Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Coming into this class I knew very little about classical literature and mythology. I knew a little bit about the gods, and bits and pieces of well known myths, but that is about it. It's funny actually, I took a mythologies class this semester thinking that I would learn all about Greek and Roman myths, but it was in this class that I actually did. I feel much more knowledgeable about the Greeks and Romans and their myths after taking this class. Not only has reading their works helped me to learn about them and Thieu culture, but it has given me new insight to today as well. During the first week or two of class Dr. Sexon asked us to bring in a paper, read the articles, and to see what aspects of the past we could find in our present. I'm pretty sure that I gave him a weird confused look because I had no idea what he was talking about. All that I saw were events that occurred during my lifetime, and I could not connect them to the past. I guess I didn't really see how the past and the present truly are connected. I feel like I am much more able to find such connections now than I was before. Learning the background information, such as the myths and stories, has made me much more equipped to find the connections. It is extremely difficult to compare two things when you know absolutely nothing about one of them. The class has not only given me more information, but has helped me view things differently. Although, I am not going to lie, I was not particularly fond of the blogging, I think that it did help me to find connections with the readings and my circumstantially bound life. It forced me to think more deeply, and I am thankful for that.
I am not really sure what else I have learned from the class. I think that it is something that I will have to look back on to really tell, but I am okay with that. All I know is that it has helped mold the person that I will become, and I am thankful to Dr. Sexon as well as my classmates for enabling that.
I wish everyone good luck in the future, and will probably see many of you in other classes. Have a great summer, and take care.
Thanks again Dr. Sexon, and please forgive my mistake on the first day. I have learned from that as well.
Monday, April 27, 2009
At first, I was a little ambivalent because my acting skills are sub par to say the least. It's true, I have stage fright. But after a long nail biting session that left me with very sore fingers, I realised that my stage fright is even worse when it comes to public speaking. Making a movie was in fact a great alternative for me, not only because it was very informal, but because I had almost no audience to worry about during the filming. Although we had an outline of what we wanted to do for each scene, there was no pre-written script to memorise, so I did not have to worry about forgetting my lines. Not to mention, it was a fun experience and I think that it turned out pretty well.
Anyway, back to the topic of our group presentation as a whole. We decided to base our movie on the story of Midas. Since greed and rumours are such a relevant thing to today's society, we figured it would be an easy tale to modernise. Naturally, we picked Donald Trump to represent the character of Midas. Not only is he is a figure that everybody knows well, he is also so wealthy that it seems everything he touches does in a sense turn to gold. Going along with the idea of Pan, Apollo and music, we decided to incorporate Trump's show "The Apprentice." The two surviving contestants on the show, Paula and Pam, are required to put on a charity concert event. Even though Pan and Apollo are males, we decided that they could be females in the new version and came up with names that corresponded with the original ones. The concert that Trump and his assistants like the most wins, and the competitor who put it together gets to be Trump's apprentice. Although Paula's concert is more thought out and obviously more popular with the crowd, Pam wins the competition. Paula vows that Trump will regret his decision, and you see later on that he does. Originally we had thought about actually giving Trump donkey ears in our video, but decided to change it up a bit. One thing that Donald is known for is his hair, so we thought, "why not make him bald or give him a receding hairline instead?" Thus we had him go to the barber where Paula, disguised of course, begins to cut his hair. As she indicated that he would, Trump receives an unwelcome surprise for picking the worse contestant. His hair disappears with the blink of an eye. Rather than whispering the secret to the ground in our movie, we used the idea of picture messaging. Cell phones are something that literally everyone uses today and that many people base their life around, so what better way to get the word out that Trump is now bald. Another small detail that is worth mentioning is that all of the customers waiting in the lobby at the barber's are reading books that we have read and discussed in this class.
The movie is definitely ridiculous and cheesy, but that was our objective from the beginning. Comedy has played a large role in this class, so we decided to take it to another level and just go over the top like Aristophanes did in Lysistrata. Zach had a Jesus costume, and someone had to give Trump the golden touch, so we incorporated him in as a silly character. The dialogue was of course also somewhat vulgar and ridiculous as well. Hopefully everyone enjoyed it and was able to see the reflection of Ovid's story of Midas in our video.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
One presentation that stuck out to me was Biz's. It is funny because the first thing that came to my mind when I learned that we were going to read Ovid's Metamorphosis was Kafka's book. I had actually even though about writing my paper on it as well, although I would have taken a very different approach. Her idea that both Luscious and Gregor's transformations were caused by their soul settling in its correct form. I thought that her comparison of the two books to The Golden Compass series was an interesting one. I would not have made that comparison had she not pointed it out. Her approach was a very different and interesting one, and I enjoyed hearing it.
Another presentation that I liked a lot was Chloe's. I can totally relate to her desire to want to be children again sometimes. Although I still thoroughly enjoy the Harry Potter books, the innocence and dreams that we had as children was a great thing. As kids all girls dreamed of being a princess and finding her prince. Fairy tales became reality through our imagination and we could be whoever we wanted to be. Last night I watched "Bedtime Stories," and at one point Adam Sandler says something like, "There are no happy endings in real life." The children insisted that the bedtime stories that he told had happy endings. Like the children that Chloe speaks about, they feel that anything can happen in stories and that such things do happen in real life. They have an innocence about them that keeps their outlook on life. It is not until we become adults that we become disillusioned and can no longer find the wonderful/magical parts of life. We know that life is suffering. This loss of innocence is sad, and I too often wish to have it back.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Alyssa wrote her course paper on transmigration. Although we did talk about it in class, we did not really go into much depth, so I found what she had to say very interesting. In her research she found that throughout history numerous cultures from all over the world have believed in some form of transmigration. One thing that she said that I had never heard before was that some people believe that the reason why children resemble their families so much is because a family member's soul dies and then enters an infant. I thought that this, along with other points that she discussed, were very informative and interesting. It is always great to learn something new and different.
