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arachne0

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"Arachne or Dialectics" by Paolo Veronese. 1520.

“Arachne or Dialectics” by Paolo Veronese. 1520.

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In Greek Mythology, Arachne was a Lydian woman, the daughter of a famous Tyrian purple wool dyer, who was highly gifted in the art of weaving.

Soon news of Arachne’s artistry spread far and wide and it is said that nymphs from the forests left their frolicking and gathered around Arachne to watch her weave.

All this adulation was more than Arachne could handle and being an ordinary mortal who was quite vulnerable to human failings, she became quite arrogant about her superior skills. She was annoyed at being regarded as a pupil of Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom, and began bragging about her skills, proclaiming herself to be far more superior to even Athena.

"Athena and Arachne" by Antonio Tempesta. 1599.

“Athena and Arachne” by Antonio Tempesta. 1599.

Athena took offense and set up a contest between them. Presenting herself as an old woman. 

When they finally met, Athena cast aside her disguise and revealed her true identity to the prideful maiden. “Now we shall see who is the better craftsman, for I challenge you to a contest of skill. The winner shall be honored, while the loser concurs to weave no more”, the goddess declared and took her place before the loom.

Athena gracefully entwined the colorful threads into a prophetic scene depicting mortals being duly punished for their defamatory actions against the gods.

For her offering, Arachne chose to create a tapestry detailing some of the more scandalous moments in the lives of the Olympians. Arachne’s work of art, according to the Latin narrative, featured twenty-one scenes of the various misdemeanors of the mighty gods, including ZeusPoseidon, Apollo, Dionysus and others.

Although Arachne had shown little respect for the gods by choosing a subject that made a mockery of the supreme deities of the Olympus, even Athena had to admit that her work was brilliant and flawless.

Athena was infuriated by the mortal’s pride. In a final moment of anger, she destroyed Arachne’s tapestry.

Image from Giovanni Boccaccio's "De mulieribus claris". 1474.

Image from Giovanni Boccaccio’s “De mulieribus claris”. 1474.

Unable to cope with her feelings, Arachne decided to hang herself. 

Athena stepped in and saved her from that death; but, angry still, pronounced another doom: “Although I grant you life, most wicked one, your fate shall be to dangle on a cord, and your posterity forever shall take your example, that your punishment may last forever!”.

Even as she spoke, before withdrawing from her victim’s sight, she sprinkled her with extract of herbs of Hecate.

Ovid tells us in his book “Metamorphoses, that at once all hair fell off, her nose and ears remained not, and her head shrunk rapidly in size, as well as all her body, leaving her diminutive. Her slender fingers gathered to her sides as long thin legs; and all her other parts were fast absorbed in her abdomen, whence she vented a fine thread; and ever since, Arachne, as a spider, weaves her web. After her transformation, Arachne hid from Athena by weaving the rope on which she hanged herself into an intricate web.

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⇒Background and Interpretation of the Myth:

Arachne depicted as a half-spider half-human in Gustave Doré's illustration for an 1861 edition of Dante's Purgatorio.

Arachne depicted as a half-spider half-human in Gustave Doré’s illustration for an 1861 edition of Dante’s Purgatorio.

There are many version of this myth. It may have originated in Lydian mythology; but the myth, briefly mentioned by Virgil in 29 BC, is known from the later Greek mythos after Ovid wrote the poem “Metamorphoses”, between the years AD 2 and 8.

This was retold in Dante Alighieri´s depiction as the half-spider Arachne in the 2nd book of his “Divine Comedy”, Purgatorio. 

In Ovid’s version, it is clear that Arachne’s problem was one of pride or hubris, an exaggerated belief in one’s own abilities.

Yet, in other versions the theme is more one of Athena’s envy of a mortal whose skills are at least comparable with her own.

Last, but not least, this myth can be interpreted in the light of economic rivalry between the city of Athens and the region of Lydia. Historical and archaeological evidence suggests that, in the second millennium BCE, Lydia was the largest exporter of dyed woolen cloth in the Mediterranean. In this reading of the story, Athena is Athens, while Arachne symbolizes her native Lydia.

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⇒Different Cultural and Philosophical Depictions of Spiders:

In many cultures spiders stand as the creators of our universe and world, and also serve as agents of destruction.The spider has symbolized patience and persistence due to its hunting technique of setting webs and waiting for its prey to become ensnared. It is also a symbol of mischief and malice for its toxic venom and the slow death it causes, which is often seen as a curse.

For example, in ancient India, it is written that a large spider wove the web that is our universe. She sits at the centre of the web, controlling things via the strings. It is said she will one day devour the web/universe, and spin another in its place.

Neith, wears sometimes a shuttle on her head; sometimes a crown.

Neith, wears sometimes a shuttle on her head; sometimes a crown.

Egyptian mythology tells of the goddess Neith – a spinner and weaver of destiny – and associates her with the spider.She is often depicted with a weaving shuttle in her hand, or a bow and arrows, demonstrating her hunting abilities.  

Neith shared same attributes than Athena. She was worshiped as a virgin. She was considered the guardian of marriage and women, and was believed to have created the world and humanity on her loom. The symbol depicted often above her head is argued to either be a weaver’s shuttle or crossed arrows. Before being connected to this means of creation, she was believed to have worked with the primordial waters as the source.

Egyptian goddess Neith reminds of the Greek Moirae

The Three Greek Moirae.

The Three Greek Moirae.

The Moirae were the three white-robed personifications of Destiny: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. These three Goddesses work successively. Clotho spun the thread of life from her distaff onto her spindle. Lachesis measured the thread of life allotted to each person with her measuring rod. And Atropos was the cutter of the thread of life. 

In Celtic tradition, the spider has strong associations with the Druids. This nature-based religion sees the spider as having three distinct characteristics – the Bard, the Ovate and the Druid. The bard is the artist and weaver of webs. The Ovate is a seer that provides perspective, and the Druid is the teacher of Spider medicine. We are told that Spider created the Ogham, an early Irish alphabet that is often seen on sacred stones in Ireland.

Spider Woman, the "Great Weaver" of Native American myth.

Spider Woman, the “Great Weaver” of Native American myth.

Spider Woman appears in the mythology of several Native North American tribes, including the Navajo, Keresan, and Hopi. In most cases, she is associated with the emergence of life on earth. She helps humans by teaching them survival skills.

Spider Woman also teaches the Navajos the art of weaving.

Before weavers sit down at the loom, they often rub their hands in spider webs to absorb the wisdom and skill of Spider Woman.

Similar to other traditions in the Americas, the Mayan Ixchel was the weaving goddess whose whirling drop spindle controlled the movement of the universe. 

Ixchel, the mayan weaver-goddesses.

Ixchel, the mayan weaver-goddesses.

In some imagery she is shown holding a spindle and distaff, and in some she is kneeling with a small back strap loom tied to a tree, like other weaver-goddesses, weaving the destiny of the world.

Furthermore, an ancient Aztec mural painting of The Great Goddess of Teotihuacan was discovered in the 1940s in Tepantitla, at the site of the pyramids of the Sun and Moon in Mexico. 

Ancient Aztec mural painting of The Great Goddess of Teotihuacan, discovered in the 1940s in Tepantitla. The Goddess seem to be related to The Great Spider mythology.

Ancient Aztec mural painting of The Great Goddess of Teotihuacan. The Goddess seem to be related to The Great Spider mythology.

