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Posts Tagged ‘Tethys’

► “Metis in Ancient Greece”:

“Collaboration with José Cervera”💫:

Statue of the Greek philosopher Plato (c. 428 B.C.-348 B.C.). Behind him, the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena. Modern Academy of Athens.

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Summary:

This article is divided into three sections.

The First section presents Metis as a character, a Titan Goddess.

Being swallowed by Zeus (his cousin and husband), Metis would succumb to the same fate that Cronus´children, as indicated in the Second section.

The Third section will categorize different types of Knowledge, in Ancient Greece; Metis, among them. In that same section, the post will highlight how the word Metis acquired different meaning, changing from the name of the Goddess (Metis, the  Oceanid Titaness & Zeus´cousin and wife) to refer to a type of Intelligence (Practical wisdom). Thus, Metis was considered to cover all cognitive processes that were necessary for man in order to face adverse or confrontational situations against powerful adversaries, often in unstable and complex environments. Three examples from Greek Mythology will be provided. Finally, some final thoughts in the conclusion.

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I. ►Metis, The Titan Goddess:

Metis was a mythological character belonging to the Titan generation. Like several primordial figures, she was an Oceanid. She was born of Oceanus and his sister Tethys, of an earlier age than Zeus and his siblings.

Metis was the first spouse of Zeus, and also her cousin.

Zeus lay with Metis but immediately feared the consequences. It had been prophesied that Metis would bear extremely powerful children: the first, Athena and the second, a son more powerful than Zeus himself, who would eventually overthrow Zeus.

In order to forestall these dire consequences, Zeus tricked her into turning herself into a fly and promptly swallowed her. He was too late: Metis had already conceived a child.

As Zeus had swallowed Metis, Athena leaped from Zeus’s head. She was fully grown, armed, and armoured. 

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II. ►A (side) note on Zeus and Cronus´Cannibal behaviours:

The similarities between Zeus swallowing Metis; and Cronus, swallowing his children, have been noted by several scholars.

Cronus was the Titan god of time and the ages. He envied the power of his father, the ruler of the universe, Uranus.

Cronus attacked him with the sickle, castrating him and casting his testicles into the sea.

From the blood that spilled out from Uranus and fell upon the earth, the Gigantes, and the Erinyes  were produced. The testicles produced a white foam from which the goddess Aphrodite emerged.

 

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Once Cronus had castrated Uranus, he and his wife Rhea took the throne. Under their power a time of harmony and prosperity began, which became known as the “Golden Age”; a time when it was said that people lived without greed or violence, and without toil or the need for laws. But not all was well for Cronus, as he had learned from Gaia and Uranus that he was destined to be overcome by his own sons, just as he had overthrown his father. As a result, although he sired the gods Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades and Poseidon by Rhea, he devoured them all as soon as they were born to prevent the prophecy.

 

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When the sixth child, Zeus, was born Rhea sought Gaia to devise a plan to save them and to eventually get retribution on Cronus for his acts against his father and children. 

Rhea secretly gave birth to Zeus in Crete, and handed Cronus a stone wrapped in clothes, which he promptly swallowed, thinking that it was his son.

Once he had grown up, Zeus used an emetic given to him by Gaia to force Cronus to disgorge the contents of his stomach in reverse order: first the stone, which was set under the glens of Mount Parnassus, and then his two brothers and three sisters. 

This would lead the Olympians in a ten-year war against the Titans, before driving them defeated into the pit of Tartaros. Many years later, Zeus released Kronos and his brothers from this prison, and made the old Titan king of the Elysian Islands, in the Underworld

As to Zeus´s story, relevant to us here, José Cervera accurately notes that the Ruler of Gods might have swallowed Metis (also) because he was to a certain extent aware of the fact that he was lacking something. Meaning: The Practical Wisdom that Metis represented. By swallowing Metis, however, Zeus had gained wisdom as part of his intrinsic nature. This would be a case of Incorporation which reminds us (despite the differences) to the biblical account, according to which Eve was molded by God from Adam´s rib.

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III. A ►Different Types of Knowledge: Episteme, Techne, Metis and Phronesis:

For the Greeks and particularly for Plato, Episteme and Techne represented knowledge of an order completely different from Metis.

Episteme means “science”, “understanding” or “knowledge”, with the implication that the understanding was rationally founded, in contrast to mere opinion or hearsay. Noesis, or dialectic reason, is the method used by Episteme.  

