Tag Archives: Greek mythology

The classical love

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It would be devastating to know that the heart of your beloved has already parted with you. It would be even more catastrophic to learn that your love has been unrequited and consumable because it was never on equal terms for what’s worth to your once beloved. The affair of the heart is the common human trait that transcends the subjectivity of time and space, the boundary of ethnic, racial, and territorial demarcations. The truth of the matter is that when you are consumed with a burning passion sans the mind and the heart, you play fast and loose with your own life as a collateral. In the ancient times, the unconstrained passion lured the desperately love-stricken to turn to the supernatural dependencies of magic spells or love potions at the expense of their own lives in the hope of making their beloveds fall in love with them. Such was the case of one slave girl in ancient Greece who made love a dangerous game.

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the goddess Circa on the left

Her name was Dilitra, and she was in love with her wealthy master named Philoneos, whose interest in her was to satisfy his libido and nothing more. For she was his faithful and obedient bed-mate at his command. And she was in turn assigned to a relatively comfortable domestic drudgery, such as tidying up chambers and assisting in cooking in the kitchen, while other slaves toiled to the bone, as befitted what they were. As a concubine, Dilitra wanted no more and only wanted it to last as long as his master wanted her. Then all seemed to be a denouement of her happy concubinage, when she found out that Philoneos would sell her to a brothel because he was simply “bored” with her. That was a total blow to Dilitra’s faith in Philoneos whom she loved and trusted. Blindsided by her lover’s betrayal, Dilitra resorted to the magical use of herbs and potions – called pharmaka as believed to be empowered from the goddess Circe – from a sorcerer who guaranteed her that he would fall back in love with her. So she poured the potion into wine, which Philoneos voraciously gulped down at dinner. The result was the instant death of her treacherous lover, and the execution of the distressed poor Dilitra after the horrible torture by the authority on the count of punitive nature of crime against her master.

The historical record of the tragic event tells a variety of facts prevalent in the classical times. First, the idea of love was primarily erotic rather than platonic, sensual rather than holistic. In fact, what we now understand about “love” would have felt alien to the ancients in terms of relationship between man and woman because such modern idea of love was no more than a close bond between family members or a master and a horse or a dog. That is to say, love in the minds of the ancient meant the physical play of desires – Lust.In this regard, Dilitra’s desperate measure of using the magic potion betokens her attempt to awaken the flickering erotic love in Philoneos in order that he would not sell her to a brothel to let her become a pornail – a common prostitute. Hence the potion was really meant to be an aphrodisiac that went awry.

Second, the use of spells and love potions was something of a norm in the ancient Greece, where religion and daily life were inseparably bound together. It is said that there were two ways of inducing lust in a person: (1) an agon spell, which included magic, through the power of a demon to drive the desired one mad with lust for the one who initiated it. The effect of the spell, I think, could amount to the image of a fanatic band of maenads accompanying the wine god Dionysus.  It was known to be mostly used by men; and (2) pharmaka, which was regarded as drug-induced love preferred by women because of the supposedly less mortally dangerous than the employment of a demon. However, anyone who opted for this “mild” form of craft did not know that its effect could be more fatal than an agon spell because it was a chemical intoxication consisting of various herbs that could be lethal when mixed improperly as is illustrated in the story of Dilitra.

It would be an anachronistic or impudent mistake of assuming that Dilitra’s tragic end resulted from her own foolhardy, rash decision to turn to quackery and superstition if we were pitchforked backwards in time. It was her only choice to secure her life under the aegis of her lover-master whose lust for her was the only guaranty of the cherished wishes. On one hand, the story of Dilitra tells us how we as humanity have evolved in understanding the meaning of love, many special thanks to philosophers and psychologists, that it complements the body and the mind (as represented by Eros and Psyche, respectively, in Roman mythology.) On the other hand, it shows us at the heat of the passion, we can return to our animal nature governed by id only. Now, that would be quite a thespian tragedy.

Author’s note: This writing is based upon my reading of an article about the history of love spells and potions in ancient Greece from a history magazine. The woeful life of the slave girl who depended upon her master’s desire of her was pathetic enough to put pen to paper. What if she just ran away when she found out her master’s intention to sell her to a brothel, instead of resorting to the drastic measure of getting the drug? No, she should have just escaped from his household forthwith. It seems to me that it was her lack of self-confidence that chained her down to her voluntary enslavement that ultimately led her to death.

 

The moon in colors

71wjr9Kv-JL._SY355_What would it be like to have the luminescent Moon all to yourself in your room? Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have it in your hands glowing, strobing, and flashing in rainbow colors? But I know the feeling of how it’s like to be part of the Universe in physical sense because I have it: the Moon, the Queen of the nightly sky, the symbol of goddess Artemis, my favorite goddess of the Greek mythology in the form of  a  new  Moon Lamp 3D Printing  16 Colors Moon Light.

This Moon Lamp is a lovely novelty both in design and in functionality. It is a pretty lamp that bears a striking resemblance to the real Moon with what seems to be lunar swirls and craters on the surface that feel pleasantly soft in touch. It is about as big as a cantaloupe and light into the bargain, so I can move it around in any place. The lamp comes with a cable cord, a small wood stand, and a remote control With which I can change the colors and the intensity of the light as well as set a timer for the moonlight show at night. It’s also relaxing and pacifying to look at the glowing light of the Moon when I read and write at my desk. The mysterious luminance fills the room with serenity and beauty that translates my earthly dwelling into a small universe of my own, part of the mythological world of gods and goddesses, with bestowal of sacred ability of prophecy like a Sybil or Pythia.

