Monday, June 24, 2013

TFBT: Symbolism in Greek Mythology

French psychologist Paul Diel wrote “Symbolism in Greek Mythology: Human Desire and Its Transformations in 1966.  It was translated from the French in 1980. 

Diel references solar mythology early on, confounds the Titanomachy and the Gigantomachy, adds Medusa to the brood of Echidna, thinks Chiron was the only centaur with a name, believes baby Oedipus’ tendons were cut by his father, says Cerberus has two heads...

His un-referenced work provides interpretations of the classical myths that are more esoteric in nature than I am use to seeing in scholarly works.  But, that’s okay; I bought the work to learn new perspectives.  Early on Diel states, “…mythical explanation must follow a strict rule…This rule is:  never be satisfied with an isolated translation of a symbolic feature. The meaning of a symbol is considered to be substantiated only if the assumed meaning explains not only the myth in question, but all myths containing that symbol.”  I found that rule encouraging, but rarely followed. Rather Diel states the meaning and uses that definition throughout the series of myths he studies without further discussion.

Starting with page, Diel begins laying out his world neatly. 
·        The super conscious or spirit is represented by mountains, Olympus, the sky and the sky-gods. 
·        Consciousness and intellect occupy the earth. 
·        And the subconscious is “represented by monsters which emerge from the underground regions from a dark cavern, from a den…” and “monsters which rise the ocean depths.”

·       “The radiant sun…becomes a symbol of the illuminating spirit."
·    “Intellect is symbolized by terrestrial fire”
 ·     And the “subconscious…where infernal fire burns.

The book then analyzes a dozen or so Greek heroes based on their futile attempt to become “sublime”.  As often happens with scholarly tomes, the greatest arguments are submitted at the beginning of the book. At which point you can look at the rest of the book as supporting arguments.  Or, and I’m sorry to have to say this, the accumulation of mis-information and false logic because such a burden in later chapter the exhausted reader sets down the book and walks away.  That’s what I did at page 125 of 208.

But along the way I read some interesting things;

Of Tantalus the author says, “A man cannot be “the guest of the gods” at every moment of his life.”  He says we shouldn’t even wish to live in that sublime sphere, but must be able to   “come down earth” to fulfill our earthly needs.  He also suggests that “Tantalus…offers this abominable food to the gods, (his son Pelops in a stew)because, wishing to become their equal but being unable to rise to their level, he tries to bring them (the gods) down to his own.”

Diel says, “(Phaeton) dissatisfied with being only the mortal son, means to play the god; he wants to become the equal of the divinity.”  Phaeton’s wish is to drive the solar chariot across the sky. The horse is the symbol of impetuous desire…Helios begs his son to give up his immoderately exalted wish” but Phaeton “is reluctant to school himself according to the counsel of the spirit(his father a sky-god).”  “Just as he tame and controls the horse, man must be able to bridle his desires”.

Of the Earth Goddesses
·        Demeter represents the earth populated by man.
·        Gaea is the symbol of the undefiled and monstrously wild
·        Rhea, the symbol of the earth over flowing with wildlife.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

TFBT: Once and for Always

“I will remember and not be unmindful of Apollo who shoots afar. As he goes through the house of Zeus, the gods tremble before him and all spring up from their seats when he draws near, as he bends his bright bow.”

                                      Homeric Hymn to Apollo

In the scene above, after the initial uproar, Leto disarms her son and leads him to a throne at the festive table.  His father Zeus passes him a cup of nectar and all is again once merry and delightful on Olympus. 
Jenny Strauss-Clay (The Politics of Olympus, 1989) asks whether this is “Apollo's first reception into Olympus…or whether it represents typical scene, repeated each and every time the god enters his father’s halls.”   Ten excellent pages of reading later, Clay observers, “That the time of the gods differs from ours.  (When I read that line I recalled from my adult confirmation class, Pastor Carroll Marohal saying God’s time was kairos time rather than our linear chronos time.  And Kurt Vonnegut's phrase, “unstuck in time.”)  Clay concludes that the opening scene “portrays both the first epiphany of the new god on the threshold of Olympus and his eternally repeated entrance into this father’s house…as he did the first time and as he will forever.”

