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Posts Tagged ‘Literature’

 “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”:
“Fictional Universes and their effects on Reality”:
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 “Intersections” by Anila Quayyum Agha. Contemporary artist.

“Intersections” by Anila Quayyum Agha. Contemporary artist.

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►About Jorge Luis Borges, author of  “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”: 
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Jorge Luis Borges (1899/1986).

Jorge Luis Borges (1899/1986) was an Argentine writer, acclaimed in many other countries.

“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” originally appeared in Spanish in “Sur magazine” in may 1940. It was then published in book form in “Antología de la Literatura Fantástica” (december 1940), then in Borges’s 1941 collection “El Jardín de Senderos que se Bifurcan” (“The Garden of Forking Paths”). That entire book was, in turn, included within “Ficciones” (1944).
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“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”: Synopsis. Structure. Points of View (POVs):
Synopsis: The narrator (Borges) randomly comes across an article about a region called Uqbar. He then finds an Encyclopedia about Tlön (a country in Uqbar). The enigmatic story reveals that Tlön and Ubqar are fictitious places, invented by a secret society called Orbis Tertius.
Structure, and Points of View (POVs)The story is divided into three parts.
The Points of Views in “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius are basically two.
First Person, when the actions of the story are filtered through the observations of one character. Present in the first section, as a protagonist. 
Third Person; Predominantly Objective in the second and third section (postscript), but with Omniscient/all-knowing features in the postscript, as well. (For more about Points of View, check out Jeri Walker´s thorough post: “Picking a Point of View”).
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►”Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”:
Detailed summary and analysis by sections:
tlon__uqbar__orbis_tertius1) ♠In the first section, the narrator and his friend and writer, Adolfo Bioy Casares,  discuss a hypothetical novel in the first person, whose narrator would omit or disfigure the facts and indulge in various contradictions” (Page 1, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
The mirror in the hallway reminds Bioy Casares of an article in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia  about a country named Uqbar.
Casares then quotes a saying he remembers from a heresiarch of Uqbar: “Mirrors and copulation are abominable, for they multiply the number of mankind”. (Page 1, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Borges asks him where he had found that quote. Casares believed that Uqbar, along with the quotation, was catalogued in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia. Borges also has that same book in his place, but oddly it does not mention Uqbar, so he asks Bioy for further details. The following day, Bioy Casares brings him a copy containing the entry on Uqbar, with the quotation he had paraphrased.
There is something very interesting when it comes to the narrative structure here. It all starts with the apocryphal quotation, a sort of riddle that leads to an enlargement occurring in a staggered form: From the discovery of the text, to the imaginary country called Uqbar (vaguely situated in Asia, according to the article in The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia) and then to Tlön (one of the two regions of Uqbar, alongside Mlejnas).
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2) ♠The second section describes the narrator’s discovery of a volume of the Encyclopedia of Tlön, left behind in a bar by an Englishman, Herbert Ashe. This happens in 1937, meaning two years after Bioy Casares and Borges´ first knowledge of Uqbar and Tlön. Ashe´s manuscript  was the eleventh volume of a complete Encyclopedia surveying the imaginary city of Tlön.
The volume has on its first page a stamped blue oval inscribed “Orbis Tertius” (“third orb,” in Latin).
According to Borges, this encyclopedia entails a methodical and orderly infinitesimal plan, devised by a sect.
Borges describes some of the characteristics and features of Tlön and its people, based on the volume of the Encyclopedia he had found.
We can summarize some of the main points as:
-Tlön is divided in two hemispheres. In none of these hemispheres, nouns are included in their languages.
-People of this imaginary planet are “idealist” and do not believe in the material, objective existence of their surroundings.
-The world itself is understood as a series of mental processes lacking temporal duration. The lack of spatial relations across time lead to a distorted conception of identity. 
berkeleyThe philosopher Berkeley is mentioned by Borges as a referent in Tlön. Of course, not in practical way but more as Borges´interpretation. Bishop George Berkeley (18th century) was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called “immaterialism” or “subjective idealism”. This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that objects are only ideas in the minds of perceiver and, as a result, cannot exist without being perceived.
Berkeley believed God to be present as an immediate cause of all our experiences.
Here is Berkeley’s proof of the existence of God: “Whatever power I may have over my own thoughts, I find the ideas actually perceived by Sense have not a like dependence on my will. When in broad daylight I open my eyes, it is not in my power to choose whether I shall see or no, or to determine what particular objects shall present themselves to my view; and so likewise as to the hearing and other senses; the ideas imprinted on them are not creatures of my will. There is therefore some other Will or Spirit that produces them”. (Berkeley. Principles #29).
Inhabitants of the imaginary Tlön hold an extreme form of George Berkeley’s subjective idealism, denying the reality of the world.
Their world is seen not as a concurrence of objects in space, but as a heterogeneous series of independent acts.
Borges says: “The nations of this planet are congenitally idealist. Their language and the derivations of their language – religion, letters, metaphysics – all presuppose idealism. The world for them is not a concourse of objects in space; it is a heterogeneous series of independent acts. It is successive and temporal, not spatial”. (Page 7, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
But Tlön is a world of Berkeleyan idealism with one critical omission: it lacks the omnipresent, perceiving deity on whom Berkeley relied as a point of view demanding an internally consistent world.
The idea of eternal present appears in the second section.
Aristotle (384 /322) .

