Sunday, November 27, 2011

Snippets from the Argonautica & Medea

"There is a maiden, nurtured in the halls of Aeetes, whom the goddess Hecate taught to handle magic herbs with exceeding skill …" (Argus 4 to the ARGONAUTS. Apollonius Rhodius, Argonautica 3.528).

"… nothing shall come between our love till the doom of death fold us round." (Jason to Medea. Apollonius Rhodius,Argonautica 3.1128).

A Neopolitan vase depicting the triumph of Jason over the fiery bulls of Aeetes at Colchis. Several other fine images of the Medea story, and much more iconography, can be found at this page, part of the remarkable Greek Mythology link from Carlos Parada and Maicar Forlag.

A complete translation of Euripides Medea  431 BC) with notes by is here. A few snippets (but from another translation):

Medea For in other ways a woman
 Is full of fear, defenseless, dreads the sight of cold
 Steel; but, when once she is wronged in the matter of love,
No other soul can hold so many thoughts of blood. (265)

 Medea Women, though most helpless in doing good deeds,
 Are of every evil the cleverest of contrivers. (409)

 Jason Instead of living among barbarians,
You inhabit a Greek land and understand our ways,
How to live by law instead of the sweet will of force. (537)

The Third Chorus begins on line 824 with praise of the wisdom of the children of Erechtheus. At the end of Metamorphoses 6, we were reading of one of them, Oreithyia (from the Luschnig trans.):

Descendants of Erechtheus, wealthy  of old
and children of the blessed gods,
from a land holy and unconquered, feeding
on most glorious wisdom always
stepping delicately through the brightest air,
there once they say the nine Muses of Pieria
gave birth to Golden Harmony.

They sing the tale that Kypris
drawing water at the streams of fair-flowing Kephisos
breathes gentle sweet-smelling
auras of winds over the land; and always putting
on her hair a fragrant garland of rose blossoms,
she sends the Loves, co-workers with wisdom,
helpers of every sort of excellence.

How then will the city of holy rivers,
the land that gives safe-passage
to friends,
welcome you, child-killer,
not holy with the others?
Picture the blow to the children;
picture the murder you are committing.
Do not, at your knees
in every way we beseech you,
do not kill your children.

Where will you get the boldness
of mind to confer upon your hand or heart,
that terrible daring?
And, how, when you cast your eyes
on the children will you take part
in their murder without weeping? No, you cannot
— when your children fall begging —
wet your hand in their blood
keeping an iron-willed heart

Final Chorus (The chorus files out with these lines):

Of many things Zeus in Olympus is keeper,
many are the things the gods bring about against all reason,
and what is looked for does not happen after all,
yet a god finds a way for the unexpected.
That is how this story has ended.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Vellera radianta: The back story of the golden fleece

 As he did with Perseus, so Ovid will strangely bend the tale of Medea in Book 7, and again he'll seem to shift the emphasis from its major features to others elements that might strike us as less important.

Since he relies on our knowledge of the back-story -- indeed, of Euripides' play as well -- here's the brief version of how the Golden Fleece came to hang in the kingdom of Aeetes:
In Greek mythology, Phrixus or Frixos (Greek: Φρίξος, Phrixos) or Phryxus was the son of Athamas, king of Boiotia, and Nephele (a goddess of clouds). His twin sister Helle and he were hated by their stepmother, Ino. Ino hatched a devious plot to get rid of the twins, roasting all of Boeotia's crop seeds so they would not grow. The local farmers, frightened of famine, asked a nearby oracle for assistance. Ino bribed the men sent to the oracle to lie and tell the others that the oracle required the sacrifice of Phrixus and Helle. Before they were killed, though, Phrixus and Helle were rescued by a flying, or swimming,[1] ram with golden wool sent by Nephele, their natural mother; their starting point is variously recorded as Halos in Thessaly and Orchomenus in Boeotia. During their flight Helle swooned, fell off the ram and drowned in the Dardanelles, renamed the Hellespont (sea of Helle), but Phrixus survived all the way to Colchis, where King Aeëtes, the son of the sun god Helios, took him in and treated him kindly, giving Phrixus his daughter, Chalciope, in marriage. In gratitude, Phrixus sacrificed the ram to Zeus and gave the king the golden fleece of the ram, which Aeëtes hung in a tree in the holy grove of Ares in his kingdom, guarded by a dragon that never slept.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The storytelling animal

Ovid is clearly a poet interested in the power of myth and magic -- and were he alive today, he'd doubtless be curious about video games. Salman Rushdie has written tales about the power of imagination and the limitations of mortality for his children, and talks about them in this charming interview, from the radio show entitled To the Best of our Knowledge.

