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Agora ∞ Greek Group Readings > Roberto Calasso's THE MARRIAGE OF CADMUS AND HARMONY

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message 1: by Betty (last edited Aug 20, 2010 02:31PM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3593 comments Background for The Marriage Of Cadmus and Harmony :

§The House of Thebes

§Ovid's Metamorphoses

Book II, lines 1143-1204
(Europa's Rape

Book III, lines 1-179 ff
(The Story of of Cadmus

Book IV, lines 766-827
(Cadmus and his Queen transform'd to Serpents

§Moschus' Europa

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

The change of writting style, from teen reads to Calasso's work, perhaps makes me one of the least reliable people to comment on his work. It is certainly different from what I have read so far.
You can tell he researched a lot during his work, which I suppose is understandable.
But what i like the most is the fact that although he writes down the fact as if in a report, he still manages to show his opinion subtly by the choice of his vocabulary. And that he stills let the reader think. He gives him questions, letting him ponder on it and grow his own opinion (did I say that correctly?).
He gives the reader, what's that phrase? Food for thought.
More later...

message 3: by Betty (last edited Sep 05, 2010 11:46AM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3593 comments I did find "food for thought", Alkyoni. One of the methods Calasso chooses to allow for open-mindedness is to start with a number of alternate versions (take for an example, Europa) each of which repeats the question "But how did it all begin?" The details of the myths leave room for interpretation. I have to stay with the idea to verify whether he continues to offer a number of alternatives for stories. His approach differs from lectures where the lecturer has to cover from A to Z. That said, a couple of audio-visual narratives cropped up about Cadmus and the crew. I think I caught your meaning and the gist of the part about Europa. Accuracy can elude me.

ITunes University. Dr Joseph Hughes. LLT121 Classical Mythology, Lecture 31 'Legends of Thebes' (first half about Cadmus, Europa, Harmonia, their offspring). Missouri State University.

YouTube. Greek Myths and Legends, Parts 1 & 2, Cadmus and Europa.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Been a bit hectic lately; just finished this on a plane flight and not sure if I've got it in me to add much to the discussion . Mostly if anyone is vacillating over whether it's worth picking up, then I at least can give it a pretty hearty endorsement. The amount of careful study that must have gone into making such a successful synthesis from what are essentially, in large part, incomplete shards of information is mindboggling. That said, maybe most interesting is his tendency to accept the mercurial, unsettled nature of the ancient myths as not compromising the core meaning and to analyse all variations that the story might take simultaneously.

message 5: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3593 comments Tim wrote: "Been a bit hectic lately; just finished this on a plane flight and not sure if I've got it in me to add much to the discussion . Mostly if anyone is vacillating over whether it's worth picking up, ..."

Heh, Tim,
I've been drowning in work and obligations but promise to post a reply which shows depth of thought.

Heh, everyone,
If someone has the secret to accomplishment, then share it. I think you'll say, "Do it for 24 hours of a day, taking catnaps on the sofa."

message 6: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3593 comments As I reread the beginning of "TM/C&A", it occurred to me:

* Is this "fabulist fiction"?

* What does "abduction and metamorphosis" have to do with the myths? pages 5, 11.

* From whence come the myths? Crete

* Why does Theseus desert Ariadne (consort: Dionysus)? Many explanations

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmm, as a Greek I know a bit of ancient Greek myths (never heard of fairy tales when I was a kid - my own name is Ancient Greek so what better reason to be educated than through myths?)
Abduction and matamorphosis is a rather common pattern in the Greek mythology. Usually metamorphosis occurs while dying or after death. For example, Alkyoni was a the daughter of Aeolus, god of wind, and she fell in love with the soldier. After he left for battle she waited for him by the sea. When he died she hurt so much Zeus felt sorry for her an transformed her and her fiancee into a bird, which in Greece we call Alkyona. I believe it is Kingfisher in English?
Other than that, metamorhosis often occurs in order to escape a god's/godesses' wrath.

message 8: by Betty (last edited Oct 28, 2010 10:48AM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3593 comments Alkyoni ~ Kingfisher of books wrote: "Hmm, as a Greek I know a bit of ancient Greek myths (never heard of fairy tales when I was a kid - my own name is Ancient Greek so what better reason to be educated than through myths?)

