One of the things I find most appealing about mythology is how characters are transformed over the centuries by countless artists, writers, poets, and storytellers. The story of the Sirens is just a single example of mythological “monsters” who have been reinterpreted since they appeared in the myth and art of the ancient Greeks.
A contemporary [...]
Today, I’d like to share an Ode from the ancient Roman poet Horace. As the opening lines indicate, this Ode is dedicated to the god Bacchus.
“I saw Bacchus today:
In a wild gorge he lay,
Teaching his sacred melodies. O years
To come, credit my glimpse
Of the attentive nymphs
And goat-foot satyrs cocking pointed ears.
Ai, ai, my mind still [...]
“Peace reigned in Heaven
in the wine bowl
It was Hermes
who took up the
wine jug and poured
wine for the gods”
“On Hellespont, guilty of true-loves’ blood,
In view and opposite, two cities stood,
Sea-borderers, disjoined by Neptune’s might;
The one Abydos, the other Sestos hight.
At Sestos Hero dwelt; Hero the fair,
Whom young Apollo courted for her hair,
And offered as a dower his burning throne,
Where she could sit for men to gaze upon.
The outside of her garments were of [...]
“Arms, warfare, violence - I was winding up to produce a
Regular epic, with verse-form to match -
Hexameters, naturally. But Cupid (they say) with a snicker
Lopped off one foot from each alternate line.
‘Nasty young brat,’ I told him, ‘who made you Inspector of Meters?’
We poets come under the Muses, we’re not in your mob.
What if Venus [...]
“Winter relaxes its grip. West winds are a pleasant change.The spring’s here.
The windlasses haul down the dry hulls seaward;
Penned in the stable, the beasts grow fretful; the farmer loves his fire less.
The fields no longer shine with morning whiteness.
Queening the dance, with a full moon hanging above, the Cytherean
Leads, and the Nymphs and the comely [...]
“There thou shalt hear and learn the secret power
Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit
By voice or hand, and various-measured verse,
Aeolian charms and Dorian lyric odes,
And his who gave them breath, but higher sung,
Blind Melesigenes, thence Homer called,
Whose poem Phoebus challenged for his own.”
- Milton, Paradise Regained, IV. 245
For today, I thought I would share an Ode that features the Roman god Mercury.
Great Mercury, by Maia sprung
From Atlas; god of nimble tongue
And understanding; saviour
Of our raw race, who deigned to teach
Man wrestling, grace of body, speech
And civilised behaviour,
You are the one my poem sings -
The lyre’s inventor; he who brings
Heaven’s messages; the witty
“So the moment you feel yourself treatable by my system, act as I tell you. No leisure - that’s rule number one. Leisure stimulates love, leisure watches the lovelorn, leisure’s the cause and sustenance of this sweet evil. Eliminate leisure, Cupid’s bow is broken, his torches lie lightless, scorned.”
Ovid, Cures for Love, lines 135-140