Aristotle (384 /322) .

Borges mentions: “One of the schools of Tlön goes so far as to negate time: it reasons that the present is indefinite, that the future has no reality other than as a present memory” (Page 8, according to University of Yale´s transcript).

The idea of time as Indefinite Present could be linked to Aristotle. Aristotle argues that the essence of time is the now, to nun.  
The “now” is given simultaneously as that which is no longer and as that which is not yet. Aristotle defines time as “a number of change in respect of the before and after”. As time implies a sense of a before and after, for Aristotle time is the coming-to-be and passing-away of nows moving in an irreversible, lineal way.
The First Encyclopedia of Tlön makes reference to two types of special objects: hronirs and urs
Hronirs are lost objects that could be found, or better said “produced” by people or animals. They entail a sort of duplication, being somehow clones or copies of the original object.
But, Borges suggests that a copy of another hronir would be deficient: “Curiously, the hronir of second and third degree – the hronir derived from another hron, those derived from the hron of a hron – exaggerate the aberrations of the initial one”. (Page 12, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Furthermore, Borges states that according to an experiment done with Tlön inmates: “expectation and anxiety can be inhibitory (when it comes to produce the secondary objects)” (Page 11, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
He also says that the reverse can occur: “Things became duplicated in Tlön; they also tend to become effaced and lose their details when they are forgotten. A classic example is the doorway which survived so long it was visited by a beggar and disappeared at his death” (Page 12 , according to University of Yale´s transcript). 
Finally, Borges also mentions a different type of secondary objects: Urs.  “An ur is the object produced through suggestion, educed by hope”. (Page 12 , according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Walter Benjamin (1892/1940).

Walter Benjamin (1892/1940).

The description of Hronirs, and especially how the copies might be defective could be linked to Walter Benjamin´s idea of “loss of the aura”. In his essay, “The Work of Art In The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Benjamin-one of the most well-known members of the Frankfurt School describes the so-called “loss of the aura”, in the context of mechanical reproduction of art. The aura represents the originality and authenticity of a work of art that has not been reproduced. In the age of mechanical reproduction, mass consumption is the cause of the loss of the aura, and, therefore, the loss of a singular authority within the work of art itself. However, for Walter Benjamin, a distance from the aura is a good thing. The loss of the aura has the potential to open up the politicization of art, whether or not that opening is detrimental or beneficial is yet to be determined.

