Tag Archives: Trojan War

Fae Friday: Amazing Penthesileia

Penthesilea as one of the Nine Female Worthie

Penthesilea By Medieval unknow author (Bibliothèque nationale de France – Banque d’images) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

All hail the Amazon Queen, Penthesileia, brave participant in the Trojan War.

 

All these to battle fared with warrior-souled

     Penthesileia: even as when descends

     Dawn from Olympus’ crest of adamant,

     Dawn, heart-exultant in her radiant steeds

     Amidst the bright-haired Hours; and o’er them all,

     How flawless-fair soever these may be,

     Her splendour of beauty glows pre-eminent;

     So peerless amid all the Amazons Unto

     Troy-town Penthesileia came.

from The Fall of Troy

 

Penthesileia has always been fascinating to me. Who are your favorites from the Trojan War?

 

Cheers & Happy Reading!

Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic in Romance

Mythic Monday: Lovers Penelope and Odysseus

Odysseus und Penelope (Tischbein)

Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Penelope and Odysseus

Penelope gained fame as the faithful wife who thwarted suitors and awaited her husband for the twenty years it took him to fight the Trojan War and return home to their kingdom by the sea. The war lasted ten years, so why did it take Odysseus twenty? The Odyssey relates the story.

“Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy.”

After playing a key role in the Greek defeat of the Trojans, Odysseus was all set to make it back home to Ithaca within a few weeks. Unfortunately, he made the egregious error of offending the powerful god of the sea, Poseidon. These days our society is rampant with political correctness and the need not to offend. So what did such an offense look like around 1150 BCE? After being at the mercy of a gigantic ravenous cyclops, Odysseus freed his remaining men by tricking the cyclops and then taunting him once they were safely out of danger. Not cool. Said cyclops turned out to be Poseidon’s son and prayed to his father for Odysseus to wander the earth for many years. “Done,” agreed father who, as a Trojan supporter, held a grudge against Odysseus anyway.

Odysseus’ return home was fraught with all sorts of interesting, horror laden, and disastrous episodes and took ten years instead of three weeks. Good thing or we wouldn’t have The Odyssey. I should point out that numerous episodes involved seductive women such as Sirens,

“No one ever sailed past us without staying to hear the enchanting sweetness of our song—and he who listens will go on his way not only charmed, but wiser, for we know all the ills that the gods laid upon the Argives and Trojans before Troy, and can tell you everything that is going to happen over the whole world.”

the powerful witch Circe,

“When they reached Circe’s house they found it built of cut stones, on a site that could be seen from far, in the middle of the forest. There were wild mountain wolves and lions prowling all round it—poor bewitched creatures whom she had tamed by her enchantments and drugged into subjection.”

and the hypnotic nymph Calypso.

“As she spoke she drew a table loaded with ambrosia beside him and mixed him some red nectar.”

As a man Odysseus didn’t have to be technically faithful to his wife. For reader sympathy, he just had to be more or less headed back toward her direction. Besides, he honestly was under magical spells most of the time.

Meantime, Penelope thwarted greedy suitors by promising to choose a husband when she finished her tapestry, but each night unraveling the sewing she had performed that day. The suitors grew angrier as the years passed and the desperate subterfuge continued.

“It is your mother’s fault not ours, for she is a very artful woman. This three years past, and close on four, she had been driving us out of our minds, by encouraging each one of us, and sending him messages without meaning one word of what she says. And then there was that other trick she played us. She set up a great tambour frame in her room, and began to work on an enormous piece of fine needlework.”

When Odysseus finally washed up on the shores of Ithaca, he was the only one left of his men. All the rest had perished along the way. After fighting off the 108 suitors clamoring for Penelope and the throne, Odysseus resumed his rightful place as king. In my mind he and Penelope lived out the rest of their lives in blissful marital harmony. They deserved it.

“Happy Odysseus, son of Laertes,” replied the ghost of Agamemnon, “you are indeed blessed in the possession of a wife endowed with such rare excellence of understanding, and so faithful to her wedded lord as Penelope the daughter of Icarius. The fame, therefore, of her virtue shall never die, and the immortals shall compose a song that shall be welcome to all mankind in honour of the constancy of Penelope.”

Cheers & Happy Reading!

Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic with Paranormal Fantasy Romance

Vintage Friday: Aeschylus 525 BCE

Theatre scene painted by Python, ancient Greek vase painter

By Magyar: Python, ókori görög vázafestő English: Python, ancient Greek vase painter [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Which do you prefer–the burning archaic vision of Aeschylus, the dramatic excellence of Sophocles, or the oddly modern sentiments of Euripides? Although I admire all of these dramatists, I confess the offerings of Aeschylus (525 BCE – 456 BCE) from time’s dim horizon energize and elevate me the most. Only seven of his seventy plus plays survive today: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides or Furies (these first three form the Oresteia trilogy), The Persians, Seven Against Thebes, The Suppliants, and Prometheus Bound. Aeschylus’ authorship of the latter is actually disputed. We know the names of many of his lost plays. Can you imagine the missing gold in those?

