Popular Culture Review 29.1 (Spring 2018) - Page 146

his prize when the young queen learns his name. A related story is that of King Midas, as told by Ovid. Midas helps the old satyr Silenus and gains the favor of Bacchus, god of wine, who grants Midas a wish. Foolishly, Midas wishes that his touch will turn any object into gold. Only when he sees that he transforms all food and drink into gold—thus rendering all sustenance unfit to eat— does Midas realize he has put himself under a curse and beg to lose the power. Main Storyline 2 The second and more widely told storyline of the Blacksmith is the invention of the Fantastic Machine. The story may also involve the reasons behind the invention and the effects it brings about, but the invention itself is usually the focus, the key event that drives the plot. In myths told worldwide, someone invents a tool or some other device, often with the help of or under the inspiration of a divine agency, that s/he brings back to the people, who regard that person evermore as a hero. The movie Quest for Fire tells this story in the plainest and simplest of terms. The Neanderthal Ulam tribe tend their fire basket with great care because they do not know how to create fire for themselves. When the tribe’s fire tender douses the basket in an escape from a pack of wolves, the Ulam leader sends three men to find another source of fire. After a series of adventures, the men are captured by the advanced Cro-Magnon Ivaka tribe. One of the Ulam, Naoh, learns from the Ivaka woman Ika how to start a fire. When the men return home with a new fire, their tribe is elated but quickly enraged when their tender accidentally douses it once more. Naoh tries to show them how he has learned to make fire but fails. Ika, who has journeyed with them, takes up the chore and succeeds, eliciting a celebration among the tribe. With this advance in technology, the tribe’s survival seems certain. But again, the story of the Fantastic Machine can be ambiguous, with its dark side as well. Daedalos invents the Labyrinth to imprison the man-eating Minotaur. Yet when he gives to Ariadne the solution that Theseus needs to enter the maze and slay the monster—the ball of twine—he is imprisoned himself. To escape, Daedalos invents the wings that he and his son use to fly from Crete, but his son perishes in the crossing. Similarly ambiguous is the story of Weyland, the smith of Norse legend. Imprisoned on an island and hamstrung by King Nidhad, Weyland also escapes by inventing wings—but only after killing Nidhad’s sons and raping his daughter. More recently, in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the invention is the piecemeal man that the title character brings to life. But the monster becomes the bane of Frankenstein’s existence, murdering his young brother William, 146