Thursday, September 24, 2015

TFBT: Pindar's Great Mother and Pan

Recently The Hour 25 Book Club hosted  a discussion on Pindar Pythian 3, Olympian 1, and Gregory Nagy Pindar’s Homer Chapter 4: “Pindar’s Olympian 1 and the Aetiology of the Olympic Games” I was struck by the lines;

But I will pray to the Great Mother, to whom night after night before my doors, a stately goddess, the maidens dance and to Pan beside her.”  (Pythia 3)

I could think of no myth about the Great Mother, whether Cybele, Rhea or Demeter and the great god Pan.  I recalled a couple of myths about satyrs in Cybele or Dionysus’ train, but neither tale was about Pan.I looked at several resources and found only vague suggestions and nothing specific.  So I went to JSTOR and found a great article “Pindar and Pan: frs. 95-100 Snell” by Joan A. Haldane Phoenix Vol. 22, No. 1 (Spring, 1968), pp. 18-31

Haldane’s article seems well researched.  She says the shrine in question was actually established by Pindar.  “Pindar had a vision of (the Great Mother) descending towards him from the mountains in the form a  of a wooden image.”  So in honor of the epiphany he established the shrine.  Additionally, Pan was seen outside of Thebes singing one of Pindar’s Odes.  In thanks for the rather flattery compliment, Pindar established Pan next to the goddess in the shrine. 

Mystery solved!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

TFBT: You Are What you Eat

Ben and I intend to discuss the illusion  of “Death” in Greek Mythology next week.   Ben is doing the research.  My assignment requires me to “crystalize” the concept .  I wasn’t having much luck there.  Inspiration came from an unexpected “poet”; Alexander Dumas.   I love Dumas.  Of all his amazing books, his biographic, “My Adventures in the Caucasus” is my favorite.  In the introduction he explains how the Caucasus mountain range got its name.   

The Caucasus itself owes its name to one of the first assassinations committed by one of the most ancient gods, Saturn, vanquished by his son Jupiter in the war of the Giants was fleeing through the mountains when he found his way barred by a shepherd, Caucasus, who he slew with a sweep of his scythe.  Jupiter to commemorate this murder gave the victim’s name to the whole range, of which the mountains of Armenia, Asia Minor, Persia and the Crimea are off-shoots.   

As literature moved beyond Hesiod and Homer, Greek faded and was replace by Latin as the universal language.  Hence all the gods' Greek names were replaced with their Latin equavalent.  As the past began to fade mankind began to confound the War of the Giants with the War of the Titans, So, in writing “Saturn” Dumas meant Cronus and rather than the Gigantomanchy he meant the Titanomachy. If the mortal Caucasus barred the Titan's path through the mountain range, is this where Zeus finally avenged himself and his sibling upon their cannibal father?  Is this the spot where  Saturn's tomb is pointed out in the Caucasus”? [i]
 Admittedly, rumor has it that there is a tomb of Zeus on Crete but as the ancients said “All Cretans are liars”[ii]  Still a tomb of Cronus?  In some ways that  seems possible.  Human’s die, but their “yuce”, their souls survive in Hades.  Likewise the giants and Typhon were “buried” under mountains[iii]  and the Titans tossed into a hole in the ground (called Tartarus)[iv].  So maybe the fallen divine foes of the Olympians only survived in shadowy forms beneath the earth.  So how do we address those gods who return to the world?  For “Even immortal Zeus released the Titans”[v] 
Okay that’s easy.  To return these gods to “light and life” just feed them a little nectar and ambrosia. [vi]  Hmm,  just feed them a little nectar and ambrosia.  Over the years Maya M and I explored the genealogies of the heroes and gods trying to determine the “gene for immortality”.  For example,  the descendants of Gorgophone and the descendants of Telephassa   though generally mortal have  tendency to turn into gods.  What if the secret to being immortal and unaging is in what you eat?  

If you lap black blood out of a trench[vii] or eat a pomegranate grown along the banks of the Acheron[viii]  you live in Hades.  If you eat meat; you are a man[ix] .  If you eat bread; you are a deceased hero or demi-god living on the shores of the Great River Ocean.[x]  The apples are always poisoned one way or the other.[xi] If you consume nectar and ambrosia you are a god.[xii] Hence, during the Golden Age the Titans drank & dined with men[xiii]  and consequently lost the Titanomachy to the nectar-swilling Olympians.  The Olympians once shared their divine food with men.  Then Tantalus[xiv] and Ixion[xv] got drunk on  nectar and made such a mess of things, that the gods got real picky about whom they dined with.  