Another presentation that I enjoyed was Brittany's. A number of people wrote creative stories, but hers was quite different than the others. She wrote about falling asleep and waking up in an imaginary life. This life took place long ago during the festival of Dionysus in Greece. The way that she approached the Eleusinian Mysteries was unique and entertaining. I liked that she wrote about in first person as if she were there because it helped me to imagine how it might have been.
The third presentation that really caught my attention was Kate's. The fact that she spent time with a group of elderly man as a form of research for her paper is great. I have spent a lot of time with my grandparents, and it is funny because one of my grandfathers is just like them. There is little better than listening to funny old men and the conversations that they have. I found her topic hilarious. It seems like she really enjoyed spending time with them, and I am sure that they enjoyed the company of a hot young specimen as well. Haha.
Although I only touched on three specific presentations, I liked them all and cannot wait to see what everyone else wrote about.
20 April 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
The point that Kayla brought up about the word "love" not having a synonym is something that made me think as well. The more and more I pondered, I realised the veracity of this. There is no other word in the English language that carries the same depth of meaning. I think there are a number of reasons that there is no other word that can express the same things. Like I said before, "love" has a large multiplicity of meanings. There are numerous kinds of love, such as romantic and familial. Although each kind of love is different, they all have certain things in common, and can therefore be compiled into one category. This multiplicity makes it extremely difficult to find a word to substitute for it. Another possible explanation for the inability of another word to take its place is that although there are different kinds of love, it is extremely personal and has such specific characteristics. For one, it is very deep and true love can be felt in the very bottom of the soul. In my opinion, there is nothing else that has the same kind of control over a person and their emotions. It is a bond made between two people, and there is nobody in the world that shares the same exact bond. It is something that is extremely different than any other feeling in the world.
Moving back to the presentation as a whole, I was curious about whether or not each person was assigned a certain character from the Symposium to portray. They said that they didn't really discuss what they were going to write beforehand, but each person's speech seemed to correspond with a character from Plato's writing. Obviously the hiccups were something that they took from Plato. Although the last speaker took a "mushy" approach on love, he did not tell a story as did Alcibiades. Vernice's spoke about how love is not like a disease, and how "love-sickness" is in the mind. This speech seemed to kind of correspond with the doctor's in that it seemed to focus on the scientific and psychological aspects of love. There were other aspects of the presentation that corresponded with the writing as well.
Lastly, I liked the speech that talked about love in respect to art. The artwork that was put on the board was beautiful, and in my opinion did a great job of embodying the idea of love. It was a very interesting take on love, and one much different than mine since I am not in any way shape or form an artist.
Overall, I really enjoyed the presentation and the different ideas about love presented in them. Well done.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Overall, it seems like women are presented as helpless and mindless creatures that are completely reliant on men in the tale of Cupid and Psyche. Granted, I realize that women were not highly esteemed in the past and this might have something to do with it. I am not one of those crazy feminists who would say that we shouldn't read this book because it is sexist, but it still does bother me a little bit. I simply find it annoying and know that I would not like her at all if I were to meet Psyche in person.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
After giggling to myself for a bit and thinking the whole scene over, I realised that this too has a place in the present. I feel like so many people these days, especially those who marry very young, are actually in love with the idea of love rather than the person that they marry. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that all young marriages are bound to fail, but statistically speaking there is a good chance. The divorce rate has sky rocketed in the last millennium, and it is difficult to say why exactly. I believe that part of the reason has to do with people being in love with love.
Throughout their lives women are bombarded by images of the wonders of "true" love. Look at almost all of the Disney films. In literally all of them the girl gets the boy that she wants and they live happily ever after. Cinderella is treated terribly by her step mother and sisters. She is not allowed to partake in any town activities and is most definitely not invited to the balls. However, with he help of a fairy god mother she is able to attend the ball and gain the love of a prince. After a number of trials and tribulations they are once again united and they live happily ever after in his castle. This theme is found throughout Disney movies, The Golden Ass, and much of today's pop culture. A girl grows up dreaming about the "prince" that will one day sweep her off her feet. She starts planning her wedding at the age of six and continues to do so until the day that she says her first I do's. This of course starts all over again when she finds that the husband she chose does not have such princely characteristics and there is no such thing as "happily ever after"in real life. Both love and relationships take work. Couple always go through bad times, it is a natural part of life, and they must work through it together. I feel like so many people today get into a serious relationship today because they want to experience love. It is not because they truly love the person that they are with, but they trick themselves into thinking that they do. As soon as a hole in their love bubble forms though, the relationship is over.
Love is a beautiful thing. There is nothing that makes you feel better than seeing an elderly couple that still hold hands and that have that look in their eye. It fills you with warmth and desire to have what they have. I am not a cynic when it comes to love, I most definitely believe in true love, but I think that people today need to be more aware that the love presented in the fairy tales is not reality. Such things implant false illusions in our mind from our childhood on, and we must attempt to see them for what they are. Falling in love with love will surely always leave us disappointed, and it can never help get you through hard times like the love of a person.
