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► “Hermes & Writing in Ancient Greece”: “Collaboration with Alan Severs”✍️:

Statue of Hermes/Mercury. Roman copy. 200 AD.


Summary:

“Hermes”, by W. B. Richmond. From “The magazine of art” vol. 9, 1886.

♠Divided into three sections, this article revolves around three main themes: Hermes, as The Greek God of Writing and his equivalents in other cultures; Plato´s derogatory ideas of writing, amidst the prevailing Oral Tradition; and how this eventually would change, as writing became a most accepted form, when the Greeks adopted the Phoenician Alphabet.

Greek God Hermes was the equivalent of the egyptian God Thoth, and from both of them resulted a Hybrid God: Hermes Trismegistus.

Hermes´roman counterpart was Mercury

In Norse Mythology, his Homologous figure was Odin.

Hermes and his associated figures are described in the first section.

♠The second section refers to Plato´s dialogue “Phaedrus”, emphasizing Socrates´quite negative statements concerning writing in that dialogue.

In “Phaedrus”Plato denies the legitimacy of the written word in favour of the oral tradition. With that purpose, Socrates tells us a myth, featuring Thoth (also known as Theuth and Hermes´egyptian equivalent).

Greece’s transition to literacy, was slow, and it augmented and transformed the traditions of oral culture which had for centuries been instrumental in the handing down of certain forms of cultural knowledge.

Before the advent of writing, Greek citizens’ knowledge of their history, the ways of their gods, and the attitudes, mores, and taboos of their society were orally transmitted. This occurred not only through parent-to-child communication and transmission within a community, but also through the poetry of the bards, most notably Homer and Hesiod.

The third section  delve into this issue, taking into account how writing effectively evolved in Ancient Greece.

As a matter of fact, Writing went through different phases, summed up as follows:

>Linear A Script: It was the written language of the Minoans of Crete, remains undecipherable.

>Linear B Script: It consists of the Mycenaean Civilization and the only partially decipherable Linear B script of Crete. 

>Phoenician Alphabet: It was the alphabet of ancient Phoenicia, which first came to Greece sometime before the 8th century BCE, from whence it spread.

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Section I. Hermes, Thoth, Hermes Trismegistus, Mercury and Odin:

Hermes was son of Zeus and one of the Pleiades, Maia

Hermes, Greek God. 540 BC

The name Hermes appears to have originated in the word for “stone heap.”

Probably since prehistoric times there existed in Crete and in other Greek regions a custom or erecting a herma, consisting of an upright stone surrounded at its base by a heap of smaller stones. Such monuments were used to serve as boundaries or as landmarks for wayfarers. A connection existed between these simple monuments and the deity named Hermes.

Hermes had many attributes and represented many things. Hermes was the Olympian god of herds and flocks, travellers and hospitality, roads and trade, thievery and cunning, heralds and diplomacy, astronomy and astrology. Besides, he was the herald and personal messenger of Zeus, and also the guide of the dead who led souls down into the underworld. 

He was also a god of science and wisdom, art, speech, eloquence. And, most importantly: “the God of Writing”. 

The Greek God Hermes, as God of Writing, finds his analogue in Egypt as the ancient Wisdom God Thoth (sometimes spelled Thouth, Theuth or Tahuti). 

Thoth, Egyptian God of Writing.

Thoth was important in many myths of Pharaonic Egypt: he played a role in the creation myth, he was recorder of the gods, and the principal pleader for the soul at the judgment of the dead. It was he who invented writing. According to relevant sources, he wrote all the ancient texts, including the most esoteric ones, including “The Book of Breathings”, which taught humans how to become gods.

In ancient Egypt,  Thoth created script. Besides, he was connected with the moon and thus considered the ruler of the night.

Furthermore, Thoth acted as an emissary between the contending armies of Horus (Egyptian God of the sky and kingship) and Seth (god of the desert, storms, disorder and violence in ancient Egyptian). Thoth eventually came to negotiate the peace treaty between these two gods. His role as a mediator between the opposites is thus made evident, perhaps prefiguring the role of the alchemical Mercury as the “medium of the conjunction.”