I continued reading Clay’s excellent book and noticed the same “once and for always” phenomena in her analysis of “The Homeric Hymn to Demeter”.    The goddess said, (208-211)” it was not lawful for her to drink red wine, but bade them mix meal and water with soft mint and give her to drink. And Metaneira mixed the draught and gave it to the goddess as she bade. So the great queen Deo received it to observe the sacrament”  Here she is referencing  and establishing for all time a ritual in the Eleusinian mysteries, which she hasn’t even found yet. 
Currently I am as student of Professor Gregory Nagy in “The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 hours  Nagy seems to support the same “once and for always” notion    At  17§9. Nagy explains Electra’s confusion in the Libation-Bearers 118 (Aeschylus) "What should I say? Instruct me, inexperienced as I am, and lead me in my thinking."  Nagy suggests that Agamemnon is in the process of becoming a cult hero.  Electra’s offering will be the first of many.  Likewise in “Oedipus at Colonus”  Nagy suggests that all the rituals Oedipus performs for the first time prior to his death  represent Oedipus formulating his heroic legacy for Theseus (18§48). 

At Theogony 545 Prometheus once and for always arranges the portions during a sacrifice.  In Eumenides 482, Athena says, “I will establish this tribunal for all time.” and we’ve had 12 good men on a jury ever since.  
In short, I see evidence that when the Divine acts, it is once and for always and I encourage readers to test the hypothesis in their readings.

Friday, June 21, 2013

TFBT: Random Notes from Hour Seventeen of “The Ancient Greek Hero”

“Daughter of Zeus, you will hear it all in brief. We are the eternal children of Night. We are called Curses at home beneath the earth.” (Eumenides 415) The "Curses" are called Erinnyes on earth.  Is "Curses" another example of a divine name? Like Scamander on earth is called Xanthus in Olympus.

And I will aid the suppliant and rescue him! For the mēnis of the suppliant would be awesome to mortals and gods, if I intentionally abandoned him” Apollo in Eumenides. I thought menis was limited to gods and Achilles. Is the suggestion here that Apollo failing to save Orestes will have cosmic consequences? Orestes is certainly no demi-god. So is menis attached to the results rather than victim?

“I establish this law court, which is untouched by desire for profit. It is fully deserving of reverence and is quick to anger. Watching over those who sleep, it is a wakeful guardian of the land.” Eumenides 704-706 Good writing!

“ the transformation of the Erinyes into the Eumenides represents their acculturation within the framework of Athenian society, where they are also known as the Semnai or 'Revered Ones' (there is a most revealing report about them in Pausanias 1.28.6-7). Conversely, such acculturation represents the transformation of the dead heroes of the past into the cult heroes of the immediate present.” The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours 17:17

“Be gone, quit my sanctuary of the seer’s art, or else you might be struck by a flying, winged, glistening snake shot forth from a golden bow-string, and then you would spit out black foam from your lungs in pain, vomiting the clotted blood.” Eumenides 180

“For one must nurse that little thing, which doesn’t yet have any thoughts, as if it were a grazing animal, of course one must, by following its twists and turns that lead toward a thought.” Agamemnon 755

Monday, June 17, 2013

TFBT: Random Notes from Hour 16

“Much has been written about the excellence of Hector, whose civic dedication and tender feeling for his wife will always compel admiration. But in the end there is about him, as the famous Hellenist John Finley used to say to undergraduate classes at Harvard, a slightly Rotarian quality that must ultimately yield before Achilles’ god-like splendor.”

 "Zeus, who has established this as a fixed law: Learning comes by suffering." A clear sumbolon from the antiquity, we are certainly learning!”  
Mayragul a student in The Ancient Greek Hero.   

“As kleos andron passed from one generation to another in the song culture, cycle of disaster is also passed from one generation to another. The new generation has to take vengeance for the evil done a generation before by doing another evil. This is feud. Eye for an eye!”  Mayragul a student in The Ancient Greek Hero.   

“When Agamemnon is told that he must give up his own daughter, he fails to resist the same way as he had resisted the giving up of his concubine.”  Hour 16 of  The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours.   