Until the 1980s, the painting was thought to be of Tlaloc, the Aztec god of rain and water. The details of the painting suggested a feminine form and there were enough similarities to the North American Spider Woman that it was decided that she was another version of the myth.

In the Vedic philosophy of India, the spider is depicted as hiding the ultimate reality with the veils of illusion. The Vedic god Indra is referred to as Śakra in Buddhism, or with the title Devānām Indra. Indra’s net is used as a metaphor for the Buddhist concept of interpenetration, which holds that all phenomena are intimately connected.

In a different and yet resembling level, Information technology terms such as the “web spider” and the World Wide Web imply the spider-like connection of information accessed on the Internet.

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Links Post:
https://goo.gl/WiwbB4
https://goo.gl/mcAiga
https://goo.gl/xW8Y65
https://goo.gl/dddvZx
https://goo.gl/PW18qV
https://goo.gl/49o4Ix

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awards

This is a special section in which I will display all the awards I have received during 2016. To simplify, I will follow the same rules for all the awards as otherwise I wouldn´t be able to do it … 😉 Meaning: 1. Thank the blogger who have nominated you. 2. Display the logo on your blog. 3. Nominate at least 7 bloggers for each award and tell them about the nomination. As I often do, I will nominate bloggers who nominated me for other awards, new followers and bloggers who have recently liked my posts. As to my nominees, I will link back to one of their newest posts as an easier way to inform them about the nomination. If you have been nominated and want to follow along the nomination process, you´ll find your respective award in the gallery below, as the slideshare goes, click on it and save it (see award, per number). If you are a Free Award Blog, all is fine: just take this mention as a shout-out. 😀

1♦Thank you very much Loli Lopesino and Quimoji Blog for bestowing me with the Best Blog Awards.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Settle in El Paso 2. Doar Verde 3. The Dragon Coach 4. Comically Quirky 5. Wystarczyspojrzec 6. Nail a Post 7. Priyadarshinilovelife.

2♦Thank you very much Arohii from Joie de Vivre and Leire from Leire´s Room for the Versatile Blogger Award. 

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Prakharbansal 2. Lola´s Garden 3. Anabarwriter 4. Misty Books 5. Motivepentrucondei 6. Picture this by Frank 7. Versatile Laraib.

3♦Thanks so much Pintowski for the Sunshine Blogger Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. New Pathways 2. Spirit in Politics 3. Your vacation gurus 4. Charly Karl 5. Snapshots233 6. Marswords  7. Mahdheebah.

4♦Thank you very much Claudia Moss for the One Lovely Blog Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Life Less Ordinary 2. The Green Fashion Cafe 3. Claudia Moss 4. Jen Gary New Adventures 5. Breath Math 6. Fotografischewelten 7. Benolsamblog.

5♦Thanks so much Amanpan Blog and Luna Quebrada for thinking of me and bestowing me with the Versatile Blogger Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Der komoediant 2. The Mordant Scribe 3. Elle Jase 4. Len Moriarty 5. West Clare Writes 6. Goingplaces2gether 7. Make-up louca por maquiagem.

6♦Thank you very much Inese from Making Memories for the Creative Blogger Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Loli Lopesino 2. Quimoji Blog 3. Luna Quebrada 4. Amanpan Blog 5. Juggling Writing a Book 6. Heena Rathore 7. Nerdy Teacher Extraordinaire.

7♦Thanks so much Juggling Writing a Book for the Liebster Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Aewnian 2. Scripted Sheet 3. Sometimes Intereseting 4. Simouncino 5. Blog Mexique Rotary 6. Gabriella´s design 7. Mosaic 89.

7´♦ (same logo that ♦4) Thank you very much Tina Frisco for the One Lovely Blog Award. 

My Nominees for this award are: 1. World Of Truths 2. A Voice Reclaimed 3. Carolina Amundsen 4. Dish Dessert 5. Facets of a Muse 6. Whitney Ibe 7. Rdaignault

8♦Thanks so much Micheline Walker and Robert Goldstein for the Blogger Recognition Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Meiji Zapico 2. Il Motivatore 3. Water Wise Baker 4. Boss in the Middle 5. Shell Ochsner 6. Kreakhaos 7. Cocinaitaly

9♦Thank you very much Lazy Haze for the Mystery Blogger Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1.Micheline Walker 2. Tina Frisco 3. Robert Goldstein 4. Danicapiche 5. Kentuchy Angel 6. Dainty Joyce 7. 924 Collective

10♦Thanks so much Danicapiche for the Treasure Trove Award.

My Nominees for this award are: 1. Arohii  2. Leire 3. Inese 4. Healing Grief 5. Justified Ectasy 6. Lazy Haze 7. Oaktreelife.

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11♦ Quote Challenge: Thanks so much to Inese from Making Memories and Heena Rathore for inviting me to join her in the Three Quotes Challenge. The rules of this challenge are: a. Thank the person who nominated you. b. Post one fresh quotation on three consecutive days. c. On each of the three days, nominate at least one  folk to continue the challenge.

Hope you don’t mind that I wrote only one blog post instead of three. Feel free to do the same if you were nominated. I will add the six Quotes (three per each nomination) below photographs I have recently taken in Brazil and Argentina. Click on the photographs to read the respective quote…

I nominate for the Three Quote Challenge: 1. Words from a Little Person 2. Rainefairy 3. Moonlight Psychology 4. Devisecreateconcoct 5. Mararomaro 6. Wutherornot.

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metamorphoses-ovid

flowers-and-plants-in-greek-myths2

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"The Tree of Forgiveness." by Edward Burne-Jones. 19th century.

“The Tree of Forgiveness.” by Edward Burne-Jones. 19th century.

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⇒“Metamorphoses” by Ovid:

"Metamorphoses" by Ovid. Illustration by George Sandys. 1632.

“Metamorphoses” by Ovid. Illustration by George Sandys. 1632.

In my previous post, I have mentioned Ovid´s book “Metamorphoses” as a key source of Greek Mythology. 

“Metamorphoses” is a narrative poem in fifteen books by the Roman poet Ovid, completed in 8 CE.

It is a “mock-epic” poem, written in dactylic hexameter, the form of the great epic poems of the ancient tradition, such as “The Iliad” and  “The Odyssey.

This poem describes the creation and history of the world, incorporating many classical myths.

Love and hubris are main topics in Ovid´s “Metamorphoses”. 
Unlike the predominantly romantic notions of Love, Ovid considered love more as a dangerous, destabilizing force.
However, there is an explanation for this attitude: during the reign of Augustus, the Roman emperor during Ovid’s time, major attempts were made to regulate morality by creating legal and illegal forms of love, by encouraging marriage and legitimate heirs, and by punishing adultery with exile from Rome.
As to hubris, (overly prideful behaviour) Ovid emphasizes that it entails a fatal flaw which inevitably leads to a character’s downfall. Hubris always attracts the punishment of the gods, as human beings might attempt to compare themselves to divinity.
As a side note, I think the best example of hubris in a Greek Myth is the one featuring Icarus, whose father built two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for them to escape from the Labyrinth for King Minos in which they had been imprisoned, and which had a fearsome Minotaur as guardian. Daedalus (Icarus´father) 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. But soon later, Icarus was so overcome by the incredible feeling of flight, that he tried to fly higher and higher, trying to reach the sun; until, inevitably his wax wings melted, he fell from the sky into the Sea, and died.