I am glad that my choice of this Moon Lamp chimes the bell of my love of mysteriousness and want for calm pleasantness at night when I am home. I glory in the novelty of it all, and it also seems to entertain my mother who likes the most when the lamp turns into a lavender color. As poet W.H. Auden compared woman’s love to the soft and gentle light of the Moon he called “this lunar beauty,” I compare my new lamp to this electronic lunar beauty. 

 

Ambrosia

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There is a flower Nymphs – favor-
And Fairies – prefer –
To gain the Purple Ambrosia
The Pythia – desire –

 

Author’s Note: The flower word for Ambrosia is “love reciprocated”. The Pythia, a sacred prophetess devoted to god Apollo in ancient Greek Delphi, lived a rather secluded solitary life, perching on the brink of social isolation, for she sacrificed herself to the devotion to Apollo, the beautiful god of the sun, music, medicine, and knowledge. But it is quite possible that this Pythia might have secretly fallen in love with a mortal man for no other reason than being a woman of flesh and spirit. Lamentably, her love was unrequited and never returned. She was cursed to live alone till her last breath on earth.  

Catch-22!

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt. – W. Shakespeare

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Cafe terrace at night by vincent van gogh

We all have our best registers, our natural octaves, and Judy’s was a flow of unsteady streams of flotsam and jetsam of peripatetic life that cut her adrift from the safe mooring in the orderliness of life. The detritus of contemporary life seemed to be piled up in her own Aegean stable, and she felt like Hercules to clear it all away just as he had been assigned to wash away the ancient filth of his Aegean stable. And she was at the moment of decision to figure out how to start it off. And it was at that moment when she was also befuddled with yet another indecision. Would she do it, or did she really want to do it? Or could she do it?

Judy was preparing for her initiation to the rite of conjuring up a fairy that was to serve her wishes and aspirations which she believed to be forfeited by her divisory lot. Whatever it was, whoever the perpetrator of such turpitude, Julie wanted to get things sorted out by encountering it face to face, even if that meant a risky business. She did not feel like a weird nor a devious satanist to get into the esoteric world of magic on the grounds of her knowledge about the history of religion and magic during the medieval and Elizabethan periods of England as well as the story of Dr Faust. That those who were caught up in the existential vertigo of livelihood, literate or illiterate, rich or poor, man or woman, Christian or pagan, had often turned to the Other Side was a legitimate tendency, a sort of catch -22 attempt to grasp at a straw adrift on a life sea.

In fact, there was a veritable historical account of a Cambridge medical student in Elizabethan England who made a pact with the devil to procure money to repay his student loans. Whether or not he was dragged into hell upon his death was clandestine, but that was a fact of the matter. So why not? That was Julie’s self-rationalization. That was her proximate cause of her premeditated action. That was her own defense against the sordid fact of life that pushed her into where she was.

But here was Judy’s dilemma: what would a spirit be like? Would it be a female or male? What would it look like? Would I face an abominably hideous creature? Enveloped in a cloud of morbid speculations, Julie began to hesitate nervously, her spirit suddenly trapped in the intricate labyrinth of Anomie. Yes, the labyrinth, the one prodigiously built by the legendary architect Daedaius at the behest of King Minos of Crete named Knossos to lock up Minotaur, the half-bull and half-man creature born out of an unholy consummation between the Cretan Bull and Pasiphae, Minos’s beautiful wife, because Poseidon, the god of the Waters and the formidable brother of Mighty Zeus into the bargain made her madly in love with the Bull, which her husband had dared rescind the sacrifice of it to Poseidon and kept it to himself because of its magnificent beauty.

To tell you the truth, Judy felt sorry for the deformed hybrid of the bewitched union despite its bestial ferociousness calling for human sacrifice. The brutality in behavior was often a manifest result of violent upbringing in conjunction with a denial of love and absence of trust at an infant stage. The security net woven by a loving and caring relationship between a mother and a child was sine qua non of a well-being in both soma and psyche. That was the reason Julie had a sneaking, sympathetic opinion on the Ancient Monster. But she kept her sentiment toward the mythological beast to herself, lest she should be lampooned by others whose idea of justice was a draconian, Jacobean execution of justice that would take no prisoners. Or those whose minds were desiccated by a drought of humanities would declaim against Judy’s altruism. Nevertheless, Judy had no wish to simulate such sternness or gruffness to join the melee.

The whirlwind of thoughts was spinning like a potter’s wheel in her, and Julie was entranced into it rapturously. She let her mind dwell in it however long it would be. She loved the sensation of being drifted away into the world of fantasy, the world of dream, and fiction, as it was her a sanctuary amid the demands of everyday life. Was this the same kind of feeling E. B. White was feeling while he was looking at the beautiful young circus woman rider on a horse running around a grand circle during her performance? The Circle of Youth, the Circle of Beauty, that was. It was what enchanted White to follow her into the World of Magic, and it was what he felt the ecstasy of sensuousness of Beauty.

It was synchronicity, a mental realignment to the mind of another sharing the same or similar intellectual or psychical formations by which Judy could connect with others readily and efficiently. As a matter of fact, it was one of her gifts of mind she possessed, but which was unrecognized. No, it was suppressed by the possessor. To acknowledge her uncanny ability would upend the course of her life. It would be a radical reconstruction of everything she had been grasping at, knowing that it would be a seismic turnaround of her insecure but sedentary life. And it was giving her hard time all the time all the more. And she knew it, but she resisted it, and that was her problem – a classic case of circulus in probondo

 

Poisoned Arrows

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What are the three arrows of Cupid’s?
The first is inflamed with fire;
Your heart yields to burning chaos
And you call it DESIRE.

His second is wet with poison,
The name is JEALOUSY:
It fills your eyes with green
And burns all of you with hearsay.

The third of his arrows golden of all,
And it is named SADNESS:
It pours gushing lead into your heart’s well,
And leaves you in a sea of tears.