Archive for the ‘Psicología’ Category

narcissus and echo1


"Narcissus" by Caravaggio. 1597.

“Narcissus” by Caravaggio. 1597.

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The classic version of this myth is by Ovid, found in Book III of his Metamorphoses (Lines 339/508)

Echo was an Oread or Orestiad, meaning a type of nymph that lived in mountains, valleys, and ravines. The Oreads were associated with Artemis, the goddess of hunting.

Zeus used to  loved consorting with Goddess and nymphs. Hera, became suspicious, towards Zeus for his many affairs.

Though vigilant, whenever she was about to catch him, Echo distracted her with lengthy conversations.

When at last Hera realized the truth, she cursed Echo. To punish her, Hera took away her most valuable possession: her voice.

Hera permitted Echo only to reply in foolish repetition of another’s shouted words. Thus, all Echo could do was mimic the words of the speaker.

Sometime after being cursed, Echo spied a young man, Narcissus, while he was out hunting deer with his companions.

Narcissus was a hunter who was known for his beauty. He was the son of the river-god Cephissos, and Liriope.

Echo immediately fell in love with Narcissus.

Narcissus sensed someone was behind him and shouted “Who’s there?”. Echo repeated “Who’s there?”. She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. Echo was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her.

Narcissus was not finished. A handsome man named Ameinius was one of the vain youth’s most ardent admirers and relentlessly vied for his attention. So what did Narcissus do? The conceited youth responded to the entreaties by sending his suitor a sword, telling him to prove his adoration.

Not knowing how else to prove his adoration, Ameinius proceeded to plunge the sword into his heart, committing suicide to demonstrate his love.

As he lay dying, he beseeched the gods to punish the heartless Narcissus.

The goddess of the hunt, Artemis, (according to other versions it could have been Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, instead) learnt of this story and decided to punish Narcissus. Hence, she caused Narcissus to fall in love…but the kind of love that “could never be fulfilled”.

Narcissus came upon a clear spring at Donacon in Thespia, Narcissus stooped down to drink, and saw his own image in the water; he thought it was some beautiful water-spirit living in the fountain.

The spell of Artemis had totally mesmerized him, and for hours he sprawled by the spring, until at last he recognized himself.

Unable at last to stand the agony Narcissus plunged a dagger in his heart and died, calling out a final goodbye to his reflected image. 

When Narcissus died, wasting away before his own reflection, consumed by a love that could not be, Echo mourned over his body. As he was looking one last time into the pool uttered, “Oh marvellous boy, I loved you in vain, farewell”, Echo too chorused, “Farewell.”

The myth tells that where his blood soaked the earth sprung up the white narcissus flower with its red corollary, forever growing at the water’s edge, its head inclined towards the water.


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Many issues traditionally associated with the mirror are present in this myth by Ovid.

Firstly, Beauty. Ovid characterizes it in two ways. On the one hand, he defines it as divine. Since Narcissus is the son of a river, Cephissos, and a nymph of great beauty, LiriopeThe poem also compares Narcissus hair with Apollo´s.

Moreover, the poet evokes the effects of its beauty. The text constantly plays with “water” and “erotic fire”, as it appears in the eyes of the young, reaching torches and funeral fires. He also mentions the alternating brightness and burning, and shade and coolness.

The combination of Beauty and Death, entailed by Love, finds its ultimate expression in the last image of Narcissus, who still faces each other, as in the mirror of Persephone, in the water of the Styx.

But the main subtle topic, before that one of Beauty, is Illusion, announced in the episode of Echo. Narcissus, deceived in the beginning (verse 385) by duplicating the voice is then victim of the  of his appearance . Since Eco is condemned to imitation, she does not cease to be “another”, much more different as their otherness as marked on the opposition of the sexes. 

Echo is not just the female counterpart of Narcissus, as it is not a series of  opposed elements, the most important of which is that she loves him and he did not. Echo is, in the aural scope, the equivalent of the reflection that captivates Narcissus´eyes.

And in that slip of the reciprocal element of Love, the reflective, homoeroticism – is a decisive step: it is one of the rejected male lovers who, as Aminias invokes divine vengeance against Narcissus (verses 404/405).

The illusion that produces the fallacious spring (verse 427) is expressed in two ways.

Replaced by the unreal reality, a body of flesh turns into a reflection of water: without consistency (verse 417), a living being a fugitive image (verse 431). Narcissus (verse 432) does not know the impalpable nature of reflection. The error of Narcissus is shown firstly when he has a dialogue with his own image (verses 458/459), moving from illusory reciprocity to pure reflexivity: “You, that’s me I ” (verse 463). Narcissus, who is attracted by his double, will not be soon more than a shadow in Hades, who will yet be looking for its reflection.

Thus, Narcissus is merely image. Since his body rejects any contact with the other, since he is not intended to embrace an impalpable image of his own reflection. The iconic character is inevitably highlighted  When Narcissus is enraptured in front of his double,  he compares himself with “a statue carved in marble of Paros” (verse 419).

*Note: I wrote this section based on a book in Spanish. Source: Frontisi-Ducroux, Françoise; Vernant, Jean- Pierre. “En El Ojo del Espejo” ( “Dans l´Oeil du Miroir”). Buenos Aires. Fondo de Cultura. 1999.-



"Echo And Narcissus" by John William Waterhouse (1903).-

“Echo And Narcissus” by John William Waterhouse (1903).-



“Narcissus and Echo”: Excerpts from Ovid´s Metamorphoses. Book III.  (Lines 339/508).

“While he is drinking he beholds himself reflected in the mirrored pool—and loves; loves an imagined body which contains no substance, for he deems the mirrored shade a thing of life to love”.

“All that is lovely in himself he loves, and in his witless way he wants himself:—he who approves is equally approved; he seeks, is sought, he burns and he is burnt. And how he kisses the deceitful fount; and how he thrusts his arms to catch the neck that’s pictured in the middle of the stream! Yet never may he wreathe his arms around that image of himself”.

“What is it I implore? The thing that I desire is mine—abundance makes me poor. Oh, I am tortured by a strange desire unknown to me before, for I would fain put off this mortal form; which only means I wish the object of my love away”.

“As often as the love-lore boy complained, “Alas!” “Alas!” her echoing voice returned; and as he struck his hands against his arms, she ever answered with her echoing sounds. And as he gazed upon the mirrored pool he said at last, “Ah, youth beloved in vain!” “In vain, in vain!” the spot returned his words; and when he breathed a sad “farewell!” “Farewell!” sighed Echo too”.

“And now although among the nether shades his sad sprite roams, he ever loves to gaze on his reflection in the Stygian wave. His Naiad sisters mourned, and having clipped their shining tresses laid them on his corpse: and all the Dryads mourned: and Echo made lament anew. And these would have upraised his funeral pyre, and waved the flaming torch, and made his bier; but as they turned their eyes where he had been, alas he was not there! And in his body’s place a sweet flower grew, golden and white, the white around the gold”.



"Narcissus transforms into a flower" by Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié (1771).-

“Narcissus transforms into a flower” by Nicolas-Bernard Lépicié (1771).-



Narcissistic personality disorder1

Narcissus Flower.

Narcissus Flower.

Narcissus´myth helped coining the word “Narcissism“.

After- and probably as a consequence of having  rejected the nymph Echo- he  fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water.

Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus kept on gazing  into the pool until he finally changed into a flower, the narcissus. 

Narcissim is related to the concept of excessive selfishness and  egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes.

Narcissism is a concept in psychoanalytic theory, which was popularly introduced in Sigmund Freud’s essay “On Narcissism” (1914).

The American Psychiatric Association has had the classification narcissistic personality disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) since 1968, drawing on the historical concept of megalomania, meaning “a condition or mental illness that causes people to think that they have great or unlimited power or importance”. (Source: Merriam Webster Dictionary).

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others feelings. People affected often spend a lot of time thinking about achieving power, success, or their appearance. They often take advantage of the people around them. The behavior typically begins by early adulthood, and occurs across a variety of situations. The dynamo of Narcissistic personality disorder is the so-called “Narcissistic supply“, which is a concept introduced into psychoanalytic theory by Otto Fenichel in 1938, to describe a type of admiration, interpersonal support or sustenance drawn by an individual from his or her environment and essential to their self-esteem.

The term is typically used in a negative sense, describing a pathological or excessive need for attention or admiration in dependents and the orally fixated, that does not take into account the feelings, opinions or preferences of other people.

In order for a person to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) they must meet five or more of the following  symptoms:

♠Has a grandiose sense of self-importance. This entails a sustained, unrealistic sense of being superior—better than other people. It also refers to a sense of uniqueness; the belief that few others have anything in common with oneself and that one can only be understood by a few or very special people.

♠Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes. 

♠Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, etc. This refers to the narcissist’s need to fend off inner emptiness, feel special and in control, and avoid feelings of defectiveness and insignificance.

♠Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

♠Requires excessive admiration. Narcissists need admiration all the time. They surround themselves with others who will give them positive reinforcement.

♠Has a very strong sense of entitlement, i.e, unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

♠Is exploitative of others. Narcissists lack empathy, feel entitled and above the rules, and see other people as appendages whose sole purpose is to fill them with narcissistic supply. 

