Saying Yes to Knots (part one)


Can writers today learn from the Greeks of more than 2,000 years ago?

We have the expression “being tied up in knots” to express stress and frustration. We also struggle with undoing knots and as sailors or scouts we learn to tie knots. But what about knots as a way of looking at the world and as a creative strategy when we compose narratives?

The ancient Greek way of life, separated from us by over 2,000 years of history, is very different from our own. Yet theatre productions of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides are still popular, and the Greek myths resonate with many people around the world. Translations have done little to spoil the pleasure of reading the myths. (

In fact, one of the reasons the myths have penetrated so thoroughly in traditional European culture is the Latin translation/re-presentation/re-formation by Ovid some 2,000 years ago in his Metamorphoses (

His text is a wholly original work of art and yet is mostly based on the Greek myths themselves.

Ovid’s House Party mixed media painting on wood 48″ x 48″ by Ramon Kubicek

In reading the Greek originals or the Ovid material we learn that humans suffer in all kinds of twisted ways and that the gods toy with us. We also learn that the ancients’ view of life was complex and sophisticated. Despite our modernity, it is we who often have a simplistic view of things.

The knot is an ideal image for their view. But what I want to suggest is that the knot is also a very good creative strategy in composing narratives about people. Next time we’ll look at how this works.

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