21 April 2009

Outstaring the Gorgon

One of the things that keeps amusing me is how appalled -- and amused, it must be said -- my friends tend to be when faced with the uncomfortable plot summaries that are so crucial to the creepy parlour game of Name That Film. And for what it's worth, of yesterday's 22 plots, I've already been contacted with correct answers to thirteen of them, which is pretty good for less than a day.

But the odd thing is that if you try this with Greek myth, say, people just shrug, because such horror is entirely normal there. If I say to you something like 'Jilted wife murders husband's new wife and own children in act of vengeance, Gods approve,' you'd just think, 'Yes, it's obviously Medea, what's your point, Thirsty G?' Likewise if I go 'Man stubbornly insists on primacy of letter over spirit of law, son and wife kill themselves, locals chalk it up to experience,' you don't even blink and say, 'Antigone,' wondering what all the fuss is about, as you have probably always wondered why Sophocles didn't name the play Creon.

So here are ten more Classical plots for you to play with. If you're a Classicist and don't get them within about three seconds, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. If you're not, a lower and slower strike rate is forgiveable, in this philistine age. Give it a shot in the comment box, if you like.
  1. Poor loser takes out anger on livestock, commits suicide.
  2. Townspeople pay token respect to handicapped transsexual, but frequently disregard his advice.
  3. Traumatised veteran returns home and butchers wife's guests.
  4. Bisexual man kills perfect husband and mutilates corpse to avenge death of gay lover.
  5. Musician has difficulty accepting wife's death, is assaulted and murdered by drunken gang.
  6. Exotic dancer helps new lover murder her deformed half-brother.
  7. Beautiful young wife trapped in unsatisfying daily routine, having to get up early for work while decrepit husband invariably stays in bed, muttering to himself.
  8. Man keeps daughter captive, and is horrified when girl becomes pregnant after golden shower; daughter's son later kills man at sports event.
  9. Scientist attempts murder of nephew, builds sex toy and dungeon, causes death of son.
  10. Woman's brother kidnaps and rapes her daughter, woman develops eating disorder.
Ah, the things that every educated Westerner used to be expected to know. I wonder how Bible stories would work when written this way.

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