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Posts Tagged ‘Dante’s “Divina Commedia”’

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 versions 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:
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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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mnemosyne1

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“Mnemosyne” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1881) .-

“Mnemosyne” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1881) .-

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Mnemosyne/ Μνημοσύνη (Roman equivalent: Moneta(0)) was a Titaness, goddess of Memory (1) and the inventor of Words (2)

Mnemosyne was also a goddess of time. She represented the rote memorisation required, before the introduction of writing, to preserve the stories of history and sagas of myth. She was the daughter of Uranus (Heaven) and Gaia (Earth). Uranus and Gaia were the parents of the first generation of Titans, consisting of twelve elder gods/goddesses, being Mnemosyne included among them.

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Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology, Mnemosyne among them.-

Genealogy of the Olympians in Greek mythology, Mnemosyne among them.-

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She was also lover of the Ruler of Gods, Zeus
After Zeus led the war against the Titans and established himself as the leader of the Olympians, he feared that, even though he might be immortal, his great victories and decisions might soon be forgotten.

Longing for a way to preserve the memory of his many great feats, he dressed as a shepherd and went to find Mnemosyne. 

The account tells that Zeus and Mnemosyne slept together for nine consecutive nights, thus birthing the nine Muses (3)

The Muses were nine young, beautiful maidens who became the representatives of poetry, the arts, the sciences and sources of inspiration.
They were often depicted as accompanied by Apollo, who represented discipline and application of the arts. The Muses were: Calliope, epic or heroic poetry Clio, history Erato, love poetry and flute-playing Euterpe, lyric poetry and lyre-playing Melpomene, tragedy Polyhymnia, sacred music and dance Terpsichore, choral music and dance Thalia, comedy and idyllic poetry Urania, astronomy and cosmological poetry.
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“Apollo and the Muses” by Simon Vouet. 1640.

“Apollo and the Muses” by Simon Vouet. 1640.

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mne8Mnemosyne’s name derives from Mene, Moon, and mosune, ‘wooden house’ or ‘tower’, so literally means ‘the House of the Moon’.
 
The goddess Mnemosyne is sometimes credited with being the first philosopher, as her gift was the power of reason.
She was given responsibility for the naming of all objects, and by doing so gave humans the means to dialog and to converse with each other. 
The powers to place things in memory an that of remembrance were also attributed to this goddess.
 
The name Mnemosyne was also used for a river in the Underworld, Hades, which flowed parallel to the river of Lethe (4).  
Lethe was one of the five rivers of the underworld of Hades, around the cave of Hypnos, the greek god of Sleep, and through the Underworld, where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness. 
In chant XXXI of Dante’s “Divina Commedia”, at the very top of Purgatory, Dante is dipped into the River Lethe, which will cause amnesia. The chant of Asperges me (purge me) accompanies his immersion, and he then forgets his past sins and his atonement for them is complete.
Furthermore, the words Lethe or Elysium are often used as metaphors for the underworld or Hades in general.
Charon was the ferryman of the dead, in the service of the underworld domains of Hades. He received the shades of the dead from Hermes, who gathered them from the upper world and guided them through the underworld. Charon transported them in his boat to a final resting place in Hades, the land of the dead, on the other side.
The fee for his service were two coins which were placed on the eyelids of the dead person or just one coin, which was put in the mouth of the dead as a Greek burial custom .
It was believed that those who had not received due burial and were unable to pay his fee, would be left to wander the earthly side of the river Acheron, haunting the upper world as ghosts, being also unable to reincarnate.
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“Mnemosyne, The Mother of the Muses” by Frederic Leighton. (19th century).

“Mnemosyne, The Mother of the Muses” by Frederic Leighton. (19th century).

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Some ancient Greeks believed that souls were made to drink from the river before being reincarnated, so they would not remember their past lives. 
Other accounts taught the existence of another river, the Mnemosyne; those who drank from the Mnemosyne would remember everything.
More specifically, according to the Orfism, a Greek mystical religious movement, the newly dead who drank from the River Lethe would lose all memory of their past existence.
The initiated were taught to seek instead the river of memory, Mnemosyne, thus securing the end of the transmigration of the soul.
 
Besides, Mnemosyne was considered a minor oracular goddess. She presided over the underground oracle of Trophonios in Boiotia. Ancient Greeks sometimes worshipped Mnemosyne in the form of a spring, alluding to her profuse, flowing energy. 
Before being brought to the oracle, initiates were taken to a place with two pools lying next to each other. They were instructed to first drink from the pool of Lethe, the Goddess of forgetfulness, in order that they might forget their previous lives. Then they were taken to the spring of Mnemosyne to drink so that they would remember all that they were about to learn from the oracle.
Finally, Mnemosyne can be related to Aletheia, the greek goddess of Truth, Remembering and the Unhidden. The Roman counterpart for this goddess is Veritas

Aletheia (ἀλήθεια) is a Greek word variously translated as “unclosedness”, “unconcealedness”, “disclosure” or “truth”. Contained within the etymology of the word Aletheia is “lethe” meaning “forgetfulness”, “oblivion” and also applicable to one of the five rivers of the Underworld in Hades, as it was previously said.

