D is for Defying Death—A to Z Blog Challenge

We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Hope & Healing…folktales around the world that beat back viruses. Each post highlights one or more balms to soothe and cure our struggles of today with oral tradition and lore of the past. At times, a post will make a connection to history. You can guess what inspired this theme. Yes, the COVID-19. What better time to delve into tales where things can and do turn out “happily ever after”?

Defying Death-

From Hungary-

Why experience death when you can outwit it? With stories that feature Death, it’s usually someone who is older and it is assumed to have some lingering illness that brings Death to the door.

50-word-or-less summary:

While doing chores, Death came for woman. Busy! Tomorrow? Death wrote “tomorrow” on her door. Death returned. Woman claimed today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow. Death returned next day. Same excuse. Death erased “tomorrow” from door. Woman hid in barrel of honey. Opened chest with feathers. Death afraid! Survived!

Version of Outwitting Death story: https://healingstory.org/outwitting-death/

Compare to History:

We outwit ourselves with sickness and sometimes death through placebos. This is more of a mental exercise as a placebo is something given or done for someone who thinks they are getting the real thing. Yet, it wasn’t until the 18th century when the word became common. Milk sugar and bread pills could induce sleep and were some of the early versions of these placebos. Often times placebos were used with difficult patients. Death certainly had a difficult “patient” with that old woman.

More on the History: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23497809/

From Greece

Most know of the man who is punished by the Greek gods. He must roll up a rock for eternity only for the rock to roll down and do it again. This man was Sisyphus, King of Ephyra (Corinth), with many stories that are fascinating to tell. I will focus on a couple that relates to defying death. By the way, Sisyphus is happy with his punishment if you consider his rebellious spirit.

50-word-or-less summary:

Sisyphus shared secret. Zeus sent Death/Thanatos. Sisyphus asked how Death’s chains worked. Death demonstrated. Death trapped! No ones dies! Annoyed Ares freed Death. Sisyphus does more cunning deeds. Gods angered. Punishment! Rolled stone up hill for eternity. Sisyphus never died. Sisyphus happy! Throughout life, Sisyphus wanted to conquer death.

Finding the Story: https://www.nyu.edu/classes/keefer/hell/camus.html and https://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Sisyphus/sisyphus.html

For thousands of years, people have wanted to find the mythical Fountain of Youth. The explorer Juan Ponce de Leon is inextricably thought of for such a dream. The Taino of the Caribbean did have stories of this fountain of youth but there is nothing in the explores correspondence that says that this was an actual goal for him. He was more concerned with gold. Perhaps if one has enough gold then you can buy necessary medicine and still experience a type of eternity on earth? Someone who truly was vocal about searching for a river paradise that would give the same gift was Alexander the Great. So Sisyphus and Alexander were rulers…sense a theme?

More on the History: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.history.com/.amp/news/the-myth-of-ponce-de-leon-and-the-fountain-of-youth

Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings in process of being adapted due to COVID-19. Our postponed Festival is now scheduled for May 12, 2021 with other plans that can be seen here: https://storycrossroads.org/contingency-plans-covid-19/ or http://www.storycrossroads.org/virtual.

We thank our funders such as National Endowment for the Arts, Utah Division of Arts and Museums, Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, Zoo, Arts & the Parks of Salt Lake County (ZAP), City of Murray, Salt Lake City Arts Council, and many other businesses and individuals. Join us in the support by donating today!

6 thoughts on “D is for Defying Death—A to Z Blog Challenge

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