So I was on the way back from my Greek class, pondering writing some Achilles/Patroclus and sort of laughing to myself because I was thinking how funny it would be to write fanfiction, but for Homer.
And then I stopped dead in my tracks and had a crazy sort of epiphany.
All those Greek authors, the playwrights and the poets, who wrote about Homer, who took the characters for their own plays and hired actors to perform them and won prizes at festivals, every word about Homeric myth, which is most of the written Greek art that we have…
…it’s all fanfiction. Every last bit of it. And the vases and statues? Fanart.
And really, if you judge by the standards that we place on our own fanfiction, some it’s not even good. Take Euripedes’ Helen, which I read in Greek last semester, for instance. Euripedes essentially says that the woman who went to Troy with Paris was not really Helen, but a phantom fashioned by the god, and the real Helen had spent the entire war in Egypt, waiting for Menalaos to come save her, completely faithful to her marriage vows.
Now, hold on a moment. If I wrote a story where Peter Pettigrew did not in fact betray the Potters, but had in fact been in hiding in America the whole time, and it was really his evil twin that was the traitor to Voldemort, and he was just hanging out waiting for the other Marauders to come get him, would you call that really good piece of fanfiction?
NO. You would tell me that was crap, even if I was the best writer in the universe. Furthermore, I bet most of you would say “If you don’t like the story and the characters like they are, get other ones. Write your own.” And in fact, the Greeks were not thrilled by Euripedes’ ‘innovations’, the Helen didn’t win much at the festivals during which it was performed.
I don’t see why we shouldn’t hold this ancient fanfiction to the same standard just because it’s two or three thousand years older. Two thousand years from now, if all they have left is fragments of JKR’s manuscripts and then an author whose stories are full of Mary Sues and girly!Remuses and Icandonowrong!Harrys, will that fanfic author be hailed as a brilliant literature classic just because they managed to last that long?
On the flip side of this, why should I take all this crap for writing HP fanfic from people who wouldn’t dare badmouth Euripedes? He’s not doing anything different from me, that I can see. If I write stuff about Achilles instead of Sirius Black, who are the same sort of monumental egoists in my opinion, is that more acceptable somehow? Why?
What does anybody else think about this? Any stealth Hellenists who want to say a word?