“We should imagine Aphrodite’s early spirit being honored among the smoke and smuts and hiss and heat of the alchemy of bronze and gold production. Right through antiquity, fire and metallurgy were consistently central to Aphrodite’s cult, almost certainly as a throwback to her prehistoric incarnation. Perhaps this is why, in Greek tradition, Aphrodite was said to have married the calloused forge god, Hephaestus. She was brazen in a number of ways.”
– Venus and Aphrodite: A Biography of Desire by Bettany Hughes
Through its neat plays on old storylines—the OA regains her sight, rather than losing it; Homer is the blind prophet’s lover, not her creator—The OA toys with our expectations and with a rich and old narrative tradition. But it’s the OA’s ordeal that elevates these references into something deeply thoughtful. Her secret is that she and several other people (including her beloved Homer) were kept locked up in a psychopath’s basement, hewn out of bare rock.
As with its treatment of Homer, The OA both reverses and strangely expands upon parts of Plato’s allegory. Much like Plato’s captives, the prisoners understand part of the mysteries confronting them. They can see shapes of ideas. How can they get out? Why are they here? Why does this nutty scientist care about their brains in particular? They see the answers to such questions like half-formed shadows playing against a wall. But as the show unspools, we realize that the captives can only find the truth by turning inward.