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All ancient stories, fairy tales and, of course, myths always mean something more than just an interesting fantastic story; they carry some hidden lessons. These tales describe the most common human traits of character, weaknesses, moral dilemmas, inner conflicts, clashes of characters and relationships between people. Thus, one cannot perceive such legends and myths simply as fictional stories telling about magic dragons, mysterious creatures, incredibly powerful heroes and immortal gods. Instead, all ancient stories have a reflection in our modern life because people still go through betrayals and revenge, still feel greed, deep love, mercy or a desire to become famous and powerful just like gods. Human nature remains unchanged for centuries and in all times numerous writers and philosophies tried to understand, explain and portrait it. This piece of writing focuses on two famous Greek myths, Zeus and Prometheus and the Trojan Saga that are illustrated through the prism of my personal experience.
The central idea of the myth about Zeus and Prometheus reveals the desire of Prometheus, the titan, to help people to bring them the fire, thus making their lives easier and happier. However, the most powerful Greek god Zeus, who was afraid of people becoming stronger, strictly rejected his noble intention to help people. The kind and fair heart of Prometheus was aching when he watched people struggling with cold and famine every day and, at the same time, he admired the immortal desire of mortals to live. The great titan made a decision that met his conscious despite the fact that it contradicted Zeus’ will – he stole the fire, and taught people how to use it and thus gave them a new life and a new hope. Certainly, this action made the main god of Olympus furious and in order to punish the one who broke the rule, he ordered to chain Prometheus to the mountain and told the sun to heat his body, the wildest waves to beat him every day and the biggest eagle to peck at his body for ever after. This is a short description of the ancient story, and it is partially reflected in my life.
I used to have a teacher, a wonderful teacher, as I ultimately understood, who was like Prometheus. Mr. Jones (the name is not real, I will deliberately leave it unknown) was a History teacher , and he was new at our school. The students started to test him and his character from the first day of the study. What surprised and annoyed us most was the fact that he did not break and did not change his methods. Mr. Jones never shouted, never punished putting bad marks, he did his best to make us love the subject.
He was a person who was incredibly passionate about the job he was doing, and he believed and expected that we would have the same attitude towards history, as well. We were children, who are mostly cruel and the ones who try to rebel against everything no matter what it takes; we did not see that fire in his arms, which was knowledge. In fact, in that case our class was evil Zeus, who forbade the teacher to give us the light. We were the ones who made up for him everyday punishments despite his good intentions.
The principal of the school recommended that the teacher should stop trying to persuade us by using such lenient methods. He suggested that Mr. Jones should take some more serious and stricter steps to get the situation under control as such actions should have made us be afraid of Mr. Jones. However, is it possible to gain respect through the fear? I do not think so, and actually, I am positive about it. Day after day, month after month, he strived and was patient. Every day he brought the fire of knowledge and looked into our eyes with hope; he wanted to see the slightest change that would signal that we were ready to accept his priceless gift. However, the only thing he found there at that time was a steady rock of misunderstanding and absurd resistance; those were steel chains, the cruel heat of the sun, the coldness of the strongest waves, and the sharpness of the iciest wind for Mr. Jones.
Later, as in the Greek myth, everything became different; there was an event, which changed our attitude completely and forever. This change of the perception happened when our school principal sent us another teacher, the one with quite opposite methods. He did not have that passion in his eyes; he just did not notice the class and talked to no one. It is a common, a bit banal, but a true notion stating that we understand what we have lost when it is gone. How happy we were when we found out that the new teacher came only for a month! How happy and ashamed we were when our Mr. Jones came into the classroom again.
Unfortunately, none of us could find the braveness to express our feelings and to apologize to Mr. Jones for our behavior and blindness. However, one look into our eyes that had finally opened was enough for him to understand that we saw that fire in his arms and we were eager to take it. That day, we changed from cruel Zeus to Hercules, who rescued Prometheus and brought him back to life. Since then, we, as ancient people, who received fire and a chance for a new life, were grateful to our saver, our teacher, who became the biggest authority to each of us.