Techne entails “technical skills”.  It could be expressed precisely and comprehensively in the form of hard-and-fast rules, principles, and propositions. Techne is based on logical deduction from self-evident first principles.

Nous is the closest word to “intelligence” but it is more correctly translated as “mind”, and “mental activity”. For Plato and Aristotle it is the part of the soul which perceives abstract truths. 

Phronesis means “practical wisdom”, “good judgement” or what we might call “common sense”. 

Metis, in what concerns us is another form of practical wisdom, what we would call “cunning”. It is similar to Phronesis in that it entails knowledge of how humans behave, but it is manipulative and deceitful rather than seeking the common good. Cunning intelligence would later be defined as Phronesis.

III. B ►Metis, Magical Cunning and Practical Wisdom. Examples of Metis in “The Odyssey”:

By the era of Greek philosophy in the 5th century BC, Metis had become the mother of wisdom and deep thought, but her name originally connoted “magical cunning”.

Metis represented a wide array of practical skills and acquired intelligence in responding to a constantly changing natural and human environment.

Hence the word Metis began to be used to denote a particular form of practical wisdom, 

The classic case of Metis is Odysseus, as he often used his cleverness to deceive and defeat his enemies. This is found many times in Homer´s epic poem.

•1. One example of Metis as magical cunning  appears in Book XII. We are referring to the episode in which Odysseus plugged his crew’s ears with earwax, while binding himself and his crew to the mast of the ship to avoid the Siren´s song

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•2. When it comes to Metis (magical cunning), the episode of Polyphemus, from Homer´s “Odyssey” (Book IX) is also worth mentioning.

The Cyclops Polyphemus is portrayed as a cruel monster who had devoured a few of Odysseus’ men. The hero  wanted to beat him and take revenge so he offered Polyphemus some wine. The cyclops easily got drunk, but before falling asleep, he asked Odysseus his name, Odysseus told him his name was “Οὖτις”, which means “nobody”. While the monster was sleeping, Odysseus used a stake to blind him. When Polyphemus shouted for help from his fellow giants, saying that “Nobody” had hurt him, they just ignored him as they just took his words literally (“Nobody had hurt him”). In the morning, the blind Cyclops let the sheep out to graze. But Odysseus and his men had tied themselves to the undersides of the animals and that was how they managed to finally get away. 

•3. Finally, the Trojan Horse. Wasn´t it a great example of Metis or Cunning, as well?. Using trickery rather than violence, Odysseus disguised warriors as a gift, men as (a wooden image of) an animal, a symbol of the Greeks’ future victory as an image of their defeat, and ultimately, a clever trap. Once inside the city walls, the transformation was reversed and the act of Metis revealed for what it was.

“Building of the Trojan Horse” by Giandomenico Tiepolo (1774).-

 

In these examples of Metis, taken from “The Odyssey”, the emphasis is both on Odysseus’s ability to adapt successfully to a constantly shifting and challenging situation and on his capacity to understand, and hence outwit, his human and divine adversaries. 

It is not a minor detail, either, that Odysseus is traditionally aided by Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom. 

Athena- as mentioned before- was born from Zeus’ head, after the latter had swallowed her mother, the goddess Metis, because, as it had been predicted to him that his children by her would overthrow him.

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►Conclusion:

Metis, understood as a type of  practical wisdom, is commonly found in Greek Myths and Literature. In all its facets and faces of the same phenomenon lies a peculiar kind of behavior. More specifically: the extreme attention, observation, flexibility and creativity to sort out things, under certain “special” circumstances.

However, despite its relevance, Metis as type of Intelligent ability has been also relegated, criticized and even despised.

Plato intentionally ignored it, keeping it aside in his Gnoseological Theory. In turn, he enthroned the discursive Episteme, clearly much more acceptable to him, as he considered that Episteme was related to the highest degree of Knowledge.

Plato´s ideal of knowledge was sternly rational and hence: Apollonian. He made sure to suppress any “intuitive” shade that might somehow darken the diaphanous light of Reason and Episteme. Indeed, as pointed out before, Plato despised practical knowledge basically because it did not depend on Dialectical Reason (Noesis) and it seemed to be linked to the body and senses, therefore to the so-called “Dionysiac” forms.

Suffice it to recall that for Nietzsche, the Apollonian-Dionysian Dichotomy, (“The Birth of Tragedy”. 1872) represented the opposition between structured, geometric forces; and fluctuating, creative, irregular forms; respectively. Nietzsche contrasted the cerebral Apollo with his half-brother, the hedonistic Dionysus. Apollo, as the sun-god, represents light, clarity, and form, whereas Dionysus, as the wine-god, represents drunkenness and ecstasy.

