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Short summaries and readings of classical mythology (Hercules, Atlantis, Trojan War, etc.) Email: LegendaryPassages@gmail.com

Legendary Passages - Greek/Roman Myths Legendary Passages

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Short summaries and readings of classical mythology (Hercules, Atlantis, Trojan War, etc.) Email: LegendaryPassages@gmail.com

    LP0114 philE1A14 Pasiphae & Semele

    LP0114 philE1A14 Pasiphae & Semele

    Legendary Passages #0114, Philostratus the Elder, Imagines Book 1, Image 14, Pasiphae & Semele. Previously, Theseus abandoned Ariadne on Naxos, where she was rescued by the god Dionysus. In this passage there are descriptions of three paintings: Semele, mother of Dionysus; Ariadne, wife of Dionysus; and Pasiphae, mother of Ariadne and the Minotaur. The first image is of the fire that consumed Semele and gave birth to Dionysus. Semele was the youngest daughter of Cadmus, and after she became pregnant by Zeus, Hera tricked her into asking Zeus to show his true self. She was burned to death by his godly form, but the fetus of Dionysus survived, and his father placed him inside Zeus' own body to carry him to term. The second image is that of Dionysus watching a sleeping Ariadne as Theseus sails away. Dionysus is usually depicted with ivy, horns, leopards, thyrsi, faun-skins, cymbals, flutes, and satyrs; but here the god is recognized by his love alone. Theseus looks entranced, having apparently forgotten the Minotaur and his love for Ariadne. The last image is primarily of the workshop of Daedalus, who constructed the hollow wooden cow that, uh, facilitated the union of Pasiphae and the Cretan Bull. About the workshop are unfinished statues, and little cupids aid Daedalus in constructing the wooden cow. Pasiphae & Semele, a Legendary Passage from, Arthur Fairbanks translating, Philostratus the Elder, Imagines Book 1, Images 14-16. https://www.theoi.com/Text/PhilostratusElder1A.html#14 1.14 SEMELE Brontè, stern of face, and Astrapè flashing light from her eyes, and raging fire from heaven that has laid hold of a king’s house, suggest the following tale, if it is one you know. A cloud of fire encompassing Thebes breaks into the dwelling of Cadmus as Zeus comes wooing Semele; and Semele apparently is destroyed, but Dionysus is born, by Zeus, so I believe, in the presence of the fire. And the form of Semele is dimly seen as she goes to the heavens, where the Muses will hymn her praises: but Dionysus leaps forth as his mother’s womb is rent apart and he makes the flame look dim, so brilliantly does he shine like a radiant star. The flame, dividing, dimly outlines a cave for Dionysus more charming than any in Assyria and Lydia; for sprays of ivy grow luxuriantly about it and clusters of ivy berries and now grape-vines and stalks of thyrsus which spring up from the willing earth, so that some grow in the very fire. We must not be surprised if in honour of Dionysus the Fire is crowned by the Earth, for the Earth will take part with the Fire in the Bacchic revel and will make it possible for the revelers to take wine from springs and to draw milk from clods of earth or from a rock as from living breasts. Listen to Pan, how he seems to be hymning Dionysus on the crests of Cithaeron, as he dances an Evian fling. And Cithaeron in the form of a man laments the woes soon to occur on his slopes, and he wears an ivy crown aslant on his head – for he accepts the crown most unwillingly – and Megaera causes a fir to shoot up beside him and brings to light a spring of water, in token, I fancy, of the blood of Actaeon and of Pentheus.  1.15 ARIADNE That Theseus treated Ariadne unjustly – though some say not with unjust intent, but under the compulsion of Dionysus – when he abandoned her while asleep on the island of Dia, you must have heard from your nurse; for those women are skilled in telling such tales and they weep over them whenever they will. I do not need to say that it is Theseus you see there on the ship and Dionysus yonder on the land, nor will I assume you to be ignorant and call your attention to the woman on the rocks, lying there in gentle slumber. Nor yet is it enough to praise the painter for things for which someone else too might be praised; for it is easy for anyone to paint Ariadne as beautiful and Theseus as beaut