Think of Agamemnon, returning as a hero of the Trojan War with his wife Clytemnestra lying in wait to avenge his sacrifice of their daughter and his taking Cassandra as a concubine. Tragedy involves great heights and plunging depths, and Aeschylus’ plays are framed within a religious reality. Here the verse refers to humans in relation to the great sky father Zeus. Wouldn’t you get chills upon hearing these words in a great, open air amphitheatre?

“In visions of the night, like dropping rain,
Descend the many memories of pain
Before the spirit’s sight: through tears and dole
Comes wisdom o’er the unwilling soul-
A boon, I wot, of all Divinity,
That holds its sacred throne in strength, above the sky!”
from Agamemnon, translation E. D. A. Morshead

Which Greek plays are your favorites?

GuardianoftheDeep_SM (1)Cheers & Happy Reading!
Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic with Paranormal Romance

 

Mythic Monday: 9 Things You Need to Know About the Warrior Hector

Karl Friedrich Deckler, The Farewell of Hector to Andromaque and Astyanax

Carl Friedrich Deckler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

We all know Hector, Prince of Troy, for at least two key actions:

1) Like a good older brother, Hector took up for Paris when the unthinking rapscallion became besotted with Menelaus’ wife, Helen of Sparta, and stowed her away in the Trojan ship heading back to Troy.
2) As the Prince of Troy and in line for the throne, Hector fought with bold ferocity to protect his homeland from the invading Greeks.

But what else can we learn about Hector, the great champion of the Trojans and one of the most memorable warriors of all time? Much of our intel about him, of course, comes from Homer’s The Iliad (quotes below).

Friends and enemies alike only had good things to say about the noble Hector. He was admired for his fairness, determination, and integrity.

His parents were Priam, honorable King of Troy, and the lovely Hecuba.

Despite being heir to the throne with access to all the sumptuous luxury that Troy had to offer, Hector displayed noble behavior as the devoted husband of Andromache. His wife loved him dearly: “Nay, Hector, you who to me are father, mother, brother, and dear husband, have mercy upon me; stay here upon this wall; make not your child fatherless, and your wife a widow.”

Golden shining Apollo especially favored Hector, and Ares also stood on the side of the Trojans. Unfortunately for the Trojans, flashing eyed Athena, Zeus, and others lent their powers to the Greeks. Apollo said: “Let us rouse the valiant spirit of horse-taming Hector.” And later: “Trojans, rush on the foe, and do not let yourselves be thus beaten.”

During the war, Hector used various weapons to fight off the Greek aggressors, including swords, spears, and head bashing. He urged: “Trojans and allies, be men, my friends, and fight with might and main.” Greek warriors, including Agamemnon, prayed to Zeus to defeat Hector: “Grant that my sword may pierce the shirt of Hector about his heart, and that full many of his comrades may bite the dust as they fall dying round him.”

When Achilles’ best friend Patroclus donned Achilles’ armor, forged by Hephaestus, and joined the fray, finally confronting Hector, Hector defeated him tout suite and confiscated Achilles’ armor. This proved to be a turning point in the war, because it propelled a fury-filled Achilles, who had been sulking in his tent over some girl, to enter the battle. Now the two would face off, the most ferocious Greek warrior—Achilles, and Troy’s most valiant warrior—Hector.

Knowing of a weakness in the armor Hephaestus had forged for him, Achilles was able to pierce Hector in the neck. Afterward, Hector’s dead body was treated with ignominy by Achilles—dragged around on the ground behind a chariot and, for a time, denied a proper burial. Without Hector, the Trojans were pretty much doomed.

One of the most heartbreaking occurrences is the tradition of Hector’s small son Astyanax being thrown from the city walls so that he could not grow up to seek revenge on the Greeks. An interesting alternative tradition, however, has Astyanax survive and go on to found the Merovingian line of the Franks, leading up to the great Charlemagne. Obviously, I like the second idea much better than the first. That would be a fascinating story!

Hector’s half-brother Aeneas, a survivor of the Trojan War, went on to establish the great city of Rome. Despite defeat, cultures shift, merge, and re-emerge. Small trickles of the past continue into the present and future.

What are your thoughts about Hector? Achilles? The Trojan War? Have you enjoyed the Greek plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides? I confess I really love those plays.

Cheers & Happy Reading!
Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic with Paranormal Fantasy Romances  Heaven or hell? Dream or nightmare? Where passion is concerned, the veils are thin. 

