Monday, November 26, 2012

Hand and Mind: Ajax vs. Ulysses

After Ajax has scornfully cast Ulysses as the son of Sisyphus (which was a rumor), that is, a sneaky cowardly fellow who can't be trusted, let alone rewarded with the greatest honor of the Trojan War (the arms of Achilles, the god-crafted, physical embodiment of his glory), Ulysses sums his view of why he, and not Ajax, merits the prize:
tibi dextera bello
utilis, ingenium est, quod eget moderamine nostro;
tu vires sine mente geris, mihi cura futuri;
tu pugnare potes, pugnandi tempora mecum
eligit Atrides; tu tantum corpore prodes,
nos animo; quantoque ratem qui temperat, anteit
remigis officium, quanto dux milite maior,
tantum ego te supero. nec non in corpore nostro
pectora sunt potiora manu: vigor omnis in illis. (13.361-69)
Here's a slightly modified version of Kline's translation:
Your right hand, useful in war, needs the guidance of my intellect (ingenium). You have power (vires) without mind (mente), mine is the care for the future. You can fight, but Atrides, with me, chooses the time to fight. You only display the flesh (corpora), I the spirit (animo: "mind," "soul"). By as much as he who steers the ship is superior to him who rows, by as much as the general exceeds the soldier, by that much I surpass you. No less is the head (pectora: "heart, mind") more powerful than the hand, in our body: the energy of the whole (vigor omnis) is within it.
If Ajax's speech was entirely pragmatic, Ulysses's vocabulary borders on the metaphysical. Part of the irony here is that neither the hand nor the mind is willing to acknowledge the necessity of belonging to a larger whole. Without the mind, a hand is merely an aimless instrument. Without the hand, the mind's strategic powers reside feckless in a vacuum. Execution requires both hand and mind, and the greatest honors are given to artists, athletes, surgeons, craftsmen, etc. who possess and use intelligent fingertips.

In Ovid's scene in Metamorphoses 13, hand and mind are at war -- so passionate are both to claim the honor of being the sole agent of victorious warcraft that the matter of agency is itself put in question. If we can't agree on which of the executants should be credited, then we can't authoritatively say who did what. When agency is suspended, so is the glory of having acted. The very thing that makes the prize shield and helmet so valuable -- kleos, glory -- has gotten lost, unassignable, thanks to the debate that was supposed to assign it.

Detail of Achilles' shield, Kathleen A. Vail

Another part of the irony lies in what has caused this fight: bella movet clipeus - "even his shield makes war," Ovid says. If Ulysses and Ajax have blurred agency, then it's quite possible for the shield to turn into the actual agent of their conflict. Something that is normally considered a tool of war is now its cause. This kind of reversal is a recurrent phenomenon in the Metamorphoses. 

We might argue that this sort of statement -- "the shield makes war" -- is merely a shorthand way of saying that the desires of the two men for the shield and what it represents caused them to fight (and, ultimately, resulted in the suicide of one of them). But it is agency itself that's been put in question. If one cannot decide whether the mind or the hand is acting, then it's equally plausible to say that the shield moved the war as it is to say their desire for the shield was the cause. Agent and instrument can be reversed like cause and effect. When we hear someone say that "_____ made me do it" -- (if you google that expression, the results are quite interesting), they are entering into a willing suspension, not of disbelief, but of will itself, i.e., of agency.

Ulysses plays with the notion of agency in his speech. While Ajax emphasized how he stood against Hektor while Ulysses was nowhere to be found, Ulysses himself  says things like:
Why does Ulysses dare to go through the sentries and commit himself to night; to enter not only the walls of Troy but also the heights of the citadel, past the sharp swords; and to snatch the goddess from her temple, and carry her captive through the enemy ranks? If I had not done it, the son of Telamon would have carried the seven-layered bull’s-hide shield on his left arm in vain. That night the victory over Troy was established: I defeated Pergama then, when I secured the possibility of her defeat.
For Ajax, the practical, direct model of cause and effect is the only model. For Ulysses, war is like a game of chess. A move might not directly cause the end, but indirectly it can be decisive. Once he and Diomedes have stolen the Palladium, "I defeated Pergama." There are actually many more steps before the war is done -- he will, for instance, have to persuade Philoctetes to return, the wounded hero who is destined to kill Paris with the arrows of Heracles. But Ulysses can elide all those intervening causes and effects, because his strategic actions "established" the fall of Troy.

