Friday, October 30, 2015

TFBT: Her Child, was also her Consort

If you are a bibliophile, I am sure you know the following experience.    On a long flight or in a remote location you get stuck reading a book that is a piece of propaganda full of lies and half-truths.  In order to save someone else from getting sucked into this mess you toss it into the garbage rather recycling or donating it to the library.   Or is it badly written and has a lame ending.  Or it is full of illogic and bad science.  Or the author makes a state of general and universal application that this is an "obvious projection of..." If it is so obvious why must the authoress point it out?    I read one of these books recently. I would have tossed it but I was on a five hour flight. In between the waves of nausea and disgust there were a few interesting if odd insights on Greek mythology.  This is the fourth in a series of blogs investigating these possible gems in the rubbish.  

“Eos, the Morning; mother of the sun.  In the classic pattern, her child was also her consort.” Walker 1983 

Okay, what the authoress is mentioning is part of Max Muller’s work on solar mythology.  Don’t say “SM” out loud!  A lightning bolt might strike you.  Initially, SM proved a great tool for analyzing stories about sun-gods, but its success and over-use proved its downfall. I am pretty sure that all the English translations of his work were burnt by an angry mob of intellectuals with torches and pitchforks.  You can read more here.  I believe what Walker hints at, is the belief that that Dawn births the sun each day only to see him sail away and die a bloody death on the western horizon.  Hence, the color of the sunset.   

The catch is there is no hint of this idea in Greek mythology.  The classical presentation of the sun-god’s day is this.   Helios wakes.  The Hours help hitch up his and his sister Eos’ horses.  Phosphorus (Morning Star) and Eos (Dawn) announce his rising.  He sails across the sky, lands on the far shore of the Great River Ocean.  The Hours greet him again and unhitch his horses.  He boards the solar barge and the gentle current of the River takes him to his eastern palace while he slumbers.  

 Eos, the goddess of the dawn is sister to Helios, the sun and Selene the moon.  Eos is also the daughter of the elder sun-titan Hyperion.  Eos also had a son Phaethon. “She engendered a son, glorious Phaethon, the strong, a man in the likeness of the immortals [i]“Phaethon, that is, "the shining," occurs in Homer as an epithet or surname of Helios, and is used by later writers as a real proper name for Helios.) [ii]  So, with just the facts above, Eos is daughter of the sun, sister of the sun and mother of the sun.   

Also, Phaethon, son of Eos had a cousin Phaethon son of Helios.  Here’s what happen to the other Phaethon.  He was;
“presumptuous and ambitious enough to request of his father one day to allow him to drive the chariot of the sun across the heavens the youth being too weak to check the horses, came down with his chariot, and so near to the earth, that he almost set it on fire. Zeus, therefore, killed him with a flash of lightning.”  [iii]
What happen with just the confused facts above is that Phaethon, which is another name for the Sun-god, left his mother to see him sail away and die a bloody death on the western horizon.  Hence, the color of the sunset.  

You can see how the authoress and the doomed “solar mythologists” so long ago thrown into Tartarus like Hyperion could get the idea that Eos birthed the sun. 
There might be some hope for the authoress’ notion of Eos and “the classic pattern, her child was also her consort” if the Dawn goddess had married her brother Helios or if any other her sons; Tithonos [iv] or the brothers brazen-crested Memnon, king of the Aithiopes, and the Lord Emathion [v] had jumped in the solar chariot and crashed on the horizon, but they didn’t.   


[i] (Hesiod, Theogony 986)
[ii] (Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.) 
[iii] Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
[iv] ( Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.181)
[v] (Hesiod, Theogony 984)

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