Besides, in my last post, I introduced the subject of metamorphoses as it appears in Greek Myths, stating that it is generally defined as the origin of one or more transformations which most times occur as a result of death (tribute), but also as a way exoneration; or punishment.

Ovid. Publius Ovidius Naso. ( 43 B.C/ 17 A.D).

Ovid. Publius Ovidius Naso. ( 43 B.C/ 17 A.D).

Transformation is a common theme in Greek mythology. The gods had the power to change themselves into animals, birds, or humans and often used this power to trick goddesses or women.
In this same sense, I have previously mentioned the case of Zeus, the Ruler of Gods, who took different appearances as a way of courting potential lovers. Furthermore, sometimes the gods and goddesses transformed “others”, either to save them or to punish them.
Daphne, for example, was changed into a laurel tree; whilst Narcissus and Hyacinthus became the flowers that bear their names. 
The metamorphoses I have previously considered involved exclusively flowers, plants and trees and this post intends to present a few more examples of this sort.
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  ⇒“Flowers and Plants in some Greek Myths II”:

►Minthe: A naiad, fond of Hades/ Mint Plant:

Minthe was a naiad or water nymph associated with the Underworld river Cocytus. This river (also known as the River of Wailing) was one of the five rivers that encircled the realm of Hades, alongside rivers Phlegethon, Acheron, Lethe and Styx- .

Minthe fell in love with Hades, but Persephone, Hades’ wife became enraged with jealousy, turning Minthe into a crawling plant so Persephone could crush her.

Hades could not reverse the spell so he made Minthe smell good when she walked on, making it so Minthe would always be noticed and never be taken for granted. 

The story also makes sense in a Greco-Roman context as mint was used in funerary rites to disguise the scent of decay. Besides, in Greece, the herb was also a main ingredient in the fermented barley drink called kykeon, which seemingly was the principal potable associated with the Eleusinian mysteries. It seems like this beverage included some really strange psychoactive ingredients, mint among them.

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On the Left: Nymph Minthe by W. Szczepanska. 21st century. On the Right: Mint Plant.

On the Left: Nymph Minthe by W. Szczepanska. 21st century. On the Right: Mint Plant.

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►Crocus, friend of Hermes/Crocus Plant:

Crocus was a friend of Hermes, the messenger of the Gods and god of travellers, liars, thieves, all who cross boundaries.

One day, while they were throwing the disc to each other, Hermes hit Crocus on the head and wounded him fatally.

As the young man collapsed and was dying, three drops from his blood fell on the centre of a flower thus becoming the three stigmata of the flower named after him.

Etymologically, the word crocus has its origin from the Greek “kroki” which means weft, the thread used for weaving on a loom. 

As a medicinal and dyeing substance, crocus has been known in ancient Greece for its aroma, vibrant colour and aphrodisiac properties, thus making it one of the most desired and expensive spices.

Another use in ancient Greece was that of perfumery also using it to perfume the water while bathing. Frescoes in the palaces of Knossos (16th century b.C.) clearly depict a young girl gathering crocus flowers as well as in the archeological site of Akrotiri, in Santorini and Homer, in his writings calls dawn “a crocus veil”.

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On the Left: "Mercury (Hermes)” Statue at the Museum Pio Clementino, Vatican. On the Right: Crocus Flower.

On the Left: “Mercury (Hermes)” Statue at the Museum Pio Clementino, Vatican. On the Right: Crocus Flower.

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►Paean, Asclepius´pupil/ Peony, Plant of Healing:

Peony was named after Paean, who was the physician of the gods who healed, among others, Hades’ and Ares’ wounds.

The flower myth related, says that Paean was a student of Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing

Asclepius excelled as a doctor, partly because serpents helped him to discover the healing properties of certain herbs.

Unfortunately, Asclepius became so skilled that he was able to revive the dead. Angry that the son of Apollo had interfered with nature and human mortality, Zeus hurled a thunderbolt at Asclepius, killing him. However, while they understood that interfering with natural death was wrong, humans continued to worship Asclepius as the founder of medicine.

Back to Asclepius´pupil, Paean, he was once instructed by Leto (Apollo‘s mother and goddess of fertility) to obtain a magical root growing on Mount Olympus that would soothe the pain of women in childbirth.

Asclepius became jealous and threatened to kill his pupil. Zeus saved Paean from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower. 

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On the Left: Statuette of Paeon . 2nd century. On the Right: Peony, flower.

On the Left: Statuette of Paean . 2nd century. On the Right: Peony, flower.

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►Cyparissus/ Cypress tree:

Cyparissus was a handsome young man from the island of Kea, the son of Telefus and grand son of Hercules.

He was god Apollo‘s protege as well as of god Zephiros (god of the wind). He asked the heavens for a favour; that his tears would roll down eternally. The favorite companion of Cyparissus was a tamed stag, which he accidentally killed with his hunting javelin as it lay sleeping in the woods. The gods turned him into a cypress tree, whose sap forms droplets like tears on the trunk. Therefore, the cypress tree became the tree of sorrow, and a classical symbol of mourning.

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On the Left: "Cyparissus" (mourning his deer) by Jacopo Vignali. 1670. On the Right: Bald Cypress Leaves.

On the Left: “Cyparissus” (mourning his deer) by Jacopo Vignali. 1670. On the Right: Bald Cypress Leaves.

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►Phyllis, Demophon´s wife/Almond Tree:

Phyllis was a daughter of a Thracian king.

She married Demophon, King of Athens and son of Theseus, while he stopped in Thrace on his journey home from the Trojan War.

Demophon, duty bound to Greece, returns home to help his father, leaving Phyllis behind. She sends him away with a casket, telling him that it contained a sacrament of Rhea and asking him to open it only if he has given up hope of returning to her. From here, the story diverges. In one version, Phyllis realizes that he will not return and commits suicide by hanging herself from a tree. Where she is buried, an almond tree grows, which blossoms when Demophon returns to he

A daughter of king Sithon, in Thrace, fell in love with Demophon on his return from Troy to Greece. Demophon promised her, by a certain day, to come back from Athens and marry her, and as he was prevented from keeping his word, Phyllis hung herself, but was metamorphosed into an almond-tree, which is a symbol of hope and rebirth.

In my previous post, I also made reference to another myth featuring an almond tree, which I will summarize here again.

This myth involved Cybele, his son Agdistis and his grandson Attis.

Medallion depicting Cybele and the sun god in the sky looking on as she rides in her chariot. 2nd century BC

Medallion depicting Cybele and Helios, the sun god in the sky looking from above as she rides in her chariot. 2nd century BC

Cybele (the so called “Great Mother”) gave birth to the hermaphroditic demon Agdistis.

Afraid of such creature, Cybele cut off his male sexual organ and from its blood sprang an almond tree.

When its fruit was ripe, Nana, who was a daughter of the river-god Sangarius, picked an almond and laid it in her bosom.

The almond disappeared, and she became pregnant.

Soon after the baby (named Attis) was born, Nana abandoned him, but a couple took care of him. 

When he was a young man, the foster parents of Attis sent him to Pessinos, where he was to wed the king’s daughter. 

Just as the marriage had started, Cybele appeared in her transcendent power, as she was jealous because she had fallen in love with Attis (his grandson).

Attis went mad, cut off his genitals and died. From Attis’ blood sprang the first violets.

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On the Left: "Phyllis and Demophoön" by John William Waterhouse. 19th century. On the Right: Almond Trees.