When the mind dismisses a cause that has to occur because it is only "a" cause, not THE cause, there's a contempt for the hand that's at least equal to the hand's blindness to the role of the mind. Mind and hand are mutually necessary, but also, it seems, incapable of sharing honor and responsibility. They are jealous of their own rights and agencies to the exclusion of each other (Ajax ultimately excludes himself from existing). With the obliteration of agency, instead of history we have mystery.

This framing of the problem of agency might be worth keeping "in mind" as we look at Ovid's approach to the story of Aeneas and the founding of Rome, the new Troy.

"bella movet clipeus"

The shield of Achilles gets a couple of hundred lines of description from Homer, and has provoked thousands of pages of commentary.

One view of the shield is offered here, with an outline of the way this author thinks it was laid out.

And here's a blog that offers numerous images of the shield as well as the Homeric text.

Virgil also offers a shield of Aeneas, brought to the hero by his mother, Venus, who "persuaded" Vulcan to create it. An interesting comparison of the shields of Achilles and Aeneas is offered by John L. Penwill.

Veronese at the Ringling

The Ringling is about to open an exhibit of Paolo Veronese's works, among them, a few depictions of scenes from the Metamorphoses. More here.

Veronese: Actaeon (detail)

Friday, November 23, 2012

A few background sources for Roman Myth

As is his wont, Ovid spends half book 13 on Troy and the aftermath of its fall before moving on to seemingly unrelated tales. His account of the fall of Troy contains some of the darkest pages of the Metamorphoses, and we'll want to ask ourselves why the poet chose to encapsulate the final calamity of the sacred city in the maternal figures of Hecuba and Aurora.

We'll also want to ask about the relation of the two halves of book 13. What possible relevance could the love of Polyphemus for Galatea and the transformation of Glaucus, which make up the second half of the book, have to the prized armor of Achilles and the devastation of Troy?

Curiously sandwiched between the tragic Troy tale and the somewhat grotesque tales of the smitten Cyclops and the man-turned-half-fish we find the beginnings of the wanderings of Aeneas. His story will take up a good deal of Book 14 as well.

One excellent resource to look to as we move into the Roman myths of these final books is Peter Meineck's talks on Roman Mythology. The lecture entitled "Trojan Ancestors: The Myth of Aeneas," as well as two later lectures on Virgil's Aeneid will be seen to have many resonances with things we've been talking about lately, including our recent discussion of the Iliad in relation to Ovid's re-visioning of it in Book 13.

Meineck also has a 92-page pdf Roman Myths course booklet that's free for downloading. It includes brief summaries of his main points as well as additional supporting materials. It's here. A good family tree for Aeneas is here. This useful map of Aeneas's wanderings (click to enlarge) is from Parada, here.

Wanderings of Aeneas

Monday, November 19, 2012

A contest of fact and interpretation

The old saying goes: "To the victor belong the spoils," but what if there are two victors? After the battle of weapons comes the war of words, wits, and rhetorical skill.

The debate between Ajax and Odysseus for the armor of Achilles is a case study in contested facts, insinuated opinions, and skillful use of emphasis, tone, and manipulative deviance from the truth.

If Nestor exemplified the motivations of a speaker of history, the contestations manifest in the debate of the two Greek heroes are a catalog of interpretive strategies the day after an event has occurred. (See, for example, the imaginative tales told by each side after the recent US presidential election.)

A detailed analysis of the speeches is beyond the scope of this entry. But given the claims made by each party as to his relative merits as the cause of the fall of Troy, just note that a while back, we talked about some of the conditions needing to be met for Troy to fall.

It turns out our list was not complete -- thanks to the comic Roman playwright Plautus, we've found more elements, and they've now added to the post. Eventually we'll get them all.

Debate of Odysseus and Ajax

After the Iliad

Metamorphoses 12 gave us a sideways glimpse of Troy through the lens of Nestor, the voice of the epic past, featuring a pre-Iliadic battle over a stolen bride.

Book 13 begins at Troy after the death of Achilles. The scene unfolds as drama as Odysseus and Ajax debate their relative merits for deserving to be awarded the armor of Achilles.


For more information about Troy, a good source is found here on -- at the top of the page are links to the various layers of Troy's archaeological remains, as well as to ancient texts that completed the Iliad's story, including the Cypria and the Little Iliad.

The general site entitled is a superb encyclopedia of illustrated, brief articles on the ancient world. I've put a link to it on the right.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"A Universe about Change": A Conversation

Excepts from an interesting conversation between author Marilynne Robinson and astrophysicist Marcelo Gleiser about science, myth, and the curious way in which contemporary culture and education seem at a loss to adequately cope with each. Also, some remarks about the enterprise of science, its apparent limits, and our inability to comprehend ourselves. Hoping we'll find some relevance to the Metamorphoses. From OnBeing: Links. Podcast. Complete transcript.

Dr. Gleiser: When we look at the whole universe, it is expanding, it's growing, it's changing in time. And so to me I look at things much more as a state of flux, you know, of becoming, of transformation. . . And so the notion that we as humans could come up with a final answer to the mystery of nature it's pushing things a little too far for our capabilities.

Ms. Robinson: Mm-hmm. I teach graduate students. I teach highly educated graduate students and I find that their level of understanding of science is pretty abysmal. And I wonder what it is that makes a culture that really creates its fate and its future, basically, out of science is not telling people, uh, you know, the thing about science, contemporary science, is that it is as profound in its revelation certainly as Galileo ever was, or Copernicus. You know?

Robinson: Well, you know, as far as the scale of what we're learning to know, the psalmist has better intuitions about it than Richard Dawkins. But we're pious toward science. It does in fact criticize itself and overturn itself. It deserves that reputation. But this strange little world that we're presented as being scientific isn't, you know; it's some sort of petrified conception that would have been at home in the 19th century.

Gleiser: You know, the mythic narratives and the scientific narratives, they're both asking the same question: Where did everything come from? . . . I actually wrote a book way before this last one, called The Dancing Universe: From Creation Myths to the Big Bang. And what I do there is I look at all sorts of different creation myths from cultures around the world in different times in the ways they dealt with the question of creation, you know, the question of the origin of the world, which to me is the most complicated question you can possibly ask. Right? So I call it The Question. Right? So then I go and I look at cosmology in the 20th century, before we had data. And what happened? All the models, the theories that cosmologists use to explain the universe reproduced these mythic ideas. So there was a universe that was cyclic, just like the dancing of Shiva. There were universe that, at least on paper, were created out of a moment in time, which was Friedmann came up with this model in 1922 before Hubble confirmed it. Right? And then there was an eternal universe as well.

Robinson: I think one of the things that is fascinating is that we don't know who we are. Human beings in acting out history describe themselves and every new epic is a new description of what human beings are. Every life is a new description of what human beings are. Every work of science, every object of art is new information. And it is inconceivable at this point that we could say anything final about what the human mind is, because it is demonstrating, you know, in beautiful ways and terrifying ways, that it will surprise us over and over and over again. You know?

Gleiser: Because the way we have dealt with things just won't work for the brain. So what would that be now, right? So there is this whole new notion that comes from complexity theory that the mind is an emergent phenomenon that we can't quite explain that has to do with the concatenation of many different groups of neurons at the same time. So the interesting thing about that is that, if that is true, then new laws will emerge at different levels of complexity. And you can't go from one level to the other level directly. You really need a completely different kind of explanation. And we're not there yet, but it's just an alternative way of thinking about how the brain works. And to me, given the complexity, even if we go there and we gain some level of understanding above what we know now, it's always going to be incomplete . . .

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nestor's Silence: Why Heracles attacked Pylos

[Added: related tale of Pholos]

There are myriad tales of individual Greek heroes and their mighty deeds, But if we wanted to list the greatest adventures of groups of Greek heroes, it would be a fairly short list. Those that come quickly to mind:
  • The Argonautica
  • The Calydonian Boar Hunt
  • The Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs
  • The War of Troy
Only one human being was actually present at all four moments of glory: Nestor. 

