The inimitable Stephen Fry spoke to Ryan Tubridy on the occasion of the publication of his second book on Greek myths and legends, entitled ‘Heroes’. ‘Heroes’ is an elegant retelling of some of the most legendary adventures that survive to the modern day and while they are ‘rollicking good tales’ as Ryan put it, they also have important messages for us about the human condition, but never at the expense of drama, intrigue and epic plotlines.
“(The heroes) destroyed the monsters, they slew the dragons… and they stood on their own wit, their own endurance often in the face of appalling odds… Although fate decides so much for us… we still believe that we have it within us to grasp our own futures and our own destinies and I think that’s an important thing to believe.”
“There’s a real sense of the fact that humans are capable of anything (within the tales),” explained Stephen, although they contain warnings of what happens if we over-extend our reach with plenty of cautionary tales of hubris. While Stephen wants people to enjoy the myths for what they are, he also wanted to draw our attention to exactly how much we owe to Greek civilization and how formative it has been in our art, politics and thinking.
“These are not academic, intellectual stories. These are full of juice and power and vim and excitement so I want people to sort of fall in love with them as stories but at the same time, you know it might provoke a bit of curiosity about the ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome which have had such a fundamental input into our own way of looking at the world.”
Stephen also spoke to Ryan about the recent referendum on blasphemy and how he wittingly opened up issues around the law during his interview with Gay Byrne on The Meaning of Life.
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