Sunday, April 24, 2011

Christos Anesti!

You may now resume everything you gave up for Lent with barely any new-found spiritual insights

I'm not even going to attempt to explain how chocolate eggs, the Easter bunny and the resurrection of Jesus Christ converge.

Hopefully you'll find all those Easter eggs or you'll be sorry. Year old hard boiled eggs left behind grandma's couch really, really stink - enough said.

Today's Word: Dionysiac ( die-uh-NIS-ee-ak ), (Latin Dionysiacus, from Greek Dionusiakos, from Dionusios.), adjective 1. Of or relating to Dionysus, the god of wine and of an orgiastic religion celebrating the power and fertility of nature. Of or relating to Dionysia, ancient Greek festivals held seasonally, chiefly at Athens, in honor of Dionysus. 2. Often dionysiac. Ecstatic or wild; Dionysian.

Keep it in mind (we'll come back to it.)

Today in History:
April 24, 1479 BC (this is an approximated date.)
Most of the people who could have verified this date were too busy smearing olive oil on each other and inventing Greco-Roman wrestling in the nude, so the creation of an accurate calendar wasn't a high priority.

Think Dionysiac

... Is this the face that launched a thousand ships? ....

Ok kids, here's your quick Lit Hum course.

Once upon a time, a pretty naked Greek girl was lolling around a limpid pool (lots of pretty naked Greek girls were doing that back then) and she saw a beautiful swan.

Before you could said By Zeus, Leda lays an egg and out pops Helen - another pretty naked Greek girl. But Helen wasn't just any pretty naked Greek girl, she was the MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD.

So when it was time for Helen to marry (at about 12), literally everyone who was anyone wanted to marry her, including Odysseus(who doesn't marry her but Penelope but that's another story), Menestheus, Ajax the Great, Patroclus and Idomeneus, Agamemnon (who doesn't marry her but her sister, Clytemnestra and lives (or dies) to regret it, but that again is another story). It doesn't hurt to mention at this point that her 'father' was the King of Sparta or the fact that he never noticed that she was hatched from a egg.

Yadda, yadda yadda, Helen marries Menelaus. Yadda, yadda, yadda, three more naked Greek goddesses, handsome naked Greek youth named Paris (how the French got into this story even I can't explain) and a golden apple.

Also, I bet you never realized how much nudity plays into this story.

Yadda, yadda yadda, an abduction and a promise extracted - bang zoom, you have the Trojan war. I have just saved you from reading Edith Hamilton's Mythology and most of the Iliad.

The Greek siege of Troy had lasted for ten years with no end in sight. The Greeks devised a new ruse: a giant hollow wooden horse. It was built by Epeius and filled with Greek warriors led by Odysseus. Meanwhile, a Greek spy, Sinon, convinced the Trojans that the horse was a gift despite the warnings of Laocoon (who gets to utter the line, "Beware Greeks bearing gifts" moments before being strangled by sea-serpents with his two sons - but that's another story)

and Cassandra (who has the gift of prophecy because of the God Apollo as a token of his love has snakes lick her ears clean but that again is another story) ;

Helen and Deiphobus (who won Helen in a game with his brother after the death of Paris but let's stay on course here) even investigated the horse; in the end, the Trojans accepted the gift on this date. In ancient times it was customary for a defeated general to surrender his horse to the victorious general in a sign of respect.

It should be noted here that the horse was the sacred animal of Poseidon; during the contest with Athena over the patronage of Athens, Poseidon gave men the horse, and Athena gave the olive tree. It should also be noted that after living ten years under a siege, one's reasoning seems to go out the window.

The Trojans have a huge orgy, I mean, party (think sodomy but on a grand scale - think dionysiac) to celebrate the end of the siege, so that, when the Greeks emerged from the horse, on this date, the city was in a drunken stupor. The Greek warriors opened the city gates to allow the rest of the army to enter, and the city was pillaged ruthlessly, all the men were killed, and all the women and children were taken into slavery.

And so ends the Iliad. Oh yeah, Brad Pitt ends up dead but Orlando Bloom is alive.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

April 24, 1913 -
The Cathedral of Commerce built one nickel at a time, the Woolworth building opened on this date.

The Five and Dimes are long gone but the skyscraper remains.

April 24, 1916 -
Some 1,600 Irish nationalist, the Irish Volunteers, launched the Easter Rising by seizing several key sites in Dublin, including the General Post Office. Eemon de Valera was one of the commandants in the uprising. It was provoked by impatience with the lack of home rule and was put down by British forces several days later. Michael Collins, a member of Sinn Fein, led the guerrilla warfare.

... All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born. - W. B. Yeats

April 24, 1986 -
'Her Royal Highness' The Duchess of Windsor, Bessie Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson Windsor former maitresse en titre (official mistress), horse-faced, twice-divorced American, possible transvestite and Nazi sympathizer died on this date.

And the House of Windsor breathes a sigh of relief -

until Princess Diana.

And so it goes

No comments: