Sunday, September 29, 2019

Dakota elk & the message of music

This photograph might upset some people and, very probably, offend a few. Never-the-less, it is here. The hunter will remain anonymous other than being identified as a Dakota acquaintance of mine. He is an unapologetic and a skilled hunter and recently took this elk with bow and arrow on the western side of the state. Off the top of my head, I am not sure why I am running this photograph other than to point out not all hunting in the United States is done with firearms and there are plenty of individuals around who are skilled archers and do or did hunt that way -- myself included. There even are a few who hunt with a spear where it is legal.
In most respects I am anti-hunting, but having once "lived" for hunting I understand it and I accept it and I try to get along with anyone and everyone to a degree. One way or another, I miss hunting, but at the same time hope I never will hunt again. I also believe in the axiom of treating others the way I wish to be treated and try to practice it during my "walk through life." Toss those elements into a mixer and the result is a "live and let live" cocktail.
There usually is a link of sorts between the illustrations / the words / the music. The connection today is subtle. The first piece is Rocknmob performing Jon Bon Jovi's, "Livin' on a Prayer," in Moscow this past May. Most of the participants are Russians, many of them with the first name Vladimir, none of them with the last name Putin. Hmmmm .... possibly there is hope. The second piece is George Harrison's, "What Is Life," and is a very astute allegory on life, limited only by the imagination and the experience of the viewer. The dancers are Emma Rubinowitz and Esteban Hernandez of the San Francisco Ballet. It seemed symbolically appropriate to me that at one point Emma dances by a military cemetery -- certainly a very real element of life.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

"Odysseus went up from the harbor "

This inscribed brick found among building rubble in Greece bears a portion of Homer's epic poem, "The Odyssey" .... Book 14, Lines 1–13, to be precise. The event described took place in the neighbourhood of 1200 BCE (Before Christian Era) and was not written about until a few hundred years after that time. This excerpt has been dated to no more recent times than the third century AD (Anno Domini), making it the oldest copy yet to be found in Greece. Copyright: Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports/Archaeological Receipta Fund & Ephorate of Antiquities of Olympia.
A lost edition of "The Odyssey"
By way of explanation, in Homer's "Odyssey," Eumaeus is the first mortal that Odysseus meets upon his return to Ithaca after being absent 20 years -- 10 for the Trojan War and another 10 making his way back home.
Eumaeus was Odysseus's swineherd and friend. Although he does not recognize his old master -- Odysseus was in disguise as a beggar -- and has misgivings, Eumaeus treats Odysseus well, offering food and shelter although he thinks the man is an indigent.

The father of Eumaeus was Ktesios, a son of Ormenos who was the king of an island called Syra. When he was a young child a Phoenician sailor seduced his nurse, a slave, who agreed to bring the child among other treasures in exchange for help in her escape.

The nurse was killed by Artemis on the journey by sea, but the sailors continued to Ithaca where Odysseus' father, Laertes, bought the child as a slave. Eumaeus was brought up with Odysseus and his sister, Ctimene, and was treated by Anticleia, their mother, almost as Ctimene's equal.

The following segment was written by Daniel Weiss, a senior editor at Archaeology magazine, and appears here as it did in that publication.

By Daniel Weiss
When an inscribed brick was first found amid a heap of discarded building material in a village outside the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, it appeared to be nothing special. Now, to researchers' great surprise, they have learned it contains an excerpt from "The Odyssey," the epic poem that tells of the Greek hero Odysseus' ten-year journey following the Trojan War.
The poem, which relates events of the twelfth century B.C., is thought to have been composed in the eighth century B.C. and was first written down in the sixth century B.C. Based on the style of its lettering, researchers have dated the newly discovered excerpt to the third century A.D. at the latest. They believe it is likely the oldest inscribed section of, "The Odyssey," ever found in Greece.
 The inscription consists of the first 13 verses of the poem's 14th book, in which Odysseus finally returns home to Ithaca, where he is reunited with his trusted swineherd, Eumaeus.
"I think the brick was inscribed at some point, and later it was used for construction," says Erofili-Iris Kolia, director of the Ephorate of Antiquities of Ilia. Kolia adds that, in her opinion, the inscription was originally commissioned by a landowner in Olympia who fancied himself a latter-day Odysseus.
The inscription on the rock:
But Odysseus went up from the harbor by the rough path up over the woodland and through the heights to the place where Athena had showed him that he would find the noble swineherd, who cared for his property above all the slaves that noble Odysseus had acquired.
He found him sitting in front of his house, where his court was built high in a place with a wide view, a beautiful great court with an open space around it. This the swineherd had himself built for the swine of his master that was gone, without the knowledge of his mistress and the old man Laertes. With huge stones he had built it, and set on it a coping of thorn. Without, he had driven stakes the whole length, this way and that, huge stakes ....
 "The Odyssey," Book 14, Lines 1–13

