I’m not actually going to begin writing Carried Away until the noumenia when I plan to make offerings to Apollo Soranos (per the divination I did earlier tonight) and give the devotional routine I came up with back on the 10th a test run before officially taking it up on the Kalends of January. (Hopefully the difficulties I’ve been having getting Thunderstruck with Wine ready for publication will be resolved by then!) In the meantime I figured I’d suss out some more of the book’s content.
To give it added depth, I used two systems in conjunction (The Words of Apollon and The Oracle of the Doors – both of which can be found at the Boukoleon) resulting in:
1-4-3: Know you better than I, fair Libya abounding in fleeces? Better the stranger than he who has trod it? Oh! Clever Therans!
3-2-5: Your strength is gone, and hard old age is upon you.
6-1-1: Apollon will not give any response to the Athenians on any matter until they have paid their debt to the Eleans.
1-4-3: Well, I’ve been down so Goddamn long that it looks like up to me
3-2-5: A million ways to spend your time
6-1-1: I see first lots of things which dance — then everything becomes gradually connected
Which got me thinking of Friedrich Hölderlin’s Der Tod des Empedokles:
The gods once loved him overmuch.
Yet he is not the first whom soon enough
They thrust into the senseless night,
Cast down from heights of their familiarity
Because he proved forgetful of the difference
In his extravagant delight, feeling for
Himself alone; so it went with him, he is
Now punished, in arid wastes abandoned—although
The final hour for him has not yet come;
Whoever has for so long been their darling
Will not long bear the insult to his soul,
I fear; his drowsy spirit will spark to flame
Anew to work out its revenge,
And, half-roused, a fearsome dreamer speaks
In him as once it spoke in those enthusiasts of old
Who wandered throughout Asia bearing reeds for staffs.
Do I write something on him as a tragic hero comparable to M. Antonius or do I find a way to work with the fragments of his Peri Phuseôs and Katharmoi? Perhaps both. I could go the Oliver Stone route and tell his story in dramatic form, but have Empedokles speak only in lines from his poems. Oh, I like that!
Triads are important in Orphic cosmology so I figured I should consult the gods again and have three sets of myth to work with right off the bat. (More than three poems will be coming from this since I’ve already got like six spun from Telines and Assunta alone.)
For this one I just asked Jim and got:
3-5-1: Such a long long road to seek it
1-2-1: silver and gold and the mountains of Spain.
4-2-4: You’re lost, little girl.
2-6-2: I’m not hungry
2-5-2: river flow, on and on it goes
5-3-6: flee the swarming wisdom
3-4-2: the devil was wiser
6-6-6: I am the Lizard King. I can do anything!
Which reads to me almost like a mash-up of:
But whenever a soul leaves the light of the sun–enter on the right, where one must, if one has kept all well and truly. Rejoice at the experience! This you have never before experienced. You have become a god instead of a man. You have fallen as a kid into milk. Hail, hail, as you travel on the right, through the Holy Meadow and Groves of Persephone. (Gold tablet from Thurii)
When Demeter was wandering in search of her daughter, she was followed, it is said, by Poseidon, who lusted after her. So she turned, the story runs, into a mare, and grazed with the mares of Oncius; realizing that he was outwitted, Poseidon too changed into a stallion and enjoyed Demeter. At first, they say, Demeter was angry at what had happened, but later on she laid aside her wrath and wished to bathe in the Ladon. So the goddess has obtained two surnames, Fury because of her avenging anger, because the Arcadians call being wrathful “being furious,” and Bather (Lusia) because she bathed in the Ladon. The images in the temple are of wood, but their faces, hands and feet are of Parian marble. The image of Fury holds what is called the chest, and in her right hand a torch; her height I conjecture to be nine feet. Lusia seemed to be six feet high. Those who think the image to be Themis and not Demeter Lusia are, I would have them know, mistaken in their opinion. Demeter, they say, had by Poseidon a daughter, whose name they are not wont to divulge to the uninitiated, and a horse called Areion. For this reason they say that they were the first Arcadians to call Poseidon Horse. (Pausanias, Description of Greece 8.25.5-7)
Carried by her doves across the sky, Venus reached the Laurentian coast, where through his thatch of reeds the Numicius winds his way down to the neighbouring shore. She bade the river wash from Aeneas all that death could waste and waft it in his silent stream to sea. Obeying Venus’ bidding the horned god purged in his waters every mortal part and washed it all away–the best remained. So purified, his mother anointed him with heavenly perfume and made her son a god. (Ovid, Metamorphoses 14. 599 ff)
I’m not happy with the idea of writing about the conception of Despoina. Between his role in the myths of Asterion and Taras and how he cropped up during the debate on animal sacrifice I’m starting to wonder if Poseidon doesn’t provide necessary but ambiguous tension in this body of myth like Apollo Soranos does. I’ve had this thought ever since T. P. Ward posted his poem Poseidon Hudsonios – which could be why I’ve not been successful in putting down roots and connecting with the local land-spirits since moving here. I’m getting cock-blocked by the Lord of Fishes just as Dionysos was when they competed for the lovely hand of Beroë.
And yet I know that I have to tell this story, and have known ever since I read this by Pausanias:
[8.37.1] From Acacesium it is four stades to the sanctuary of the Mistress. First in this place is a temple of Artemis Leader, with a bronze image, holding torches, which I conjecture to be about six feet high. From this place there is an entrance into the sacred enclosure of the Mistress. As you go to the temple there is a portico on the right, with reliefs of white marble on the wall. On the first relief are wrought Fates and Zeus surnamed Guide of Fate, and on the second Heracles wresting a tripod from Apollo. What I learned about the story of the two latter I will tell if I get as far as an account of Delphi in my history of Phocis.
[8.37.2] In the portico by the Mistress there is, between the reliefs I have mentioned, a tablet with descriptions of the mysteries. On the third relief are nymphs and Pans; on the fourth is Polybius, the son of Lycortas. On the latter is also an inscription, declaring that Greece would never have fallen at all, if she had obeyed Polybius in everything, and when she met disaster her only help came from him. In front of the temple is an altar to Demeter and another to the Mistress, after which is one of the Great Mother.
[8.37.3] The actual images of the goddesses, Mistress and Demeter, the throne on which they sit, along with the footstool under their feet, are all made out of one piece of stone. No part of the drapery, and no part of the carvings about the throne, is fastened to another stone by iron or cement, but the whole is from one block. This stone was not brought in by them, but they say that in obedience to a dream they dug up the earth within the enclosure and so found it. The size of both images just about corresponds to the image of the Mother at Athens.
[8.37.4] These too are works of Damophon. Demeter carries a torch in her right hand; her other hand she has laid upon the Mistress. The Mistress has on her knees a staff and what is called the box, which she holds in her right hand. On both sides of the throne are images. By the side of Demeter stands Artemis wrapped in the skin of a deer, and carrying a quiver on her shoulders, while in one hand she holds a torch, in the other two serpents; by her side a bitch, of a breed suitable for hunting, is lying down.
[8.37.5] By the image of the Mistress stands Anytus, represented as a man in armour. Those about the sanctuary say that the Mistress was brought up by Anytus, who was one of the Titans, as they are called. The first to introduce Titans into poetry was Homer, representing them as gods down in what is called Tartarus; the lines are in the passage about Hera’s oath. From Homer the name of the Titans was taken by Onomacritus, who in the orgies he composed for Dionysus made the Titans the authors of the god’s sufferings.
[8.37.6] This is the story of Anytus told by the Arcadians. That Artemis was the daughter, not of Leto but of Demeter, which is the Egyptian account, the Greeks learned from Aeschylus the son of Euphorion. The story of the Curetes, who are represented under the images, and that of the Corybantes (a different race from the Curetes), carved in relief upon the base, I know, but pass them by.
[8.37.7] The Arcadians bring into the sanctuary the fruit of all cultivated trees except the pomegranate. On the right as you go out of the temple there is a mirror fitted into the wall. If anyone looks into this mirror, he will see himself very dimly indeed or not at all, but the actual images of the gods and the throne can be seen quite clearly.
[8.37.8] When you have gone up a little, beside the temple of the Mistress on the right is what is called the Hall, where the Arcadians celebrate mysteries, and sacrifice to the Mistress many victims in generous fashion. Every man of them sacrifices what he possesses. But he does not cut the throats of the victims, as is done in other sacrifices; each man chops off a limb of the sacrifice, just that which happens to come to hand.
[8.37.9] This Mistress the Arcadians worship more than any other god, declaring that she is a daughter of Poseidon and Demeter. Mistress is her surname among the many, just as they surname Demeter’s daughter by Zeus the Maid. But whereas the real name of the Maid is Persephone, as Homer and Pamphos before him say in their poems, the real name of the Mistress I am afraid to write to the uninitiated.
[8.37.10] Beyond what is called the Hall is a grove, sacred to the Mistress and surrounded by a wall of stones, and within it are trees, including an olive and an evergreen oak growing out of one root, and that not the result of a clever piece of gardening. Beyond the grove are altars of Horse Poseidon, as being the father of the Mistress, and of other gods as well.
That’s just begging to be done in the style of Rhinthon, don’t you think?
I’ll give a signed copy of Thunderstruck with Wine to anyone who catches the Pythagorean pun I’ve embedded in this post.