Monday, September 12, 2016

TFBT: Blood-Spawned

I got to thinking about Medusa the other day and consequently Uranus. Hesiod mentions that after the castration of Uranus that;
"And not vainly did they fall from his hand; for all the bloody drops that gushed forth Gaia received, and as the seasons moved round she bare the strong Erinyes  and the great Giants)with gleaming armour, holding long spears in their hands and the (ash) nymphs whom they Meliae all over the boundless earth. And so soon as he had cut off the members with flint and cast them from the land into the surging sea, they were swept away over the main a long time: and a white foam spread around them from the immortal flesh, and in it there grew a maiden [Aphrodite] "
Similarly of Medusa (the sole mortal Gorgon) Hesiod, says, "When Perseus had cut off the head of Medusa there sprang from her blood great Chrysaor and the horse Pegasus)so named from the springs (pegai) of Oceanus, where she was born." Plus Ovid (Metamorphoses 4. 770 ) credits Libya's sands giving birth to vipers after being splattered by the blood-drops from the Gorgon's Head dripped down and (4. 740) her head placed on a cushion of sea-weed creating coral.

Any connection here between the mortal Pontide and the primordial sky? Many heroes are honored with flowers formed from their blood but Medusa and Uranus' blood spawned intelligent and divine beings. What's up with that? Any other examples?

 (PS  This is a re-post from a comment in the forums at Hour 25.  I post it here to make it easier for Maya M and I to discuss.) 


  1. It occurred to me that the comparison to make is not U vs. M. But they in comparison to Zeus at the births of Athena and Dionysus. A smithy-god takes a mallet to your head and thereis no blood (ichor) splatter?

  2. Thank you for thinking of me!

    There are some folk tales about a monster that, when killed, releases a smaller being that must then be killed etc., a string of creatures within each other like babushka dolls. The hero kills them all one by one. Here, one hero (Perseus) kills the first mortal monster (Medusa), then the hero's great-grandson (if I remember correctly) Heracles kills the monster's grandson. Both heroes are sent by mortal kings but assisted by Olympians. My narrator: "Zeus, as usual, evaded responsibility, hiding behind the king of Seriphos. However, Perseus received much help from Athena and Hephaestus, which clearly shows that his "labor" was ordered from Olympus. The young man was even supplied with our technology that had never been given to a mortal before, and was never again given after that."

    There must have been a lot of ichor when Zeus' head was split. Any sort of birth means blood all around the place. But apparently the blood of Olympians is not so "seminal" as that of Uranus and Medusa. Dionysus was, in some versions, torn to pieces yet produced no new life.

    My Zeus orders Semele's blood covering the body of newborn Dionysus to be preserved. After some years, using Dionysus' wish as a pretext, Zeus orders this blood to be used for cloning. The clone is named Thyone.