Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ulysse rejetant le voile

Ulysse pleurant

Ulysse construit son radeau


In Greek mythology, Tiresias was a blind prophet of Thebes, famous for clairvoyance and for being transformed into a woman for seven years. He was the son of the shepherd Everes and the nymph Chariclo; Tiresias participated fully in seven generations at Thebes, beginning as advisor to Cadmus himself.
Eighteen allusions to mythic Tiresias, noted by Luc Brisson, fall into three groups: one, in two episodes, recounts Tiresias' sex-change and his encounter with Zeus and Hera; a second group recounts his blinding by Athena; a third, all but lost, seems to have recounted the misadventures of Tiresias.
Tiresias was a prophet of Apollo. According to the mythographic compendium Bibliotheke, different stories were told of the cause of his blindness, the most direct being that he was simply blinded by the gods for revealing their secrets. An alternate story told by the poet Pherecydes was followed in Callimachus' poem "The Bathing of Pallas"; in it, Tiresias was blinded by Athena after he stumbled onto her bathing naked.[4] His mother, Chariclo, a nymph of Athena, begged Athena to undo her curse, but the goddess could not; instead, she cleaned his ears, giving him the ability to understand birdsong, thus the gift of augury.
On Mount Cyllene in the Peloponnese, as Tiresias came upon a pair of copulating snakes, he hit the pair a smart blow with his stick. Hera was not pleased, and she punished Tiresias by transforming him into a woman. As a woman, Tiresias became a priestess of Hera, married and had children, including Manto, who also possessed the gift of prophecy. According to some versions of the tale, Lady Tiresias was a prostitute of great renown. After seven years as a woman, Tiresias again found mating snakes; depending on the myth, either she made sure to leave the snakes alone this time, or, according to Hyginus, trampled on them. As a result, Tiresias was released from his sentence and permitted to regain his masculinity. This ancient story is recorded in lost lines of Hesiod.
In a separate episode, Tiresias was drawn into an argument between Hera and her husband Zeus, on the theme of who has more pleasure in sex: the man, as Hera claimed; or, as Zeus claimed, the woman, as Tiresias had experienced both. Tiresias replied "Of ten parts a man enjoys one only."Hera instantly struck him blind for his impiety. Zeus could do nothing to stop her, but he did give Tiresias the gift of foresight and a lifespan of seven lives.
Stripped of its narrative, anecdotal and causal connections, the mythic figure of Tiresias combines several archaic elements: the blind seer; the impious interruption of a natural rite ; serpents and staff ; a holy man's double gender ; and competition between deities.
Tiresias's background, fully male and then fully female, was important, both for his prophecy and his experiences. Also, prophecy was a gift given only to the priests and priestesses. Therefore, Tiresias offered Zeus and Hera evidence and gained the gift of male and female priestly prophecy. How he obtained his information varied: sometimes, like the oracles, he would receive visions; other times he would listen for the songs of birds, or ask for a description of visions and pictures appearing within the smoke of burnt offerings, and so interpret them.
Tiresias makes a dramatic appearance in the Odyssey, book XI, in which Odysseus calls up the spirits of the dead . "So sentient is Tiresias, even in death," observes Marina Warner"that he comes up to Odysseus and recognizes him and calls him by name before he has drunk the black blood of the sacrifice; even Odysseus' own mother cannot accomplish this, but must drink deep before her ghost can see her son for himself".
As a seer, "Tiresias" was "a common title for soothsayers throughout Greek legendary history" . In Greek literature, Tiresias's pronouncements are always gnomic but never wrong. Often when his name is attached to a mythic prophecy, it is introduced simply to supply a personality to the generic example of a seer, not by any inherent connection of Tiresias with the myth: thus it is Tiresias who tells Amphytrion of Zeus and Alcmena and warns the mother of Narcissus that the boy will thrive as long as he never knows himself. This is his emblematic role in tragedy . Like most oracles, he is generally extremely reluctant to offer the whole of what he sees in his visions.
In Hellenistic and Roman times Tiresias' sex-change was embroidered upon and expanded into seven episodes, with appropriate amours in each, probably written by the Alexandrian Ptolemaeus Chennus, but attributed by Eustathius to Sostratus. Tiresias is presented as a complexly liminal figure, with a foot in each of many oppositions, mediating between the gods and mankind, male and female, blind and seeing, present and future, and this world and the Underworld.
Tiresias appears as the name of a recurring character in several stories and Greek tragedies concerning the legendary history of Thebes. In The Bacchae, by Euripides, Tiresias appears with Cadmus, the founder and first king of Thebes, to warn the current king Pentheus against denouncing Dionysus as a god. Along with Cadmus, he dresses in women's clothing to go up the mountain to worship Dionysus with the Theban women.
In Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Oedipus, the king of Thebes, calls upon Tiresias to aid in the investigation of the killing of the previous king Laius. At first, Tiresias refuses to give a direct answer and instead hints that the killer is someone Oedipus really does not wish to find. However, after being provoked to anger by Oedipus' accusation first that he has no foresight and then that Tiresias had had a hand in the murder, he reveals that in fact it was Oedipus himself who had committed the crime. Outraged, Oedipus throws him out of the palace, but then afterwards realizes the truth.
Oedipus had handed over the rule of Thebes to his sons Eteocles and Polynices but Eteocles refused to share the throne with his brother. Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes recounts the story of the war which followed. In it, Eteocles and Polynices kill each other, and Megareus kills himself because of Tiresias' prophecy that a voluntary death from a Theban would save the city.
Tiresias also appears in Sophocles' Antigone. Creon, now king of Thebes, refuses to allow Polynices to be buried. His niece, Antigone, defies the order and is caught; Creon decrees that she is to be buried alive. The gods express their disapproval of Creon's decision through Tiresias. However, Antigone has already hanged herself rather than be buried alive. When Creon arrives at the tomb where she is to be interred, his son, Haemon who was betrothed to Antigone, attacks Creon and then kills himself. When Creon's wife, Eurydice, is informed of her son and Antigone's deaths, she too takes her own life.
Tiresias and his prophecy are also involved in the story of the Epigoni.
Tiresias died after drinking water from the tainted spring Tilphussa, where he was struck by an arrow of Apollo. After his death he was visited in the underworld by Odysseus, to whom he gave valuable advice concerning the rest of his voyage, specifically concerning the cattle of Helios, advice which Odysseus' men did not follow, to their peril.