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3) ♠Third and last section (Postcript):  The postscript reveals that Tlön and Ubqar are fictitious places, invented by a secret society called Orbis Tertius. This society worked for three hundred years and came up with the imaginary lands Uqbar and Tlön.
In his postcript, Borges notes several “intrusions” of Tlön into the real world, the most notable being the 1942 discovery of a Tlönian artifact in the hand of a dying man: a small metal cone of unknown material which was inexplicably heavy.
Borges says that all forty volumes of the Encyclopedia of Tlön were discovered and published in a library in Memphis. The material then became accessible worldwide, and immensely influential on Earth’s culture, science and languages. By the time Borges concludes the story (presumably in 1947) the world is already gradually disintegrating and transforming into Tlön. Besides, every domain of human knowledge has been rewritten to accommodate the truths of Tlön, and Borges expects the process to continue in the future.
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“Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”: Final Thoughts:
Based on a very complex temporal structure, this short story consists of three parts and two moments of enunciation. That is, the first part introduces Uqbar; the second presents Tlön; and the third, Orbis Tertius.
Also, the first two parts were, according to the fiction itself, written in 1940, while the third was written in  1947.
However as previously mentioned, this short story was first published in 1940.
The passage of time has diluted the effect that Borges sought and, instead, has favored the erroneous assumption that he added the postscript at the historical, “actual”  date of 1947.
anglo-american-cyclopedia1The three stages of the same plan are revealed through two texts: The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia entails the discovery of Uqbar. The First Encyclopaedia of Tlön, leads to know about the fantastic planet called Tlön, while the letter addressed to Herbert Ashe, explains plans and contingencies of the society Orbis Tertius. These three texts are either copies, or give birth of them.
The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia is a Fallacious copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Besides, the literalness of The Anglo-American Cyclopaedia is a hoax, as only in one volume of three the characters managed to find the article on Uqbar.
In this same line of analysis, although the narrator refers to the original text of the eleventh volume of A First Encyclopaedia of Tlön, in the postscript a second version of that encyclopedia is mentioned.
This newest version also distorts its original. At least as far as the eleventh volume concerns. The volumen that the narrator found in 1937 is modified in the version exhumed in 1944. The modifications refer to certain “incredible features”, such as the curious objects that duplicate in Tlön, the hrönir.
Finally, the Postcript suggests that the letter addressed to Herbert Ashe might have been reproduced in order to publicize the existence of Tlön and its imminent invasion of Reality. The narrator (Borges himself) is included in this work, summarizing the content of the letter.
Plato (427/347 BCE).-

Plato (427/347 BCE).-

The duplication and proliferation of copies  might allude to Plato´s Theory of Forms

In his dialogue Phaedo, Plato defends the world of the archetypes (Ideas/Forms)  by comparing it with the sensible world. While the Idea or archetype contains within itself an absolute and immutable value, the sensible copy reproduces this value in a partial, nether degree. 
In “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,” the Platonic attitude of disdain towards copies is enunciated from the beginning, with the imprecise quote that Bioy Casares mentions and which Borges attunes, later on.
Back to the quote, not only mirrors and copulation multiply and spread the universe. It seems that texts also do. In this sense, multiplication tends to alter the reproduced texts (simplifying them or modifying them). However, when it comes to the subsequent development of the encyclopedias in this story, one could conclude that the copies might “improve” the respective originals.
globe-glassDisorted Copies and Mirrors are elements that relate one to each other.
The mirror in Borges appears as a sort of unifying element between Reality and Fantasy. The perfect symbiosis between the real and the Fictional world ultimately demarcates the limits of the mirror.
In the case of Tlön, the narrative is constructed as a mirror. The image reflected is a “distorted and parodied” image of our own Culture.
Tlön is presented before hand as unreal, to finally persuade us that fictional planet is our world.
The resource used in this story is to render unlikely any event of reality. We could conclude that mental facts have woven a warp of such real consistency that it reaches the “real” world, introducing doubts to the reader.
On the Left: Hyperbolic tessellation: Circle Limit III, by M. C. Escher. 1959. On the right: Butterfly by M. C. Escher. 1960´s.

