Posts Tagged ‘The Symposium’

►Greek Mythology: “The Eleusinian Mysteries”:

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"Proserpine" (three-quarter portrait holding a pomegranate), by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1874).-

“Proserpine / Persephone” (three-quarter portrait holding a pomegranate), by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1874).-

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The Eleusinian Mysteries are related to a greek religious festival held each year at Eleusis, fourteen miles northwest of Athens. It  was celebrated in honor of the grain and fertility goddess Demeter (whose name means “spelt mother” being “spelt” is a variety of wheat.)

The festivity took place each year, when it was time for the crops to be sown, in the month of Boedromion (September).

It all stems from the myth of Demeter and her daughter Persephone

Demeter was the Greek Goddess of the Harvest, while Persephone was the Goddess of  wheats.

The conflict was originated when Hades, God of the Underworld, abducted Persephone and took her down into the underworld. 

After that, Demeter searched the world looking for her daughter, and while doing this, she neglected her duties and let the earth go barren. 

As she couldn’ t find her, she finally decided to rest by a well in the city of Eleusis. 

There, disguised as an old woman, she cared for the queen’s son, baptizing him nightly in fire so that he would be immortal. 

Demeter later on  taught the queen’s son, who was called Triptolemos, the art of agriculture.

As a reward for having protected the prince Triptolemos, eleusian citizens began to build a temple in their city, as a tribute to Demeter.

Demeter’s attempts to find her daughter were in vain. Besides Demeter’s grief, and plants were dried, the crops died and the earth turn out into something sterile

The gods were worried and Zeus, who had witnessed the abduction, finally intervened. 

He did by persuading his brother, Hades to return Persephone to her mother. Hades agreed but before that he made sure to tricked Persephone into eating some pomegranate seeds and, if one ate in the land of the dead, one remained with the dead. 

As she had only eaten some, however, it was agreed she would spend half the year with Hades in the underworld and half with her mother on earth. 

That’s why while Demeter remained on earth with her mother Demeter, she caused the world to be fruitful while when she was in the underworld with Hades, the plants withered and died; thus the seasons were explained.

Another interesting detail is that when Persephone was abducted by Hades in the underworld, her name was changed to Kore. When she emerged from the underworld she recovered her original name,  Persephone (“she who brings doom”).-

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•The Ceremonies: The Mysteries began with the march of the mystai (initiates) in solemn procession from Athens to Eleusis. The rites that they then performed in the Telesterion, or Hall of Initiation, were and remain a secret. 

Those who were to be initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries had to go through preliminary rites of purification and instruction before they would be allowed to participate in the final revelations at Eleusis. 

 The mysteries were divided into the Lesser and Greater mysteries.  

The Lesser mysteries were preparatory to the Greater, involving purifications and perhaps some instruction or other rites, and they were celebrated near Athens,  in the month of Anthesterion (March).

The initial stages involved physical rites which were preparatory for the spiritual rites at Eleusis  After a series of further ritual actions, the initiate was ready for the myesis, the first level of initiation.

The Greater Mysteries began on 14th Boedromion (September/October), when the “sacred things,” carried in baskets, were brought from Eleusis to Athens by the Eleusinian priestesses escorted by epheboi (young Athenians of military age).  The following day, the hierophant opened the festival, making an announcement (prorrhesis) that those “who are not of pure hands or speak an incomprehensible tongue,” that is, those stained by human blood and non-Greek speaking barbarians, were not permitted to participate.  Other than these exclusions, anyone–including slaves, foreigners, men and women–could participate in the mysteries. A procession, named the Sacred Way , began at Athens on the morning of 19th of Boedromion and ended that evening in Eleusis.

Priestesses brought back the sacred things, with a procession of dancing and chanting initiates, perhaps almost in state of ecstasy

Only the initiates were allowed to proceed further into the cult area, which was dedicated to Hades.  The mysteries took place in the Telestrion, a large building which could hold a few thousand people.  The only ones permitted to enter were the mystai, those entering for the first time, and the epoptai, for whom it would be at least their second experience.

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•Literary Sources and Philosophical Notes:

The mythical basis for many of the mystery rites are accounted for in the “Hymn to Demeter”, which is part of the Homeric Hymns collection of poems

Those ones are thirty-three anonymous ancient greek Hymns celebrating individual gods. The hymns are “Homeric” in the sense that they employ the same epic meter as “the Iliad, use many similar formulas and are couched in the same dialect.

In Plato’s dialogue “The Symposium” he overtly establishes an analogy to the mysteries at Eleusis near the end of Diotima’s speech (as relayed by Socrates), when he has her say that “even you, Socrates, could probably come to be initiated [myētheiēs] into these rites of love [erōtika].  But as for the purpose of these rites when they are done correctly–that is the final and highest mystery” (209e-210a). 

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“Blessed is the mortal on earth who has seen these rites / But the uninitiated who has no share in them never / Has the same lot once dead in the dreary darkness”. (“Hymn To Demeter”. Lines 480/482).-

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 ►Gallery: “The Eleusinian Mysteries, held  in honor of the grain and fertility goddess Demeter”:

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Triptolemos.-

Triptolemos.-

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►Links Post:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eleusinian_Mysteries
http://www.ancient.eu.com/article/32/
http://www.classics.upenn.edu/myth/php/hymns/index.php?page=eleusis
http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/EleusiniosTriptolemos.html
http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/O28.2.html
http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/ebm/ebm05.htm#page_31
http://www.lsu.edu/artsci/groups/voegelin/society/2005%20Papers/Steven%20McGuire.shtml

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♠Plato´s Dialogue, “The Symposium”:

“On Platonic Love and The Myth of the Androgyne”:

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“The Symposium” ( Συμπόσιον) is a dialogue by Plato dated c. 385–380 BC. 

