10/7/2013 MM: "Theroses Are Red (and White, Blue, Black, and Green), Part 2"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Making Magic, which goes live Monday morning on magicthegathering.com.

More nitpicking, but I'll try to be brief for each subject.

 

TL;DR: Mark Rosewater still doesn't know as much about Greek myth than he says he does.

 

For Pyxis of Pandemonium, Mark Rosewater suggests that Pandora closes the lid and keeps Hope within. Most of the versions of this myth are true on this point generally, and the way the story is taught is that the Gods put all the evil and one good thing into the jar. But not all of them agree on this point, and there are some aspects to this story that suggest it is a parable on human nature, as indeed the Greeks were wont to teach. The first aspect is that the jar contains all evils ... and thus that Hope is an evil. What hope does, you see, is give you surcease from inevitability: The desire that an outcome that seems assured will not turn out that way. Something to strive for. But the Gods are very prone for punishing Man for its hubris, and as such Hope is an emotion as evil as fear, terror, pants-wettingness, and stupidity. Other aspects suggest that Pandora was compelled to seal the box before Hope was released, and thus that Hope never comes to Man, who are then made to suffer inevitability without worrying about it. To be a brick in the wall and never yearn to be apart from it; a cog in the machine, no matter how flawed, to never shine a mirror to a God's face and show them how flawed they themselves are. The Greeks loved their parables, their aesops as it were.

 

Rosweater's commentary on Shipbreaker Kraken affirms my argumen from a few weeks ago that WotC is less interested in affirming actual Greek tales and parables as told their their mythos than they are to appeal to popular culture. Because Medusa is a snake-woman, there are snake-women Gorgons, never mind that Lamiae are in the mythos and are affirmedly snake-women already -- along with the Erinyes (kinda hard to explain their origin to children though). And because of the classic movie, there are now krakens associated with Greek myth, never mind the original creature was called Ketos and is the inspiration for the term cetacean, as it surely must have drawn inspiration from whales. There ARE angles in Greek myth, though the Greeks never gave them definite form: angelos means messenger, and was a term to describe a wisp or a sylph of air that bore missives from Olympos, but could be depicted as winged as they "flew." Visitors from the east in Assyria and further in India brought tales of strange creatures, even possibly as far as China and Mongolia along the Silk Road, and thus was added gryphons, who were added to Olympos as an incarnation of angeloi. And thus, Griffins are Angels, but winged humans they never were until a little known startup in the Levant picked them from the Romans conquerers.

 

How many people know what Sisyphos' crimes were? I'm not sure Rosewater could without looking it up, as all we care to be told is that he's the guy who has an unfinishable ordeal in Tataros, as depicted on Titan's Strength.

 

As before, let me reiterate that they got Triad of Fates completely off. Even Rosewater's explanation shows he is struggling to make the three abilities fit, when he must know perflectly well how incongruous they are to the concept. Not only are they depicted as mortal women, the Fates' abilities do not demonstrate the three aspects of life they govern, nor their complete sovreignty over these aspects. This suggests to me that the aspects of "life/death" were settled upon to make a card, and the abilities had to fit within. Fate counters can be worked into a beginning of sorts, but there is no way that Flickering a card represents life itself, nor its continuation: He even makes the remark that the creature "starts a new life." How obvious can it be? The Fate abilities represent three colors, as indicated by their aspects: New Life and Birth = White; Continuation and Growth = Green; Sessation and Death = Black. A three color card seems a tad unconscionable, but that can be the price you pay for a stand-out card, a potential general, something that helps sell packs. There is no need to make this card work in some drafting format so to canalize it.

 

And finally, we come to Underworld Cerberus. It seems there are many! But in truth, there was only one. There was also only one two-headed hound, and it was named Orthos. But what really peeves me on this is that despite spending the last artical telling us how the correct name for the Greek Herakles is, well, Herakles, whilst the Latins spelled it Hercules, he now uses Latin spelling for "Cerberus," rather than the correct Greek Kerberos. This could be a teaching moment. A way for MaRo to show he knows what he's talking about, rather than reading hand-me down "Stories of the Greeks" that leaves out all the promiscuity, horror, ****, homoeroticism or outright homosexuality rife in the stories in favor of cleaned up tales of wonder and fun times, is by getting the bloody facts straight. Yes, these are just stories, stories that beyond their obvious nature as tools for talking about old, long-dead cultures, were aesops for those cultures, tales that still ring true today. We still talk about the ethos of the Greek mentality, of communitarianism, and of Hubris, of challenging the Olympians for rights, quality of life. Of tyranny and of human falibility. And that really, death is only bad if you were a really, really bad person (see Sisyphos, above).

"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)

Qilong wrote:
Rosweater's commentary on Shipbreaker Kraken affirms my argumen from a few weeks ago that WotC is less interested in affirming actual Greek tales and parables as told their their mythos than they are to appeal to popular culture.

 

Well yeah, that's a given. Maro has said numerous times that they want to appeal to the pop culture version of Greek mythology, because that's what people expect.

 

Qilong wrote:
And finally, we come to Underworld Cerberus. It seems there are many!

 

Yeah, he's also talked about this numerous times. A lot of monsters in Greek myth were unique (like the minotaurs), but WotC wanted to races of monsters to appeal to the player base and their expectations.

 

Qilong wrote:
But what really peeves me on this is that despite spending the last artical telling us how the correct name for the Greek Herakles is, well, Herakles, whilst the Latins spelled it Hercules, he now uses Latin spelling for "Cerberus," rather than the correct Greek Kerberos.

 

Yes, but again, they're appeal to the pop culture version of Greek mythology, and in pop culture, he's called Cerberus. Calling it Kerberos might be more accurate, but accuracy wasn't one of their primary goals for Theros.

Viltris wrote:

 

Qilong wrote:
Rosweater's commentary on Shipbreaker Kraken affirms my argumen from a few weeks ago that WotC is less interested in affirming actual Greek tales and parables as told their their mythos than they are to appeal to popular culture.

 

Well yeah, that's a given. Maro has said numerous times that they want to appeal to the pop culture version of Greek mythology, because that's what people expect.

 

 

Qilong wrote:
And finally, we come to Underworld Cerberus. It seems there are many!

 

Yeah, he's also talked about this numerous times. A lot of monsters in Greek myth were unique (like the minotaurs), but WotC wanted to races of monsters to appeal to the player base and their expectations.

 

 

Qilong wrote:
But what really peeves me on this is that despite spending the last artical telling us how the correct name for the Greek Herakles is, well, Herakles, whilst the Latins spelled it Hercules, he now uses Latin spelling for "Cerberus," rather than the correct Greek Kerberos.

 

Yes, but again, they're appeal to the pop culture version of Greek mythology, and in pop culture, he's called Cerberus. Calling it Kerberos might be more accurate, but accuracy wasn't one of their primary goals for Theros.

 

Yes, exactly. If anyone but me is listening to those podcasts on Kamigawa, he explains it very well there. Deep geekery about a real-world civilization appeals to some (I'm one), but confuses a lot of others. With Theros, Wizards was going for a blend between accuracy in some aspects and what they thought flavor fans' expectations would be.

 

I can see how that would be disappointing to some people, like Qilong, but it isn't to me. I liked the deep flavor of Kamigawa (though I agree with MaRo that the mechanics were a nonsensical mess), and I like this. Each for different reasons.

Theros was never intended to be an exact representation of Greek mythology, rather it is supposed to have the feel of Greek myth. Something that Magic already had from the days of Alpha. 

 

Polukranos, World Eater was a bit of a disappointment for me. Pretty underwhelming for a mythic rare, legendary hydra in a Greek-themed set.

Shouldn't Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx also have been, you know, a shrine? 

 

What would have been the problem of giving it some playability with Honden of Cleansing Fire and the other shrines? 

 

Also:

 

rabbimoshie wrote:

Theros was never intended to be an exact representation of Greek mythology, rather it is supposed to have the feel of Greek myth. Something that Magic already had from the days of Alpha. 

 

I agree – it shouldn't get the 'fight' ability after becoming monstrosous ... it could get something more akin to 'devour' or 'annihilator'. 

Hotspur000 wrote:

Shouldn't Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx also have been, you know, a shrine? 

 

What would have been the problem of giving it some playability with Honden of Cleansing Fire and the other shrines? 

 

 

"Shrine" is an enchantment subtype. I believe the rules don't support putting it on lands.