In Homer's Odyssey, Penelópē is the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in his long absence and is eventually rejoined with him. Her name has traditionally been associated with faithfulness, and so it was with the Greeks and Romans, but some recent feminist readings offer a more ambiguous interpretation.

Penelope is the wife of the main character, the king of Ithaca, Odysseus (Ulysses in Roman mythology), and daughter of Icarius and his wife Periboea. She only has one son by Odysseus, Telemachus, who was born just before Odysseus was called to fight in the Trojan War. She waits twenty years for the final return of her husband, during which she has a hard time snubbing marriage proposals from 108 odious suitors (including Agelaus, Amphinomus, Ctessippus, Demoptolemus, Elatus, Euryades, Eurymachus and Peisandros, (led by Antinous).
On Odysseus's return, disguised as an old beggar, he finds that Penelope has remained faithful. She has devised tricks to delay her suitors, one of which is to pretend to be weaving a burial shroud for Odysseus's elderly father Laertes and claiming that she will choose a suitor when she has finished. Every night for three years, she undoes part of the shroud, until some unfaithful maidens discover her chicanery and reveal it to the suitors.

Because of her efforts to put off remarriage, Penelope is often seen as a symbol of connubial fidelity. Although we are reminded several times of her fidelity, Penelope does begin to become restless , and longs to "display herself to her suitors, fan their hearts, inflame them more" .As Irene de Jong comments:
As so often, it is Athena who takes the initiative in giving the story a new direction . . . Usually the motives of mortal and god coincide, here they do not: Athena wants Penelope to fan the Suitor's desire for her and (thereby) make her more esteemed by her husband and son; Penelope has no real motive . . . she simply feels an unprecedented impulse to meet the men she so loathes . . . adding that she might take this opportunity to talk to Telemachus.
She is ambivalent, variously calling out for Artemis to kill her and, apparently, considering marrying one of the suitors. When the disguised Odysseus returns, she announces in her long interview with the disguised hero that whoever can string Odysseus's rigid bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axe shafts may have her hand. "For the plot of the Odyssey, of course, her decision is the turning point, the move that makes possible the long-predicted triumph of the returning hero".
There is debate as to whether she is aware that Odysseus is behind the disguise. To Penelope and the suitors' knowledge, Odysseus would easily surpass all in any test of masculine skill. Since Odysseus seems to be the only person who can actually use the bow, it could merely have been another delaying tactic of Penelope's.
When the contest of the bow begins, none of the suitors is able to string the bow, but Odysseus does, and wins the contest. Having done so, he proceeds to slaughter the suitors- Antinous first who he finds drinking from Odysseus' cup - with help from Telemachus, Athena and two servants, Eumaeus the swineherd and Philoetius the cowherd. Odysseus has now revealed himself in all his glory, (with a little makeover by Athena) and it is standard for all to recognize him and be happy. Penelope, however, cannot believe that her husband has really returned—she fears that it is perhaps some god in disguise as Odysseus, as was the case in the story of Alcmene—and tests him by ordering her servant Euryclea to move the bed in their wedding-chamber. Odysseus protests that this cannot be done since he made the bed himself and knows that one of its legs is a living olive tree. Penelope finally accepts that he truly is her husband, a moment that highlights their homophrosyne .
In one story of the Epic Cycle, subsequent to Odysseus' death, Penelope marries his son by Circe, Telegonus, with whom she becomes the mother of Italus. Telemachus also marries Circe when Penelope and Telemachus bring Odysseus's body to Aeaea.

Penelope aux pieds d'Ulysse


In Greek mythology, the Sirens were three dangerous bird-women, portrayed as seductresses. Roman poets placed them on an island called Sirenum scopuli. In some later, rationalized traditions the literal geography of the "flowery" island of Anthemoessa, or Anthemusa, is fixed: sometimes on Cape Pelorum and at others in the islands known as the Sirenuse, near Paestum, or in Capreae. All such locations were surrounded by cliffs and rocks. Sailors who sailed near were compelled by the Sirens' enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast.
When the Sirens were given a parentage they were considered the daughters of the river god Achelous, fathered upon Terpsichore, Melpomene, Sterope, or Chthon . Although they lured mariners, for the Greeks the Sirens in their "meadow starred with flowers" were not sea deities. Roman writers linked the Sirens more closely to the sea, as daughters of Phorcys.
Their number is variously reported as between two and five. In the Odyssey, Homer says nothing of their origin or names, but gives the number of the Sirens as two. Later writers mention both their names and number: some state that there were three, Peisinoe, Aglaope, and Thelxiepeia (Tzetzes, ad Lycophron 7l2) or Parthenope, Ligeia, and Leucosia (Eustathius, loc. cit.; Strabo v. §246, 252 ; Servius' commentary on Virgil's Georgics iv. 562); Eustathius (Commentaries §1709) states that they were two, Aglaopheme and Thelxiepeia. Their individual names are variously rendered in the later sources as Thelxiepeia/Thelxiope/Thelxinoe, Molpe, Aglaophonos/Aglaope/Aglaopheme, Pisinoe/Peisinoë/Peisithoe, Parthenope, Ligeia, Leucosia, Raidne, and Teles.
The Sirens of Greek mythology are sometimes portrayed in later folklore as fully aquatic and mermaid-like; the facts that in Spanish, French, Italian, Polish, Romanian and Portuguese the word for mermaid is respectively Sirena, Sirène, Sirena, Syrena, Sirenă and Sereia, and that in biology the Sirenia comprise an order of fully aquatic mammals that includes the dugong and manatee, add to the visual confusion, so that Sirens are even represented as mermaids. However, "the sirens, though they sing to mariners, are not sea-maidens," Harrison had cautioned; "they dwell on an island in a flowery meadow."
According to Ovid , the Sirens were the companions of young Persephone and were given wings by Demeter to search for Persephone when she was abducted. Their song is continually calling on Persephone. The term "siren song" refers to an appeal that is hard to resist but that, if heeded, will lead to a bad result. Later writers have inferred that the Sirens were anthropophagous, based on Circe's description of them "lolling there in their meadow, round them heaps of corpses rotting away, rags of skin shriveling on their bones."
As Jane Ellen Harrison notes of " The Ker as siren:" "It is strange and beautiful that Homer should make the Sirens appeal to the spirit, not to the flesh." For the matter of the siren song is a promise to Odysseus of mantic truths; with a false promise that he will live to tell them, they sing,
Once he hears to his heart's content, sails on, a wiser man.
We know all the pains that the Greeks and Trojans once endured
on the spreading plain of Troy when the gods willed it so—
all that comes to pass on the fertile earth, we know it all!
"They are mantic creatures like the Sphinx with whom they have much in common, knowing both the past and the future," Harrison observed. "Their song takes effect at midday, in a windless calm. The end of that song is death." That the sailors' flesh is rotting away, though, would suggest it has not been eaten. It has been suggested that, with their feathers stolen, their divine nature kept them alive, but unable to provide for their visitors, who starved to death by refusing to leave.
Sirens combine women and birds in various ways. In early Greek art Sirens were represented as birds with large women's heads, bird feathers and scaly feet. Later, they were represented as female figures with the legs of birds, with or without wings, playing a variety of musical instruments, especially harps. The tenth century Byzantine encyclopedia Suda[12] says that from their chests up Sirens had the form of sparrows, below they were women, or, alternatively, that they were little birds with women's faces. Birds were chosen because of their beautiful voices. Later Sirens were sometimes depicted as beautiful women, whose bodies, not only their voices, are seductive.
The first century Roman historian Pliny the Elder discounted Sirens as pure fable, "although Dinon, the father of Clearchus, a celebrated writer, asserts that they exist in India, and that they charm men by their song, and, having first lulled them to sleep, tear them to pieces." In his notebooks Leonardo da Vinci wrote of the Siren, "The siren sings so sweetly that she lulls the mariners to sleep; then she climbs upon the ships and kills the sleeping mariners."
In 1917, Franz Kafka wrote in The Silence of the Sirens, "Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence. And though admittedly such a thing never happened, it is still conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence certainly never."
The so-called "Siren of Canosa" accompanied the deceased among grave goods in a burial and seems to have some psychopomp characteristics, guiding the dead on the after-life journey. The cast terracotta figure bears traces of its original white pigment. The woman bears the feet and the wings and tail of a bird. It is conserved in the National Archaeological Museum of Spain, in Madrid.

Les Sirenes

Saturday, April 3, 2010

In Greek mythology, Scylla was a monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, opposite its counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other—-so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass too close to Scylla and vice versa.
Scylla was a horrible sea monster with six long necks equipped with grisly heads, each of which contained three rows of sharp teeth.Her body consisted of twelve tentacle-like legs and a cat's tail and with four to six dog-heads ringing her waist. She was one of the children of Phorcys and either Hecate, Crataeis, Lamia or Ceto . Some sources, including Stesichorus cite her parents as Triton and Lamia.
Traditionally the strait has been associated with the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily, but more recently this theory has been challenged, and the alternative location of Cape Scilla in northwest Greece has been suggested by Tim Severin.
The phrase "between Scylla and Charybdis" has come to mean being in a state where one is between two dangers and moving away from one will cause you to be in danger from the other.
In Homer's Odyssey XII, Odysseus is given advice by Circe to sail closer to Scylla, for Charybdis could drown his whole ship: "Hug Scylla's crag—sail on past her—top speed! Better by far to lose six men and keep your ship than lose your entire crew"[3] she warns and tells Odysseus to bid Crataeis prevent her from pouncing more than once. Odysseus then successfully sails his ship past Scylla and Charybdis, but Scylla manages to catch six of his men, devouring them alive:


Le Grand Chêne de Zeus

Le Pere et le Fils Pleuraient

Serais-tu l'un des dieux

The son of Odysseus and Penelope . He was still an infant at the time when his father went to Troy, and in his absence of nearly twenty years he grew up to manhood. After the gods in council had determined that Odysseus should return home from the island of Ogygia, Athena, assuming the appearance of Mentes, king of the Taphians, went to Ithaca, and advised Telemachus to eject the troublesome suitors of his mother from his house, and to go to Pylos and Sparta, to gather information concerning his father. Telemachus followed the advice, but the suitors refused to quit his house; and Athena, in the form of Mentes, accompanied Telemachus to Pylos. There they were hospitably received by Nestor, who also sent his own son to conduct Telemachus to Sparta. Menelaus again kindly received him, and communicated to him the prophecy of Proteus concerning Odysseus. From Sparta Telemachus returned home; and on his arrival there, he found his father, with the swineherd Eumaeus. But as Athena had metamorphosed him into a beggar, Telemachus did not recognise his father until the latter disclosed to him who he was. Father and son now agreed to punish the suitors ; and when they were slain or dispersed, Telemachus accompanied his father to the aged Laertes. In the Post-Homeric traditions, we read that Palamedes, when endeavouring to persuade Odysseus to join the Greeks against Troy, and the latter feigned idiocy, placed the infant Telemachus before the plough with which Odysseus was ploughing. According to some accounts, Telemachus became the father of Perseptolis either by Polycaste, the daughter of Nestor, or by Nausicaa, the daughter of Alcinous. Others relate that he was induced by Athena to marry Circe, and became by her the father of Latinus , or that he married Cassiphone, a daughter of Circe, but in a quarrel with his mother-in-law he slew her, for which in his turn he was killed by Cassiphone. He is also said to have had a daughter called Roma, who married Aeneas. One account states that Odysseus, in consequence of a prophecy that his son was dangerous to him, sent him away from Ithaca. Servius makes Telemachus the founder of the town of Clusium in Etruria.

