"One of the things I love about Greek culture is its complete acceptance of the tragic, that no matter what you do, no matter how hard you work, there may still be a force conspiring against you."
-Daniel Mendelsohn, as quoted in "Poets & Writers" Sept/Oct 2006. Painting (to the left) by Evelyn De Morgan.
One of the things I love about Greek characters is that they rise to the occasion, no matter how powerful the forces against them, no matter how hopeless their cause. Cassandra had the gift of prophesy but was cursed in that no one believed her predictions. Even though they thought she was crazy, she didn't stop trying to warn her people, the Trojans, about the outcome of the Trojan War. She tried to warn Agamemnon, her captor and enemy, about his death. She never gave up, even though no one believed her and everything still happened the way she predicted, despite all her efforts.
Cassandra inspires me. She never shut up. Her own family locked her up when she wouldn't quit with the warnings. (She even foretold the Trojan horse debacle, and they still let it in!) Agamemnon threatened to throw her off the boat, and considering that she knew she was going to die along with him, in her situation, I'd be tempted to throw myself off the boat. In fact, she could have run away from Troy before the war or otherwise directed her efforts on trying to avoid all the personal tragedy she experienced, including her own death. Alternatively, she could have just saved herself the frustration and kept her mouth shut. Telling people things they didn't want to hear made her very unpopular.
She didn't just have people against her- she was fighting the gods and fate. I don't think she doubted herself, her vision, or questioned what she was doing, though. She was telling the truth. She was trying to do the right thing. She had information, and had an obligation to try everything she could to use it for the good of the people around her, even if they didn't believe her. Even if they disliked her, threatened her, and tried everything they could to get her to shut it.
I can relate. I have a hard time suppressing the urge to speak out, and I like myself a lot more when I don't keep quiet about things that are important to me. It's all about doing what you need to so you can live with yourself, whatever the forces opposing you or who believes you. I don't think my story will end as tragically as Cassandra's, though. For one thing, there are people who believe me. There are even people who like me, big mouth and all.
Speaking of my big mouth, I was involved in 2 competitive seafood events recently. A week ago, I participated in a shrimp-eating contest. Not those little shrimp. Prawns. We called it a draw at 26. Then yesterday, my friend dared me to eat the largest sushi roll we had ever seen. I was afraid I was going to choke and that would be a really stupid way to die, but I'm happy to report that I stuffed the whole thing in my mouth and no tragedy befell me.
My life actually feels remarkably untragic these days, maybe because I don't feel victimized by fate anymore. I am disappointed that no Washington State teams were fated to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, but I'll get over it. The college basketball gods are notoriously unreliable, not unlike the Greek ones.