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  • Hunger Games

  • In one version of an Ancient Greek myth, the kingdom of Crete defeats Athens in war and

  • then demands regular sacrifices to remind the conquered people of Crete's power. Athenian

  • boys and girls are taken as tributes, and then locked inside a vast labyrinth where

  • they are pursued and devoured by a monstrous Minotaur. These terrible killings continue

  • until one day a hero stands up in Athens, a young man named Theseus, who volunteers

  • to take the place of one of the doomed boys. Sound familiar? That's because Suzanne Collins,

  • the author of the popular Hunger Games books, consciously drew from legends of antiquity

  • in writing her series. Young Theseus did prove himself a hero: With the help of the King's

  • daughter, he finds his way through the labyrinth and slays the Minotaur.  He ends the cycle

  • of oppression so no more tributes have to die.

  • In ancient Rome we find another story that may sound familiar to Hunger Games fans. Spartacus,

  • a gladiator, is forced to fight fellow slaves to the death in an arena, a spectacle to entertain

  • the political elite and pacify the masses.  But Spartacus refuses to be used for these

  • gruesome games. He leads his fellow slaves in a rebellion against the Roman Empire in

  • the first century BCE, his name becoming a rallying cry for freedom.

  • Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of the Hunger Games trilogyinherits the mantle of both

  • Theseus and Spartacus. She's part freedom fighter, part political revolutionary, and

  • part reluctant hero by necessity. While her world is updated to speak to our modern anxietiesher

  • government employs sophisticated technology to spy on its citizens and even attack them;

  • propaganda is fused with reality televisionultimately the story has so much power for us because

  • it taps into a struggle thousands of years old.

  • As a professor of intellectual history who specializes in the dystopian tradition, I

  • think it's important to consider why these narratives resonate so well with us. The tales

  • of Theseus, Spartacus, and Katniss are all iterations of the same story, of rulers imposing

  • coercive power, and of individuals rising up against them. These heroes don't wish to

  • set themselves up as new tyrants. They seek only the opportunity to determine their own

  • lives and let others do the same. Similar heroes are found in many of the greatest stories

  • of history, recounted in our films, our novels, our music. They stir our hearts because the

  • struggle between liberty and power remains a very real part of our world. People everywhere

  • yearn for the freedom to pursue their own goals and dreams. These stories aren't just

  • entertainment. They are reflections of who and what we are.

Hunger Games

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B2 spartacus theseus hunger katniss minotaur crete

Is Katniss a Modern-Day Spartacus? | LearnLiberty

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    VoiceTube posted on 2016/09/30
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