Wednesday, December 10, 2014

TFBT: Sisyphus and The Dioscouri

This paper begins a series based on conversations between myself WilliamMoulton2 and Maya M.  These short notes here were inspired by a previous blog titled;

“Why did Sisyphus die at the end, after defeating Thanatos and outwitting Hades?”   Sisyphus ends up in Tartarus where the immortal Titans dwelled for a while. You know how fallen or forgotten gods because heroes and popular heroes and heroines become gods and goddesses? Robert Graves in “The Greek Myths”  suggests that Sisyphus was once a “Sun- Titan” who he equates with “Tesup, the Hittite Sun-god, hence Sisyphus’ ability to defeat death and the reason he resides with the rest of the Titans.  I like the idea that Sisyphus is a faded Titan. He is married to a Pleiad; all other Pleiades have Olympian partners. His role in the story of Aegina is strictly analogous to the role of Helios in the story of Persephone.   He also reigned in Corinth, one of the few cities dedicated to Helios.

The Dioscouri were patron gods of Sparta, and most of what we have from ancient Greece is from Athens (Sparta's arch-enemy). I fear that this could distort the mythology around these gods in ways we cannot even guess.
In some versions of the myth, both Castor and Polydeuces are immortal sons of Zeus. For some reason, however, Greeks were fond of twin pairs with mixed (mortal-divine) paternity. So emerged the versions where the Dioscuri have different fathers, and Polydeuces shows great brother's love to Castor (to counter-weight the opposite stories of the sons of Oedipus and Aeacus). Again, the pattern is here: if you love your human brother, you sacrifice part of your immortality.
I've wondered about the mythological function of the Dioscuri. It seems to have been done totally subordinate to that of Helen. Her brothers exist to rescue her from Theseus. However, they must later be removed, in order not to be heirs to Tyndareus' throne. (Gods apparently fear that Menelaus would have the common sense not to start a world war just over the Most Beautiful Woman; she must as well be epicleros holding the keys to his throne.) Homer removes the brothers by killing and burying them, later mythographers are more merciful.Delete

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