Of Monsters and Metaphors

Monsters have been with us for over a millennia. Go back into ancient history and you’re more than likely to find legends about mythical creatures, demons, and so on.

My question for you is: what were those monsters really?

Were they all just a misunderstanding?

Or were they simply metaphors? In Greek mythology, for example, centaurs were rowdy, violent, and dangerous. They were also a danger to women. Fancy that, eh? We read those stories and wonder why the people of ancient Greece thought they were real (there’s no real reason, really), without even stopping to think if we’re the ones who have it all wrong. There’s so much to these ancient civilizations that we do not know. For all we know the centaur was really a metaphor for dangerous men, in the same way that Little Red Riding Hood was a cautionary tale about talking to strangers.

I could go on and on. The Brother’s Grimm collected a vast array of these stories, and all of them had a lesson to teach us. So why not monsters?

It makes perfectly good sense to me, anyways . . .

Of course, we also know that some monsters were actually real. The unicorn, for example, is actually just a glorified rhinoceros (and, in Medieval literature at least, a metaphor for sexuality*).

Then again, giant squid were literally giant squid . . .

So what then? What’s real?

Or do we really want to know?

*In a nutshell. And no, I kid you not. Just look at some of those pictures and tell me they’re not a euphemism waiting to happen!


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