Monday, November 26, 2018

TFBT: Loeb’s Homeric Hymns

I am reading the Homeric Hymns in Ancient Greek with help from Loeb

Homeric Hymn to Dionysus
·      The suggestion that Dionysus was born in the deep-whirling Alpheus, recalls the fated-birth of Apollo and Artemis in the Peleus River in the Valle of Tempe.
·      Line seven in the Greek; “Father of men and gods”.  In English “Father of gods and men”
·      Dionysus birth in hiding from Hera recalls Zeus’ from Cronus.  The Curetes and Orphic Titans playing different roles from one another.

Homeric Hymn to Demeter
·      Qeon” = goddess?
·      M.L. West often translates “Cronide” as Zeus.
·      Why the phrase “immortal gods and mortal men”?  Like we all don’t know that men die? M.L. West drops “men” sometimes when both mortal and men are in the Greek.  
More notes to come.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

TFBT: “Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece” by Lee E. Patterson

As a birthday present, my oldest son (with whom I am well pleased) and his wife bought me “Kinship Myth in Ancient Greece” by Lee E. Patterson.  These are the stories that Ancient Greek people and peoples told one another who they were in the world by remembering who they were related to.  Most famously in Book 6 during the bragging that preceded Iliadic duels the hero Glaucus in bragging up his lineage touched upon a story from the family saga of the hero Diomedes,

the heart of Diomedes of the great war cry was glad. He planted his spear in the ground, and spoke to him with friendly words. [215] “Then,” he said, “you are an old friend of my father’s house.”...With these words they sprang from their chariots, grasped one another’s hands, and plighted friendship.

The Dorians told how they were descended from the Heraclidea, grandsons of Heracles returning to their ancestral home, rather than the Johnny-come-lately barbarians, the neighbors thought of them.  Former colonies reminded their metropolis of their familial relationship.  Leagues of Nations were formed amongst the supposed descendants of Ion or Chyrsoar for purposes of trade and defense.  It was a big deal. The Megarians had a totally different account of King Sciron, foe of Theseus.  (Aeacus wed one of his daughters, so Sciron couldn’t have been that bad!)

In the first five chapters of the book, Patterson explains all this is the broadest terms.  He explains that such myths are “used to create ethnic, national and other cultural identities.”  He says we “often embraces (such) fictions, and thus deny them to be fictions, despite the evidence put forward by those who apply a more clinical skepticism. To traditions embraced by the majority.”  Adding phrases like; “myth gives shape to the ideas that bind a society”; “a community’s origins”, “sense of its identity” and “to give meaning to those who believe its doctrines.”  Apparently all genealogically and anthropological evidence that a clinical skepticism can bring to bear will not dislodge these myths of who we are because “boundaries of the group are determined by only that group.” A theory that might able to modern American politics just as well as Ancient Greeks.

Patterson purports on several occasions that “the vast majority of Greeks who had no interest in separating truth from falsehood were not shaken by fictions that contradicted no know science.  Thus they listened to the true myths and inventions in the same frame of mind.”  Which explains so much about the ending of the Oresteia.

This broader discussion goes on for the first 108 pages.  Sadly his constant criticism (and dismal) of his own sources, critiques of their implications and of his own inferences, “suggests” that a reader will lose Patterson’s line of logic as well as  the storyline of the myth under discussion.

Starting, at Chapter Six things really pick up with very specific local myths and specific groups of people, complete with explanatory genealogy tables.  (Love those.) Here we hear that people along the banks of the Meander married their founding fathers off to the river-gods daughters.  Making themselves sibling city-states and “autochthonous”.  (The latter being a big thing in the Ancient Greek world.  It means they were there before anyone else.  Lots of other good stories too.  As a mythologist I found all these local myths about minor heroes and their family sagas amazing.

The story of the city of “Heraclea at Latmus and the Aetolian League” (page 132-137) enlightened me greatly.  When reading West’s “The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women) I never understood the myths of Aethlius and Endymion and their role in the “Aetolian-Elean-Pylian Myth Cycle.” 