On the Left: “Phyllis and Demophon” by John William Waterhouse. 19th century. On the Right: Almond Trees.

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►The Nymph Pitys/The Fir tree:
Pan, the god of the wild and shepherds, was in love with the nymph Pitys. The god of the North wind was also attracted to Pity, but the nymph chose Pan over him.
The North Wind wanted to take revenge so he blew her over a gorge and killed her.
Pan found her lifeless body laying in the gorge and turned her into sacred tree, the Fir-tree.
Ever since, every time the North wind blows, Pitys cries. Her tears are the pitch droplets that leak out of the fir-cones in autumn.
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On the Left: "Pan and Pitys" by Edward Calvert. 1850. On the Right: Fir Trees.

On the Left: “Pan and Pitys” by Edward Calvert. 1850. On the Right: Fir Trees.

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►Rose, created by the goddess of flowers, Chloris, from a dead Nymph:

"Flora and Zephy" by Bouguereau. 1875.

“Flora and Zephy” by Bouguereau. 1875.

In Greek mythology, the rose was created by the goddess of flowers, Chloris (Roman equivalent: Flora).

One day, Chloris found the lifeless body of a nymph in the forest and she turned her into a flower.

She called Aphrodite, goddess of love, and Dionysus, the god of wine.

Aphrodite gave the flower beauty as her gift and Dionysus added nectar to give it a sweet fragrance. Zephiros, god of the West Wind, blew the clouds away so Apollo, the sun-god, could shine and make the flower bloom. That is how the rose was created and rightfully crowned “Queen of Flowers”.

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On the Left: Chloris. Detail "Primavera" by Sandro Botticelli.1478. On the Right: Rose Flower.

On the Left: Chloris. Detail “Primavera” by Sandro Botticelli.1478. On the Right: Rose Flower.

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►Orchis (son of a nymph and a satyr)/Orchid Plant:

In Greek mythology, Orchis was the son of a nymph (a female nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform) and a satyr (a rustic fertility spirits of the countryside and wilds).

During a celebratory feast for Dionysus, Orchis committed the sacrilege of attempting to rape a priestess.

His punishment was to being torn apart by wild beasts. From his death arose Orchids which are a testament to the male reproductive organs (the testis). Today, the orchid means refinement as well as beauty. The origin of the plant name comes from the word orkhis, a word to describe part of the male genitalia, because of the shape of the bulbous roots. 

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On the Left: Fight between Nymph and Satyr. Naples National Archaeological Museum. On the Right: Orchid Plant and flowers.

On the Left: Fight between Nymph and Satyr. Naples National Archaeological Museum. On the Right: Orchid Plant and flowers.

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Flowers and Plants

Flowers and Plants: Peony, Rose, Orchid, Cypress (Leaves), Crocus, Mint (Leaves), Almond Tree (Flowers), Fir Tree (Branch).

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►Links Post:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crocus_(mythology)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyparissus
http://amphipolis.gr/en/fyllis/
http://www.valentine.gr/mythology5_en.php
http://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Paion.html
http://www.mythindex.com/greek-mythology/P/Phyllis.html
http://www.ancient-literature.com/rome_ovid_metamorphoses.html
https://tropicalfloweringzone.wordpress.com/2014/05/07/dendrobiums-orchids/
http://www.dominiquehackettchc.com/mint-wonderful-go-to-herb/
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Flowers and Plants in Greek Myths

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"Flora" (Goddess of Flowers) by Evelyn De Morgan. 1894.

“Flora” (Goddess of Flowers) by Evelyn De Morgan. 1894.

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►Metamorphosis, Life-cycles and Seasons:

One of the most important sources when it comes to Greek Mythology is Ovid´s “Metamorphoses”. According to this account, many times the passage from life to death entails a “metamorphosis”. Characters whether gods/goddesses or humans are transformed into “something else”.

Plants (usually flowers or trees) could be examples of this transformation. The same applies to stars, as many characters are converted to stars and placed among stellar constellations . This mostly happens after their death, as tribute,  but even as a sort of exoneration; or even as punishment. The main God in charge to do so is, of course, Zeus, the Ruler of Gods.

Metamorphosis is a key element in Greek mythology. Zeus had probably the most changes in Greek mythology, and he used different appearances as a way of courting potential lovers. Zeus often took the form of animals aiming to sleep with his future lovers. For example, Zeus consorted with Mnemosyne in the form of a shepherd. Leda was seduced by Zeus in the form of swan. He even fell for a young man called Ganymede, who was abducted and taken to Olympus by Zeus in the form of an eagle to be his lover and the cupbearer of the gods. But there were cases in which Zeus took other forms. For example, Callisto (a nymph who was in love with Artemis) was deceived by Zeus disguised as Artemis, the goddess of hunting. And in the case of Danae, Zeus turned himself into golden rain, made his way into her chamber, and impregnated her.

Back to flowers and plants, it is worth noting that they go through different stages in their life cycle. Growth is where photosynthesis begins as the leaves collect sunlight and turn it into food for the growing flower. The root system stretches out and develops, and the flower bud begins to form during the growth stage. Within the protection of the bud, a small, complete flower forms. When the plant matures and is ready to reproduce, it develops flowers. All plants begin life as a seed but flowers are unique in their ability to attract pollinating creatures and spread their seeds. Flowers are the special structures involved in pollination and fertilisation, processes which lead to the formation of new seeds. 

Seeds, leaves and flowers are basic and indispensable components of the same structures: plants.

Plants and flowers might go through different stages, depending on the season of the year. In Spring, tree buds burst into leaves and flowers blossom. In Summer, trees are in full leaf. During autumn, tree leaves turn yellow, red or brown and fall to the ground, trees start to reproduce and spread their seeds (which lay dormant on the ground throughout winter and start budding around spring). In Winter, trees are bare and fallen leaves begin to decay. 

Interestingly enough, as a consequence of what has been described above, a mythological character who had been metamorphosed to a plant would eventually go through many other changes as well. Furthermore, when it comes to life-cycles, seasons and stages of life (birth, childhood, adulthood, old age) have much in common: distinctive characteristics such as development, reproduction, vitality, lethargy could be expressions of both annual phases and periods of a lifetime.

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►Myhrra: Myrrh Tree /Adonis: Anemone:

Adonis’s mother was Myrrha, the beautiful daughter of king Cinyras

Myrrha’s mother would say that she was even more beautiful than Aphrodite which angered the goddess who cursed Myrrha to fall in love and lust after her father.

She tricked him into sleeping with her and she became pregnant. When her father found out he had been tricked he was so angry that he tried to kill her but the gods took pity on her and turned her into a myrrh tree.

Even so, the goddess finally gave birth to her son. Aphrodite found the baby by a myrrh tree and she gave him to Persephone, the wife of Hades, who was the God of the Underworld. 

When the child grew he became a very beautiful young man: Adonis.

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, the king of the gods: Adonis was to spend one-third of every year with each goddess and the last third wherever he chose. He chose to spend two-thirds of the year with Aphrodite.

Ares, the god of war, grew jealous because Aphrodite spent so much time with Adonis that she had forgotten about him. As a result, Ares turned into a gigantic wild boar and attacked Adonis. Adonis, having forgotten Aphrodite’s warning, attacked the boar but soon found himself being chased by it. 

The boar caught Adonis and castrated him. Adonis died in Aphrodite’s arms, and she sprinkled his blood with nectar from the anemone. It is supposedly Adonis’ blood that turns the Adonis River red, each spring. 

