Nathan (vovat) wrote,

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Pigging Out

One famous mythological witch I didn't mention in yesterday's post is Circe, Medea's aunt, who appears in the Odyssey. Her shtick was turning people into animals, as when she turned all of Odysseus' men except Eurylochus into pigs. Western culture commonly views pigs as filthy, uncouth animals, so turning a person into one would have to be a serious insult. I've never found that entirely fair, though. I mean, don't pigs roll around in mud and eat slop because that's all they're given? I mean, that's like New York dumping garbage in New Jersey, and then insisting that New Jersey is a dump. And despite the expression "chauvinist pig," I haven't heard that swine are particularly disrespectful to women. Besides, people say that pigs are smart. I'm not saying that you should allow a piglet to suckle at your teat, but they probably have a worse reputation than they deserve.

Wow, between this and the snake post, I think I'm fast becoming a defender of maligned animals. Just don't expect me to do the same thing for cockroaches, because those little buggers are disgusting.

Anyway, the theme of people being turned into pigs strikes me as a remarkably common one. In addition to Circe, here are some other examples I can think of off the top of my head (which means that I'm sure I've leaving out a lot, and would welcome any other examples you lovely readers might have):

  • The Duchess' baby boy in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland turns into a pig while Alice is holding him. According to The Annotated Alice, Lewis Carroll loved little girls, but wasn't so keen on little boys, which might explain why it was specifically a boy baby who underwent the transformation. What I want to know is, if the Duchess dies, does the pig become a Duke?
  • In "The Mandarin and the Butterfly," one of L. Frank Baum's American Fairy Tales, a mandarin who hates children uses a spell from a book he stole from the Chinese magician Haot-sai (a character I might like to explore in a future story) to turn them into pigs. He recruits a butterfly to help him, and when the butterfly tries out the magic formula on an actual pig, it turns into a badly-behaved human boy.
  • Speaking of Baum, in Ozma of Oz, one of the Nome King's many transformations is that of the Tin Woodman into a tin whistle shaped like a pig.
  • In another Oz book, Glinda of Oz, Queen Coo-ee-oh of the Skeezers turns her rival Rora Flathead into a golden pig, in which form she is unable to work her own witchcraft. (I'll get back to these two in a future post in my "Witches of Oz" series.)
  • Ruth Plumly Thompson's first foray into Oz, The Royal Book of Oz, has a potion that was intended to make the Scarecrow human instead transform the three scheming Princes of the Silver Island into two pigs and a weasel.
  • In the first Harry Potter book (the title of which depends on what country you live in), Hagrid tries to turn Dudley Dursley into a pig. He only succeeds in giving him a pig's tail, though, which the Dursleys have to get surgically removed.
  • One of the spells in Final Fantasy IV is Pig (or "Piggy" in the NES version), which, as you might expect, turns its victim into a pig. In this form, a character has a very weak attack, and is unable to use magic or other special abilities.
  • Ganon, the main villain in the Zelda series, resembles a pig, although not exactly. In Ocarina of Time, for instance, he has a long tail that isn't at all porcine. Still, since he's a human who essentially took the form of a pig (or, more accurately, a pig-like demon), I might as well include him in the list.
Tags: books, harry potter, mythology, oz, video games
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