Posts Tagged ‘Argonauts’

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On the Left:

On the Left: “Leda and the Swan” by Gustave Moreau. (1865-1875). On the Right: “Leda” by Gustave Moreau (1875-1880).

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Leda was daughter of the aetolian King Thestius and wife of King Tyndareus of Sparta.

Zeus took the form of a swan to seduce Leda. 

In Greek tradition, the Swan is the symbol of the Muses. The swan also has erotic connotations, such as in the love affair between Zeus and Leda. Also, the Greek Goddess of Beauty and Love, Aphrodite, had a swan-drawn chariot. Besides The swan, as a symbol of music, is also dedicated to Apollo, who was said to transform into a swan.

Back to the retelling: Zeus and Leda had sexual relationships the same night she had slept with her husband. 

Their consummation, on the same night as Leda lay with her husband Tyndareus, resulted in two eggs from which hatched the four children. (Zeus’ s and Tyndareus’).

According to later Greek mythology, Leda bore Helen (later known as Helen of Troy) and Polydeuces, children of Zeus, while at the same time bearing Castor and Clytemnestra, children of her husband and King of Sparta Tyndareus.

According to other sources, Nemesis, the Goddess of Revenge, produced the egg from which hatched the two sets of twins: Helen of Troy and Clytenmestra and the Discouri Castor and Pollux. Worth noting that these set of twins are supposedly from different fathers….

Clytenmestra and Helen were problematic women. The Trojan War will be provoked by the abduction of Helen.

And Clytemnestra will later on kill his own husband, Agamemnon and this is another incident related to the Trojan War.

Saying it briefly, the Greek Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, was kidnapped by the Trojans, so the Greeks besieged the city of Troy; after the war, Clytemnestra, the wife of the Greek leader Agamemnon, murdered him, with teh help of her lover, Aegistus.

Leda’s twin-sons, Castor and (Polydeuces or) Pollux, were renowned for their tender attachment to each other. They were also famous for their physical accomplishments, Castor being the most expert charioteer of his day, and Pollux the coward brother.

Their names appear both among the hunters of the Calydonian boar-hunt and the heroes of the Argonautic expedition.

Zeus wished to confer the gift of immortality upon Polydeuces as he was his son but he refused to accept it unless allowed to share it with Castor.

Zeus gave the desired permission, and the faithful brothers were both allowed to live, but only on alternate days. Castor and Polydeuces, also known as The Dioscuri received divine honours throughout Greece, and were worshipped with special reverence at Sparta.

Leda also had other daughters by Tyndareus: Timadra, Phoebe and Philonoe.

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On the Left:

On the Left: “Helen on the Walls of Troy” by Gustave Moreau. (1885). On the Right: Up: “Castor and Pollux, The Heavenly Twins”, by Giovanni Battista Cipriani. (1783). On the Right: Down: “Clytemnestra” by Frederick Leighton. (19th century).

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On the Left:

On the Left: “Leda and The Swan” by Leonardo da Vinci (1510). On the Right: Detail, “Leda and the Swan”: The children of Leda.

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On the Right:

On the Left: “Leda” by Leonardo da Vinci (1510 -1515). On the Right: “Leda and the Swan” by Francesco Melzi (16th century).

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►Reading: W. B. Yeats’ Poem “Leda and the Swan”:

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 ►Analysis of W. B. Yeats’ Poem “Leda and the Swan”:

William Butler Yeats (1865/1939).

William Butler Yeats (1865/1939).

“Leda and the Swan” (1924) is a Petrarchan Sonnet (*), a traditional fourteen-line poem predominantly written in Iambic Pentameter (**). [See notes below].

The poet retells a story from Greek mythology, the rape of the Princess of Sparta, Leda by the god Zeus, who had assumed the form of a swan.

Yeats combines words indicating powerful actions (sudden blow, beating, staggering, beating, shudder, mastered, burning, mastered) with adjectives and descriptive words that indicate Leda’s weakness (“caressed”, “helpless”, “terrified”, “vague”, “loosening”). By doing this, he increases the sensory impact of the poem.

The first eight lines of “Leda and the Swan” describe the act of rape from Leda’s perspective. The ninth line, appropriately enough, ends the description of the sexual act.

The last six lines of the poem, then, narrate the consequences of the it, for Leda, personally, and those ones related to the Trojan War.

“Leda and the Swan” looks a little different than other sonnets. It has three stanzas and 14 verses.

But, verse 11 appears to be broken off into two lines. Yeats probably divided this verse in order to heighten the drama of Agamemnon being dead and to show how the poem shifts back to Leda’s perspective.

•The first stanza is characterized by violent beats and pauses.

