Item description for Eros and Ritual in Ancient Literature: Singing of Atalanta, Daphnis and Orpheus (Gorgias Dissertations Classics) by Evangelia Anagnostou-Laoutides...
The book examines popular erotic myths with regard to their origins and literary treatment throughout antiquity. The relation of ritual to certain mythic patterns that reflect initiation rites is also considered. The myths are chosen so to form a narrative sequence but also as an example of how mythic patterns can be variously manipulated in literature. The first two chapters study the myths of Atalanta and of Daphnis (in Theocritus) and comment on literary metaphors for "falling in love". The influence of ritual and particularly of Near Eastern cults in the formation and the subtext of these metaphors is indicated. The nature of Latin Elegy and of Greek pastoral is analyzed based on fundamental metaphors that poets might have used as the bedrock of their work. The following three chapters deal with the Vergilian project in the Eclogues and the Georgics: in his Eclogues, Vergil envisioned a second Golden Age, beyond the suffering of civil strife; based on teleology rites like the Orphic and the Eleusinian mysteries, he ascribed to Daphnis the civilizing force of Orpheus. Thus, he attributed to the pastoral ideal the philosophical depth and credence of ancient religions. Mythical allusions to the primal Golden Age and Arcadia were designed to outline the role of love and poetry in the New Agricultural Age. In the fourth book of the Georgics the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice was interwoven with that of Aristaeus to denote the rebirth of the Golden Age under the Jovian theodicy. Vergil returned to ancient rites in which the initiate was perceived as 'dying' before being resurrected to a new stage of existence. In this light Aristaeus and Orpheus are equated as cultural pioneers rather than opposed. These myths reinforce the association of cult and mythology in literature. Initiation patterns were employed as literary metaphors for falling in love or even for holding a philosophical argument on human progress".
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.25" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25" Weight: 2.1 lbs.
Release Date Apr 4, 2005
Publisher Gorgias Press LLC
ISBN 1931956723 ISBN13 9781931956727
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Important Mythography Old themes revisited May 9, 2005
Ancient Erotic Mythology: Ritual And Literary Values Of Initiation Patterns by Evangelia Anagnostou-Laoutides (Gorgias Press) Decidedly one of the more learned mythographic treatises to come to the fore in some while, Anagnostou-Laoutides covers old ground with new arguments and a plethora of insights and connections ethnographic and literary. Excerpt: For many years, the study of Greek mythology as a major aspect of Greek culture was haunted by the aura of a superlative society that almost stood alone among the other peoples of the Eastern Mediterranean and had practically invented every value related to human development. As a result of this view, our appreciation of Greek myths was doomed to remain limited and our understanding of their social function could not proceed further than the safe speculation that they must have played a significant role in ancient social structure either by reflecting it or by interpreting it.' In more recent days the rising of comparative studies which coincided with the discovery and examination of more Near Eastern texts has led to the appreciation of the similarities that Greek myths exhibit in comparison with Eastern mythic specimens.' The work of W. Burkert and his pupils, as well as the studies of G. Nagy, C. Penglase and others have given more completed answers regarding the central position of myth in Greek society and religion. Greek civilisation is now understood as a complex institution, which had to absorb many traditions from its interactions with other social and religious entities. In this vast cauldron of ideas about man and g¦Ïd, the Greeks had to decide on their own stance as members of the social and cultic group that the city-state represented, as citizens of a state that lived with the guilt of giving birth to ephemeral creatures and under the heavy responsibility of preparing them to accept their mortality. The anxiety of the ancient world was particularly associated with the necessity of birth (i.e. sexual activity) and death that absolutely defined the human condition and of course, with the nature of the gods who administered insufferable fortunes to mortals.
Chapter One: The Myth of Atalanta The myth of Atalanta was initially treated by Hesiod but it often reappeared in poetry until the late Augustan period. The popularity of the myth in antiquity is additionally confirmed by its survival in the scripts of I. Tzetzes, a scholar of the twelfth century AD 42 The erotic element of the myth was underlined during the Hellenistic period although it was also implicit in the archaic versions. There were tw¦Ï main versions of the myth; an Arcadian that focused on the heroine's hunting skills and a Boeotian that referred to the foot race that she had set as a prerequisite for her marriage.