♠Lacks empathy, this  is a hallmark of the disorder in the same way that fear of abandonment is in borderline personality disorder.

♠Is often envious of others. Narcissists must be superior to others in every single way. So when someone else has something they don’t have that they want: admiration, status, skills, objects, the narcissist sees it as a major threat. Like so much else in the narcissistic mind, it is unconscious, discounted and denied, which makes it more treacherous for the object of his envy.


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"Narcissus" by Gustave Moreau (19th century).-

“Narcissus” by Gustave Moreau (19th century).-



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The Shinx presenting her riddle to Oedipus. Attic Red Figure. 450 - 440 BC.

The Sphinx presenting her riddle to Oedipus. Attic Red Figure. 450 – 440 BC.

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🔆♣“The Theban Plays”🔆:

In my previous post, I introduced some of the most important characteristics of Tragedy, as highlighted by Aristotle in his book “Poetics”. In brief, I mentioned the main characteristics, aims and structure of tragedy.

Furthermore, I made reference to the most famous ancient greek playwrights of the genre Tragedy: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides

Sophocles 497/ 406 BC was the author of “Oedipus Rex, the tragedy we´ll analyse in this post. He wrote 120 plays during the course of his life, but only seven have survived in a complete form. Among them we should mention the so-called Theban plays.

The Theban plays consist of three plays: “Oedipus Rex” (“Oedipus the King”, also called “Oedipus Tyrannus”), “Oedipus at Colonus” and “Antigone”

These plays, which were presented as a trilogy, took second prize in the City Dionysia at its original performance. Aeschyluss nephew Philocles took first prize at that competition.

The three plays concern the fate of the city of Thebes during and after the reign of King Oedipus.

Each of the plays relates to the tale of the mythological Oedipus, who killed his father and married his mother without knowledge that they were his parents. Oedipus´ family is fated to be doomed for three generations.

The Theban Plays by Sophocles.

The Theban Plays by Sophocles.

The  Trilogy was written across thirty-six years of Sophocles’ career and the plays were not composed in chronological order, but instead were written in the order “Antigone”, “Oedipus the King” and “Oedipus at Colonus”.

The logical and  chronological order would be:

• “Oedipus Rex” narrates the vicissitudes of King Oedipus, who unknowingly married his mother, Jocasta, and killed his father, Laius.

• In “Oedipus at Colonus”, the banished Oedipus and his daughter Antigone arrive at the town of Colonus where they encounter Theseus, King of Athens. Oedipus dies and strife begins between his sons Polyneices and Eteocles.

• In “Antigone”, the protagonist is Oedipus’ daughter, Antigone. She is faced with the choice of allowing her brother Polyneices‘ body to remain unburied, outside the city walls, exposed to the ravages of wild animals, or to bury him and face death. The king of the land, Creon, has forbidden the burial of Polyneices for he was a traitor to the city. Antigone decides to bury his body and face the consequences of her actions. Creon sentences her to death. Eventually, Creon is convinced to free Antigone from her punishment, but his decision comes too late and Antigone commits suicide. Her suicide triggers the suicide of two others close to King Creon: his son, Haemon, who was to wed Antigone, and his Creon´s wife, Queen Eurydice, who commits suicide after losing her only surviving son. 



Sophocles ca. 496 – 406 BC

Sophocles ca. 496 – 406 BC



🔆I. ♣“Oedipus Rex”. Background🔆:

Many elements of  “Oedipus Rex” (which was first performed in 430 BC)take place before the opening scene of the play.

Let´s consider which they are…

Laius (Oedipus´father) was the tutor of Chrysippus, youngest of the King Pelops of Elis´son. He abducted and raped Chrysippus, who killed himself in shame.

This murder cast a doom over Laius and all of his other descendants.

King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes had a son.

Having Laius learned from an oracle that “he was doomed to perish by the hand of his own son”, he ordered Jocasta to kill the child. Jocasta couldn´t do that by herself so she asked a servant to commit the act. The servant took the child and gave him to a shepherd, who named him Oedipus (or “swollen feet”). He carried the baby with him to Corinth and raised him.

As a young man in Corinth, Oedipus heard a rumour that he was not the biological son of Polybus and his wife Merope.

He asked the Delphic Oracle who his parents really were. The Oracle ignored this question, cryptically telling him instead that he was destined to “Mate with his own mother, and shed/With his own hands the blood of his own sire”. Desperate to avoid this, Oedipus left Corinth in the belief that Polybus and Merope were indeed his true parents and that, once away from them, he would never harm them.

On the road to Thebes, he met Laius, his true father, with several other men. Unaware of each other’s identities, Laius and Oedipus quarrelled over whose chariot has right-of-way. As a result, Oedipus killed Laius, hence fulfilling part of the oracle’s prophecy.

Continuing on his way, Oedipus found Thebes plagued by the Sphinx, who put a riddle to all passersby and destroyed those who could not answer.

The riddle of the sphinx was “What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three in the evening?”

Oedipus gave the proper answer: man, who crawls on all fours in infancy, walks on two feet when grown, and leans on a staff in old age.

Thus, Oedipus solved the riddle, and the Sphinx killed herself. And, in reward, he received the throne of Thebes and the hand of the widowed queen, his mother, Jocasta.

Oedipus and Jocasta had four children: Eteocles, Polyneices, Antigone, and Ismene.



🔆II. ♣“Oedipus Rex”. Summary🔆:

The entire action of the play is set in the city of Thebes, which is in the grip of a deadly plague.

Oedipus has already sent his brother-in-law, Creon, to the Oracle of Delphi in order to ask the Oracle why this is the case. According to the Oracle, Apollo regards religious or moral pollution (miasma) resulting from the murder of the former king, Laius, to be the cause of the plague and that the cause of it (i.e. Laius’ murderer) must be killed or expelled from Theban territory.

Laius was the ruler of Thebes before  Oedipus and was supposedly killed during a journey by a group of robbers.

Oedipus firmly resolves to find the murderer and prosecute him. This causes Oedipus to put a curse on Laius’s murderer and to call the blind prophet, Tiresias, for advice.

But the meeting with Tiresias doesn´t turn out well. Tiresias refuses to reveal anything to Oedipus. He prefers to keep silent as he does not want to be the cause of Oedipus’ ruin. Oedipus, on the other hand, interprets Tiresias’ silence as treachery. He labels him a villain and a conspirator along with Creon.

Tiresias leaves, warning that Oedipus will cause his own ruin. Later in the play, Tiresias tragically reveals to Oedipus that the king himself is the cause, since he had killed King Laius.

Oedipus doesn’t believe him — since he did not know who Laius was when he killed him — and sends him away.

When Jocasta tells Oedipus the story of Laius’s murder, her mention of the specific location at which he was killed makes Oedipus suspicious that he might have been the killer.

As the investigations into Laius’ murder proceed, the fact that a sole witness is alive comes to light. Oedipus sends for this man, who is an old shepherd.

But, such an awry coincidence, he sole witness of Laius’ murder is also the man who had handed over the infant Oedipus to the Corinthian shepherd. This man holds the key to the mystery of Oedipus’ birth. Oedipus persuades him to speak up and so he does.

Finally the Theban shepherd reveals his version. And the truth comes to light: that Oedipus is the son of Laius and Jocasta, not Polybus and Merope. This moment is the Climax, meaning the most tension in the tragedy.

After the climax comes the Falling action. Jocasta commits suicide by hanging herself and Oedipus, unable to see his wretched existence, blinds himself. Oedipus’ curse falls on himself, and he wishes to leave Thebes. 

Oedipus briefly speaks with his daughters, lamenting their fates as a result of his own. Finally, Oedipus goes into exile, accompanied by Antigone and Ismene, leaving his brother-in-law Creon as regent. With that, the plague ends.



The Murder of Laius by Oedipus by Paul Joseph Blanc. 1867.

The Murder of Laius by Oedipus by Paul Joseph Blanc. 1867.



🔆III. ♣“Oedipus Rex”. Structure🔆:

According to Aristotle in his book “Poetics”, the narrative structure or plot (Mythos) consists of three parts: Protasis, Epitasis and Catastrophe.

• The Protasis is the beginning of the tragedy. 

• The Epitasis is the middle or climax of the plot, which are caused by earlier incidents and itself cause the incidents that follow it. 

• The Catastrophe is the resolution or end of the plot. 

Check out further details concerning the narrative structure in “Oedipus Rex” by clicking on the images below.




🔆IV. ♣“Oedipus Rex”. Analysis🔆

Hamartia, Anagnorisis, Peripetia and Catharsis:

In a tipical Tragedy, the protagonist should be renowned and prosperous, so his change of fortune can be from good to bad.

This change should come about as the result, not of vice, but of some great error or frailty in a character. Such a plot is most likely to generate pity and fear in the audience. It will evoke pity and fear in its viewers, causing the viewers to experience a feeling of Catharsis, (“purgation” or “purification”).

