Welcome sign in sign up. Whenever their lives were set aflame, through desire or suffering, or even reflection, the Homeric heroes knew that a god was at work.
The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony
They endured the god, and observed him, but what actually happened as a result was a surprise most of all for themselves. Thus dispossessed of their emotion, their shame, and their glory too, they were more cautious than anybody when it came to attributing to themselves the origin of their actions. No psychology since has ever gone beyond this; all we have done is invent, for those powers that act upon us, longer, more numerous, more awkward names, which are less effective, less closely aligned to the pattern of our experience, whether that be pleasure or terror.
The moderns are proud above all of their responsibility, but in being so they presume to respond with a voice that they are not even sure is theirs. The Homeric heroes knew nothing of that cumbersome word responsibility , nor would they have believed in it if they had. The abduction of Europa by Zeus sets the tone for the rest of the book, for what follows is a seemingly endless array of rape, betrayal, murder and adultery.
The abduction of Europa was also the one capture by Zeus that would have the most far-reaching consequences. Cadmus would also give the Greeks a seemingly innocent but precious gift: the alphabet. Out of the myriad of Greek myths Roberto Calasso has created a caleidoscope of stories which at first appears disorienting but then totally absorbs you.
The only way to get to know the landscape is to lose yourself and get lost The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony does not tell all Greek myths. But The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony is the greatest encouragement to reread those myths yourself and recreate them in all their variations from the different sources that come to us. Not only books, but also operas, architecture, novels and ballets.
The myths and the gods are not dead. They continue to live on in us. But, as the wave withdraws, the unvanquished complications swell in the undertow, and likewise the muddle from which the next mythical gesture will be formed. So myth allows of no system. This fanciful and insubstantial creature imitates the world and at the same time subjects it to a frenzy of different combinations, confounding its forms in inexhaustible proliferation. It emanates a prodigious strength, our awe in the face of what we see in the invisible. It has all the features of the arbitrary, of what is born in the dark, from formlessness, the way our world was perhaps once born.
But this time the chaos is the vast shadowy canvas that lies behind our eyes and on which phosphenic patterns constantly merge and fade. Such constant formation of images occurs in each one of us in every instant. But these are not the only peculiarities of the phenomenon.
Review of: The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, by Roberto Calasso
When the phantom, the mental image, takes over our minds, when it begins to join with other similar or alien figures, then little by little it fills the whole space of the mind in an ever more detailed and ever richer concatenation. What initially presented itself as the prodigy of appearance, cut off from everything, is now linked, from one phantom to another, to everything. But what is an enigma? A mysterious formulation, you could say. Yet that wouldn't be enough to define an enigma.
The other thing you have to say is that the answer to an enigma is likewise mysterious. This is what distinguishes the enigma from the problem, although at the beginning of Greek civilization the two categories were confused. When a problem is resolved, both question and answer dissolve, are absorbed into a mechanical formula. Climbing a wall is a problem, until you lean a ladder against it.
Afterward, you have neither problem nor solution, just a wall and a ladder. This is not so for the enigma. Take the most famous one of all, the Sphinx's: "What is the being that has but one voice and yet sometimes has two feet, sometimes three, sometimes four, and is progressively weaker the more feet it has?
But if we think about that answer, we realize that precisely the fact that "man" is the solution to such an enigma suggests the enigmatic nature of man. The solution to the enigma is thus itself an enigma, and a more difficult one. Resolving an enigma means shifting it to a higher level, as the first drops away.
The Sphinx hints at the indecipherable nature of man, this elusive, multiform being whose definition cannot be otherwise than elusive and multiform. Thus anthropologists were drawn to Oedipus, and are still there measuring themselves against him, wondering about him. After that, there were absolutely no other men about.
The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony
Helen and the prince were each sleeping alone in the same palace. In the emptiness of the palace halls, Aphrodite assembled those archons of desire Himeros and Pothos, and the Charites too.
- More Books by Roberto Calasso;
- MORE BY ROBERTO CALASSO.
- Visualizing Chemistry: The Progress and Promise of Advanced Chemical Imaging.
But on the visible plane, the person who acted as pimp was Aethra. Paris gripped Helen's wrist. The Trojan's escorts loaded up her riches and the things the prince had pretended were gifts. Paris stood tall on a chariot drawn by four horses. Helen was next to him, tunic tossed back over her shoulders, offering her body half naked to the night, where nothing could be seen but Eros's dazzling torch twisting and turning in front of them.
Behind the fleeing couple, another Eros was waving a torch. The two lovers and their escorts raced across the open space of red earth and scattered olive trees that led down from Sparta to the coast. And then he will move into a much more abstract, philosophical mode, to discuss the deeper meaning of the mythological figure: To defend herself, Helen relies on the brilliant surface, makes it throb as no other figure, however fleshy, could, since other figures have no doubles, and indeed as no idea ever could, since ideas have no pores: this is the supreme level of existence, mocking every other.
The object of the dispute between Homer and Plato is the body of Helen. Both men won. When we see the goddess reproduced thousands upon thousands of times, the Platonic curse of the copy triumphs.
But the goddess is a star and occupies a unique, unassailable place in the sky.