Monday, April 13, 2009
The first dog that passed away in my lifetime was called Keaven. She was a beautiful golden retriever who loved everyone. She passed away the day after my fourth birthday. Honestly I don't remember her very much, and I was too young to really understand what had happened I think. While my dad took care of her my mother and I went to see the Nutcracker, so I didn't really see her in the terrible state that I am sure she was in for a while.
The next dog to die was Keaven's sister Chelsey. She was old, like 14, and just fell asleep and didn't wake up. It was a lot harder on my mom at the time because we had just gotten a puppy a couple years earlier and my sister and I were much closer to the puppy. Rosie had lived a long life, so her death wasn't as horrible.
The most recent death occurred on Christmas Eve two years ago. Taush's death was by far the worst for me. We had gotten her when I was around eight and I had been there as she grew up. She was a newfoundland, which are huge black dogs with long hair. She loved everyone as well, and I only saw her growl twice in the ten years that she lived. Both instances involved a large dog that she seemed to feel were threatening towards us. Tausha always carried a stuffed animal in her mouth like she wanted to have puppies. Although she chewed many things up as a puppy, she was very well behaved and calm. I remember my dad calling me on Christmas Eve and telling me that she was really sick and he didn't think that she was going to make it. I came to the house to say goodbye and see her one last time, and by the time I got there she was gone. She had passed away in her sleep. Although she lived a long life as well, it was hard to give her up. Her health decreased rapidly, and within a week she went from acting normal and active to dying. Every time we eat salmon I think about her because we used to give her the skins. Going to the beach reminds us all of her too because she would always come with us and chase the gulls and play with the kelp. Needless to say, that Christmas was not a great one for the family, and to make it worse my insensitive step sister made numerous unthoughtful remarks. Taush was the perfect dog, and we miss her a lot.
My family still has a number of animals: two chihuahuas, one golden retriever, and two cats to be exact. Both of my roommates have dogs as well, so they still play a large role in my life. There have been a number of scares with all of the animals, and the thought of losing another one is hard. Loosing an animal is like the loss of a child. It is terrible, and although time dulls the pain, it will never go away fully.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
1. Flyting: The exchange of insults; verbal argument
2. Tally: 2 halves of a coin that 2 friends keep so that when they see eachother years later they
will be able to recognise one another as their old friend (Aristophane spoke about it in his
speach in the Symposium).
3. Sumary of the story of Echo and Narcissu
Narcissus was born with "a beauty that broke hearts. Tiresias gave prophesy that Narcissus could live long, but only if he doesn't "learn to know himself." While hunting Narcissus comes upon echo, a beautiful nymph. Jupiter had made it so she always repeated the last word or two of what she heard over and over again because she had helped Juno ecape her probing eyes too many times. She fell immediately in love w/Narcissus. Tries to get his embrace, but he denies her. She fell into dispair, her bones turned into stone, and her voiced wandered off to be heard forever (echo into an echo). Narcissus sees his reflection, although doesn't understand it his reflection at first, in a clear pool and falls in love. His beauty and body shriveled like Echo's, and he died. All that stood where his body fell was a beautiful white flower (Narcissus into a narcissus flower.
4. The two characters that were models for Romeo and Juliet
5. Summary/Overview of the Symposium:
1. Apollodorus/Aristodemus: the one who tells the account of what took place at the meeting
2. Phaedrus: the one who suggests that each person make a speach on love, says it is older than the gods and has no parents, promotes virtue in people, army made of lovers and loved ones would be untouchable, talks about lovers and the honorable acts they have done (ex. Alcestis and Admetus)
3. Pausanias: talks about 2 kinds of love (both associated with godesss): common love (simple and mindless desire, directed towards bodies rather than minds --> bad) and heavenly love (between a man and a boy --> lover sexually gratifes loved in exchange for education in wisdom and virtue).
4. Eryximachus: good love promotes "moderation and orderliness," it can be found in many things outside of human relations (such as music and medicine), relates love to medicine and curing the body, talks about heavenly love and common love as well (compares to food), talks about seasons
5. Aristophanes: is a myth, 3 genders -->1. female (from earth), 2. male (from sun), 3. androgenous (from moon), we used to be one with our lovers (although had body parts of both) but Zues cut us in half and now we wander searching for our soul mates (includes the idea of the tally in his speach)
6. Agathon: has the hiccups, characterizes love as "young, beautiful, sensitive, and wise," says it is what gives us virtues, his speach is very eloborate, characterizes it as a young god, settles in our minds and characters, talks about virtues of love
7. Socrates: asks questions to Agathon about his love, recounts a speach made by Diotoma, she says that love is not a god but a spirit between a person and that which they desire, desire for wisdom and beauty (but not wise or beautiful), esxpresses itself sexually or through pregnancy, greates knowledge is knowledge of the Form of Beauty, claims love was concieved at a feast to honor Aphrodite, latter of love (start simple and move foward, like with the rock and tree)
8. Alcibiades: directs speach to Socrates and tries (but fails) to get him to sleep with him, very drunk when gives his eulogy, not a speach but a story
6. Tragedy means goat song and comedy means revel song
7. Metempsychosis: transmigration of souls
8. Catharsis: the purging of the emotions pity and fear (should occur while watching tragedy)
9. According to The Trojan Women, what is the worst thing one can be forced to chose?
The sacrifice of a child
10. ob-scene: off stage (Lysistrata)