On the Left: Hyperbolic tessellation: Circle Limit III, by M. C. Escher. 1959. On the right: Butterfly by M. C. Escher. 1960´s.

This short story has both detective novel and dystopian novel elements.
In the first sense, the crime here described is the proliferation of fiction in the world of the narrator.

Or, said in other words, the death of reality due to the effects caused by the multiplication of Tlön:

“The contact and the habit of Tlön have disintegrated this world. Enchanted by its rigor, humanity forgets over and again that it is a rigor of chess masters, not of angels. Already the schools have been invaded by the (conjectural) “primitive language” of Tlön; already the teaching of its harmonious history (filled with moving episodes) has wiped out the one which governed in my childhood; already a fictitious past occupies in our memories the place of another, a past of which we know nothing with certainty – not even a that it is false…. If our forecasts are not in error, a hundred years from now someone will discover the hundred volumes of the Second Encyclopedia of Tlön.  Then English and French and mere Spanish will disappear from the globe. The world will be Tlön“.  (Page 16, according to University of Yale´s transcript).
Speculation is necessary here. For fiction to affect reality until it is annihilated, as happens when Tlön -as invention- influences reality, certain coherence is required. That is why, as we have seen, Borges´jigsaws, characters and researches are purely intellectual. Being these strategic elements of the genre available, a “real” world (the narrator’s) is constructed, as opposed to the “unreal” world of Tlön (which, however, is also made up of ideas). This is what allows Reality to be annihilated by Fiction.
As to the Dystopian factor, it is worth highlighting that the secret society Orbis Tertius had planned a textual conspiracy, directed to operate through a series of speeches and aiming to subjugate humanity. Subjugation subtly occurs Language, implying a perversion of rhetoric.
Taking this interpretation further, the disappearance of “English, French and Spanish” could allude to the Third Reich project of destroying the heterogeneity of civilization in favor of the predominance of a superior “race”.
Finally, the Dystopian element is surreptitiously expressed in the use of language (Otherwise, and also, as a resource of Power).
The story begins with a memory of Bioy Casares extracted from an apocryphal book. It ends with a destructive invasion of the real world by “objects” (which are nothing else but ideas) from a false world, published by an apocryphal book: the First Encyclopaedia of Tlön.
In fine, the story as a whole seems to contain an otherwise positive warning, about the limitations of language.
Language, without more reference than itself, can not allow us to distinguish between the apocryphal and the authentic, between what is false and what is true.🔚
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➰☑️ “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius”:

►Read “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges.

Translation to English from Yale University. Click Here. 

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►Links Post:
http://art.yale.edu/file_columns/0000/0066/borges.pdf
http://ciudadseva.com/texto/tlon-uqbar-orbis-tertius/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tl%C3%B6n,_Uqbar,_Orbis_Tertius
http://jeriwb.com/picking-a-point-view-57117/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BxOE3bO6SM&t=14m2s
http://hyperallergic.com/75485/borges-and-xul-solar-illuminating-an-artistic-friendship/
http://losojosdeborges.blogspot.com.ar/2004/12/tln-uqbar-orbis-tertius.html
http://ficcionesborges.blogspot.com.ar/2005/05/tln-uqbar-orbis-tertius-sobre-lo.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Berkeley
https://belate.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/aristotle-definition-of-time-in-physics/
https://frankfurtschool.wordpress.com/2008/02/28/summary-the-work-of-art-in-the-age-of-mechanical-reproduction/
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"The Tree of Forgiveness." by Edward Burne-Jones. 19th century.

