Tuesday, March 14, 2017

TFBT: Random Notes on J. Banks Theogony, Part I

I visited a used bookstore while traveling on business lately.  I had the pleasure of discovering “The Works of Hesiod, Callimachus, and Theognis” London 1879, by the Reverend J. Banks, M.A.  Head Master of Ludlow School.   “Literally translated into English prose with copious notes.”    I love books like this with a slightly different perspective and “copious notes”. 

J. Banks on the Muses addressing Hesiod at night.  “These visits were by night, because the ancients deemed that the gods, who had visited earlier and purer mortals night and day, denied their presence in the daylight to the more depraved ages of the world.”

Banks[i] names the primordial ash-nymphs born when Uranus’ blood impregnated Mother Earth; the Meliae.  “they were nine in number, Helice, Cynosura, Arethusa, Ida, Cromne, Britho, Calaeno, Adrastea, Glauce”  These are the mothers of the Bronze Generation in Hesiodic mythology

“Crius, a god of supreme power in the earliest time of Greece. “  Banks is pointing out that Crius is mentioned by Hesiod among the important gods in the beginning of the Theogony.

Banks translation says, “And her Eros accompanied and fair Desire followed, when first she was born and came into the host of the gods.  And from the beginning this honor hath she and this part hath she obtained by lot among men and immortal gods; the whisperings of maidens and smiles and deceits with sweet delight and love and graciousness. All the usual attributes and powers we associate with the mighty Aphrodite. But Banks translations suggests that rather than being allotted this attributes by Zeus and the Olympians she got them by the throwing of lots.  As in "The three gods [Zeus, Poseidon and Haides] overpowered the Titanes, confined them in Tartaros . . . The gods then drew lots for a share of the rule.”[ii]

“Leto, or Latona seems to be the same as Night.”  At this might seem a little odd, but I believe Nagy suggests a certain darkness to her.  It is not uncommon for the younger gods and goddesses to have parallel honors to the previous generation.  Hence Hyperion and Helios are father and son gods of the sun.  Cronus and Zeus father and son kings of the gods.  The unpersonified Hemera and Eos both goddesses of the day.  Atsma[iii] and Cox[iv] come to similar conclusions.  

“Sole-begotten; (Hecate) does not receive less but more honor, because she hg\as no brothers to protect her …Pallas (Athena), Proserpine (Persephone) and Mercury (Hermes) are all in Hesiod called sole-begotten

[i] (Apparently following Tzetz. Ad Op. et D.144.)
[ii] Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 1. 7
[iv] The Mythology of the Aryan Nations. by Cox, George William, 1827-1902.  (I should explain that “Aryan” was orginal name for the Indo-European peoples until the name was tainted by Nazism and banished as politically incorrect.  Another older name for the IE’s is the “Japhetic Races” after one of Noah’s sons.

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