“Zeus was about to cause, for the sake of a woman with many a husband, a multitude of struggles most wearying, with many a knee buckling in the dust” Agamemnon (Aeschylus)  Line 64 

 “Since Attica is deserted, it is obvious that this voice is divine and comes from Eleusis to help the Athenians and their allies. If it descends upon the Peloponnese, the king himself and his army on the mainland will be endangered. But if it turns towards the ships at Salamis, the king will be in danger of losing his fleet. Thus he advised, and after the dust and the cry came a cloud, which rose aloft and floated away towards Salamis to the camp of the Hellenes. In this way they understood that Xerxes' fleet was going to be destroyed.” Herodotus on Salamis 


Sunday, June 16, 2013

TFBT: Zeus' Aversion to Autochthons

 I start to suspect that Zeus was a damn racist. He seems to have never liked a true human woman!”
                              Maya M.  in Maya’s Corner

 Most of the great mortal families and city-states in Greek Mythology claim descent from some demi-god who traveled to another land, conquered or colonized it, married the local nymph and created a great kingdom.  Kings are commonly called “sons of Zeus”.  When my friend Maya says “true human woman” she refers to a member of those rare genealogies unpopulated by deities.  These are the native people, the indigenous people, the earth-born, in the Greek language; the autochthons.

 Carlos Parada, in a great article on “Autochthonous” in  Greek Mythology Link, lists seventeen autochthons; Amphictyon,  Aras, Castalius,  Cecrops,  Coresus,   Cranaus,  Erichthonius,  Evenor,  Indus,   Lelex, Lycaon,    Palaechthon, Pelasgus,  Periphas,  Phigalus,   Phlegyas and Tyllus . 

Parada did not list the Sparti who were literally born from the earth after Cadmus seeded the fields of Thebes with dragon’s teeth.  Among them I found the first exemption to “Maya’s Law” about Zeus' aversion to autochthons.   Antiope was third generation autochthon with only a nymph in her genealogy. Her sons were the god-like (and heir-less) Amphion and Zethus.    

Other authochthon families either faded into obscurity as I followed their family tree, while others quickly intermingled with the divine.  The relative hold outs for racial purity are the families of;
·        King Amphictyon  of Attica and
·        King Lelex of Laconia. 

I continued to surf the genealogy tables.   I noticed another family prone not to mingle with the fickle gods;
·       The descendants of  Hellen and his three biological sons;  Aeolus, Xuthus  and Dorus.   Hellen’s three sons represent three of the Greek dialects Aeolian, Achaean and Dorian.   (Ion his step-son was an adopted demi-god and was the eponymous founder of the Ionian dialect.) 

Amphictyon reigned prior to Ionian becoming the dialect of Attica, Lelex was an Achaean king.  So  Maya’s Law” should actually say; that Zeus (and the rest of the gods) has a marked preference for mating with Ionians and barbarians.  Or more simply put; “Zeus prefers Ionian women!”

See also;  TFBT:The Divine Aversion to Death and Nyctophobia

Thursday, June 13, 2013

M&R: I, Don't Bite

"I’m only going as far as the Verde Valley.” a cheerful voice announces from inside the station wagon his long right arm thrown over the back of the bench seat.

The oafish teenager pulls the passenger side door open and swings his left leg in. As he lowers his large frame onto the bench seat, he glances at the driver and freezes. The larger man behind the wheel, must be 6’7”, muscular rock-hard frame, unsmiling features, dark eyes, and a fair complexion. Not that the kid can tell in the meager he street light somewhat blocked by the neighboring Ponderosa Pine, but his hair is a black as Satan’s heart. What stops the big-handed youth in mid-air is the eyes. Even in the dim light the kid sees his black-colored, soul-less eyes.

“Come on in!” the big man encourages the boy with the same cheery voice and roll of his large right hand. The hand retracted a top the bench seat where the rest of the arm lounged. “I, don’t bite.” he assures the 16 year old with an odd emphasis on “I”.

Neither is a deer hunter, so neither recognizes the smell of blood in the station wagon. The youth sits and closes the door. The man’s reassuring smile fades as he shifts into gear and heads south on the still unfinished Interstate-17.