Atalanta as a heroine particularly hostile to marriage is compared to Artemis. Consequently, it will be argued that the myth should be understood in the context of rites of passage from adolescence to adulthood. Details from later versions of the myth such as those of Apollodorus, Aelian, and Ovid are discussed in relation to the cultic processes in honour of Artemis at Brauron, Haloa and other locations. Atalanta is perceived as a by-form of the goddess who, as her mortal reflection confirms, exhibited many similarities with Near Eastern goddesses like Cybele and Ishtar. Although Artemis was regarded as a strictly virginal deity, her role as protector of the young of every species also gave her aspects of a fertility goddess. In this framework, the apples that appeared in the myth of Atalanta underline the association of the myth with fertility and therefore, with pre-nuptial customs. In addition, they stress the erotic character of the myth since the early days of its circulation; the question of whether later poets that treated the myth were aware of its erotic connotations is put forward. A study of the role of the apples in Near Eastern rites and magical spells shows remarkable similarities between the Greek and the Near Eastern cultic practices. In b¦Ïth cultures, apples were associated with erotic filters and nuptial ceremonies thus indicating that in antiquity lovers were regarded as bewitched. The circumstances under which the Greeks were influenced by the Near East cultures are also covered.
The myth of Atalanta was treated by Propertius in the programmatic elegy of his Monobiblos, a poem that has raised many debates regarding the nature of Latin erotic elegy and its origins. The allusions employed by Propertius seem to be explained more effectively through the recent reading of the myth in association with fertility rites. Propertius and the other elegists seem to have been familiar with a set of ideas initially promoted in the Near Eastthat extolled the magical aspect of love which could even cause madness and disease to its victims. Propertius' preference for the myth stresses the erotic implications of certain motifs within the myth such as the motif of running in the wild. Furthermore, the association of love and marriage with agriculture, a relation often imprinted in ancient metaphors is also pointed out. Chapter Two: The Myth of Daphnis (Theocr¨ªtus)
In the previous chapter, the agricultural aspect of love was merely touched upon. This chapter explores in detail the views of Theocritus on love as rendered through the myth of Daphnis. The myth was favoured by Theocritus' ancient editor(s) as the most representative of his bucolic poetry and was therefore placed at the beginning of his collection. The status of Theocritus among the Hellenistic poets and the longstanding aphorism that bucolic poetry is at the fringe of Hellenistic literary production will be presented. It has nowadays been accepted that Theocritus did not invent the bucolic genre, although the question regarding the origins of the genre remains unanswered. The claims of the ancient sources, which refer to as yet unattested fertility rites, will be examined through the indications contained in the tradition of Daphnis. According to the traditional version of the myth, Daphnis, the Sicilian proto-shepherd cheated on his divine beloved and was blinded in return before falling off a rock into a river. The tragic death of the hero is also treated in the first Idyll. The argument that Theocritus followed another version, which allies Daphnis with the Euripidian Hippolytus, is here refuted. The association of Daphnis with cult is investigated and motifs already detected in the myth of Atalanta, like that of a girl wandering in the wilderness, are brought to discussion. It is held that Daphnis was in love and therefore, he could be viewed as a prototype of the Propertiun elegiac lover. In the first Idyll Theocritus offered certain clues about the mythic affiliation of Daphnis with heroes such as Adonis and Gilgamesh who had their origins in the Near Eastern cults of the consort of the fertility goddess. It is argued that Theocritus, who in Idyll fifteen described the celebration of the Adonia at Alexandria, probably employed elements from the worship of Adonis to describe the death of Daphnis. Consequently, Daphnis should be understood as another version of the sacred shepherd /hunter that was annually lamented throughout the East as Tammuz, Dumuzi, or Adonis. The cult of those heroes was part of the fertility rites in honour of the goddess. Evidence to support the cultic substance of Daphnis is also derived from the bucolic poems of Moschus and Bion. The description of a Cup that Theocritus described before the death of Daphnis in his Idyll enters the forum of debate. Its epic tradition will be covered in one of the thesis' appendices. The third scene on the Cup is especially analysed in relation to eastern religious motifs that Theocritus might have adduced from contemporary literature. The death of Adonis was celebrated by the Greek Adoniazousai of Idyll fifteen as much as by the women of Jerusalem. The scene is compared with the Song of Solomon, a profoundly and unusually erotic poem included in the Old Testament. The poem was probably contemporary with Theocritus (3rd century BC) and its central figures could be identified with Aphrodite and Adonis. The usual argument that Theocritus influenced Hebrew literature is reversed with additional evidence from Bion and Moschus. It is held that the Song was probably derived from the cult of Adonis and could be included in the same tradition as Greek bucolic poetry. Daphnis should be identified with Adonis and be incorporated in the