Catharsis is linked to pity, which is “aroused by unmerited misfortune, fear by the misfortune of a man like ourselves”. That undeserved luck is most times linked to the word Hamartia, often translated as “tragic flaw”.

Oedipus suffers because of his Hamartia. Oedipus’ mistake – killing his father at the crossroads – is made unknowingly. Indeed, for him, there is no way of escaping his fate.

In “Poetics”, Aristotle outlined the characteristics of an ideal Tragic Hero. He must be “better than we are,” a man who is superior to the average man in some way.

In Oedipus’s case, he is superior not only because of social standing, but also because he is smart: he is the only person who could solve the Sphinx’s riddle.

Oedipus earns royal respect at Thebes when he solves the riddle of the Sphinx. As a gift for freeing the city, Creon gives Oedipus dominion over the city.

Thus, Oedipus’ nobility derives from many and diverse sources, and the audience develops a great respect and emotional attachment to him.

In general terms, we can say that the role of the Hamartia (Tragic Flaw) in tragedy comes not from its moral status but from the inevitability of its consequences.

According to Aristotle, the protagonist will mistakenly bring about his own downfall—not because he is sinful or morally weak, but because he does not know enough. Oedipus fits this precisely, for his basic flaw is his lack of knowledge about his own identity.

The Anagnorisisor the recognition point, happens when Oedipus realizes the truth about his parentage, as a shepherd reveals the fact that Oedipus was the son of Laius and Jocasta.

At this stage, the protagonist realizes the truth of a situation, discovers another character’s identity or learns an unknown fact about his own self. Oedipus is far from perfect. He has been blind to the truth and stubbornly refuses to believe Tiresias‘ warnings. And, although he is a good father, he unwittingly fathered children in incest.(With his own mother, Jocasta).  

What follows anagnorisis is known as Peripetia (Reversal), where the opposite of what was planned or expected by the protagonist, occurs.

The Peripetia entrains a crucial action from/on the protagonis that changes the situation, from seemingly secure to vulnerable. This leads to results diametrically opposed to those that were intended.

Hence, this unavoidable downfall of the protagonist of a tragedy is usually caused by the character’s “tragic flaw”. 

The ultimate cause of Oedipusdownfall is his unwillingness to accept his fate. He cannot accept the predictions about his life (that he will murder his father and sleep with his mother) and he fights against them. This rejection could be seen as evidence of his great pride. 

Additionally, Oedipus invites information, however damaging it might be, saying that he can handle any truth that comes his way. 

Oedipus was raised by his adoptive parents, Polybus and Merope, the king and queen of Corinth, after his biological parents, Laius and Jocasta, the king and queen of Thebes, sent him away to be killed to avoid a prophecy that Laius received which stated that his son would kill him and then marry his wife. 

Oedipus grew up, never knowing that his adoptive parents weren’t his biological parents until, one day, a drunk man told him about it.  He needed to know more so he went to the oracle to find out, but the oracle wouldn’t answer his questions. Instead, the Oracle said that he would one day kill his father and marry his mother. 

Thinking, then, that he would kill Polybus and marry Merope, Oedipus resolved never to return to Corinth and to go to Thebes instead.  He met a man on the road, got into an altercation with him, and killed him; this man turned out to be his biological father, Laius.  When Oedipus  to Thebes, after answering the sphinx’s riddle and freeing the city from her reign of terror, the Thebans were so happy with him and in need of a king, they made him king and he married the old king’s wife, his mother, Jocasta.  

In this way,  the most obvious irony in the play is that Oedipus‘s attempt to avoid fulfilling a terrible prophecy is actually what enables it to come true.



Blind Oedipus bids farewell to the body of his wife and son by Edouard Toudouze. 1871.

Blind Oedipus bids farewell to the body of his wife and son by Edouard Toudouze. 1871.



🔆V. ♣“Oedipus Rex”. Incest and Patricide🔆

Among all the permissiveness of ancient Greek culture, including homosexual relationships between old men and young boys,  and the open taking of numerous courtesans by married men, incest remains a reprehensible offense. Throughout Greek literature, Incest, alongside patricide/matricide also seem to be an equally odious crime. 

In the second part of Aeschylus´ trilogy “Oresteia”,  Clytemnestra is murdered by her son Orestes. (Matricide).

In the  third and last play, “The Eumenides”, Orestes is judged because of his crime whilst being besieged and tormented by the Eryniesgoddesses of vengeance and often depicted  as ugly, winged women with hair, arms and waists entwined with serpents. Furthermore, the wrath of the Erinyes manifested itself in a number of ways and the most severe of these was the tormenting madness inflicted upon a patricide or matricide.

The theories presented in Freud’s “Totem and Taboo” help to explain Incest in “Oedipus Rex”.

Freud holds that all human males innately harbor not a natural aversion to incest, but the opposite: an instinctive sexual attraction to the mother (Oedipus Complex).

He says“The experiences of psychoanalysis have taught . . . that the first sexual impulses of the young are regularly of an incestuous nature” (“Totem and Taboo”, p. 160).

He also asserts that each male harbors ambivalent feelings towards his father. On one hand, he loves, looks up to, and respects his father. On the other, with the awakening of sexual feelings which initially naturally fix themselves towards the mother, he comes to hate his father as a rival and oppressor.



“Oedipus and the Erynies or Furies” by Jakob Asmus (18th century).

“Oedipus and the Erynies or Furies” by Jakob Asmus (18th century).


🔆➰🔆►Read “Oedipus Rex”, by Sophocles here.



 guarda_griega1_5Erin Sandlin 1guarda_griega1_5

🔆V. ♣“Oedipus Rex”🔆

🔆Oedipus and Sophocles: Anthropology, Psychology, and the Role of Women in Context🔆

∼By ©Erin Sandlin∼

When Sophocles wrote the three plays that comprise the Oedipus series, his goals and messages would have been shaped both by his culture and his milieu. As an anthropologist, I tend to interpret the truism that art imitates life with a greater breadth and depth than most might. In the essay that follows, I’ll touch upon issues of cultural messaging, the modern (and to my mind, inaptly characterized) Oedipal Complex, and the role of women as reinforced such as that reinforced by the plays in question.  

•Cultural Messaging: 

Given that my knowledge of Ancient Greek literature and art are not at a level consistent with scholarly discourse, I’ll largely speak in general terms, with an anthropological scope. Cultural messaging—or the formation and transmission of symbols, ideologies, material culture, aesthetics, and other domains—is taken as a constant feature of stratified human societies throughout time and space. It’s also a two-way street.  

While established cultural themes and values shape and are received by individuals, those individuals in turn act to shape the continuously evolving features of cultural sensibilities that are characteristic of a general culture or culture group. This is, perhaps, more true of those responsible for creation of art and literature than of individuals who simply consume symbols or rely on established formulations for their livelihoods. Art imitates life, because it is this realism that makes art consumable.  

While a play or a sculpture, a painting or architecture, dance, music or written works can all serve as platforms for specific cultural messages, they must not depart too severely from what is accepted as normal by the audience.  Sophocles’ works tread this line in the social sand with finesse, using established cultural forms while delivering a message or suite of messages.  In the Oedipus plays, he regaled his audience with drama that was instantly recognizable by any class, although what his intended messages were, I won’t speculate.  They were, however, shaped on an intimate level by the world he knew.  

•“Oedipus Rex” and Cultural Taboo: 

Ancient Greece was by no means a unified, national entity. Rather, it was a loose collection of city-states with many common cultural features that permitted unification against a common enemy, even while they fueled internecine conflict. However, features shared by these warring sibling communities were often expressed in philosophy, rhetoric, and the general code of ethics required by any individual to be respected within their community. In addition to food and dress, music and theatre, the pursuits of the mind were a binding force of what we call Ancient Greece.

Oedipus plays to the needs of the tragedy by committing two of the greatest taboo actions commonly acknowledged in the diverse and innately political realm of Ancient Greece. These actions are apparently forbidden to humans who hope to dwell in polite society, but are accorded a pass when it comes to the gods. Patricide seems to be one of the worst, and speaks to the value placed upon fatherhood and father figures within the culture. That matricide is slightly more excusable and often used as a plot device tells me that perhaps women intended for marriages of status held less value as humans and more as vessels or possessions. Unattached women who did not aspire to marriage or status via a husband held their own place in that world.  

Incest is considered taboo by a number of cultures, although its precise relational definition is subject to change. This is largely a function of the fact that genetics is a comparatively new field of science. Incest is socially defined, even now, and how we interpret what is or is not incestuous is likely to differ from culture to culture. That being said, while we may still react with revulsion at the thought of a child and genetic parent or two siblings who share parents in common interacting sexually, there is more risk of genetic mutations occurring in the offspring of two first-cousins. This is because they share at least two closely related sets of genetic material. The evidence for this can be observed in the noble family trees of many European Great Houses.  

Perhaps the only reprieve Sophocles granted to Oedipus is that he did not have him eat another human being (Cannibalism). While the gods may debauch themselves with sibling deities, murder their fathers, and consume their own children (only to regurgitate them at a later time,) these activities are prohibited among human beings who worship them. While there’s an entire academic paper on the ways in which a culture reserves its most horrifying behaviors to its ascribed gods or goddesses in that statement, we won’t go into that, here.  