•The second stanza shifts to more flowing lines as Yeats philosophically reflects on the events. The verses here are structured by the question “how,” and there are many adjectives (“terrified,” “vague,” “feathered,” “loosening,” “white,” “strange”).

•In the third stanza, the adjectives pile up as the poem builds to the solemn declaration, “And Agamemnon dead”. 

The rhythm comes to a screeching halt as verse 11 is fractured over two lines, in order to reach emotional height. This stanza connects Leda’s hymenal wall with the walls of  the city of Troy.

The last verses of the poem become calm again. Yeats  returns to his percussive gentle beats, incorporating some alliteration (“brute blood”). Yeats will then wonder whether Leda, through her contact with Zeus, would be able to foresee how the result of their union—Helen—would bring about the fall of a great city. Hence, the poem ends with a rhetorical question, introduced as a sort of irresolvable doubt

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(*) The Petrarchan Sonnet is named after Petrarch, a 14th century Italian poet who made the form popular throughout Europe. Like all sonnets, the Petrarchan sonnet has 14 lines. Unlike all sonnets, it also has a major thematic shift after the eighth line. At this point, the poem introduces a new subject or shifts its perspective in some way.
(**) Iambic Pentameter is closely associated with Blank Verse, Iambic is an adjective. Iamb is the noun and is short for Iambus. Iambus is from the Greek and refers to two. Therefore, Iamb refers to a foot, or any two syllable“unit”, referred to as a foot by metrists, consisting of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (or ictus).  An example of Iambic Pentameter in Yeats’ poem “Leda and the Swan” is: “He holds her help-less breast u-pon his breast“.

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►Gallery Of Paintings: “Leda and The Swan” (Leda and Zeus):

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“Leda and the Swan” by William Shackleton. (1928).

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 ►Links Post:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leda_and_the_Swan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leda_(mythology)

http://www.talesbeyondbelief.com/myth-stories/lovers-of-zeus.ht

http://aliisaacstoryteller.com/2015/06/15/irish-mythology-the-swan/

http://www.druidry.org/library/animals/swan

http://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/yeats/section7.rhtml

http://www.shmoop.com/leda-and-swan/poem-text.html

http://www.betterlivingthroughbeowulf.com/leda-and-the-swan-warning-necessary/

https://poemshape.wordpress.com/2008/11/30/what-is-iambic-pentameter-the-basics/

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I would like to thank José Sala for nominating me for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

I also want to thank  Optimista Blog for nominating me for a Versatile Blogger Award.

Last but not least thanks to Janet Wertman for nominating me for another Versatile Blogger Award.

Thanks to these three bloggers and please make sure to check out their blogs and to follow them, If you haven’t still done so!.~ 🙄  

Note: For the three awards, I will nominate blogs I have recently came across and like, recent followers and/or plussers. Also, I am changing the logos so that way I can include new awards among mine… And, finally, I will follow the nomination process without answering questions or mentioning facts about me…. 

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►Rules for these Three Awards:

♠ Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
♠ Add the logo to your post.
♠Nominate ten (10) bloggers you admire and inform your nominees by commenting on their blogs. 

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►I) Nominees~Very Inspiring Blogger Award (Monkey & Sunflower Version):

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1. The Wayward Warrior 2. MidiMike 3. The Spendy Pencil 4. Unbolt 5. Yadadarcyyada 6. José Sala 7. Sunshine and Shadows 8. Optimista Blog 9. Pomad 10. The Daily Rant.

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►II) Nominees~Versatile Blogger Award (Purple Version):

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1. Carole Migalka 2. JoHanna Massey 3. Lightwalker’s Blog 4. Bibliobulimica 5. Life, the Universe and Lani 6. A Beautiful Mess 7. The Vanessa Chronicles 8. Allyson Lee Adams 9. Kerry’s loft 10. Mountaintop Talk.

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►III) Nominees~Versatile Blogger Award (Bird Version):

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1. Cadence4life 2. The Perceptions Square 3. Arwenaragornstar  4. The Chaos Realm 5. Shehanne Moore 6. Janet Wertman 7. Extravaganza Beading 8. Autumn Melody 9. The More I Learn the More I Wonder 10. Emily Lichtenberg

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►Greek Mythology: “The Harpies, Winged Bird Monsters”:

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"Aeneas and his Companions Fighting the Harpies" by François Perrier (17th century).

“Aeneas and his Companions Fighting the Harpies” by François Perrier (17th century).

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In Greek Mythology, a harpy was a female monster in the form of a bird with a human face.

They were  the spirits of sudden, sharp gusts of wind.

They were known as the hounds of Zeus and were sent by him to snatch away people and things from the earth.

