But then I got my kindle. My lovely, delicious kindle, whereupon I can buy hundreds of fairy tale books--for free. And I do mean hundreds, too. I have just over two hundred fairy tales books, all sorted neatly be length. I'm reading from shortest to longest, so I doubt I'll ever really make it to Arabian Nights, but it's good to have goals.
Anyway, the book I'm currently reading is Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew by Josephine Peabody. It's as if the author knew the stories and wrote them down, but without any care for actually getting them right--not that they are wrong, just, they aren't exactly faithful translations of the original Greek myths.
But that's not why I brought the book up (no, indeedy, that all goes in the review I'll be writing as soon as I finish it...). I actually wanted to discuss hubris a bit.
All these Greek tales--or at least more than a few of them--deal with the idea of hubris, or of arrogance which leads to a fall, also known as overconfidence or pride. And this is an oddly important idea to me, since I'm surprisingly humble, so I like to see the arrogant ones getting taken down a peg of three. But the Greek idea of hubris is entirely different from that which we have today.
See, in the Greek, the heroes will be arrogant, claim they are better than any other mortal, that they are, in fact, better than the gods--which they often ARE. The gods, of course, take offense to this, challenge the mortal, and then, whether they win or lose, usually enact some sort of revenge which ultimately lowers the mortal far below others.
But in our moralizing tales--and I don't mean fairy tales (not even Disney-ified ones), but rather the wholesome children's TV shows and such--in those tales the closest they get to hubris is when the hero claims that they are really good at something that they are not good at. The lie then gets out of hand, and the hero finds himself in over his head, admits that he was lying all along (or otherwise gets help which turns the lie into truth), and then he looses and receives psychiatric help.
So when you finish hearing the modern tales, you think, I should not lie about my abilities because I cannot control that lie. But after one of the Greek stories you learn, I should not brag because there will always be someone better than me, or someone I piss off by doing so. Quite possibly someone who can kick my ass to the stars if they so choose.
The two are very, very different lessons.