At one point he suggests that Zeus and other ancient divinities have been relegated to "some kind of retirement home for ex-gods."

"I think it's a mistake to think the real world is devoid of magic," says Rushdie, In the games of his new book, Luka and the Fire of Life, life is cheap and plentiful. In the real world, it is dear and rare. Somehow we inhabit both worlds. Rushdie adds, "Man alone is the storytelling animal."

Salman Rushdie on "Luka and the Fire of Life"
Salman Rushdie's life has been a fantasy, but not necessarily in the way he would have wanted.  The Ayatollah issued a death warrant on him after his book "The Satanic Verses," but it has finally been withdrawn. His new book involves dangers of a more literary kind. He tells Jim Fleming he wrote his new book "Luka and the Fire of Life" at his younger son's request.

The short podcast of the interview is well worth listening to. As we are seeing, he power of stories is very much at the heart of the Metamorphoses as well.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A deadly feast for the eyes: Pelops, Tereus and lethal inscriptions

The ivory prosthesis Pelops reveals as he mourns for his sister sets him apart from all men as the son of Tantalos, returned after horrible dismemberment. Here's the brief passage in Book 6 in which Pelops mourns for Niobe, his sister:
even then one man, her brother Pelops, is said to have wept for her and, after taking off his tunic, to have shown the ivory, of his left shoulder (umero). This was of flesh, and the same colour as his right shoulder, at the time of his birth. Later, when he had been cut in pieces, by his father, it is said that the gods fitted his limbs together again. They found the pieces, but one was lost, between the upper arm and the neck. Ivory was used in place of the missing part, and by means of that Pelops was made whole (integer).
The positioning of this Pelops vignette is worth thinking about. It immediately precedes Ovid's tale of Philomela that ends with a father, Tereus, dining on his own son, who has been killed, dismembered and prepared for a "sacred feast" by Procne, the child's mother and Tereus' wife.

The glimpse of Pelops' ivory shoulder "fits" the themes of Book 6 in so far as his restoration is a collective work of art of the gods, bringing back the beloved boy, as Ovid says, integer -- thanks to the prosthetic addition, necessary thanks to Demeter's distraction.

This integrity of the reconstituted Pelops (presented more as a work of restoration than a resurrection) stands in clear contrast to the disintegration that immediately follows -- the Grand-Guignol tale of the Thracian king who violates the trusts of office and family, mutilating and imprisoning Philomela in order to suppress her power to tell the world of his vile rape.

Yet she doesn't remain silent, despite the loss of her tongue. Thanks to ingenium and sollertia -- her inwit and cunning -- the girl creates an artificial thing, an image, that fills the void of her tongue. Supplementary and not dependent on presence, the image is external to her; it can be transported without being seen, yet speaks ventriloquially to the one it is intended for. It's a metamorphic prosthesis of her voice that makes her "whole."

Look at what happens when the image of Philomela's voice reaches the eyes of her sister:
miserabile legitet (mirum potuisse) silet. Dolor ora repressitverbaque quaerenti satis indignantia linguaedefuerunt; nec flere vacat, sed fasque nefasqueconfusura ruit, poenaeque in imagine tota est.
The wife of the savage king unrolls the cloth, and reads her sister’s terrible fate, and by a miracle keeps silent. Grief restrains her lips, her tongue seeking to form words adequate to her indignation, fails. She has no time for tears, but rushes off, in a confusion of right and wrong, her mind filled with thoughts of vengeance.
The "voice" of Philomela is so potent it takes away Procne's power of speech -- it partakes of the unspeakable. Kline's translation says Procne's mind is filled with "thoughts of vengeance," but Ovid chooses to continue the sense of the visual, and says poenaeque in imagine tota -- Procne's mind is consumed and confused by the deranging power of this image, much as is Tereus's mind the first time he beheld Philomela:
Quid quod idem Philomela cupit patriosque lacertis            VI.475 blanda tenens umerosut eat visura sororem, perque suam contraque suam petit ipsa salutem. Spectat eam Tereus praecontrectatque videndo osculaque et collo circumdata bracchia cernens omnia pro stimulis facibusque ciboque furoris accipit;
Moreover Philomela wishes his request granted, and resting her forearms on her father’s shoulders, coaxing him to let her go to visit her sister, she urges it, in her own interest, and against it. Tereus gazes at her, and imagining her as already his, watching her kisses, and her arms encircling her father’s neck, it all spurs him on, food and fuel to his frenzy. (Kline)
With a poet as careful as Ovid, could it be by chance that "shoulders," "neck," and "food" are interwoven here? Inscribed in Tereus' vision of the girl pleading with her dad are key words linked to the sacrilege of Tantalos, the horrific violation of divine proprieties, the curse Tereus is to reenact with his son, Itys. Both Tereus and Procne are driven to frenzy by what they see. Amor -- the fire that sets Tereus ablaze for Philomela -- simultaneously images his doom.