The brightly colored bird is a Kingfisher according to Wikipedia's description . Ovid describes its nest "that floats upon the waves" and says "Alcyone, leaning on her new wings--a halcyon!"(VII 569-70). Kingfisher and Halcyon refer to Alcyone:

a mythical bird said by ancient writers to breed in a nest floating at sea at the winter solstice, charming the wind and waves into calm.
ORIGIN late Middle English (in the mythological sense): via Latin from Greek alkuōn ‘kingfisher’ (also halkuōn, by association with hals ‘sea’ and kuōn ‘conceiving’).
from computer's dictionary

Ovid elaborates the myth in "Metamorphoses":
At early dawn, she went from her abode
down to the seashore, where most wretchedly,
she stood upon the spot from which he sailed,
and sadly said; “He lingered here while he
was loosening the cables, and he kissed
me on this seashore when he left me here.”
And while she called to recollection all
that she had seen when standing there, and while
she looked far out on flowing waves from there,
she noticed floating on the distant sea—
what shall I say? At first even she could not
be sure of what she saw. But presently
although still distant—it was certainly
a floating corpse. She could not see what man
he might be, but because it seemed to her
it surely was a shipwrecked body, she
was moved as at an omen and began
to weep; and, moaning as she stood there, said:—
“Ah wretched one, whoever it may be,
ah, wretched is the wife whom you have left!”

As driven by the waves the body came
still nearer to her, she was less and less
the mistress of herself, the more she looked
upon it; and, when it was close enough
for her to see its features, she beheld
her husband. “It is he,” she cried and then
she tore her face, her hair, her royal robe
and then, extending both her trembling hands
towards Ceyx, “So dearest one! So do you come
to me again?” She cried, “O luckless mate.”

A mole, made by the craft of man, adjoins
the sea and breaks the shoreward rush of waves.
To this she leaped—it seemed impossible—
and then, while beating the light air with wings
that instant formed upon her, she flew on,
a mourning bird, and skimmed above the waves.
And while she lightly flew across the sea
her clacking mouth with its long slender bill,
full of complaining, uttered moaning sounds:
but when she touched the still and pallied form,
embracing his dear limbs with her new wings,
she gave cold kisses with her hardened bill.

All those who saw it doubted whether Ceyx
could feel her kisses; and it seemed to them
the moving waves had raised his countenance.
But he was truly conscious of her grief;
and through the pity of the gods above,
at last they both were changed to flying birds,
together in their fate. Their love lived on,
nor in these birds were marriage bonds dissolved,
and they soon coupled and were parent birds.
Each winter during seven full days of calm
Halcyone broods on her floating nest—
her nest that sails upon a halcyon sea:
the passage of the deep is free from storms,
throughout those seven full days; and Aeolus
restraining harmful winds, within their cave,
for his descendants' sake gives halcyon seas.
Book 11, lines 1028?-1066?

The Greek "fairy tales" (myths) are among the finest, encompassing generations of gods/goddesses with the feelings of mortals. Calasso's narrative brings out the explanatory power of the imaginative myths. For example, one of the hamadryades (p31) was Ampelos (p36), Dionysus' lover in Part II, who metamorphosed into (created) the grapevine from whence comes intoxicating wine

Besides Ampelos, Part II covers more loves of Dionysus -- Aura, Pallene, Erigone, Ariadne...

The nurture of Dionysus the "Twice-Born"

message 9: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3593 comments These stories about the mythological gods and their immortal or half-immortal offspring bring together the interwoven connections among them--something one ordinarily misses when searching a reference. Their many commentators have yet to agree on anything, it seems. So much fun for the reader, who might think s/he grasps a morsel of knowledge only to notice it change in a wink.

message 10: by Betty (last edited Oct 17, 2010 11:33PM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3593 comments PAUSANIUS

One way moderns and archaeologists have a better idea of ancient history and myth is through the travel writings of Pausanius, a Greek of the 2nd century AD, whose DESCRIPTION OF GREECE dealt with "Attica,... Corinth, Laconia, Messenia, Elis, Achaia, Arcadia, Boetia, Phocis and Ozolian Locris" in ten books, now in the public domain . In Chapter VI for instance Calasso quotes from Pausanias to supplement material on the eighteenth Olympiad (169), the river Alpheus as well as Alpheus the hunter and Arethusa (172), and Pelops (182, 183). The story of Pelops , whose father Tantalus angered Zeus with a treacherous banquet and whose sons Atreus and Thyestes passed the family's misfortune through generations, is most interestingly retold in this chapter and is helpful in putting flesh on Orestes, Aegisthus, and other characters of the ancient dramas.

message 11: by Betty (last edited Oct 28, 2010 10:21AM) (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3593 comments Chapter IX is filled with extraordinary stories -- the gods' practice of hierogamy (291-297), the charlatan Alexander of Abonuteichos (297-302), Zeus (302-305), Orphic Zagreus his son (305-309), Sopatrus and the sacrificial feast of Bouphonia (309-314), and Zeus' Oracle at Dodona (315-319).

message 12: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3593 comments Chapters X-XII

Of special interest to me were the parts about Nonnus (330-333) and about Cadmus (377-391) (especially, )
Nonnos: Dionysiaca, Volume I, Books 1-15
Nonnos: Dionysiaca, Volume II, Books 16-35
Nonnos: Dionysiaca, Volume III, Books 36-48

Where to Go after the novel is finished
☛ A thesis by Lara Fiorani entitled "Roberto Calasso - Deconstructing mythology A reading of Le nozze di Cadmo e Armonia"

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