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

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⇒“Metamorphoses” by Ovid:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and hubris are main topics in Ovid´s “Metamorphoses”. 
Unlike the predominantly romantic notions of Love, Ovid considered love more as a dangerous, destabilizing force.
However, there is an explanation for this attitude: during the reign of Augustus, the Roman emperor during Ovid’s time, major attempts were made to regulate morality by creating legal and illegal forms of love, by encouraging marriage and legitimate heirs, and by punishing adultery with exile from Rome.
As to hubris, (overly prideful behaviour) Ovid emphasizes that it entails a fatal flaw which inevitably leads to a character’s downfall. Hubris always attracts the punishment of the gods, as human beings might attempt to compare themselves to divinity.
As a side note, I think the best example of hubris in a Greek Myth is the one featuring Icarus, whose father built two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for them to escape from the Labyrinth for King Minos in which they had been imprisoned, and which had a fearsome Minotaur as guardian. Daedalus (Icarus´father) tried his wings first, but before taking off from the island, warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea, but to follow his path of flight. But soon later, Icarus was so overcome by the incredible feeling of flight, that he tried to fly higher and higher, trying to reach the sun; until, inevitably his wax wings melted, he fell from the sky into the Sea, and died.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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►Crocus, friend of Hermes/Crocus Plant:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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►Cyparissus/ Cypress tree:

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

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

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

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

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►Phyllis, Demophon´s wife/Almond Tree:

Phyllis was a daughter of a Thracian king.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The almond disappeared, and she became pregnant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Flora and Zephy" by Bouguereau. 1875.

“Flora and Zephy” by Bouguereau. 1875.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Flowers and Plants

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

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

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

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

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🔆♣“The Theban Plays”🔆:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Theban Plays by Sophocles.

The Theban Plays by Sophocles.

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

The logical and  chronological order would be:

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

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

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

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Sophocles ca. 496 – 406 BC

Sophocles ca. 496 – 406 BC

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🔆I. ♣“Oedipus Rex”. Background🔆:

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

Let´s consider which they are…

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

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

King Laius and Queen Jocasta of Thebes had a son.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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🔆II. ♣“Oedipus Rex”. Summary🔆:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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🔆III. ♣“Oedipus Rex”. Structure🔆:

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

• The Protasis is the beginning of the tragedy. 

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

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

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

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🔆IV. ♣“Oedipus Rex”. Analysis🔆

Hamartia, Anagnorisis, Peripetia and Catharsis:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 guarda_griega1_5Erin Sandlin 1guarda_griega1_5

🔆V. ♣“Oedipus Rex”🔆

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

∼By ©Erin Sandlin∼

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

•Cultural Messaging: 

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

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

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

•“Oedipus Rex” and Cultural Taboo: 

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

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

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

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

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

•At the Crossroads of Tragedy and Cultural Themes:  

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

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

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

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

•Incest and Feminine Agency: 

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

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

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

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

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

•Complex Complexes and Misnomers: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

∼Essay By ©Erin Sandlin∼ May, 2016.-

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Oedipus and Antigone by Johann Peter Krafft. 1809.

Oedipus and Antigone by Johann Peter Krafft. 1809.

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►About Erin Sandlin:

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

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

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

•You can find her books for sale on Amazon

•You can also  follow Erin on Twitter

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

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Erin Sandlin.

Erin Sandlin.

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

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

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

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

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Helene Laurent 00

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Helene Laurent I

Hélène Laurent.-

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►About  Hélène Laurent:

Word Lover inhabited by images. Specialist in Arts Performance. Founder and manager of “La Poesía no muerde”/”Poetry does not bite,” art community that promotes  collective poetry and the creative exchange from, different aesthetic approaches and sensibilities. Amateur photographer. She took part in the collective publications “Poetry in the distance” (“At your encounter” and “In the end, poetry) alongside other spanish poets. She was second runner-up in the Social Poetry Award of León, and runner-up in the contestant “On what happens between verses” and “A poem in eighty days”, during 2015.

►Sobre Hélène Laurent:

Amante de la palabra habitada por imágenes. Especialista en Artes Escénicas. Fundadora y administradora de “La Poesía no muerde”, comunidad artística que promueve la creación conjunta y el intercambio creativo desde especialidades, estéticas y sensibilidades distintas. Aficionada a la fotografía. Participó en las publicaciones colectivas “Poesía en la distancia” (“A tu encuentro” y “Al final, poesía), con poetas del panorama nacional. Segunda finalista del premio de poesía social de León, finalista de los concursos “De lo que pasa entre versos” y “Un poema en ochenta días”, durante 2015.

