The banking crisis in Cyprus is great fun and a gift to editorial cartoonists — like me! It is a story of crazy economic collapse, with Russian mobsters laundering money in secret accounts and crooked Cypriot bankers who gambled the dirty cash away on risky Greek bonds, bringing down the economy of their tiny nation.
The sordid tale reminds me of Greek mythology and Francisco Goya’s famous painting Saturn Devouring his Child, that the Spanish master painted on the plaster wall of his dining room at home, charming his guests when they came over for dinner. I love to draw editorial cartoons that deface masterpieces; editors seem to like these cartoons the best, reprinting them much more than my other cartoons.
Saturn knew that one of his children was going to kill him, so, of-course, he ate all of his kids, except for one that his wife, Rhea, hid from him. Rhea slipped a rock into swaddling clothes and gave it to Saturn, who swiftly swallowed the rock, thinking he was eating his son, Zeus.
Years later, Zeus grew up and confronted his Dad, by some accounts slicing Dad’s belly open and freeing his siblings, the Titans, who emerged no worse for wear after their years of digestive confinement. By other accounts, Zeus slipped his Dad something that made Dad vomit up his Titanic siblings — either way, this Greek myth is a perfect metaphor for Cyprus and the EU.
Spurred on by Russian mobsters, greedy, giant, Greek bankers devoured the little economy of Cyprus and soon the EU will slice open the bankers’ belly (or induce them to vomit, depending on which version you prefer) freeing the Cypriot economy which will be no worse for wear from its digestive confinement.
Another interesting element in this mythical cartoon comparison is that Zeus also castrated his father, just as the EU will metaphorically castrate the Cypriot bankers and give those Russian mobsters a “haircut.”
In cartoons, mythology, masterpieces and economics, what goes around comes around.
Daryl Cagle is a cartoonist who runs the CagleCartoons.com newspaper syndicate distributing editorial cartoons to more than 850 newspapers around the world including the paper you are reading now; he is a past president of the National Cartoonists Society. Comments to Daryl may be sent to [email protected]. Read Daryl’s blog at www.cagle.com/daryl.