16 August 2009

We Are Daphne

Yes, “We Are Daphne” is not (to my knowledge) some secret mystical teaching of Hellenic Polytheism. Tell that to my brain. No longer am I analyzing women's journals from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. No longer am I furiously writing papers on the amazing Mr. Shelley. My brain is not being challenged enough.

So ... the inevitable happened. Well, not inevitable ... it could have gravitated towards almost anything.

Enter Daphne. Her story morphed from a myth about desire into a metaphor for the struggle of the individual against the gods. Perfect as they are, beautiful as they are, complete as they are, the Gods desire us. They make us sanctified. No matter how hard we try to evade them, to root ourselves in the mundane world, they find ways to break through and cultivate us. (Seriously: once Peneos turned Daphne into a laurel tree, she became sacred to Apollon.) Some may say that the divine powers that animate and move through the world are impersonal and uncaring, but I don't believe that. In a mythological sense, humanity was formed using the Titans' ashes (and, by association, the parts of Zagreus they had consumed). We are simultaneously innocent and destructive, yes, but it makes the Gods our much-more-awesome-and-100%-more-immortal kin. While I cannot say for sure, what if we spark their curiosity as much as they entice us?

Exit mystical digression, pursued by a bear. Now let's get to the music.

Thinking about all of these things, I decided to write a song. While I only have the following so far—the main verses have been composed, but I have not yet found a melody—there isn't really enough devotional music on teh Interwebs for people to play with ... so I will share it with you. As I have never encountered a decent virtual editing system for music, I lost patience after a few hours and decided that anyone wanting to sing this would be intelligent enough to divide notes to fit the rhythm in the case of longer lines.

(Pssst! If you click on the image, it gets bigger! How exciting! Also, the earlier painting is “Apollo and Daphne” by ♥ John William Waterhouse ♥, my favorite Pre-Raphaelite.)

14 August 2009

Open Your Ears: The Ancients in Stereo

While all of us would like to lounge on our couches with Plato and Homer for hours on end, today's mobile lifestyle makes this somewhat unrealistic. Not only do you need to walk Fido every evening, but workouts and daily commutes take up your precious reading time.

Don't consider this an insurmountable barrier—you can download free audio versions of many popular religious and philosophical texts written by Real Ancient Greeks™. What follows is by no means comprehensive, but it should get you started.

LibriVox — The Oresteia is currently in production. You can ask to be notified of its completion via e-mail.

LibriVox — 284 of his Fables are here, broken into twelve volumes.
Project Gutenberg — On the Aesop portal, everything with a little audio sign is also available as an audiobook. How awesome is that?

LibriVox — Both Aristotle's "Poetics" and "Politics" are available.
Project Gutenberg"Poetics" is also available in audiobook format here. Just scroll down and select the file format you want.

LibriVox — Yup, LibriVox is recording the Histories! You can find Volumes I and II, with Volume III still in production.

Epic Poetry (Podcast) — Podcast reads sections of many epic poems, including the Iliad and Odyssey. Their main page is here.
LibriVox— You can find the Iliad and Odyssey, both translated by Samuel Butler. From what I have heard of the Iliad, the English-language texts use Roman names for the Gods, but that's how they did things during the nineteenth century.
Project Gutenberg — You can also get the Samuel Butler version of the Odyssey here. Scroll down for file format options. They also have something called The Iliad for Boys and Girls. Again, you have an amazing choice of formats.

LibriVox— The dialogue I have listened to uses multiple readers, so keeping track of speakers is quite easy. LibriVox has completed The Apology of Socrates, Euthyphro, Ion, and The Republic. His Phaedrus and Timaeus are in production.
Project GutenbergEuthyphro.

LibriVox — While they don't have her complete poems online, Sappho's "I Loved Thee, Athis" is in a short poetry collection.
Listen to Genius!Fourteen-minute collection of Sappho's poems.

LibriVoxOedipus Rex is currently in production. You can ask to be notified of its completion via e-mail.

LibriVox"Funeral Oration of Pericles," which is in a nonfiction collection, and "The History of the Peloponnesian War."
Project GutenbergThe history of the Peloponnesian War.


If you want more audio texts to become available—especially hymn translations that are in the public domain—consider joining a volunteer organization like LibriVox or creating your own podcast.

09 August 2009

A Prayer in Response to America's Current Domestic Unrest

First, I would like to say that watching an amazingly thorough journalist like Maddow every night can sometimes be scary.