This is an incredible researched book.  Both in primary sources and regarding other scholars on the topic. (Pages 165-219 are the notes, appendices, bibliography and indexes in fine print.)  I loved it.



Thursday, November 8, 2018

TFBT: Seven Against Thebes

Recently I had the privilege of reading this heroized” edition of Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes” produced by my friends at the Kosmos Society and Center for Hellenic Studies.  Great job everyone your efforts add so much to my understanding of the nuisances of the play.
Here are my notes so far;

Zeus and Earth, and gods that guard our city, [70] and Curse,2 potent agent of my father’s vengeance, do not destroy my city [polis], ripping it up from its foundations, captive of the enemy, a city [polis] that speaks in Greece’s tongue, “.
The Thebaid makes the point over and over again, that the citizens and gods who guard the city are foreign; Tyrian as I recall. Similarly footnote 5 “Onca, the name of a Phoenician goddess, is identified with Athena (compare 1.487).”
Chorus 89-180 is praying and doing so inappropriately per Homeric protocols
Seems the King could spend more time marshalling his forces and less squabbling with the women
“Eteokles:Since the god hastens the deed so urgently, [690] let the whole race [genos] of Laios, hated by Phoebus, be swept on the wind to Cocytus’ destined flood!” What?
Surprised the Chorus supported Antigone.
lots of Ship of Stare references considering Thebes is at 705 feet above sea level.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

TFBT: Artemis by Sorita D’Este

I recently ran across a copy of “Artemis: Virgin Goddess of the Sun & Moon” by Sorita D’Este. It was a modest paperback with a cover that might lead one to think it was a “New Age” study of “The Goddess”. Rather it is a well written study of the Greek goddess Artemis and heavily referenced.  That is to say, every known reference.  Wow!  A great resource!

D’Este suggests that;

Artemis’ bow was created by the Cyclops; I never thought about that.  Atsma says “Her bow, quiver, and arrows, were made by Hephaestus”

Artemis temple at Brauron was flooded by the River Eurasinos in the 3rd century BB.  Gotta be a story there.

“Knageus was a Spartan hero who was taken prisoner in battle and sold as a slave to the Cretans. He lived in the sanctuary of Artemis there, but ran away with the maiden priestess who took the image of Artemis with her.  They subsequently set up a temple of Artemis Knagia in Sparta.  This tale corresponds closely to the theme of the story of Iphigenia and Orestes.”  She tells several versions of what happen to the siblings and the image of Artemis Tauric, but what came to my mind was Artemis at Nemi, the life’s work of Frazier and “The Golden Bough”; “According to one story the worship of Diana at Nemi was instituted by Orestes, who, after killing Thoas, King of the Tauric Chersonese (the Crimea), fled with his sister to Italy, bringing with him the image of the Tauric Diana hidden in a faggot of sticks. “

“A temple in Hyllos in Megara was dedicated to Artemis Agrotera and Apollo Agrios by Alkathoos after killing the Cithairion Lion.”  Interesting!  But even the source she quotes (Pausanias) says that Alkathoos did not kill the Cithairion Lion.  Most sources say Heracles.

“Four golden hinds pulled Artemis’ chariot. The fifth was captured by Heracles as one of his labors; the capture of the Ceritynaen Hind. The wounded the hind and had do some smooth talking to Artemis to save himself from her wrath.”  Who knew?

“Where has not Artemis danced?”

“A different version of the myth has Artemis killing Koronis as a reprisal for Apollo’s subterfuge in causing the death if Orion”

“After Artemis Apollo and Leto persuaded Zeus to release the Titan Prometheus from his bondage, Heracles was sent to free and bring Prometheus  back.” (Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 4. 60)

D’Este points out that when Artemis fled to her father after being slapped around by Hera on the battlefield before Troy, it was Leto that picked up her bow and quiver full of Arrows.  I recalled that in the HH to Apollo Leto, was handling his weapons too.

