Friday, June 4, 2010

Of Turtles and Monkeys

There are two very very short stories about a turtle and a monkey each of whom became famous not because of who they were but the role that destiny had assigned to them to intervene in the lives of two well known Greeks.
The Greek dramatist Aeschylus died when an eagle carrying a turtle in its talons fatally dropped it on his head.
Alexander of Macedon who invaded India and fought a king called Porus died when a monkey bit him. ( I have often wondered if the word porous as in porous borders originated from the name of that king because ever since then India has had porous borders)
But to come back to the turtle and the monkey and the rest of the subalterns in this world, they can change the course of history and we can ignore them at our own peril.
So the next time you see a turtle or a monkey, as creatures and metaphors, remember they can also make a decisive difference.


  1. rightly pointed out sir! all the attempt of human beings to romanticize their lives is a vanity... destiny is always ready to play at "anti-climaxes".. just see.. who would expect while reading about their "great lives" that a turtle and a monkey would figure in the story giving us a sense of a sudden fall.. and the vanity of human wishes.. to make onself superior by marginalizing the 'other'... but nature has no such divisons.. i hope..

  2. However the turtles and monkeys should not forget how one of them beats the rabbit. As the moral of the story goes they should not rush(violence) but go slowly and steadily, then the rabbit who ignores them will be caught napping and they will win in the end. Otherwise the rabbit will get a 'justification' to massacre them.

  3. This is really interesting - the ignored subalterns of History! There are so many of them. The point is how are they to be figured out? If 'we' do it, aren't we again marginalizing them? This is where I think of Spivak's 'Can the subalterns speak.'

  4. The moral of the story is that members of Greek Choruses shouldn't walk under flying eagles, for fear of turning turtle.
    Turtles in turn must not be confused with their cousin the Tortoise, but let's not split hares on that trifling matter

  5. Perhaps the subalterns are preparing their speech.