11. What is the difference between New Comedy and Old Comedy?
1. Old Comedy: doesn't involve love, but abuse. Can be political or social satire. Generally is
2. New Comedy: focuses more on the humour in love and familt matters. Generally has to
do with boy wants gurl, boy cannot have gurl becuase of obstacles (often his father wants
the same gurl), obstacles are removed and he gets gurl. It generally ends in vulgar/physical love
12. anamnesis: Plato's theory that humans were born knowing everything, but they have
forgotten it all
13. Dr. Sexon says to think of reincarnation as poetic thought or metaphor
14. What did Paris chose when offered gifts by Aphrodite?
The most beautiful woman in the world (Helen)
15. 3 symbols of comedy
16. Which character from Lysistrata is symbloic of reconciliation?
A naked woman (on the cover as well)
17. What is the difference between Sophoclean tragedy and Euripedian tragedy
1. Sophoclean: formal truth, experience of catharsis, person of high stature falls to low
2. Euripedian: emotional truth
18. According to Freud, what do we do to keep from crying?
19. tragedy = individuals while comdey = society
20. Parabasis:a part in old comedy in which people on stage abuse the audience
21. In which of Ovid's tales of metamorphosis did 2 bears turn into constellations? Callisto
22. Women taken as spoils of war tak on what roles in The Trojan Women?
23. Phallocentrism:the domination of a culture by the male point of view (represented by
24. What did Aristotle say was the perfect form of literature?
25. According to Plato, what happens when you see something beautiful?
Your shoulder blades begin to itch because your "wings want to grow"
26. nostos: "homecomming"
27. Ovidean Characters and their transformations
1. Naobi --> weeping rock
2. Acteon -->Stag
3. Narcissus --> narcissus flower
4. Atalanta --> lion
5. Pentheus -->boar
6. 4 Ages: gold, silver, bronze, iron
7. Adonis --> wind flower
8. Arachni --> spider
9. Myrrah --> tree (from which Adonis is born)
10. Tieresius --> man --> woman --> man
11. Midas --> asses ears
28. When a god promises something to a human, they cannot take it back, but can...
add to it (ex. Tiersesius: Jupiter gave Tierisius the ability to prophosizes after Jupiter took
away his sight for saying that women enjoy sex more than men)
29. Summary of "The Athenian Women" from Lysistrata
Opens with a story about a man being stoned to death by the men and his wife having the same thing done by the women (complete dependence on men, but very different social spheres). Athenians thought that women were more likely to threaten civilization wit violence and promiscuity. They were characterised as out of control and subject to lawless passion. It was thought that women had to be "locked up and watched" to keep them from having indescriminte sex and ruining the family. Marriage was a woman's ultimate goal and destiny. Until death women were identified as "the wife of so-and-so," and they were expected to stay in a separated part of the house with the children. Poverty was one of the view things that could bring women out of the house, along with religion, but it was considered shameful. Women were considered to be a financial burden, but necesary. They were not considered to be fully human, but an infirior creature. In Athens, only children born of two Athenian citizens were given citizenshitp (kept down outside competition for Athenian women). Women were not allowed to own anything, and her inheritance went to her husband. Women had exclusive ritual duties, for example it was they that prepared a body for burial.
30. Summary of "Greek Comedy" from Lysistrata
The City Dionysia was known for it's dramatic productions. Drama sponsors commissioned a playwright, had the actors and chorus outfitted, and sometimes hired extra actors/singers/ dancers/musicians. Less comedies than tragedies survive today. Aristophones got away with so much abuse and crudness becuase he emphasized the public good. Comdedy and tragedy are similar, but comedy "turns the genre of tragedy upside down and shakes it." Drama was technically supposed to entertain the god Dionysus, not the audience. There was very few prop used, simple backdrops, no lighting besides from the sun, and no sound system. All of the actors were men, and plays occurred back to back. Comedy favored "circus-like actions" from the chorus. Poetry played a huge role in drama, including comedy, and the script itself was written in poetry rather than prose. Comedy is funny because "it is not distressing" and does not cause pain, pity, or fear. Old comedy likes starizing tragedy. The chorus adds to the strangeness of the plot in comedy.
31. The opening line of Tales from Ovid:
"My soul would sing of metamorphosis"
32. The closing line of Tales from Ovid:
"I shall have life"
Thursday, April 2, 2009
This statue is a representation of Niobe trying to save her children. After Niobe stopped the Theban women from paying homage and praying to Leto, the goddess became very angry. To make matters worse, Niobe bragged that her children were much greater than Leto's. As a result all of Niobe's children were killed and she is turned into a weeping stone. It is said that she still weeps today.
This picture depicts the Phaethon sisters morphing into laurel trees. Phaethon asks his father to provide him with the chariot of the sun and one day to ride it. Despite his father's warnings, Phaethon goes out with the chariot, loses control, and fell from the heavens to his death. His sisters came and mourned at his graves for months and months. When they went to move they realise that their feet have been stuck to the ground and they become laurel trees.
This statue is a representation of Pluto stealing Proserpina away while she is out picking flowers. Pluto sees Proserpina, decides he must have her, and steals her to the underworld. Ceres finds out with the help of Cyane, a goddess turned to a stream from sadness, and is enraged. Cyane goes to Jupiter to get him to have her daughter returned, but finds out she has eaten the food of hell. Thus the seasons came to be. While Proserpina is on earth it is spring and summer, and while she is below it is fall and winter.
