Grasshopper Cripples

Cover of Planet of the Blind....man and dog....

“TITHONUS: a member of the royal family of Troy, who married Eos, the goddess of dawn, and subsequently suffered an unusual fate. Eos loved Tithonus desperately, and could not bear the fact that, as a mortal, he was doomed to leave her when his time for death had come. So she petitioned the gods to grant Tithonus immortality; and her heartfelt request was granted. But Eos had forgotten to ask also for eternal youth. So Tithonus grew older and older, unable to die. His mind became deranged and he lost the power of speech. Eos kept him in a baby’s crib in a locked room. Some versions of the story have it that, out of mercy, Eos eventually transformed poor Tithonus into the chirping grasshopper.”
—HEINRICH DUBLER,
Enzyklopädie der griechischen Mythologie

1.

Dear cripple: see story above. It’s what’s for breakfast. One may also say it’s what’s for lunch and dinner and the occasional “after school snack” if you’re lucky enough to have one.

I digress. Tithonus isn’t as famous as Oedipus who guessed wrong in a game of pestilence trivia and oh yeah, murdered his father and married his mother. Everyone knows that Eddy blinded himself with Jocasta’s broach and wandered ever after. For the Greeks this was no metaphor. Thieves were routinely blinded and set loose on the roads. This is the “starve or wail” school of ancient disability. His blindness doesn’t mean he “failed to see” as most take it. It means he’s trying to be a good Greek advertisement for cultural thievery. Disability as metaphor is tricky. Contemporary blind folks are inheritors of this symbolism whether we like it or not.

Meantime, poor Tithonus, doomed to ever increasing layers of disablement, which means erasure and finally infantile sequestration. All for love. But it’s the grasshopper metamorphosis that really gets me.

Eos transforms her immortal invalid lover into the grasshopper because it will sing to her forever a clear and happy song. (So the myth goes.)

Old age forever, grasshopper forever.
Unable to speak, click your wings rhythmically.
Goddess gets to be reminded of youthful ardor in springtime.

Poor grasshoppers. Reduced to being a chorus of cheerful regrets.

And the moral of this tale?

Even today the cripples must pretend to cheer so you dear Eos won’t be down in the dumps.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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