Cicada across Cultures
The transformative qualities of cicadas, has given rise to the metaphor of life and death extending to cultures across the world from historical myths to modern-day metaphors. In the Ancient Greek myth, the cicada is a symbol for resurrection and rebirth.The Trojan Prince Tithonus was granted immortality, but not eternal youth, by Zeus.This resulted in the man wilting away until he could no longer move, and eventually turning into a cicada as he prayed for death to knock on his door. Said to be sacred to the ancient sun god Apollo, ancient Greeks and Romans imitated the resonating sound of cicadas, singing in elation in praise of Apollo. Around the world, the cicada is associated with the dawn of the summer season.The loud humming sound carried by the summer breeze, and the empty shells left bare on the sidewalks, are indicative of the warmer months.The identifiable call of the cicadas is used in Japanese films and television programs as a signpost to inform the audience the scene is taking place in summer.The song of Meimuna opalifera, called "tsuku-tsuku boshi", is said to indicate the end of summer, and it is called so because of its unique call. During the summer, it is a pastime for children to collect both cicadas and the shells left behind when molting. In Australia, the conspicuous nature of the insect led to children having the honor of giving common names to many different types of cicadas.These titles include “Black Prince”, “Double Drummer”,“Green Grocer” or “Yellow Monday”.The exact origin of most of these names is unclear but they have been passed
nd down from generation to generation. Since the cicada only lives for the short period of time long above ground, enough to attract a mate with its song and complete the process of fertilization, they are seen as a symbol of evanescence. In the Japanese novel The Tale of Genji, the title character poetically likens one of his many love interests to a cicada for the way she delicately sheds her scarf in the same manner a cicada sheds its shell when molting. In the anime Winter Cicada (Fuyu no Semi), a fragile cicada shell binds two men together, who are on opposite sides of the political spectrum during the transformation of Japan from a Shogunate to Imperial rule (1862–1869).The men’s fate is embroiled in war and death.The shell is also a frequent subject of haiku, wherein, depending on type, they can indicate spring, summer, or fall.The transformation from illusions to enlightenment is also referred to in Japanese mythical ninja lore, as the technique of utsusemi (i.e., literally cicada), where ninjas would trick opponents into attacking a decoy. The cicada has also represented insouciance since classical antiquity. Jean de La Fontaine began his collection of fables Les fables de La Fontaine with the story The Cicada and the Ant based on one of Aesop's fables: in it the cicada spends the summer singing while the ant stores away food, and finds herself without food when the weather turns bitter.