Meanwhile his parents dined at their usual table in their favorite restaurant. His mother taps her blood-red nails on the wine red Irish linen, smiles distractedly at the her family’s joviality and studies the room full of patrons sitting at tables with white table clothes. Her eyes roil heavenwards as she searches her thought. The index finger of her right hand touches her blood red lips a or caresses her chin on occasion as though trying to remember something. The phone rings at the maître de’s station across the busy, crowded restaurant. Maeve concentrates on the conversation. The suave middle aged man staffing the station glance s at her brother in law and immediately crosses the room to their table.

They own an import/export business; nothing odd about calls interrupting diner. Still her left immaculate hand searches out her sister’s ruddier right hand. Her sister Roxanne keeps talking with their waiter

Maeve’s piercing eyes stalk her sister’s husband across the room. He smile when he recognizes the voice on the phone. Few people have that affect on the broad shouldered man. And most of them were at this table. It was one of his daughters. The smile fades, he waves for Maeve’s husband to join him. When her hairy, husband answers the phone, he can’t help himself; he glace at Maeve. Roxanne now watching squeezes Maeve’s hand. Maeve can see him giving orders in his take charge style. He shakes his auburn locks, clearly not accepting something being said. He smile s broadly to produce an encouraging tone in his voice. She can see him give another order, begins to hang up and then waves to his red-headed sister in law to come to the phone. He signals for Maeve to wait with the open palm of his upraised hand and signs that he will go to her with a hooked thumb and pointed index finger. Roxanne gets off the phone quickly due to the growing concern in her sister’s pale features. Her husband asks Maeve to sit as he approaches the booth. Roxanne barely lays the receiver in the c cradle when it rings again. “It’s for you” Roxanne mouths across the quieter room for John. The other patrons overheard "emergency". John takes his wife’s right with his left. Roxanne rushes to her side.

“It’s Benny.” He whispers handing her over to Roxanne’s warm embrace as he returns to the phone

Back in Northern Arizona, the driver like his hitch-hiker scopes out the other under the light that marks the turn off to Mountainaire. He at first thinks the other is a man, but clearly this is a man-sized child, distraught, dressed in threadbare, stained and ill-fitting clothes. His brown hair is cut short. His oafish frame, bull-neck and sad sun-burned facial features betray him as a Mongloid.

“I’m Rugen.” The big man says once he’s shifted into the highest gear and offers his large right hand.

The big child doesn’t know to shake his hand and offers quietly that his name is “Jacob, Jacob Kell”. Then in a louder voice says, “Rugen! That a retarded name.”

Maeve stands rigid and straight backed at their usual table. Roxanne grasps Maeve’s ivory in both of hers and is clearly praying in quiet intense words. The horror of the situation made worse by the unfamiliarity of worry on the woman’s brow. Maeve’s right hand grasps the crucifix at her throat. With shallow slow breathes and an intense stare she gazes into the future. “Say it once more.” She quietly dares her husband.

He touches her elbow before beginning, but her body recoils and anger rises to those black eyes with the faraway look.

“The State Troopers were called to Mountainaire. It’s just south of Flagstaff. They found two families murdered. Witnesses saw Benny leave there with another person. A trooper is headed north to intercept them before they hit Munds Park.

“Rugen” seems to take no offense at the “retarded” comment. “I’m named for Count Rugen in ‘The Princess Bride’, my daddy’s favorite novel. We both have six fingers.”

He shows the child with his palm outward and thick fingers spread. By the dashboard lights the outré hand is visible as is the child’s shiver and the shifting of his weight away from the driver. The motion produces a crinkling noise.

“Sorry” says Jacob in his soft voice. “I sat on some papers.”

He hefts his left cheek and from beneath the faded denim pulls a folder with typed minutes with beautifully handwritten notes and a carbon copy of a business receipt.

“Oh, no problem.” Rugen says as he takes the paper. For a moment it appears he intends to toss them in the back, but he thinks better of it and lays them on the seat between the man and child. “I’m just coming from the church council meeting and picking up - “

“Are you alone?”

The big man’s brow crunches in confusion and his shoulders rise so that he can look around the empty vehicle and say something witty to the kid, but then he smiles believing that Jacob, must have meant, “Are you a bachelor?”

“No. I’m a family man; wife, three kids, another on the way, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews; big extended family. We’ve got a place in Rimrock we go on the weekends. Everyone else is already there. I just - “

“People ever pick on you cause of your name?” Jacob asks loudly.