 •Hélène Laurent dixit:

Before calling myself an artist I´d rather say that I have certain weakness towards people… I can not avoid watching and analysing from the distance, trying to put myself in someone else´s shoes to make this stranger appear as a new world, ready to explore, or, even to invent. A world of thoughts, feelings and experiences, which-whether shared or not- might end giving birth to a poem, an image, a calligram, or even a theatrical character. I feel that Art is a never-ending and bidirectional trip between the individual and the universal… That Beauty is placed both in what puts us and in what pulls us apart. And, that, at times, while traveling the path, a “You” is needed in order to teach out a deeper “I”.

 Hélène Laurent dixit:

Antes que artista me considero “Apasionada por la humanidad”, tengo cierta debilidad por las personas, no puedo evitar observar y analizar en la distancia, intentar situarme un instante bajo la piel de otro y que este anónimo se convierta en un nuevo mundo que explorar o inventar, un mundo de pensamientos, sentimientos y vivencias, compartidas o no, que puede acabar cobrando vida a través de un poema, una imagen, un caligrama, o incluso un personaje teatral. Siento que el Arte no deja de ser un viaje constante y bidireccional entre el individuo y lo universal… Que la belleza se sitúa tanto en lo que nos une, como en lo que nos separa y que, a veces, hace falta un “tú” en el camino para llegar a un “yo” más profundo.

►About “La Poesía no Muerde”:

“La Poesía no Muerde” is a poetry blog hosted by Hélène Laurent. It is a collective blog in spanish which prompts are usually triggered by images that might lead to poems, or poems that -once published- are waiting to be illustrated with photographs or creative images, such as collages or digital artworks, provided by readers.

Feel free to follow and connect with “La Poesía no Muerde” on FacebookTwitter, YouTube and Google Plus.

NOTE. If you would like to be part of “La Poesía no Muerde” and collaborate by writing a poem, triggered by an image... And/or if you are just curious about how your poem in English might look in Spanish, you can contact me over here… I will do my best to help you with a good translation. 

►Sobre “La Poesía no Muerde”:

Es un blog dirigido por coordinado por Hélène. Es un sitio colectivo en castellano, cuyas consignas son generalmente llegar a poemas a través de imágenes disparadoras o ilustrar poemas que, unas vez publicados, esperan ser ilustrados con fotografías u otras variantes creativas, como ser collages o creaciones digitales, provistas siempre  por los lectores.

Puedes conectar con “La Poesía no Muerde” en FacebookTwitter, YouTube and Google Plus.

►About the book DESenREdo:

Desenredo is the latest book by  Hélène Laurent y Julia Moral. It could be defined as a fusion of poetry, photography and drawing.  A peculiar way of honoring the comic.

The book is an invitation to return to the essences, to play with words and images, both through love and humour… It calls us to seize everything, to enjoy both the knots and the disentanglements.

★ My opinion: I have had the chance to read the book and truly enjoyed it. The poems reflect emotions with which we may immediately relate to. Besides, the illustrations, in comic-shape, give the poems an interesting interpretative twist. I recommend it.

DESenREdo is available in Spanish, Spanish/English and Spanish/French. The available formats are Hard Copy and PDF. You can purchase the book here.

You can also visit the namesake blog here. Finally, you can check out the virtual Store here.

►Sobre el libroDESenREdo, por Hélène Laurent and Julia Moral:

Es el reciente libro de Fusión de poesía, fotografía y dibujo en un peculiar homenaje al cómic. DESenREdo es una invitación a volver a la esencia, a jugar con la palabra y la imagen con mucho amor o mucho humor… a no desperdiciar nada y a disfrutar tanto de los nudos, como de los DESnudos. El libro cuenta con imágenes e ilustraciones de Julia Moral, alias Desmoral.

