Nam fuit haec quondam niveis argentea pennis
ales ut aequaret totas sine labe columbas
nec servaturis vigili Capitolia voce
cederet anseribus nec amanti flumina cycno.
540Lingua fuit damno; lingua faciente loquaci
qui color albus erat, nunc est contrarius albo.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
For a brief time, Gadhafi was seen as a liberator, and he inspired hope in people in all arenas — from business to art. But Matar says that quite suddenly shattered, in one terrible moment.
"In one year [Gadhafi] imprisoned a huge number of writers," Matar tells Renee Montagne on Morning Edition. "The revolutionary committee set up a sort of big literary festival, if you like, and then they just captured all the writers, they tortured them, and they put them in prison and that generation of writers spent minimum 10 years in prison."
The festival was a sort of trap to round up the writers and then imprison them all at once. Matar also remembers that Gadhafi sent army trucks to bookshops, and soldiers had a list of books the regime deemed inappropriate. The books were gathered up and burned.
Writers have been problematic for the regime for a long time, Matar says, but he doesn't think that's a unique situation.
"Dictatorship by its essence is interested in one narrative, [an] intolerant narrative, and writers are interested in a multiplicity of narratives and conflicting empathies and what it would be like to be the other, to imagine what the other is thinking and feeling," Matar says. "And that sort of completely unsettles the dictatorial project."
Monday, April 25, 2011
Videt intus edentem
vipereas carnes, vitiorum alimenta suorum,
770Invidiam, visaque oculos avertit. At illa
surgit humo pigre semesarumque relinquit
corpora serpentum passuque incedit inerti;
utque deam vidit formaque armisque decoram,
ingemuit vultumque ima ad suspiria duxit.
775Pallor in ore sedet, macies in corpore toto,
nusquam recta acies, livent rubigine dentes,
pectora felle virent, lingua est suffusa veneno.
Risus abest, nisi quem visi movere dolores.
Nec fruitur somno, vigilacibus excita curis,
780sed videt ingratos intabescitque videndo
successus hominum, carpitque et carpitur una,
suppliciumque suum est.
Envy could be seen, eating vipers’ meat that fed her venom, and at the sight the goddess averted her eyes. But the other got up slowly from the ground, leaving the half-eaten snake flesh, and came forward with sluggish steps. When she saw the goddess dressed in her armour and her beauty, she moaned and frowned as she sighed. Pallor spreads over her face, and all her body shrivels.
Her sight is skewed, her teeth are livid with decay, her breast is green with bile, and her tongue is suffused with venom. She only smiles at the sight of suffering. She never sleeps, excited by watchful cares. She finds men’s successes disagreeable, and pines away at the sight. She gnaws and being gnawed is also her own punishment.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Arrhephoria was a feast among the Athenians, instituted in honor of Athena.
Update (11.23.11: I recently came across this book, which goes into the subject in depth:The word is derived from the Greek term Ἀρρηφόρια, which is composed of ἀρρητον, "mystery," and φέρω, "I carry". (Perhaps not, see this.) This feast was also called Hersiphoria, from Herse, the daughter of Cecrops, on whose account it was established.Herse pursued by Hermes.
On the Athenian Acropolis two girls aged between seven and eleven were elected to live for a year at a time as arrhephoroi, tending the sacred olive tree and weaving, with the help of other women, the new robe for Athena. Proud parents commemorated their daughters' service by making dedications on the Acropolis. At the annual festival of the Arrhephoria the girls (according to Pausanias), placed on their heads what the priestess of Athena gives them to carry and neither the priestess knows what it is she is giving them, nor do the girls who carry it. In the city there is a sacred precinct not far from that of Aphrodite in the Garden and through it runs a natural underground passage. Here the virgins descend. Down below they leave behind what they have brought and take something else and carry it, veiled as it is. These two virgins are discharged forthwith and others are taken up to the Acropolis in their place.
Interpretation of the festival is difficult because of the lack of sources, but it is clear that the virginal arrhephoroi are chosen from the noblest families of the city and are deployed in a context of impregnation (dew), sexual power (Aphrodite and Eros), and birth (Erichthonios). The word "arrhephoros" etymologically probably means "dew carrier", which at first sight does not help. The arrhephoroi were charged with weaving the peplos (garments) for Athena.. . .Archaeological evidence reveals that from near the Erechtheion a secret stairway led off the Acropolis past a small rock-cut shrine of Eros and Aphrodite, near which was the precinct to which they were going. They mythical associations of the arrhephoroi are with their starting-point the Erechtheion. Kekrops, the first king of Athens, whose tomb was in the complex, had three daughters, Aglauros, Herse, and Pandrosos. The mystery revolves around innocence, obedience, and fecundity. They were given a closed basket by Athena who forbade them to open it. One night Aglauros and Herse gave in to curiosity, opened the basket, and saw Ericthonios, the mysterious child of Hephaestus. Snakes also appeared out of the basket, and in terror the two girls jumped off the Acropolis to their deaths. The sanctuary of Aglauros lies at the foot of the cliff; it may have been the precinct to which the arrhephoroi descended. Pandrosos, who did not succumb to this fatal curiosity, has a shrine next to the sacred olive tree on the Acropolis itself. More: Wikipedia
The serpents were considered the protectors of the temples and the chthonic masters of the ancient earth goddess. In Greece the old oracles were devoted to the mother goddess. According to a Greek legend Apollo came to Delphi carrying Cretan priests. There he slew the daughter of Gaia, Python, who was the earth dragon represented as a serpent and possessed the oracle. At Dodona which is probably the oldest Greek oracle Zeus displaced the mother goddess and assimilated her with Aphrodite.At the oracle of Trophonius, Demeter-Europa was the nurse of chthonian Zeus-Trophonios who possessed the oracle. Wikipedia, Snake Goddess
For one possible historical view of Crete, see: The Chalice and the Blade
also: The Secret of Crete:
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
"The lives of artists are more fragile than their creations. The poet Ovid was exiled by Augustus to a little hell-hole on the Black Sea called Tomis, but his poetry has outlasted the Roman Empire. Osip Mandelstam died in a Stalinist work camp, but his poetry has outlived the Soviet Union. Federico García Lorca was killed by the thugs of Spain's Generalissimo Francisco Franco, but his poetry has survived that tyrannical regime."