“Picking up a hitchhiker.” His mother acknowledges. “Sounds like one of our sons. Who was the other person?” Her sister gasps, so blinded by tears that she stumbles when she turns to Maeve. Benny’s father won’t respond. “The killer.” Maeve announces.

“No.” Rugen replies because no one ever did in his entire life. “But it’s actually my middle name. Most people call me Benny.”

Rugen examines the kid more closely. Jacob keeps his gaze at the darkened floor boards or out the window into the dark night and black forest.

“Benny, why do you live in Rimrock and go to church in Flagstaff?” Jacob asked softly.

“Well actually, we live in Flag, and just come to our property in the Verde Valley on the weekends. We were looking around for some forested land as an investment and I suggested the Rimrock area. When I was a kid, I got into a lot of trouble. I remember my daddy and uncle bringing me here that winter for a long camping trip. Everybody adores my daddy. He was the “parent” in our family growing up. You know the one that goes to all your games and gets you out of trouble when it comes. But, he and I never “bonded” until Rimrock. I had a great time with him and Uncle Stan. I didn’t want to get into any more trouble. So, we decided that my mother would have to take over taking care of me. “

“Were your parents divorced?”

“No. My mother has a temper. Once when daddy was gone she spanked one of my older brothers so hard she broke the paddle and in her rage picked up the largest piece and broke that over his behind too. After that daddy was the disciplinarian in our house, until I came along.”

“Did you mother beat you and make you sleep outside like an animal?” Jacob demands angrily

“No.” Rugen chuckles and then winces in memory of her parenting techniques. “Let’s just say my mother and I have a special relationship.”

“You should kill your mom.” Jacob bellows.

As smooth as a puma sneaking up on an unsuspecting white-tailed doe, Rugen’s foot eases from the accelerator. His body neither tenses for a fight nor does his breathe betray his inherited tendency towards rage and violence.

“I’m going to pull over. You should get out.”

“You should keep going to Phoenix.” Jacob shouts.

The station wagon pulls to the shoulder of the lonely two-lane road. No one has passed them all this time and no cars had been coming towards them for quite a while. Not that Jacob can tell, but they’ve dropped over the Mongollon Rim already and the pine stands are spottier as the terrain gives way to Pinyon-Junipers. Rugen faces the serial killer. His eyes are as black as death. If either was looking they would see the flashing lights reflected on the canyon walls of the approaching sheriff’s departments. Jacob is not so slow in the head that he reaches for Rugen, but he does lift his massive right fist.

Another call . Her brother in law Stan takes it. Benny always drives the speed limit. Trooper from Flagstaff would catch up with him at the same time as the trooper headed north. Maeve still standing begins to quiver. John reaches for his wife again. This time Maeve’s shoulders relax and sigh escapes her aching lungs. Roxanne and John both look to her. A smile spreads across her glacial features turning into a sneer. She licks her lips in preparation to speak and brushes back a stray ebony strand of hair.

When she speaks her voice is sugary sweet. “I talked with Rugen this morning. He stayed behind for more than the church council meeting. He had to visit the vet’s office. “ She licked her lips again and lifted her chin. “Jake’s with him.”

At that moment the Mogoloid feels a large black presence behind him. He feels the hot, wet panting breathe on the standing hairs of his sun-burned neck. He is stupefied by the carnivorous stench curling around to his nostrils. Then comes the low guttural growl of the midnight-black beast risen behind him.

“You should get out.”

Jacob Kell complies, runs off into the Arizona desert and dies.

For more of Benny's adventures see “We Know People”

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

TFBT: Random Notes from Hour 14

So that’s why I have short hair!  Heroicus 51.13 “Of all mortals who ever existed, [Achilles] was buried in the most spectacular way, what with all the gifts that Greece bestowed upon him. No longer could (the Achaeans] consider it a beautiful thing to grow their hair long, once Achilles was gone.”  In Hour 14 of “The Ancient Greek Hero" Prof. Nagy argues that the moment Achilles cut his hair at Patroclus' funeral along with all the long haired Achaeans,  that was the beginning of the end for the Heroic age.  The Greeks always kept their hair short after that. Except for the Spartans who thought of themselves in the Heroic age still.

