Monday, March 30, 2009

Ovid Ovid Everywhere

Above is a picture my brother took of a statue of Neptune in a public square in Florence. Greek and Roman mythology is very abundant there and you see references to the gods and demigods all the time. I found it to be especially prominent considering I am in this class right now and was glad I was able to reference some of the statues before I read their captions.

I have to say that The Death of Cygnus was one of my favorite stories by Ovid. Perhaps because I have a special fondness for the oceans and I like the idea of there being a god to govern the seas which seem so sporadic and unpredictable. I wonder if there is a god for the mountains and if so what his or her story might be. I don't know if that is a possibility for the final paper, but it would be an interesting assignment to have the class write their own stories of the gods and demigods. I think that there are some very imaginative people in our class and it could be very entertaining.

While at Academia seeing David, a side room exhibited a number of smaller statues by less prominent sculptors. There I saw a sculpture of Narcissus falling in love with himself in a mirror, he was a very cute little sculpted boy indeed. Below are some art students we saw that were recreating in chalk some pieces of art that were at the Museum of Florence. The whole idea of doing this I found very intriguing because part of the idea of that art is that it will live forever, but here all the time spent in recreating these will be for a very short time and they will eventually be washed away in the rain like much of our lives.

Friday, March 27, 2009


The story of Phaeton goes something like this, Once upon a time there was a suspicious little boy who doubted the very words that came out of his mother’s mouth. When she told him that his father was the Sun God, Phoebus, he decided the best thing was to inquire the man himself.
He found Phoebus and Phoebus assured him that he was in fact his son, and to prove it he would grant him any wish that Phaeton desired.
Like any kid, Phaeton desired to drive daddy’s new shinny ride, the sun chariot. Phoebus told him that it was a bad idea, but granted him his wish anyway.
Well, surprise, surprise, Phaeton couldn’t control the chariot and the fiery horses pulled him around the constellations and through the skies leaving a burning trail behind them the whole time.
Shit, they dried up all the rivers on the earth and evaporated all the oceans, which pissed Neptune off a lot. They even burned the backs of the Ethiopians and turned their skin black, and in the process created the Sahara desert. No big deal.
Eventually, Mother Nature called to Jove for help, and Jove threw a bolt of lightning at the chariot to stop it, fighting fire with fire.
In the strike of lightning Phaeton fell to the earth and died. He was buried there all alone till his mother and sisters found him and wept rather uncontrollably till they straight up turned into poplar trees, and they’re still crying, just in the form of amber.
Phoebus was so pissed off that Jove had killed his son that he refused to drive the chariot and for one day the earth went without the sun.
The End.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Ovid Show

I thought it was a funny comment today that Dr. Sexton made about Ovid being a talk show host if he was still around today. I think that if he wasn't a talk show host he would definitely be a commentator on the ways we go about our lives with It really couldn't be more true, we are raised in a culture where drama is all that we have to live for, and now it seems even worse because it is so easily accessed through the media. Drama is not only in the media, it is in every aspect of live whether you like it or not. Personally, I try to avoid drama like the plague but it prevails despite my efforts. In affect, drama is life and life is dramatic. The Metamorphoses are especially interesting to apply to modern times because they center around the more interesting aspects of drama: greed, jealousy, lust, betrayal. Which is no doubt what our culture has a major infatuation with. It seems almost ridiculous the amount of time that people spend judging and watching other people's lives. Take MTV for example, they have created a cult of people that are obsessed with the lives of seriously shallow people. I have watched these shows a few times and it surprises me every time that people actually find this sit interesting, and maybe it isn't that it's interesting maybe it's just that it's entertaining. I hope so, because it is entertaining to watch a bunch of stupid people fuck up their lives on national television. Sad, but entertaining for the rest of us.

I suppose thought the situations that Ovid was talking about in the year 8 may have seemed just as ridiculous to the people then, but still entertaining. I just wonder what Ovid might say about the direction culture has went with this type of entertainment. It has evolved from hypothetical situations involving gods and demigods to straight watching people make fools of themselves.

Oh, and apparently we are not the only ones who recognize the theme all that is past possesses the present. Brown University is coming out with a play written by Mary Zimmerman, that portrays the 11 plays by Ovid in modern context. The introductory sentence says, "When Ovid penned "Metamorphoses" in the first century A.D., it is unlikely he anticipated Beyonce's "Diva" serving as part of its soundtrack." Check it out at the cite below.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Mythological Art in Florence

Today I am writing from Florence, Italy! I have been here for about a week and seen more art and sculptures than ever before. Most interestingly I have been seeing a lot of art that is very prominent to some of the things we have talked about in class. A couple of days ago we visited the Galleria degli Uffizi in which I got to see with my own eyes Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus", which is one of the most famous paintings of all time and for righteous reasons it truly was a thing of beauty, perfect down to the last brush stroke. While I was at the Gallery I bought a book called "Myths: Classical Mythology in the Visual Arts" which gives a quick description of a few of the myths and their origins along with most of the art work that has been associated with those myths. (I will bring this book to class on Wed. when I return) The Birth of Venus sparked a little curiousity in me and when I started to read the book I was very interested in what it had to say and maybe you will be too,

"The mother of Aeneas, the Trojan hero who founded Rome, Aphrodite was known to the Romans as Venus. The Roman emperor Julius Caesar built a temple dedicated to her, as she was considered the mother of the city, the Venus Genetrix. In this way, Rome claimed a remote divine origin for itself.