What can be said is that artistic media serve as a way for us to explore these taboos without fear of repercussion to ourselves. This method of cultural messaging serves to reinforce cultural bonds via shared value systems, as a means of exploring experiences without risk, and as a way to either shift or solidify cultural symbols, ideas, and forms. Other themes explored by Sophocles are: justice, inflexible pursuit of goals, the imperfect grasp of reality as it pertains to unknown details, honor, and social consequences that obtain when the order is challenged.  

•At the Crossroads of Tragedy and Cultural Themes:  

We might think it was rather poor form for Oedipus to murder Laius on the side of the road. But this says more about our own cultural themes than it does those of Sophocles. In anthropology, we are constantly made to confront our own culture and its embedded sensibilities.This, for better or worse, is known as cultural relativism, but should not be confused the permissive acceptance of human rights violations.    

At the same time, it’s important that we acknowledge that different cultures will apply a specific moral weight to various scenarios and actions. Rash and ill advised as Oedipus’ actions may have been, Laius was a stranger who offered insult. He was an unnamed person, and Oedipus was offered a set number of ways in which he could respond, based upon the culture of Sophocles.  

We, as the audience, might count the beginning of this tragedy with the actions of Laius and Jocasta. However, Oedipus’ personal journey begins when he leaves the two individuals he believes to be his parents in order to spare them the fate spoken by the oracle. Dr. Joseph Campbell, who so eloquently explored the Monomyth and the hero’s role within it, called this the beginning of the Hero Quest.  

Oedipus breaks with all that is familiar in the effort to preserve the lives of those he loves. But he’s also serving another cultural maxim.If he fulfills the oracle’s pronouncements, he will have broken two grave strictures of his culture.  In his own estimation, he will not be worthy of the fruits of society, honor, or noble birth. This sense of justice causes him to leave, and later in the story will cause him to pursue his own doom as he searches for the killer of King Laius.  

•Incest and Feminine Agency: 

The sexual lust shared by Oedipus and Jocasta receives, in my opinion, a disproportionate amount of attention. We aren’t alone in frowning on incest. But while that distaste may have relatively rational roots, within the narrative of the tragedy, incest doesn’t immediately apply to the actions of these characters.   

Oedipus is unknown to Jocasta, who believes her infant son perished from exposure.  Oedipus believes his mother to be miles away, safe from his roving eye. As self-realized individuals, there’s nothing untoward about their liaison. When I read the play, I immediately thought of another factor that may not have come to the attention of those with other educational backgrounds.  

Even though Jocasta gave birth to Oedipus, he was taken from her as an infant and sentenced to death by her husband. Oedipus grew to maturity seeing another woman as his mother, and was never told he was a foundling.  There is no bond of experience between them to dissuade them from coupling.  

The Westermarck Effect is a theory that surmises that this close familiarity between closely related individuals in which one is younger will preclude sexual attraction.  

Even if biology had been against them, a field of which Sophocles knew nothing, Jocasta was a woman in an Ancient Greek society—a married, widowed woman of status. Oddly enough, this made her one of the most powerless individuals, with the exclusion of actual slaves. Whether she felt attraction to Oedipus or not was immaterial. Even if Sophocles had been a feminist long before his time, Greek Society was openly hostile to the agency of women. Pheromones distasteful to Jocasta would not have stopped Oedipus from declaring his conquest of the realm and of her body in the same breath.  She, and all women like her, were only as good as the men who ruled them decided they should be. And yet, a disproportionate amount of censure has been aimed at her.  

•Complex Complexes and Misnomers: 

Modern psychology has made us all familiar with Oedipus for one reason, and a very bad reason at that. Even if you’ve never read Sophocles, you know all about the young son who wants to tumble his mother. The Oedipal Complex stems from a poor grasp of the actual intricacies of the play by a Victorian Viennese psychotherapist named Sigmund Freud. It describes a phase in human psychosexual development in which young male children of three to five year old lust after their mothers and regard their fathers as rivals for her attention.  

But, barring a superficial resemblance to the plays by Sophocles, this is a terrible name for the complex. Oedipus doesn’t know Laius as his father or Jocasta his mother. He does not identify them as his parents at all. To append his name to a person who desires their acknowledged mother and feels aggression towards their acknowledged father is, to say the least, incorrect.  

While some excuse can be made for Freud—who lived in a distressingly ignorant, misogynistic, and simultaneously sexually repressed and depraved milieu (not unlike Ancient Greece in some regard,) and was a product of an educational system that idolized all things related to the ancient culture—there’s really no excuse for anyone who uses it in earnest these days. In the first place, quite a few of his theories have been outright disproven, shredded for the mass of hilarious misconceptions they were, or are discounted by more advanced understandings in the fields of neuropsychology, developmental psychology, and behavioral psychology. Moreover, it’s bandied about by popular culture as if adults could suddenly develop this complex, which isn’t what it originally described, anyway.  

If we are to give either Sophocles or Joseph Campbell their due, it would behoove us to recognize the deep mastery of the work by Sophocles.

Oedipus, in spite of his window dressing from a culture with very different ideas about morality, is still a vital and believable hero to current audiences. He does things that are motivated by the best of intentions, but he ultimately functions as the architect of his own suffering. He, as an extension of the keen brilliance of Sophocles, advertises the morality and the cultural ideals of a civilization slowly relenting to the sunlight of decay. 

In a way, Oedipus is a member of an elite club—the Hero Room—in which live all the big characters who dreamed magnificently, but ultimately failed. They sought to set their names in the bricks of every city, to be remembered, to uphold justice and avert tragedy, to earn glory or challenge the will of deities.  

At the same time, they are terribly human in a way that does not fade when the cultural winds shift.  Their quests are relatable, even if some of their actions become absurd or obscure in their rationale. Their imperfections help us to bring them close and identify with them.

At bottom, they remind us that, while we have myriad ways of living in the world, we are all human. All mortal. All subject to factors beyond our knowledge or control.  

∼Essay By ©Erin Sandlin∼ May, 2016.-



Oedipus and Antigone by Johann Peter Krafft. 1809.

Oedipus and Antigone by Johann Peter Krafft. 1809.



►About Erin Sandlin:

Erin Sandlin is a writer of both scholarly and lyric essays, poetry, and short fiction.  She possesses advanced degrees in both anthropology and history. Born and raised in the Deep South of the United States, oral traditions, language, and systems of cultural memory continue to fascinate her. Her research interests also include the politics of gender, restriction of social space, and diets within stratified societies.  

•She loves to connect with new people, and welcomes you to visit her author page on Facebook.

•Erin maintains a blog on WordPress, “Being Southern Somewhere Else”.  

•You can find her books for sale on Amazon

•You can also  follow Erin on Twitter

~ ~Thanks so much for being here as a guest author/ writer, dear Erin~ ~



Erin Sandlin.

Erin Sandlin.

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  A request: If you like my blog, please -show me some love❤ – &  vote for me as  Most Informative Original Content Blogger, at the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards:


Thanks to the Bash Commitee for the nomination, I am honoured no matter if I win or not!!! 😊


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plato beauty



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According to Plato, Beauty was an idea or Form of which beautiful things were consequence.

Beauty by comparison begins in the domain of intelligible objects, since there is a Form of beauty. The most important question is: what do all of these beautiful things have in common?. To know that is to know Beauty.

The Theory of Forms maintains that two distinct levels of reality exist: the visible world of sights and sounds that we inhabit and the intelligible world of Forms that stands above the visible world and gives it being. For example, Plato maintains that in addition to being able to identify a beautiful person or a beautiful painting, we also have a general conception of Beauty itself, and we are able to identify the beauty in a person or a painting only because we have this conception of Beauty in the abstract. In other words, the beautiful things we can see are beautiful only because they participate in the more general Form of Beauty. This Form of Beauty is itself invisible, eternal, and unchanging, unlike the things in the visible world that can grow old and lose their beauty.

Plato’s account in the Symposium connects beauty to a response of love and desire, but locate beauty itself in the realm of the Forms, and the beauty of particular objects in their participation in the Form. 

Beauty’s distinctive pedagogical effects show why Plato talks about its goodness and good consequences, sometimes even its identity with “the good” (Laws 841c; Philebus 66a–b; Republic, 401c; Symposium 201c, 205e).


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plato form2

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In Plato´ Symposium, Socrates claims to be quoting his teacher Diotima on the subject of love, and in her lesson she calls beauty the object of every love’s yearning.

She spells out the soul’s progress toward ever-purer beauty, from one body to all, then through all beautiful souls, laws, and kinds of knowledge, to arrive at beauty itself.

By going through these stages, one will ascend from loving particular kinds of beauty to loving Beauty itself, from which all beautiful things derive their nature.

Diotima suggests that a life gazing upon and pursuing this Beauty is the best life one can lead.

In the Symposium, the Form of Beauty is the final stage in the lover of knowledge’s ascent toward Beauty.

