Archive for the ‘Ancient Greece’ Category

Smash The Tablets Of Law

March 27, 2007

Greed, Groucho:54, 6006 YD

by: Episkopos Cain

I thought I had woken up after sleeping uncomfortably in bed, however, this couldn’t be true as there was no longer any bed under me, only a sparkly brown and yellow dirt. I stood up and looked around me. In the distance were mountains, far closer was a low flat topped hill. It was like nowhere I had been before, yet intimately familiar. Then I saw her. Dressed in full bronze armour, a helmet over her head and a double bladed sword in her hand, she walked up to me. As I got closer, I saw that her hair and armour were covered in blood, a large shield with an apple covering it, the word written on it clearly visible.

“Ah” I said. “OK then. Whats all this about?”

The golden eyes within the helm looked at me. “Its for my amusement and for your possible education. After all, isn’t all life
but a learning experience?”

“I thought that was all Yahweh’s shit, testing people and so on?”

“Its not really a test though, is it? You can’t fail, or succeed, only learn from it.”

With that, she beckoned, then turned and started to walk away. I followed, seeing what she had in store. We stopped suddenly. Looking down, I saw two weapons on the ground, a short sword and a hammer. “Choose only one” she said. I thought for a moment, then reached for the hammer. The sword had the advantage of an edge, but was purely a killing weapon. Hammers had utility in their favour. I stood back up straight, but Eris had vanished. Making my way back to the plains, I saw suddenly a flurry of activity there. Walking down the hill, I saw that they were men and women, all busily at work, consuming the resources of the area to make new things. But as I drew closer there were other things I noticed.

They walked curiously, sometimes bumping into others thats transected their paths. Instead of stopping or apologizing, they just carried on. Occasionally when it came to several against one, the one got trampled on. I also watched as they fashioned bladed items and handed them to others, cutting them as they grabbed it and took it to other areas around the plains, where they were dumped in piles for more blind drones to fall over. One man just ate continually as he walked, whatever he could find, if it was food or rock he didn’t care. Blood ran from his mouth and there were children following him, crying out in hunger. Seeing as he was closest, I walked up beside him and shouted “hey!” It didn’t have an effect, so I attempted to grab some of the food he had held against his body by his arm. Immediately, he grabbed me and shouted “get off my stuff, FUCKER!” and nearly broke my arm shoving me to the ground. I let him walk on, then dusted myself off and rubbed my arm until some life came back into it.

Getting up and moving on, I made my slow way to the flat hill I had seen at the centre of the plains, watching as I went the mechanical scenes of destruction and mindless suffering. Making my way onto the flat surface, I saw someone had erected a huge tablet in the centre, with writing on it. Getting closer, the writing was obvious. Words and phrases jumped out, such as “everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order …”.

Under that though, other words could be noticed, as I drew closer, such as “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But under that there were even older scratchings and carvings. I made out one barely, that read “ now on, till (Ahura) Mazda grants me the kingdom favor, I will impose my monarchy on no nation. Each is free to accept it , and if any one of them rejects it , I never resolve on war to reign.” But even under these carvings there were the oldest ones, the ones that had always been there. “Blood shall be spilled and more blood, for there is never enough…”, “war brings strength and only the strong have the right to rule” and “cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. Completely destroy them–the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites– as the LORD your God has commanded you. Otherwise, they will teach.”

I had an idea as to what to do. Lifting the hammer, I swung as hard as possible and struck the tablet. As the first crack appeared, everyone stopped what they were doing, at started to move towards me, an urgency in their step that I hadn’t seen before propelling them. Spurred on, I struck again and again, until the tablet crumbled, its lower sections totally destroyed, collapsing in on itself. But what I saw horrified me. Instead of stopping what they had been doing, or even attacking me, the crowds had turned on each other. They were spilling blood and crushing bones, like a horrible theatre that would never end. I noticed that an armoured figure was beside me again. “Why are they doing this?” I demanded. “Why didn’t it help them?”