...according to the narrative of Hesoid, Aphrodite rose from the foam fertilized by the genitals of Uranus that were cut off by his son Cronus. This is the version best known by artists and The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli is one of the greatest examples. Another version of the birth of Aphrodite, going back to Homer, tells that she was a daughter of Zeus and Dione. The two traditions remained current throughout antiquity up until Plato, in his Symposium, imagined that there were actually two distinct Aphrodites: Aphrodite Ourania, or the "heavenly" Aphrodite, of whom Hesoid speaks in his Theogony, and Aphrodite Pandemos, or the "popular" Aphrodite, who dates back to the narrative of Homer."

There are many myths linked to Aphrodite or Venus that we haven't talked about in class, and personally I find her to be one of the most interesting of the gods that we have talked about, and now I have seen what an impact she has had on the art culture of both past and present.

One myth that I found particularly interesting was the myth of Aphrodite and Ares. According to Homer, in the Odyssey, Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, the god of fire and metallurgy, but also had an interest in Ares. She was having an affair with him one day when the god of the sun, Helius saw them and told Hephaestus what he had seen. In a fit of jealousy and anger Hephaestus laid a trap that only he knew how to use. One night when the lovers were laying together he covered them with a net and invited all the gods to come see them and laugh at them. Ashamed Aphrodite took refuge in Cypros for a very long time and Ares took refuge in Thrace. There is a lot of work that has been associated with this story as well, for example Costantino Cedini's "Mars and Venus Caught in Vulcan's Net"

I will be sure to keep updating on what I learn about the gods, but for now I'm off to wander the city of Florence!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Past Possesses all that is Present for better or worse

When Dr. Sexson mentioned at the beginning of the semester that one, if not a few of us, were going to loose someone very close to us, I’m sure everyone was thinking the same thing, “he’s probably right, but I hope it’s not me”. I had forgot his prediction till he mentioned it in class yesterday and unfortunately I had a very close friend die a couple months ago. He was the kind of person that you know through your parents, my dad and his dad went to college together and afterwards his dad bought some property in Mexico, where we would meet every couple years. Dillon was someone I knew from the time that we were about five or six years old, not someone that I would call a best friend, by any means, but like a cousin. Someone who you know better than most of your friends and someone who knows you the same, just because you’ve seen each other grow up and the changes that come along with that. I didn’t think that I would see the end to those changes for a very long time but Dillon ended his life with a shot to the head. This ties even further into what we are doing in class in relation to Hector’s wife coming to terms with the fact that she has to let her child die. Dillon was fully ready to end his life, and had made the preparations necessary to take care of his body after he was gone. He wrote a letter to his parents stating that he wanted to be cremated and have half his ashes spread over the mountains in Colorado, where he spent much of his childhood, and the other half over the Caribbean in Mexico where we had spent so many times snorkeling, cooking, and laughing with our families. He stamped that letter and sent it off the day he shot himself, but he didn’t say his goodbyes over a letter, instead he called his parents 300 miles south of him at their home in California, and told them that he was going to kill himself and there was nothing that they could do, it was time.
It’s hard to judge what’s worse; the fact that he killed himself in the first place or that he called his parents to say goodbye. I’m sure his intentions were not malicious in calling to say goodbye, but I imagine the sense of panic his parents felt was very similar to the sense of panic Hector’s wife felt when she heard the news her son must be killed. Of course there are some differences; Dillon took his own life while Hector’s son was being murdered, but all the same the terror and fright that both must have felt is something that brings tears to my eyes.
Now that Dillon is gone, his parents are dealing with this sense that he is dead and they are alive as best they can. I can only imagine they are wondering what they could have done to stop this tragedy, because the young are suppose to bury their elders not the other way around.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Phallocentric vs Gynocentric

According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000. Phallocentric means "centered on men or on a male viewpoint, especially one held to entail the domination of women by men." In doing a little research online, I found that according to most thesaurus' there is no specific word that means the opposite of phallocentric. The only word that came close I found on wiktionary; gynocentrism meaning an "ideological focus on females, an issues affecting them, possibly to the detriment of non-females." Now, this definition can be applied almost exactly to the ideals of Lysistrata.
Affected by war the woman take a gynocentric stand point and use their female persuasion to end the Peloponnesian war. Though the legend may not be true it is a good example of a possibly made up word, gynocentrism.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Apology to Group 3

I would have to say that I am a victim of Plato's fear that our memories are not as good because we have so many other things to depend on. For instance, I was suppose to meet my group in the library today at 3:30. Instead, I was vigorously cleaning my apartment, which wasn't that much fun anyway and I would have been much happier had I remembered. So, I'm sorry to my fellow members for not being there. I would love to hear what you guys talked about, an e-mail ( would be great, or we can just catch up in class tomorrow. Once again, my bad. See you in class.

Jenny-Lynn your memory amazing me, and your performance was beautiful. I wonder sometimes how we might have changed the fate of memory, or if it was inevitable. This is not the first time my memory has failed me however, big surprise I know... Perhaps it is a defect in our educational system. Not to blame anything else for my bad memory, but we are not required to memorize things like in Plato's time, for instance, where pens that recorded brilliant lectures did not exsist. However, I think the real fault lies within each person individually. Unless gifted with one of those brilliant memories, I think that we should attempt to train our memories to be better by forcing ourselves to memorize passages like the one Jenny did. It shows a real strength in personality when someone takes the time to memorize something so timeless. I have taken it upon myself to improve my memory and I found this website on google with some techniques to improve memory. If you to suffer from a terrible memory like me, check it out. together we can save the memory!!!