The Greek myths lend the Anemone flower dual meanings of the arrival of spring breezes and the loss of a loved one to death, it also represents forsaken and undying love.

Christians later adopted the symbolism of the anemone. For them its red represented the blood shed by Jesus Christ on the cross. Anemones sometimes appear in paintings of the Crucifixion.

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On the Left: “Myhrra assisted by Lucina, the Goddess of Birth” by Jean de Court (1560).. On the Right: Myrrh tree.

On the Left: “Myhrra assisted by Lucina, the Goddess of Birth” by Jean de Court (1560).. On the Right: Myrrh tree.

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On the Left: “Adonis” by Benjamin West (1800). On the Right: An anemone

On the Left: “Adonis” by Benjamin West (1800). On the Right: An anemone

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"The Awakening of Adonis” by John William Waterhouse. (1900) / On the right: Details: Anemones.

“The Awakening of Adonis” by John William Waterhouse. (1900) / On the right: Details: Anemones.

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►Daphne: Laurel Tree:

Daphne was a nymph,. Her mother was Gaia and her father, the river god Peneus.

Daphne was also a follower of Artemis, the goddess of Hunting, and a divinity never conquered by love. The priestesses devoted to her service were bound to live pure and chaste, and transgressions of their vows of chastity were severely punished. 

Apollo was a very great archer and he loves to praise himself. One day Apollo met Eros, who was a very great archer like Apollo.

Apollo made fun about Eros‘s archery. As the latter got angry and wanted revenge, he made two arrows. One arrow was submerged in golden water. This arrow awakened love and passion if stuck into human flesh,whilst the other arrow removed passion and love, under the same circumstances.

The arrow of love reached Apollo’s heart and he desperately loved Daphne. But unfortunately the other arrow into Daphne’s heart. As a result, Daphne always ran away from Apollo, who never stopped chasing her. Finally Apollo captured her. Being in this situation, Daphne asked help from his father, Peneus. As all gods of water posses the ability of transformation, Peneus transformed his daughter into a laurel tree. Since Apollo could no longer take her as his wife, he vowed to tend her as his tree, to raid away all tempted beasts and creatures of the earth, that intended to do her harm, and promised that her leaves would decorate the heads of leaders as crowns. Laurel leaves surrounded the temple of Apollo to cleanse the soul before entering, being related to ambition and success. It’s associated with purification and considered a plant with powers of immortality. Laurel supposedly awakens awareness and past life memories.

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On the Left: “Apollo and Daphne” by Antonio del Pollaiolo (1470/1480).- On the Right: Laurel Bay Leaves.

On the Left: “Apollo and Daphne” by Antonio del Pollaiolo (1470/1480).- On the Right: Laurel Bay Leaves.

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►Lotis: Lotus Tree:

According to Ovid´s “Fasti”, the nymph Lotis fell into a drunken slumber at a feast, and Priapus (the son of Aphrodite and Dionysus, who was usually frustrated by his sexual impotence), seized this opportunity to advance upon her. With stealth he approached, and just before he could embrace her, a donkey alerted the party with “raucous braying”. Lotis awoke and pushed Priapus away, but her only true escape would result in being transformed into a lotus tree.  The symbolic, broader meaning of lotus flowers is of spiritual purity and chastity. Its meaning also entails eloquence and rebirth.

Furthermore, Lotus-Eater was also one of a tribe encountered by the Greek hero Odysseus during his return from Troy, after a north wind had driven him and his men from Cape Malea (Homer, “Odyssey”, Book IX). The local inhabitants, whose distinctive practice is indicated by their name, invited Odysseus’ scouts to eat of the mysterious plant. Those who did so were overcome by a blissful forgetfulness; they had to be dragged back to the ship and chained to the rowing-benches, or they would never have returned to their duties.

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On the Left: "The Feast of the Gods" by Giovanni Bellini and Titian. 1514–1529 Painting and Detail "Priapus and Lotis", respectively. On the Right: Lotus tree (flowers)

On the Left: “The Feast of the Gods” by Giovanni Bellini and Titian. 1514–1529
Painting and Detail “Priapus and Lotis”, respectively. On the Right: Lotus tree (flowers).

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►Agdistis: Almond Tree/ Cybele: Violet:

The story tells that when Cybele, the great mother goddess, Cybele rejected Zeus, he spilled his seed on her. In due course, Cybele gave birth to Agdistis, a hermaphroditic demon so strong and wild the other gods feared him. In their terror they cut off his male sexual organ. From its blood sprang an almond tree. The almond tree represents the promise and the beauty, and it is a symbol of resurrection.

The river Sangarius had a daughter named Nana, who ate the fruit of this almond tree. As a result of having eaten this fruit Nana delivered a boy child nine months later. His name was Attis and, as time went by, he became a young handsome man… So  handsome his grandmother, Cybele fell in love with him. In time, Attis saw the king of Pessinus’ beautiful daughter, fell in love, and wished to marry her. The goddess Cybele became insanely jealous and drove Attis mad for revenge. Running crazy through the mountains, Attis killed himself. From Attis’ blood sprang the first violets.

The Greeks believed that violets were sacred to the god Ares and to Io, one of the many human lovers of Zeus. Violet flowers symbolized delicate love, affection, modesty, faith, nobility, intuition and dignity.  Later, in Christian symbolism, the violet stood for the virtue of humility, or modesty, and several legends tell of violets springing up on the graves of virgins and saints. European folktales associate violets with death and morning. Besides, almonds trees are mentioned in the Bible in Genesis 30:37, Genesis 43:11, and in Exodus 25:33.

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On the Left: Phrygian statue of Agdistis from the mid-6th century BCE. On the Right: An almond tree.

On the Left: Phrygian statue of Agdistis from the mid-6th century BCE. On the Right: An almond tree.

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Cybele, Roman statue (marble), 1st century AD, (Getty Museum, Malibu).

Cybele, Roman statue (marble), 1st century AD, (Getty Museum, Malibu).

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►Clythie: Sunflower:

Clytie and her sister, Leucothea, were water nymphs. Early every morning they used to come up from the depths of their river, with other nymphs from neighboring streams and fountains, and dance among the water-plants on its shores. But with the first rays of the rising sun, all the dancers plunged back into the water and disappeared; for that was the law among water-nymphs.
One morning Clytie and Leucothea broke this law. When the sun began to show above the hills, and all the other nymphs rushed back to their streams, these two sat on the bank of their river, and watched for the coming of the sun-god. Then as Apollo drove his horses across the sky, they sat and watched him all day long. When they returned home, Clytie told King Oceanus how Leucothea had broken the law of the water-nymphs, but she did not say that she herself had broken it also. King Oceanus was very angry, and shut Leucothea up in a cave. Clytie felt there was no more competition, as she clearly didn´t want to share her love towards Apollo with her sister. The following day, she remained on the shore all day to watch Apollo, the God of the Sun. For a time the god returned her love, but then he got tired of her. The forlorn Clytie sat, day after day, slowly turning her head to watch Apollo move across the sky in his solar chariot. Eventually, the gods took pity on her and turned her into a flower. In some versions of the myth, she became a heliotrope or a marigold, but most accounts say that Clytie became a sunflower

Spiritually, sunflowers represent God’s love and humankind seeking unity and connection with a higher power, being linked to lofty thoughts, faith, hope and unity.

