Whoosh! Issue 38 - November 1999

UNDERSTANDING XENA AND GABRIELLE
THROUGH THE SIRENS MYTH:
A CARTOON-ARTICLE
(Text Version)

(Click here for cartoon version)
IAXS project #735
By Suzanne Morine
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
Edition copyright © 1999 held by Whoosh!
2424 words



Introduction (1)
The Sirens Myth (2-6)
Parallels in Xena's Story (7-21)
Parallels in Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs (22)
Parallels in Common Sense (23-24)
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Other Cartoony Xenas Online
Biography



Understanding Xena and Gabrielle through the Sirens Myth




[1] Xena and Gabrielle are relaxing on the ground. Gabrielle is writing in a scroll.

X: Gabrielle.. Can you have a Whoosh! article in cartoon form?

G: Of course you can! I'm illustrating the Sirens myth as it relates to your story!

X: Do tell more..

G: Ok! Here goes..


[2] Illustration as Gabrielle narrates: three women in thin dresses sing arm in arm on a small island which has steep cliffs all around, and big rocks all around the base. Waves pound the rocks. Some skulls and a shipwreck are visible.
G: Well, Xena, you know the Sirens. You saved whatshisface from their alluring, beautiful song, which they sing on their awful, rocky island. How many lives lost on those rocky shores?! People really should be.. more careful!! (ULYSSES [43/219]) [Note 01]

[3] Gabrielle continues narrating.
G: So anyway, how do people be more careful around the Sirens?

[4] Illustration: a man happily sticking wax in his ear.
1. Earplugs. Odysseus had his men stop their ears with wax to get past.

[5] Illustration: someone tied securely to the mast on a ship.
2. Tie yourself down! Odysseus himself was tied tight to the mast so that he could hear:

"We know all things which shall be here after upon the earth."

He found out that they sang of the wisdom and joy of life they give to each visitor! [Note 02]

[6] Illustration: a screaming baby's head.
3. Compete: Loudly. Xena, you tried this one -- and it worked! So did Orpheus -- with his lyre, of course. You can't compete on the appeal, it's mainly volume. (ULYSSES [43/219]) [Note 03]

X: OK. Got. It. Gab. Ri. Elle.

G: Uh? Was I too loud?

[7] Xena and Gabrielle are now in a primitive, stone hot tub. Xena is wringing out her hair. Gabrielle is using the edge of the tub to write in her scroll. She is happily engrossed.

X: So, Gabrielle, my story?

G: Okay, okay.. Oops, I'm getting the parchment damper than it should be. Dum dee dum..

[8] Xena wryly starts rubbing Gabrielle's shoulders!

X: Ok, backrub..

G: Ha! Well, you were quite the evil bitch at one time (well, 10 years of one time, but who's counting) -- ouch!

[9] Illustration of Gabrielle's narration: a mug being smashed and young Xena crying.

G: Ahem. Well, your village was attacked. Your good life destroyed. Poor Xena.

[10] Illustration: Xena as a lipsticked, demented whirlwind, riding on lightning. In one fist she is strangling a very small opponent.

G: "Fight Back!" a song urged you -- Hooray -- It got a little too hungry, that song.

[11] Xena and Gabrielle are now out of the hot tub, drying off and talking.

X: Just a touch, yeah..

G: Ha! Well, it is a very beautiful song, Xena.

[12] Illustration of Gabrielle's narration: a happy village on the edge of a sunlit meadow.

G: A song of restoring things to their rightful place! A song of certainty for the future! A song of safety, of preservation! You couldn't easily resist!

[13] Illustration of Gabrielle's narration: a happy warlord Xena is looking over a war map saying, "It's beautiful!" Her thought is, "My army agrees! Beautiful plan."

G: You were too devastated to resist: it meant too much to you, that song.. You didn't stop up your ears, tie yourself down to a balance, didn't find other songs could compete. Not even Lao Ma's song..

[14] Flashback: Xena is lying on the floor in an Oriental gown. Her legs are crippled but otherwise she looks beautiful. Food bowls are on the floor but Lao Ma is serenely standing over Xena.

Lao Ma: Xena, you have been dead a long time..

Xena thinks: Huh!? My army called me princess, my dream is so beautiful! Still, I've got to learn her powers.. and get healed.

The Debt II (53/307)

 
[15] Xena and Gabrielle are eating outside by a fire. Gabrielle is interested in the story, Xena looks very sad about the memories.

