Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
If Book I of Metamorphoses foregrounded rivers, water, earth, and a surfeit of embracing wetness, Book II is far more concerned with fire and air, with an excess of heat, and with those who think to "rise too high."
Theoi's table of contents for Book II -- click on the numbers to go to the tales:
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Sing of glowing Helios whom mild-eyed Euryphaessa, the far-shining one, bare to the Son of Earth and starry Heaven. For Hyperion wedded glorious Euryphaessa,  his own sister, who bare him lovely children, rosy-armed Eos and rich-tressed Selene and tireless Helios who is like the deathless gods. As he rides in his chariot, he shines upon men and deathless gods, and piercingly he gazes with his eyes  from his golden helmet. Bright rays beam dazzlingly from him, and his bright locks streaming from the temples of his head gracefully enclose his far-seen face: a rich, fine-spun garment glows upon his body and flutters in the wind: and stallions carry him.  Then, when he has stayed his golden-yoked chariot and horses, [15a] he rests there upon the highest point of heaven, until he marvelously drives them down again through heaven to Ocean
HELIUS EQUATED WITH APOLLON (found here - scroll down quite a bit)
Apollon was identified with the sun-god Helios by a few early Greek poets and philosophers. However, it was really only the Latin poets, such as Ovid, Virgil and Seneca, who truly conflated the gods. Even in poets like Ovid, however, it is worth noting that the sun-god is often titled "Phoebus," but never directly referred to as "Apollo." Further, the same poets who mention Phoebus the sun, often call him "Hyperionides" (the son of Hyperion), and "Titan" (the Titan god) in the same passage. The name "Apollo," on the other hand, is used almost exclusively for non-solar references, i.e. Apollon as the god of music, oracles and poetry.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Antonio Allegri da Correggio (August 1489 – March 5, 1534), usually known as Correggio, was the foremost painter of the Parma school of the Italian Renaissance, who was responsible for some of the most vigorous and sensuous works of the 16th century. In his use of dynamic composition, illusionistic perspective and dramatic foreshortening, Correggio prefigured the Rococo art of the 18th century.
...Aside from his religious output, Correggio conceived a now-famous set of paintings depicting the Loves of Jupiter as described in Ovid's Metamorphoses. The voluptuous series was commissioned by Federico II Gonzaga of Mantua, probably to decorate his private Ovid Room in the Palazzo Te. However, they were given to the visiting Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and thus left Italy within years of their completion.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Oracles are just
and urge not evil deeds, or naught avails
the skill of thought.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
when Deucalion saw its emptiness, and the deep silence of the desolate lands, he spoke to Pyrrha,
And even now there is no certain assurance of our lives; even yet do the clouds terrify my mind.
What Deucalion does is orient his whole being away from this vast unspeaking solitude and toward the only thing in it that offers the possibility of a familiar reflection, a response -- humanity itself.
It falls to Deucalion in his speech to find in Pyrrha the locus, or symmetric other of his own being:
Wife, cousin, sole surviving woman, joined to me by our shared race, our family origins,The Latin underscores the symmetry of their yoke:
then by the marriage bed, and now joined to me in danger,
if the sea had you,I would follow you, and the sea would have me too
Mine are the demigods, the wild spirits, nymphs, fauns and satyrs, and sylvan deities of the hills. Since we have not yet thought them worth a place in heaven let us at least allow them to live in safety in the lands we have given them.Ovid's polytheistic world is full of varied creatures who seem at home in it. They live, play, don't fall afoul of just laws, and deserve Zeus's protection from violent, godless brutes like Lycaon. Humans born of the blood of the giants failed to find a niche in which they could live in harmony with all else.
Deucalion here is at a fatal ontological crossroads. His father was Prometheus, but he can't "make" men by breathing upon their shapes as his father had done. Nor can he expect to find any giant's blood. He's at a loss how to proceed, but happens to be at the temple of his grandmother, Themis, at Delphi, the omphalos of the world. It's she who'll tell him how to make a new beginning of yet a third skein of humans, from the bones (ossa) of Earth. Strangely, Deucalion and Pyrrha -- so richly intertwined by blood and marriage bed and shared danger, so fully necessary to each other that neither would choose to remain in this vast world without the other -- neither make love nor gestate progeny. They reverently throw stones.
What we must note is, they only throw stones after construing the cryptic speech of the Oracle in a way that doesn't involve the literal bones of their literal mothers -- which would be a desecration. The continuation of the human race here rests upon an act of reading -- close reading -- that metamorphoses from the literally unspeakable into a figural divination of meaning.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
“O soror, o coniunx, o femina sola superstes,
quam commune mihi genus et patruelis origo,
deinde torus iunxit, nunc ipsa pericula iungunt,
terrarum, quascumque vident occasus et ortus,
355nos duo turba sumus; possedit cetera pontus.
Haec quoque adhuc vitae non est fiducia nostrae
certa satis; terrent etiam nunc nubila mentem.
Quis tibi, si sine me fatis erepta fuisses,
nunc animus, miseranda, foret? quo sola timorem
360ferre modo posses? quo consolante doleres?
Namque ego (crede mihi) si te quoque pontus haberet,
te sequerer, coniunx, et me quoque pontus haberet.
The world was restored. But when Deucalion saw its emptiness, and the deep silence of the desolate lands, he spoke to Pyrrha, through welling tears.
‘Wife, cousin, sole surviving woman, joined to me by our shared race, our family origins, then by the marriage bed, and now joined to me in danger, we two are the people of all the countries seen by the setting and the rising sun, the sea took all the rest. Even now our lives are not guaranteed with certainty: the storm clouds still terrify my mind. How would you feel now, poor soul, if the fates had willed you to be saved, but not me? How could you endure your fear alone? Who would comfort your tears? Believe me, dear wife, if the sea had you, I would follow you, and the sea would have me too.
If only I, by my father’s arts, could recreate earth’s peoples, and breathe life into the shaping clay! The human race remains in us. The gods willed it that we are the only examples of mankind left behind.’
He spoke and they wept . . . Kline
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Lewis Hyde offers a book-length meditation on the figure of Hermes / Mercury in his Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth, and Art. Here he's talking about Hermes as the boundary-crosser, "poised on the threshold . . . ambiguous, androgynous":
It is this double motion that makes Hermes at once an enchanter and a disenchanter. In his enchanting phase, he often begins by going after the border guards, for if they have their wits about them he cannot operate. Earlier we saw how he cast a lazy forgetfulness over the watchdogs guarding Apollo's cattle. In speaking of shame, we saw how he mesmerized Argus with song and story, then sealed the giant's sleeping eyes with a magic wand. Hermes drops the sentinels who watch the peripheries into a stupor, and impermeable boundaries become porous.This is only the beginning of his enchanting /disenchanting power . . .. He carries his charges into the underworld or out of it, into dreams or into wakefulness, into mythologies or out of them.
Hermes of the Dark is the weaver of dreams, the charmer who spins a compelling tale, the orator who speaks your mother tongue with fluid conviction.. . . Hermes of the Light translates dreams into analytic language; he rubs the charm from old stories until they seem hopelessly made up and mechanical. He walks you inland until you stop dreaming in your mother tongue. (Trickster 208-209)