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On the Left: “Clytie: Sorrow and Sunflowelite” by Frederic Leighton (1895). On the Right: “Clytie” by Evelyn De Morgan (1887).

On the Left: “Clytie: Sorrow and Sunflowelite” by Frederic Leighton (1895). On the Right: “Clytie” by Evelyn De Morgan (1887).

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On the Left: "Clytie" by Élisabeth Sonrel (20th century). On The Right: A Sunflower.

On the Left: “Clytie” by Élisabeth Sonrel (20th century). On The Right: A Sunflower.

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►Hyacinth: Homonym Flower:

Hyacinth was a beautiful youth and lover of the god Apollo, though he was also admired by the West Wind, Zephyrus. Apollo´s beauty caused a feud between the two gods. Jealous that Hyacinth preferred the god Apollo, Zephyrus blew Apollo’s discus off course, so as to injure and kill Hyacinth.

When he died, Apollo did not allow Hades, the God of the Underworld, to claim him; rather, he made a flower, the hyacinth– which represents the virtue of  constancy sprang from his blood. According to a local Spartan version of the myth, Hyacinth and his sister Polyboea were taken to Elysium by Aphrodite, Athena and Artemis.

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On the left: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, "The death of Hyacinth". 18 th century. Painting and detail, respectively. On the right: A Hyacinth.

On the left: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, “The death of Hyacinth”. 18 th century. Painting and detail, respectively. On the right: A Hyacinth.

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►Narcissus: Homonym Flower:

Echo was a beautiful nymph, fond of the woods, where she devoted herself to woodland sports. She was a favorite of Artemis, and attended her in the chase. But Echo had one failing; she was fond of talking, and whether in chat or argument, would have the last word.

One day, Hera was seeking her husband, who, she had reason to fear, was amusing himself among the nymphs. Echo by her talk contrived to detain the goddess until the nymphs managed to escape. When Hera discovered it, she passed sentence upon Echo in these words: “You shall forfeit the use of that tongue with which you have cheated me, except for that one purpose you are so fond of—reply. You shall still have the last word, but no power to speak first”.

This nymph saw Narcissus, a beautiful youth, as he pursued the chase upon the mountains. She liked him and followed his footsteps, but her attempts to talk to Narcissus were vain. e left her, and she went to hide her blushes in the recesses of the woods.

Narcissus came upon a clear spring, 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 to stand the  inability of consummating love, Narcissus plunged a dagger in his heart and died.

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. No wonder why Narcissus flowers Symbolize love, rebirth and new beginnings.

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On the Left: "Echo and Narcissus". Pier Francesco Mola. 1633-41. Painting and detail, respectively. On the Right: Narcissus.

On the Left: “Echo and Narcissus”. Pier Francesco Mola. 1633-41. Painting and detail, respectively. On the Right: Narcissus.

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►Poppies, Symbols of Demeter (and also of Hypnos, Thanatos and Morpheus):

The Greeks associated poppies with  Hypnos, god of sleep, his twin brother, Thanatos, god of death, and Morpheus, god of dreams. This was because a type of poppy native to the Mediterranean region yields a substance called opium, a drug that was used in the ancient world to ease pain and bring on sleep.

In Greek mythology, Demeter was the goddess of agriculture who presented humankind with the secrets to grain-farming (a craft which she first revealed to the demi-god Triptolemus). Her emblem was the red poppy growing among the barley. The myth says that Demeter created the poppy so she could sleep, whilst wandering about in search of her daughter for nine days. This was after the loss of her daughter, Persephone, who had been abducted by Hades and taken to the Underworld. As a result of her daughter´s abduction, a grief-stricken and wrathful Demeter commanded the earth to become infertile until her daughter was returned to her (this would, in turn, induce autumn, and then winter). Upon seeing the starvation of the mortals due to Demeter’s curse on the earth, Zeus was forced to order Hades to return Persephone to her mother. Hades complied with his brother’s wish, but before Persephone was taken back up by Hermes (the only god who can go freely to the Underworld), Hades gave her a pomegranate, and persuaded her to eat six seeds. Hence, Persephone has to stay within the Underworld for six months out of the year. The theme of sleep is carried through the myth as Persephone’s cyclical excursions to the underworld were timed with the seasons. She would leave her mother Demeter in the winter to join her husband, Hades. Her absence marked the winter, her submersion in the underworld signifies a kind of “closing the shutters” and slumber in the cycle of life. 

By and large, poppies have long been used as a symbol of sleep, peace, and death: Sleep because the opium extracted from them is a sedative, and death because of the common blood-red color of the red poppy in particular. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead. Poppies used as emblems on tombstones symbolize eternal sleep. 

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On the Left: Demeter Relief, 18Th Century. Versailles. On the right: A Poppy.

On the Left: Demeter Relief, 18Th Century. Versailles. On the right: A Poppy.

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Rememberance-Day-Poppies

During World War I, poppies florished naturally in conditions of disturbed earth throughout Western Europe. Once the conflict was over the poppy was one of the only plants to grow on the otherwise barren battlefields. The armistice which ended World War I took place on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. In the years after the war, veterans and fallen from the Allied forces were honored by the wearing of real or artificial poppies on Armistice Day.

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Worth reading!. 

♠Poetry: Robert Frost´s “Nothing Gold Can Stay”.

Analysis at Poetic Parfait with Christy Birmingham:

This section of the post is mostly a recommendation, consisting of an analysis of Robert Frost´s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, posted by Christy Birmingham

To sum up how it all started, Christy has mentioned it as one of her favorite poems in an interview. So I was curious about it and told her that I would read it and tell her my thoughts. Soon after the first approaches, we concluded that such great poem should be analyzed in depth. 

Personally, I loved this poem  and I was thrilled by Frost´s poetic proficiency. The poem is brief (it only has six lines) and yet, it is so deep, and its ideas and metaphors are remarkably well intertwined, mainly given the “cyclical nature” of the poem… As a result of the discussion, Christy wrote an excellent post on her blog, which you can´t miss… So, without further ado, please take a closer look at “Nothing Gold Can Stay” on Poetic Parfait.

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Analysis of the Poem ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ by Robert Frost (Excerpt From Poetic Parfait): 

In a recent author interview, I explained that one of my favorite poems is “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost. Shortly after the interview published, my friend and fellow blogger Aquileana of La Audacia de Aquiles commented to me that she had not heard of this particular poem… As we I chatted about the poem, it became clear that there was a lot to discuss, from the imagery within the brilliant lines to Robert Frost’s use of rhyme and meter. Below is our collaborative analysis of “Nothing Gold Can Stay”… Read More.

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Click above to read the analysis of the Poem ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ by Robert Frost on Poetic Parfit.

Click above to read the analysis of the Poem ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’ by Robert Frost on Poetic Parfait.

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►🌟About Christy Birmingham🌟:

cb1Christy is a Canadian freelance writer, poet and author. She is the author of two books. The poetry collection “Pathways to Illumination” (2013). And another poetry book,  “Versions of the Self” (2015).  Besides, she hosts two blogs: Poetic Parfait and When Women Inspire. You can also connect with Christy on Twitter

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►Links Post:
http://www.paleothea.com/Myths/Attis.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poppy
http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/ZeusLoves3.html
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Lotus-Eater
http://riordan.wikia.com/wiki/Demeter
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_symbolism
https://ferrebeekeeper.wordpress.com/tag/demeter/
http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa113099a.htm
http://www.talesbeyondbelief.com/myth-stories/clytie.htm
http://sciencelearn.org.nz/Contexts/Pollination/Looking-Closer/Flowering-plant-life-cycles
http://www.bustle.com/articles/94692-8-weirdest-sex-things-that-went-down-in-greek-mythology

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narcissus and echo1

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"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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interpretation

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.-

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

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

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“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”.