However, back to Plato, it is worth noting that certain Dionysiac forces still seem to be present in his dialogues. Most times in the forms of myths or allegories. 

We could conclude that Episteme and Metis are different types of intelligences.Episteme is rigid, dialectic and Apollonian, while Metis might be quite unpredictable in its reasonings and linked to Dionysus. But despite this, they complement each other. We´d rather say the ideal entails not a dichotomy but, instead, a conjunction of abilities. 

Apollo (on The Left) & Dionysus (on The Right), representing the duality of Arts… And Intelligence. Apollo=Episteme. Dionysus=Metis.-


♠About José Cerbera:

José is a Spanish philosopher and blogger. In his own words: “I am a restless and curious being who believes in the religion of books and their healing power. But without forgetting that the mystery of existence isn´t contained in any book. I have studied Philosophy and that led me to distrust everything. Later on, I believed in me. Soon after, in the World Itself and what goes beyond it because it just boundless”. Please check out José´s blog: “El Ritual de las Palabras”. Thank you, José! ⭐️💫.

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José Ignacio Cervera. Click to visit José´s blog.-

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♠Links Post:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metis_(mythology)
http://www.theoi.com/Titan/TitanisMetis.html
https://ritualdelaspalabras.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/las-artimanas-de-la-inteligencia/
https://socialecologies.wordpress.com/2016/02/23/metis-cunning-intelligence-in-greek-thought/
http://eprints.maynoothuniversity.ie/2255/1/e_bracke_thesis.pdf
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/episteme-techne/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyphemus
https://locvsamoenvs.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/homers-odyssey-12181-201-siren-song/
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HERA

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"The Peacock complaining to Juno", by Gustave Moreau (1881).

“The Peacock complaining to Juno”, by Gustave Moreau (1881).

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Hera (Roman equivalent: Juno) was Zeus’ wife and sister, and was raised by the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. She was the supreme goddess, patron of marriage, family and childbirth, having a special interest in protecting married women. 

Hera, like her siblings, was swallowed by her father Cronos (Rhea‘s husband) as soon as she was born.

Zeus with the help of Metis later tricked Cronos into a swallowing a potion that forced him to disgorge his offspring.

The legitimate offspring of her union with Zeus are Ares (the god of war), Hebe (the goddess of youth), Eris (the goddess of discord) and Eileithvia (goddess of childbirth).  

Johann Jakob Bachofen (“An Investigation of the Religious and Juridical Character of Matriarchy in the Ancient [1861]), considered that Hera, was originally the goddess of a matriarchal people, presumably inhabiting Greece before the Hellenes. According to this author, her activity as goddess of marriage established the patriarchal bond of her own subordination.

Her sacred animals were the cow, the lion and the peacock, and she favoured the city of  Argos.

She is usually portrayed enthroned, and crowned with the polos (a sort of crown worn by several of the Goddesses.

 ►Three Myths featuring Hera.

•The Judgement of Paris:

Hera, Aphrodite and Athena were the three goddesses who all claimed to deserved the Golden Apple of Discord, introduced by  Eris in Peleus and Thetis‘ wedding. This golden apple was labeled “For the fairest one”). Zeus chose Prince Paris of Troy to decide who was the fairest. Still, Paris could not decide, as all three were ideally beautiful, so they resorted to bribes. Hera offered Paris control over all Asia and Europe, while Athena offered wisdom, fame, and glory in battle, and Aphrodite offered the most beautiful mortal woman in the world as a wife, and he accordingly chose her. This woman was Helen of Troy, who was already married to King Menelaus of Sparta. Paris abducted Helen and her abduction would lead to the Trojan War.

Hephaestus, the son that Hera produced alone: 

Hera was jealous of Zeus’ giving birth to Athena, without recourse to her (actually with with Metis), so she gave birth to Hephaestus without him, though in some stories, he is the son of her and Zeus. Hera was then disgusted with Hephaestus’ ugliness and threw him from Mount Olympus. Hephaestus gained revenge against Hera for rejecting him by making her a magical throne which, when she sat on, did not allow her to leave. The other gods begged Hephaestus to return to Olympus to let her go, but he repeatedly refused. Dionysus got him drunk and took him back to Olympus on the back of a mule. Hephaestus released Hera after being given Aphrodite as his wife.