Nestor and Hecamede

Great counselor and historian Nestor is a living link between the greatest names of ancient legend. Which makes it all the more interesting that in Metamorphoses 12 we learn of Nestor's determination to suppress the glory of one of those heroes. As a sort of coda to Nestor's tale of Lapiths and Centaurs, Ovid tells of how Tlepolemus, Heracles' son, was angered by the absence of his father's name:
As the hero from Pylos told of this battle between the Lapiths and the half-human Centaurs, Tlepolemus, son of Hercules, leader of the Rhodians, could not keep his mouth silent in his indignation at Hercules, the descendant of Alceus, being overlooked. He said ‘Old man, it is amazing that your recital forgot to praise Hercules: certainly my father often used to tell me of the cloud-born centaurs he defeated.’ Nestor answered him, sternly. ‘Why do you force me to remember wrongs, to re-open wounds healed by the years, and to reveal hatred for your father and the injuries he did me?
The question came up as to what lay behind Heracles war upon Pylos. A few hints from Parada:
On one occasion, Heracles 1 came to Neleus in Pylos in order to receive purification for having killed Iphitus 1, the man who gave Odysseus his famous bow. However, Neleus refused on account of his friendship with Iphitus 1's father Eurytus 4, the prince of Oechalia who had received the mentioned bow from Apollo. Others say, however, that Heracles 1 wished purification for having murdered his own wife Megara. In any case, later, during his military campaigns in the Peloponnesus, Heracles 1 invaded Messenia (after the conquest of Elis, but before he attacked Lacedaemon) on the ground of Neleus' refusal to purify him. He took Pylos, and killed all the sons of Neleus, except Nestor, who had taken refuge in Gerenia, or just happened to be there receiving education. [Neleus]
The back story of Iphitus 1:
after Heracles 1 finished his LABOURS, he came to Oechalia to compete in archery for the hand of Iole; he won and yet he was refused the bride by Eurytus 4 and his sons (except Iphitus 1 who said that Iole should be given to Heracles 1), on the ground that he could once more kill his offspring as he had done to his children by Megara. Shortly after some cattle were stolen by the notorious thief Autolycus 1, and Heracles 1 was held responsible; but Iphitus 1 did not believe it and, having gone to meet him, he invited him to seek the cattle with him. Heracles 1 promised to do so but suddenly he went mad again and he threw Iphitus 1 from the walls of Tiryns killing him. He later offered compensation for this death but Eurytus 4 rejected it. [Eurytus 4.]
While we might think Nestor need not have mentioned Heracles, who as far as we know wasn't at the Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs, Heracles did in fact have his own encounter with the Centaurs who survived this battle:

PHOLOS (or Pholus) was one of the Peloponnesian kentauroi (centaurs) who dwelt in a cave on Mount Pholoe. He once had cause to entertain the hero Herakles who was passing by in search of the Erymanthian boar. But when Pholos opened his wine-skin to serve the hero, the other kentauroi were thrown into a frenzy by the aroma and attacked. Herakles managed to kill most of them with his arrows, with the few survivors fleeing to far off parts.
With the tale of Pholos (who also accidentally meets his end), Heracles earns the right to be considered the exterminator of the Centaurs -- the very thing Tlopolemus was asserting to Nestor.

Nestor makes clear that as far as he's concerned, Heracles' name (which means "fame of Hera") will not have fame. After describing how Heracles killed his 11 brothers, including Periclymenos in the form of Zeus' eagle, he says:
I look for no other revenge for my brothers
than to be silent about his mighty deeds:
Nec tamen ulterius, quam fortia facta silendo ulciscor fratres
Nestor's determined silence with regard to the name of the most famous Greek hero seems a historian's revenge. He'll strive to erase Heracles just as Heracles tried to erase his world.

The silence might also seems an interesting counterweight to the resonance of Fama's echoing palace, where every name is murmured incessantly.

This might be a good place to explain why Nestor was granted such a long life:
Neleus married Chloris 1, daughter of King Amphion 1 of Thebes, and one of the few NIOBIDS who escaped the wrath of the sweet children of Leto, Apollo and Artemis. It is told that Apollo and Artemis paid back for this slaughter, because they granted Nestor, son of Neleus and Chloris 1, life for three generations, thus compensating for the lives they had shortened when they killed Chloris 1's sisters and brothers.
Nestor is then the sole survivor of his siblings, and his mother seems to have been one "one of the few" who escaped the massacre of her mother Niobe's children which Ovid depicts so powerfully in Book 6. Book 12 begins with a possible survivor, Iphigeneia, and is marked by solitary survivors including Caeneus, Cycnus, Nestor and his mother. It's also preceded by an unwilling survivor bird, Aesacus, and ends with Nestor's memory of his brother Periclymenos who, though emulating the eagle of Zeus, in fact did not survive. Book 13 will also be about lone remnants, one of which is Aeneas.