In this, the only tale of Book 6 in which the key players are human, there's no saving grace, no restoration. As each character in turn undergoes a loss of balance, of moral center, in which every human bond vanishes, the void is filled with theatricality (Tereus's pleas, Procne's bacchantes, the feast).

Why does Ovid place this tale of human degeneration next to story of divine regeneration? No divinity is pulling the strings, no Juno or Hermes is causing Tereus, Procne and Philomela to do what they do.

In this tale, humans cannot cast blame upon some supernatural being for their actions, any more than Lykaon could for his heinous crime of inviting Jupiter to dine on a human in Book I. This time, no one can say, "the devil made me do it."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

grande doloris ingenium est

grande doloris
ingenium est, miserisque venit sollertia rebus;

great grief
has sharp wits, and in trouble cunning comes.
~ Metamorphoses 6.574-75

From the point in Book 5 when Athena first speaks with the Muses, the violation of young virgins has been a steady motif -- whether in the tapestry of Arachne, now re-created in the human register of Philomela's web, or in the tale of the Muses threatened by Pyreneus, or in Calliope's story of Persephone, echoed in the tale of Arethusa. Indeed the motif is so fundamental to the warp and woof of the Metamorphoses as to raise the question as to whether we are dealing primarily with the literal question of human sexuality and virginity, or whether this recurrent series of rapes and seizures is infused with more complex themes relating to security, freedom, desire, art, political order, civility, peace and possession (whether by self or other).

For example, here is Nietzsche mulling the strange exhilaration of Greek tragedy, and of the way that subsequent Western understanding of the Greeks has emphasized the bright and Apollonian cheerfulness of their culture -- often in contrast with the darker, more melodramatic colors of, say, the German penchant for sturm und drang. The brilliant Greek visions, Nietzsche says, are like light spots that appear when one looks too deeply into the abyss.

He goes on to say:
Only in this sense may we believe that we properly comprehend the serious and important concept of "Greek cheerfulness." The misunderstanding of this concept as cheerfulness in a state of unendangered comfort is, of course, encountered everywhere today. (Birth of Tragedy, sect. 9.)
It is precisely a state of respite from war -- the "of unendangered comfort" -- that is necessary to the cultivation of Ceres, and to the Muses in order that they may give themselves to their arts. Athena admires the locus amoenus of the Muses on Helicon, which Ovid describes in detail:

Quae mirata diu factas pedis ictibus undas,
265silvarum lucos circumspicit antiquarum
antraque et innumeris distinctas floribus herbas
felicesque vocat pariter studioque locoque

And Pallas, after she had long admired that fountain, flowing where the hoof had struck, turned round to view the groves of ancient trees; the grottoes and the grass bespangled, rich with flowers unnumbered—all so beautiful she deemed the charm of that locality a fair surrounding for the studious days of those Mnemonian Maids.
We note in this description of place the emphasis on study, the contemplative life. The Muses are all too aware of the provisional nature of their happy spot. As they tell Athena about the marvelous spring of Hippocrene struck by Pegasus, they wish this warrior Goddess were one of their regular members:

‘O, Tritonia, who would have been one of our choir, if your virtues had not formed you for greater things, what you say is true, and you rightly approve our arts and our haunts. Our life is happy, if only it were safe. But (nothing is sacred to the wicked), all things frighten virgin minds. Dread Pyreneus’s destruction is in front of my eyes, and my mind has not yet recovered fully. (Meta 5.260 ff)
O, nisi te virtus opera ad maiora tulisset,
270in partem ventura chori Tritonia nostri,
vera refers meritoque probas artesque locumque,
et gratam sortem, tutae modo simus, habemus.
Sed (vetitum est adeo sceleri nihil) omnia terrent
virgineas mentes, dirusque ante ora Pyreneus
275vertitur, et nondum tota me mente recepi.

