Roman Empire and Hunger Games Essay

Submitted By classicschur
Words: 4381
Pages: 18

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The legend of Theseus and the Cretan labyrinth dates back to at least the fifth century B.C.E., although its literary sources—Callimachos, Virgil, Ovid, and
Apollodorus—all came later.6 The labyrinth of Knossos is strongly resembles the mazelike setting of the Hunger Games where its participants are forced to compete. Called
“the arena”, the setting of the Games is a different landscape each year and is designed by the Gamemakers, complete with various traps and obstacles strategically placed to ensure entertainment. Collins terms the 24 boys and girls selected to compete for the Capitol’s viewing pleasure “tributes”, just as the Athenian youths are called in the Theseus myth.
The tributes are trapped in the arena, with no means of escape, in the exact same
Circumstances as the Athenian youths stranded in the labyrinth. The labyrinth in the
Theseus myth is described by Apollodorus as having so many winding hallways that
Escape was impossible for any person after entering.7 The Athenian tributes would
Certainly die after entering the labyrinth, either at the hands of the Minotaur or by
Starvation.8 The tributes of the Games face a similar fate, as all but the victor are either killed off by another child or perish from hunger or environmental dangers. The children in both stories are handicapped in their respective dangerous situations: according to the myth, Minos had ordered that the children sentenced to fall victim to the Minotaur be
5 Charles Seltman, “Theseus and the Minotaur of Knossos,” The South African
Archaeological Bulletin 8, no. 32 (1953): 98.
6 John L. Heller, “Labyrinth or Troy Town?,” The Classical Journal 42, no. 3 (1946):
7 Apollodorus, The Library of Greek Mythology, trans. Keith Aldrich (Lawrence:
Coronado Press, 1975), 208.
8 John L. Heller, The Classical Journal (1946): 124.
McGunigal 5 given no weapons, just as the children of Panem are forced to enter the Games with initially nothing but the clothes on their backs.9
In the Theseus myth, the threat of their children being selected kept the Athenians in a constant state of fear. Collins describes the efficacy of this fear tactic which she utilized in The Hunger Games: “it was the cruelest thing you could do to people, it’s worse than killing them. It’s killing their children.”10 Such a tactic exists in classical history, in addition to classical mythology, evidenced in the Spartans’ harsh treatment of the Helots. According to the Greek historian Thucydides, Spartan policy was “at all times…governed by the necessity of taking precautions against” the Helots.11 The
Spartans constantly feared a Helot uprising, and Thucydides reports that the Spartans devised ways of eliminating strong Helot youths they viewed as threats. To eradicate potential insurgents, the Spartans promised freedom to those Helot youths deemed most valuable in wartime service. The Helots had barely a chance to celebrate their newfound freedom before “the Spartans…did away with them, and no one ever knew how each of them perished.”12
The Capitol’s use of the Games as a fear tactics sets the tone for a way of life of the citizens of Panem, just as the Spartans’ treatment prescribed for the Helots. Katniss explains that the Games serve “as our yearly reminder that the Dark Days [when the

the Games—essentially a fight to the death “over…