Porquoi Stories

Pourquoi stories are a general class of stories that explain why something is the way it is. Porquoi, which means “why” in French, include The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling that we discussed yesterday, that explain the origin of animals and their characteristics, dreamtime stories Australian Aboriginals, some tall tales such as Pecos Bill taming his horse that bucked and kicked so much that she dug out the Grand Canyon. Origin stories that explain how a comic book hero or heroine came to have their special characteristics are also examples of porquoi stories.

Finally, creation myths explain the origins of a people.  

For example, Hesiod in his Theogony explains the origin of the world for Greece. Chaos, a yawning nothingness, was alone at the beginning of the universe.  According to the G-rated version, Gaia, the Earth, came out of the nothingness and was surrounded by Oceanus, the primeval river god.  They were followed by Erebus, Eros (Love), and the Abyss (Tartarus).  Gaia gave birth to Uranus (the Sky) and was the mother of the twelve Titans. Uranus, fearing that his children might depose him, refused to have more children.  Too late, as it turned out. 

The Titan Cronos deposed his father Uranus and married Rhea.  Rhea had Cronos’ children but because he feared he would be deposed also, he swallowed them when they were born. Rhea gave him a wrapped-up stone to swallow when the youngest, Zeus, was born.  The son, Zeus, returned and deposed his father, then drugged him which forced him to throw up the children that he had swallowed.  Zeus, supported by his siblings, waged war with his father.  Cronos lost and he and the other Titans were hurled into Tartarus, a kind of hell.  Zeus and his siblings reigned supreme from Olympus.

Tomorrow, Conventional Wisdom   Rita Bay

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