The Visible Invisibility of Disability in Greek Mythology
Mr Scott Ting-A-KeeZoom
Mythology can be seen as a reflection of the history, national identity and cultural consciousness of a people, nation and region. In ancient Greece, gods, goddesses and heroes moulded the perception of the citizens. Some of these deities and heroes were disabled in various ways such as Hephaestus, the god of smithing, Tiresias, the blind prophet, Bellerophon, the depressed hero, and Euterpe, the limping Muse. In this paper, these mythological figures will be explored to show the dichotomy of visibility and invisibility of the disability experience. The lack of tales and details about some of these figures will be explored as well how their disability is used to overshadow other aspects such as gender, nobility and power. In many tales about these disabled mythological characters, there is a degree of compensation which counters the disability identity of the legendary figure which can be seen as narratives of conquest in which the person with a disability has an amazing gift that overshadows the physical or mental abnormality. Finally, these Greek archetypes can be seen as problematic since they diminish the visibility of disability to the invisibility of the symbolic which alienates it from lived experiences within a key element of history.