Aeneas, Anchises, Ascanius

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Turning the tables at the marriage of Pirithous and Hippodamia

Nestor's tale of the Lapiths and Centaurs opens with a simple description:
Duxerat Hippodamen audaci Ixione natus
nubigenasque feros positis ex ordine mensis
arboribus tecto discumbere iusserat antro.
Pirithoüs, the daring son of Ixion, married Hippodame, and invited the cloud-born centaurs to take their place at tables, set in lines, in a tree-shaded cave.
What's slightly missed in Kline's fine prose translation is the untamed connotation of ferus, which Ovid uses instead of "centaurs." The Latin word is the root of descendants such as fierce, feral, and ferocious. When juxtaposed with Ixion and his criminal trespass upon Juno, on the one hand, and with festive "tables placed in order" (ex ordine) on the other, the strangeness of the word stands out.

Let's remember: centaurs were extremely powerful, large, creatures who ate raw meat. One of Ovid's characters, Ripheus, "towered above the treetops." So what was Pirithous thinking -- carefully set the table, then invite Godzilla to discumbere, i.e., recline?

In setting the stage, Ovid is also powering up the tension of the story -- the centaurs embody feral energy literally adjoined to human order. There should be a border there -- a limen, but is there? Or does the centaur serve as an organic image of an extremely volatile mix of human and animal nature?

The horse has often symbolized the power of human energy and desire. In the Phaedrus, Socrates offers this story:
Concerning the immortality of the soul this is enough; but about its form we must speak in the following manner. To tell what it really is would be a matter for utterly superhuman and long discourse, but it is within human power to describe it briefly in a figure; let us therefore speak in that way. We will liken the soul to the composite nature of a pair of winged horses and a charioteer. Now the horses and charioteers of the gods are all good and [246b] of good descent, but those of other races are mixed; and first the charioteer of the human soul drives a pair, and secondly one of the horses is noble and of noble breed, but the other quite the opposite in breed and character. Therefore in our case the driving is necessarily difficult and troublesome. Phaedrus
The junction of horseman and horse was commonplace enough to run throughout the epic landscape: Hektor is the "breaker of horses"; Nestor is the "Gerenian horseman." Troy's troubles began with Laomedon's horsedealing and the dismembered horse of Tyndareus' oath, and ended when a squad of Helen's former suitors flowed from the innards of the wooden horse. No wonder Maynard Mack said that to find epic, we must "follow the horses."

Plutarch has an anecdote about how the young Alexander tamed Bucephalus:

A massive creature with a massive head, Bucephalus is described as having a black coat with a large white star on his brow. He is also supposed to have had a "wall", or blue eye, and his breeding was that of the "best Thessalian strain." Plutarch tells the story of how, in 344 BC, a thirteen-year-old Alexander won the horse.[4] A horse dealer named Philonicus the Thessalian offered Bucephalus to King Philip II for the sum of 13 talents, but because no one could tame the animal, Philip was not interested. However, Philip's son Alexander was. He promised to pay for the horse himself should he fail to tame it. He was given a chance and surprised all by subduing it. He spoke soothingly to the horse and turned it towards the sun so that it could no longer see its own shadow, which had been the cause of its distress. Dropping his fluttering cloak as well, Alexander successfully tamed the horse. Plutarch says that the incident so impressed Philip that he told the boy, "O my son, look thee out a kingdom equal to and worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee."[4]

The biform soul, biform human nature, capable both of rule and enslavement, is at work in these tales, and so it is in the Metamorphoses.

Why then does the tale of the Lapiths' battle with the Centaurs come up now? Think of how this tale resonates against what's come before. We spent books 10 and 11 in the company of Orpheus, the man who turned away from loving real women for the sake of art. Here we are in the company of virile creatures who can't turn away from any woman. Eurytus grabs the bride by her hair -- all order is overturned with the tables:
protinus eversae turbant convivia mensae,
The mark of this disorder is a sudden metamorphosis from decor to use: Where for Cycnus even his shield and helmet had been mere decor, because they were useless, now in this wedding feast implements of civility and decorum suddenly are weapons of war. Mixing bowls, cups, entire altars still burning with animal sacrifice, the very threshold stones of the place, the limen, are picked up and hurled. Blood and wine and brains mix in disfigurement and death.