Plato sets the action in a symposium hosted by the poet Agathon to celebrate his first victory in a dramatic competition, the Dionysia of 416 BC. Each man must deliver an encomiun, a speech in praise of Love (Eros).   Each participant, by means of very personal expositions, adds something to a body that at the end is developed by Socrates. 

The dialogue concerns itself at one level with the genesis, purpose and nature of love, and (in latter-day interpretations) is the origin of the concept of Platonic Love

Platonic love is a type of Love that is chaste and non-sexual. This idea is also examined in this dialogue. Of particular importance is the speech of Socrates, relating the ideas attributed to the prophetess Diotima, which present love as a means of ascent to contemplation of the divine. For Diotima, and for Plato generally, the most correct use of love of other human beings is to direct one’s mind to love of divinity.

The dialogue´s  structure consists in seven major speeches which are delivered by: 1) Phaedrus (speech begins 178a): He was an Athenian aristocrat. Pausanias  (speech begins 180c): He was a legal expert. 3) The pshysician Eryximachus. 4) Aristophanes, a comic playwright (speech begins 189c). 5) Agathon (speech begins 195a): He a tragic poet, host of the banquet. 6) Socrates  (speech begins 201d): He was a Philosopher and Plato’s teacher. 7) Alcibiades (speech begins 214e), who was a prominent Athenian statesman and orator.

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♠Aristophanes speech: “The Myth of the Androgyne”: (To Read the excerpt from “The Symposium” click here)

Before launching his speech, Aristophanes warns the group that his praise to love may be more absurd than funny. His speech is an explanation of why people in love say they feel “whole” when they have found their love partner.

Aristophanes’ speech comes in the form of a myth.

This creation myth places humans of all three genders (androgynous, male, and female) in a primeval state of eternal bliss. However, we grew insolent in our blissful state and refused to properly honor the gods (and even tried to pursue them in their mountainous home). As punishment, we were split in two. Those with a “male” nature (the Children of the Sun) became homosexual men; those with a “female” nature (the Children of the Earth) became homosexual women; and the androgynes (Children of the Moon) became heterosexuals.

These creatures were very powerful and vigorous and made threatening attacks on the gods. The gods did not want to destroy them because they would then forfeit the sacrifices humans made to them, so Zeus decided to cut each person in two.

This is the origin of our instinctive desire for other human beings. Those who are interested in members of the opposite sex are halves of formerly androgynous people, while men who like men and women who like women are halves of what were formerly whole males and females.

Given that we are all separate, when we find our other half, we are lost in an amazement of love that cannot be accounted for by a simple desire for sex Love is the name that we give to our desire for wholeness, to be restored to our original nature.

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Just something to highlight: Have you ever thought that the expression “Meet My Half  Orange” could be linked with Aristophanes’s speech in this dialogue by Plato. And the same applies for “Soulmate”. Just for the record: Plato and Aristotle have argued about all the main philosophical topics ever, so their texts are all well worth reading, Aquileana.

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Where is My Half Orange?.-

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Plato (427 BC /347 BC).-

Plato (427 BC /347 BC).-

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♠Read “The Symposium”, by Plato (Complete Text):

Click on the book cover above to read "The Symposium" by Plato.-

Click on the book cover to read “The Symposium” by Plato.-

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Image of  an androgyne, detail on ancient greek amphora.-

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Drawings of androgynous, dated Middle Age.-

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Nota a los lectores en castellano: Este tema ya ha sido tratado en el blog. 

Para consultarlo hacer click sobre el siguiente enlace: Platón: “El Banquete”: “El Mito del Andrógino”.

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♠Bonustrack: Hedwig and the Angry Inch: “Origin of Love”: 

This song is based on Plato’s Symposium (myth of the androgyne). Check out the lyrics.

 

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♠Links Post: 

http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/symposium/section6.rhtml 
http://www.connellodonovan.com/hen.html 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symposium_(Plato)
http://outre-monde.com/2010/09/25/platonic-myths-the-myth-of-aristophanes/ 
http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/voices-in-time/platos-other-half.php?page=all

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♠Last but not least: The Cracking Chrispmouse Bloggywog Award. 

Thanks Maxima for nominating me for this beautiful award

The Cracking Chrispmouse Bloggywog Award.-

The Cracking Chrispmouse Bloggywog Award.-

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The Rules of the Award:

1. Display the award logo on your blog /Ubicar el logo del premio en el blog
2. Link back to the person who nominated you/ Enlazar a la persona que te ha nominado.
3. State 7 things about yourself/ Numerar 7 cosas sobre tí.
4. Nominate 15 (more or less) other bloggers for this award and link to them/ Nominar a 15 otros bloggers y enlazarlos
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award requirements/ Notificar a los nominados de la nominación y de las reglas.

My Nominees Are: Clowie´s Corner,Pure Haiku, Family answers fast, Cat Forsley Me, Salvela, Rotze Mardini, Syl65, E-tinkerbell´s blog,Bastet and Sekhmet´s LibraryLetras, pasión y más, D. A. Lavoie, Nómadas, Gigi papillon rose, Mon coin du français, El Mirador

If you don´t want to get awards over your blog, you can take it as a gesture of recognition for your great job as a blogger. Cheers, Aquileana 🙂

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