Telemaque attachait a ses pieds ses plus belles sandales

Le Port

la Fillette a la Cruche

La Fille de Dymas


In the Odyssey by Homer, Demodocus is a poet who often visits the court of Alcinous, king of the Phaeacians on the island of Scherie. During Odysseus' stay on Scherie, Demodocus performs three narrative songs. Two of these, from the cycle of the Trojan War, are the quarrel between Odysseus and Achilles, and the story of the Trojan War.
Both performances are curtailed because Odysseus is distressed at reliving his own experiences in this way. Demodocus's other song, which is performed in the market-place of Scherie to the accompaniment of dancing, concerns the love affair of Ares and Aphrodite, an amusing tale which gives pleasure to all its listeners.
Demodocus is described as blind: "The squire now came, leading their favourite bard, whom the Muse loved above all others, though she had mingled good and evil in her gifts, robbing him of his eyes but granting him the gift of sweet song." It may well have been on the basis of this portrayal, viewed as a self-portrait, that Homer, identified as the author of the Odyssey, was said by later Greeks to have been blind. In Greek art, he is often seen with an eyeball, but it is badly wounded and therefore limits his sight to barely nothing.


Friday, April 2, 2010

L'Aube Divine

Entree du Palais d'Alkinoos


Calypso was a sea goddess in Greek mythology. She was the daughter of the Titan Atlas, and is also known as Atlantis in ancient Greek. Her mother was Tethys. Calypso was confined to the island of Ogygia for supporting her father and the Titans during the Titanomachy.
Calypso is remembered most for her role in Homer's Odyssey, in which she imprisons the fabled Greek hero Odysseus on her island in order to make him her immortal husband. Calypso kept Odysseus hostage at Ogygia for seven years. Odysseus, however, wants to return home to his beloved wife Penelope. His patron goddess Athena asks Zeus to order the release of Odysseus from the island, and Zeus sends Hermes to tell Calypso to set Odysseus free.
According to Hesiod, Calypso bore Odysseus two children, Nausithous and Nausinous.
The island of Gozo in the Maltese archipelago has a long tradition that links it with the mythical figure of Calypso.

La Grotte de Calypso

L'Isle d'Eolie


In Greek mythology and later Roman mythology, a cyclops , is a member of a primordial race of giants, each with a single eye in the middle of its forehead. The classical plural is cyclopes , though the conventional plural cyclopses is also used in English. The name is widely thought to mean "circle-eyed".
Hesiod described one group of cyclopes and the epic poet Homer described another, though other accounts have also been written by the playwright Euripides, poet Theocritus and Roman epic poet Virgil. In Hesiod's Theogony, Zeus releases three Cyclopes, the sons of Uranus and Gaia, from the dark pit of Tartarus. They provide Zeus' thunderbolt, Hades' helmet of invisibility, and Poseidon's trident, and the gods use these weapons to defeat the Titans. In a famous episode of Homer's Odyssey, the hero Odysseus encounters the Cyclops Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon and a nereid , who lives with his fellow Cyclopes in a distant country. The connection between the two groups has been debated in antiquity and by modern scholars. It is upon Homer's account that Euripides and Virgil based their accounts of the mythical creatures.
In the Theogony by Hesiod, the Cyclopes – Arges, Brontes, and Steropes; were the primordial sons of Uranus and Gaia and brothers of the Hecatonchires. They were giants with a single eye in the middle of their forehead and a foul disposition. According to Hesiod, they were strong, stubborn, and "abrupt of emotion". Collectively they eventually became synonyms for brute strength and power, and their name was invoked in connection with massive masonry. They were often pictured at their forge. Uranus, fearing their strength, locked them in Tartarus. Cronus, another son of Uranus and Gaia, later freed the Cyclopes, along with the Hecatonchires, after he had overthrown Uranus. Cronus then placed them back in Tartarus, where they remained, guarded by the female dragon Campe, until freed by Zeus. They fashioned thunderbolts for Zeus to use as weapons, and helped him overthrow Cronus and the other Titans. The thunderbolts, which became Zeus's main weapons, were forged by all three Cyclopes, in that Arges added brightness, Brontes added thunder, and Steropes added lightning.
These Cyclopes also created Poseidon's trident, Artemis's bow and arrows of moonlight, Apollo's bow and arrows of sun rays, and Hades's helmet of darkness that was given to Perseus on his quest to kill Medusa. According to a hymn of Callimachus, they were Hephaestus' helpers at the forge. The Cyclopes were said to have built the "cyclopean" fortifications at Tiryns and Mycenae in the Peloponnese. The noises proceeding from the heart of volcanoes were attributed to their operations.
According to Alcestis, Apollo killed the Cyclopes, in retaliation for Asclepius's murder at the hands of Zeus. According to Euripides' play Alkestis, Apollo was then forced into the servitude of Admetus for one year. Zeus later returned Asclepius and the Cyclopes from Hades.