tradition of eastern fertility deities such as Tammuz and Dumuzi. The last part of the chapter examines the actual description of the death of Daphnis who is said to have `gone [to the] river,' an expression that has been much discussed. The report of Daphnis drowning after falling off a rock is compared with famous legends of lovers to whom literature attributed a similar death. It will be argued that Daphnis, as a lover who totally submitted to love, had to experience death symbolically, much like the death that sexual initiation would customarily bring upon the consort(s) of the fertility goddess. A Near Eastern tradition of associating love with death and witchcraft is also identified and Daphnis' representation in Theocritus and Vergil is discussed under the light of this evidence. Appendices Appendix I: The Epic Tradition of the First Idyll The description of the Cup included in the first l dg of Theocritus is regarded as a typical sample of ecphrasis, a technique of delay ng the plot by inserting a detailed description of an object of art. Hellenistic writers in their extensive use of it followed the tradition established by Homer with the description of the Shield of Achilles which was later imitated by the author of the Shield of Heracles, often attributed to Hesiod. It has been argued that the Cup of Theocritus should be included in the epic tradition from which it was inspired. The tw¦Ï epic shields and their mythic owners are compared to Daphnis. It seems that the erotic adventures of Achilles and Heracles could actually provide a convincing framework for the adventures of Daphnis. Heracles, who according to Sositheus, was reputed to have saved Daphnis and his beloved from the hands of the spiteful king Lityerses, had famously died as a lover (rather than a soldier) before being reborn at a higher level. Achilles, who was also identified with excessive lust and grief, was relieved of his sufferings after death in the Isles of the Blessed where he lived happily married to Iphigeneia.
The adventures of the tw¦Ï heroes are discussed in the context of ritual transformation and their fortunes are compared with the death of Daphnis. The latter was definitely not an epic warrior; yet he seems to have been a competent `epic' lover.
Appendix II: The Cup of Theocritus The three scenes depicted on the Cup are described in relation to the erotic torture of Daphnis. It is argued that the first tw¦Ï images on the Cup treat well-known erotic motifs that refer to the dangers of love. A link between the tale of Daphnis and common ideas about love is established in confirmation of the argument that Theocritus opted for the traditional version of the story.
In the first image, motifs regarding the dangerous character of women are treated. Theocritus seems to have inherited his views on the nature of women from Hesiod. In addition, Daphnis' affliction by a woman is probably reflected in the suffering of two young men that pose in the first image on the Cup. The second image refers to a fisherman. In antiquity, the dangers that fishermen face when at sea were often compared with the adventures of lovers. The love of women was also compared to the various moods of the sea itself. Furthermore, the sea was associated with the waters of death and Charon was imagined as a boatman. The possibility that the silent fisherman of the second image alludes to the death of Daphnis because of love is examined. Appendix III: Fishermen: Lovers of Death? In the second scene on the Cup a fisherman is depicted and his possible connotations with the erotic adventure of Daphnis will be presented in Appendix II summarised above. Here the links between the sea and erotic danger are explored and it is argued that the fisherman stands as a reminiscence of the erotic traps that tantalise lovers and indeed Daphnis by the end of the poem. Furthermore, evidence from Greek drama and Hellenistic epigram is gathered in support of an association between fishermen and their implements (nets, hooks etc.) with deaths resulting from or attributed to erotic misconduct. The cases of Agamemnon and Heracles in particularly are discussed. Chapter Three: The Myth of Daphnis (Vergil) The influence that the work of Theocritus has exercised on Vergil is undoubted. The latter introduced Daphnis, Thyrsis, Menalcas and the rest of the bucolic personae in his Eclogues, a collection of poems which along with his Georgics have laid the foundation for a major part of European literature from the days just after Vergil's death until the English pastoral poetry of the sixteenth century and following with Schiller on the continent. The modern criticism on the literary relation of Vergil with Theocritus will be summarised and the view that Vergil showed more understanding of Theocritus than has been assumed will be pursued. Hence, the fact that Vergil presented the death of Daphnis in his Eclogues with close reference to Theocritus, yet he also described the apotheosis of Daphnis in terms similar to the apotheosis of Heracles, should not be regarded as accidental. The comparison of Daphnis with Heracles further developed in Appendix I will be briefly debated here along with the hero's likening to Caesar, whose apotheosis had recently taken place. Furthermore, attention will be drawn to Vergil's technique of attributing to Daphnis features traditionally ascribed to Orpheusand Prometheus, tw¦Ï heroes renowned for their sufferings and their contribution to civilisation. It will be argued that Vergil cast Daphnis in the role of a culture hero with civilising and spiritual powers with the purpose of promoting the pastoral "locus amoenus" as the ideal place for the spiritual regeneration of the Romans that his poetry anticipates.
