Tuesday, July 28, 2015

TFBT: Second Randoms Notes on Argonautica Book 3

The Hour 25 Book Club will host a discussion on Apollonius Rhodius Argonautica Book 3, via Google+ Hangout on Tuesday, August 11 at 11 a.m. 

You can find R.C. Seaton’s translation of the text online for free here, or you can read any other edition you prefer.  Here is my first random notes in preparation for August 11;  

I just thought the followinger were beautiful and dreadful;
 (283) “and he shot at Medea; and speechless amazement seized her soul. But the god himself flashed back again from the high-roofed hall, laughing loud; and the bolt burnt deep down in the maiden's heart like a flame; and ever she kept darting bright glances straight up at Aeson's son, and within her breast her heart panted fast through anguish, all remembrance left”  (297) “Love the destroyer;”…“shone the son of Aeson for beauty and grace; and the maiden looked at him with stealthy glance, holding her bright veil aside, her heart smouldering with pain; and her soul creeping like a dream flitted in his track…” 

Some where I got the impression the sovereignity of Colchis was dependent on ownership of the Golden Fleece, sort of like King Nisus of Megara’s purple lock of hair [HYGINUS, FABULAE 198] .  But I haven’t seen that mentioned yet in the Argonautica.  What I have seen is “the heart of ruthless Aeetes” (492).  Aeetes who would have killed his future son-in-law and bringer of the golden fleece “Phrixus, who surpassed all strangers in gentleness and fear of the gods” (584) if the gods hadn’t stopped him.  Aeetes who had “bitter foes the Sauromatae” on his borders and feared the betrayal of his relatives.    Now admitted this all predisposes King Aeetes to be leary of Jason and the Argonauts, but what if he’d said “Yes, that nasty old goat skin is yours!”  In that case, the neighboring nasty tribe would have been vanquished, his son and heir would have survived making his crown more secure and he would have gotten rid of Medea.  Bad decision little influenced by the gods I think.  [i] 

I keep seeing examples of indecision standing on the threshold or some other liminal spot.  (525)“refrain and abide in your ship a little longer as before, for it is better to forbear than recklessly to choose an evil fate.”  (647). “she desired to go to her sister, and crossed the threshold. And for long she stayed there at the entrance of her chamber,” 

(663) “Thrice she made the attempt and thrice she checked herself, the fourth time she fell on her bed face downward,”  Doesn’t Apollo warn off some warrior three times in The Iliad and on the fourth attempt the guy ends up face down in the dirt?

[i] Do all the kingdoms adjoining the Black Sea kill strangers?  As in the Land of Taurians where Iphigenia sacrificed strangers to Artemis.  HYGINUS, FABULAE 120  and  Hdt. 4.103

Friday, July 24, 2015

VftSW:From that Moment Came Everything Wonderful in my Life

My friends and family heard this story a million times, but my friend Janet at Hour 25 asked so here goes.  

 I once said, “There is no way I can do this! Because I am shy.”  Me?  Shy?  Clearly this was long before tequila entered my life.  Shyness is a terrible condition no one should be allowed to suffer through.  I fought against this terrible daemon in my teens.  I signed up for a speech class.  I forced myself into leadership positions in my Boy Scout troop.  But the class was small; only four other people all of whom because friends and at scouts I was “leading” my younger brother, little cousin and kids I’d known the majority of my life.  So for all my effort; Shyness still gagged my mouth and bound my limbs out in public.

Around twenty-one years old I realized that Shyness destroyed everyone hope I had for and every path I found to happiness and success in my life and in the years to come.  Something had to change.  I looked around at friends who lived their lives successfully.  I found five things that they did or didn’t do; that I didn’t or did do.  In retrospect it doesn’t matter what those five things were, if you want things to change in your life, you got to change the way you do things. 

One of the five things was dancing.  There is no way I could dance because I was too shy to ask a girl.  There is no way I could dance because I was too shy to get out there and embarrass myself.  There is no way I could dance because…of Shyness.  But, I so envied the people on the dance floor; the smiles; the laughter; the obvious fun!  This was back in the day when Country/Western was King and dancing was to Bluegrass Music; fueled by furious fiddles.  The dance halls were wild places back then.  Most Friday and Saturday nights when I and my firefighting buddies on the hotshot crew went to the bar I spent the night in the billiards room playing pool and drinking beers with the boys. 

But this night after my third beer, I marched to the front of the bar.  I stood on the edge of the dance floor and wondered to myself “Who wouldn’t be embarrassed to dance with me?”  At that moment sent by God, fresh all the court, still in uniform, came into the bar a girls volleyball team.  I thought, “These girls won’t be embarrassed to do anything.”  I asked a little “Chicana” if she’d like to dance.  “I don’t know how.” She replied with a grin.  “Neither do I.  I’m sure we will have a wonderful time.”  And we did.  All I could manage to lead us through was literally the single most basic “step” and whirl us around.  We had a great time.  From that moment came everything wonderful in my life.

Ends up, I’m good.  It’s an easy way for a guy suffering from shyness to introduce himself to women.  Girls started asking me to dance.  Can you imagine what that does to a shy young man’s self-esteem?  Guys started asking me to dance with their wives.  Know that does to a guy man’s ego?  I and my girlfriend (who I met on the dance floor) would be sent drinks by strangers because we were so good.  Do you know how much praise like that encourages a shy person to show-off on the dance floor? 

All this before tequila.  All this before I became Crew Boss of the Santa Fe Hotshots. There ain’t nothing, I can’t do!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

TFBT: Reading Medea

After my shower this morning I donned the club tee-shirt and a navy sports coat, lowered my crown on my brow and prepared for the performance.   We read “Medea” by Euripides.  During preparations Janet asked where I got my crown.  She thought it was wonderful that my wife  had made it for me the night before our reading of “Antigone”.  I played “Creon” there too.  Sarah S. played Medea and did an incredible job!  I always thought Medea was mad and rambling in her early speeches, but Sarah’s chilling performance made it clear that Medea was perfectly sane and plotting out loud.  The death of Glauce and her father is one of the most horrific scenes I’ve ever read, but the silent Medea stole the show cackling and giggling as the messenger recites in horror the princess’ demise.  Jessica as usual did a great job.  She was the messenger.  She said she would have body checked Sarah if they were together for upstaging her.  Paul O’M, a professional actor with classical experience played Jason  and actually made the character convincing.  Medea and Jason’s (Sarah and Paul’s) more intimate scenes were amazing! 

I heard so many things differently this time.  I heard things I’d not seen while reading;
o   At Hour 25, we had a discussion in the forums about the Iliad’s Sheer Cliff and Gray Sea Metaphor.  So this morning we heard of Medea “as if she were a stone, or the ocean swell, (28)   I will have to look at the Odyssey when Odysseus approaches the cliffs of Pheaecia. 
o    What mortals need is some other way to get our children. There should be no female sex. With that, men would be rid of all their  troubles.”  Medea, Euripides (571)  Maya M and I have been studying the Five Ages of Man; no women and no troubles is the Golden Age. 
o   “Aegeus; A man called Pittheus, king of Troezen.  Medea; He's Pelops' son. They say he's a very holy man.” (683-3) Who says, Pittheus is a very holy man?  He “died” in the hubristic attempt to kidnap the goddess of death and prostituted his daughter to King Aegeus.  It’s like; “Peleus the most chaste of men,[i] blameless Peleus, [ii] Peleus, one dear to the hearts of the immortals[iii]  Peleus was a double murderer!  The things that make Pittheus and Peleus precious to the gods, I don’t understand.
o   “I'll turn three of my enemies to corpses—father, daughter, and my husband.” (375)  And yet, for all her unearthly viciousness she doesn’t kill Jason. Is Eros’ terrible staff still stuck in her heart?  Is Jason alive because Medea still loves him?

Great session this morning.

[i] Plato, Republic 391c
[ii] Homer, Iliad 20. 207
[iii] Homer, Iliad 24. 59

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

TFBT: First Random Notes on Argonautica

The Hour 25 Book Club will host a discussion on Apollonius Rhodius Argonautica Book 3, via Google+ Hangout on Tuesday, August 11 at 11 a.m.

You can find R.C. Seaton’s translation of the text online for free here, or you can read any other edition you prefer.  Here is my first random notes in preparation for August 11;

3.1. 1 “Come now, Erato, stand by my side, and say next…”  Erato?  What?  The Muse of Love Poetry?  Not Epic?  We’ve studied so hard on the standards of epic and heroes who battle for unwilting glory.  Are their new standards and paradigms we must learn for what I heard Nagy call Jason yesterday; “A Love-Hero”? 

3.1. 37) “Cypris, which her husband, the halt-footed god,  So Hephaestus netted his wife and Ares sometime between the beginning of the Argonautica and well before the end of the Iliad when he was then married to Aglaia. 

3.1. 60 “Him will I deliver, though he sail even to Hades to free Ixion below from his brazen chains,”  Why would Hera use an example suggesting the freedom of a mortal that attempted raping her?

Zeus had a blooming fruitful orchard on Olympus.  3.1. 113-4 & 158  Wonder what he was raising?   “ 

3.1.201. "willows and osiers, on whose topmost branches hang corpses bound with cords. For even now it is an abomination with the Colchians to burn dead men with fire; nor is it lawful to place them in the earth and raise a mound above, but to wrap them in untanned oxhides and suspend them from trees far from the city. And so earth has an equal portion with air, seeing that they bury the women; for that is the custom of their land.”  Intersting.  Are there any Bronze Age cultures that actually did this? 

Cytaean Aeetes  Cytae was the town where Aeetes’ daughter Medea was born (Culture In Pieces: Essays on Ancient Texts in Honour of Peter Parsons  By Dirk Obbink) 

Eidyia his wedded wife, the youngest daughter of Tethys and Oceanus.”  Interesting.   That makes her the last of the Oceanides.  Was Styx the first? 

3.1. 275-298; “ Meantime Eros passed unseen through the grey mist, causing confusion, as when against grazing heifers rises the gadfly, which oxherds call the breese. And quickly beneath the lintel in the porch he strung his bow”  Interesting that a god uses the lintel to transition from the divine plan to the mundane.




Sunday, July 19, 2015

TFBT:Why the Gods Created Man

Apollodorus 1.6.1,  trans J. G. Frazer


Maya M. asked why the gods of Ancient Greek myth created man?  I asked more specifically why Cronus was the first to attempt this grand experiment that took 5 attempts under two different divine regimes? 


This is a sketchy proposal, but it might possible be one answer or part of the answer; “Now the gods had an oracle that none of the giants could perish at the hand of gods, but that with the help of a mortal they would be made an end of.” Apollodorus does not say which “gods”.  But the metopes of several ancient temples include virtual all the gods not just the Olympians in the Gigantomachy and in contrast to to the Titanomachy, almost all the goddess too.   Gaea seemed to be familiar with this prophecy, too..  What if all the gods knew the prophecy? Image the look on the Titans’ faces as they pondered the oracle, saying “What’s a giant?”  “More importantly what is a mortal?” 


So aware of the doom laying before the divine community; generation after generation of gods perfected the race that would save them.  First the golden age of man; a failed experiment without fire or women[i].  The Silver Age added then Motherhood.  Next the Bronze Age and our benefactor Prometheus; in pages 106-107  of “Hesiod’s Cosmos” Clay argues that Prometheus’ affection for humanity was more mercenary than philanthropic.  The Titan adds  fire and Pandoric wives to the blood line.  As the final moments of the Gigantomachy approach, a dash of ichor in human veins and Zeus spend three days and nights in the siring of Heracles.[ii] 

Tierasias at Heracles birth calls him the hero of the Gigantomachy to come.[iii]  According to the metopes several other demi-gods join him.  The gods win, the giants loss.  At Thebes and Troy the heroes and demi-gods battle to the death.  The gods pull the veil and are done with improving their creation.[iv]  

[i] Page 87 “Hesiod’s Cosmos” Jenny Strauss Clay
[ii] The Preparation for the Gospel, Eusenius, page 54
[iii] Pindar  Nemean 1.67-72
[iv] This timeline follows page 63, Emma Stafford, “Herakles”

Friday, July 17, 2015

VftSW: The Lesson of Oedipus

Here was the first great mystery, the first great curiosity in my life.  "Am I adopted?"   

I don't know if anyone else goes through this stage, but it did cross my mind.  And if I am; "Do I want to bring it up?"  (We all know what happen to Oedipus when he started wondering about  his parentage!)  I was reassured by how similar my younger brother and I looked and the infeasibility of adopting us both and me not recalling.  As the years passed I also realized the impossibility of my relatives keeping a secret like that. 