Both Hermes and Thoth were gods of writing and of magic in their respective cultures.

Hermes, the Greek god of interpretive communication, was combined with Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom, to become the patron of astrology and alchemy. In addition, both gods were psychopomps, guiding souls to the afterlife. Hermes Trismegistus may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.

As Alan Severs says in his post “The Grammar of Magic”:

“Writing and magic have always been closely associated. The Egyptian God Thoth was thought to be  the inventor of writing and the patron of every magical art. The considerable cultural contact and resulting overlap over the centuries because of conquest and trade between Egypt, Greece and Rome led to the deities Hermes and Mercury who shared many of the same attributes as Thoth before they all further blended together, creating the composite figure that was to later an immeasurable influence in the history of ideas, Hermes Trismegistus”.

Last, but not least: there is still another Egyptian parallel. Specifically, in the figure of Anubis. In classical mythology, Hermanubis was a god who combined Hermes with Anubis (given that they were both conductors of souls).

Hermes Trismegistus, floor mosaic in the Cathedral of Siena. 1480s.

Hermes´roman equivalent, Mercury had essentially the same aspects as Hermes. He also wore winged shoes and a winged hat, and carried the caduceus, a herald’s staff with two entwined snakes that was Apollo‘s gift to Hermes. He was often accompanied by a cockerel, herald of the new day, a ram or goat, symbolizing fertility, and a tortoise, referring to Mercury’s legendary invention of the lyre from a tortoise-shell.

Like Hermes, he was also a god of messages, eloquence and of trade, particularly of the grain trade. He was also, like Hermes, the Romans’ psychopomp, whose ability was to lead the newly deceased souls to the afterlife.

Thoth. Hermes Trismegistus and Mercury.

Another related God, given his attributes, is Odin.

Odin is a prominently mentioned god throughout the recorded history of the Germanic people, from the Roman occupation of regions of Germania through the tribal expansions of the Migration Period and the Viking Age. In the major mythological Old Norse texts, the Poetic and Prose Eddas, Odin is depicted as one-eyed and long-bearded, frequently wielding a spear named Gungnir, and wearing a cloak and a broad hat. He is often accompanied by his animal companions: two wolves and two ravens named Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory). As well as being the Germanic equivalent of Hermes, Odin appears to have marked shamanistic tendencies as he frequently has ecstatic visions in other realms after undergoing various trials and ordeals.

In Norse Mythology he was associated with healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, battle, sorcery, poetry and the runic alphabet. In the long Eddic, gnomic poem Havamal (The Words of Odin the High One) Odin sacrifices himself to himself by hanging from a tree (presumably Yggdrasil, the World Tree) for nine days and nine nights in order to obtain knowledge of the runes, which is suggested throughout Norse mythology as being a symbolic alphabet used for magical purposes. 

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►Section II. Plato´s dialogue “Phaedrus”, in which Socrates pronounced himself in favour of the prevailing Oral Tradition and, thus, against writing:

In his dialogue “Phaedrus”; Plato denies the legitimacy of the written word as capable of conveying knowledge in any truly significant way.

In this dialogue, Socrates puts the case against writing into the mouth of  Thamus, the Egyptian equivalent of Zeus.

When Thamus is presented by the god Theuth (Thoth) with the invention of writing, Thoth claims it “will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memories, for it is an elixir of memory and wisdom that I have discovered”. But Thamus replies:

‘Most ingenious Theuth, one man has the ability to beget arts, but the ability to judge of their usefulness or harmfulness to their users belongs to another; and now you who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise’. (Plato´s “Phaedrus”. Line 140 and following).
Socrates adds his own conviction that written words are inhuman, unresponsive to questioning, and indiscriminate as to whom they address themselves. At best, they can only “remind him who knows the matter about which they are written” (Plato´s “Phaedrus”. Line 278).

Walter Ong points out in his book “Orality and Literacy” [*Click here to read book] that these denunciations can by the modern reader as the same ones levelled by many against computers. This analogy is instructive because it allows us to understand in some small way the nature of the enormous change that was taking place in early Greek culture at the time of Socrates and Plato: the transition from a dominantly oral mode of transmitting knowledge to a slowly emerging literate one.

The Egyptian god Thoth, or Tehuti, in the form of an ibis. With him is his associate, the ape, proferring the Eye of Horus.

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►Section III. Towards a Literate Society: Writing in Ancient Greece:

1) >Linear A and Linear B Scripts:

Linear A (1700 BC)  was the written language of the Minoans of Crete. It consists of 60 phonetic symbols representing syllables and 60 symbols representing sounds and concrete objects or abstract ideas. There is no consensus on how to translate the Linear A symbols

Linear B (1450 BC) was first studied by Sir Arthur Evans, but it was not until 1952 that it was deciphered by Michael Ventris.

Linear B  is generally seen as a more simplified and less pictorial version of the earlier scripts . It is also far more cursive in its shape. The script consists of about 87 symbols, which each represent a syllable, as well as some ideograms which represent an entire word or idea. It seems that the Myceneans used writing not to keep historical records but strictly as a device to register the flow of goods and produce into the palaces from a complex, highly centralized economy featuring regional networks of collection and distribution. [To see examples of  decipherments of Linear A and Linear B Minoans tablets, please visit this guest post at “The Shield of Achilles”].

2) >The Phoenician Alphabet in Greece:

The alphabet of most modern languages was originated in ancient Phoenicia (11oo BC) and first came to Greece sometime before the 8th century BC, from whence it spread. Homer’s “Illiad” and “Odyssey”, written around 800 BC, are early examples of the Greek use of the Phoenician alphabet, as are the classics “Theogony” and “Works and Days”, by Hesiod.  Homer’s poems appear to have been recorded shortly after the script’s invention: an inscription from Ischia in the Bay of Naples, dated 740 BC, appears to refer to a text of the “Iliad”; and illustrations inspired by the Polyphemus episode in the “Odyssey” were found in Mykonos in 715 BC.

Herodotus claimed that the Phoenician alphabet was brought by Cadmus to Boeotia where he founded the city of Thebes.

The early Greek alphabet, based on the alphabet of the Phoenicians, was different from the linear and hieroglyphic scripts preceding it in that each symbol represents a single consonant as opposed to a syllable.

The Phoenician alphabet consisted of 22 characters with vowel sounds built into the symbols. The Greeks modified the Phoenician alphabet by changing some of the symbols as well as creating separate vowels.  They also made their alphabet more phonetically correct.

By using individual symbols to represent vowels and consonants, the Greeks created a writing system that could, for the first time, represent speech in an unambiguous manner. Furthermore, while Linear B seems to have only been used for inventories and lists, the Greek alphabet was used for literary purposes. Writing became not simply a means of recording events, but also an art form in itself.

⇒Writing from right to left. Bidirectional writing. Writing from left to right:

In the earliest versions of the alphabet, the Greeks complied with the Phoenician practice of writing from right to left and the letters had a left-facing orientation.

A good example of writing from right to left is shown in the inscription on the so-called Nestor’s Cup, a clay drinking vessel of the 8th century BC, which bears a famous inscription.

The text of the inscription runs:

Nestor’s cup, good to drink from.
Whoever drinks from this cup, him straightaway
the desire of beautiful-crowned Aphrodite will seize.

The so-called Nestor’s cup from Pithekoussai, Ischia and its inscription.

This was followed by a period of bidirectional writing, which means that the direction of the writing was in one direction on one line but in the opposite direction on the next, a practice known as boustrophedon.

During the 5th century BCE, however, the direction of Greek writing was standardized as left to right, and all the letters adopted a fixed right-facing orientation. 


