All posts tagged satyr


Published June 23, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

It’s very late to be starting this — an hour and a half to midnight on the appointed day! — and I’m not really feeling it, but I need to get back into the groove.

Which does suggest that I chose this week’s myth poorly…

Following the death of Medusa, her sisters mourned excessively, and though they were ugly, their song was beautiful, and Athene was moved to emulated it.

Since there were two Gorgons, Athene took two reeds, and fashioned them together to make a single pipe, so that both parts of the melody could be played at once.  After experimenting with it for a short while, she found she could replicate the song perfectly.  She took her new pipe, the aulos, and went to find the other gods, to share the haunting tune with them.

Unfortunately, the first gods she found were Aphrodite and Ares.  So eager was she to share the song that Athene didn’t stop to think about how foolish it was to share something so deep with gods so shallow, and instead lifted the pipe to her lips, and began to blow the haunting tune.

She had hardly started when Aphrodite began to laugh at her, exclaiming that she looked like a frog with her cheeks all puffed out like that.

Enraged by her sister’s idiocy, Athene threw down the pipe in disgust, and returned to Mt. Olympos.

And there the aulos should have remained, had it not been for Marsyas the satyr.

He had seen the exchange, and heard just enough of Athene’s performance to have caught the beginning of the melody, and to understand the beauty of the instrument.

His tail twitching with an impatience that made him tingle from the bottoms of his hooves all the way to the tips of his horns, Marsyas waited and waited for Aphrodite and Ares to finish their — ahem — business and depart.

Once the double pipe, abandoned and forgotten, was all alone, Marsyas dashed out and claimed it for his own.  Then he scampered back to his Phrygian home, where he spent years practicing playing the aulos.

He had heard the beginning of Athene’s tune, but had to invent the rest.  The funeral dirge of the Gorgons gave way to a tune that swelled with the joy and gaiety of a satyr romping through fields of flowers and virgins, caressed on all sides by beauty and wine.  Where Athene’s song had been the sorrow of the dead, Marsyas’ song was the essence of a life most fully lived.

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Words Crush Wednesday; Y is for Yikes!

Published April 29, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Since Greek doesn’t have Y, either, trying to find a quote to use for today’s Words Crush Wednesday was tricky.  I could have found a modern author/translator with a Y-name on the subject of Greek myths, and quoted them, or I could have talked about a concept like Youth or…uh…Young Love, or I could have looked for the ancient equivalent of a “Your Momma” fight.  (Thought about doing the latter, actually, but…since the insults in the Iliad tend not to be retorted, especially not succinctly, the closest I could think of was the argument between Teukros and the Atreidai in Sophocles’ Aias, and…it just didn’t feel right.  The setting is too terrible and serious for a “Your Momma” fight.)  But then I stumbled across a passage in Early Greek Myth by Timothy Gantz that made me say “Yikes!” and I thought, “Hey, I could use that as my Y-word!”

So, there you have it.  My Y entry for the April A-to-Z Blogging Challenge is on the theme of “Yikes!” in ancient Greek myth…with a decidedly satyric bent.

We’ll start with the one that inspired the theme, discussing the parentage of the god Pan.  (For the purposes of making it a little easier to read, I’ve removed all the parentheses where he makes direct references to the work or fragment that he’s talking about.  Most people aren’t going to get much out of things like “1F371: note emendation”, after all.  So just keep in mind that every author named below has such a parenthesis behind his name.)  After relating the best known version, Homeric Hymn 19, where Hermes fathered Pan on a daughter of Dryops, Gantz goes on to talk about rather different takes on Pan’s origin:

Other references to him in Archaic literature are rare, but it does emerge that his parentage was quite disputed:  Hekataios and Pindar apparently make him the son of Apollo and Odysseus’ wife Penelope, while for Herodotos, Cicero, Loukianos, Apollodoros, and Hyginus, he is the son of Hermes and Penelope, and the Theocritean Syrinx makes Odysseus himself the father;

Yep.  Some ancient authors had Odysseus cuckolded by a god, resulting in the goat-footed god Pan.  And given that one of the potential cuckolders is Odysseus’ great-grandfather…!

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