Tag Archive: mythology

I was checking out the Tapestry of Bronze website to see which Olympian god their current poetry contest is dedicated, and wouldn’t you know, it’s Apollo. (For anyone interested, the deadline is April 30th- I know, so soon!) I may try to write something, or submit one that I’ve written in the past. a

But anyway, on their site was linked this interview: Apollo on Trial Investigating Mass Murder in Greece (I tried to embed the file into this post, but failed several times.)

I wish this was in Podcast form so that I could actually download it and give it a really good listen while I’m not wanting to be doing other things, but this will have to do.  It talks about a historical basis for the myth of Apollo and Artemis killing the family of Niobe for her insult of their mother, Leto.  Now, I’ve listened to it once so far, but I was also in the midst of remembering my old addiction for podcasts and combing the iTunes store and iTunes U for podcasts on topics of interest- such as the gods- so I was only really half paying attention and therefore, cannot offer commentary at this point on the quality of the information.

I find this especially interesting in the exploration of the idea of there being some sort of literality to mythology- or some of it, at least. I have no problem with the idea that some of the myths may be stories that were made up or inspired by the gods with no historical basis whatsoever. But as many stories as there are, I have a very hard time accepting the idea that none of them have any real history to them. After all, as it is pointed out in this interview, it was once upon a time thought that the city of Troy was a mythical city that never really existed. It has since been proven otherwise.

Should anyone else give this a listen and have any opinions to share, please do!

I have found some other podcasts that, once I get a chance to listen to them, and assuming I think that they’re worth the ones and zeros of which they’re comprised, I will post more about.

Marsayas, After the Contest

(Inspired by ponderings of what Marsayas might have said while hanging on the tree after Apollo flayed him.)

You cut to kill, but I may yet survive
and if I do, you’ve given me much to consider.
Laid bare to blood-drenched muscle,
every movement, every slight breeze
sears my nerves with fresh pain.

If I die, surely it will be of agony, not injury.

I don’t think you will be wearing my hide;
such is undoubtedly well beneath you.
Though perhaps someday I will wear yours:
not in death- for you, there is none
but if someday you shed your skin
like you shed a tear, molting like a snake,
if I should come along at just the right time,
I would seize it up and wrap it around me-
could I then be you, for just a moment
before your essence is lost?

Yes, I am delirious.

You may think me a fool to challenge a god,
but even if I die today, I will be immortal.

(On a related note, I would like to point out this painting illustrating the flaying- this is one that I would love to have a print of one of these days. )

Poetic Ambitions….

Though only a handful seem to be widely known (Daphne, Khyparissos, Hyakinthos and a few others), Apollo is a god of many loves, some of whom are only ever given a single line or two in any of the ancient writings.

I was thinking it might be interesting to see how many of these have enough material to retall a story, or perhaps to even speculate a story for the purposes of poetry. This, I think, could be an interesting project. Would make a great book if there was enough material.

Oooh, now I have ideas.

How could I not have loved the beautiful god
whose hair and skin are like gold
and whose eyes burn a cool fire?

He spoke to me in a voice so sweet,
words flowed from his tongue like silk.
And the songs he sang, so lovely, surely the Muses
must weep at their beauty.

(And a few, I think, would elicit a blush
even from Erato herself, though this is never mentioned
in the stories they tell of a god such as He.
It wouldn’t be proper.)

And when he desired for me to come with him to his bed,
he promised me no great gifts of unerring prophecy or any
dazzling trinkets that gods may offer in the moment of seduction,
but I had no care for these anyway;
He but asked and I went willing, for a song,
for one night that has burned itself on my soul.

In time I found that one night had left its mark
upon more than my soul, and soon I was to have a child.
A son I would have loved, but for shame cannot keep.
If I told, none would believe that he was
begotten by a god.

Four days past, in a hidden thicket I lay,
pangs of the birth like no pain I’ve ever felt before.
He sent to my side help, the birth-goddess and the Fates.
When it ended, I cried in relief, and I cried in joy, short-lived
and love for the child, so small,  now in my arms.

It is with great anguish I chose to do this thing.
I don’t know how I will live with it, I’ll worry about that later.
If I think twice now, I’ll turn back.

In this field of violets, surrounded by honeybees, I’ll lay him down.
I’ll walk away, and I won’t look back.
No doubt he will perish, but I will pray for a miracle and try to forget
this child of mine and of the god of light.

One night that has burned itself upon my soul
Now has torn my heart in two.

