Virgil, in his Aeneid, describes Deiphobe, better known as the Sibyl of Cumae, as coming from “a hundred perforations in the rock, a hundred mouths from which the many utterances rush”. But she was not the only Sibyl. There were others. Many of these women rubbed shoulders with the greatest warriors and leaders of their ages, shaping the future instead of merely foretelling it.
Historians often write them off as mad women. The name Maenad evenliterally translates as the “raving ones”. But these women are much more than that. They are sacred worshippers and holy priestesses to the god of wine, madness and frenzy – Dionysus.
Ancient cultures around the world saw the sea as a dangerous place, filled with beings who preyed upon people – especially men. The legatus of Gaul once wrote to Emperor Augustus claiming that he found a considerable number of nereids dead upon the sea-shore. Although most retelling of the Odyssey depict the sirens as little more than dangerous women leading men to their deaths, there have also been some studies that provide more depth.
So now we know that, at least in Macbeth, the witches are scary women. Great. The three scary women feature everywhere in history. Why are we so afraid of them?
We often hear something being dismissed as “just a myth” to imply that it is not true. In fact, “myth” and “truth” are often seen as opposites. If it is not analysed, written down in reports … Continue reading The Comfort of Mystery: In Defense of Mythology
A beautiful girl, Psyche, is born after two older sisters. People throughout the land worship her beauty so deeply that they forget about Venus, who is supposed to be the most beautiful being ever. Jealous, Venus plots to ruin Psyche. She instructs her son, Cupid, to pierce the girl with an arrow and make her fall in love with the most hideous man alive. But when Cupid sees Psyche, he shoots himself with the arrow instead.
Clown-like characters have been around for thousands of years. Jesters date back at least as far as ancient Egypt. Tracing back the figure of the Jester leads us to the … Continue reading The Trickster, the Jester, the Clown: The Brief Mythology and Ancient History of the Harbingers of Laughter and Fear
At the dark of the moon, an ancient goddess walked through the roads of ancient Greece, accompanied by sacred dogs and bearing a blazing torch. Occasionally she stopped to gather … Continue reading The Horse, the Snake and the Dog: The Three Heads of the Real Queen of the Night
Although this month I have spoken about the Ancient Greek femme fatales starting from the sirens to Aphrodite herself, the trope did not stop there. We can also find an … Continue reading Charm of the Ancient Enchantress: The Evolution of the Dangerous Woman
Aphrodite embodies love and passion because she manages to successfully balance the two concepts. In fact, can we argue that in her depictions, Aphrodite is never that much more gorgeous than other goddesses such as Athena, Hera or Artemis? She must have had something extra that made people utterly charmed by her.
“There was a time when divine Calypso kept me within her arching caverns and would have had me to be her husband, and another time subtle Circe confined me in her palace and would have had me for husband also. Yet neither of them could win the heart within me.” Odysseus says to King Alcinous.
From Calypso, the solitary enchantress of the Odyssey, we learn the power of creating a beautiful environment. Calypso was the goddess-nymph of the mythical island of Ogygia and a daughter … Continue reading Charm of the Ancient Enchantress: Calypso and the Magic of Good Housekeeping