Still I've always wondered if I was adopted would I seek out my birth parents.  My conclusion was "No."  They gave me up (abandoned me, I was taken from them,) for a reason.  Let sleeping dogs lie!  Remember Oedipus! 

So my opinion was settled on that until I started working with Mac.   Mac was a dark-haired swarthy baby-boy with two blonde-haired, blue-eyed older sisters when his dad went out for cigarettes one day and never returned.  Apparently, not too devastated, Mac's mom married a year later and brought three more blondes into the world.  Twenty years later Mac's dad returned from the store. 

Mac's sisters who could remember their desertion would have nothing to do with the bum.  Mac who couldn't recall the event;  met, befriended and even went to live with the bum.  I was unconvinced and sided with Mac's sisters as he told me the story. 

"Let me show you the pictures." 

Like many of us Mac and his wife had a hallway lined with family portraits.  The first was the family he grew up with;  blonde step-dad, blonde mother, five blonde siblings and Mac who literally looked like the black sheep of the family.  Then came the picture of Mac's dad.  Mac was his father's spitting image.  Whatever Mac wanted to know about his medical history or his body's aging he could find by talking to this man.  Then there was the picture of Mac and his three other siblings.  (His father hadn't been to devastated by the break up of his marriage and remarried promptly also.)  So, now I am confused.

 If you discovered tomorrow that you were adopted would you be CURIOS to meet your biological family?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

TBFT; Still Fruitful After All These Years

Maya M, asked if I thought that after the veil was pulled; “do gods retain any ability to reproduce?”  She's  asking a rather unknowable and abstract question.  But I have a few insights to share.   

In reading “Awakening Osiris” by Normandi Ellis, I somehow got the impression that when Hathor kicked in the blue door of Heaven, he met a lot of “unknown” gods.  That is to say gods with no cult or worship that are only referenced in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.  That notion transferred into my studies of Greek myth.  Let introduce you to a few “unknown” gods in Olympus
·      Alexiares and Anicetus, the twin sons of Heracles & Hebe.[i]
·      Diomedes given nectar and immortality by Athena.[ii]
·      Dionysus’ mother Thyone and wife Ariadne[iii]
The point being;  here are a bunch of gods that we know about occupying Olympus, just imagine how many more there could be that we don’t know about.   

That said, the suggestion that Zeus of all people could no longer father sons, is a violation of Jenny Strauss-Clay’s Law of Once and For Always  and as  Deborah Lyons points out in Gender and Immortality, “The beds of the gods are always fruitful.   These two laws in place it might seem odd that Zeus and Hera only had three children.  I once asked Prof. Seemee Ali, (from Carthage College)  what child was born of their coupling on Mt. Ida during the Trojan War (Iliad, Book 14)  Her response was that what was born that day was a new dispensation established between Hera and Zeus that smoothed the way towards the war’s foretold conclusion.  Abstractions like that can occupy a lot of rooms in Olympus above and Hades below. 
So I see plenty of evidence the divine kept reproducing like rabbits even after they quite joining with the daughters of men.  

[i] "Herakles achieved immortality, and when Hera's enmity changed to friendship, he married her daughter Hebe, who bore him sons Alexiares and Anicetus."  Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 158 
[ii] According to the post Homeric stories, Diomedes was given immortality by Athena, which she had not given to his father. Pindar mentions the hero's deification in Nemean X, where he says "the golden-haired, gray-eyed goddess made Diomedes an immortal god." In order to attain immortality, a scholiast for Nemean X (J.B. Bury, Pindar: Nemean Odes) says Diomedes married Hermione, the only daughter of Menelaus and Helen, and lives with the Dioscuri as an immortal god while also enjoying honours in Metapontum and Thurii.
[iii]  After her death, Semele was led by her son out of the lower world, and carried up to Olympus as “Thyone” (Pind. Ol. ii. 44, Pyth. xi 1; Paus. ii. 31. § 2, 37. § 5; Apollod. iii. 5.)  "And golden-haired Dionysos made blonde-haired Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, his buxom wife: and the son of Kronos made her deathless and unageing for him." (Hesiod, Theogony 947)