This picture shows Pygmalion looking at his sculpted woman. Pygmalion is not impressed with any of the women in the area that he lived, in fact he was mostly disgusted. He makes a sculpture of a beautiful women, and wishes with all his heart it was real. During the Venus festival Pygmalion makes his sacrifices and said his prayers, and then asks the gods to grant his ivory woman life. Venus hears his pleas, and grants him his wish. He comes home to his newly human sculpture and falls deeply in love. They get married, have a child, and live happily ever after.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Although it seems like such a trivial question, there are a lot of factors that play a part in such a decision. What characteristics would I want to have? What fantasies could I live out if I were a member of a different species? What different kinds of things would I have to worry about?
Like many people, I would love to fly. I feel like there would be no other experience that could compare to the feeling that one would have while flying. Being able to cut through the water like a dolphin would be pretty cool too. Or maybe being the king of the jungle. It would be nice to be at the top of the food chain (minus us of course). I think that one of the coolest animals to be would be a jaguar or a cheetah. Not only can they run extremely fast, but they can climb trees and live a rather lackadaisical life. They are a creature of mystery as well and can move without being detected. They are some of the greatest predators out there. Yeah, I think that of all of the animals that I could be, I would choose one of those two.
Another kind of random thing to think about...do we as human not try to take on some of the characteristics of other species? Perhaps it is not such a trivial question after all. One might argue that many of the innovative minds have looked to animals for ideas. Take, for example, the Wright brothers. Although these men were the inventors of the first airplane, they were by no means the first animals to experience flight. Birds have been flying high above the ground for millions of years. As a child, I remember looking up and wishing that I could fly like them and experience the world from their view. Is it not possible, probable even, that the wright brothers had similar dreams and wishes? In fact, did Daedalus not fashion the wings for him and his son out of the feathers of birds? He saw that birds could fly wherever they wanted, and realized that if he only had wings like the birds he and his son could escape exile. Like many humans after him, Daedalus saw another species do something that he could not and attempted to fashion a new contraption that would allow him to do that thing which he could not. One could tie sky diving, flying in air planes, hang gliding, and gliding through the air with the newly invented gliding suits all to the flight of birds. Although there are few people that would truly rather by a bird than a human, there are billions who would love to have some of its abilities.
What other inventive ideas might have originated from someone observing other species? Two possibilities are snorkeling and scuba diving. Obviously, humans were not equipped with gills. Therefore, although they can stick their head underwater for a very short period of time, they cannot naturally experience the underwater world. There are many people that will see a whale and wish that they could experience the same world as such a mystical animal. Maybe someone saw a mountain goat scaling a treacherous mountain side, and said to himself, "I wish I could clime such tall and steep cliffs." That is what rock climbing has allowed us to do now. If you were to go to a school playground, it is possible that you would see a few children bounding around on pogo sticks. Again, such bouncing and jumping is an attribute not natural to the human species, but it is to rabbits. People who zip line through the forrests get to move from tree to tree just like monkeys do. It is interesting what connections that can be made.
Although I am very likely over thinking this whole thing, it is very true that people are very curious about the unknown. They want what the don't have. Whether they do get some of their ideas from that which surrounds them or not, it does seem that we try to do things that the animals around us can. How my ramblings in this blog relate to this class I'm not really sure, but it just kind of came out. I'm sure that it is relevant in some way or another.
For Malouf, the word metamorphosis does not merely apply to myths and legends. It is an occurrence that every human being goes through. A quote that really stuck out for me was, “We have some power in us that knows its own ends. It is that that drives us on to what we must finally become. We have only to conceive of the possibility and somehow the spirit works in is to make it actual. This is the true meaning of transformation. This is the real metamorphosis” (64). I feel like this is a very powerful idea. Although this intentional form of metamorphosis is much different than the kind represented in Ovid’s stories, it is refreshing and encouraging. I love that he states that we can change according to our hopes and beliefs, and that it is not all out of our control. It gives hope to those of us who want to become better, or different, people.
Intentional change, however, is not the only one presented in the book. Ovid and the Child both transform when transplanted into a world different then their own. Immersion in another culture, in my opinion, always changes a person and the way they view the world. At one point Ovid even says “Seeing the world through this other tongue I see it differently. It is a different world” (65). The incorporation of another language into his life adds new facets to both him as a person and to the way in which he views the world. The Child helps expand his view on the world even more, and causes Ovid to transform one again. Ovid sees himself in a different way after spending time with the Child, and as death takes over he feels that he is one with the universe. It is a beautiful moment in the text.
Another transformation, although much more subtle, was that of the seasons. I loved the way in which Ovid incorporated the different seasons and the way in which they affected the lives of the people. In winter, the birds are gone and the people must stay inside. The spring, however, is filled with joy and new life. The seasons not only transform the world of nature, but everything that lives in it and is a part of it.
I really enjoyed Malouf’s book. I thought that it did a good job of incorporating much of what we have discussed overall in this class. I loved his own forms of metamorphosis as well, and the way in which it coincides with Ovid’s. The book almost brought new light to some of the other pieces as well, and helped me to further enjoy them.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Before revealing herself to him, Salmacis checks to make sure that every curve of her body is accentuated and that she embodies sheer perfection. Her dewy skin glows with love and lust and she exudes sexuality. Salmacis approaches Hermaphroditus and the words that she speaks were these: "Would it bother you if I told you that you were beautiful? Your sculpted body and handsome face could be that of a mighty god. Is that your true form? Or are you of the loved human race? Oh to have been your mother from whose breasts you suckled...the thought of it makes me fill with envy. The only greater pleasure would to be your wife and to share your bed of bliss. If you already have a woman, tell me not, for it does not matter. If it be we shall love in secret, but oh...if not, how amazing our lives will be. We will lie together in utmost happiness and no day will ever pass that is not better than the previous. We will awaken things in one another that neither of us knew exists."