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

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

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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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⭐️Links Post⭐️:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissus_(mythology)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Echo_(mythology)
http://www.shmoop.com/echo-narcissus/summary.html
http://www.theoi.com/Text/OvidMetamorphoses3.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissism
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/megalomania
https://www.bpdcentral.com/narcissistic-disorder/hallmarks-of-npd/
http://psychcentral.com/disorders/narcissistic-personality-disorder-symptoms/

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OEDIPUS REX

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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. 

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Sophocles ca. 496 – 406 BC

Sophocles ca. 496 – 406 BC

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🔆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.

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🔆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.

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

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

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🔆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.

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🔆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.

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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.

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🔆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.

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

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

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

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 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.-

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Oedipus and Antigone by Johann Peter Krafft. 1809.

Oedipus and Antigone by Johann Peter Krafft. 1809.

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►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~ ~

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Erin Sandlin.

Erin Sandlin.

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Links Post:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oedipus_the_King
http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/topic/oedipus-rex
http://www.columbia.edu/itc/lithum/gallo/freud.html
http://www.sparknotes.com/drama/oedipus/section5.rhtml
http://www.storyboardthat.com/teacher-guide/oedipus-rex-by-sophocles
http://thebestnotes.com/booknotes/Oedipus_The_King/Oedipus_Rex04.html
http://www.gradesaver.com/oedipus-rex-or-oedipus-the-king/study-guide/oedipus-and-aristotle
http://www.thegreatbookschallenge.com/sophocles-antigone-oedipus-the-king-oedipus-at-colonus/

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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:

CHECK IT OUT HERE. IT IS THE 8TH AWARD.

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

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the muses1

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"Apollo and the Muses" by Baldassarre Peruzzi. 1523.

“Apollo and the Muses” by
Baldassarre Peruzzi. 1523.

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The Muses were the Greek goddesses of inspiration in literature, science and the arts.

Before the Classical idea of the nine Muses, Pausanias tells us of three Muses, different altogether from the nine we know. They were: Melete, or Practice. Mneme, or Memory and Aeode, or Song

It was only later, with Hesiod that the idea of Nine Muses showed up.

According to it, they were the daughters of Zeus and MnemosyneZeus and Mnemosyne slept together for nine consecutive nights, thus birthing the nine Muses.

Μnemosyne gave the babies to Nymph Eufime and Apollo (God of Light, Eloquence, Poetry and Fine Arts). When they grew up they showed their tendency to the arts, taught by God Apollo himself.
Apollo brought them to the big and beautiful Mount Elikonas, where the older Temple of Zeus used to be. Ever since, the Muses supported and encouraged creation, enhancing imagination and inspiration of the artists.

There were nine Muses according to Hesiod, protecting a different art and being symbolised with a different element; Calliope (epic poetry – symbol: writing tablet), Clio (history – symbol: scroll. The myth tells that she introduced the Phoenician alphabet to Greece), Erato (love poetry – symbol: cithara, a Greek type of lyre), Euterpe (lyric poetry – symbol: aulos, a Greek flute), Melpomene (tragedy – symbol: tragic mask), Polyhymnia (sacred poetry – symbol: veil), Terpsichore (dance – symbol: lyre), Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry – symbol: comic mask), and Urania (astronomy – symbols: globe and compass). 

All the Hesiodic names are significant; thus Calliope means “She of the Beautiful Voice”, Clio the “Proclaimer”, Erato the “Lovely”, Euterpe the “Well Pleasing”, Melpomene the “Songstress”, Polymnia “She of the Many Hymns”,  Thalia the “Blooming”, Terpsichore “Delighting in the Dance”, and Urania the “Heavenly”.

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Hesiod also states that the Muses were created as an aid to forgetfulness and relief from troubles, perhaps as a balance to their mother, who personified memory.

Mnemosyne (Memory), who reigns over the hills of Eleuther, bear of union with the father, the son of Cronos, a forgetting of ills and a rest from sorrow. For nine nights did wise Zeus lie with her, entering her holy bed remote from the immortals. And when a year was passed and the seasons came round as the months waned, and many days were accomplished, she bare nine daughters, all of one mind, whose hearts are set upon song and their spirit free from care, a little way from the topmost peak of snowy Olympus”. Hesiod´s Theogony. (ll. 53-74).

The Muses probably were originally the patron goddesses of poets, although later their range was extended to include all liberal arts and sciences—hence, their connection with such institutions as the Museum.

Although bringers of festivity and joy, the Muses were not to be trifled with when it came to the superiority of their artistic talents. The nine daughters of Pierus foolishly tried to compete musically with the Muses on Mt. Helicon and were all turned into birds for their impertinence. The Thracian musician Thamyres (son of the Nymph Agriope) was another who challenged the Muses in music and after inevitably coming second best to the goddesses was punished with blindness, the loss of his musical talent, and his singing voice.


►Further appearances of certain Muses
:

Calliope was called on by Zeus to arbitrate the dispute between Aphrodite, the goddess of Love and Beauty, and Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, when both fell in love with the handsome AdonisAs a result of her decision, 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.

When Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom rescued Pegasus, the winged horse, shortly after his birth, the goddess entrusted the Muses with his care.

The young colt, excited to meet the lovely Muses, kicked the side of the Mountain, causing springs to gush out of the side of the mountain. Springs and wells both became sacred symbols of the Muses, representing the fountains of inspiration that they provided.

 Urania took the major responsibility for caring for Pegasus, and prophesied his future heroism as well as his eventual place amongst the stars in the heavens.  She also suffered a lot when Bellerophontes, a mythical hero, took Pegasus away.

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►Gallery: “The Muses”:

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Eva Xanthopoulos

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►“Erato, the Greco-Muse of Love Poetry:

Human-seraph hybrid embodiment

of love poetry plucking your cithara

under Grecian golden globe.

~~~

Sea salted air beckons all who catch

a wisp, a glimpse of your grand

pulchritude pulsating with scents

of slight oregano and plentiful jasmine.

~~~

The lightly brisked

breezes tease your deep

mahogany tresses making

them dance a slow motion susta.

~~~

Your irises possess

emeralds—the green this land

lacks. A black ink-tipped quill

rests behind your left ear.