He begins by loving particular bodies, moving from there to bodies in general, to particular minds, to minds in general, to laws and practices, to knowledge, and finally to the knowledge of the Form of Beauty. The ascent is one of increasing generalization where one’s love of beauty comes to embrace more and more things.

Ultimately, however, one’s love of beauty will embrace only one thing, the Form of Beauty, but one will recognize in this Form all that is beautiful. 

There is, besides, a sense of what Beauty may be: the signs of measure and proportion signal its presence and it is linked with goodness and justice.

Beauty here is conceived as perfect unity, or indeed as the principle of unity itself. 

Plato´s Beauty Theory, as it appears in the Symposium, holds that the Beautiful is an objective quality which is more or less intensified in and exemplified by beautiful or less beautiful objects respectively. Beauty itself exists independently of the object’s relationship to a perceiver or of its being a means to some end.

The Beautiful, then, regardless of what it is, exists as a thing in itself, separate from and supreme in relation to the beautiful objects which are beautiful by somehow sharing in its being. 

There is something innate and yet external to a beautiful object. Its beauty is there independently of a perceiver, and its being beautiful or not does not depend upon personal evaluations

Plato´s ideas could be considered as a sample of the prevailing classical conception.

According to it, Beauty consists of an arrangement of integral parts into a coherent whole, according to order, proportion and symmetry.

The ancient Roman architec Vitruvius gives as good a characterization of the classical conception in its underlying unity:

Order is the balanced adjustment of the details of the work separately, and as to the whole, the arrangement of the proportion with a view to a symmetrical result.

Proportion implies a graceful semblance: the suitable display of details in their context, when everything has a symmetrical correspondence.

Symmetry also is the appropriate harmony arising out of the details of the work itself: the correspondence of each given detail to the form of the design as a whole.  (Vitruvius, 26–27)

Plato regarded beauty as objective in the sense that it was not localized in the response of the beholder.  

In spite of Plato´s theories, we should now wonder if Beauty is an Universal Quality recognizable per se …  

In other words… Is Beauty a relative assessment, which lies in the eye of the beholder…

If we believe so, then we should conclude that Beauty is created by a subjective judgment, in which each person determines whether something is beautiful or not. 

If we agree with Plato, and therefore state that Beauty is pattern or form from which all beautiful things are derived, then we are assuming that Beauty is an objective feature.

By that our postulate would be that most perceivers would agree when it comes to determine whether something or someone is beautiful or not.

Without needing to take a side, we can say that it is both things…

Beauty couldn´t be entirely subjective—that is, if anything that anyone holds to be or experiences as beautiful is beautiful then it seems that the word has no meaning, or that we are not communicating anything when we call something beautiful except perhaps an approving personal attitude. 

In addition, though different persons can of course differ in particular judgments, it is also obvious that our judgments coincide to a certain extent.

Either way, what we can certainly state is that our attraction to another person’s body increases if that body is symmetrical and in proportion.

In this sense, there are certain aesthetical features which might entail Beauty.

Scientists believe that we perceive proportional bodies to be more healthy. This is suggested in the following famous image showing an idealized human body within a square and a circle.

Leonardo da Vinci‘s drawings of the human body emphasized its proportion. The ratio of the following distances in the above Vitruvian Man image is approximately the Golden Ratio (Φ = 1.618033…).

With the math behind it, the symmetry of your face can be measured. The closer this number is to 1.618, the more beautiful it is…


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The Golden Ratio (Φ = 1.618033…).

The Golden Ratio (Φ = 1.618033…).

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The Vitruvian Man, drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci, showing the body dimensiones, according to the Golden Ratio.

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myths on beauty

Following up with the previous philosophical introduction, I would like to bring to the spotlight a few greek mythological myths and certain thoughts, with regard to the idea of Beauty.

Firstly, the most well known case of the Judgement of Paris and the story of the Golden Apple of Discord.

The Judgement of Paris was a contest between the three most beautiful goddesses of Olympus–Aphrodite, Hera and Athena–for the prize of a golden apple addressed to “the fairest”.

While Paris inspected them, each of the goddess attempted with her powers to bribe him; Hera offered to make him king of Europe and Asia, Athena offered wisdom and skill in war, and Aphrodite, offered the world’s most beautiful woman.

On a side note, It is worth noting how mant times “Beauty” appears in this myth.

At the end, Paris chose Aphrodite, who was the Goddess of Love and Beauty, and Helen of Troy, who was considered the most beautiful woman, was bestowed on him, in exchange.

As to the beautiful Helen of Troy, she was also known as the face that launched a thousand ships, therefore somehow associated with features such as discord and betrayal.

The reason behind such reputation is that Helen of Troy was married by the time of the deal among the Prince of Troy and Aphrodite.

Hence Paris decided to abduct her, event which would eventually lead to the Trojan War

In this sense, the Golden Apple was the biggest but also the most controversial prize. Besides and presumably, in the mythology surrounding “the Judgement of Paris”, the goddess of Discord Eris managed to enter The Garden of the Hesperides, which was Hera´s orchard, and plucked one of the fruits . We can therefore see why that golden apple go was also known as the Apple of Discord.

As to other quarrels originated due to similar smug assumptions involving Beauty, I would like to mention two cases, which are very similar when it comes to events and their consequences.

The first one features Myrrha, who was Adonis biological mother.

Myrrha’s mother had said that her daughter was even more beautiful than Aphrodite which angered the Goddess of Love, who cursed Myrrha to fall in love and lust after her father.

Thus, Myrrha became pregnant and gave birth to Adonis, who was raised by Aphrodite. 

Adonis was very handsome, so, further on, Persephone was taken by his beauty, reason which brought a new quarrel among goddesses. In this case, between Aphrodite and Persephone.

Secondly, we have the well known myth of Perseus´beloved, Andromeda.

Her mother, Cassiopeia had offended the Nereids by boasting that Andromeda was more beautiful than they, so in revenge Poseidon sent a sea monster to ravage Andromeda´s father kingdom.

In all cases, Beauty causes troubles. We could say that it puts in the seeds of conflict.

Its counterpoint and collateral effect is jealousy. But also a sense of unnecessary pride and vanity seems to be present here.

Beauty claims to be defined in an extended way beyond itself… It needs to be recognized.

We could say that Beauty is defined by and to the Other.

Thus, in this order of ideas, we could think that Beauty seems to be an existentialist way to experience the Beautiful. 

Intersubjectivity defines Beauty and the Other’s look constitutes the world and the beautiful as objective. This is because the Look tends to objectify what it sees.

Undoubtedly, there are subjective elements which help us define Beauty… But those ones, as Social Constructivists would state, are not necessarily individual but colective and cultural.

On the other hand, one can not deny that certain general and universal features, are linked to the idea of Beauty. 

Therefore and figuratively speaking, I believe that  Beauty would be a sui generis concept, constituted mainly by objective and intersubjective variables, which may vary according to time and contexts.



►Gallery: “Some Greek Myths based on Beauty”:

(Click on the images for further details)



►Playtime!:Is your face geometrically beautiful?:

Supposedly, when it comes to Beauty, the simplest measurement is the length of your face divided by the widest part of your face.

As previously mentioned above, the closer this number is to 1.618, i.e Golden Ratio, the more beautiful the person is…

There are countless ratios that can be measured, but the website Anaface will generate a computer calculation online of a few of these ratios, from your uploaded photo for free.

An important detail is that you ought to use the photograph URL. It didn’t work for me when I tried upload he image from my computer…

For that purpose, send yourself an email with the photograph and then copy paste its URL, as shown in the gallery.

Furthermore. keep in mind that the more horizontally your face is placed, the more reliable the results will be.

Use as a model the photograph provided in order to locate the points, especially if your ears don´t show up in the photograph due to your hair… 

Follow up the instructions and you´ll soon get your score. Click on the images in the gallery below for further details …


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►Last but not Least: Quote Challenge: Beauty:

Paul from Pal Fitness has nominated me for a so called 3-Day Quote Challenge. Please Check out Paul´s blog. He is a personal trainer and coach, who loves blogging and writing. 

The rules of this challenge are: ♠Post your favorite quotes or your own quotes for three (3) posts in a row. ♠Thank the person who nominated you. ♠Pass it on to three (3) other bloggers per quote, each time you post them. Or pass it to nine (9) bloggers if you choose to post all the quotes together, in the same post.
⚠ Note: I will post the three (3) quotes together. Thus I will nominate nine (9) Bloggers.
Also, I thought It would be pertinent to choose quotes on Beauty, alongside photographs taken by me, which you will be able to see in my Instagram account... All this aims to keep it on with the topic of this post… So that’s how I will do it😀. If you have been nominated, feel free to join the challenge if you feel it is worth it, want to and/or have time to do so. You can to pick out whichever creative license regarding this feature. 

My nominees for the Quote Challenge are: 1. D.G.Kaye Writer 2. Parlor of Horror 3. Course of Mirrors 4. Living the Dream 5. Solveig Werner 6. Scribble and Scrawl  7. Round World and Me 8. The Lonely Author 9. Aidyl93

►Three Quotes on Beauty by John Keats, and some Photographs:

~ Click on the images to read ~


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►Greek Mythology: “Myrrha, Adonis and Persephone”(Myths and Interpretation):



“Myhrra assisted by Lucina, the Goddess of Birth” by Jean de Court (1560).