    LP0113 cat64b Ariadne's Curse

    LP0113 cat64b Ariadne's Curse

    Legendary Passages #0113, The Poems of Catullus, Part II of Poem [64], Ariadne's Curse. Previously, Catullus described a couch covered with images of Theseus and Ariadne. Here the passage continues with her lamentations, her curse, and her rescue, of sorts. Ariadne had hoped for marriage, would have endured slavery, but being left to die alone was the ultimate betrayal by Theseus. She insulted his parentage, complained to the uncaring wind about the evilness of men, and despaired that even if she escaped off the island, she had no where else to go. Her love spurned, her fate sealed, as her final act she cursed Theseus to die alone. Meanwhile, his mind in a haze, Theseus dimly recalled his father Aegeus' parting words to him. Aegeus believed that Theseus would die as had all the youths before him, thus the tribute ship was given a black sail, the color of grief and death. Should a miracle occur, the Minotaur slain and he survive, Theseus was told to hoist a white sail, to let his father know that he yet lived. The final section has Ariadne rescued by the god Dionysus, here called Bacchus, and his strange entourage of followers and satyrs. It is hinted that Bacchus himself compelled Theseus to leave, and the god of liberation declared his own love for Ariadne. Bacchus throws a massive party for their wedding, she became a goddess, and received her happily ever after. Ariadne's Curse, a Legendary Passage from, A. S. Kline translating, Gaius Valerius Catullus, Part II of Poem [64]. https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/Catullus.php#anchor_Toc531846789 But what should I relate, digressing further from my poem’s theme: the girl, abandoning her father’s sight, her sisters’ embraces, and lastly her mother’s, she wretched at her lost daughter’s joy in preferring the sweet love of Theseus to all this: or her being carried by ship to Naxos’s foaming shore, or her consort with uncaring heart vanishing, she conquered, her eyes softening in sleep? Often loud shrieks cried the frenzy in her ardent heart poured out from the depths of her breast, and then she would climb the steep cliffs in her grief, where the vast sea-surge stretches out to the view, then run against the waves into the salt tremor holding her soft clothes above her naked calves, and call out mournfully this last complaint, a frozen sob issuing from her wet face: ‘False Theseus, is this why you take me from my father’s land, faithless man, to abandon me on a desert shore? Is this how you vanish, heedless of the god’s power, ah, uncaring, bearing home your accursed perjuries? Nothing could alter the measure of your cruel mind? No mercy was near to you, inexorable man, that you might take pity on my heart? Yet once you made promises to me in that flattering voice, you told me to hope, not for this misery but for joyful marriage, the longed-for wedding songs, all in vain, dispersed on the airy breezes. Now, no woman should believe a man’s pledges, or believe there’s any truth in a man’s words: when their minds are intent on their desire, they have no fear of oaths, don’t spare their promises: but as soon as the lust of their eager mind is slaked they fear no words, they care nothing for perjury. Surely I rescued you from the midst of the tempest of fate, and more, I gave up my half-brother, whom I abandoned to you with treachery at the end. For that I’m left to be torn apart by beasts, and a prey to sea-birds, unburied, when dead, in the scattered earth. What lioness whelped you under a desert rock, what sea conceived and spat you from foaming waves, what Syrtis, what fierce Scylla, what vast Charybdis, you who return me this, for the gift of your sweet life? If marriage with me was not in your heart, because you feared your old father’s cruel precepts, you could still have led me back to your house, where I would have served you, a slave