The suggestion is that Wisdom and the Arts ought to be together, but aren't always able to be. The goddess of craft is also adviser to warriors like Odysseus and to heroes like Perseus -- her opera maiora clearly involve her, at least in part, in the active life, in politics and war. So if the Arts benefit from Wisdom, how do they do so? Is it a matter of having more illuminating content? Or is it the benefit of having the tranquility, the "unendangered comfort," to make good art because Wisdom, a martial Goddess, is there to protect the Muses from those who would try to possess and misuse them?

This question runs through Book 6, beginning with the confrontation of Athena and her obstinate pupil Arachne, and returning in the only tale that directly involves only humans: the tale of Tereus (a son of Ares) and the daughters of Pandion, Procne and Philomela. Each of these characters in turn creates a representation, an image, under the duress of need, desire, great grief and/or great trouble, under conditions lacking all comfort and tranquility. The images, instead of disinterested art, become weapons in a savage web of rape and vengeance.

Is there a relationship of the exceedingly gruesome events of this tale to the themes of imagination, desire, hubris, and representation found in the other tales of Book 6? Is the cunning (sollertia) that springs from the miseris rebus here seen as a different mode of inspiration from that seen in Athena's and the Muses' works?

And finally, Boreas and his rape of Oreithyia serves both as the conclusion of this book and the segue to the tale of the Argonauts in Book 7. Is this rape of this virgin another kettle of fish? And the Boreads -- Zetes and Calais, their twin boys with pubescent wings -- is Ovid just ending with a cute twist? What do we make of the image below?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ovid and Reversibility

One thing we learn from Ovid is that something that seemed immovable, assured, irreversible, can rather suddenly be turned upside down. We noted the other day the swiftness with which the gods act: before Arachne can finish challenging Athena to come and compete in a contest, "venit," says the crone, and the goddess is before her.

The gods waste no time. Apollo, in responding to Leto's plea to chasten, teach, or destroy Niobe, cuts his mother short. Desine, he says - "leave off talking" - and the arrows begin to fly.

Similarly with Breughel's rendering of the boorish Lycian peasants who deny a goddess water -- which, as she notes, is a public resource. Before our gaze can take in Breughel's scene, one of the peasants has already turned into a frog. Sudden, strange metamorphoses veer from the orderly, normative world of realism toward Breughel, Bosch, and Kafka.

Every time in Metamorphoses 6 that a mortal oversteps some boundary, however you wish to characterize it -- human/divine, mortal/immortal, imagination/reality, public/private, copy/original, one/all, student/teacher -- there is a sudden comeuppance, a kind of electric contraction, or syncope; what results is an enigmatic determination of the overreaching character.

The case of Marsyas is a little different -- there was an agreement that either Apollo or the satyr would submit totally to the will of the other. Yet the suddenness with which Ovid tells the story -- moving right to the "innards," as it were, is at one with the speed of the other actions.

What each of these four metamorphoses shares with the others is both this sense of instantaneous finality, and also a clear reversal of the fortune and place of the character undergoing the transformation. Marysas, for example, is literally turned upside-down, the very thing he was unable to do with his tibia in response to Apollo's reversed cithara.

To each of these characters it's revealed that things are, in reality, quite the opposite of how they imagined them to be -- but this discernment (certamen, as we have seen) is not something necessarily conveyed by words, discursively, to the character's understanding. Rather, it's what is experienced and made palpable in the flash of metamorphosis. Arachne, for example, experiences the violence of being pounded with the shuttle, rather than triumphing in her claim of being the more potent spinner. She ends without hands -- a small, nearly sense-less belly that nonetheless makes webs. For Ovid's reader, she becomes a fixed talisman, a legible reminder of her singular truth. Poetic justice.