As we know from the previous postAdonis, Myrrha’s son, was raised up for both Goddess Persephone and Aphrodite.

Myrrha’s mother (being more precise, Adonis’ grandmother) had said that her daughter Myrrha was even more beautiful than Aphrodite herself . This was taken as offensive by the goddess of Beauty, who took revenge on that.

And in this case she took revenge of Myrrha’s mother by punishing her daughter, cursing Myrrha to fall in love and lust after her father, Cinyras.

Aphrodite appears here as a trouble maker. It is not the first time that she had looked for acknowledgment of her Beauty.

We must keep in mind here the Judgement of Paris in which Aphrodite offered Helen the most beautiful mortal woman, to Prince Paris of Troy, in exchange of that famous Golden apple labeled for the fairest one.

Retaking the preceding points, roman poet Ovid referred to Myrrha’s story in “Metamorphoses,” Book 10, lines 467-518.

Myrrha was the daughter of King Cinyras and Queen Cenchreis of Cyprus.

Myrrha felt attracted to her father. Knowing the love was forbidden she fought it as hard as she could to avoid her feelings. But as he couldn’t do so, she tried to kill herself. Just before she was goindg to commit suicide, Myrrha was discovered by her nurse who finally dissuaded her.

Myrrha confided her forbidden love to the nurse. The nurse tried to make Myrrha suppress the infatuation, but could not calm the girl. Finally the nurse agreed to help Myrrha get into her father’s bed if she promised that she would not try to kill herself again.

The women got their opportunity during a feast. Myrrha’s father, King Cinyras, was drunk in his bed. The nurse helped Myrrha to get into the bed by telling the King she was a young woman who was deeply in love with him.



"Myrrha and Cinyras". Engraving by Virgil Solis for Ovid's Metamorphoses. Book X.

“Myrrha and Cinyras”. Engraving by Virgil Solis for Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”. Book X.



In this manner, Myrrha and the nurse were able to deceive Cinyras. The affair lasted several nights in complete darkness to conceal Myrrha’s identity. One night, Cinyras wanted to know the identity of the girl with whom he had conducted the affair. Upon bringing in a lamp, and seeing his crime, the king drew his sword and attempted to kill her but she could escape.

After becoming pregnant of her own father Myrrha walked for nine months, lost in her own guilt.

Zeus finally took pity on her and transformed her into a myrrh tree.

When it came time for the birth, the Myrrh tree was somehow assisted by the birth goddess Lucina and six water nymphs. The tree appeared to wrench and finally cracked and delivered a baby boy, who would be later called Adonis.



"The Birth of Adonis".  Engraving by Bernard Picart for Ovid's "Metamorphoses", Book X, 476-519.

“The Birth of Adonis”. Engraving by Bernard Picart for Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”.



Aphrodite found the baby by the myrrh tree. She sheltered Adonis as a new-born baby and entrusted him to Persephone, the wife of Hades, who was the God of the Underworld

Aphrodite fell in love with the beautiful youth (possibly because she had been wounded by Eros’ arrow).

Persephone was also taken by Adonis’ beauty and refused to give him back to Aphrodite.

The dispute between the two goddesses was settled by Zeus 

Adonis was to spend one-third of every year with each goddess and the last third wherever he chose. Thus he decided to spend two-thirds of the year with Aphrodite.

Adonis’ death was tragic. He was killed (castrated) by a wild boar and died in Aphrodite’s arms, who sprinkled his blood with nectar from the anemone.  

It was said that Adonis’ blood turned the Adonis River, or Abraham River, red each spring.

After Adonis’ death, Aphrodite was so sad that Zeus decided to make Adonis immortal, allowing him to leave the underworld, to spend eight months of the year with Aphrodite.

He always, however, had to return to Hades and remain there the other four with Persephone.



"The Death of Adonis" by Giuseppe Mazzuoli.(1709). The State Hermitage Museum

“The Death of Adonis” by Giuseppe Mazzuoli.(1709). The State Hermitage Museum



Something worth highlighting here. There is a remarkable analogy between Adonis’ stay in both the Underworld and the World of the Living and Persephone’s myth, being also this Goddess one of the women (with Aphrodite) who raised Myrrha’s child, Adonis. 

This is shown specifically by the fact that Persephone (Demeter’s virgin daughter) was abducted by Hades, King of the Underworld.

According to the myth, Hades planted a meadow full of the narcissus flowers in order to entice Persephone. When she pulled on the flower, the Underworld opened up and Hades sprang up, carrying her off.

Later on, he gave Persephone a pomegranate. As she ate it, the fruit somehow cemented her marriage to Hades. Thus, she was bound to Hades for six months of each year, winter and autumn.

Persephone was allowed by her husband to join her mother in the World of Living, but only when summer and springtime arrived. 



►”Greek Myths of Myrrha. Symbolism and Interpretation”:

Critical interpretation of this myth has considered Myrrha’s refusal of conventional sexual relations to have provoked her incest, with the ensuing transformation to tree as a silencing punishment. It has been suggested that the taboo of incest marks the difference between culture and nature and that Ovid’s version of Myrrha showed this.

Myrrha’ s love for his father may be related to the Electra complex, as proposed by Carl Jung.

The Electra complex is a girl’s psychosexual competition with her mother for possession of her father. In the course of her psychosexual development, the complex is the girl’s phallic phase, a boy’s analogous experience is the Oedipus complex.

As a psychoanalytic metaphor for daughter–mother psychosexual conflict, the Electra complex derives from the 5th-century BC Greek Mythological character Electra, who plotted matricidal revenge with Orestes, her brother, against Clytemnestra, their mother, and Aegistus, their stepfather, for their murder of Agamemnon, their  father. This story is told by Sofocles in his tragedy and by Aeschylus in his trilogy “Oresteia” (Second tragedy, “The Libation Bearers”).


►Greek Myths of Myhrra, Adonis and Persephone. Symbols and Meanings”:

•Myrrha, transformed into a Myrrh Tree: Punishment. Myrrha is transformed and rendered voiceless making her unable to break the Taboo of Incest. The word “myrrh” in Ancient Greek was related to the word μύρον (mýron), which became a general term for perfume.

•Myrrha having sexual relationships with her father: Myrrha’s behavior here might be linked to the hero archetype, known as “The Fall”. It describes a descent in action from a higher to a lower state of being, an experience which might involve defilement, moral imperfection, and/or loss of innocence. This fall is often accompanied by expulsion from a kind of paradise as penalty for disobedience and/or moral transgression.

•Myrrha feeling guilty while she is pregnant: This attitude might be associated with, was is known in the Hero Pattern, an Unhealable Wound. Here, the wound, physical or psychological, cannot be healed fully. This would also indicate a loss of innocence or purity. Often the wounds’ pain drives the sufferer to desperate measures of madness. 

•Adonis, castrated by a Wild Boar: Adonis Castration might be considered equal to a Father-Castration, performed by Cinyras (Myhrra’s father and Adonis’  father and grandfather at the same time).

Castration is here performed as an extreme punishment which leads to death. It also entrains the fact that Adonis won’t be able to have sons or daughters with his substitute mothers (Aphrodite and/or Perspehone).

The symbology of Wild Boar is that of truth, courage and confrontation.

In some native Indian tribes Wild Boar was used as a way to teach young braves how to be honest and find their courage when they told a lie to the tribe.

•Aphrodite sprinkling Adonis’ blood with nectar from the anemone: Anemone blossom stories are mostly about death – that’s why its blossom is often liken with being forsaken or left behind. In the Greek version of Adonis’ death, the Anemone is a plant that symbolizes unfading love. 

For the Christian version of the meaning of anemones, it’s a symbol of the blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross.  That’s the reason why you’ll see a bunch of anemones on several paintings of the crucifixion.

•Adonis’ death and resurrection: The most common of all situational archetypes, Death and Rebirth grow out of the parallel between the cycle of nature and life. The cycle of death and rebirth was linked with the regeneration of vegetation and the crop seasons in ancient Greece. Besides, this myth is related to the perennial nature of beauty, as Adonis died only to be reborn in the underworld.

•Adonis’ blood, which turned the Adonis River, or Abraham River, red each spring: Red (Blood and river colors) Red represents sacrifice; violent passion, disorder, sunrise, birth, fire, emotion, wounds, death, sentiment, mother. Rivers/Streams: They represent life force and life cycle

•Adonis resurrected, spend his time with both Persephone in the Underworld and Aphrodite in The World of Living: Beyond the fact that both Goddesses raised Adonis, this metaphor might be linked to the double dichotomy Light-Life / Darkness-Death. In which Light usually suggests hope, renewal, life and intellectual illumination; whilst darkness implies the unknown, death, ignorance, or despair.

It might be also related to the opposites Hell (Underworld)/Heaven: Hell represents the diabolic forces that inhabit the universe and heaven the God Forces.