    LP0112 cat64a Of the Argonauts & Ariadne

    LP0112 cat64a Of the Argonauts & Ariadne

    Legendary Passages #0112, The Poems of Catullus, Part I of Poem [64], Of the Argonauts & Ariadne. Previously, Princess Ariadne was abandoned by Theseus on the island of Naxos. In this passage we revisit how she came to be  stranded there. Now the structure of this poem is quite odd. It begins with the voyage of the Argonauts, where Prince Peleus fell in love the mermaid goddess Thetis, and Jupiter, King of the Gods, approved of the marriage. The people of Pelion Thessaly abandoned farm and field and gathered at the palace for the wedding of the hero and goddess. It is here that Catullus describes a magnificent purple and ivory couch, decorated with images of an unkempt Ariadne, standing half-dressed on shores edge, watching Theseus row off without her. Then as an aside, a summary of how they came to meet.  Her brother Androgeus slain, Athens plagued by the gods, and the young boys and girls due to Minos as tribute, for which Theseus volunteered. It was love at first sight for Ariadne; she gave him the thread to escape from the Labyrinth, so that they could live together, happily ever after. But fate had other plans for them.... Of the Argonauts & Ariadne. a Legendary Passage from, A. S. Kline translating, Gaius Valerius Catullus, Part I of Poem [64]. https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/Catullus.php#anchor_Toc531846789 64. Of the Argonauts and an Epithalamium for Peleus and Thetis Once they say pine-trees born on the heights of Pelion floated through Neptune’s clear waves, to the River Phasis and Aeetes’s borders, with chosen men, oaks of the Argive people, hoping to steal the Golden Fleece of Colchis daring to course the salt deeps in their swift ship, sweeping the blue waters with fir-wood oars. The goddess herself who guards the heights of the city, who joined the curving fabric to pinewood keel, made their ship speed onwards with light winds. That vessel was first to explore the unknown sea: so, as she ploughed the windblown waters with her prow, and whitened the churning waves with foam from the oars, the Nereids lifted themselves from the dazzling white depths of the sea, amazed at this wonder of ocean. In those, and other days, mortal eyes saw the sea-nymphs raise themselves, bodies all naked, as far as their nipples, from the white depths. Then Peleus, they say, was inflamed with love of Thetis, then Thetis did not despise marriage with a mortal, then Jupiter himself agreed to Thetis’s marriage. O heroes, born in a chosen age, hail, godlike race! O offspring of a blessed mother, hail once more. Often I’ll address you, in my song. And I address you, so blessed in your fortunate marriage, chief of Pelian Thessaly, to whom Jupiter himself creator of gods, yielded his beloved: did not Thetis possess you, loveliest of Nereids? Did not Tethys allow you to lead off her grand-daughter, and Oceanus, who embraces the whole world with sea? When at the time appointed the longed-for flames arise, all of Thessaly crowds together to the palace, the halls are filled with a joyful assembly: they bring gifts with them, declaring their joy in their looks. Cieros is deserted: they leave Pthiotic Tempe, Crannon’s houses, and Larissa’s walls, they gather in Pharsalia, crowd under Pharsalia’s roofs. No one farms the fields, the necks of bullocks soften, nor does the curved hoe clear beneath the vines, nor does the ox drag earth outward with the blade, nor does the sickle thin the shade of leafy trees, coarse rust attacks the neglected plough. But the palace gleams bright with gold and silver through all the rich receding halls. The ivory chairs shine, cups glisten on tables, the whole palace gladdened with splendour of royal wealth. In the midst of the palace a sacred couch, truly joyful for the marriage of the goddess, gleaming with Indian ivory, stained with the red dyes won from purple murex. The cloth depicts

    LP0111 ovHero10 Ariadne's Letter

    LP0111 ovHero10 Ariadne's Letter

    Legendary Passages #0111, Ovid's Heroides, Epistle [X.], Ariadne's Letter. Previously, with Ariadne's help Prince Theseus defeated the Minotaur and escaped the Labyrinth. In this passage Ariadne awakens alone on the Island of Naxos, Theseus having abandoned her and sailed away in the night. Ariadne's Letter, a Legendary Passage from, Grant Showerman translating, Publius Ovidius Naso, Heroides Epistle [X.], Ariadne to Theseus. https://www.theoi.com/Text/OvidHeroides2.html#10 X. ARIADNE TO THESEUS Gentler than you I have found every race of wild beasts; to none of them could I so ill have trusted as to you. The words you now are reading, Thesues, I send you from that shore from which the sails bore off your ship without me, the shore on which my slumber, and you, so wretchedly betrayed me – you, who wickedly plotted against me as I slept. ‘Twas the time when the earth is first besprinkled with crystal rime, and songsters hid in the branch begin their plaint. Half waking only, languid from sleep, I turned upon my side and put forth hands to clasp my Theseus – he was not there! I drew back my hands, a second time I made essay, and o’er the whole couch moved my arms – he was not there! Fear struck away my sleep; in terror I arose, and threw myself headlong from my abandoned bed. Straight then my palms resounded upon my breasts, and I tore my hair, all disarrayed as it was from sleep. The moon was shining; I bend my gaze to see if aught but shore lies there. So far as my eyes can see, naught to they find but shore. Now this way, and now that, and ever without plan, I course; the deep sand stays my girlish feet. And all the while I cried out “Theseus!” alone the entire shore, and the hollow rocks sent back your name to me; as often as I called out for you, so often did the place itself call out your name. The very place felt the will to aid me in my woe. There was a mountain, with bushes rising here and there upon its top; a cliff hangs over from it, gnawed into by deep-sounding waves. I climb its slope – my spirit gave me strength – and thus with prospect broad I scan the billowy deep. From there – for I found the winds cruel, too – I beheld your sails stretched full by the headlong southern gale. As I looked on a sight methought I had not deserved to see, I grew colder than ice, and life half left my body. Nor does anguish allow me long to lie thus quiet; it rouses me, it stirs me up to call on Theseus with all my voice’s might. “Whither doest fly?” I cry aloud. “Come back, O wicked Theseus! Turn about thy ship! She hath not all her crew!” Thus did I cry, and what my voice could not avail, I filled with beating of my breast; the blows I gave myself were mingled with my words. That you at least might see, if you could not hear, with might and main I sent you signals with my hands; and upon a long tree-branch I fixed my shining veil – yes, to put in mind of me those who had forgotten! And now you had been swept beyond my vision. Then at last I let flow my tears; till then my tender eyeballs had been dulled with pain. What better could my eyes do than weep for me, when I had ceased to see your sails? Alone, with hair loose flying, I have either roamed about, like to a Bacchant roused by the Ogygian god, or, looking out upon the sea, I have sat all chilled upon the rock, as much a stone myself as was the stone I sat upon. Oft do I come again to the couch that once received us both, but was fated never to show us together again, and touch the imprint left by you – ‘tis all I can in place of you! – and the stuffs that once grew warm beneath your limbs. I lay me down upon my face, bedew the bed with pouring tears, and cry aloud: “We were two who pressed thee – give back two! We came to thee both together; why do we not depart the same? Ah, faithless bed – the greater part of my being, oh, whe

