The History Girl & Heracles
During my fourth year at school my teacher, Mrs C, bestowed me with two nicknames. The first, due to my burning passion for all things ancient was “History Girl” an alias I found slightly geeky and therefore crushingly uncool. The second title I was much more proud of. “The Comedian”.
At the time I took this to be an honourable nom-de-plume and proudly introduced myself as The Comedian wherever I went.
Halfway through the year I took a bad turn at School and was rushed - blues and twos, to the hospital. When I went home a few days later my friend came over to drop some homework off for me. In her hands were a stack of bright, construction paper ‘Get Well Soon’ cards which everyone in my class had made during art time that day.
A personal favourite was a picture of me riding a chariot with a fearsome look on my crayola face, whilst a hundred faceless spectators cheered on. Inside, in my classmate Timothy’s scrawled hand was “Get Well Soon History Girl!” It turns out, my classmates saw me as the nerdy history buff much more easily than they saw me as the hilarious wise cracking comedienne I saw when I looked in the mirror. You might be interested by the fact that Timothy asked me out when I returned to school, he said he liked my pink leggings, I think he was merely seduced by the instant celebrity status a screeching ambulance ride will afford you whilst in junior school.
Despite hating my nerdy moniker, I lapped up the ancient history lessons throughout Junior School. Ancient Greece was my favourite, but The Romans and Egyptians were pretty cool too.
My love of Ancient Mythology has lasted long into my adulthood, I mean, I named myself after a Goddess you guys.
Of course, the mythos taught to eight year old kids is a little less bloody, and a lot less sexy than what I’ve read as an adult, and I recently began reading more about Heracles (We’re sticking with the Greek incarnation, don’t @ me).
Hercules was my favourite Disney movie growing up, mostly because of Hades, Meg and the juxtaposition of Ancient Greece and Gospel music, like, whut. But let me tell you, the Disney version is a sliver of what Heracles really encountered.
Like, Hera tried to kill him - he was named after her to appeal to her step-maternal instincts but that didn’t work. He fought snakes, went to school, and carried out the twelve labours. He married Megara, had a bunch of kids, then he killed Megara and the bunch of kids. So far, so Ancient Greek.
Then I stumbled across a story I’d never heard of before, sitting upright to read it again. And then again. Just to absorb it.
Our boy Heracles had gotten himself in a spot of bother when he killed King Eurytus’ Son, because I guess he doesn’t know his own strength or something.
As punishment, he was sent to serve Queen Omphale for a year.
Omphale ruled the kingdom of Lydia, and was something of a bad bitch.
What came next was a subversion of gender and sexual roles, with Omphale making Heracles partake in “Women’s jobs” like sewing, whilst dressed in Women’s clothing.
She on the other hand wore Heracles’ garments, including the fur of the Nemean Lion Heracles had slain during his labours and his phallic wooden club.
I thought of this mythos this morning as I planned a small dick humiliation session with a darling client and I had to write it down.
So there you have it, sissification has its origins in Ancient Greece. Various different tellings of the story have different moods, with Omphale beating Heracles in some, and them being happily married in others. Most versions of the myth in Hellenistic and Roman times erred on the side of comedy, but it’s cool to see Ancient Greece repping the Female Led Relationship.