G: It's amazing how strong that plan, I mean that song, was, Xena! Quite ugly, though.
    Did it feel ugly?

X: Mmm.. Caesar.. Yes, the Caesar hatred, the Hercules hatred did..
    But, you're right, I didn't feel it was ugly. Alluring, irresistible, necessary, yes, even beautiful.

[16] It is now dark, the meal finished. Gabrielle and Xena continue to talk, huddled together by the fire. Now Gabrielle is wistfully tearful. Xena is satisfied and comfortable by the fire with her.

G: Xena, why did Hercules' song put a stop to monster-bitch Xena? Why was it his message?

X: I'm not sure myself, Gabrielle.. Oh! You're crying.. I know my past makes you sad.. -- sniff -- It makes me sad.. Maybe.. Maybe because he's a half-god. Maybe I had to see someone with that kind of power take risks for feeling, he didn't know what I'd do, left me to deal with my own battle rather than put a stop to me.. Control isn't the only song..
    He told me there are "other ways" to prove you're a true warrior.. Then he showed it: he let me go.

THE GAUNTLET (H12/112)

 
[17] Still by the fire, they've separated a little. Gabrielle looks relieved and Xena looks tense and reserved.

G: Ah! Love and risk are a beautiful song..

X: Brrr.. You're saying I was distracted from the Siren song of control and power by Hercules' song of tenderness, of risks. I'm not sure about this analogy..

[18] Gabrielle continues, inspired:

G: Well, it could be either. The distraction or the earplugs. You did go in the opposite direction there for a while..

[19] Illustration: Xena, wearing nothing but a slip, is on the ground, happily burying her sword, chakram (and presumably, her leathers and armor) into a shallow hole she has dug. SINS OF THE PAST (01/101)

G: You buried your monster gear and weapons! (Can't hear the song of self-preservation.)

[20] Xena and Gabrielle are going to sleep on the ground under a blanket. Now Xena looks serenely happy and Gabrielle is sad again.

X: I guess I needed to make a point!
    Take the biggest risk possible.. Weaponless in a dangerous, pre-Mycenaean world.

G: Yeah.. After so long going in the other direction..

[21] Gabrielle is yawning, sleepy. Xena is watching her, a little concerned about her.

G: Xena, you could have been more careful, but I'm proud you did it anyway.. Zzzzz

Xena thinks: She's falling asleep.. Zzzz... Uh oh.. We seem to be getting transported to a strange sort of dreamscape.. Snrkkk..

[22] Gabrielle and Xena are in the future! Still in their usual clothes, but at a modern school. The teacher is at the board, having drawn a pyramid. A close up of the pyramid shows that it has different levels. [Note 4]

>From bottom to top, the levels are:
  • Survival needs
  • Safety and security
  • Cognitive functioning (not in Maslow's hierarchy, actually, but observed) [Note 5]
  • Love and belonging
  • Self esteem, meaning
  • Self actualization
(Xena is passing Gabrielle a note that says "Jan's breastplate is loose!")
Teacher: ..today.. page 244.. .. Maslow, Abraham... hierarchy of needs.. constant state of adaptability.. The higher developed.. the more able to adapt to stress and reach those levels again..
    The levels of need compromise each other. Choices have to be made. A new friend may turn out to harm you. Over-focus on safety may..

Xena thinks: Oh oh oh oh where to NOW?

[23] A bearded man with wild hair and shabby clothes greets us with two cups of hot cocoa!

Man: Oooo, girls, hot cocoa, yes? And some old chestnuts? It's okay! They are still good!

[24] Gabrielle and Xena are comfortably seated cross-legged on pillows on the floor, sipping hot cocoas as the man tells them some oddly familiar old chestnuts. (In reality, the sun is slowly rising.)

Man: Oh, a friend who won't let you touch your potential is no friend at all! Yes!
    A fortress so safe you can't make yourself more of a place in the world than that is no safety at all! No!
    A position in society so high and desirable that you cannot risk a friendship is no position to be in at all! Yah!

[25] Daylight. Xena is already up and dressed. Gabrielle is just waking up, very happy and relaxed. She has something to tell Xena.

G: Oh. Xena. I understand you, you know, but I also know what you did was wrong. It's weird, huh? I also know it's a lot easier to breathe if I just let things stay like that -- ha ha -- real philosophical, huh?

X: "Transcend the opposites," Lao Ma might have said.. [Note 6]

G: I'm so glad you do.. we do -- good morning!

X: Good morning, Gabrielle.


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