“Whoever said it would help?” came the reply from under the helm. “You think they want to have their illusions ripped from them, the true extent of their handiwork displayed for them and everyone else to see? They’ll torture themselves with guilt, unless they can lay the blame on someone else. You were a target first, but then they saw what those around them forced them to do too. Consider the lesson taught.”

I looked back, and no-one was there.

Ancient Greeks And Eris

October 23, 2006

Pride, Harpo:45, 6006 YD

written by Episkopos Cain

According to Hesiod in his Theogony, Eris is the daughter of Nyx, that is night. Those versed in Chinese philosophy will immediately make the connection between Yin and Nyx, the feminime, the dark and the cold.

However, Eris bucks the trend when it comes to the usual passivity associated with that principle. She is also the sister of Ares, which should give you a clue as to her temperment.

Eris is also the mother of the Kakodaimones, the evil spirits which plagued mankind, according to Hesiod. These he names as “Toil, and Forgetfulness, and Starvation, and the Pains, full of weeping, the Fightings and the Battles, the Murders and the Man-slaughters, the Quarrels, the Lies, the Disputes, and Lawlessness and Ruin, who share one another’s natures, and Oath who does more damage than any other to earthly men, when anyone, of his knowledge, swears to a false oath.”

These are also traditionally seen as the ill fates that were bound in Pandora’s Box. In fact, in Greek, the link is explicit in the mind of the poet. That would also imply that Hope is one of the children of Eris. Something to keep in mind, I feel.

For you fans of coincidence, Hesiod has a warning about the number 5. And I quote “Beware of all the fifth days [of the month]; for they are harsh and angry; it was on the fifth, they say, that the Erinyes assisted at the bearing of Horkos, whom Eris bore, to be a plague on those who take false oath.” – Hesiod, Works and Days 804

However, Eris was mostly viewed as the Goddess of the Strife of War. With the regularity at which the Greeks fought, this is perhaps unsurprising. Her first mention of battle is in the Trojan War. According to Hesiod again, “[Eris] is hateful … [she is the one] who builds up evil war, and slaughter. She is harsh; no man loves her, but under compulsion and by will of the immortals, men promote this rough Eris (Strife).” – Hesiod, Works and Days 11

In the war, she took the side of the Trojans, along with her brother Ares and his two sons, Phobos (Terror) and Deimos (Fear), against the rest of the Olympians and the Greek invaders. Homer described her as follows “only a little thing at the first, but thereafter grows until she strides on the earth with her head striking heaven. She then hurled down bitterness equally between both sides as she walked through the onslaught making men’s pain heavier.” – Homer, Iliad 4.441

Eris even disobeyed Zeus and continued to fight, as the Lord of Olympus had commanded every God to retreat and let this stage of the war be a purely human affair.

Later on, she is seen on the battlefield with Confusion and Death, dragging dead bodies in a way reminiscint of what fate befell Hector after his challenge. “These stood their ground and fought a battle by the banks of the river, and they were making casts at each other with their spears bronze-headed; and Eris was there with Kydoimos (Confusion) among them, and Ker (Death) the destructive; she was holding a live man with a new wound, and another one unhurt, and dragged a dead man by the feet through the carnage.” – Homer, Iliad 18.535

Eris also gifted the Amazonian Queen with an immensely dangerous weapon, presumably of her creation; “a huge halberd, sharp of either blade, which terrible Eris gave to Ares’ child to be her Titan weapon in the strife [of the Trojan War] that raveneth souls of men.” – Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 1.158

She also gets a bonus mention in one of Aesops fables, funnily enough along with the mention of an apple and a very Taoist piece of advice from Athena:

