May 28, 2009

Let's Read The Sphinx Story Again!

nilla_wafers.gifWe've been reading our way through the d'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths at bedtime, and for once, I'm wishing it was more prudish, not less. Because though the kid is loving it, reading the story of Oedipus and the Sphinx over and over to a preschooler is kind of freaking me out.

And it's not even all the suicide, murder, incest, infanticide, and vengeance-driven self-mutilation. It's contemplating the entire basis for the story--the utter inescapability of fate and man's lack of control over his own destiny--in the presence of someone at the very beginning of her life. Of course, the kid doesn't mind one bit; she knows that if the Oracle at Delphi tells someone what the Fates are going to weave into his tapestry, that's what happens. It's in the story.

We're big fans of free will around here, though, and I absolutely don't buy into the premise. And yet, as soon as I figure if I have to, I'll just play it off as "ancient myth," I come across something as moving as Kevin Fox's story of keeping his sister alive. And I wonder if that wouldn't make a great bedtime story.

I haven't eaten a Nilla Wafer in 25 years [ via]


We recently read that same book of Greek myths to our kid too, and she really just took it all in as pure story. I don't think she mapped any of the ideas about fate etc to her own life at all. Maybe I should investigate why she has suddenly, emphatically stopped eating Z-Bars, though!

Just found your blog, and I like it. I'm not a parent myself, but I am a teacher. Explaining the fate/free will dilemma to a kid by way of Greek myth can be a great way to get into differences in religion and how fundamental those can be to how one conceptualizes life and choices. Keep in mind that all those myths were religious stories for the ancient Greeks. Fate was part of their lives because of the beliefs stemming from these stories. They didn't have a Bible or a Koran or a Bahagavad Gita, etc., to tell them what their religion was- they had sacred places and orally transmitted stories that we know because eventually, long after they were created, somebody wrote them down.

Yeah, we went through all that with the Norse Gods book.

Won't the kid be surprised when I explain to her that Christmas is actually just a rebranded celebration of Saturn/Cronus?

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