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Mythology for Queer Futures

  • Curcuits and Currents Notara 13 Athens, 10683 Greece (map)

Anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss wrote in the introduction to “Mythologiques”: “I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact” [1]. The political is present in the very fabric of cultural matter and its roots are deeply embedded in mythology. Hesiod wrote in “Theogony” that the Muses gave him “the awareness within himself of a new ability to compose poetry about matters past and future” [2]. Before we will be able to legitimise alternative socio-political systems, we need to push the mythological narratives further beyond both ancient and contemporary variations of Zeusian Justice “…it would perhaps be better to go still further … proceed as if the thinking process were taking place in the myths, in their reflection upon themselves and their interrelation” [1]. What signs of possible futures the works of the ancient poets can contain?

The focus is on the two paramountly important protagonists. Athena leaped out from Zeus’s head after he swallowed his first wife, that was promised to deliver him son who’d overthrow him from Olympus just as he did with his father Kronos. Zeus therefore became mother and father to the Olympian goddess, who never married or mothered a child and was the only one to be entrusted with his thunderbolts. Dionysus, the son of Zeus and the only half-mortal member of the Twelve Olympians, was torn apart and resurrected twice (once by Athena saving his heart), was mocked by elder gods and turned the insult into the weapon and the symbol of power. 

What could the lost and silenced narratives of the epic past tell us about possible futures?

[1] Marcel Hénaff. Claude Lévi-Strauss and the Making of Structural Anthropology. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, London, 1998. p. 108. 
[2] Glenn W. Most (ed.). Hesiod: Theogony, Work and Days, Testimonia. Harvard University Press, London, 2006. Introduction, xiv.

(by Denis Maksimov)

Image: collage of marble head of Athena with Corinthian helmet (reign of Hadrian, AD 117-138) and marble head of Dionysus from Piraeus, late 4th century BC