Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad provides is a good example of how a retelling of Greeky mythology creates learning opportunities relevant to the needs of contemporary seekers of knowledge. It is a good thing to study the classics like Homer's Odyssey or the Iliad. However, the context and the words utilized by ancient author and commentators easily creates barries that made the rich insights of the stories unacessible to modern readers. However, a retelling or the development of a new version using information available only in modern times creates alternative ways of appreciating the classics. The following story is an example of an attempt at revising the classics in order to create teaching moments about the things that are important in the 21st century.
Back to the Future: Defending Troy Using a Time Machine
Tragedy had befallen the great city of Troy. Greek warriors under the leadership of crafty kings and generals were able to use deception in order to destroy Priam's beloved city. King Priam's household was massacred. The death of the great warrior Hector, the son of King Priam was a bad omen for the whole nation. However, no one saw the treachery of the Greeks. In the aftremath of the fall of Troy, the foreign invaders made sure Troy would never be rebuilt again. The Greeks made sure that a rival kingdom would never arise across the Agean. They murdered the members of the royal family including the young son of Hector.
All would have been lost if not for some cruel twists fate. Helenus, one of King Priam's son was able to survive. He was spared because he acted in dishonor. Before the fall of Troy, Helenus defected to the enemy camp. He saved his life by sharing secrets regarding the weakness of Troy and the schemes that one can use to take advantage of such vulnerabilities. His defection was seen as a critical point in the victory of the Greeks. Thus, his life was spared, but he was sold as a slave.
Andromache, the wife of Hector was also spared. It was not difficult to figure out the reason why she was kept alive by her captors. She was a beautiful princess of Troy. However, she was also sold as a slave, and she fetched a great price. Both Helenus and Andromache was under the control of one master, because they were both sold to Neoptoleumus.
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Helenus and Andromache
They were taken to an ancient city called Pergamum. At first Andromache hated Helenus, because she knew about his betrayal. However, when bouts of lonelieness and despair overwhelms her, she found the company and the words of Helenus as like a healing balm to her broken heart. It was the familiarity of the dialect and Helenus ability to remind her of the customs and traditions highly valued by the Trojans that made her to seek his companionship.
When Helenus felt that he had befriended Andromache once again, he made a full confession as to the reason for his defection. Helenus reminded Andromache of something that she already knew very well, that Helenuse was a seer. In other cultures a seer is also known as a prophet. In other cultures a seer is someone who has the capability to predict future events. Helenus told Andromache how he struggled with the decision to defect after he saw in a vision the fall of Troy. He said that he did everything to ensure a male heir, and as a consequence ensures the survival of the Trojan culture and way of life.
After several years of close friendship Andromache fell in love with Helenus. It was not only his kindness that attracted her to him, she was also impressed by his tremendous intellect. The couple rejoiced after the death of Neoptoleumus. They saw an opportunity to buy back their freedom. Using his intellect and pscyhic capabilities, Helenus secured his freedom and that of his future bride. After the marriage ceremonies they settled in the countryside and Andromache bore him sons.
After the birth of his sons, Helenus became obsessed with the idea of rebuilding Troy. He also knew of a secret passageway leading to underground tunnels. He also knew the most important passageway, the one that leads to a buried treasure several hundred feet below the city of Troy. He knew he did not have the strength to build and army and march back towards Troy. Thus, he poured out his heart into his sons, and his grandchildren, those willing to listen he revealed to them the secrets of Troy.
Telemachus, one of his sons developed a cult based on Helenus' teachings. Fast forward to the year 2090 and the cult is still in existence. One of the great-gandchildren of Helenus, John H. Telemachus, IV misinterpreted the idea regarding the need to go back to Troy as a command to build a time machine. He realized that he had the technology to build one. He decided to build a time machine in order to go back in time and save Troy. He went back several times in order to figure out the time when Achilless killed Hector. He wanted to warn Hector and help him defeat Achilles. However, when he went back to the time before the fight, John H. Telemachus, IV decided to abort the mission.
This is an example of how to revise the story surrounding the ancient tale of Greek fighters destroying Troy. The point of the revision is to use it as a teaching moment in order to emphasize the idea of the importance of information. If King Priam was not overconfident on security matters thinking that the great walls of Troy gave them an advantage over the enemy, he would have made preparations for other forms of attack. This is the demonstration of the power of information, an idea clearly understood in the present time.