Mythic Monday: 3 Prophecies the Mayans Didn’t Know About

SunriseColdWinterAliciatookAliciatookFABULOUS

Photo copyright Alicia Rogers

Trojan prophetess Cassandra foretold the Trojan War and the inevitable destruction of the great city of Troy at the hands of the Greek invaders, led by Agamemnon, Odysseus, Menelaus, and others. Unfortunately, Apollo had cursed Cassandra to the end result that no one ever believed her visions of the future. Neither Cassandra’s kinfolk, the reigning royal family of Troy, nor anyone else, considered Troy’s defeat a probable reality. They merely thought Cassandra’s ramblings were the product of a fragile and unraveled mind. After the war, Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, took Cassandra into captivity as a concubine. The couple had two children together before he met his tragic end at the hands of his murderous wife Clytemnestra and her lover. At Cassandra’s death, her burial occurred in the city of Mycenae, and her soul received the bounty of everlasting life in the Elysian Fields.

The Cumaean Sibyl uttered her prophetic announcements at Apollo’s temple in Cumaea, a Greek colony located in Italy. According to the poet Virgil, she lived in a cave and prophesied by singing and writing the words on the sacred leaves of the oak. Sibyl means prophetess, and there were many Sibyls throughout the ancient Greek and Roman world. To the Romans, the Cumaean Sibyl was the most famous. Legend goes that she offered nine books of prophecy concerning the future of Rome to the last remaining king of the old Roman Kingdom, prior to the advent of the Roman Republic. King Tarquin refused to pay the high price she demanded. The Sibyl then burned three of the books and offered the six remaining books at the same original price. Again, the shortsighted king refused. The Sibyl burned three more of the books, leaving only three of the original nine. She offered them to the king at the same high price. Outwitted, the king purchased the books. He had them sequestered in the Temple of Jupiter to be consulted only in dire emergencies. The books were lost when the temple burned to the ground in 83 BCE. To restore them, it was necessary for the works to be re-collected from other Sibylline worship centers. The prophetic texts remained in the Temple of Apollo until they too were burned in 45 AD by General Flavius Stilicho, who considered them a pagan evil.

The Norse prophecy of Ragnarok startles us with its intensity and ominous vision of doom for a stark, apocalyptic end of the world wherein winter follows upon winter. Translated as the Twilight of the Gods, Ragnarok tells of a great battle involving the gods and all of humankind. The dead also rise and participate. During the course of events, catastrophic earth changes occur that leave the world in ashes. These include devastating earthquakes, boiling volcanoes, deadly comets that set the world aflame, poisonous air and waters, famine, pestilence, and other occurrences that make life untenable. The world burns, and then the sea rises to cover all habitable land.
The sun grows dark.
The earth sinks into the sea.
All life on earth perishes, ending in darkness, and the gods perish as well, even Odin. Ragnarok signals the end of the current world cycle. A ray of hope is that a new world cycle then begins for the gods and humankind.

I hope you have enjoyed our look at three ancient prophecies through the mythic lenses of the Greeks, Romans, and Norse cultures. I wonder what the Mayans would have to say about these. What prophecies are you most familiar with?

Cheers & Happy Reading!
Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic with Paranormal Fantasy Romance

Mythic Monday: Gemini the Twins

Gemini stems from a Latin root word meaning twins or twinning. The myth surrounding the zodiacal constellation Gemini centers on twin brothers Castor and Pollux. Two men impregnated their mother Leda, the human king of Sparta and Zeus, the king of the gods. This bestowed immortality on Zeus’ son Pollux, while his brother Castor retained a mortal identity. Helen of Troy and Clytemnestra were their sisters, and both brothers fought in the Trojan War to rescue Helen. They also sailed alongside Jason and the other Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece and gained fame for their strength and valor. Castor and Pollux provided protection and magical solace for sailors and horsemen. When Castor died, as humans do, Pollux pleaded with Zeus to grant the gift of immortality to his beloved brother. The twins shine eternally as bright stars in the constellation Gemini.

Leda and the Swan

Cesare da Sesto [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Zeus’ conquest and impregnation of Leda retains its infamous savagery down through time. A notorious womanizer, Zeus often used his shape shifting ability to subdue whatever woman struck his fancy. He appeared to Leda in the form of a swan and mated with her. A startling and lovely poem by William Butler Yeats is entitled Leda and the Swan. An excerpt reads: “The great wings beating still above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed by the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill.”

Of Castor and Pollux, Shelley penned: “Ye wild-eyed Muses, sing the Twins of Jove, whom the fair-ankled Leda, mixed in love with mighty Saturn’s Heaven-obscuring child.”

The glyph for Gemini, two parallel lines, represents the valiant twins Castor and Pollux.

Typically, those born with sun in Gemini are facile thinkers and speakers. They enjoy discourse and intellectual pursuits. They are flexible, adaptable, eternally curious, sometimes moody, but never boring. One word that describes them very well is quick—quick footed as their patron god Mercury, quick tempered, and quick witted. Additionally, adhering to the precepts of ruling Mercury, the word mercurial is an accurate descriptor of those graced under Gemini.

Cheers & Happy Reading!
Flossie Benton Rogers, Conjuring the Magic with Paranormal Fantasy Romances