This quality of the world -- for something, or someone, to suddenly become other to themselves, and to have their entire sense of things reversed -- is germane to what Ovid is telling us in the Metamorphoses. It requires us to entertain the possibility that nothing is fixed, nothing is certain, nothing is what it seems. This is not the same as saying all is random, accident, chaos. There's an order in this world, but it's an order in which error is the comfortable, everyday norm -- to err is human -- while the undoing of error, instead of restoring the errant one to some healing condition of insight, is often worse than error. You might happily live in Lycia, the land of the Chimaera, thinking you're the greatest spinner who ever was. Unless the web you're spinning is a noose, and, like the open door that Kafka's seeker can never enter, it's just for you.

For Ovid, art involves imagination, which morphs into illusion and error; to be disabused of that error by Athena is not necessarily redemptive, though it can leave a painful admonishing residue for others to sift through.

Ovid's direct style strikes us as oddly modern, even contemporary, but so does his world. His 21st century readers live in a moment in which basic certitudes are dissolving before their eyes. Recent reversals in science challenge some of our most cherished truths. We have all heard about the ghostly neutrinos that appear to be moving faster than the formerly fastest thing, light.

But there are other earth-shakers. Here, for example, is the physicist Brian Greene, talking about how the notion of the Multiverse is transforming basic assumptions:

We're all used to that gravity is attractive: You let go of something, it falls to the Earth. Earth pulls things toward it. But there's a kind of gravity that does the reverse. Repulsive gravity pushes outwards. And we believe that in the early, early universe, repulsive gravity was in operation, and that repulsive push is what drove everything apart.
Another physicist, Michael Murphy, relates disturbing findings that constants of nature are turning out to be not quite constant (podcast here). Then there's quantum entanglement.

It seems we no longer live in Newton's, or Einstein's, predictable nature grounded in immovable laws and certitudes. Those thinkers were more like Virgil, who dared to posit a universal plan, and to tell us what it was.

The recent spate of usurpatory thinking is very different from Newtonian physics and Virgil. The inconstant speedy multiverses of today's science might feel more at home in the syncopated world of Ovid's Metamorphoses.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Notes on Marsyas, Midas and the Phrygian mode

We said we did not require dirges and lamentations in words.
We do not.
What, then, are the dirge-like modes of music? Tell me, for you are a musician.
The mixed Lydian, he said, and the tense or higher Lydian, and similar modes.
These, then, said I, we must do away with. But again, drunkenness is a thing most unbefitting guardians, and so is softness and sloth.
What, then, are the soft and convivial modes?
There are certain Ionian and also Lydian modes that are called lax.
Will you make any use of them for warriors?
None at all, he said, but it would seem that you have left the Dorian and the Phrygian. (Plato Republic 424b-c.)

In Book 6, Ovid is most obviously concerned with art -- continuing the theme of Book 5 involving "gifts" of the Muses and gods, gifts that can carry lethal consequences. The power of images, image making, and music, the hubris of makers, and the fate of the artist are in play in what happens to Arachne, Niobe, and to Marsyas, and later to Tereus, whose hideous crime is revealed in Philomela's purple web.

The first two stories take place in or near Lydia, Lycia and Phrygia, the latter of which is linked to the power of flute music via the figures of Marsyas and Midas, and was home to the Phrygian mode, as Lydia was of the Lydian.


According to Hyginus, Marsyas was the son of a shepherd-satyr who happened upon the flute (aulos) that Athena had discarded after inventing it. She'd played it for the gods, and was mocked by Hera and Aphrodite because of how it made her cheeks puff out. Angered, she went to Phrygia, saw her reflection as she played, and threw it away, cursing anyone that played it. Marsyas found it, practiced it (perhaps with tutoring from Pan), and this led to his fateful competition with Apollo, and its gruesome result, described by Ovid.

Pindar, as we've noted previously, told how Athena created the many-voiced song of flutes so that she could imitate with musical instruments the shrill cry that reached her ears from the fast-moving jaws of Euryale (Medusa's sister, who was mourning her murder).