Another reason why this tale of blood, lust and confusion happens now might be that there's a kind of intermittent plot that runs through the second half of the poem. The tale of Ceyx told of a troubled man who wanted to determine the truth of things by consulting Apollo. He sets out, only to lose his way in a vivid, uncontrollable storm. Access to truth is problematic in this age. Soon we're standing at Aulis, again governed by strong winds that lead Calchas to tell Agamemnon he must sacrifice his young daughter. In no time at all, the unimaginable is taking place as the loving father, turned ferocious king, orders Iphigeneia to be placed on the altar. Instantly, the winds are propelling the fleet towards Troy, which hears of their coming through the house of Fama.

Fama is the symmetrical antipode of the oracle -- a resonant realm where sound and sense diverge and merge, exchange roles, and let slip the reins. Fama's bronze halls are the realm of confusion in which the political -- happy election day -- and social realms operate, as anyone on Twitter knows.

As Pirithous, son of Ixion, begins to celebrate his marriage to Hippodamia, (hippodamia = tamer of horses), he is surprised by ferocity -- the centaurs, burning with lust, envy, and wine, upset the feast. In so doing they are not so distant from the grace of Paris at the court of Menelaus, nor from the audacity of Ixion at Zeus's bed, nor from Zeus's rapes of Io, Leda, Danae, Europa, or Poseidon's taking of Caenis, or Erysichthon's daughter, Mestra. Or for that matter from the later adventures of Theseus and Pirithous pursuing Persephone and Helen.

Governance at all levels is muddled as borders blur, desires kick into overdrive, and the faces of men and forms of language are ingloriously mangled beyond recognition. Ovid's anti-epic has much to tell us about epic.
‘First, Amycus, son of Ophion, did not fear to despoil the inner shrine of its offerings, and snatched, first, from the sanctuary, a chandelier, thickly hung with gleaming lamps, and raising it on high, as one wields a sacrificial axe to break the bull’s snowy neck, he dashed it against the forehead of Celadon, the Lapith, leaving him with the bones of his face crushed past recognition. His eyes leapt from their sockets, and his nose, pushed in, as the bones of his face shattered, was driven into his palate.


Friday, November 2, 2012

An anthropological conundrum

Ovid's account of the battle of Lapiths and Centaurs in Metamorphoses 12 is engaged in exploring what it means to be human. Theseus and his Lapith friends are not expecting the chaos that explodes at the wedding of Pirithous and Hippodamia.

In looking at the centaurs through the eyes of the Greek heroes, we're seeing creatures that are biform, clearly not like us, yet just as clearly containing, somehow, fully the upper half of an entity that's uncannily, undeniably, us. They provoke urgent anthropological inquiry.

"Pindar recounts how the Centaurs from their very origins were associated with the negation of marriage," says Page duBois in Centaurs and Amazons.

Pindar, Pythian 2:
 Unnatural lust throws men into dense trouble; it befell even him [Ixion], since the man in his ignorance chased a sweet fake and lay with a cloud, for its form was like the supreme celestial goddess, the daughter of Cronus. The hands of Zeus set it as a trap for him, a beautiful misery. Ixion brought upon himself the four-spoked fetter, his own ruin. He fell into inescapable bonds, and received the message that warns the whole world. She bore to him, without the blessing of the Graces, a monstrous offspring—there was never a mother or a son like this—honored neither by men nor by the laws of the gods. She raised him and named him Centaurus, [45] and he mated with the Magnesian mares in the foothills of Pelion, and from them was born a marvelous horde, which resembled both its parents: like the mother below, the father above. 

"As liminal creatures, the Centaurs may be understood most fully if their sexual nature is taken into account. They are not simply nature spirits, or river creatures, but also hybrid monsters whose existence in myth permitted speculation about boundaries and kinds."  
"As liminal beings . . . they tested the the boundaries between man and beast, between nature and culture." Centaurs and Amazons.

We might do well to remember that the Parthenon's metopes depicted four battles: the battle of the giants against the Olympians; the battle of the Amazons and Athenians; the battle of Lapiths (with Theseus) vs. Centaurs, and the war of Troy. The war rages around borderlines between what the Greeks understood to be their own kind, and the other, in various guises.

More from the duBois book: