Nathan (vovat) wrote,

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Witchy Women

Seeing as how witches are in season at this time of year (I'm thinking I might go down to the orchard and pick a few myself :P), I thought I'd focus my weekly mythological post on two famous witches. The first is the Russian witch Baba Yaga, and it's obvious that the Russians put a lot of imagination into their witch legends. This woman has iron teeth, rides around on a mortar and pestle, and lives in a hut with chicken legs, surrounded by a fence made of bones. She is gluttonous, and known to eat human flesh, but is incredibly skinny. Her servants include three horse-riders who symbolize different times of the day, and some invisible people with only their hands showing. While normally evil, there are apparently stories in which she helps people instead of harming them.

The other witch I'd like to touch upon is Medea, the daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis (a kingdom located in modern-day Georgia), and subject of a play by Euripides. When Jason arrived in Colchis seeking the Golden Fleece, she fell in love with him, which was pretty typical of mythological princesses. They'd be instantly attracted to any hero with a big enough sword. Anyway, Medea helped Jason to overcome the challenges set up by her father. Correctly pronouncing his name wasn't one of them, although it should have been. Jason had to yoke fire-breathing bulls, defeat skeletal warriors who grew up out of dragon teeth, and kill a sleepless dragon. Afterwards, Jason sailed off with Medea, apparently intending to marry her, but he ended up dumping her for Glauce, the daughter of King Creon of Corinth (not the same Creon who was Oedipus' uncle and brother-in-law; he was King of Thebes and father to Megara, whom Hercules married and killed in a fit of insanity). What a social-climbing bastard! In order to get revenge, Medea burned Glauce to death with a poisoned dress, and killed the two sons she had had with Jason. Saying this was a bit of an overreaction is a serious understatement, but it's hard not to sympathize with her at least a little. She later married King Aegeus of Athens, and attempted to poison his son Theseus so that her own son (not one of the ones she had killed) could take the throne. Some legends have also said that Theseus sailed with the Argonauts, however, which would create a temporal paradox. I think there's also some kind of problem regarding the respective ages of Helen (who was abducted by Theseus when she was only around twelve) and Priam of Troy (whose son Paris also captured Helen; she was pretty much as susceptible to kidnapping as Princess Peach Toadstool), but I forget the details. There's something about it in the notes to the first volume of Eric Shanower's Age of Bronze. Anyway, getting back to Medea, I came up with some ideas in high school about stories featuring her daughter Myrena, the product of a union with a man who sought the Golden Fleece prior to Jason and the Argonauts. In fact, I'm sort of considering writing a complete manuscript about Myrena for NaNoWriMo, although I haven't decided that for sure. I came up with the name on my own, but it apparently is a real name.
Tags: mythology, writing

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