★ Mi opinión: He tenido la oportunidad de leer el libro y realmente me ha gustado. Los poemas reflejan emociones con las cuales inmediatamente nos identificamos. Además, las ilustraciones en formato comic le dan a los poemas un interesante giro interpretativo. Lo recomiendo. 

DESenREdoestá disponible en tres idiomas, a saber Castellano, Inglés y Francés. Puedes adquirir el libro aquí.

También puedes visitar el blog homónimo aquí. E incluso la tienda DESenREdo aquí

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DESenREdo.

DESenREdo, Book/Libro. Click above to check it out / Click en el logo para consultar.~

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DESenREdo Blog

DESenREdo, Blog. Click above to visit/ Click en el logo para ingresar.~

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Hélène Laurent.-

Hélène Laurent.-

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Poems Desenredo

💫“France Aches”  / “Me Duele la Francia” / “Mal à la France” 💫:

►My insights on “France Aches”:

This poem, “France Aches”, by Hélène Laurent absolutely reached me.

It depicts with an existentialist tone, the succeeding feelings raised by the terrorist attacks which took place in Paris, France, during November 2015.  These sad events threw down at least 128 killed in gunfire and blasts.
Given this background, Hélène describes her feelings, which seem to set up in oddness and absorbed incomprehension.
The second and third stanzas come up with National characters, such as the French 
Enlightenment philosophers
from the 18th century and `Marianne´, a name which alludes to the French right wing, conservative politician Marine Le Pen. Not to mention other icons, such as the cock, which is France’s National emblema.

Hélène also makes reference to a flag with a single colour, which we assume would be black, representing grief following the awful incidents.

The poem is presented written in English and Spanish. And in video shape, in English, Spanish and French.

As to the videos, the versions in Spanish and French are both read by Hélène. The reading for the English version is mine. 

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►Mis reflexiones Sobre “Me Duele la Francia”:

Este poema “Me Duele la Francia” realmente me conmovió. 

Retrata, con un tono existencialista, los sentimientos  siguientes suscitados tras los los ataques terroristas que tuvieron lugar en París, Francia, durante Noviembre de 2015. Estos tristes incidentes arrojaron como saldo al menos 128 muertos en tiroteos y explosiones.

Dado este contexto Hélène describe sus sentimientos, que parecen situarse  en la incomprensión.

En la segunda y la tercera estrofa del poema aparecen personajes nacionales, como los Filósofos de la Ilustración del siglo XVIII Y `Marianne´, nombre que alude a la política francesa de derecha Marine Le Pen. Sin mencionar otros íconos, como el gallo, que es el Emblema Nacional Francés. 

Hélène también hace referencia a una bandera con un solo color, el cual asumimos sería el negro, representando el duelo que sobreviene a los terribles incidentes.

El poema es presentado en forma escrita, en Inglés y Castellano. Y, en formato de video, en Inglés, Castellano y Francés.

Respecto a los videos, las versiones en Castellano y Francés son ambas leídas por Hélène. La lectura para la versión en Inglés es mía.

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France Aches

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💫“France Aches”💫. English 🇬🇧.

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►“Me duele la Francia”. Castellano 🇪🇸.

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Me Duele la Francia, screenshot. DesenRedo

Me Duele la Francia, screenshot. DesenRedo

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►“Mal à la France”. Français 🇫🇷.

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►“En la Puerta del Cielo” / “At Heaven´s Door”:

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En la puerta del cielo

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heaven s door

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en-la-puerta-del-cielo

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“Otros Poemas” / “Other Poems”:

(Spanish/English. Castellano/Inglés)

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JAULA ABIERTA

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OPEN CAGE

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marioneta

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puppet

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►Gallería/ Gallery

►Aforismos, por Hélène Laurent / Aphorisms by Hélène Laurent:

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Links Post:
http://lapoesianomuerde.com/category/el-rincon-de-helene/
http://lapoesianomuerde.com/2015/09/21/presentacion-de-desenredo-libro/
http://lapoesianomuerde.com/2015/12/10/la-mordida-de-susana-resena-desenredo/
https://desenredopoesia.wordpress.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/November_2015_Paris_attacks
http://lapoesianomuerde.com/2013/09/11/en-la-puerta-del-cielo/
https://desenredopoesia.wordpress.com/2015/12/07/me-duele-la-francia-mal-a-la-france-videopoemas/
https://desenredopoesia.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/marionetamarionette-desenredo/
http://lapoesianomuerde.com/2015/12/19/aforismos/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDfBf2uWEqmzMKLoKb6oSEg

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Mythology: “Apollo And Daphne”:

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"Apollo and Daphne" by Jean-Baptiste van Loo (1720/1737).-

“Apollo and Daphne” by Jean-Baptiste van Loo (1720/1737).-

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Apollo was a great archer, but sometimes he was a little full of himself. One day he caught sight of Eros, Aphrodite´s son. Eros was also an archer, and his arrows were responsible for instilling the twists and turns of love and lust in a person’s heart. Apollo teased young Eros, putting down his abilities as an archer, claiming that one so small could make no difference with his arrows.

The insulted Eros took two arrows,  one tipped in gold, one blunted and tipped with lead

With the leaden shaft, to incite hatred, he shot the nymph Daphne, the daughter of the river and god Peneus.

With  the golden one, to incite love, he shot Apollo through the heart. 

Apollo was seized with love for the maiden, Daphne, and she in turn abhorred him. In fact, she spurned her many potential lovers, preferring instead woodland sports and exploring the woods. 

Apollo continually followed her, begging her to stay, but the nymph continued her flight. They were evenly matched in the race until Eros intervened and helped Apollo gain upon Daphne.

Seeing that Apollo was bound to catch her, she called upon her father, asking him to “Open the earth to enclose her”…

As all gods of water posses the ability of transformation, Peneus transformed his daughter into a laurel tree. Suddenly her legs took root, and her arms grew into long and slender branches.

Apollo embraced the branches, but even the branches shrank away from him. 

Since Apollo could no longer take her as his wife, he vowed to tend her as his tree, to raid away all tempted beasts and creatures of the earth, that intended to do her harm, and promised that her leaves would decorate the heads of leaders as crowns.

Apollo also used his powers of eternal youth  and inmortality to render her ever green.

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"Apollo and Daphne" by Paolo Veronese (1560/ 1565).-

“Apollo and Daphne” by Paolo Veronese (1560/ 1565).-

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►Characteristics and Symbolism of  The Bay Laurel (Laurus Nobilis):

Laurus Nobilis is an aromatic evergreen  with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is one of the plants used for bay leaf  seasoning in cooking. It is known as bay laurel or sweet bay. Laurus nobilis figures prominently in classical Greek, Roman, and Biblical culture.

Following the path of this myth, the leaves of the Bay Laurel tree were considered a symbol of the god Apollo.

Bay laurel was also used to fashion the laurel wreath of Ancient Greece, a symbol of  highest status.

A wreath of bay laurels was given as the prize at the Pythian Game because these games were celebrated in honor of Apollo, and the laurel was also one of his symbols.

The symbolism carried over to Roman Culture, which held the laurel as a symbol of victory

In the Bible, the laurel is often an emblem of prosperity and fame. In Christian tradition, it symbolizes the resurrection of  Christ.

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Bay Laurel ´s leaves and structure.-

Bay Laurel: Leaves and Shape.-

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Slideshare: “Apollo And Daphne”:

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Read Aphollo and Daphne´s Myth.

Version from Ovid´s “Metamorphoses” (Book I):

Click on the cover book above to read the myth.-

Click on the cover book above to read the myth.-

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Links Post: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daphne_(mythology)
http://readytogoebooks.com/classics/Ovid-daphne.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_laurel
https://ww2.odu.edu/~lmusselm/plant/bible/laurel.php 
http://fieldofthorns.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/daphne/ (“Daphne”, A poem at “Field of Thorns”, by Pepper).

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