Heracles, disowned by Hera and… the Milky Way: 

Hera hated Heracles, being the scapegoat of the illegitimate offspring sired by Zeus. Heracles was the son of the affair Zeus had with the mortal woman Alcmene.

Thus, Heracles’ existence proved at least one of Zeus’ many illicit affairs, and Hera usually conspired against him, as a revenge for her husband’s infidelities.

Fear of Hera’s revenge led Alcmene to expose the infant Heracles, but he was taken up and brought to Hera by his half-sister Athena, who played an important role as protectress of heroes.Hera did not recognize Heracles and nursed him out of pity. Heracles suckled so strongly that he caused Hera pain, and she pushed him away. Her milk sprayed across the heavens and there formed the Milky Way. But with divine milk, Heracles had acquired supernatural powers. Athena brought the infant back to his mother, and he was subsequently raised by his parents, who had originally named him Alcides, being Heracles a derivated name.

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“Juno Borrowing the Girdle of Venus” by Guy Head (1771).

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“Hera in the House of Hephaistos William” by Blake Richmond (1902),

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 ►Gallery: “Hera, Zeus’ Wife”:

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Links Post:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hera
http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Hera/hera.html

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lpnm3

lpnm1

Click above to visit the blog / Click en el logo para ingresar al blog.~

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→On May 12th I had the honor to be part of a poetic challenge at La Poesía No Muerde, a great community blog of Poetry, hosted by Hélène LaurentPlease, make sure to also read the poems by Verónica, from En Humor Arte; José from Viajes al Fondo del ALSA and Johan from Johan Cladheart.

Later on, that same week a second poem written by me was also posted at La Poesía No Muerde. (May 15th).
You can check out the poems, in Spanish and translated to English, below… 
 
→ Se adjuntan dos participaciones poéticas, del 12 y 15 de Mayo, respectivamente, publicadas inicialmente en La Poesía no Muerde.
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 ►La Poesía No Muerde: “The Walking Chair” (Imagen encontró Poemas):
~“Auf Wiedersehen, Liebling”… (“Hasta pronto, querido”).~
 
Llevo mi silla a cuestas,
como la conciencia del amo en el esclavo
Mas la carga es semántica, 
por eso… el oprobio. 
 ~~~
Y las contradicciones, son ideológicas, 
cada tarde esperándome, 
se arremolinan en pantallas
Ovejas de otro rebaño.
 ~~~
Mis ventanas las abro de noche
para que las esperanzas florezcan de día.
Procuro que los ideales clavados en el cielo ideal
estallen contra las estructuras materiales.
~~~ 
Mas sólo en términos dialécticos
Mi silla potencial es sólo un bloque de madera
Qué importa el futuro si todos los días
se clavan en un cetro onmímodo.
 ~~~
Auf wiedersehen, Liebling...
Hilos de títere en sus vetas inertes, 
tejen implacables
oleajes de río… 
  ~~~
 ©2015 Amalia Pedemonte.-
guardaawesomeglitter
 Originalmente publicado en:

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auf wiedersehen

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 ►La Poesía No Muerde: “Imagen encontró (¡Otro!) Poema”.

~”Fragmento de un Final”.~

Corola tallada de pétalos sin flor.
una hoja con ápice impermeable.
Eterna y seca primavera,
rivera incipiente, sutilmente verde.

Una furtiva mirada azul
sobre un camino oscilante,
surcos muertos, árboles vacíos de hojas.
Bajo el sol inagotable del mediodía interminable.

~~~ 

Réplicas de galerías.
Redundantes sonidos.
Las palabras que no dijimos
te hacen una reverencia.

~~~ 

Tus fantasmas esculpen mis recuerdos.
Soy todo lo que fui en tu cautiverio,
persistes, con codicia te acumulas.
A cada nombre me retiro, te invoco y te devuelvo.

~~~

Te conjuro, brisa efímera .
Nunca volverás a ser mi aire.
Escúrrete por la puerta de las sombras y el olvido
Deja de asediarme…

 ~~~ 
 ©2015 Amalia Pedemonte.-
 
guardaawesomeglitter
 
Originalmente publicado en:

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 ► Last but not Least: Special thanks to Lisardo Sobrino Fernández for his poem Aquiles, on his blog, Tiempo de Letras.

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©2015. Lisardo Sobrino Fernández. Click Here: http://www.tiempodeletras.blogspot.com.es/2015/05/aquiles.html

©2015. Lisardo Sobrino Fernández. Click on the image.

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