Monday, March 6, 2017

Seneca's Phaedra II

The Nurse isn't very good at seduction.  She should have tried accounts of other sets of lovers like Zeus did on Mt Ida with Hera.  Phaedra sucks at seduction too.  Sadly as Miss Manners points out, desperation does not make us more attractive.  Maybe it is just Seneca that sucks at seduction.

[580] “As some hard crag, on all sides unassailable, resists the waves, and flings far back the flood importunate,.”  We’ve heard the same metaphor for Achilles and Hector in the Iliad.
625] The overlord of the fast-holding realm and of the silent Styx has made no way to the upper world once quitted; and will he let the robber of his couch go back? Unless, perchance, even Pluto sits smiling upon love.”  Interesting description of Hades.

Hippolytus referring to his lustful step-mother, "O father, I envy thee; than thy Colchian step-dame (Medea) this is a curse, greater, greater far!” Just a thought here; "Curse" is a euphemism for Erinye.  Later he says, “(Thou art) a greater evil than thy monster-bearing mother (Pasiphae).”  No luck for Phaedra, she gets compared to her child-slaying cousin and monster-bearing mother.

 "Never has blood been more justly spilled upon thy altar, O goddess of the bow." Hippolytus compares killing Phaedra to Agamemnon sacrificing Iphigenia.  But Hippolytus was killing his father’s widow not for a good wind or in revenge for something, but just for making a pass at him.  No taboo is being broken. 
I was confused at first why Hippolytus would call upon these purifiers; “Tanaïs will cleanse me, what Maeotis, with its barbaric waves rushing into the Pontic sea?”    Tanais was a river-god of Skythia in north-eastern Europe,  the Maeotis is the Sea of Azov, and the Pontic Sea is of course the Black Sea.  Oh, dh!  He is calling on the waters of his mother’s homeland Amazonia for help!


  • ·      Wanton weapons in his boyish hands” 
  • ·      “Rich men, propped on empire, ever grasp at more than heaven allows? He who is too powerful seeks power beyond his power. “
  • ·      “Love sways the monsters of the raging sea”
  • ·      564] Why make the crime of few the blame of all?
  • ·      Loosen the reins!”  How often have the Kosmonauts and HeroesX students heard that coversation? 
  • ·      Sooner shall Tethys from her far western shore bring in bright dawn".   To translate -The sun will rise in the West!

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