The Pygmalion Contest! Win $300 for Your Short Story!
This contest is closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! We’ll have a winner by November 10, at which time the next contest will be posted. Check back!
The Contest: Write a 5,000 word or less short story about the myth below.
Deadline: October 31, 2016, by midnight
Entry fee: FREE!
(I know, I know . . . I said the last contest we held would be the last free one. I was wrong! 🙂 )
Pygmalion was the king of Cyprus. Sounds like a sweet deal, right?
It was. Except that he couldn’t find a wife. You see, all the women on Cyprus were too whorish.
That’s really the reason.
The women of Cyprus had failed to honor Aphrodite. So Aphrodite caused all the women to become prostitutes. Eventually their hearts turned flinty and hard, their looks faded, and they were no longer capable of heartfelt interactions with others. They were dubbed the Propoetides.
Pygmalion wanted nothing to do with this. He decided that instead of taking a wife, he’d just live single and celibate, thank you very much. (I guess he figured all women everywhere were like this, and wasn’t interested in shopping around for alliances with other kingdoms.)
He used all his free time mastering his favorite hobby—sculpting. And also dreaming of a divine love that transcended the disappointing reality of this world. His two hobbies combined when he sculpted a statue inspired by Aphrodite. He carved her from ivory, or perhaps white marble, or another stone that implied purity with its flawless whiteness.
Now, this statue was so beautiful, so perfect, so flawlessly carved, that it looked real. Pygmalion could have sworn he saw it breathing, and kept waiting for it to move or speak. Of course it didn’t, but that didn’t stop him from falling in love with it. He dressed the statue in beautiful clothes, and brought her presents like flowers and shells and things.
Then the feast of Aphrodite came round, and Pygmalion took himself to the goddess’s temple. He didn’t actually dare to pray for the statue to come alive. That would be stupid. And just because Pygmalion was in love with a statue, that didn’t mean he was stupid or anything. He just prayed to meet a woman who would be the living embodiment of his statue, who would have all the amazing qualities he’d imagined for her . . . but secretly even though it was stupid he really wanted the statue to come alive.
And Aphrodite, sweet goddess, decided to fulfill his secret prayer instead of the one he’d actually voiced. She made the statue come alive.
So Pygmalion goes home and goes to see his statue, and he kisses her . . . and slowly realizes that she’s coming to life under his hands. The cold stone is growing warm. There’s a pulse under his lips. There’s breath on his cheek. Her glass eyes are real eyes and they’re seeing him. He was overjoyed by love and the magic that made it possible.
And they lived happily ever after and had several children together.
Here’s all about Pygmalion at Theoi.
Write a 5,000 word or less short story about Pygmalion.
Deadline: October 31, 2016, by midnight
Entry fee: FREE!
I’ll judge entries based on:
— Word count. Please stick to 5,000 words or less. It can be much less, if you want. (I only have so much time to read entries, and it would be a shame to toss yours out because it’s too long!)
— Writing prowess. You don’t have to be Shakespeare, but just give it your best shot. An understanding of how to structure a story, how to use dialogue, and all that jazz will work in your favor. (Spelling, grammar, and typos count.)
— An understanding of the Pygmalion myth.
Send your entry to my email: HelloL@Mythraeum.com. Please paste your entry in the body of your email, since I won’t open attachments. The subject line should be “Pygmalion Contest.” Please write your entry in English and in prose. You can email me any questions at the same address. I’ll have a winner by November 10. Subscribe to Mythraeum to see the winner.
Have questions? See if your answers are in the Writers FAQ.
As with any myth, there are a lot of interpretations of Pygmalion’s story.
On a spiritual archetypal level, the basic story is of a man who found no love in what the world had to offer him. He found himself alone in a loveless place, with people who were dysfunctional and incapable of true connection. So he used the power of his imagination—visualization—to dream up the kind of love he’d like to have, even though he had no examples of positive, healthy relationships to base this on. He had no model for what that might look like.
It was truly a pure act of imagination, a true act of creation. Pygmalion truly made love out of nothing at all. (I am so very sorry, I could not resist…) And even though it didn’t make sense, he let himself live in that dream. And because the universe reflects yourself back to you, the love he already felt eventually showed up in the flesh. (Pygmalion used the Law of Attraction . . . although it should more appropriately be called the Law of Reflection.)
You don’t have to follow my interpretation, but your story should reflect an understanding of the basic aspects of the myth.
Your Pygmalion doesn’t have to be a king (but he can) living in a nation of whorish people (but they can be). He can be an artist, an inventor, a robot designer, a software engineer, an alchemist…get creative!
Your story doesn’t have to be set in Cyprus or ancient times. You can set it in modern times or on a spaceship. Turn it into a Western or steampunk, or even do the Jane Austen regency version.
You don’t have to tell the whole story. You can write a quick vignette, or get as sweeping and epic as you can in 5,000 words. You can focus on Pygmalion’s point of view, Aphrodite’s, the statue’s, or someone else. Be creative!
Mythraeum currently hosts six of this short story contests a year. In 2017, one of the winning contest entries will be chosen for production as a short film.
We’re already in post-production for our first short, titled HEAT. Read the short story being adapted here. Be sure to enter your short story to have a chance to see it developed into a film!
Have fun arche-typers, and good luck!
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