Young Hermaphroditus is baffled by her words. His innocence becomes apparent and his face flushes rose. This new color only magnifies Salmacis' desires. She stands still, heart beating through her veins like thunder in the night. Her rose petal lips long to become one with his, and she pleads for one kiss. A single kiss would make her the happiest woman in the expansive universe.
For some reason unknown to men, Hermaphroitus does not fall victim to her beauty, and is horrified by her request. "Leave me be! I will not grant you a kiss nor any other action to promote your desires. If you will not leave than I will set off never to be seen by you again. Go away from this place."
Salmacis can not imagine a life without him, and thus she leaves apologising profusely. She begs for his forgiveness and pleads with him to forget her misguided request. And so she exits the clearing, but unbeknown to Hermaphroditus hides within seeing distance. She sits in silence and watches as he enjoys the beauty of his surroundings. Believing that he is alone, Hermaphroditus enters the still water and lets the cool liquid caress his body. He removes his restricting tunic in order to more fully embrace the grasps of nature. As the young boy's white skin glistens with streams of water, Salmacis groans and imagines what could be. In her mind she takes him and he surrenders fully to her. Their love fills the clearing with a wonderful glow and he admits his undying devotion to her.
She can hold herself back no longer, and the beautiful water nymph glides across the soft ground towards the bathing boy. Her cloths are torn from her body as she made her way to the pool, and a loud shriek escapes her luscious lips. "I have won! He is mine!" She reaches him and winds her body around his. Hermaphroditus struggles to break her grip, but can not escape her binding limbs. Salmacis smothers him with her supple bosom and unforgiving kisses. She says to him, "Do not struggle my love, for we will never be separated again. The gods above have heard my plea, and they have decided that we are to be together forever."
At hearing her say such a silly thing, the gods smile with glee. The two bodies in the lake then melt into one, never to separated again.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
First, Helen puts the blame on Hecuba for giving birth to Paris. Had the queen not done so, "the whole bad business" would never occurred.
Secondly, she puts the blame on Priam for not killing Paris as a child. She states that it was he that ruined Troy, not her. Had either of the previous events went otherwise the war would have been avoided.
Thirdly, she puts blame on the gods. Helen gives an account of the judgment that Paris made between the goddesses Pallas, Hera, and Cypris. The one he chose was Cypris, who had offered him the most beautiful woman in the world. Helen was the prize that she gave him. Helen argues then that it was not her fault, but the goddess'. She says that she was "bought and sold for her beauty" (pg. 221). With the goddess by Paris' side, she had no choice but to love him and go away with him. It was as if she was enchanted.
Helen then says that after Paris died the enchantment lifted and she regained her whits. She claims that she tried to escape to be with Menelaus, but was forced to remain with the Trojans.
After Helen has given her plea, Hecuba steps in in response. I am not sure who's side I am on. Granted, Helen was given to Paris as a gift of Cypris, and it would seem that she did not have any other choice. At the same time, had she really not wanted to leave with Paris she could have fought it or as Hecuba mentions, done the noble thing and killed herself. Love is a funny thing. It will make one do things that one would not normally do. It is not my place to judge Helen, but I thought that her plea was quite interesting. I feel like the first two points that she makes are a bit far-fetched, but that the third could be considered valid. Luckily it was not up to me to decide her fate.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Although Cassandra did not experience the death of a child, she did endure much suffering. As a young woman Cassandra was given the gift of prophesy, but later a curse was added to it. She has the ability to see what the future will hold, but nobody will believe her visions. Cassandra foresaw the demise of Troy, and even warned her people about the Trojan Horse, but no one believed what she said. Would that not cause unbearable suffering? She saw her country men die not once, but twice. She had to live with the knowledge that her father and siblings would die terrible deaths and that she could do nothing to change their fates. There have been a number of television shows in which a character has the ability to see the future, but in virtually every case that character has the ability to alter the future as well. Cassandra is left completely helpless and is forced to watch as her visions play out in real life. To add to her sufferings, Cassandra has nobody to share her grief with. When Hecuba, along with every other woman left in Troy, learns of the death of her children and husband, there are many people there to share their grief with. Hecuba is not alone in her suffering, but when Cassandra foretells what will happen she is. There is no shoulder for her to cry on, and sharing her visions makes things worse because she is seen as crazy.
After Troy is burned Cassandra is given to her enemy as a concubine. She, who is pure and has not yet given herself to any man, is expected to sleep with the very man who brought death to those she loved. Hecuba moans and moans about how she is going to have to live the life of a slave, but her situation isn't nearly as bad as Cassandra's. Yes, she will no longer be garbed in the jewels and rich clothing of a queen, but she will not be a man's sex slave either. Hecuba will not have to lay with the man who killed her family members, nor will she most likely be given a very strenuous job at all. Don't get me wrong, she suffers terribly, but not so much as Cassandra. What could be worse than Cassandra's fate?
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
I am not heartless, seeing Hecuba in her state of grief was heart wrenching and I most definitely sympathised with her. It would be extremely hard to lose a child much less numerous children. Something that did really bother me about her character though, is her blatant disregard for her people. As a queen, she should consider all of her subjects to be like children, yet she does not even think once about them while she grieves. Hecuba just sits there and wails in self pity without even a thought for the rest of her people who are going through the same thing. Going back to the original topic, when Andromache is forced to give up her child to be sacrificed, it is again terrible. In fact, I would say that being forced to choose the death of your child would be much more difficult than just losing them. However, I feel like in certain situations, such as that presented in The Trojan Women, perhaps death would be a better alternative than life.