The harpies were also they were agents of punishment who abducted people and tortured them on their way to Hades’ domains. Like the Erinyes, the harpies were employed by the gods as instruments for the punishment of the guilty.

They seem originally to have been wind spirits. Their name means “snatchers”.

Aeschylus in The “Eumenides” (Third part of “The Oresteia”) referred to them as ugly winged bird-women. 

Odysseus-SirensLater Greeks transformed Harpies into Sirens, which can be seen in depictions of Odysseus on his long trip home from Troy.

But before that, Hesiod in “Theogony” called them “two lovely-haired” creatures. He said that the harpies were winged maidens, who surpassed winds and birds in the rapidity of their flight. He also mentioned that they were the daughters of Thaumas by the Oceanid ElectraHesiod‘s two Harpies were named Aello (storm swift) and Ocypete (The swift wing).

Virgil in (“The Aeneid” 3.209) added a third one, Celaeno (the dark).

According to Virgil, Aeneas encountered harpies, as they repeatedly made off with the feast the Trojans were setting. The harpies also cursed them, saying the Trojans will be so hungry they will have eaten their own tables before reaching the end of their journey to Italy.

On the other hand, Homer (“The Iliad” 16.148) made reference to  only to one harpy, named Podarge (“fleet-foot”). She was married to wind Zephyrus, and gave birth to the two horses of Achilles.

According to roman poet Ovid, (“Metamorphoses”. Book XIII), Zeus punished King Phineus of Trace because he had the gift of prophecy and once gave away the gods’ secret plan. The King of the Gods blinded King Phineus and put him on an island, and whenever a meal was placed before him, they darted down from the air and carried it off; later writers added, that they either devoured the food themselves, or that they dirtied it by dropping upon it some stinking substance, so as to render it unfit to be eaten.

According to Virgil (“Argonautica”. Book II) when Jason and the Argonauts came to visit, the winged Boreads gave chase, and pursued the Harpies to the Strophades Islands, where the goddess Iris, the personfication of the rainbow and messenger of the gods, commanded them to turn back and leave the storm-spirits unharmed.

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"Landscape with the Expulsion of the Harpies" by  Paolo Fiammingo (1590).

“Landscape with the Expulsion of the Harpies” by Paolo Fiammingo (1590).

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►Further Features:

•In Dante‘s “Divina Commedia” (Inferno XIII) the harpies tortured the sinners, who had their punishment in the seventh ring of Hell. 

•Later on, William Blake found inspired in Dante’s description in his pencil, ink and watercolour “The Wood of the Self-Murderers: The Harpies and the Suicides” (1824 /1827. Tate Gallery, London).

•In Shakespeare‘s “Much Ado about nothing”, Benedick spots the sharp-tongued Beatrice approaching and exclaims to the Prince Don Pedro that  he would do an assortment of arduous tasks for him “rather than hold three words conference with this harpy”. Here, the term “harpy” is used metaphorically to refer to a nasty or annoying woman.

•During the Middle Ages, the harpy, often called the Jungfrauenadler or “virgin eagle”, became a popular charge in Heraldy, particulalrly in Nuremberg, Rietburg and Liechtenstein.

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►William Blake’s painting “The Wood of the Self-Murderers: The Harpies and the Suicides”, inspired by Dante’s “Divina Commedia”:

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"The Wood of the Self-Murderers: The Harpies and the Suicides" by William Blake (1824/1827).

“The Wood of the Self-Murderers: The Harpies and the Suicides” by William Blake (1824/1827).

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•Description: Dante encounters the souls of those who have committed suicide and been transformed into trees as punishment for having relinquished their bodies. According to Lavater the tree has no physiognomy, so the figures are also stripped of any individuality. Harpies, mythological birds with the heads of women, feed upon them.

Blake gives his Harpies beaks rather than noses, thereby emphasising their bestiality. The squat shape of the Harpies and their large feet are reminiscent of owls, birds described by Lavater as particularly ‘stupid’ (contrary to modern associations of the bird with wisdom).

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“Here the repellent harpies make their nests,
Who drove the Trojans from the Strophades
With dire announcements of the coming woe.
They have broad wings, with razor sharp talons and a human neck and face,
Clawed feet and swollen, feathered bellies; they caw
Their lamentations in the eerie trees” 
(Dante’s “Divina Commedia”
(Inferno XIII, Seventh ring of Hell).-

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►Gallery: “The Harpies”:

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Links Post:
http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Harpyiai.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpy
http://www.theoi.com/Pontios/Iris.html
http://patagoniamonsters.blogspot.ca/2010/04/chilean-harpy.html
http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terme_di_Diocleziano
http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/aeneid/section3.rhtml
http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/blake-the-wood-of-the-self-murderers-the-harpies-and-the-suicides-n03356

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