Heroicus 9.1 “The nymphs generated these elms around the colonus, and they wrote, so to speak, the following decree concerning these trees: “Those branches that turn toward Ilion will blossom early and will then immediately shed their leaves and perish before their season - for this was also the life experience of Protesilaos - but a tree on its other side will live and prosper.”  Sounds a lot like the choice Achilles had at Ilion

Heroicus 3.2 “Lead the way; I will follow even beyond the interior of Thrace.”   Since Thrace is the land of hot-tempered red heads and witches who can pull down the moon; following someone to the heart of Thrace and beyond is saying a lot!

Heroicus 2.11”He himself also says these things. But how he returned afterwards too, he does not tell me even though I've wanted to find out for a long time. He is hiding, he says, some secret of the Fates.”  Is the sacred hero hiding what the Erinnyes hid by shutting Xanthus' when the horse was consoling his master Achilles?

Heroicus  1.2  Vinedr. Where are you going so proudly and ignoring everything at your feet?   Phoen.: I need a sign and an omen for good sailing”  Nagy says “ As Rossi (Filostrato: Eroico, 193) notes, a “sign” (σύμβολον) is any divination understood by the eyes, whereas an “omen” (φήμη) is a divination by either the voice of an oracle or the voice of a human appointed for the oracle.”

TFBT Close Readings in the Bible and the Iliad

A while back the Gospel reading at Petersburg Lutheran Church was John 15:9-13.  

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 

Alan, my friend from church,  stopped by Monday morning.  There is a lot of talk among Christians about who their “neighbor” is.  (Mark 12:31 … Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.)  My buddy wondered who his “friends” were.  He followed up his question by quoting Webster’s definition of “friend”.

 I interrupted, “Wait, wait!  I know the answer to this one.”  As I pulled my Bible from the shelf, I hesitated and then explained “Professor Nagy calls it a close reading, where you don’t read stuff into it, but get something out of it.  Read the next line.”  

John 15:14 “You are my friend, if you do what I tell you.”

The point of the story is not finding an opportunity to quote my favorite Bible verse nor to brag about my knowledge of the Bible.  Rather I wish to point out gratefully how studying “The Iliad” under the tutelage of The Ancient Greek Hero, improves my appreciation of Holy Scripture. 

Any day of the week, I think of “wisdom literature” as Isaiah, Psalms and such.  But, occasionally I remember that God’s word is everywhere for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.  Nagy and Alan help me remember that more often.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

TFBT: Random Notes from Hour Thirteen

“Easily he gives power, and just as easily he ruins the powerful. Easily he diminishes the distinguished, and magnifies the undistinguished. Easily he makes straight the crooked and withers the overweening”  (Hesiod W&D 5-7)  Aren’t there lines like this in the Bible?

“another thing I have to say.  I shall do it well and with expertise, and you should put it in your thoughts.  Here it is; the gods and men have the same orgins.” Hesiod W&D 106-108 

” their overweening pride [hubris] and violent insolence [biē] reach all the way to the sky.”   Odyssey 15:329  Is Homer talking about the suitors or Titans?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

VftSW: A Hotshot's Life

I dreamt last night of hanging out with some hotshots.  Hotshots are wildland forest firefighters.  They are elite handcrews; the shock troopers of the firefighting land management agencies.  I was one once, I often dream of those days.  In the dream, out the window the heavy black smoke of a grass fire raced along the Southern California landscape.  In my dream these hotshots whined about fighting this fire.  In reality no hotshot would ever say that. They are all gungho.   

This dream on my mind I hiked towards work through the heavy mist of an Alaskan morning.  As I pushed through the alders alongside the neighbors immaculate lawn, my thoughts drifted to the “Lupus-Canus”, tar-black and brown bears of yesterday’s training session.  While stepping carefully through the creek and tall grass, I heard a growl.  I stopped there in the shadows and studied the "muskegs" ahead of me carefully; nothing but mud, moss and bottomless pools.  I began reciting aloud to announce my presence to the wilderness “The Jabberwocky”.  Only as my mouth sang out the words, my thoughts raced ahead to “the claws that catch, the jaws that bite” and I switched to my daily prayers. 