“Herakles was making his way through a narrow pass. He saw something that looked like an apple lying on the ground and he tried to smash it with his club. After having been struck by the club, the thing swelled up to twice its size. Herakles struck it again with his club, even harder than before, and the thing then expanded to such a size that it blocked Herakles’s way. Herakles let go of his club and stood there, amazed. Athena saw him and said, ‘O Herakles, don’t be so surprised! This thing that has brought about your confusion is Aporia (Contentiousness) and Eris (Strife). If you just leave it alone, it stays small; but if you decide to fight it, then it swells from its small size and grows large.” – Aesop, Fables 534 (from Chambry 129)

Eris was not limited to strife on the battlefield though, the strife which inflicts married life is also mentioned. “One day they [Polytekhnos and Aedon of Kolophon in Lydia] blurted out the needless remark that they loved each other more than did Hera and Zeus. Hera found what was said to be insupportable and sent Eris (Discord) between them to create strife in their activities.”- Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses 11

The story of the Golden Apple is an interesting one too. “And all the race of gods hasted to do honour to the white-armed bride [Thetis at her wedding to Peleus] … But Eris (Strife) [alone] did Kheiron [who sent out the invitations] leave unhonoured: Kheiron did not regard her and Peleus heeded her not …” so Eris “she bethought her of the golden apples of the Hesperides. Thence Eris took the fruit that should be the harbinger of war, even the apple, and devised the scheme of signal woes. Whirling her arm she hurled into the banquet the primal seed of turmoil and disturbed the choir of goddesses.” I think we all know the story from there on in (taken from Colluthus, The Rape of Helen 38)

Eris also appears in some other Greek tales, sometimes under the name of Enyo, whom Homer ranked as equal to Athena in martial prowess “[The] goddesses, who range in order the ranks of men in fighting, [are] Athene and Enyo, sacker of cities.” – Homer, Iliad 5.333

She makes many minor appearances in the Theban cycle of poetry, in particular the Thebiad, which tells of the fraticidal violence which eventually led to the epic battle as told by Aeschylus between Eteocles and the army of Thebes and Polynices and his supporters, traditional Theban enemies:

“Fit sentinels hold watch there [the Thracian palace of Mars-Ares]: from the outer gate wild Impetus (Passion) leaps, and blind Nefas (Mishief) and Irae (Angers) flushing red and pallid Metus (Fear), and Insidia (Treachery) lurks with hidden sword, and Discordia (Discord) [Eris] holding a two-edged blade. Minis (Threatenings) innumerable make clamour in the court, sullen Virtus (Valour) stands in the midst, and Furor (Rage) exultant and armed Mors (Death) with blood-stained visage are seated there; no blood but that of wars is on the altars, no fire but snatched from burning cities.” – Statius, Thebaid 7.64

She is also mentioned in Valerius Flaccus’ Argonautica, which is a pretty inferior rewriting of Apollonius of Rhodes’ version of the tale: “Through the terror-stricken air again and again she [Aphrodite leading the Lemnian women to slaughter their unfaithful husbands] makes a strange cry ring … Straightway Pavor (Fear) [Deimos] and insensate Discordia (Strife) [Eris] from her Getic lair, dark-browed Ira (Anger) with pale cheeks, Dolus (Treachery), Rabies (Frenzy) [Lyssa] and towering above the rest Letus (Death) [Ker], her cruel hands bared, come hastening up at the first sound of the Martian consort’s pealing voice that gave the signal.” – Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2.200

Eris was also the escort of the dread Demon/Dragon Typhoeus, who Zeus battled deep in the Abyss, though she took no part in the battle itself.

Another important role is in the fascinating Dionysiaca text. Eris appeared in the form of the Goddess Rheia, exhorting him to make battle with the Indian King Deriades, who she later sides with, along with the usual crew of Ares and Fear and Terror.

