What was the first story ever told? Or what was the first story you heard ? Perhaps it was a fairy tale of long ago ? No doubt you’ve heard countless stories since. The practice of storytelling is so ingrained in us that you could say our ability to process language is much of what makes us human.
Storytelling helps to organise our thoughts adding emotion and consequences to our actions. Perhaps the absolute answer to what was the first story is irrelevant but could be summed up by two children quarrelling who have just been surprised by an adult, one points to the other saying “he started it”. So it begins, by putting us in a story of actions and consequences, the storyteller brings us into the past and weaves a path through the events that guides us inevitably to the present in which we find ourselves.
Funnily enough, this is how Homer’s Odyssey begins. The night before he returns home, a home he has not seen in some twenty years, Odysseus tells us how he got here.
His years of war at the walls of Troy followed by his wanderings across sea and land driven by the fates, wilful Gods and, angry monsters. This is a classical tale of epic proportions and yet it has a familiar feel.
In The Táin, a bedtime chat between a king and queen turns into point scoring. Proud boasts are repeated outside the bedchamber and then heard as threats. Friends become enemies and arguments turn to war, death and destruction.