The Matrix - Greek for Geeks
Tribute or travesty? New ideas or SF so old it’s got whiskers? When The Matrix came out a lot of folks in the SF community said, hey…what’s the big deal? We’ve been doing this for decades. At least. Doesn’t anybody read the classics?
Well, no, not often enough.
This month Edward Carmien reviews Taking the Red Pill: Science, Philosophy and Religion in The Matrix by by Glenn Yeffeth (ed) and next month we’ll keep on Exploring the Matrix, but here’s an essay by Alex Lightman, author of our Matrix review, who delves into the confiscation of classical concepts that make up the Matrix.
The Matrix: A Recapitulation of the Humanities
The Wachowski's recapitulation of humanities can even be understood quite literally. They obviously have read their classics... and have borrowed from them liberally. This was already apparent in the first movie. To cite a few: Neo is Ancient Greek for "new"; Morpheus is the name for the "god of dreams (and sleep)" in Greek Mythology; and the whole Matrix storyline is a thinly veiled rearticulation of the myth of Prometheus, the half-god (i.e. Neo) who stole fire (i.e godly powers) from the gods (i.e. the makers and keepers of the Matrix) and who pays dearly for doing so. Zion obviously is (over-)loaded with meaning from Ancient Jewish mythology/religious tradition.
The Matrix Reloaded continues the Promethean theme, while cleverly weaving in many more references and "borrowings" to the Ancient classics. To cite a few: Persephone, who in Greek mythology is the wife of Hades, the god of the Underworld. Hades actually took her against her will, so she has mixed feelings about him. She also intercedes with him on behalf of mortals -e.g. Orpheus and Euridyce- to help them achieve their goals. This parallels Reloaded.