La Caverne du Cyclope

La Grotte des Nymphes


In Greek mythology, Circe is a minor goddess of magic living on the island of Aeaea.
Circe's father was Helios , the god of the sun and the owner of the land where Odysseus' men ate cattle, and her mother was Perse, an Oceanid. She was sister of two kings of Colchis, Æëtes and Perses, and of Pasiphaë, mother of the Minotaur. Circe transformed her enemies, or those who offended her, into animals through the use of magical potions. She was renowned for her knowledge of drugs and herbs.
That Circe also purified the Argonauts for the death of Apsyrtus, as related in Argonautica may reflect early tradition.
In Homer's Odyssey, Circe is described as living in a mansion that stands in the middle of a clearing in a dense wood. Around the house prowled strangely docile lions and wolves, the drugged victims of her magic; they were not dangerous, and fawned on all newcomers. Circe worked at a huge loom. She invited Odysseus' crew to a feast of familiar food, a pottage of cheese and meal, sweetened with honey and laced with wine, but also laced with one of her magical potions, and she turned them all into pigs with a wand after they gorged themselves on it. Only Eurylochus, suspecting treachery from the outset, escaped to warn Odysseus and the others who had stayed behind at the ships. Odysseus set out to rescue his men, but was intercepted by Hermes, who told him to use the holy herb moly to protect himself from Circe's potion and, having resisted it, to draw his sword and act as if he were to attack Circe. From there, Circe would ask him to bed, but Hermes advised caution, for even there the goddess would be treacherous. She would take his manhood unless he had her swear by the names of the gods that she would not.
Odysseus followed Hermes's advice, freeing his men. Odysseus and his men remained on the island for one year feasting and drinking wine. According to Homer, Circe suggested to Odysseus two alternative routes to return to Ithaca: toward the "Wandering Rocks" where King Aeolus reigned or passing between the dangerous Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis, conventionally identified with the Strait of Messina.
This adventure, like the story of the Cyclops, is a fairy tale of wide dispersion. In 1869 G.K.C. Gerland showed that the story makes part of the collection of Somadeva, Kathāsaritsāgara, a store of Indian tales, of which 1200 AD is the approximate date. Circe appears as a Yackshini, and is conquered when an adventurer seizes her flute whose magic music turns men into beasts. The Indian Circe had the habit of eating the animals into which she transformed men.
Although some scenes from the Odyssey remained favorites of the vase-painters, notably the visually dramatic episode of Polyphemus, the Circe episode was rarely depicted. In describing an unusual miniature fifth-century Greek bronze in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, that takes the form of a man on all fours with the foreparts of a pig, Dorothy Kent Hill expressed the artist's dilemma: how could an artist depict a man bewitched into a pig other than as a man with a pig's head? "An author can discuss the mind and the voice, but an artist cannot show them." In an Etruscan bronze mirror relief, a common barnyard pig is depicted at the feet of Circe: Odysseus and Elpenor approach her, swords drawn. The subject would be obscure, save that the names of the characters are inscribed in the bronze. Some Boeotian vase-paintings show a caricature version of the episode, acted out by dwarf pygmies with negroid attributes, and an aged and lame Odysseus leaning on a staff; they are the mute survivors of some rustic comedy tradition that is impenetrable to us.

La Maison de Circe

La Crete

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Eurynome was a deity of ancient Greek religion worshipped at a sanctuary near the confluence of rivers called the Neda and the Lymax in classical Peloponnesus. She was represented by a statue of what we would call a mermaid. Tradition, as reported by the Greek traveller, Pausanias, identified her with the Oceanid, or “daughter of Ocean”, of Greek poetry.
The name is usually segmented Eury-nome, where eury- is “wide”. This segment appears in Linear B as e-u-ru–, a prefix in a few men’s names. It does not occur in any Mycenaean women’s names, nor does –nome.
The root of –nome is Proto-Indo-European *nem-, distribute, as in the Greek infinitive, nemein, “to distribute.” Words derived from *nem- had a large variety of senses. In the case of Eurynome, the two main senses proposed are “wanderer” and “ruler”.
Robert Graves saw in Eurynome a lunar goddess descending from the Pre-Hellenic mother goddess of Neolithic Europe. In that case, –nome is as in our word nomad. The nomad wanders searching for pastureland, or land that has been “distributed” for the use of domestic animals. The moon is to be regarded as wandering. In the other interpretation, –nome is as in English auto-nomy. A ruler is someone who “distributes” law and justice. Neither case has any bearing on the status of Eurynome as a possible Pelasgian mother goddess.
If Eurynome was the descendant of a pre-Greek goddess, she must have had a pre-Greek name, and not the Greek name, Eurynome. If the name is Indo-European, it might have evolved into Greek with the rest of the language. If it is not Indo-European, then it might result from renaming or from selecting the closest Greek homonym.

A few important sources relate a creation myth. The main source is Apollonius of Rhodes, who is quoted in the article on Ophion. The details are not repeated here.
Robert Graves, one of the chief scholars interested in the myth, saw in this passage a possible Pelasgian creation myth. Putting together what was then beginning to be known of Neolithic Greece and its connections to the orient, he hypothesized that Eurynome originally was another manifestation of the Neolithic mother goddess.
The Ophion article takes a skeptical approach on the grounds that he read too much into the sources. As he did not rely only on the sources, this article presents some of Graves’ wider arguments:
▪ The egg and the snake. The rebirth of the world from an egg and the use of the snake as a symbol of regenerative power is a strong theme of what Marija Gimbutas called “the language of the goddess”; that is, the common (but undeciphered) writing system attested on Neolithic pottery of much of Europe, including the Balkans. In another myth, the Pelasgians descend from the teeth of Ophion, which ostensibly means “snake.”
▪ As the Neolithics either entered the Balkans from the eastern Mediterranean region or kept close ties with the Natufians there, Graves makes comparisons with and draws parallels to mythic elements among cultures to which the Natufians descended; that is, the entire Middle East. For example, he compares her to Sumerian Iahu, “exalted dove”, which he believed became the name of Jehovah.
▪ Many if not most of the names of Greek mythology are believed to have come from pre-Greek elements. For example, the Proto-Indo-Europeans had no word for ocean or travel upon it. Okeanos is a pre-Greek word, as are Olympos, Tethys and Titan.
▪ The antiquity of Eurynome and Ophion are sufficiently attested in the sources to warrant a presumption that they descend from prehistoric times. Only the prefix, Eury-, appears in the most ancient known Greek, but that is sufficient to demonstrate the remoteness of the names in time from later poetic mythologizers such as Apollonius.
Graves’ views attract more attention as time goes by, perhaps because of increasing knowledge about the Neolithic. At the present time, however, they are still regarded as mainly speculation. Concerning prehistoric Europe, archaeology and speculation are all we have at the moment. Even if some of Graves’ detail can be shown to be wrong, no proof exists that his overall views, based on the synthesis of many elements, are either true or untrue.




Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and additionally as a guide to the Underworld. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who travel across them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves and liars, of orators and wit, of literature and poets, of athletics and sports, of weights and measures, of invention, and of commerce in general. His symbols include the tortoise, the rooster, the winged sandals, the winged hat, and the caduceus . In the Roman adaptation of the Greek religion , Hermes was identified with the Roman god Mercury, who, though inherited from the Etruscans, developed many similar characteristics, such as being the patron of commerce.
The Homeric hymn to Hermes invokes him as the one "of many shifts , blandly cunning, a robber, a cattle driver, a bringer of dreams, a watcher by night, a thief at the gates, one who was soon to show forth wonderful deeds among the deathless gods."
He protects and takes care of all the travelers, miscreants, harlots, old crones and thieves that pray to him or cross his path. He is athletic and is always looking out for runners, or any athletes with injuries who need his help. Hermes is a messenger from the gods to humans, sharing this role with Iris. An interpreter who bridges the boundaries with strangers is a hermeneus. Hermes gives us our word "hermeneutics" for the art of interpreting hidden meaning. In Greek a lucky find was a hermaion. Hermes delivered messages from Olympus to the mortal world. He wears shoes with wings on them and uses them to fly freely between the mortal and immortal world. Hermes was the second youngest of the Olympian gods, being born before Dionysus.
Hermes, as an inventor of fire, is a parallel of the Titan, Prometheus. In addition to the lyre, Hermes was believed to have invented many types of racing and the sports of wrestling and boxing, and therefore was a patron of athletes.
According to prominent folklorist Yeleazar Meletinsky, Hermes is a deified trickster. Hermes also served as a psychopomp, or an escort for the dead to help them find their way to the afterlife . In many Greek myths, Hermes was depicted as the only god besides Hades, Persephone, Hecate, and Thanatos who could enter and leave the Underworld without hindrance.
Hermes often helped travelers have a safe and easy journey. Many Greeks would sacrifice to Hermes before any trip.
In the fully-developed Olympian pantheon, Hermes was the son of Zeus and the Pleiade Maia, a daughter of the Titan Atlas. Hermes' symbols were the cock and the tortoise, and he can be recognized by his purse or pouch, winged sandals, winged cap, and the herald's staff, the kerykeion. The night he was born he slipped away from Maia and stole his elder brother Apollo's cattle.
Hermes was born on Mount Kellina|Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. According to the Homeric Hymn to Hermes, Zeus in the dead of night secretly begot Hermes upon Maia, a nymph. The Greeks generally applied the name Maia to a midwife or a wise and gentle old woman; so the nymph appears to have been an ancient one, or more probably a goddess. At any rate, she was one of the Pleiades, daughters of Atlas, taking refuge in a cave of Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. They were discovered by the local king Abacus, who raised Hermes as his foster son.
The infant Hermes was precocious. His first day he invented the lyre. By nightfall, he had rustled the immortal cattle of Apollo. For the first sacrifice, the taboos surrounding the sacred kine of Apollo had to be transgressed, and the trickster god of boundaries was the one to do it.
Hermes drove the cattle back to Greece and hid them, and covered their tracks. When Apollo accused Hermes, Maia said that it could not be him because he was with her the whole night. However, Zeus entered the argument and said that Hermes did steal the cattle and they should be returned. While arguing with Apollo, Hermes began to play his lyre. The instrument enchanted Apollo and he agreed to let Hermes keep the cattle in exchange for the lyre.

Hermes goes to demand from Calypso Odysseus's release from the island of Ogygia; Hermes protects Odysseus from Circe by bestowing upon him a plant, moly, which protects him from her shape-shifting spell. Hermes also appears in book 24, where he plays the role of psychopomp and leads the freshly slain suitors and disloyal maids to the underworld. Odysseus, the main character of the Odyssey, is of matrilineal descent from Hermes
In Homer's Iliad, Hermes helps King Priam of Troy sneak into the Achaean encampment to confront Achilles and convince him to return Hector's body.
The body of Sarpedon is carried away from the battlefield of Troy by the twin winged gods, Hypnos and Thanatos . The pair are depicted clothed in armour, and are overseen by Hermes Psychopompos . The scene appears in book 16 of Homer's Iliad:
"[Apollon] gave him [the dead Sarpedon] into the charge of swift messengers to carry him, of Hypnos and Thanatos , who are twin brothers, and these two presently laid him down within the rich countryside of broad Lykia."