Crossing the watery world in no haste, I mused about the many places I visited as a hotshot and world traveler, that I wrote and imagined and all the glorious things and places I read about.  I live a glorious life. To use an old hotshot expression; “I’ve been around the world three times and Heber state fair twice.”  I memorized many things for occasions like this out alone in bear country;  Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carrol which was clearly a poor choice, the inspiring “King’s Ring” by Tilton, the “Lord’s Prayer”, the hymn “Joyful, Joyful!”, the hope-promising song, “Velvet Darkness” from “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” ,  “bits of poetry fallen from the lips of slave girls” and “A book of verse beneath the bough, a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and Thou.”   The last bit I came across is an interesting way back in my hotshot days.

Our tradition in those glorious summers was to party-hardy Friday night, rising early Saturday and drive down to Oak Creek for a barbeque among the Red Rocks.  We would return in time to drink wine while watching the “Rocky and Bullwinkle” Show on television.  That is, I watched Rocky and Bullwinkle; everyone else took a nap before we headed out for the evening.  So one episode, Bullwinkle is taking a bath.  The tub is full of suds and toys.  When he finishes he puts his toys away, pulls the plug and begins drying off.  When he glances a little later at the tub, it’s drained but one little toy boat remains.  Bullwinkle doesn’t recognize it.  So, the boys (that’s Rocky and Bullwinkle) try to figure out whose it is.  It’s a little boat with big red chunks of glass on it.  Someone finally points out that isn’t glass, those are rubies.  At the same time Rocky realizes that the boat has a name, there on the bow is engraved the “Omar Khayyam”.  So Rocky says, “That must mean that this is…”  Several of the characters say they won’t touch this line with a ten foot pole.  So he takes a deep breath and says, “This must be the ruby yacht of Omar Khayyam.”  All the other characters groan.  What?  I glance around at my fellow hotshots all of whom are asleep.  Now Flagstaff is a college town right?  My fellow firefighters were mostly college educated.  But it took three weeks of asking before I found someone who could tell me about the poet Omar Khayyam’s masterpiece “The Rubaiyat”  And this hotshot’s wonderful life has been all the better for it.

And the growling?  As I crossed Mitkof Highway, I heard it again, under my rain coat!  It was my stomach!  Too much coffee!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

TFBT: Random Notes from Hour 11

Random notes from Hour 11 of the " The Ancient Greek Hero"
Helen wife of Menelaus interprets a “sign” favorably to Telemachos who replies at Odyssey15:180,  May Zeus, high thundering husband of Hera so grant it,” replied the spirited Telemakhos; “if it should prove to be so, I will make vows to you as though you were a god, even when I am at home.” Homeric foreshadowing of heroic honors for Helen? 

Odyssey 13:375 “Resourceful Odysseus,” said Athena, “noble son of Laertes and seed of Zeus, think how you can lay hands on these disreputable people who have been lording it in your house these three years, courting your godlike wife”   The suitors were only there for three years?   

Why did Odsseus have to visit Tierasis? What did Tierasis tell him that Circe, Athena or common sense didn’t already know?  Was this like the wizard sending Dorothy to the Wicked Witch for her broom? 

Starting at Odyssey 8:145,  Prince Laodamas invites Odysseus to join the games, Have a try therefore at something, and banish all sorrow from your mind…” Odysseus feels taunted because his mind is set on his cares and infinite troubles.  Then Laodamas friend Euryalos flat out says to wily Odysseus “I gather, then, that you are unskilled in any of the many sports that men generally delight in.” Followed by even more insulting comments about Odysseus manliness. Finally, “For shame, sir,” answered resourceful Odysseus, fiercely, Your ill-judged remarks have made me exceedingly angry … for your taunts have stung me to the quick.” So wily Odysseus grabs a discus, throws it further than anyone else and Athena disguised as a man in the crowd  says “A blind man, sir,” said she, “could easily tell your mark by groping for it – it is so far ahead of any other. You may make your mind easy about this contest, for no Phaeacian can come near to such a throw as yours.” Much-enduring great Odysseus was glad “  Looks like Laodama and Euryalos were the wily ones this day.  Talk about white-washing the fence!