Vergil transferred the place of Daphnis' suffering from Sicily to Arcadia, a location that according to the tenth Eclogue could accommodate the erotic unhappiness of lovers like Daphnis, Gallus, and Orpheus. The myths that associate Arcadia with early civilisation and the Golden Age are discussed. In his fourth Eclogue, Vergil predicted that Arcadia can be restored and that the Romans will experience a second Golden Age. The identity of the child whose birth, according to Vergil, will bring the realisation of the second Golden Age is examined in the context of rites regarding the absolution of sins and the promise of rebirth. The Orph¨ªc and Dionysian mysteries are particularly discussed, on the strength of tw¦Ï factors: Vergil referred to the cradle of the child that will blossom automatically, a motif mentioned in the birth of Dionysus. In addition, at the end of the fourth Eclogue Vergil compared himself with Orpheus and Linus, who were associated with the mysteries of Dionysus. Vergil's comparison is discussed in detail and the conclusion reached is that the poet favoured ancient rites in which the birth of a child was regarded as the obvious sign for the gratification of the devotees. In this context, the Eleusinian mysteries are also brought into discussion.
It seems that Vergil appreciated these mysteries because of their agricultural character; this idea is also supported by his effort to link the Golden Age with agriculture in his Georgics. The last part of the chapter argues that in doing so, Vergil does not contradict Hesiod who also referred to the Golden Age conditions as preserved in the righteous caste of the farmers. Chapter Four: Poetry and Vergil The comparison of Vergil with Orpheus brings to light the question of Vergil's stance in this New Order of things that he prophesised. Traditionally poetry was associated with erotic passion and as covered in the previous chapter, Arcadia seemed hospitable to both notions. Nevertheless, art and intemperate lust as ideally combined in the legendary figure of Orpheus were radically opposed to the hereditary views of the Romans. This short chapter deals with the basic inconsistency of suggesting Arcadia as the ideological foreground of the Roman renaissance. In a world in which, according to the first and the ninth Eclogues, poetry is shown to be ineffective, the answer seems to lie with the farmer that Vergil depicted in his Georgics as enjoying some of the advantages of the Golden Age. In the third book of the Georgics the farmer was seen as carefully arranging the mating of his animals, imposing his iron will over irrational sexual instinct. Vergil's view of love is presented as a creative force, sexual as much as spiritual. This study supports the view that the farmer represents the ideal statesman of an ideal state as reflected in the society of the bees of the fourth Georgic. The bees have a special claim to the Golden Age as well as in poetic tradition. The view that Vergil did not refer to the bees' association with poetry because he wished to banish it from the new society that was about to arise is challenged. On the contrary, Vergil's posture as the bard of the new era is examined. Vergil like Hesiod, Orpheus, and Silenus, moves between legend and universal truth, and restores the role of the ancient "vates" to its previous status. Vergil poses as the hierophant of the new era, who finds in poetic tradition the solutions for a secure future. Vergil's appreciation of poetry anticipates a more optimistic reading of the fourth Georgic. Chapter Five: Orpheus and Aristaeus The fourth book of the Georgics treated the story of Orpheus and Aristaeus. The argument that Vergil invented the story in which Aristaeus is responsible for the death of Eurydice is questioned. This book has raised a great many discussions regarding Servius' comments according to which Vergil had included in the last part of the book praises for his friend Gallus, a poet and politician who committed suicide after losing favour with young Octavian, the monarch that was later called Augustus 44 The view that Augustus ordered Vergil to exchange the "laudes Galli" with the verses that now contain the epyllion of Orpheus and Aristaeus is disputed. The more moderate view that Vergil probably changed a few verses in the second edition of the book (if there was ever a second edition) is adopted. The importance of the bees has already been discussed in the previous chapter in association with the poetry of Vergil and the Golden Age. However, in this chapter the bees are