The second myth I would like to concentrate on is Trojan saga. In fact, there is one thing from this tale that can be transferred to my life – the Trojan horse as a symbol of a deliberate and hidden threat in the form of the present. I used to have a friend, Jane by name (again, I use a different name), who was a florist. We were good friends, who could have a frank talk and have fun together. One day, we had a quarrel that has ultimately ruined our relationships. When I thought that this was the end of our friendship, and, to be honest, I was very upset about this fact, she sent me a present for my birthday. I was very delighted and astonished at this step and that is why I called her at once to express my gratitude and tell that we should meet some day and forget all arguments.
Actually, I even invited Jane to my place to celebrate my birthday, but she refused. The present she sent was very beautiful – it was a plant called Dieffenbachia. It had large green spotted leaves, perfectly matched the interior of my bedroom and, in addition, it was the symbol of our recovering friendship, that is why the plant became my favorite. As the citizens of Troy were drunk because of the victory celebration, I was so excited because of my friend’s comeback. In several days, I woke up with a sore throat; every day started with that unpleasant feeling and I could not get rid of it. I had to visit my doctor and after a medical check, he concluded that this could be a kind of allergy and that I should look for its source in my apartment. It took me several days to understand that the reason for the problem stood next to my bed and it was Jane’s present. I searched the Internet and found out that Dieffenbachia had some poison, and this plant could cause allergies. Of course, this was not as deadly threat as it was in the myth, but it resulted in significant inconvenience. I suppose that the fact of a possible hazard the plant could cause to my health was obvious to Jane. This was my personal Trojan horse, which I accepted with all sincerity, but as it turned out, it carried a hidden threat. For some reason, my friend could neither forgive me nor let the situation go and decided to retaliate. We have never met or talked since then, but that situation has taught me a lot. Of course, I am not looking for a Trojan horse in every present I get, but I became more cautious about people with whom I have tense relationships. Trusting people is a positive trait of character, but this should be reasonable and sensible trust. One cannot trust everyone because, unfortunately, the world is full of people, who can hurt us.
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While considering both of my life stories, they seem even a bit contradictory. In the first case, with Mr. Jones, I could not recognize a good person, while in the second situation, with Jane, I was unable to see the bad one. Still, this only confirms how controversial and bipolar our life is.
Certainly, I did not have a situation in my life that corresponded to the myths completely, but there is nothing weird about it. The epoch we live in is totally different. This is an era of modern technologies, information, and clear thinking. We live in a democratic country, which is not attacked by conquerors; we are more down-to-earth and we do not believe in miracles, immortal gods and brave heroes anymore. However, there is one thing that has not changed through thousands of years – it is human nature and this part can be transferred to everyone’s life. You may not believe in all those creatures, gods, titans, and immortals, but the traits of character and the doings in the name of something deserve attention and deliberation because they continue teaching people generation by generation.
Two myths I chose for the essay, Zeus and Prometheus and Trojan Saga, partially portray some events from my personal experience. The first one has some parallels with Zeus and Prometheus: the teacher who tries to give knowledge as a symbol of Prometheus who wants to give fire to people. The teacher wants to give us the priceless present – the knowledge that can make us wiser and open the doors into the future, just as Prometheus wants to bring people fire, give them a chance to live better and have more opportunities. Our class symbolizes two personages: at first, Zeus, when we punish the teacher by our disobedience and blindness and then – Hercules, when we finally set him free with the help of re-estimation of our attitude. The next story has one symbol that illustrates an event in my life – the well-known Trojan horse I received from the so-called friend. The plant, which is beautiful outside and poisonous inside, and carries a hidden message and a threat in itself. Both events prepared me to meeting different people and, I believe, even made me to some extent better, and more adapted to the outside world. Thus, I recommend that everyone read old legends and myths because they always carry the wisdom of all humanity, which was gathered by all nations through the centuries and carefully kept for the next generations, for us. Without doubts, everyone will see a situation from his or her life in those legends, myths, and fairytales. Who knows, maybe someone will find there some advice which was given thousands of years ago and that will help to solve some current dilemma.