Hecuba: Ah, my child! Brutally butchered! Ah and again ah! How shameful a death.
Andromache: She died as she died.--And yet in death she was luckier that I who live.
Hecuba: Death and life are not the same, my child. Death is nothingness; in life there is hope.
Andromache: The dead, I say, are as if they had not been born. It is better to die than to live in pain; the dead have no sorrows to hurt them, but when a man passes from happiness to misery his heart hankers restlessly after the joys he once knew. Polyxena is dead as if she had never seen this life; she knows nothing of her sorrows.
In reading this conversation, it would seem that Andromache would welcome death. Although she would not want to personally inflict it on her son I'm sure, it seems that she might feel as if it were for the best. With his death, he no longer has to face the horrors of life. His father has died, his mother is distraught, and if he were to live he would be brought up by his enemies. In some ways, I feel like this would be a worse fate than death, and Andromache indicates that she does as well when referring to Hecuba's daughter Polyxena. Had she lived, the horrors that she had faced thus far would be just the beginning. Women who were taken after war were either kept as slaves or concubines. Either life would be a terrible one, not to mention that your master would be your enemy and the man who had killed numerous members of your family and people. As for the shame that Hecuba talks about in the death of her daughter, would it not be worse if she had to serve as another man's prostitute. It seems like the shame in losing your virginity too, as well as continuously sleeping with, someone who killed those close to you would be more shameful.
Andromache seems to change her stance on the whole thing when it is her child that must die. Rather than seeing the good as she did in the death of Polyxena, she only sees the bad. She curses Odysseus and wishes for the same thing to happen to his children. I found this contradiction interesting, and am not sure what stance I myself would have taken. While now I believe that the death of my child would be much more forgiving and less horrific than the life that they would live in captivity under enemy rule, one can never say how they would really feel until they actually experience it for themselves. I think that that is why Andromache does contradict herself. While looking at someone else's child she can see the good, but the thought of loosing her own is overwhelming and she can not see past her sorrow.
Monday, March 9, 2009
by Robinson Jeffers
Hooked in the stones of the wall,
The storm-wrack hair and screeching mouth: does it matter,
Whether the people believe
Your bitter fountain? Truly men hate the truth, they'd liefer
Meet a tiger on the road.
Therefore the poets honey their truth with lying; but religion—
Vendors and political men
Pour from the barrel, new lies on the old, and are praised for
Wisdom. Poor bitch be wise.
No: you'll still mumble in a corner a crust of truth, to men
And gods disgusting—You and I, Cassandra.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
If I remember correctly, one of the students pointed out that an example of flyting could be seen in the movie "The Sandlot." I will admit that I have never seen this movie, yes I was deprived as a child, but the first movie that came to my mind was "Hook." There is a scene in which Peter, Pan as an adult, exchanges numerous colorful insults with Rufio. The argument can be seen on You Tube (both links below), and ends with Peter saying, "Rufio, if I'm a maggot burger why don't you just EAT ME? You two-toned zebra-headed paramecium-brain, munchin' on your own mucus, suffering from Peter Pan envy!"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMqJr_zRVUM (This example isn't a very good recording, but you can hear everything that is said. In the link below portions of what is said is beeped out.)
There is an example of flyting, one that could have been similar to what was said between my sister and I back in the day, in The House On Mango Street. The conflict is between three young girls, go figure. They go from talking about clouds to insulting one another and their mothers. The portion of the argument that I have included below is between two of the three girls.
Rachel: You know what you are Esperanza? You are like the Cream of Wheat cereal. You're like the lumps.
Esperanza: Yeah, and you're foot fleas, that's you.
Rachel: Chicken Lips.
Esperanza: Cockroach Jelly.
Rachel: Cold frijoles.
Esperanza: Your mama's frijoles.
Rachel: Your mama's ugly toes.
Esperanza: That's stupid.
Rachel: Who's stupid?
One can just imagine how the rest of this argument would play out. Sandra Cisneros, the author, ends the chapter here leaving the rest to the reader's imagination. We have all been there at one point or another, so this task is most likely not a hard one.
These are just two of innumerable examples of flyting incorporated into media and literature. I hope everyone enjoyed them and that they helped those who were unclear about what flyting was to gain a better understanding.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
When I read this the first thing that popped into my head was the movie "Hancock." Hancock is a superhero that remembers nothing about his past at all. For the majority of the movie he believes that he is the only one of his kind, but later he finds out that this isn't true. There is one other being like him, a woman in fact. She explains to him that there used to be many others like them, but they all lost their immortality and died. When such godlike beings were created, it was done in pairs. The other was similar to their soul mate. Now, if the two spent too much time together they would be able to live in love and happiness, but they would lose their immortality. I thought that the idea of love and soul mates presented in the movie was a kind of representation of that described by Aristophanes in his speech. Once again, it is an example of how the past can be seen in present pop culture.