examined as a bridge between the Hesiodic Golden Age and the agricultural version that Vergil puts forward. Through their association with the cult of Zeus, the bees pose as the tangible example of Zeus' theodicy. The Bugonia is examined as Aristaeus' reply to the sacrificial codes of Prometheus, which brought about the separation of man from god. Aristaeus is seen as a heroic embodiment of the justice of Zeus. However, the expiation of guilt, which Aristaeus secured through the Begonia, has been the preoccupation of several mystery cults in antiquity, pre-eminently of the Orphic mysteries and those of Demeter at Eleusis. The association of these cults with bees and honey is stressed. Furthermore, the Orphic views on sexuality and justice seem to have been in close compliance with the morals of the new era according to which Aristaeus is punished for his lust. The claim of Aristaeus, Orpheus, and Eurydice in the tradition of bees and honey seems to link them with initiatory patterns in the context of prenuptial rites. Aristaeus' stance as a solemn husband and pious beekeeper, the bees' hostility towards adulterers, and the rape of Eurydice by Aristaeus are all brought into discussion. A comparison of Eurydice with Persephone, which originates from the relation of bees with the cult of Demeter and Kore, seems to support this conclusion. It is argued that the story of Orpheus and Aristaeus is employed as an example of restoration within the new order of Zeus, a restoration that Vergil wishes for the total of the Roman nation that has just emerged from civil war. Throughout the chapter, a parallelism between Aristaeus and Orpheus is constructed with the intention of emphasising their similarities. Initially Aeneas and then Prometheus are invoked as a reference point for the comparison. According to the evidence presented, Aristaeus and Orpheus shared a number of similarities in their legendary aspects as culture heroes and as deities. Orpheus, who was additionally reputed as author of cathartic poetry and magical spells, had repeatedly attracted the criticism of Plato who despised all miracle-workers, and indeed Orpheus as much as Pythagoras, who was accused for passing off his writings as those of the legendary poet. This aspect of Orpheus does not seemingly correspond to the character of Aristaeus as depicted in Vergil. At this point of the analysis the name and legend of Ans teas of Proconnesus is also discussed. His identification with Aristaeus is argued on the basis of three comparisons: firstly, on Aristeas' similarity with Prometheus as it emerges through the similarities of pseudo-Aeschylus' Prometheus Vinctus and Aristeas' epic about the Arimaspeans. Secondly, on Aristeas' association with Egypt and magicians; Vergil significantly suggested Egypt as the place that the Bugonia was practised while a combination of the traditions of Aristaeus and Aristeas survives in late literature. Thirdly, on Aristeas' connection with Pythagoras and his rites which were in essence Orphic. It is argued that even if syncretism should be suspected in Vergil's treatment, the poet understood these rituals as similar in essence and as functioning within the new order of Zeus. The message conveyed is that under the new theodicy salvation is possible as long as disordered eros, as represented by Orpheus, is replaced by methodically channelled energy dedicated to the recreation of well being. Appendix IV: Orpheus, Pythagoras and the Egyptians The fourth appendix discusses the connection of Pythagoras and Oprheus with the Egyptians based on Herodotus 2.81, a text where special reference is made to the prohibition of wool in burials. The custom, which applied to the initiates of specific rites, is traced in Egypt but also in Greece, and its origins raised many disputes in classical scholarship. Herodotus employed four adjectives to describe the rites in which this custom was observed, although interpolation by a later commentator is very possible. The rites are described as Orphic, Bacchic, Egyptian, and Pythagorean. Despite the longstanding debate over the meaning and the syntax of the lines it would be useful to accept that already in antiquity the rites mentioned above were understood to be similar. This is further confirmed by the syncretism that is noticed in the treatment of these rites by a series of ancient writers. Apuleius and Vergil are mentioned as tw¦Ï of them. Hence, the comment of Herodotus (or indeed of a later scholar) would simply reflect the affinity of the rites as already understood in antiquity.