~~~

With a sharp-edged stone

you carve into a tablet

in archaic Greek:

“A love star-crossed is merely a love

out of this world, of outer space,

blessed by the Gods,

that society is envious of”.

~~~

Urania tends to disagree

for the stars and planets see all.

Both seize the fates of all.

©Eva Xanthopoulos (Eva PoeteX). 2016 .-

*Previously published in Harbinger Asylum Poetry Magazine.

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"Erato" (Muse of History). Detail, "Apollo and his muses" by Charles Meynier. 1800.

“Erato”. Detail, “Apollo and his muses” by Charles Meynier. 1800.

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About Eva Xanthopoulos (Eva PoeteX):

Eva Xanthopoulos (pen-name Eva PoeteX) is a prolific Greco-American Author, Poet, and Artist who creates and dwells in the Greater Cleveland area. To date, hundreds of her writings have been featured in various publications, including The Golden Lantern, Mystic Living Today, Journey of the Heart, The Journey Magazine, and more. Eva has also collaborated with a multitude of musicians worldwide like Grant Wish, Audiosapian, Electrosurrogate, and Replicant Core.

Currently, Eva is the Founding Editor of Poehemian Press and the Co-Creator of the self-development website Etheric Archives.  Additionally, she is the author of several books, including Esoterra and the Sought After Blood Lines Fantasy Series. Eva has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Cleveland State University.

When she’s not writing, Eva loves to read her weight in books (while sipping rooibos chai tea), go on epic adventures with her bike, and practice Yoga Nidra. To find out more, visit her website.

You can also  follow Eva on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

~~Thanks so much for being here as a guest author/ poet, dear Eva~~

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Eva Xanthopoulos (pen-name Eva PoeteX).

Eva Xanthopoulos ( Eva PoeteX).

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 The Escapist (Sought After Blood Lines Book 1). Click on the cover to purchase it.

“The Escapist” (“Sought After Blood Lines” Book 1). Click on the cover to purchase it.

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Blurb:”The Escapist” (“Sought After Blood Lines”).Book by Eva Xanthopoulos:

“While the town´s people of Eternicca find Vyvianna’s heart of gold to be both endearing and noble, she deems it to be her ultimate curse and is determined to rid herself of it no matter what the cost. Hailing from a lineage touched by a rare form of magick in a barricaded kingdom where all-things magickal are met with torment and wrath, she must keep her secret tucked away forevermore. Will she be able to mask her inner glisten or will it inevitably shine through and expose her to the cunning, ever-ruthless King Zollamedes? And no matter how many challenges transpire, will Vyvianna’s heart keep its golden reputation or will her ribcage soon become the home of an obsidian core, succumbing to a ruthlessness only tyrants should wield?”…

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Links Post:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muse
http://goodlucksymbols.com/nine-muses/
http://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Mousai.html
http://www.paleothea.com/SortaSingles/Muses.html

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PEGASUSHEADER

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Bellerophon, Pegasus and Khimaira. Kylix Laconian Black Figure. Ca 570 - 565 BC.

Bellerophon, Pegasus and Khimaira. Kylix Laconian Black Figure. Ca 570 – 565 BC.

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Pegasus was a Hippoi Athanatoi, meaning an immortal horse of the Gods. he was a winged horse which sprang forth from the neck of the Gorgon Medusa when she was beheaded by the hero Perseus. 

When Perseus struck off the head of Medusa, with whom Poseidon had once had intercourse in the form of a horse or a bird, there sprang forth from her Chrysaor and the horse Pegasus.

Chrysaor (meaning “Golden Sword”) was usually represented as giant, but may also have been conceived of as a winged boar.

As to Pegasus, he obtained that because he was believed to have made his appearance near the sources (pêgai) of Oceanus.

Liz Greene calls the winged horse the bridge between opposites: “An earthy creature which has the power to ascend into the spiritual realm”[Source: Symbol Reader].

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“The Birth of Pegasus and Chrysaor” by Edward Burne-Jones (1885).

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Pegasus was tamed by Bellerophon, a corinthian hero, who rode him into battle against the Chimera.

On a side note, the Chimera was a creature of Asia Minor, composed of the parts of more than one animal. 

Usually depicted as a lion, with the head of a goat  arising from its back, and a tail that might end with a snake´s head. The Chimera was one of the offspring of Typhon and Echidna and a sibling of such monsters as Cerberus and the Hydra.

After Pegasus had conquered the Chimera, he endeavoured to rise up to heaven with his winged horse, but fell down upon the earth, either from fear or from giddiness, or being thrown off by Pegasus, who was rendered furious by a gad-fly which Zeus had sent. But Pegasus continued his flight.

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“Bellerophon Rides to Kill the Chimera” by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov 1829.

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The winged horse was also placed amongst the stars as a constellation whose rising marked the arrival of the warmer weather of spring and seasonal rainstorms.

Hence, Pegasus became a constellation in the northern sky, which brightest star is the orange supergiant Epsilon Pegasi

Both Hesiod and Plato made reference to this emplacement:

“Pegasus, soaring, left the earth, the mother of sheep flocks, and came to the immortals, and there he lives in the household of Zeus, and carries the thunder and lightning for Zeus of the counsels”. (Hesiod, Theogony).

“A pair of winged horses and a charioteer. Now the winged horses and the charioteers of the gods are all of them noble and of noble descent… Zeus, the mighty lord, holding the reins of a winged chariot, leads the way in heaven, ordering all and taking care of all; and there follows him the array of gods and demigods, marshalled in eleven bands [the twelve Olympians]”.  (Plato, Phaedrus, 246).

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Pegasus with the foal Equuleus next to it, as depicted in Urania's Mirror, a set of constellation cards published in London in 1825. The horses appear upside-down in relation to the constellations around them.

Pegasus with the foal Equuleus next to it, as depicted in Urania’s Mirror, a set of constellation cards published in London in 1825. The horses appear upside-down in relation to the constellations around them.

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From a symbolic point, Pegasoi or winged horses occur in ancient art drawing the chariots of various gods and goddesses, including Helios, the sun and Selene, the moon.

The hero Pelops was also given a chariot drawn by winged horses by the god Poseidon.

Furthermore, Pegasus is a Pterippus (pteros in Greek means “winged” and hippos means “horse”).

The symbolic meaning of the horse is pretty intense with themes of power and mobility.

The horse alone also carries archetypal themes of unifying grounded stability (four feet on the ground) with higher ideals (from speed and mobility).

This theme really comes to life when the horse is winged. The Pterippus, or winged horse, is a symbol of aspiring to the greatest heights of accomplishment.

Grounded by the stability of its body, yet in flight by the ephemeral power of its wings, Pegasus offers a great analogy because of the dichotomy it offers. 

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“Perseus on Pegasus Slaying Medusa “by John Singer Sargent. 20th century.

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Perseus and Andromeda, detail of

Perseus and Andromeda, detail of “Pegasus”, by Peter Paul Rubens. 1622.

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►Gallery: “Creatures, Characters and Gods featured in this post”:

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►Gallery: “Pegasus, The Winged Horse”:

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►Anex: A List of More Types of Horses in Greek Mythology (Gallery Below):

The Centaur, a creature with the head and torso of a man and the lower body of a horse. 

•The Hippocampus, a creature with an upper body that resembles a horse and a dolphin-like lower body.

•The Hippogriff, a beast with a head and front legs of an eagle whilst the rest of its body is that of a horse.

•The Ichthyocentaur, a creature which supposedly was one-third horse, one-third fish, and one-third human. Also known as Sea Centaur.

•The Ipotanes, a being that looked overall human, but had the legs, hindquarters, tail, and ears of a horse.

•The Sileni, bipedal beings that appear human form the waist up and horse the waist down. They were  were rustic spirits in the train of the God of Wine, Dionysus.

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Links Post:
http://www.theoi.com/Ther/HipposPegasos.html
http://www.theoi.com/Ther/Hippoi.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimera_(mythology)
http://www.space.com/16743-constellation-pegasus.html
http://rabirius.me/2016/01/03/feeding-pegasus/
http://www.whats-your-sign.com/meaning-of-wings.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perseus_and_Andromeda_(Rubens)
http://symbolreader.net/2013/08/11/light-and-matter-the-perseid-meteor-shower/

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