It’s sort of like communion on Sunday, to attain life-immortal I kneel at the railing and eat of the divine food provided by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.



[i]The Ghebers of Hebronby Samuel Fales Dunlap 1898, pg 161;  who references  Daniel Abrahamic Chwolson, Ssabier und der Ssabismus v1, page 400, 1856 ,   see also “The Seven Beauties” by Nizami of Ganja, “In praise of King Alaud Din” circa 1200
[iii] Apollodorus, The Library 1.6.2 and 1.6.3 Translated by Sir James George Frazer. Loeb Classical Library Volumes 121 & 122. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921
[iv]  Apollodorus, The Library 1.2.1
[v] Pindar,  Nemean 10.59
[vi] Hesiod, The Theogony 617, Translated by Evelyn-White, H G. Loeb Classical Library Volume 57. London: William Heinemann, 1914.  
[vii] Homer, The Odyssey, Book 11,   Translated by Murray, A T. Loeb Classical Library Volumes. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1919.
[viii] Homeric Hymn to Demeter, Translated by Evelyn-White, H G. Loeb Classical Library Volume 57. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914.
[x] Hesiod, Works and Days (trans. Evelyn-White)  "Zeus the son of Kronos made yet another [race of men], the fourth, upon the fruitful earth, which was nobler and more righteous, a god-like race of hero-men who are called demi-gods…they live untouched by sorrow in the Islands of the Blessed along the shore of deep swirling Okeanos, happy heroes for whom the grain-giving earth bears honey-sweet fruit flourishing thrice a year”
[xi] The Fates poinsoned the monster Typhon with “that ephemeral fruit”  Apollodorus, The Library 1.6.3
[xii] Homer. The Iliad 1.595, Translated by Murray, A T. Loeb Classical Library Volumes1. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1924  and Ovid. Metamorphoses 1.595 Translated by More, Brookes. Boston, Cornhill Publishing Co. 1922.
[xiii]   Robert GravesThe Greek Myths pg 26, 1955, revised 1960 “Zeus grew to manhood among the shepherds of Ida, occupying another cave; then sought out Metis the Titaness, who lived beside the Ocean stream. On her advice he visited his mother Rhea, and asked to be made Cronus's cup—bearer. Rhea readily assisted him in his task of vengeance; she provided the emetic potion, which Metis had told him to mix with Cronus's honeyed drink.”
[xiv]   Apollodorus. The Library.  E.2.1   Translated by Sir James George Frazer. Loeb Classical Library Volumes 121 & 122. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1921
[xv] Pindar, Pythian Ode 2. 32 ff (trans. Conway)

Saturday, September 5, 2015

TFBT; Iphidamas and Protesilaus

Over at a great MOOC called The Ancient Greek Hero in 24hours we discussed Iphidamas a young Trojan who returned to Troy to attain glory. The conversation reminded me a lot of Protesilaus a young Greek man who did the same. Did we ever talk about the comparison between the two?
Iliad 11.218 “Tell me now you Muses dwelling on Olympus, who was the firstto come up and face Agamemnon, either among the Trojans or among their famous allies? It was Iphidamas son of Antenor, a man both good and great, who was raised in fertile Thrace the mother of sheep. Kissēs in his own house raised him when he was little. Kissēs was his mother’s father, father to Theano, the one with the fair cheeks. When Iphidamas reached the stage of adolescence, which brings luminous glory, Kissēs wanted to keep him at home and to give him his own daughter in marriage, but as soon as Iphidamas had married, he left the bride chamber and went off seeking the kleos of the Achaeans”
Iliad 2. 695 “And then there were those that held Phylake and Pyrasos, with its flowery meadows, precinct of Demeter; and Iton, the mother of sheep; Antron upon the sea, and Pteleon that lies upon the grass lands. Of these men the Arēs-like Protesilaos had been leader while he was still alive, but now he was held down by the black earth that covered him. He had left a wife behind him in Phylake to tear both her cheeks in sorrow, and his house was only half completed. He was killed by a Dardanian warrior while he was leaping out from his ship [on Trojan soil], and he was the very first of the Achaeans to make the leap.
Presumably both are young men, recently married and set out to war to win glory. Both were “first” in someway and quick to die. The only other thing of note I see in their stories is some coincidence of names. We are comparing Kisses’ grandson Iphi-damas to Protesilaus son of Iphi-cles and husband of Lao-damas Coincidence?