birth Flirtation Sex Politics Psychoanalysis Life itself

9. On Labyrinths By the 20th Century the labyrinth became a literary device: Image of doubt Futility Confusion Secrecy Bureaucracy Urban despair (The labyrinth, after all, was built as a prison.)

10. The Meaning of the Minotaur King Minos ignored his duties to the community The requirements of his position in the community demanded his suppression of selfish interests in order to act for the good of the whole. But instead of sacrificing the prized bull (the symbol of his culture) to Poseidon, he kept the bull for himself. This angered the god, (remember- rituals are appropriate behaviors which put humans in accordance with the Will of the Gods (and thus the natural order of existence). This is the foundation of all Religious Acts. and caused the Monster to be born. The Minotaur thus represents the abomination which results from the community member’s selfish dereliction of his duty to the community, (particularly the community member who has power and the trust of the community).

11. The Meaning of the Minotaur The Minotaur serves as a wonderful image: Euhemeristcally (remember, that’s the interpretation of myths as having some actual, historical basis) it represents the intrusive power of the Mycenaean culture viewed, of course, from outside that culture. You can see how a citizen of Athens might view a foreign power demanding tribute as a horrible creature In this case Half Man / Half Bull (the symbol of the culture) Psychologically it represents the consequences of greed and selfishness The result of selfish action is a terrible monster which: Needs to be hidden away in an elaborate maze (the inner-most corners of our minds, since we know at heart that it is wrong) Feeds on the life force of other members of the community The result of selfishness is the suffering of others

12. The Meaning of the Minotaur The Minotaur as Masculine Entity Traditional role of the male: Controlled the property, made the decisions, acted as protector and provider of the family, and, by extension, the community. In order to Come of Age as a Son, Theseus had to confront what could be called the Negative Father Aegus was the Good Father even though he essentially abandoned his son, he still provided Theseus an opportunity to establish himself and his place in line for the throne. Minos was the Bad Father The selfish ruler who represented what any man could become if he neglected his responsibilities as a male in that society.

13. Theseus and Minotaur As sons of rulers (princes), Theseus and Minotaur are connected: Mirror reflections of each other Both the result of actions and events beyond their control Both representing elements of what the other had the potential to become Since Theseus is the good guy (and the Hero) our focus is on him The Minotaur thus represents THE SHADOW The repressed and suppressed aspects of the conscious self Both negative and positive aspects

14. Confronting the Shadow The negative element each of us possesses in our hearts and minds as a result of primitive responses to the world in which we find ourselves If we are bitter or angry at the world… If we are bitter at our parents (for whatever reason… “after all, it’s what THEY did before I was in control of my life that caused the problem…” )

15. Confronting the Shadow The positive element each of us possesses in our hearts and minds is rooted in our human capacity to care and sympathize and empathize Recognize that in most cultures, this positive view of the shadow is primarily a function of the recognition of these traits as repressed in the individual In other words, when the “good” stuff is seen as SHADOW that means the “bad” stuff is what we are seeing in the individual “Even the most terrible person must have SOME redeeming qualities” “Something terrible must have happened to him as a child that caused him to behave this way”

16. Confronting the Shadow SO, In the story of Theseus, we are focused on the Minotaur as the NEGATIVE aspect of the Shadow Remember, part of each individual’s responsibility is to demonstrate the ability to handle the problems he will face as he assumes his “role” in the community. If Theseus is to someday rule, he has to address the potential in himself to become a monster a greedy, selfish, monstrous ruler If the individual (you) are to someday participate as an adult in the adult world, you must address the potential in yourself to become a monster a greedy, selfish, monstrous adult

17. Confronting the Shadow BUT- there are 2 problems: If we hide it completely, if we lose track of it in the maze of our subconscious, the results can be as destructive as if we let it out Releasing it wreaks havoc on the community Losing track of it wreaks havoc on ourselves

18. Confronting the Shadow Minos’ mistake was hiding it in the Labyrinth and never turning to address it as a consequence of his actions: his failure as caretaker of his “family”

19. Confronting the Shadow Theseus’ mistake was killing the Minotaur Instead of recognizing it as a necessary part of his existence and accepting it, he killed it, and thus killed a part of himself Sometimes selfishness is necessary for preservation and protection The key is understanding how and when to harness the shadow so as little damage as possible is done to the community This is why the story of Theseus ends badly for him: He abandons Ariadne His father commits suicide He kills his own son A bad ending for the hero who can’t control the shadow

20. How to Confront the Shadow The Hero usually needs help Theseus receives help from 2 sources Directly from Ariadne Indirectly from Daedalus

21. How to Confront the Shadow Ariadne The feminine element that provides direct support through love (the Goddess) In many ways, the individual is not complete when he is alone The myths suggest that humans need support in the form of love and acceptance Remember how important the concept of “love” was to the ancient Greeks- in fact it is a fundamental element in the creation of the world More on Ariadne later…

22. How to Confront the Shadow Daedalus The Scientist who created the Labyrinth and gave Ariadne the silken (magical) string so Theseus could find his way through the Maze to find the Minotaur The Scientist Represents the curiosity of humans-as-manipulator In some ways amoral Neither moral or immoral; the scientist only cares about the results of his science- how it’s used is not his concern The scientist initiates the action, or facilitates the Hero’s response to the action

23. The Role of Daedalus He creates the fake “cow” to help Pasiphae (Minos’ wife) fool the prized bull His science helps create the Monster He builds the labyrinth to hold and hide the monster His science helps constrain the Monster, but it also keeps it from ever being dealt with He gives Ariadne the string to help Theseus through the maze His science provides the means for confronting the Monster (important to note that Ariadne is the one who asks for the science, and who actually delivers it to Theseus His science his beneficial if it is used with the right intentions In this case (in all cases?) the right intentions could be seen as feminine

24. The Role of Daedalus Now we have to finish his story (3:25) Now, consider the message sent by Icarus’ demise Getting too close to the “light” can cause destruction Commentary on the nature of science and our own “hubris” (exaggerated pride or self-confidence) What is reserved for the gods, must remain with the gods…

25. The Role of the Scientist Stealing the gift of life from the gods The Jekyll and Hyde of the Scientist Stealing the secrets of the power of the universe from the gods I Stealing the secrets of the power of the universe from the gods II Scientist as Savior

26. To Sum Up

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