Something else that I found interesting was the idea of tallys, or symballem. When I was young I had friendship bracelets and necklaces that I shared with many of my friends. In fact, I am pretty sure that to this day I still have the pieces somewhere. It is interesting that the idea went from a broken coin and morphed into friendship charms centuries later.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
ex) lines 441-581 in "Antigone"
2. Hubris: Excessive pride or arrogance
3. Eleusinian Mysteries
a. done: a reinactment of the abduction of Persephone
b. seen: a stalk of corn or wheat
c. said: "rain concieve"
4. 5 conflicts of Steiner
1. men vs women
2. youth vs aged
3. living vs dead
4. individual vs society/state
5. gods vs men
5. Epithet: a handle
ex) trim ankled Persephony
6. Sparagmos: the tearing or rinding of live flesh
7. Anthropocentric view: humans, rather than gods, at the center of the universe
8. Miasma: "the polution," kind of implied curse that falls over a land that has not treated the dead properly
9. Antigone's view of politics: she is not really interested in politics, but believes in devine law over a king's decree
10. Meaning of Creon's name: ruler
11. Notion of a moving target: characters change throughout the story as things change around them
12. Myth of eternal return: endless repettion of things (cyclical)
ex) Homeric Hymn of Demeter (seasons)
ex) "Ground Hog's Day"
13. Who is Hermes like? Stewie from family guy (trixter)
14. Thoreau said that we should read the eternities rather than the times.
15. Who is guilty of taking one who lives above and throwing them below?
1. Zeus (orchestrated Persephone's fall)
2. Creon ("Antigone")
16. Inillotempore: "in the great time"
17. Which two mythological figures are polytropic?
18. 3 Great Tragedians
19. Who is the god of the crossroads? Hermes
20. Agon: conflict
21. "All that is past posseses the present."
22. 2 best thins that can happen to you according to the chorus of Oedipus.
1. never to have been born in the first place
2. to die
23. Sarvam dukam sarvam anityam: "everything is suffering everything is fleeting"
24. Anitgone's name means? "Anti-birth"
25. What injury did Oedipus sustain as an infant? Holes in the ankles
26. Hermes used these two words to prove his innocence: born yesterday
27. What did Robert Johnson do at the crossroads? Sell his soul to the devil to become an epic musician
28. According to Freud, why do we laugh? To keep from crying
29. What does it mean to make something anagogic? going into the hevenly realm
30. Synex: impotent old man
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
As Kayla revealed in class, she stole her brother's chocolate when she was young. Unlike Hermes, she was luckily enough not to get caught. Unfortunately as a child I was less lucky, and got caught for my crimes. There are two incidents that really stick in my mind. One of the times I stole a piece of cut fruit from a grocery store. At the time I didn't realize that what I did was wrong. I'm pretty sure that the fruit was sitting there cut as a kind of display of what it looked like on the inside. Seeing the meat of the fruit, I guess I figured it was a sample. While my mother pushed the grocery cart I sat on the bottom rack and ate my stolen treasure. It was my mother that eventually saw that I was eating a piece of fruit that was obviously not paid for. Needless to say, she was not very happy with me. There were some harsh words and not so harsh reprimands that time.
The next time that I remember I was very young as well. It was then, in one sense of the word, that I stole fate. For some reason I was attracted to a small pink role of paper in a little plastic tube at the checkout line. I had no idea what it was. In fact, I don't think that I could even read the majority of the words written on that bright colored paper yet. In some ways, I must have known that it was wrong to take the paper without paying for it because I hid it in my sock drawer. I was not doing my own laundry at that point, of course, an my mother found it while looking through my drawer. I remember her asking me where I got it, and I told her. She asked if I knew what it was, and I told her that I had no real idea. She told me it was a horoscope. Once again, I had no idea what it was. The funny thing about it was, it wasn't even my horoscope. It was someone else's fate that I had stolen. Anyway, my mother made me take it back to the grocery store and apologise for taking it. I was absolutely mortified. Getting caught was bad enough, but having to do that was almost unbearable. Needless to say, I did not steel anything again for a very long time. I had temporarily learned my lesson.
That is the way in which I am like Hermes...to some degree anyway. Like it is said, the past possesses the present. What I did was simply another version of the thievery done by young Hermes, the boy born yesterday.
Friday, January 30, 2009
One of the stories that most reminded me of the tale of Hermes was called "The Mwindo Epic." It is an oral story told by the Nyanga people in the Congo. Like Hermes, the trickster of this story is a baby who was born the day before he starts playing his tricks. He is very full of himself and likes to boast and brag. Although he is not a god like Hermes, he did have an unusual birth. He uses his trickery in order to help himself, but it does help others in return. A brief summary/description of the "Mwindo Epic" can be found at http://www.rickriordan.com/mwindo_epic.htm
Another trickster story that we discussed in my Mythology class was the Raven myth. It is a native American myth that has a number of different versions. The raven has an unusual birth, is a baby throughout a large portion of the story (he has the ability to shape shift between the raven and a baby), and lives on the outskirts of society as well. He tricks people into giving him the moon, stars, and the sun/daylight. Although he did this for selfish reasons, all of these things did end up helping society.
Throughout the semester we have read a number of Native American, African, and African-American trickster stories and it has surprised me how much they all have in common. In a number of them the trickster is a baby. They all are selfish and do things in order to please themselves, even if their actions do in some way help society. Almost all of them have unusual births, and a number of them are either gods or in some way conceived with the help of the gods. They live on the fringe of society and do not adhere to their laws and social rules. Reading the tale about Hermes has helped me to see these stories in a different way. I think that that is one of the things that many of the pieces of literature that we have read thus far in this class has helped me to do. I am now more able to "read the eternities rather than the times" now than I was before because I have the background knowledge. It is something that I find immensely interesting, and knowing similar stories, in many cases the very stories that more modern ones are based off of, has made the experience much more interesting for me.