Fairy-Tale Files, published once weekly, feature three variations of a fairy tale chosen by one of Fairy Tale Review’s editors (or, in this case, contributors!).
In Greek myth, Geryon was a warrior who owned cattle Heracles had to steal as the tenth of his twelve labors. Geryon had one to three heads, one to three bodies, and up to six hands and six feet, depending on which poet you ask. He may even have had wings. In ancient Greek art, Geryon looks like three men standing in a line, arms and legs in all directions. It’s no wonder Heracles was able to take out Geryon with a poisoned arrow; he made quite an easy target.
But let’s ask the poet Anne Carson, whose book Autobiography of Red claims to be a translation of the lost story of Geryon from fragments left by the Greek poet Stesichoros. The book begins with appendices which call Carson’s claim (and Stesichoros’s claim, and thus the entire truth of the matter of Geryon) into question. We are given as fragments Geryon’s own autobiography. Geryon is a boy with one body and one head and two little red wings, a boy who grows up with a mother and a brother in the modern world. Geryon falls in love with Herakles and becomes an artist and (spoilers) has his heart broken by Herakles.
Players of the video game series Final Fantasy might recognize Geryon. Originally released in 1991, Final Fantasy IV got a remake in 2007 that includes Geryon as a superboss. Poor Geryon is quite pixelated, but like Carson’s Geryon, he has red wings. It appears that he sports yellow horns as well, but his bulging muscles are restricted to one body, one set of legs, and one pair of arms. Geryon’s reputation is formidable in pixels; he is called the “Malice of the Four Fiends” and with magical powers such as “Rubicante’s Inferno” and “Cagnazzo’s Tsunami,” he would probably get the upper hand against Heracles.
This edition of Fairy-Tale Files is brought to you by Emerald Issue contributor Emma Sovich.