•Persephone eating the pomegranate that Hades gave her: In this myth, the pomegranate is related to the changing of seasons and might be also considered as a symbol of indivisibility of marriage. Seasons: Spring: It represents Birth and New Beginnings. Summer: Associated to maturity and Knowledge. Autumn: Linked to Decline, nearing Death, growing old. Winter: Representing Death, sleep, hibernation.

•Persephone’s realms: The Underworld: Black space. Black color: It represents darkness, chaos, mystery, the unknown, death, the unconscious and evil.

•Persephone released from the Underworld by HadesAs Persephone came back to the Living World to spend six months of each year with her mother Demeter, the flowers and crops grow great. 



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►Icarus´Fall: “The Myth. Symbolism and Interpretation”:

"Icarus and Daedalus", by Charles Paul Landon

“Icarus and Daedalus”, by Charles Paul Landon.-


Icarus´Fall: “The Myth”: 

Icarus’s father Daedalus, an athenian  craftsman, built the Labyrinth for King Minos  of Crete near his palace at Knossos  to imprison the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster born of his wife and the Cretan bull. Minos imprisoned Daedalus himself in the labyrinth because he gave Minos’ daughter, Ariadne, a or ball of string in order to help  Theseus , the enemy of Minos, to survive the Labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur.

Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son. Daedalus tried his wings first, but before taking off from the island, warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea, but to follow his path of flight.

If he were to do so, Daedalus explained, the wax that held his wings together would melt, rendering them useless, and Icarus would fall from the sky to his death.

Icarus, however, was overcome by the incredible feeling of flight. He was so taken by the experience, that he flew higher and higher. He flew so high that he got perilously close to the sun. Just as his father warned him would happen, the wax on his wings melted into a useless liquid. The wings fell to pieces and Icarus fell from the sky. The water into which Icarus is said to have fallen is near Icaria, a Grecian Island in the Aegean Sea. The island is named for the legendary flying man. Icaria is southwest of the island of Samos.


SlideShare: “Daedalus and Icarus”:

Click on the image above to watch the SlideShare.-

Click on the image above to watch the SlideShare.-


Icarus´Fall: “Symbolism and Interpretation”:

Symbols are insightful expressions of human nature.They are the external, lower expressions of higher truths and represent deep intuitive wisdom impossible by direct terms.

Joseph Campbell defined symbols as “giving expression to what is absolutely “unknowable” by  intellect”.

In the psychiatric mind features of disease were perceived in the shape of the pendulous emotional ecstatic-high and depressive-low of bipolar disorder. 

Henry Murray  having proposed the term Icarus complex, apparently found symptoms particularly in mania where a person is fond of heights, fascinated by both fire and water, narcissistic and observed with fantastical cognitio.

The myth of Icarus´moral is to “take the middle way” by warning against heedless pursuit of instant gratification.

In this sense it highlights the greek idea of  Sophrosyne (Greek: σωφροσύνη), which etymologically means healthy-mindedness and from there self-control or moderation guided by knowledge and balance. 

As Aristotle held, as shown in the post , “Aristotle´s Ethical Theory: On The Concept of Virtue and Golden Mean”, virtue is  a kind of moderation as it aims at the mean or moderate amount.

The flight of Icarus could be interpreted as a lesson in the value of moderation. The danger in flying “too high” (i.e. melting of the wax wings) or in flying “too low” (i.e. weighting down the wings by sea-water spray) were advocations for one to respect one’s limits and to act accordingly.

The moral of this myth could be also linked to Plato´s analogy of the divided line, in which the Sun symbolizes the highest Form (Idea of God). Therefore according to this perspective, Icarus has flown too high . He tried to become wiser than Gods whilst achieving Knowledge and, as he defied the godess,  he was punished for that reason.

A similar interpretation is found in Plato´s myth of Phaethon, as it appears in his elderly dialogue “Timaeus”.

Moreover and going further, considering Plato´s allegory of the cave, Icarus could be linked to the  escaped prisoner, who represents the Philosopher, who seeks knowledge outside of the cave (labyrinth).

Icarus´s myth may also be related to Plato´s analogy of the chariot. When flying high with his waxed wings, Icarus´ chariot  was driven by the obstinated black horse, which represents man’s appetites. The fact of disobeying Daedalus´advice proves that his rational part of the soul which should rule over appetites wasn´t strong  and determined enough to do so. In other words, the black horse beats the rational charioteer .

Icarus’ age is an aspect of the myth that deserves a mention here, for it is a characteristic of the period of adolescence to impulsively follow the appetite for life, to rush into the unknown adventure, to chase dreams, to follow temptation and not to heed warnings of danger.-


"The Sun, or the Fall of Icarus" by Merry-Joseph Blondel

“The Sun, or the Fall of Icarus” by Merry-Joseph Blondel


"The Lament for Icarus" by H. J. Draper.-

“The Lament for Icarus” by H. J. Draper.-


Icarus´Fall: Paintings:

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►”Happy Easter 2014″:

Best Wishes, Aquileana😛



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Plato’s “Phaedrus”: “The Allegory of the Chariot and The Tripartite Nature of the Soul”:



In the dialogue “Phaedrus”, Plato presents the allegory of the chariot to explain the tripartite nature of the human soul or psyche. 

The chariot is pulled by two winged horses, one mortal and the other immortal.

The mortal, black horse is deformed and obstinate. Plato describes the horse as a “crooked lumbering animal, put together anyhow… of a dark color, with grey eyes and blood-red complexion; the mate of insolence and pride, shag-eared and deaf, hardly yielding to whip and spur.”

The inmortal, white horse, on the other hand, is noble and game, “upright and cleanly made… his color is white, and his eyes dark; he is a lover of honor and modesty and temperance, and the follower of true glory; he needs no touch of the whip, but is guided by word and admonition only.”

→In the driver’s seat is the charioteer, tasked with reining in these disparate steeds, guiding and harnessing them to propel the vehicle with strength and efficiency. The charioteer’s destination is the ridge of heaven, beyond which he may behold the Forms, Truth and absolute Knowledge. These essences nourish the horses’ wings, keeping the chariot in flight.

The charioteer joins a procession of gods, led by Zeus, on this trip into the heavens.

The ride is turbulent. The white horse wishes to rise, but the dark horse attempts to pull the chariot back towards the earth. As the horses pull in opposing directions, and the charioteer attempts to get them into sync, his chariot bobs above the ridge of heaven .

If the charioteer is able to behold the Forms, he gets to go on another revolution around the heavens. But if he cannot successfully pilot the chariot, the horses’ wings wither from lack of nourishment, or break off when the horses collide and attack each other, or crash into the chariots of others.

 When the chariot plummets to earth, the horses lose their wings, and the soul becomes embodied in human flesh. The degree to which the soul falls, and the “rank” of the mortal being it must then be embodied in is based on the amount of Truth it beheld while in the heavens.

The degree of the fall also determines how long it takes for the horses to regrow their wings and once again take flight. Basically, the more Truth the charioteer beheld on his journey, the shallower his fall, and the easier it is for him to get up and get going again.






The Tripartite Nature of the Soul and the Allegory of the Chariot

 Plato conceives of the soul as having (at least) three parts:

  1. A rational part (the part that loves truth and knowledge, which should rule over the other parts of the soul through the use of reason)→ The Charioteer represents man’s Reason
  2. A spirited part (which seeks glory, honor, recognition and victory) →The white horse represents man’s spirit (thymos:θύμος).
  3. An appetitive part (which desires food, drink, material wealth and sex) →The black horse represents man’s appetites.

Worth noting: In the dialogue “The Republic”, Plato states that justice will be that condition of the soul in which each of these three parts “does its own work,” and does not interfere in the workings of the other parts (Check out this post: “Plato’s “The Republic”: “On the Concept of  Justice”).




Plato’s “Phaedrus”:

Click on the image above to read the dialogue "Phaedrus" by Plato.-

Click on the image above to read the dialogue “Phaedrus” by Plato.-


Slideshare: Plato’s “Phaedrus”: “The Allegory of the Chariot and The Tripartite Nature of the Soul”:

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♠Joseph Campbell: “El Héroe de las Mil Caras”/ “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” & 

Christy Birmingham: “Caminos hacia la Iluminación” / “Pathways to Illumination” (Poetry Book):



♣Breve Reseña Explicativa: 

“El héroe de las mil caras” es un libro publicado en 1949 por el mitógrafo estadounidense Joseph Campbell que alude al tema del viaje del héroe, un patrón narrativo presente en  historias, mitos y leyendas  populares.

Según Campbell, el héroe suele pasar a través de ciclos o aventuras similares en todas las culturas; resumido en la tríada: Separación/ Iniciación/ Retorno.
♣Los doce estadios del Viaje del Héroe.