 

Goblin Artisans
a Magic: the Gathering design blog

I wrote:

But what really peeves me on this is that despite spending the last artical telling us how the correct name for the Greek Herakles is, well, Herakles, whilst the Latins spelled it Hercules, he now uses Latin spelling for "Cerberus," rather than the correct Greek Kerberos.

But Viltris wrote:

Yes, but again, they're appeal to the pop culture version of Greek mythology, and in pop culture, he's called Cerberus. Calling it Kerberos might be more accurate, but accuracy wasn't one of their primary goals for Theros.

And then AlexaM wrote!:

Yes, exactly. If anyone but me is listening to those podcasts on Kamigawa, he explains it very well there. Deep geekery about a real-world civilization appeals to some (I'm one), but confuses a lot of others. With Theros, Wizards was going for a blend between accuracy in some aspects and what they thought flavor fans' expectations would be.

I can see how that would be disappointing to some people, like Qilong, but it isn't to me. I liked the deep flavor of Kamigawa (though I agree with MaRo that the mechanics were a nonsensical mess), and I like this. Each for different reasons.

Yes, this is also true. But please note, as I explained, Mark went to some description handling the difference between Herakles and Hercules in the first "Theroses" article. Not only does he remind us that Hercules's name was Herakles to the Greeks, but be continues to use the Greek name when discussing the labors. He uses the Greek "hekatonkheires" rather than the more familiar "hecatoncheires," but throws the Roman names for the stories' characters out when it is convenient.

 

The problem is, when Mark is talking about HIS appreication of the stories, he is not talking about them as one who knows them, but one who read on them as they were derived through the Romans, who borrowed any and all tales to form a collaborative and communal state religion. The Greeks, as a part of that, got their names changed, but still to pick and choose which names are to be read in Greek and which in Latin is sloppy. Mark should know better, and be consistent. If you want to point out that they had to two names, get it over with, pick a nomenclature and stick with it.

 

It is also clear that Trick, or whomever writes the Arcana and Cards of the Day, when they mention some of these facts, they are doing so from the same standpoint: cherry-picking when to make these points. The names aren't the sticking pointl they aren't the thing that bugs me. The issue is the inconsistency and the devaluing of the stories for the sake of pop culture; but also the implication being that the source material for many of these characters and stories being adopted IS pop culture. This demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the themes, philosophy, and stories involved in the Greek tales. Recall, as I said above, many of these are told in the form of aesops, or "parables," on human nature, interactions amongst people as city states, and the struggle between man and nature.

"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)

Hotspur000 wrote:

Shouldn't Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx also have been, you know, a shrine? 

 

What would have been the problem of giving it some playability with Honden of Cleansing Fire and the other shrines? 

 

Also:

 

 

rabbimoshie wrote:

Theros was never intended to be an exact representation of Greek mythology, rather it is supposed to have the feel of Greek myth. Something that Magic already had from the days of Alpha. 

 

 

I agree – it should get the 'fight' ability after becoming monstrosous ... it could get something more akin to 'devour' or 'annihilator'. 

 

That seems like it would be easy to rectify, no?

Hotspur000 wrote:

That seems like it would be easy to rectify, no?


Unfortunately, it's not. That's why the Tribal type was created: so that Creature subtypes could go on other types of cards.

 

Goblin Artisans
a Magic: the Gathering design blog

I am intrigue by the quest aspect of the ordeals in that a creature needed to survive making an attack 2 times before the ordeal completed

NO WAR

DOD replaces human label with terrorist Blood-Chin Fanatic

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LXD (animation battle) - The Good,The Bad & The RA

 

I'm as intriguied by the fact that none of the ordeals are actually ordeals. Especially since you do not have to actually complete the tasks they suggest to get the reward, the boon, from the Gods. The Quest cards from Zendikar did this, and did it much better, by forcing you to actually achieve a specific action, rather than being so open ended.

"Possibilities abound, too numerous to count." "Innocent, unbiased observation is a myth." --- P.B. Medawar (1969) "Ever since man first left his cave and met a stranger with a different language and a new way of looking at things, the human race has had a dream: to kill him, so we don't have to learn his language or his new way of looking at things." --- Zapp Brannigan (Beast With a Billion Backs)
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