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Of course, Theoi.
Prof. Peter Meineck's lectures on Roman Myth
Nova Roma - a site for those truly dedicated to Roma.
Another list of names with translations is here.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Callimachus, Hymn 1 to Zeus 10 ff (trans. Mair) (Greek poet C3rd B.C.) :
"In Parrhasia [in Arkadia] it was that Rheia bare thee [Zeus], where was a hill sheltered with thickest brush. Thence is the place holy, and nor fourfooted thing that hath need of Eileithyia nor any woman approacheth thereto, but the Apidanians call it the primeval childbed of Rheia. There when thy mother had laid thee down from her mighty lap, straightway she sought a stream of water, wherewith she might purge her of the soilure of birth and wash thy body therein. But mighty Ladon flowed not yet, nor Erymanthos, clearest of rivers; waterless was all Arkadia . . . And holden in distress the lady Rheia said, `Dear Gaia (Earth), give birth thou also! Thy birthpangs are light.' So spake the goddess, and lifting her great arm she smote the mountain with her staff; and it was greatly rent in twin for her and poured forth a mighty flood. Therein, O Lord, she cleansed thy body."
"Woodland Parrhasia [in Arkadia], where is still to be found the place untrodden in which primeval goddess Rheia was brought to bed [and gave birth to Zeus]." - Nonnus, Dionysiaca 13.29
Here we might sense a clue as to why Ovid took care to allude to the place name Parrhasia in telling the tale of Callisto: her homeland was sacred to the Great Titan Mother of the Olympians. It was in this rocky, barren place that Rhea, having watched as Kronos devoured all of her other children, chose to bear Zeus. She gave him to nymphs to be raised in secret, handing Kronos the famous swaddled stone to eat instead. Callimachus's description gives us a scene rich in high drama and desperate measures, involving the Titan Goddess's potent maternal instincts.
Parrhasia then is the birthplace of Zeus, and the sacred place where the "father of gods and men" was saved from being devoured by his father. And as we noted, it is associated with Lykaon, who tried to get Zeus to devour a child. This is a doubly sacred place, charged with divine birth, protective maternity, and sacrilegious paternal cannibalism. And, note the absence of water, and how the Goddess solved that problem in order to cleanse baby Zeus.
Ut loca laudavit, summas pede contigit undas:
his quoque laudatis “procul est” ait “arbiter omnis;
nuda superfusis tingamus corpora lymphis.”
460Parrhasis erubuit. Cunctae velamina ponunt:
una moras quaerit. Dubitanti vestis adempta est;
qua posita nudo patuit cum corpore crimen.
Attonitae manibusque uterum celare volenti
“i procul hinc” dixit “nec sacros pollue fontes”
465Cynthia; deque suo iussit secedere coetu.
What is Ovid up to? For one thing he's gone from Phaethon's searing story of solar fire to a story of lunar secretiveness, aversion to sexuality and childbirth, and shame. Callisto is severely punished -- first by Diana, who exiles her (in other versions, it's Diana who turns her into a bear), and then by Hera, who is jealous of her bearing a child of Zeus. Both of her secrets are revealed (first, that she's pregnant, then, with whose offspring), and this leads to her being put, strangely, in the position of Rhea in Parrhasia. Callisto can never bathe - either in Diana's hidden pools, or, after her transformation into the Great Bear, in the vast Ocean. She's doubly cursed.
‘You ask me why I, the queen of the gods, have left my home in the heavens to be here? Another has taken my place in the sky! I tell a lie, if you do not see, when night falls and the world darkens, newly exalted stars to wound me, set in the sky, where the remotest and shortest orbit circles the uttermost pole. Why should anyone wish to avoid wounding Juno or dread my enmity if I only benefit those I harm? Oh what a great achievement! Oh what marvellous powers I have! I stopped her being human and she becomes a goddess! This is the punishment I inflict on the guilty! This is my wonderful sovereignty! (tr. Kline)
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Curiously, the father, King Cecrops, was half-man, half-serpent (or half-fish), and a key figure of legend, since he not only founded Athens, but invented marriage, instituted the worship of Zeus, and brought reading, writing, and ceremonial burial among other basic cultural elements to his people.