  1. Mundo ordinario – El mundo normal del héroe antes de que la historia comience.
  2. La llamada de la aventura – Al héroe se le presenta un problema, desafío o aventura
  3. Reticencia del héroe o rechazo de la llamada – El héroe rechaza el desafío o aventura, principalmente por miedo al cambio.
  4. Encuentro con el mentor o ayuda sobrenatural – El héroe encuentra un  mentor que lo hace aceptar la llamada y lo informa y entrena para su aventura o desafío.
  5. Cruce del primer umbral – El héroe abandona el mundo ordinario para entrar en el mundo especial o mágico
  6. Pruebas, aliados y enemigos – El héroe se enfrenta a pruebas, encuentra aliados y confronta enemigos, de forma que aprende las reglas del mundo especial.
  7. Acercamiento – El héroe tiene éxitos durante las pruebas.
  8. Prueba difícil o traumática – La crisis más grande de la aventura, de vida o muerte.
  9. Recompensa – El héroe se ha enfrentado a la muerte, se sobrepone a su miedo y ahora gana una recompensa.
  10. El camino de vuelta – El héroe debe volver al mundo ordinario.
  11. Resurrección del héroe – Otra prueba donde el héroe se enfrenta a la muerte y debe usar todo lo aprendido.
  12. Regreso con el elixir – El héroe regresa a casa con el elíxir y lo usa para ayudar a todos en el mundo ordinario.


Etapas del Viaje del Héroe.

Etapas del Viaje del Héroe.


♣Sobre la Naturaleza Iniciática del Viaje Arquetípico del Héroe:

El viaje ha forjado héroes y heroínas desde tiempos inmemoriales. Estos viajes han sido considerados como viajes iniciáticos, es decir que acarrean una transformación y un aprendizaje para quien los realiza. La persona es iniciada en el uso de potencialidades interiores que ignoraba poseer.

Algunos de ellos han sido realmente famosos en la historia: Gilgamesh, el héroe de la epopeya sumeria, que emprende un viaje en busca de la planta que le dará la inmortalidad.  Jasón, que lideró a los argonautas en busca del vellocino de oro. Moisés, quien dirigió el éxodo del pueblo hebreo hacia la tierra prometida. Eneas, que encabezó el exilio depués de la caída de Troya. Odiseo, que emprende un viaje de regreso al hogar, al amor (esposa) y a la familia.

Hay otros héroes como Marco Polo o Cristóbal Colón, quienes fueron en busca de otras tierras. Hay viajes netamente simbólicos  como los que hicieron el mismo Ulises o  Dante, cuando descendieron al infierno.

Para realizar este viaje el héroe lleva a cabo un proceso de transformación denominado “iniciático” porque el héroe se inicia en pruebas, disciplinas y conocimientos, e incrementa las potencialidades de su psique. Este modelo es arquetípico  y común en la mayoría de las culturas.
Algunos autores actualmente  ilustran la típica progresión del héroe como el cono de una espiral tridimensional, en la que es posible avanzar aunque muchas veces nos movamos en círculos hacia atrás.
Cada etapa tiene su propia lección para impartirnos, y nos reencontramos con situaciones que nos revierten a etapas previas, de modo que podamos aprender y rever las lecciones en nuevos niveles de complejidad intelectual y emocional y con mayor sutileza. (Numerológicamente cada 9 años atravesamos por el mismo estadio).
En otro sentido la reformulación del Viaje del Héroe desde una perspectiva de Cheer- Up Leading, o de Liderazgo contempla dinámicamente una versión más accesible en las cuales el viaje supone abandonar una zona de relativa confortabilidad o estabilidad para afrontar desafíos. Como el viaje es circular el ciclo tiende a repetirse.
Reformulación práctica del Ciclo del héroe. Hacer Click sobre la imagen para consultar la página web respectiva.

Reformulación práctica del Ciclo del héroe. Hacer click sobre la imagen para consultar la página web respectiva.

Joseph John Campbell (1904/1987).-

Joseph John Campbell (1904/1987).-

From Campbell´s Book: "Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation".-

From Campbell´s Book: “Pathways to Bliss: Mythology and Personal Transformation”.-

♣DESCARGAS♣ “Pathways to Bliss”  & “El Héroe de las Mil Caras” :
Hacer click sobre la imagen  para descargar el libro.

Hacer click sobre la imagen para descargar el libro (En Inglés).

Hacer click sobre la imagen para descargar el libro. (En Castellano)

Hacer click sobre la imagen para descargar el libro. (En Castellano)


♣English Section: “A Review Based On Campbell´s Hero´s Jouney:”

“Aquileana´s review on Christy Birmingham´s  Book Pathways to Illumination”:

Click on the picture above to read this an other reviews.

Click on the picture above to read all the reviews.

“Pathways to Illumination” follows the experiences of a woman, since the ending of a quite traumatic relationship, who goes through different phases.

These phases could be related with the “Hero´s Journey” phases identified by Joseph Campbell as appearing in myths and psychological development.

It is worth noting that sociologists nowadays tend to deviate from the traditional pattern of classic hero, in favor of a more dynamic version.

Some of the newest interpretations sustain that the hero (protagonist) is first and foremost a symbolic representation of the person who experiences the story while reading, listening or watching; the relevance of the hero to the individual relies a great deal on how much similarity there is between the two.

I had this sense while I read Birmingham´s book.

Although the book is tied in parts with Christy Birmingham´s own experiences, she points out in the introduction that “it is not a memoir”, but rather a cathartic experience of growth and struggle. Therefore, the book´s effects go beyond the autobiographical frame…

The first two chapters of “Pathways to illumination”, “The Toxic Us”  and “So You Left” reveal moments when the woman and the male are still partners, followed by the end of the relationship, when the man leaves her.

Those two chapters could be related with Campbell´s phase in which:  The heroine passes the first threshold, meaning she is now committed to her inner journey and there’s no turning back.

One of the poems that exemplifies it is “Broken Joints”, where Birmingham says, “Only I do not know the vocabulary yet/ For what broke in your mind/ A double-jointed chaos that stands alert behind your smile/ How do I describe the emptiness of my mind?”

We also identify the pattern of the heroine´s phase in which she encounters challenges and faces enemies as part of her training.

As an example, we can point to the poem “A Different Place”: “Here is far from where I imagined my/ Leaves would hang./ I do not understand how I can still have life/ Given I do not possess my own roots”.

In the next sections of “Pathways to Illumination”, we follow the main character as she spirals into darkness, begins treatment, and tries to find herself.

One of these sections is “Depression”. This section relates with the Campbell´s heroine phase “Approach to the Inmost Cave”, when the heroine comes at last to a dangerous place, often deep underground.

caqTo quote Birmingham´s poem, related with this stage, we can refer to the poem “Heavy Shadow”, where she writes: 

“Speak truth to my tears/ Shed the heavy shadow/ Gaining weight with each movement/ And tell me that tomorrow will be easier for me.”

The following section “Treatment” may associate with Campbell´s phase in which the heoine endures the supreme Ordeal.

This is the moment when the main character touches bottom. She faces the critical possibility of death. She appears to die, and then be born again.

As a poetic example here we can quote the poem “When Life Entered Me”, particularly the following verses: “Life came down the hallway with a swagger/ Although I only saw the shadow after/ The third act./ I must have been in bed at the time.

The section “Glimmers of Hope” relates with the pattern of heroine´s stage in which she seizes the reward or treasure he’s come seeking after, after having survived death.

To give an example is Birmingham’s poem: “My Legacy Wilting”. In the poem, Birmingham´s heroine says: “Your Footprints are everywhere but/ So is the sign that bears one shape and/ One word: Trespassing./ My heart closes like a steel gate to you now.”

Christy Birmingham.-

Christy Birmingham.-

On the other hand; the last chapter “New Growth” can link with the last stage of Campbell’s theory, the Resurrection, which occurs  when the heroine emerges from the special world, transformed by her experience.

As an example of this phase, we can highlight Birmingham´s poem  ”Drizzle Me”: ” I am permanently under new ownership/ In a daisy field/ Of my own doing/ And the thorns are miles away / I welcome the shapes of blue skies and aspirations.”

The book follows the Pathways to illumination of a woman who still held pieces of hope even after her life shattered around her. Sometimes things happen for elusive causes, responding to a general pattern of inner self-growth… And maybe this is the case… This is Birmingham´s heroic journey form darkness to light. And as for  us readers, her pathways also points to the spotlight, given that her book is a poetic message of struggle, redemption and  hope…

///Posted by Amalia Pedemonte on 27AUG13. Format: ePUB. Price: Reasonable. Recommend to others: Yes. 5 Stars///.-


♣Meet Christy Birmingham at her Blog: 

Click on the image above to visit Christy´s website.-

Click on the image above to visit Christy´s website.-


♠Bonustrack: “Christy Birmingham reads her poem I Stand Here“:

Click on the image above to listen to Christy´s reading of her poem.-

Click on the image above to listen to Christy´s reading of her poem.-


"I Stand Here", by Christy Birmingham.-

“I Stand Here”, by Christy Birmingham. At “Poetic Parfait”-


♠Bonustrack: “Christy Birmingham reads her poem If we go Back”:


"If We Go Back". By Christy Birmingham. At Poetic Parfait.-

“If We Go Back”. By Christy Birmingham. At Poetic Parfait.-


♠”Christy Birmingham´s Interview on the Radio” (Authors on the Air):

Click on the image above to listen to the interview.-

Click on the image above to listen to the interview.-

Links Post: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_h%C3%A9roe_de_las_mil_caras 


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