However, Hesiod mentions there are two Eris’, or at least two aspects to her:

“It was never true that there was only one Eris. There have always been two on earth. There is one you could like when you understand her. The other is hateful. The two Erites have separate natures. There is one Eris who builds up evil war, and slaughter. She is harsh; no man loves her, but under compulsion and by will of the immortals, men promote this rough Eris (Strife). But the other one was born the elder daughter of black Nyx. The son of Kronos, who sits on high and dwells in the bright air set her in the roots of the earth and among men; she is far kinder. She pushes the shiftless man to work, for all his laziness. A man looks at his neighbour, who is rich: then he too wants work; for the rich man presses on with his ploughing and planting and ordering of his estate. So the neighbour envies the neighbour who presses on toward wealth. Such Eris (Strife) is a good friend to mortals.” – Hesiod, Works and Days 11

Interview With Eris

February 7, 2006

BARON VON HOOPLA: I am very happy to be interviewing today the Goddess of Chaos, Confusion, Calamity, and dinky cars: Eris Nancy Discordia. Welcome, Eris.

ERIS NANCY DISCORDIA: Thanks, Hoops.

BVH: Eris, doing my research I found that there weren’t really a lot of ancient legends which depicted you. In fact, I could only find two. Why do you think that was?

END: I could put the blame on Athena or Aphrodite, but we all know the real blame goes on Pan. He got all the gods and goddesses to convince the Greeks that my stories were too fascinating and witty, so they destroyed all copies. Eventually only a couple Bazooka Joe comics were left discarded in Dionysus’s temple which depicted the two legends now available.

BVH: Seriously?

END: Nope.

BVH: Ah, right. Ok, do you think it has anything to do with Gregory Hill and Kerry Thornley’s idea that the Greeks had a warped idea of what Discord is?

END: No, they knew exactly what Discord was; they just didn’t like it.

BVH: Seriously?

END: Maybe.

BVH: Ok. There is a lot of arguing with modern Discordians as to whether or not what you are currently representing is true Discordianism. Some think that modern Discordianism is all clowns and roller-coasters instead of violence and bloodshed and rioting. Which is true?

END: You’re still caught up on true? The problem is that you all think there is a difference. Comedy is Discordianism because it is discordant. Comedy ruffles feathers. And besides, all the other stuff which you describe as violence and bloodshed is always funny to someone. I see no better symbol for Discordianism than a roller-coaster derailing.

BVH: What about the enormous disasters which have been plaguing the world in the last few years?

END: What about them?

BVH: Well, I see a lot of Discordians reacting to the disasters in a rather negative way . . . it seems almost like a lot of them forget that the disasters are pretty much Discord in action.

END: What do you expect? A party?

BVH: No, but it seems strange to me that people who consider themselves followers of Discord being upset or surprised by these disasters.

END: People will always be dismayed by large displays of Discord, if only because humans are naturally adverse to change of any sort. I see no reason why a so-called Discordian should embrace disasters; acknowledging that they are natural and necessary is much more than most others ever do.

BVH: Many consider the central lesson of the Principia Discordia to be that we are truly free; but there are some who seem to take this lesson as permission to act like a completely selfish prick, do you regret that lesson now?

END: First, it wasn’t my lesson; it was Mal2’s filtered through Greg Hill’s brain. I just gave Mal2 the idea. At any rate, those who take the lesson as permission to be a selfish prick are at best being lazy, and at worst being intentionally deceptive. The freedom is freedom from your standard conventions. For example, paper is a reality, would you agree?

BVH: Yes.

END: And printing presses are a reality. BUT, and here is the important part, money is a social fiction. You are enslaved by money only if you choose to be.

BVH: But, isn’t the only way not to be enslaved by money to be homeless or to move to a deserted island.

END: That is not for me to say. That’s where the freedom enters into the picture. You are only repressed by your own mind.

BVH: What acts of Discord are you most proud of?

END: When frozen shit from airplanes falls from the sky to crush people. It’s lowbrow, but it gives me fits of giggles.

BVH: And what pisses you off most?

