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► “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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Jupiter and Europe by Gustave Moreau (1868

“Jupiter and Europe” by Gustave Moreau (1868).

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Zeus was the supreme god in Ancient Greece, the father of the Olympian gods and the ruler of mankind. He was identified with the Roman god Jupiter and associated with other deities, such as the Egyptian god Ammon and the Etruscan god Tinia. 

He was regarded by the Greeks as the god of all natural phenomena on the sky; the personification of the laws of nature; the ruler of the state; and finally, the father of gods and men.

Zeus was the last child of the Titans Cronus and Rhea. Zeus had five older siblings. Two brothers (Poseidon and Hades), and three sisters (Hestia, Hera and Demeter).

Cronus had learnt that he was destined to be overthrown by his son as he had previously overthrown Uranus, his own father. His wife Rhea, knew that he would kill the baby so she sought Gaia to devise a plan to save him.

Finally, Rhea she gave birth to Zeus in Crete and hid him in a cave and he was raised by Gaia. 

As mentioned previously, Zeus’ father, Cronus, had sired several five children by Rhea, but he swallowed them all as soon as they were born.  After reaching manhood, Zeus forced Cronus to disgorge his  siblings in reverse order of swallowing.

Then he released the brothers of Cronus, the Gigantes, the Hecatonchires and the Cyclopes, from their dungeon in Tartarus.

Zeus married his own sister, Herathe goddess of marriage and monogamy, but was giving her plenty of reasons to be jealous, since Zeus was renowned of his numerous lovers As a result, Zeus fathered plenty of children.

By Hera, Zeus sired Ares and Hephaestus (who would be both Aphrodite’s lovers) and Hebe, the goddess of youth. 

He had love affairs with Demeter (the Goddess of the Harvest and Perspehone’s mother), Leto (the Goddess of Motherhood), Dione (the personification of a more ancient Mother Goddess), Maia (a Nymph) and Thetis (A Sea Nymph and leader of the Fifty Nereids). Also Metis, (one of the Okeanides and the Titan goddess of good counsel and advise) was his lover and his first wife and Athena (the goddess of wisdom) was their daughter.

Among mortals she had several lovers such as Io, Leda, Europa, and even the handsome young man Ganymede, to whom Zeus granted him eternal youth and immortality. Seleme was also among them and with her Zeus sired Dionysus (The god of Wine).

Zeus was the god of regulated time as marked by the changing seasons and the regular succession of day and night, in contrast to what his father Cronus represented before him; absolute time, meaning eternity.

As the personification of the operations of nature, he represented the glaws of unchanging order, by which both the natural and the spiritual world were governed.

As the father of the gods, Zeus ascertained that each deity perform their individual duty, punished their misdeeds, settled their disputes, and acted towards them on all occasions.

The symbols of Zeus were the scepter, the throne and the thunderbolt, which was as a gift from the Cyclopes after he liberated them. Zeus’ tree was theoak tree and his sacred animal was the eagle. Using his shield, the Aegis, he could create all natural phenomena related to the air and the sky, such as storms and tempests.

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Jupiter and Semele by Gustave Moreau (1895).

“Jupiter and Semele” by Gustave Moreau (1895).

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Zeus and Ganymede. (theft of fire) by Christian Griepenkerl (1878) .

“Zeus and Ganymede. (Ttheft of fire)” by Christian Griepenkerl (1878) .

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Jupiter and Thetis, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. 1811.

“Jupiter and Thetis”, by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. (1811).

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“O Zeus, much-honoured, Zeus supremely great, to thee our holy rites we consecrate, our prayers and expiations, king divine, for all things to produce with ease through mind is thine. Hence mother earth (Gaia) and mountains swelling high proceed from thee, the deep and all within the sky. Kronion king, descending from above, magnanimous, commanding, sceptred Zeus; all-parent, principle and end of all, whose power almighty shakes this earthly ball; even nature trembles at thy mighty nod, loud-sounding, armed with lightning, thundering god. Source of abundance, purifying king, O various-formed, from whom all natures spring; propitious hear my prayer, give blameless health, with peace divine, and necessary wealth”. [Orphic Hymn 15 to Zeus. (Greek hymns C3rd B.C. to 2nd A.D.)]~

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Zeus at Olympia, One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”:

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“Zeus at Olympia”, sculture by Phidias. Drawings.

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On the Left: A fanciful reconstruction of Phidias’ statue of Zeus, in an engraving made by Philippe Galle in 1572. On the Right: Coin from Elis district, Greece illustrating the Olympian Zeus statue.

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The Statue of “Zeus at Olympia” was a giant seated figure, about 42 ft (13 m) tall, made by the Greek sculptor Phidias around 435 BC at the sanctuary of Olympia, Greece, and erected in the Temple of Zeus. It  It was regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, until its eventual destruction for unknown causes during the 5th century AD.
In the 2nd century AD, the geographer Pausanias gave a detailed description. The statue was crowned with a sculpted wreath of olive sprays. It had gold sandals, and a golden robe carved with animals and lilies. In its right hand was a small chryselephantine statue of crowned Nike, goddess of victory. Its left hand held a sceptre inlaid with many metals, supporting an eagle. The throne was decorated in gold, precious stones, ebony, and ivory. 
The Roman “Seated Zeus” sculpture is considered a copy of the original Statue of Zeus, and it was created following the type established by Phidias.
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Zeus enthroned holding a royal sceptre and winged Nike (Victory), and with an eagle by his side. Roman copy inspired by Greek ivory and gold statue of Zeus at Olympia by Pheidias. Marble & Bronze . Imperial Roman. C1st AD Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.

“Zeus at Olympia”. Zeus enthroned holding a royal sceptre and winged Nike (Victory), and with an eagle by his side. Roman copy inspired by Greek ivory and gold statue of Zeus at Olympia by Phidias. Marble & Bronze . Imperial Roman. C1st AD Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.

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Zeus enthroned holding a royal sceptre and winged Nike (Victory), and with an eagle by his side.  Roman copy inspired by Greek ivory and gold statue of Zeus at Olympia by Pheidias. Marble & Bronze . Imperial Roman. C1st AD Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.

“Zeus at Olympia”. Roman copy inspired by Greek ivory and gold statue of Zeus at Olympia by Phidias. Marble & Bronze . Imperial Roman. C1st AD Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia.

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Gallery: “Zeus, The Ruler of Gods”:

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Links Post: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeus
http://www.ancientgreece.com/s/GreekGods/Zeus/
http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hi/hi_fidegze.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Zeus_at_Olympia
http://www.greek-gods.info/greek-gods/zeus/#zeus-family
http://www.talesbeyondbelief.com/roman-gods/jupiter.htm
http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Zeus/zeus.html
http://www.history.com/topics/ancient-history/sevens-wonders-of-the-ancient-world

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I would like to thank Purple Anais from Arwenaragornstar for nominating me for a Lovely Blog Award.

I also want to thank The Chaos Realm for nominating me for a Versatile Blogger Award.

Finally I appreciate that Unbolt nominated me for a Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.

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

Note: In this ocassion and for the three awards, I will nominate blogs I have recently came across and like, recent followers and plussers. Also,  I will follow the nomination process without answering questions or mentioning facts about me…. 

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►Rules for these Three Awards:

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

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►I) Nominees~Lovely Blog Award (True Colors Version):

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1. Tina Frisco 2. The Golden Echo 3. The Peacock Feather 4. For the love of Nike  5. Speculations Impressed 6. Poet Charms 7. The Rose Hotel 8. Margaret Langstaff 9. June Kearns  10. An Honest Sinner

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

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1. Echoes and Reflections 2. Eudaimonia 3. The Haute Mommy Handbook 4. Into the forgotten 5. Words of No Wisdom 6. Welcome to my World 7. Chronicle Me 8. Fifty Shades of Reality 9. Hiddenaltar 10. Jakariabulbul

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►III) Nominees~Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award (Cool Version):

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1. Drifting through my Open Mind 2. Naponteaerea 3. Lenkalaskoradova 4. The return of the Modern Philosopher 5. 101 Half Connected Things 6. Everyday People 7. Catalina Trujillo 8. The Book Haven 9. Robin’s Real Life 10. Kultur Post

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