La Malinche between Homer and Madam Butterfly

It is an ancient theme in European mythology, from Ancient Greece to modern times: the adventurer who reaches foreign shores and falls in love with a native woman. Homer started this ancient tradition with the travels of Odysseus. In his travels, or actuall on the way home, Odysseus met all kinds of monsters, creatures of the seas, some of which dangerously attractive such a the enchanting Circe, or actually ”Kirke” in Greek (from the Greek verb””Kirkoo, with rings, circles, sealed or encapsulated). Kirke was literally enchanting, by her magical powers Odysseus’ men  transformed into pigs. Transformers of ancient times! Perhaps an more dangerous spell was cast upon their Master, Odysseus himself as the dark Circe fell in love with him. Though Odysseus finally outwitted her, Kirke certainly was the most dangerous peril on his way home. The island Kirke called home was called Aiaia, located somewhere in the far west of the then known world on the edge of the Okeanos the surrounding continents. The ancient Greeks were no great adventures on the oceans, their ships invariably remained with the coast in sight. The open sea was both to Greeks and Romans the domain of ​​monsters and darkness, as evidenced by the story of Odysseus and Kirke.

The Romans were excellent sailors, yet only for military purposes. They detested the pirates that roamed the eastern mediterranean seaboards and spent much effort in eradicating piracy. Unlike the Greeks and the Phoenicians the Roman had no natural affinity with the sea. They were once farmers from the hills in Latium and their first knowledge of the sea they acquired from the Etruscans and the Greeks. If there was a people in Antiquity who did explore the ”Okeanos” it was the Phoenicians, and especially their related Carthaginians. They did seail towards the edges of the then known world. They followed the distant African coast towards the south and perhaps even reached Scotland and Iceland in the north.The Romans considered the Carthaginians as dangerous allies, rivals, but they also respected them as they did with many other older cultures. In the Carthaginian Wars the Romans quickly adapted to new techniques and established an excellent navy. After the destruction of Carthage in 146 B.C. it was Rome’s time to write a new Odyssea which could rival Homer’s work. Thus Virgil created the Roman equivalent of the Odyssea, caleld the Aeneid.  (in progress)

the Carthaginian Dido, the queen who falls in love with the Trojan hero. Destiny is the two lovers is not favorable, and Dido dies while Aeneas founded the city of Rome. The downfall of Carthage has been heralded as the Roman myth or at least wants us to believe.The story of Dido is then repeated many times in the history of the West. The dark Kirke has been transformed into a romantic heroine who goes tenonder by lot or by the arrival of the romantic male hero.

The discovery of the New World led to new sources of inspiration for similar myths. The conquest of Mexico by Hernan Cortes gave the romance between Cortes and La Malinche, the English settlers in Virginia copied this story with their own version of Smith and Pocahontas. The 19th century produced the story of Madame Butterfly, Cio-cio-Japanese San. Again it is not well off for the exotic beauty, while the hero fame gathers, how hollow too. It is remarkable that all these stories have in common that an exotic culture that is highly admired, tenonder goes through a twist of fate. In reality of course it was not fate but just another conquest. Once the foreign culture is overcome, the need arises apparently in the form of a tragic love. In the form of a myth, because the reality was more complicated. Next time a little more about La Malinche as a representation of this ancient European myth.  

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Enseigner l'histoire au cyc... |
Anglais pour non-spécialist... |
videohistgeo6eme | | Annuaire | Signaler un abus | Le Lensois Normand
| Padiri Joseph FRAIPONT NDAG...
| cartes postales du morbihan