Here's another version, which incorporates the tale that it wasn't only the earliest flute music that Athena created, but the first flute -- both linked to Medusa:
Athena also took two ribs from Medusa’s corpse to create a flute, but she could never understand why Aphrodite and Hera broke out laughing when she tried to master playing it. She eventually saw a reflection of herself as she looked trying to blow through them and cast the flutes to earth as she cursed the person who found them. The satyr Marsyas discovered them and learned to play them excellently, but he got involved in a musical contest with the god Apollo that was judged by Midas, the king of Phrygia. Apollo won by playing his lyre upside down, but Marsyas lost his life after trying to do the same thing with the Medusa flute.
Ovid gives Marsyas these haunting words:

"Why do you draw me from myself?"
This is a dry witticism, but with tragic overtones here in Book 6. Later, the Romans transformed Marsyas into a figure of Republican speech -- "parrhesia" -- speech without covering veils.
Among the Romans, Marsyas was cast as the inventor of augury[21] and a proponent of free speech (the philosophical concept παρρησία, "parrhesia") and "speaking truth to power." The earliest known representation of Marsyas at Rome stood for at least 300 years in the Roman Forum near or in thecomitium, the space for political activity.[22] He was depicted as a silen,[23] carrying a wineskin on his left shoulder and raising his right arm. The statue was regarded as an indicium libertatis, a symbol of liberty, and was associated with demonstrations of the plebs, or common people.

In the fora of ancient cities there was frequently placed a statue of Marsyas, with one hand erect, in token, according to Servius, of the freedom of the state, since Marsyas was a minister of Bacchus, the god of liberty. Theoi
And later still -- perhaps thinking about this extension of the satyr to public life, Dante transformed the figure of Marsyas yet again, in his vibrant invocation to Apollo in Paradiso I:
Enter into my bosom, thou, and breathe
As at the time when Marsyas thou didst draw
Out of the scabbard of those limbs of his


Afterward, in course of time, an unmusical license set in with the appearance of poets who were men a native genius, but ignorant of what is right and legitimate in the realm of the Muses. Possessed by a frantic and unhallowed lust for pleasure, they contaminated laments with hymns and paeans with dithyrambs, actually imitated the strains of the flute on the harp, and created a universal confusion of forms. (Plato, Laws 700a-701c.)

Phrygia is also credited as the source of the earliest Greek music, the warlike Phrygian mode (you can listen to a version of it here), and the aulos. Here, Marsyas's flute (aulos, or tibia) is made of antlers:
Phrygia developed an advanced Bronze Age culture. The earliest traditions of Greek music derived from Phrygia, transmitted through the Greek colonies in Anatolia, and included the Phrygian mode, which was considered to be the warlike mode in ancient Greek music. Phrygian Midas, the king of the "golden touch", was tutored in music by Orpheus himself, according to the myth. Another musical invention that came from Phrygia was the aulos, a reed instrument with two pipes. Marsyas, the satyr who first formed the instrument using the hollowed antler of a stag, was a Phrygian follower of Cybele. He unwisely competed in music with the Olympian Apollo and inevitably lost, whereupon Apollo flayed Marsyas alive and provocatively hung his skin on Cybele's own sacred tree, a pine.
This note from Theoi adds context to the differences between Apollo's instrument and that of Marsyas which we were talking about:
The fable evidently refers to the struggle between the citharoedic and auloedic styles of music, of which the former was connected with the worship of Apollo among the Dorians, and the latter with the orgiastic rites of Cybele in Phrygia.
For an ambitious article that pursues this line of thought, see: Seeing Sound: The Displaying of Marsyas.

This from Pausanias:
The Phrygians in Kelainai (Celaenae) hold that the river [Marsyas] passing through the city was once this great flute-player, and they also hold that the Song of the Mother [Rhea-Kybele], an air for the flute, was composed by Marsyas.
"Note that at Kelainai (Celaenae) if someone plays a Phrygian tune in the vicinity of the Phrygian's [Marsyas'] skin, the skin moves. But if one plays in honour of Apollon, it is motionless and seems deaf."
"Foolish one, who taught you to strive with your betters? Another Seilenos (Silenus) there was [Marsyas], fingering a proud pipe, who lifted a haughty neck and challenged a match with Phoibos; but Phoibos tied him to a tree and stript off his hairy skin, and made it a windbag. There it hung high on a tree, and the breeze often entered, swelling it out into a shape like his, as if the shepherd could not keep silence but made his tune again. Then Delphic Apollon changed his form in pity, and made him the river which bears his name [the Marsyas which flows into the Maiandros river]. Men still speak of the winding water of that hairy Seilenos, which lets out a sound wandering on the wind, as if he were still playing on the reeds of his Phrygian pipe in rivalry."
Much more Midas here.
. . . a change to a new type of music is something to beware of as a hazard of all our fortunes. For the modes of music are never disturbed without unsettling of the most fundamental political and social conventions. (Rep. 424b-c)