Conclusion:

So far, we have seen that there are clear and effective similarities, when it comes to certain Gods.

Gods Hermes, Thoth (and the hybrid resulting of both: Hermes Trismegistus); as well as Mercury and Odin, they all represent similar ideas.

They all seem to be fused in an eclectic space of cultural juxtaposition, despite the cultural differences.

This could prove Carl Jung´s thesis of the Collective Unconscious. According to him, the human collective unconscious is populated by archetypes and universal symbols, shared among beings of the same species.

Worth noting that Hermes and his equivalents were mainly considered here keeping in mind their specific roles as “Gods of Writing”.

Plato was a keen defender of Oral tradition, against writing. This is evident particularly in his dialogue “Phaedrus”, in which Socrates (by retelling an Egyptian myth), states that Writing will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory.

Pisistratus (6th century BC/ 527 BC) was tyrant of Athens whose unification of Attica and consolidation and rapid improvement of the city’s prosperity helped to make possible it’s later preeminence in Greece.

Pisistratus clearly supported Oral tradition. And he did so, by specifically encouraging Dramatic Arts and TheatreIndeed, theatre was a key technological factor of specialization in Greek culture. The choral poetry offered a fissure through which the choir was first sung until the actors took over in order to visually stage the oral poetry.

Probably, this was the most evident symptom of the transition from an Oral culture to a hybrid, semi-oral or audiovisual Culture, which dominated the fifth century BC and classicism. At last, by the end of the century, Writing prevailed.

When introducing writing, (Linear A, Linear B, and especially alphabetic writing), the Ancient Greeks privileged the visual sense against other senses such as seeing or hearing. Alongside this change, their conception of space and time was also altered, going from discontinuous to a linear, homogeneous conception. Hence, the chronological narrative and History itself arose as new types of discourses.

By objectifying words and making meaning accessible to a much longer and more intense meaning of what is orally possible, writing fostered private thought and increased awareness of individual differences.

Thus, Writing led to free initiative and creativity of the Ancient Greek society as a plural “whole”, while preserving the value of the individual forms. Such a tendency could be also considered a “call for democracy”, as a political correlate of literacy, expressivity, abstraction and individualization.



♠About Alan Severs: Alan defines himself as an occasional writer of fiction, poetry; and essays on modernism, mysticism, mythology, magic and mystery. His blog, Cakeordeathsite covers many of these and other interesting subjects. Please check it out hereThank you, Alan! 🐬

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Click to visit Alan´s blog.-

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Links Post:
https://http://www.ancient.eu/script/
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/lineara.htm
http://www.ancient.eu/timeline/writing/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nestor%27s_Cup
https://cakeordeathsite.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/the-grammaire-of-magic/
http://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Alphabet/
http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Hermes.html
http://www.john-uebersax.com/plato/myths/phaedrus.htm
http://www.csuchico.edu/phil/sdobra_mat/platopaper.html

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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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►Greek Mythology: “The Erinyes” (The Furies):

►Poetry: Verónica Boletta: “Three”:

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"Orestes and the Erynies" by Gustave Moreau (1891).

“Orestes and the Erynies” by Gustave Moreau (1891).

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In Greek Mythology, the Erinyes were mainly goddesses of vengeance.

The name Erinnys, which is the more ancient one, was derived by the Greeks from the erinô or ereunaô, I hunt up or persecute, or from the Arcadian word erinuô, I am angry; so that the Erinnyes were either the angry goddesses, or the goddesses who hunt up or search after the criminal

The goddesses were often addressed by the euphemistic names Eumenides (“Kind Ones”) or Semnai Theai (“Venerable Goddesses”). Eumenides signifies “the well-meaning,” or “soothed goddesses”.

They were probably personified curses, but possibly they were originally conceived of as ghosts of the murdered. 