(If you read my previous post, you know that I have not told the entire story here. Also, if you haven’t figured out, I’ve taken some reasonable artistic license and fabricated some detail. This is a departure from my normal writings,but I think I will be trying this sort of thign again in the future.)

I give you Evadne (As told by Pindar, that is. My poem is still in progress.) Now that I’ve found the Pindaric ode I was looking for, which seems to be the main source of this myth, aside from a tiny handful of much shorter references, I can finish and post it. In my search, I did find a rather interesting article of some linguistic analysis of this ode. (Unfortunately, this analysis comes in the form of a PDF article from JSTOR, which I’ve no license to distribute to the public.)

But now, for your reading pleasure, one of the not-so-well-known myths into which Apollo figures:

Pindar, Olympian Ode 6. 28 – 73 (trans. Conway) (Greek lyric C5th B.C.) :

“Today must we begone beside Eurotas’ stream, to journey . . . to Pitane. She [Pitane, eponym of the town], so they tell, was loved of great Poseidon, son of Kronos, and bore the babe Euadne, child of the crown of violet tresses, hiding the pains of maiden motherhood beneath her robe. But when the month was come of labour’s term, she sent her handmaids and bade them give the child for watch and ward to Eilatos’ hero son [Aipytos] at Phaisana, who ruled in Arkadia, and dwelt by Alpheios’ stream. There was the young babe nursed and grown, and by Apollon’s love first knew the touch of Aphrodite’s joy.

Yet could she not from Aipytos keep hidden through all her time the divine seed she bore. And he, struggling in bitter strain to hold within his heart a wrath unbearable, to Pytho straight departed, to seek a ruling of the oracle for this most grievous woe. But she laid by beneath a thicket’s shade her silvered urn, and she let fall her crimson girdle and bore a son, inspired of heaven. And to serve at her side Apollon, god of the golden locks, sent Eileithyia the kindly goddess, and the Moira (Fates) divine.

And from her body’s travail and the pains that were but sweet delight, was born Iamos, sped forth to the bright light of day. And she in her soul’s anguish left the babe there on the ground. But by the will of heaven there came to nourish him, with gentle care, the sweet and harmless venom of the bees.

Then came the king [Aipytos], riding in haste from rocky Pytho, and from all the household demanded of the child Euadne bore, saying he was begotten of Phoibos [Apollon], and should be beyond all others a peerless prophet for the race of man, and that his seed should last for ever. So he declared it to them. But all vowed they had not heard nor seen aught of the babe, the five days of his infant being. For in a deep brake had he lain concealed, a pathless waste, and o’er his tender limbs flowers of gold and purple splendour, pansies [i.e. violets, Greek ia] shed their rays upon him; thence was it his mother for all time proclaimed that he be called of men Iamos, this his immortal name.

And when he won youth’s joyous fruit, fair Hebe’s gleaming crown, he went to the midwaters down of Alpheios’ stream, and called aloud to the god of far-spreading might, Poseidon, his ancestor, and to the archer god ruler of heaven-built Delos, and this prayer he spoke, at night, beneath the starlit sky : that on his brow be laid the honour to be the shepherd of his people. Brief and clear called his father’s voice, answering `Rise my son, hence to the place where all men meet, bearing my bidden word.’

And they came to the lofty rock, where rules the high-throned son of Kronos [i.e. Zeus at Olympia]. There he gave him of the seer’s art this twofold treasure; first that he hear the voice that knows no lie; and when that Herakles, brave heart and hand, revered son of Alkides’ seed, should come to establish to his father’s name the feast where many a countless foot shall tread, with the ordinance of games and contests greatest of all [i.e. the Olympic Games], then shall the second honour, his oracle, high on the supreme altar of Zeus be set. Thus he ordained.

Thenceforth for all the sons of Iamos’ seed [i.e. the Iamides] through all Hellas their race holds high renown; and fortune’s day attended them; to deeds of noble grace paying due honour they tread their way of light.”

…working on a few things. At the moment, I think I have a good bit going on a poem that I had originally started about a year ago based on the myth of Evadne (Before you comment just to let me know, I am well aware that as I write this, the link isn’t working right now. It seems that Theoi.com is having some issues. But fear not, I am sure it will return soon. Just keep checking from time to time)

It’s one of the more obscure myths, and unfortunately, I can’t find anyhitng more than a one-line summary anywhere else, so I can’t look up some of the details that I want to check out right now. (I’m waiting for an article from JSTOR that might help with some bits, but I’m not holding my breath.)

I may post the first iteration before I can look up the details, not sure yet. Probably will depend on how long it takes to get my needed research done.