Sunday, September 1, 2019

"Jai guru deva, om"

Italian historical painter Giovanni Battista Castello, better known as Il Bergamasco to avoid confusion with another artist whose name was identical, created this fresco of Odysseus and his son Telemachus and the goddess Pallas Athene and two household servants slaying the "suitors" of his wife, Penelope. The fresco was completed in 1560 at the Villa Pallavicino delle Peschiere in Genoa.
Odysseus: "Believe me, I am no god."
Part 1 of 2
How does one determine "favorites?"
Favorite food, favorite sweater, favorite film, favorite book, favorite anything?
In the instance of books, it is an easy question for me to answer as long as I do not have to mention my all-time, very favorite among all the books I ever have read. I do not think I could do that and I have no desire to try. But, I can easily name the two or three or four which would contend for the title of my ultimate favorite.
Two of them are, "The Odyssey," by the poet Homer and, "Centennial," by novelist and short story writer James Michener.
The determining factor is simple. Many of the books I have read since I was a boy are among those I now own and I write the dates of the reading inside of them (in some cases, educated estimates). Books from libraries are not in the running because if they were fascinating enough for me to want to read them again, I would have bought a copy later. I might add that I seldom buy a book unless I have first read it or know of it from other sources and "admire" it.
Count the number of times I have read a book and you easily can know which are among my favorites.
It also is not unusual for me to own "a few" copies of my favorites and to carry one or more of them with me when I travel. Which brings me back on point.
To offer a snynopsis of Homer's "Odyssey," it is the story of Odysseus (called Ulysses, by some), who is the king of Ithaca and his ten-year journey to return home after the ten-year Trojan War, which took place sometime around 1200 BCE (Before Christian Era).
Along the return journey, Odysseus encounters all manner of obstacles, ranging from the Cyclops Polyphemus, who captures the crew and eats a few; to the song of the Sirens, which cause men to sail their ships onto rocks and destruction; to the spell of the sorceress, Circe, with whom he has two sons; to the idyllic beauty of Nausicaa, and her unrequited love for him; to the charms of the enchantress, Calypso, who keeps him her "prisoner of love" on the island of Ogygia for seven of those ten years.
Upon his return, he finds his palace overrun by wastrel noblemen who are vying for marriage to Penelope, the presumed widow of Odysseus. One of the suitors, Antinous, plans to assassinate the son of Odysseus, Telemachus, eliminating the only opposition to their dominion over the palace
One of the most alluring elements of the tale, to me, is when Penelope tells the suitors she will marry the man among the 108 suitors who can string the bow of Odysseus and shoot an arrow through twelve axe heads. Several try and fail. Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, asks to try and succeeds. Then begins a "wonderful," pitched, revenge battle in which Odysseus, Telemachus, two servants and the goddess, Pallas Athene, disguised as Mentor, a family friend, kill all but two of the suitors.
Odysseus and Penelope later adjourn to their "bridal bed" which, reminiscent of "tree of life" mythology, is made from an olive tree around which the house is built.
Troy was a city located in antiquity in what was then known as Asia Minor, now as Anatolia in modern Turkey, just south of the Dardanelles strait. It was destroyed by a Greek army about 1200 BCE. It was during this war that Achilles met his death. The city ruins were found by a German businessman and archaeologist named Heinrich Schliemann during excavations in the 1870s.
The two epic poems surrounding the Trojan War and the travails of Odysseus are, "The Illiad," and "The Odyssey," written in the late seventh or the early eighth century by a blind, Ionian named Homer. Homeric Greek shows features of multiple regional Greek dialects and periods, but is fundamentally based on Ionic Greek, in keeping with the tradition that Homer was from Ionia.
Since there is a gap of a few hundred years between the Trojan War the appearance of the Homeric epics, similar questions mark the legitimacy of Homer's work as do the works of William Shakespeare, which is to say there is debate about how long the stories had been in existence before these authors produced them in writing.
The oldest version I have of, "The Odyssey," is the E.V. Rieu translation published in January 1946. A significantly older "edition" of the story exists.
This has been another lengthy and rather poorly written episode in my never-ending quest to bore you and put you to sleep. It is something like the fourth or fifth or sixth post in which Odysseus has been a "key player." Stay tuned for many more of the same ....
Before that or them or those or whatever, however, Part 2 of this segment focusing upon a "sort of old" edition of Homer's "Odyssey" will appear in another day or two or three or whatever .... it will be a piece published in Archaeology magazine and written by Daniel Weiss, a senior editor at that publication. Rather than attempt a rewrite of the Weiss piece, I will simply run it as it appeared in the magazine.
To be continued ....

Something special ....