    LP0110 plLoT17 The Black Sail

    LP0110 plLoT17 The Black Sail

    Legendary Passages #0110, Plutarch's Life of Theseus, Section [XVII.], The Black Sail. Previously, the time had come for the third tribute of Athenian youths to be sent to Crete, with no hope of return. In this passage are many different versions of their adventures, not one ending happily ever after. First of all, Theseus promised his father that if they returned safe and sound, he would replace the ship's black sail with a white one. After prayers and sacrifices to Aphrodite by the sea shore, they set sail for Crete. Theseus competed in games against Minos' general named Taurus, and then it was love at first sight for Princess Ariadne. She gave Theseus the thread to find his way out of the Labyrinth, and after crippling the Cretan fleet they escaped on the tribute ship. After the ship made landfall on the island of Naxos, it departed again without Princess Ariadne. Some say she she married the god Dionysus; others that Theseus left her for another woman and she died of grief. The worst story was that she went ashore while sick and the tides pushed the ship out to sea, but by the time Theseus returned to her side, she had died in childbirth. Nevertheless, when they sailed back home to Athens, Theseus had forgotten to take down the black sail. So then King Aegeus, thinking his son and heir dead at the hands of the Minotaur, leapt off the cliff into the sea that bears his name. The Black Sail a Legendary Passage from, Bernadotte Perrin translating, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, Life of Theseus, Sections [XVII.] - [XXII.] https://www.theoi.com/Text/PlutarchTheseus.html On the two former occasions, then, no hope of safety was entertained, and therefore they sent the ship with a black sail, convinced that their youth were going to certain destruction; but now Theseus encouraged his father and loudly boasted that he would master the Minotaur, so that he gave the pilot another sail, a white one, ordering him, if he returned with Theseus safe, to hoist the white sail, but otherwise to sail with the black one, and so indicate the affliction. Simonides, however, says that the sail given by Aegeus was not white, but “a scarlet sail dyed with the tender flower of luxuriant holm-oak,” and that he made this a token of their safety. Moreover, the pilot of the ship was Phereclus, son of Amarsyas, as Simonides says; but Philochorus says that Theseus got from Scirus of Salamis Nausithous for his pilot, and Phaeax for his look-out man, the Athenians at that time not yet being addicted to the sea, and that Scirus did him this favour because one of the chosen youths, Menesthes, was his daughter's son. And there is evidence for this in the memorial chapels for Nausithous and Phaeax which Theseus built at Phalerum near the temple of Scirus, and they say that the festival of the Cybernesia, or Pilot's Festival, is celebrated in their honor. XVIII. When the lot was cast, Theseus took those upon whom it fell from the prytaneium and went to the Delphinium, where he dedicated to Apollo in their behalf his suppliant's badge. This was a bough from the sacred olive-tree, wreathed with white wool. Having made his vows and prayers, he went down to the sea on the sixth day of the month Munychion, on which day even now the Athenians still send their maidens to the Delphinium to propitiate the god. And it is reported that the god at Delphi commanded him in an oracle to make Aphrodite his guide, and invite her to attend him on his journey, and that as he sacrificed the usual she-goat to her by the sea-shore, it became a he-goat (tragos) all at once, for which reason the goddess has the surname Epitragia. XIX. When he reached Crete on his voyage, most historians and poets tell us that he got from Ariadne, who had fallen in love with him, the famous thread, and that having been instructed by her how to make his way through the intricacies of the Labyrinth, he s