The mounting capacity for violence against our democratically elected officials has started to disturb my sleep. Regardless of your political affiliation, I think we can all agree that Ares's place is NOT in the assembly, but on the battlefield, and that we should respect our democratic institutions (and, by association, Zeus and Athene) by behaving civilly.

Everyone should have the opportunity to speak at these events without threat of violence or being intimidated by people screaming loudly and/or lynching effigies of our leaders. I urge you to speak out against the violence as well, regardless of your opinion about nationalized health care.


Zeus, lord of freedom,
you who leads the spinning Fates,
don't, I beg you, turn
away from this land where streams
rush swiftly down great
gorges and seas of wheat sway
in the prairie gusts.
From you, divine ruler, all
things descend: conflict
and languid peace, good and bad.
With you comes Dikê,
our lady of justice, she
who guards Heaven's gate,
but also her sister
Athene, Daughter of Metis,
who bears the aegis
and protects democracy.

O Zeus! Victory
against teeth-gnashing Titans
established your rule;
to you we offer incense
and sacrifice fat with bones.
If ever I have
uttered sacred hymns, defend
my country and home.
Purge from this land pollution,
mental distemper;
defend our leaders from cruel
men and truthless words!
Shield our President from harm.
Please accept this prayer,
Thunderer: my offering.

08 August 2009

Comic Relief #2

Once again, our community is having a bout of drama, and while I did want to make a post about homosexuality and Hellenic Polytheism, I think I will wait a few months for the animosity to die down.

Instead, I will give you this:

05 August 2009

Um ... Kourotrophos?

If you're like me, you spend a meticulous thirty minutes copying the juicy details of HMEPA into your cellular phone every month so you can have the festivals and sacrifices on quick reference when all other calendars have failed and your computer is having some much-deserved rest. If you haven't, congratulations. You are now fully aware of my geek creds.

See, even if you're not like me at all, you must have noticed that 16 Metageitnion (6/7 August) contains a sacrifice labeled “Kourotrophos, Hekate, Artemis.” Perhaps you have Googled Kourotrophos to figure out which epithet this must be. And you find ... Artemis?!

Apparently, the epithet refers to her as the nurse of youths. And ... one sacrifices to Artemis twice, once as ARTEMIS, and again solely in the aspect of Kourotrophos. Right? Not necessarily ...

In the screenshot, you will also note the Google images showing large-breasted women. That's what motivated me to find out more. Sarah C. Humphreys declares that “[the demesmen] would perhaps all be back in the deme [from Eleusinion] by Metageitnion 16, when a piglet was sacrificed to Kourotrophos and a goat to Artemis Hekate in Hekate's sanctuary” (The Strangeness of Gods, 183). While deities frequently combine or answer to the same epithet, the calendar doesn't explicitly refer to Kourotrophos as an aspect of Artemis, and Humphreys indicates that the sacrifices were given to separate deities.

Using some Google-fu and state-of-the-art research technology, I have determined that we can say much, much more about Kourotrophos. In fact, someone actually did. Kourotrophos: Cults and Representations of the Greek Nursing Deities, written by Theodora Hadzisteliou Price, presents an overview of the epithet and the divinities who bore it. While you should peruse the introduction yourself (because it's well-written), I have collected some interesting points:
  1. Nursing and child-rearing is present in myth/cultus surrounding Ge, Athene, Artemis, Demeter, Persephone, Hera, Aphrodite, and Eileithyia, along with some natural divinities (Kourotrophos, 2).
  2. “The epithet Kourotrophos is often found alone, with the noun omitted [...] either because it is implied from the context or because every one is expected to know who the local Kourotrophos [...] is, or because it is indicated in the shrine in which such inscriptions are erected” (3).
  3. “It is interesting however that in one case in this same Calendar [of the Demarchia of Erchia] there is a sacrifice to Artemis Hekate in the Sanctuary of Hekate, where Hekate is only an epithet of Artemis! [...] It is possible, but not provable, that Kourotrophos here is Ge, as usually in the city of Athens” (123).
The presence of an “Artemis Hekate” in Price's research, and considering that Humphreys was also talking about demes of Athens and an “Artemis Hekate,” leads me to understand that both are referring to the same sacrificial calendar here. Therefore, Kourotrophos may not signify Artemis as the initial Google search suggested, but Price's Ge. Worshipping Ge (or Gaia) makes some sense, as Hekate has Chthonic associations and an “Artemis Hekate” must combine the goddesses' aspects. “Um ... what?” crisis solved. (Except for the part where I wonder why HMEPA put a comma there.)

Unless you would prefer to worship another Kourotrophos, I think some serious Ge-worship is in order for 16 Metageitnion.