Il avait sur le corps la peau d'un très vieil homme


Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle.
King of Ithaca, husband of Penelope, father of Telemachus, and son of Laërtes and Anticlea, Odysseus is renowned for his guile and resourcefulness, and is hence known by the epithet Odysseus the Cunning. He is most famous for the ten eventful years he took to return home after the ten-year Trojan War and his famous Trojan Horse trick.
Relatively little is known of Odysseus's background other than that his paternal grandfather is Arcesius, son of Cephalus and grandson of Aeolus, whilst his maternal grandfather is the thief Autolycus, son of Hermes and Chione. According to The Odyssey, his father is Laertes and his mother Anticleia, although there was a non-Homeric tradition that Sisyphus was his true father. Odysseus is said to have a younger sister, Ktimene, who went to Same to be married and is mentioned by the swineherd Eumaios, who she grew up alongside, in Book XV of the Odyssey. Ithaca, an island along the Ionian northwestern coastline of Greece, is one of several islands that would have comprised the realm of Odysseus's family, but the true extent of the Cephallenian realm and the actual identities of the islands named in Homer's works are unknown.
Homer's Iliad and Odyssey portrayed Odysseus as a culture hero, but the Romans, who believed themselves the scions of Prince Aeneas of Troy, considered him a villainous falsifier. In Virgil's Aeneid, he is constantly referred to as "cruel Odysseus" or "deceitful Odysseus". Turnus, in Aeneid ix, reproaches the Trojan Ascanius with images of rugged, forthright Latin virtues, declaring , "You shall not find the sons of Atreus here, nor need the frauds of sly Ulysses fear." While the Greeks admired his cunning and deceit, these qualities did not recommend themselves to the Romans who possessed a rigid sense of honour. In Euripides's tragedy Iphigenia at Aulis, having convinced Agamemnon to consent to the sacrifice of his daughter, Iphigenia, to appease the goddess Artemis, Odysseus facilitates the immolation by telling her mother, Clytemnestra, that the girl is to be wed to Achilles. His attempts to avoid his sacred oath to defend Menelaus and Helen offended Roman notions of duty; the many stratagems and tricks that he employed to get his way offended Roman notions of honour.
The majority of sources for Odysseus' antebellum exploits—principally the mythographers Apollodorus and Hyginus—postdate Homer by many centuries. Two stories in particular are well known:
When Helen was abducted, Menelaus called upon the other suitors to honour their oaths and help him to retrieve her, an attempt that would lead to the Trojan War. Odysseus tried to avoid it by feigning lunacy, as an oracle had prophesied a long-delayed return home for him if he went. He hooked a donkey and an ox to his plough and started sowing his fields with salt. Palamedes, at the behest of Menelaus's brother Agamemnon, sought to disprove Odysseus's madness, and placed Telemachus, Odysseus's infant son, in front of the plough. Odysseus veered the plough away from his son, thus destroying his ruse. Odysseus held a grudge against Palamedes during the war for dragging him away from his home.
Odysseus and other envoys of Agamemnon then traveled to Scyros to recruit Achilles because of a prophecy that Troy could not be taken without him. By most accounts, Thetis, Achilles's mother, disguised the youth as a woman to hide him from the recruiters because an oracle had predicted that Achilles would either live a long, uneventful life or achieve everlasting glory while dying young. Odysseus cleverly discovered which of the women before him was Achilles when the youth stepped forward to examine an array of weapons. Odysseus arranged for the sounding of a battle horn, which prompted Achilles to clutch a weapon; with his disguise foiled, he joined Agamemnon's army.
Odysseus was one of the most influential Greek champions during the Trojan War. Along with Nestor and Idomeneus he was one of the most trusted counsellors and advisers. He always championed the Achaean cause, especially when the king was in question, as in one instance when Thersites spoke against him. When Agamemnon, to test the morale of the Achaeans, announced his intentions to depart Troy, Odysseus restored order to the Greek camp. Later on, after many of the heroes had left the battlefield due to injuries , Odysseus once again persuaded Agamemnon not to withdraw. Along with two other envoys, he was chosen in the failed embassy to try to persuade Achilles to return to combat.
When Hector proposed a single combat duel, Odysseus was one of the Danaans who reluctantly volunteered to battle him. Telamonian Ajax, however, was the volunteer who eventually did fight Hector. Odysseus aided Diomedes during the successful night operations in order to kill Rhesus, because it had been foretold that if his horses drank from the Scamander river Troy could not be taken.
After Patroclus had been slain, it was Odysseus who counselled Achilles to let the Achaean men eat and rest rather than follow his rage-driven desire to go back on the offensive—and kill Trojans—immediately. Eventually, he consented.
During the funeral games for Patroclus, Odysseus became involved in a wrestling match with Telamonian Ajax, as well as a foot race. With the help of the goddess Athena, who favoured him, and despite Apollo's helping another of the competitors, he won the race and managed to draw the wrestling match, to the surprise of all.
Odysseus has traditionally been viewed in the Iliad as Achilles's antithesis: while Achilles's anger is all-consuming and of a self-destructive nature, Odysseus is frequently viewed as a man of the mean, world-renowned for his self-restraint and diplomatic skills. Professor Adele Haft, in her essay Odysseus' Wrath and Grief in the "Iliad", observes that there might be more to Odysseus's nature than initially appears on the surface. Haft makes several observations that raise questions about the traditional approach to his character. Haft notes that Odysseus is the only other character besides Achilles to receive a verbal reprimand from Agamemnon. There are repeated suggestions that Agamemnon and Odysseus's relationship is strained: it is not Agamemnon but Nestor who selects Odysseus for his every mission in the Iliad. Haft explains Odysseus's displays of wrath, as well as his strained relationship with Agamemnon, as indicators that Odysseus will ultimately be responsible for the sacking of Troy. Haft points to the death of Democoon in Book 4 as a prime example of the consequences of Odysseus's anger, for it results in a massive reduction of Trojan morale as well as a retreat. Haft goes on to suggest that Democoon's death, in conjunction with the death of Simoeisius, previses the destruction of Troy.