    LP0109 Bacchy17 The Athenian Youths

    LP0109 Bacchy17 The Athenian Youths

    Legendary Passages #0109, Bacchylides' Odes, [XVII.], The Athenian Youths. Previously, Theseus had many adventures on his way to Athens before volunteering to be sent to the Minotaur's Labyrinth. This passage recounts some of those adventures as well as a few others. Ode 17 begins with the voyage of the seven boys and seven girls to Crete. King Minos throws a ring overboard and challenges the young prince to retrieve it from the sea-god's domain. Ode 18 is all dialogue between the Greek chorus and Theseus' father Aegeus. Word has come of Theseus and his adventures, and Aegeus fears what will happen when he comes to Athens. Ode 19 is about Io, a lover of Zeus transformed into a cow. The messenger god Hermes rescues her from a thousand-eyed monster named Argus. Lastly, Ode 20 is a fragment about Idas and Marpessa, but most of that story has been lost. https://www.scribd.com/document/49175815/Bacchylides-Ode-17-Dithyramb-3 The Athenian Youths, a Legendary Passage from, Sir Richard C. Jebb translating, Bacchylides' Odes, [XVII.] -  [XX.] Ode [XVII.] Theseus, Or the Athenian Youths and Maidens. A dark-prowed ship was cleaving the Cretan sea, bearing Theseus, steadfast in the battle din, with seven goodly youths and seven maidens of Athens; for northern breezes fell on the far-gleaming sail, by grace of glorious Athena with warlike Aegis. And the heart of Minos was stung by the baneful gifts of the Cyprian goddess with lovely diadem; he could no longer restrain his hand from a maiden, but touched her fair cheeks. Then Eriboca cried aloud to Pandion's grandson with breastplate of bronze; Theseus saw, and wildly rolled his dark eyes beneath his brows, and cruel pain pricked his heart as he spake: 'O son of peerless Zeus, the spirit in they breast no longer obeys righteous control; withhold, hero, thy presumptuous force. 'Whatever the restless doom given by the gods has decreed for us, and the scale of Justice inclines to ordain, that appointed fate we will fulfill when it comes. But do thou forgear thy grievous purpose. If the noble daughter of Phoenix, the maiden of gracious fame, taken to the bed of Zeus beneath the brow of Ida, bare thee, peerless among men; yet I, too, was borne by the daughter of wealthy Pittheus, in wedlock with the sea-god Poseidon, and the violet-crowned Nereids gave her a golden veil. 'Therefore, O war-lord of Cnosus, I bid thee restrain thy wantonness, fraught with woe; for I should not care to look on the fair light of divine Eos, after thou hadst done violence to one of this youthful company: before that, we will come to a trial of strength, and Destiny shall decide the sequel.' Thus far the hero valiant with the spear: but the seafarers were amazed at the youth's lofty boldness; and he whose bride was daughter of the Sun-god felt anger at his heart; he wove a new device in his mind, and said: 'O Zeus, my sire of great might, hear me! If the white-armed daughter of Phoenix indeed bare me to thee, now send forth from heaven a swift flash of streaming fire, a sign for all to know. And thou, if Troezenian Aethra was thy mother by earth-shaking Poseidon, cast thyself boldly down to the abode of thy sire, and bring from the deep this ring of gold that glitters on my hand. But thou shalt see whether my prayer is heard by the son of Cronus, the all-ruling lord of thunder.' Mighty Zeus heard the unmeasured prayer, and ordained a surpassing honour for Minos, willing to make it seen of all men, for the sake of his well-loved son. He sent the lightning. But the steadfast warrior, when he saw that welcome portent, stretched his hands towards the glorious ether, and said: 'Theseus, there thou beholdest the clear sign given by Zeus. And now do thou spring into the deep-sounding sea; and the son of Cronus, king Poseidon, thy sire, will assure thee supreme renown throughout the well-wooded earth.' So spake he: and the s

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