Also Artemis asked her father for twenty nymphs who were daughters of the Cretan river-god Amninos”. I can find no reference to Amninos.  According to Atsma “The stream was also known as the Kairatos (Caeratus). “. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Persephone’s Companions: An Ascending Scale of Honor

Below is Persephone’s first-person account of what took place with her and her companions moments before her uncle/husband abducted her; 

All we were playing in a lovely meadow, Leucippe and Phaeno and Electra and Ianthe, Melita also and Iache with Rhodea and Callirhoe [420] and Melobosis and Tyche and Ocyrhoe, fair as a flower, Chryseis, Ianeira, Acaste and Admete and Rhodope and Pluto and charming Calypso; Styx too was there and Urania and lovely Galaxaura with Pallas who rouses battles and Artemis delighting in arrows: [425] we were playing and gathering sweet flowers”. (HH to Demeter)

Generally her companions are described as “Oceanides” daughters of Ithe Great River Oceanus and his bride Tethys.  Which they are for the most part with the odd addition to the list of Athena and then Artemis. (Athena is the daughter of an Oceanide.)

In “The Best of the Achaeans” Nagy introduced us to the notion of “an ascending scale of affection”

 6§15 “As the studies of J. T. Kakridis have shown, variations in the listing of a hero's affinities represent a relative ranking of these affinities in Homeric narrative and constitute a poetic convention in itself. “ 

As the catalogue stands “an ascending scale of affection” would indicate that her best gal-pals were Athena and Artemis.  There is no evidence in Greek Mythology to support these proposed friendships.l So instead I propose that the catalogue of Persephone’s Companions represents an ascending scale of honor.  Hera expounds on a very short scale

Iliad 24.56 “Then stirred to anger spake to him white-armed Hera: "Even this might be as thou sayest, Lord of the silver bow, if indeed ye gods will vouchsafe like honour to Achilles and to Hector. Hector is but mortal and was suckled at a woman's breast, but Achilles is the child of a goddess that I mine own self  fostered and reared. “ 

So Hera’s logic is that Achilles has greater honor, higher  rank, than Hector because his mother is a goddess and Hector’s a mere mortal. And more so because Thetis was fostered and reared by the Olympian Hera, daughter of Cronus.  Here is the Catalogue again with Oceanides know claims to honor;

Leucippe, the "White-Horse" per Atsma whose emthymology I  generally follow here, nymph of a frothy white spring or mountain stream. 

Phaeno "appearing" or "shining".  Makes me think of “sea to shining sea”

Electra, “the bright or brilliant one. “ the wife of Thaumas, son of Pontus, mother of Iris and the Harpies, Aëllo and Ocypete.   Not a high ranking goddess.  Though married to a Pontide, she is mother of the winged messenger of the Olympians 

Ianthe, “violet". According to Atsma goddess of the violet tinged clouds of dawn.
Melite, “ honey-sweet" “Was probably the Nymph of a sweet-water spring.”
 (Iache) “The Okeanis of the ritual cry of joy "iakhe". She was a goddess of the Eleusinian Mysteries”
Rhodeia, “the rose-tinged clouds of dawn.”
Callirhoe, “fair-flowing" A goddess of  Erythia on the shores of the Great River of Oceanus and mother of the three bodied Geryon.
 Melobosis, "food of fruit" or "sheep-feeder" 
Tyche was goddess of fortune or chance 
Ocyrrhoe is the “Swift-flowing.
Chryseis was a goddess   the golden-tinged clouds of sunset
Ianeira, perhaps the goddess of the Ionian tribe of Greeks.

Acaste “unstable" or "irregular". She may have been Nymphe of an erratically flowing spring or stream, 

 Admete, "the unbroken" or "unwedded". “Admete was perhaps a goddess of unwedded maidens, “ like Athena and Artemis.  “Her sister Zeuxo, representing the yoke of marriage.”

RHodope, goddess of the rose-coloured clouds of dawn.

Pluto, “The Okeanis goddess of wealth “ 

Calypso, lover of Odysseus and daughter of the Titan Atlas

Styx, goddess of the river of that name, Zeus’ first ally, her chidren were his henchmen and the gods swore by her name 

Urania, the "heavenly-one" also the name of Zeus ‘ daughter the Muse of Astronomy

Galaxaura,  "milky breeze" , like  γαλαξίας; Milky way

Pallas Athena an Olympian virginal daughter of Zeus and the Oceanide Metis
Artemis an Olympian virginal daughter of Zeus and the Titaness Leto
And finally, Persephone virginal daughter of Zeus and Demeter, daughter of Cronus
We may never fully understand the criteria in an ascending scale of honors, like why Hesiod granted such great honors to Hecate in the Theogony.  But in this case it appears that the further a nymph can disassociate with water and rise skyward, the more Titans and then Olympians she  can claim as parents, plus maintaining her virginity, the higher she rises on Persephone’s ascending scale of honor, culminating with herself with two Olympian parents. 

Two thoughts; 
If the catalogue is Persephone’s ascending scale of honor, what a blow to her self esteem to wed and leave Olympus 
If Persephone is the top of her ascending scale of honor, maybe we should put Achilles and Meleager at the top of their ascending scales of affection rather than Patroclus and Cleopatra.

TFBT: October Quotes

Moses appointed leaders to various groups "to decide their quarrels and assist them in every way.  I instructed them to be perfectly fair at all times, event o foreigners"  Deu 1:15-16

Pindar, Pythian Ode 4 ep 4 :
“Indeed Tityos (Tityus) by Artemis was hunted down with darts from her unconquerable quiver suddenly sped, so that a man may learn to touch only those loves that are within his power.”

“Whenever a message elevates receiving over giving, hoarding over helping, self over service, beware! “ Christ in our Home October 31, 2019

HHto Demeter:347 "Dark-haired Hades, ruler over the departed, father Zeus bids me bring noble Persephone forth from Erebus unto the gods, that her mother may see her with her eyes and cease from her dread anger with the immortals; for now she plans an awful deed, to destroy the weakly tribes of earthborn men “.  Earthborn men!  Only earth-born?

“Hades, King of the Dead, smiled knowingly “ (HH to Demeter 357)

“Cool!  We get to go on a train.”  Toddler boarding the train for aother concourse at SeaTac

Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

VftSW; Emperors

I noticed a couple of black guys waiting to get their hair cut.  I did not think much about it.  No saying who will come to Emperors barbershop at a Southcenter Mall.  The place was busy!  The first chair was a big black guy with a black customer. 

“Need a haircut? “ He asks loudly and cheerfully as he waves me in.

There is a black guy and dark-skinned Asian lounging at the end of a busy line of chairs.  The black guy, named Ethan, waved me back.  I asked for it short but still touching the top of my ears.  Usual chit-chat and then to business.  I relaxed and finally got a chance to look around.  The walls were hand painted with massive street art, which was then covered by the usual mirrors and equipment needed for a barbershop.  (First actual barbershop For me in twenty-five years.  Back home they are all hair salons.)  Ethan was entertaining the whole place with good natured jabs at the barber in the first chair.  Asian guy was glaring at me which is when I noticed the equipment.  Rather than the usual folksy dresser drawer to hold the barber’s equipment, it was a mechanic tool box.  That explained the compressed air hoses coming  down from the ceiling and the Checkered Flag black and white tiled floor. 

Ethan chatted away as he bounced the shears off my head, sort of like jabbing at my  hair instead of the normal long smooth sweep I am use to.  Even though he had a customer in his chair the Asian guy was still glaring at me.  I glared back for a while then glanced around for something else to look at.  They had one of those posters showing the different styles they could do.  You know, so you can just point at the one you want.  Like sixty photos.  All the models were black.  I am a little slow, I was in a Black Barbershop!  

I recalled a short article I read once about “White Privilege”. Yeah, it is a racial slur by the authoress didn’t mean it that way.  Her examples were things like, if I went to the drugstore for bandaids I could probably find one that matched my skin tone.  Not always the case for her.  She also pointed out that is she went to get her hair cut there was no promise that they would know how to  cut her curly tight hair. Apparently Ethan habitually cut hair her way.  

It was a great hair cut; shears, scissors,  razor and gel.  Then he trimmed my mustache and eyebrows something the women at the hair salon, never think to do.  He ended the haircut with a handshake and senior discount.

Best haircut in two and half decades at Emporers at Southcenter in Seattle