They were depicted as ugly, winged women with hair, arms and waists entwined with serpents:

 “You handmaidens, look at them there: like Gorgones, wrapped in sable garments, entwined with swarming snakes!”. Aeschylus, “Libation Beaers” (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.).

According to the Greek poet Hesiod, they were the daughters of Gaia (Earth) and sprang from the blood of her mutilated spouse Uranus; in the plays of Aeschylus, they were the daughters of Nyx; in those of Sophocles, they were the daughters of Darkness and of Gaia. Euripides was the first to speak of them as three in number.

Later authors named them Allecto (“Unceasing in Anger”), Tisiphone (“Avenger of Murder”), and Megaera (“Jealous”).

Among the things sacred to them we hear of serpents, chthonian animals associated with the Underworld. Also their sacred bird was the screech owl, a nocturnal bird of ill omen, closely associated with curses and the gods of the dead. As to the plants, they were associated to the narcissus.

They were particularly worshipped at Athens, where a festival called Eumenideia was celebrated in their honour.

These goddesses were sometimes seen as servants of Hades and Persephone in the Underworld.

As the Erinyes not only punished crimes after death, but during life on earth, they were conceived also as goddesses of fate, who, together with Zeus and the Moirae, led such men as were doomed to suffer into misery and misfortunes.

The wrath of the Erinyes manifested itself in a number of ways.

The most severe of these was the tormenting madness inflicted upon a patricide or matricide. Murderers might suffer illness or disease; and a nation harbouring such a criminal, could suffer dearth, and with it hunger and disease.

This is mostly what happens in Aeschylus’s “Oresteia”, a three-act drama of family fate, like the “Oedipus trilogy” by Sophocles.

The three parts of “The Oresteia” are: First: “Agamemnon”. Second: “The Libation Bearers“. Third and last play: “The Eumenides”.

In “Agamemnon”, Clytemnestra herself  murders his husband Agamemnon.

In “The Libation Bearers”, Clytemnestra is murdered by her son Orestes.

In the  third and last play,”The Eumenides”, Orestes is judged because of his crime by a jury composed of Athena and twelve Athenians. Although Orestes’ actions were what Apollo had commanded him to do, Orestes has still committed matricide, a grave sacrilege. Because of this, he is pursued and tormented by the terrible Erinyes. 

In Aeschylus’ tragedy “The Eumenides”, the Erinyes introduce themselves and later on, say to Orestes: 

“We claim to be just and upright. No wrath from us will come stealthily to the one who holds out clean hands, and he will go through life unharmed; but whoever sins and hides his blood-stained hands, as avengers of bloodshed we appear against him to the end, presenting ourselves as upright witnesses for the dead”. (Aeschylus’ Oresteia “The Eumenides”. 310).
“We drive matricides from their homes … Since a mother’s blood leads us, we will pursue our case against this man and we will hunt him down”… (Aeschylus’ Oresteia “The Eumenides”. 230).
“Allow us in return to suck the red blood from your living limbs. May we feed on you -a gruesome drink! We will wither you alive and drag you down, so that you pay atonement for your murdered mother’s agony”. (Aeschylus’ Oresteia “The Eumenides”. 265).

At Delphi’s Oracle, Orestes has been told by Apollo that he should go to Athens to seek the aid of the goddess Athena.

Once in Athens, Athena arranges for Orestes to be tried by a jury of Athenian citizens, with her presiding.

The Erinyes appear as Orestes’ accusers, while Apollo speaks in his defense. The jury vote is evenly split.

Athena participates in the vote and declares Orestes acquitted because of the rules she established for the trial.

Despite the verdict, the Erinyes threaten to torment all inhabitants of Athens.

Athena, however, offers the ancient goddesses a new role, as protectors of justice. Thus, she persuades them to break the cycle of blood for blood, as  as mercy should always take precedence over harshness. This threat satisfy the Erinyes, who are then led by Athena in a procession to their new city.

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"Orestes Pursued by the Furies" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1861).

“Orestes Pursued by the Furies” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1861).

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►Gallery: “The Erinyes” (The Three Furies):

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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►Poetry: A poem by Verónica Boletta: “Three”:

Fate

is revenge.

Impious triad of

blood,

tears and whips.

Talion’s trident, (*)

incarnated in snakes:

haughty,

horrific and

unmentionable.

Each murder

finds punishment

in the gathering point

in which Eternity

and Infinite

turn into Hell.

Death

is not solace,

nor sheltering sky.

Hence…

madness.

©2014 Verónica Boletta.-

Note: (*) Talionthe system or legal principle of making the punishment correspond to the crime; retaliation.

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►About Verónica Boletta:

Verónica lives in La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has a degree in Economic Sciences. 

‘Numbers’ are her Career of Currency as she says.

Regardless, she has her own “B side”. She is also a writer and therefore likes to embrace ‘Words’, particularly in the shape of great poems…

So, being this said and without further ado, make sure to check out Verónica’s blog hereAlso feel free to connect with her at Twitter

Verónica Boletta dixit“Abrazo los números como profesión de divisas y las palabras como profesión y esperanza de vida. Reescribo mis credenciales y mis cartas de presentación así como borroneo en bocetos, la vida. Soy la mirada y el ojo, los sonidos y el oído, las letras del abecedario y las palabras, los pies en la tierra y la esperanza en el cielo”.~

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Verónica Boletta.-

Verónica Boletta.-

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►Links Post:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/222733/Furies
http://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Erinyes.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erinyes
http://dutchie.org/goddess-erinyes/ 
http://www.maicar.com/GML/ERINYES.html
http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Fi-Go/Furies.html

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►Greek Mythology: “Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty”:

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"Venus Verticordia" ("Venus the Changer of Hearts") by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1868).-

“Venus Verticordia” (“Venus the Changer of Hearts”) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1868).-

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Aphrodite (In ancient greek Ἀφροδίτη”arisen from the foam”. Roman equivalent: Venus) was the goddess of Love, Beauty and Eternal Youth, arousing desire to gods and humans. In addition, she was connected to the death/rebirth of nature and was also considered a protectress of sailors.

Aphrodite’s symbols were the girdle. the seashell and the mirror. Her sacred animal was the dove.

According to Hesiod’s “Theogony”, she was created from the foam of the waters of the sea, in the fragrant island of Cyprus, when the Titan Cronos  slew his father, the major Titan Ouranos, and threw then his genitals into the sea.

Hesiod’s reference to Aphrodite’s having been born from the sea inspired the Renaissance artist Botticelli’s famous painting of the goddess on a giant scallop shell. 

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"The Birt of Venus" by Sandro Botticelli (1486).-

“The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli (1486).-

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Homer, on the other hand, said that she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione.

When the Trojan prince Paris was asked to judge which of three Olympian goddesses was the most beautiful, he chose Aphrodite over Hera and Athena and gave her the Golden Apple which was labeled “To the Fairest”.

The latter two had hoped to bribe him with power and victory in battle, but Aphrodite offered the love of the most beautiful woman in the world.

This was Helen of Sparta, who became infamous as Helen of Troy when Paris subsequently eloped with her. In the ensuing Trojan War, Hera and Athena were implacable enemies of Troy while Aphrodite was loyal to Paris and the Trojans.

In Homer’s “Iliad”, Aphrodite saves Paris when he is about to be killed in single combat by Menelaus. The goddess wraps him in a mist and spirits him away, setting him down in his own bedroom in Troy. She then appears to Helen in the guise of an elderly handmaiden and tells her that Paris is waiting for her.

Helen recognizes the goddess in disguise and asks if she is being led once more to ruin. For Aphrodite had bewitched her into leaving her husband Menelaus to run off with Paris. She dares to suggest that Aphrodite go to Paris herself.

Suddenly furious, the goddess warns Helen not to go too far, lest she be abandoned to the hatred of Greeks and Trojans alike.

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"Venus convinces Helen to go with Paris" by Angelica Kauffman (1790).-

“Venus induces Helen to fall in love with Paris” (detail)  by Angelica Kauffman (1790).-

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“The Judgment of Paris” by Luca Giordano (1681-1683).-

“The Judgment of Paris” by Luca Giordano (1681-1683).-

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”Golden Apple of Discord” by Jacob Jordaens (1633).-

”Golden Apple of Discord” by Jacob Jordaens (1633).-

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Another case in which Aphrodite came to the aid of a mortal hero also happened to involve golden apples. When the heroine Atalanta agreed to wed who beat her in a foot race, Aphrodite favored Hippomenes with a peck of golden fruit.

By strewing these apples on the race course, Hippomenes caused Atalanta to become distracted, reason why she lost the race.

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“Atlanta and Hippomenes” by Willem van Herp (1632).-

“Atlanta and Hippomenes” by Willem van Herp (1632).-

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In a different ocassion, Zeus punished Aphrodite for beguiling her fellow gods into inappropriate romances.

He caused her to become infatuated with the mortal Anchises. That’s how she came to be the mother of Aeneas. She protected this hero during the Trojan War and its aftermath, when Aeneas quested to Italy and became the mythological founder of a line of Roman emperors.

A minor Italic goddess named Venus became identified with Aphrodite, and that’s how she got her Roman name. It is as Venus that she appears in the “Aeneiad”, Virgil’s epic of the founding of Rome.

In the “Iliad”, Homer tells how Aphrodite intervened in battle to save her son Aeneas, who was obviously,  a Trojan ally. 

The Greek hero Diomedes, who had been on the verge of killing Aeneas, attacked the goddess herself, wounding her on the wrist. Aphrodite promptly dropped Aeneas, who was rescued by Apollo, another Olympian sponsor of the Trojan.

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"Venus with Iapis Tending the Wounded Aeneas" by Francesco Solimena (1695).-

“Venus with Iapis Tending the Wounded Aeneas” by Francesco Solimena (1695).-

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"Venus Presenting Arms to Aeneas" by Nicolas Poussin (1639_.-

“Venus Presenting Arms to Aeneas” by Nicolas Poussin (1639_.-

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"Venus Directing Aeneas and Achates to Carthage" by  Angelica Kauffmann (1768).-

“Venus Directing Aeneas and Achates to Carthage” by Angelica Kauffmann. (1768).-

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►”The Aphrodite of Cnidos” by Praxiteles and Other Sculptures of Aphrodite based on it:

 Engraving of a coin from Knidos showing the Aphrodite of Cnidus, by Praxiteles.


Coin from Cnidos showing the Aphrodite of Cnidus, by Praxiteles.

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“The Aphrodite of Cnidos” or “Cnidian Aphrodite” was one of the most famous works of the ancient greek sculptor Praxiteles (4th century BC, Classic Period). 

The statue  became famous for its beauty, meant to be appreciated from every angle, and for being the first life-size representation of the nude female form.  

Praxiteles probably used the courtesan Phryne as a model.

The Cnidian Aphrodite has not survived. Possibly the statue was removed to Constantinople and was lost in a fire.

The original statue supposedly depicted Aphrodite as she prepared for the ritual bath that restored her purity (not virginity), discarding her drapery in her left hand, while modestly shielding herself with her right hand.

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►Slideshare: Most Well Known Variations on “The Aphrodite of Cnidos”:

(Note: Click on any sculpture for further technical details on it)

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►Links Post:
http://www.mythweb.com/encyc/entries/aphrodite.html
https://ladysighs.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/greek-9-aphrodite/
http://gogreece.about.com/cs/mythology/a/mythaphrodite.htm
http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/grecoromanmyth1/p/Aphrodite.htm
http://www.greek-gods.info/greek-gods/aphrodite/aphrodite-paintings.php
https://micromythos.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/the-weirdest-births-of-mythology/
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphrodite_of_Cnidus
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