The Myth of The Labyrinth by alexis fischer

The Labyrinth -- By Jorge Luis Borges

Zeus, Zeus himself could not undo these nets \ Of stone encircling me. \ My mind forgets \ The person I have been along the way, \ The hated way of monotonous walls, \ Which is my fate. \ The galleries seem straight \ But curve furtively, forming secret circles \ At the terminus of years; and the parapets \ Have been worn smooth by the passage of days. \ Here in the tepid, alabaster dust, \ Are tracks that frighten me. The hollow air \ Of evening sometimes brings a bellowing, \ Or the echo, desolate, of bellowing. \ I know that hidden in the shadows there \ Lurks another, whose task is to exhaust \ The loneliness that brains and weaves this hell, \ To crave my blood, and to fatten on my death. \ We seek each other. Oh, if only this \ Were the last day of our antithesis!

The Myth

Queen Pasiphae slept with a bull and gave birth to a Mintoaur (a half man - half bull creature). The king of Crete (King Minos) was embarrassed by the Minotaur, but he didn't want to kill him, so he hid the monster in a labyrinth instead. Minos would imprison his enemies in the labyrinth so the Minotaur could eat them. This maze was had such a confusing construction that no one could ever make it out of the labyrinth alive. Minos later ordered the king of Athens to send seven men and women every year to the Minotaur to advert the plague caused by the death of Androgeus. During the third year of this tradition, Theseus volunteered to be one of the men that was sent to the labyrinth. His plan was to kill the Minotaur and end the human sacrifices to the monster. Theseus met Princess Ariadne who fell madly in love with him and offered to help him destroy the Minotaur. The princess gave him thread to unravel as he went deeper into the labyrinth, so he knew his way out after he killed the Minotaur. Theseus managed to kill the Minotaur and find his way out of the labyrinth, saving the Athenians. He took the Princess and sailed happily back to the Athens.


In this poem, the labyrinth is the symbol of life. Borges refers to death as "another", which seems to be a monster that's after us all. The fear of death is in all of us, and this poem portrays that. People are constantly trying to avoid and escape death, but it's inevitable. Just like the labyrinth, life's a puzzle; the only way you can escape it is through death.

The tone of this poem is acceptance. In the diction, Borges uses: "My mind forgets", "Which is my fate", "I know", and "if only". These words give the poem a sense that Zeus has accepted his fate. Borges uses imagery to create a desolate and hopeless setting like: "The gallery seems straight / But curve furtively", "Here in the tepid, alabaster dust", and "hidden in the shadows". Borges use of imagery and diction attribute to the tone of acceptance.


The modern allusion of my myth is The Maze Runner, which includes a gigantic mysterious maze similar to The Labyrinth. The maze in the Glade includes killer creatures (Grievers) just like the Minotaur who roams the Greek maze. The courageous youth who decided to take on the Grievers and conquer the maze in The Maze Runner is named Thomas, who represents Theseus, who conquered the Minotaur.


The allusion connects with the tone because of the imagery that both the movie and the poem have. In The Maze Runner, the setting is very mysterious, hopeless and desolate, just like Borges poem. The people in the movie are trapped in the Glade, where they are unable to escape unless they can navigate their way through the gigantic maze that surrounds the Glade. Just like the people in The Maze Runner, the Athenians are unable to escape the Labyrinth.


Created with images by Snufkin - "fog forest mountain world" • grant_loy - "Low Clouds in SF 2" • Ruth and Dave - "Foggy treeline" • FateDenied - "Alcatraz" • stux - "fog outlines pine"

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