Il décocha la fleche d'amertume

Il dénombra les splendides trépieds et les chaudrons

Elle venait s'assoir pour crier sa detresse


Scylla was said to be a creature who was rooted to one spot in the ocean, and regularly ate sailors who passed by too closely. Her appearance has varied in classical literature; she was described by Homer in The Odyssey as having six heads perched on long necks along with twelve feet, while in Ovid's Metamorphoses, she was depicted as having the upper body of a nymph, with her midriff composed of dogs' heads. Charybdis was depicted with a single gaping mouth that sucked in huge quantities of water and belched them out three times a day, creating whirlpools.
According to myth, Odysseus was forced to choose which monster to confront while passing through the strait; he opted to pass by Scylla and lose only a few sailors, rather than risk the loss of his entire ship into the whirlpool. Jason and the Argonauts were able to navigate through without incident due to Hera's assistance, while Aeneas was able to bypass the deadly strait altogether.


Pallas Athena

Athena also referred to as Pallas Athena , is the goddess of civilization, wisdom, strength, strategy, craft, justice and skill in Greek mythology. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is also a shrewd companion of heroes and the goddess of heroic endeavour. She is the virgin patron of Athens. The Athenians built the Parthenon on the Acropolis of her namesake city, Athens, in her honour .
Athena's cult as the patron of Athens seems to have existed from very early times and was so persistent that archaic myths about her were recast to adapt to cultural changes. The Greek philosopher, Plato (429–347 BC), identified her with the Libyan deity, Neith, the war-goddess and huntress deity of the Egyptians since the ancient predynastic period, also identified with weaving. This is sensible as some Greeks identified Athena's birthplace, in certain mythological renditions, as being beside Libya's Triton River. Classicist Martin Bernal created the "Black Athena Theory" to explain this associated origin by claiming that the conception of Neith was brought over to Greece from Egypt with "an enormous number of features of civilization and culture in the third and second millennia." Athena the goddess as philosophy became a part of the cult in the later fifth century and Classical Greece. She was the patroness of weaving, especially, and other crafts ; the metalwork of weapons also fell under her patronage. She led battles as the disciplined, strategic side of war, in contrast to her brother Ares, the patron of violence, bloodlust and slaughter-"the raw force of war". Athena's wisdom includes the cunning intelligence of such figures as Odysseus. Not only was this version of Athena the opposite of Ares in combat, it was also the polar opposite of the serene earth goddess version, Athena Polias, earning the title Athena Parthenos. A remnant of archaic myth depicts her as the adoptive mother of Erechtheus/Erichthonius by the foiled rape by Hephaestus. Other variants relate that the serpent who accompanied Athena, also called Erichthonius, was born to Gaia when the rape failed and the semen landed on Gaia, impregnating her, and that after the birth he was given to Athena by Gaia.
Though Athena was a goddess of war strategy, she disliked fighting without a purpose and preferred using wisdom to settle predicaments. The goddess would only encourage fighting if it was for a reasonable cause or to solve conflict.
In her role as a protector of the city, many people throughout the Greek world worshiped Athena as Athena Polias . Athens and Athena bear etymologically connected names.
In The Greek Myths , Robert Graves notes early myths about the birth of Athena whose worship began in Crete after arriving there as early as 4,000 BC. According to Graves, Hesiod (c. 700 BC) relates that Athena was a parthenogenous daughter of Metis, wisdom or knowledge, a Titan who ruled the fourth day and the planet Mercury. Other variants relate that although Metis was of an earlier generation of the Titans, Zeus became her consort when his cult gained dominance. In order to avoid a prophecy made when that change occurred, that any offspring of his union with Metis would be greater than he, Zeus swallowed Metis to prevent her from having offspring, but she already was pregnant with Athena. Metis gave birth to Athena and nurtured her inside Zeus until Zeus complained of headaches and called for Hephaestus to split open his head with his smithing tools. Athena burst forth from his forehead fully armed with weapons given by her mother. She famously wields the thunderbolt and the Aegis, which she and Zeus share exclusively.
The story of her birth from the head of Zeus was adapted by Christianity to parallel the emergence of arts and inventions from the mind of God. Plato, in Cratylus gave the etymology of her name as signifying "the mind of god", theou noesis. The Christian apologist of the second century Justin Martyr takes issue with those pagans who erect at springs images of Kore, whom he interprets as Athena:
"They said that Athena was the daughter of Zeus not from intercourse, but when the god had in mind the making of a world through a word (logos) his first thought was Athena"
On the other hand, John Milton's Paradise Lost interprets this myth as a model for the birth of Sin from the head of Satan.

C'est Moi qui suis Ulysse

Athena sous les Traits d'un Pastoureau


F.L. Schmied

Francois-Louis Schmied (1873 - 1941)

Born in Switzerland, Schmied studied at the Geneva School
of Industrial Arts before moving to Paris in the early-1900's. There, he practiced as a wood engraver and made contacts with people in the book world with whom he would establish very beneficial relationships.

His adaptation of Paul Jouve's illustrations for Kipling's
"Jungle Books" brought him his first major success. He often worked with his friend, the laquerist, Jean Dunand, who created exquisite bindings, highly prized both then and now.

Schmied's collaboration with Dr. J.C. Mardrus, a translator,
include "La Creation" (1928), "Le Livre de la Verite de la Parole", (1929) and "Le Paradis Musulman", (1930).

He also worked very closely with George Barbier, with whom
he created some of the most beautiful books of the period.
These titles include, "Poemes en Prose", "Vies Imaginaires", "Chansons de Bilitis" and "Personnages de Comedie".

Independently produced books include, "Les Ballades Francais", (1927), "Les Adventures de Dernier Abencerage", (1930) and "Peau Brune", (1930).

Schmied is considered by many to be the finest wood block engravers of the Art Deco period. His attention to detail ultimately proved to be his undoing, as he faced financial ruin in the 1930's.

Et Retenant l'Aurore au Bord de l'Ocean

La Fleche sur le Joli Corbeau