Saturday, September 15, 2007

Famous Curses from Fiction

In honor of the late, great Luciano Pavarotti, I was listening to a recording of my favorite opera, Verdi's Rigoletto, in which Pavarotti sang the role of the Duke. (It's an amazing performance, BTW.) A curse sets the action in motion for the opera, and that (along with something I'm writing) got me thinking...

...In what other famous works (books, movies, art, opera, whatever) do curses figure prominently?

Aside from the aforementioned Rigoletto, Tolkien's Silmarillion has the Doom of Mandos that was pronounced on the Noldor. And doesn't Alberich curse the ring in Das Rheingold? Is that just in the opera, or is that part of Norse mythology?

And, in a separate but related category, there are famous curses in religion. (It would be wrong to call it "fiction," since to somebody somewhere it's truth...or else it wouldn't be religion.) I'm not familiar enough with the Judeo-Christian bible to know offhand, but I'm sure there are some major curses in there. And all those Greek myths where someone is "cursed by the gods"! (Sisyphus, Narcissus, and Prometheus qualify, I believe.)

I'm particularly interested in works where the curse isn't some ambiguous condition, but rather something that someone actually utters against someone else.

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