Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Cinderella Myth as Interpreted in the Style of Robert Graves

Robert Graves is best known in this country as the author of I, Claudius, but among his 140 or so other works, is The Greek Myths, which is considered a standard reference work in English for Greek myth, noted for the accuracy of his translations and the rigor and completeness of his documentation of the sources for each myth.

On the other hand, pretty much all classical scholars think that his interpretations of the myths are completely wacky and "imaginative".

From a review I found on the internet, here is one author's attempt to do a Robert Graves - like interpretation of Cinderella.

"Cinderella's name means Ash-lady, which denotes her as the ash-pale Death-goddess of winter. She and her two stepsisters form the classic Triple Goddess. Originally, the sisters' names were probably Destruction and Pestilence. Cinderella's transformation at the hands of the Fairy Godmother was really a late patriarchal addition; no doubt the original goddess transformed herself, showing her Love-goddess face rather than her more spectral one. Her dance with the Prince is an example of the White Goddess's choice of the King of the Waxing Year as her consort. In the version that has come down to us, she loses her shoe, but certainly in the uncorrupted, original myth, it was the Prince who lost his shoe, as the sacrificial king was often marked by a limp. This can be seen in the Welsh story of Math ap Mathonwy, and Dionysos's epithets also hinted at lameness. At the hour of midnight, that is to say, the witching hour, Cinderella reveals her terrible, ravening face by turning back into the ragged Death-goddess. Undoubtedly, the story ended with Cinderella's murder of the Prince, and her mourning for him by painting her face with the ashes of his funeral pyre, as the Welsh women mourned for Llew Llaw Gyffes. The happy ending we are familiar with is actually the record of the patriarchal takeover, when the White Goddess was forcibly married to the Year-King who had become the supreme god of the new mythology"

From "Kelly (Fantasy Literature)" of Columbus, MO via, a review of The Greek Myths by Robert Graves

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