The german philosopher, Martin Heidegger in his book “Time and Being” drew out an understanding of the term as ‘unconcealedness’. According to him, aletheia is distinct from conceptions of truth understood as statements which accurately describe a state of affairs (correspondence), or statements which fit properly into a system taken as a whole (coherence).

Instead, Heidegger focused on the elucidation of how the “world” is disclosed, or opened up, in which things are made intelligible for human beings in the first place, as part of a holistically structured background of meaning.

There is also an interesting association between Memory, seen as a faculty and Plato´s theory of Ideas. Plato, through Socrates´voice, states- in the dialogue “Phaedo”- that the soul was immortal and gives four arguments to prove so.

The basis of these reasonings were previous statements which relate the ability to apprehend Ideas through a sort of process of intuitive memory.

In Plato’s Dialogues, learning appears as a process of remembering, assuming that the soul, before its incarnation in the body, was in the realm of the “Forms”. There, the soul saw the Essences-Forms or Ideas, rather than the pale shadows or copies we merely experience on earth. Hence, when we identify an object, we are just remembering the Idea or Form which remains as an incorruptible and eternal essence behind and at the same time beyond the particular object.

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 ►Notes:
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Study of Jane Morris for ‘Mnemosyne’ (detail), 1876.-

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Study of Jane Morris for ‘Mnemosyne’ (detail), 1876.-

(0) Moneta. In Roman mythology, Moneta was a title given to two separate goddesses: the goddess of memory (identified with the Greek goddess Mnemosyne) and an epithet of Juno/Hera, called Juno Moneta. Moneta is also a central figure in  John Keats‘ poem “The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream”. (See Excerp below)
‘Is Saturn’s; I Moneta, left supreme
‘Sole priestess of this desolation.’
I had no words to answer, for my tongue,
Useless, could find about its roofed home
No syllable of a fit majesty
To make rejoinder to Moneta‘s mourn.
 
(1)Mnemosyne, Goddess of Memory.  Socrates: “Let us, then, say that this is the gift of Mnemosyne (Memory), the mother of the Mousai (Muses), and that whenever we wish to remember anything we see or hear or think of in our own minds, we hold this wax under the perceptions and thoughts and imprint them upon it, just as we make impressions from seal rings; and whatever is imprinted we remember and know as long as its image lasts, but whatever is rubbed out or cannot be imprinted we forget and do not know”. Plato, Theaetetus 191c (trans. Fowler).-
(2) Mnemosyne, inventor of Words. “Of the female Titanes they say that Mnemosyne discovered the uses of the power of reason, and that she gave a designation to every object about us by means of the names which we use to express whatever we would and to hold conversation one with another; though there are those who attribute these discoveries to Hermes. And to this goddess is also attributed the power to call things to memory and to remembrance (mneme) which men possess, and it is this power which gave her the name she received”. Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 67. 3 (trans. Oldfather) (C1st B.C.).-
(3) Mnemosyne and Zeus, parents of  the nine Muses“And again, he [Zeus, after lying with Demeter] loved Mnemosyne with the beautiful hair: and of her the nine gold-crowned Moisai (Muses) were born”. Hesiod, Theogony 915 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (C8th or C7th B.C.) 
(4) Mnemosyne, a river which flowed parallel to the river of Lethe. “He [Aithalides, son of Hermes, gifted with unfailing memory] has long since been lost in the inexorable waters of the Acheron, yet even so, Lethe (Forgetfulness) has not overwhelmed his soul [ie unlike the other dead he remembers his past lives and retains his memory in the underworld]”. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 1. 642 ff (trans. Rieu) (Greek epic C3rd B.C.).-
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►Gallery: “Mnemosyne, Goddess of Memory ”:
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“To Mnemosyne (Memory). The consort I invoke of Zeus divine; source of the holy, sweetly speaking Mousai nine; free from the oblivion of the fallen mind, by whom the soul with intellect is joined. Reason’s increase and thought to thee belong, all-powerful, pleasant, vigilant, and strong. ‘Tis thine to waken from lethargic rest all thoughts deposited within the breast; and nought neglecting, vigorous to excite the mental eye from dark oblivion’s night. Come, blessed power, thy mystics’ memory wake to holy rites, and Lethe’s (Forgetfulness) fetters break”. Orphic Hymn 77 to Mnemosyne (trans. Taylor) (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.).-
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collaboration
This part of the post on Mnemosyne consists of a collaboration with two talented canadian women. Resa McConaghy and Christy Birmingham.
I was initially invited to join Resa and Christy in order to work in something together. Resa is an artist and costume designer and Christy a freelancer writer and poet.
I was delighted to be part of the project which figuratively unites a continent from North to South, or viceversa. And, nor less than having a Greek Goddess as pretext!.
Resa created a beautiful gown based on Mnemosyne whilst Christy wrote a poem following the same implicit prompt.
So, without further ado… I am leaving you with these two Northern Stars, and their respective contributions…
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guarda_griega1_2-1 (1) RESA
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Resa has created a mesmerizing gown inspired in Mnemosyne. She chose red and white for the dress and added some beautiful details such as golden traces representing Mnemosyne’s daughters, the Nine Muses. I also liked the way she introduced the iconic two masks, depicting Comedy and Tragedy.
Mnemosyne was the patroness of poets, and she played a very important role when it comes to preserve the Oral tradition. So I think this detail speaks out loud in that sense. 
Resa tells us more about this gown in her post on Goddess Mnemosyne, which you will be able to find on her blog Art Gowns.
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Goddess Mnemosyne. Artgown by © Resa McConaghy. 2016.-

Goddess Mnemosyne. Artgown by © Resa McConaghy. 2016.-

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Goddess Mnemosyne. Artgown by Resa McConaghy.

Goddess Mnemosyne. Artgown by Resa McConaghy.

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 About Resa McConaghy:
resaResa is a canadian artist, costume designer and author.
She hosts two blogs Graffiti Lux and Murals and Art Gowns.
She has written a book, “Nine Black Lives, available on Amazon. You can follow Resa on Twitter, too.
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 Art Gowns: http://artgowns.com/ Graffiti Lux and Murals: http://graffitiluxandmurals.com/

Art Gowns: http://artgowns.com/ Graffiti Lux and Murals: http://graffitiluxandmurals.com/

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Christy has written a beautiful poetic ode to Mnemosyne. The title is so clever, I like the fact that she has chosen a gerund and that Mnemosyne, the Goddess of Memory is being remembered.

The first stanza delves into the temporal dialectic of memories (second and third verses), alluding to Mnemosyne´s daughters and developing that idea in the second stanza, in which Zeus is also mentioned as the father of the Muses.

The third stanza entails a great twist as it places Mnemosyne´s influence among us, hic et nunc (here and now). Christy highlights how Mnemosyne is being acknowledged in the collaboration that beckons her spirit to birth again.

You can check out more Christy´s poems on her blog Poetic Parfait.

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Remembering Mnemosyne

She is one with memory,
Closer to the past than the present,
With a future that pops forth nine muses who
Walk with mythically-lined toes full of
Musicality, poetic verse, and
Laughter for miles.
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The talented Muses are born as
Presents to the mind –
They are gifts from Zeus and Mnemosyne,
Whose passionate harvest spread over evenings that
Would later inspire three creative women afar.
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Her magical wonder ignites poetic words that
Mix with design and descriptions into a
Collaboration that beckons her spirit to birth again,
This time with dialogue, syllables and an exquisite
Red fabric that cloaks us all in comfort.

© Christy Birmingham. 2016 .-

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©Poetic Parfait 2016. Artwork for Christy Birmingham´s Poem.

©Poetic Parfait 2016. Artwork for Christy Birmingham´s Poem.

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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), available  at Redmund Productions. And another poetry book,  “Versions of the Self” (2015), which you can find on Amazon.  She also hosts two blogs: Poetic Parfait and When Women Inspire. You can connect with Christy on Twitter too. 

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Poetic Parfait: http://poeticparfait.com/ When Women Inspire: http://whenwomeninspire.com/

Poetic Parfait: http://poeticparfait.com/ When Women Inspire: http://whenwomeninspire.com/

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Links Post:
http://www.theoi.com/Titan/TitanisMnemosyne.html
http://greekmythology.wikia.com/wiki/Mnemosyne
http://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/PotamosLethe.html
https://lpsmythologywiki.wikispaces.com/Greek+Myths–The+River+of+Styx
http://symbolreader.net/2014/02/16/the-secrets-of-the-odyssey-2/
http://www.britannica.com/topic/Lethe
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aletheia
http://artgowns.com/2016/02/01/goddess-mnemosyne/
http://poeticparfait.com/2015/05/16/versions-of-the-self-poetry-book-kindle-and-hard-copy/
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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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