END: The depiction of me on the television show Xena. I’m still thinking of a really good vindictive way to smite the people who created and worked on that show. Look forward to the ‘Curse Of Xena’ soon.

BVH: Speaking of Xena, that reminds me of Hercules, which reminds me of the only other legend I could find about you, it concerned a conversation you had with Heracles. It seems that you offered him to travel down your path and lead a life of strife and struggle, or he could go down the path of Sloth and lead an easy and lazy life. He picked the path of Eris. Why do you think that is?

END: You already know the answer to that question.

BVH: True. Well, I thank you for the opportunity to let me ask you these questions. Anything else you want to add before we finish?

END: I just wanted to say hi to Athena and Aphrodite, and ask them to ponder how many followers they still have these days.

BVH: There you have it folks, Eris Nancy Discordia, still petty after all these years.

Agamemnon And The Ill Wind

January 25, 2006

Some time after the ORIGINAL SNUB, which started the Trojan War, but before the war actually began, Agamemnon son of Atreus had collected his fleets at Aulis in Boeotia but found himself unable to sail for Troy due to a contrary wind.

Agamemnon clutched his long ivory scepter forged by the god Hephaestus who gave it to Hermes, who dropped it in a fountain when plonked at one of Dionysus’ parties, where it was subsequently found by Agamemnon’s grandfather Pelops, and was then grudgingly passed down to him. He clutched the scepter and shook with rage. He was consumed with revenge and honour, two ingredients which–when mixed–can become poison in a man’s blood. In desperation he called out for Calchas, who spoke with the gods.

‘Calchas, you sweet bitch, who speaks with the gods,’ Agamemnon said. ‘tell me which god is it who is pissed with me and has asked the ill wind to blow against the long-haired Achaeans so that they may not sail against the wife-robbing bastard people, the Trojans, who stole the completely foxy Helen from my brother Menalaus, King of Sparta?’

Calchas was not a stupid man; he knew that those who gave bad news to kings soon became deprived of what was most dear to them: their lives. Hades did not have a good rep at that time, some would argue it still doesn’t, but it beats Toledo Ohio in a pinch. Conversely, everyone knew that lying about the gods could get you in worse places than either Hades or Toledo. The choice was obvious. ‘Good King Agamemnon, it makes me sick to say it, but there are five gods angered at you.’

‘Five gods?’ sputtered Agamemnon. ‘But how? But why? But when?’

Calchas said, ‘It is the truth Agamemnon son of Atreus that swift and sleek Artemis is angered with you because she overheard you boast that you were a better marksman that she.’

Agamemnon said ‘Shit. It’s true. I did boast to be a better marksman than Artemis the swift and sleek. Tell me Calchas, what does wise Artemis ask in return?’

Calchas quivered in the hips as he said, ‘Only your first born daughter Iphigenia, sacrificed on an alter, the fat from her thighs burned in respect.’

‘Ach,’ said Agamemnon. ‘Gag. That I cannot do. Calchas, you sweet bitch, who speaks with the gods, tell me which other god is it who is pissed with me?’

Calchas said, ‘It is the truth Agamemnon son of Atreus that beautiful and nubile Aphrodite is angered with you because she heard you vowed to sacrifice the most beautiful treasure in your life in exchange for victory against the little Trojan shits.’

Agamemnon said ‘Aw fer fu-. Mmm. It’s true. I did vow to sacrifice the most beautiful treasure in my life in exchange for victory against the little Trojan shits. Tell me Calchas, what does wise Aphrodite ask in return?’

Calchas shivered in the groin as he said, ‘Only your wife Clytemnestra, sacrificed on an alter, the fat from her thighs burned in respect.’

‘Feh,’ said Agamemnon. ‘Gak. That I cannot do. Calchas, you sweet bitch, who speaks with the gods, tell me which other god is it who is pissed with me?’

Calchas said, ‘It is the truth Agamemnon son of Atreus that Zeus lord of the sky, had sent an omen to you of two young studly eagles meant to represent the Atridae, which tore to pieces a pregnant hare. White-armed Here, big mama of all the heavens and gueen of all the mothers was beyond pissed.’

Agamemnon said ‘Great Googly Moogly! Grr. It’s true. Zeus did send an omen of two young studly eagles meant to represent the Atridae, which tore to pieces a pregnant hare. Tell me Calchas, what does wise Here ask in return?’

Calchas jiggled in the gizzard as he said, ‘Only all your children, sacrificed on an alter, the fat from their thighs burned in respect.’

‘Bah!’ said Agamemnon. ‘Yuk. That I cannot do. Calchas, you sweet bitch, who speaks with the gods, tell me which other god is it who is pissed with me?’

Calchas said, ‘It is the truth Agamemnon son of Atreus that flashing-eyed Pallas Athene, unsleeping daughter of Big Daddy Zeus was offended by your father Atreus. He vowed to sacrifice a lamb to aegis-bearing Athene in exchange for success in battle, this he did not do.’

Agamemnon said ‘Mother fuck! Mmm. It’s true. My father was a complete dipshit, he did stuff like that all the time, one time he promised me half of Caledon- aw fuck it . . . Tell me Calchas, what does wise Pallas Athene ask in return?’

Calchas trembled in the pancreas as he said, ‘Only all your only son Orestes, sacrificed on an alter, the fat from their thighs burned in respect.’

‘Homina homina homina’ said Agamemnon. ‘Retch. That I cannot do. Calchas, you sweet slut, who speaks with the gods, tell me which is the last god who is pissed with me?’

Calchas said, ‘It is the truth Agamemnon son of Atreus that Eris also called Strife is offended by your feeding of hot dogs to your troops. Her only sustenance when she went into self-imposed exile after THE SNUB was the hot dog bun, it is an affront to the goddess of Discord and she smites you in bitter and somewhat petty retaliation. It’s boring on Mt. Olympus.’

Agamemnon said ‘Rats. It’s true. I feed my soldiers Armor Hot Dogs, they’re the dogs long-haired Achaeans love to bite. Tell me Calchas, what does wise Eris ask in return?’

Calchas twitched in the pineal gland as he said, ‘Only all the soldier’s hot dog buns, torched on an alter, in respect.’

‘Uh uh.’ said Agamemnon. ‘No way. That I cannot do. They would eat me alive. Besides, it is never that easy.’

Agamemnon pondered all the gods requests and wondered which would be the least disastrous for him. The easiest in the eyes of a misogynist bronze era Greek was obviously the sacrifice of his eldest daughter Iphigenia, but once she was dead and cut up for sacrifice Agamemnon and Calchas realized they had no kindling. The only thing flammable to start the pyre was the hot dog buns.

Agamemnon broke his scepter across his knee, ‘This is ridiculous! I promised my soldiers those buns, but if I must, I must . . . burn the buns, Calchas.’

The moment Calchas lit the buns the wind began to change. Agamemnon felt sick, and tried to convince himself that the fat of Iphigenia’s thighs was already starting to burn, but he knew in his heart the truth. Despite that, he turned to Calchas ‘A cheer for swift and sleek Artemis who granted muh-mercy on the long-haired Achaeans.’

A loud cackle from high above startled Agamemnon and Calchas as they toasted, but neither of them asked from whence it came.

The moral of this story? Don’t over complicate things!

Hail Eris.

Magic

December 12, 2005

The space allotted to magic is getting smaller and smaller every year. Even the magicians are abandoning it, they call themselves illusionists now and hide under sidewalks, or freeze themselves inside ice. But where is the magic?

I talked to a four year old girl one day who didn’t believe in fairies. Can she even be described as a child?

Movies about the Illiad are made, but all the gods are squeezed out like from a freeze-dried piece of fruit. Does this make the movie more realistic? Did the gods not exist for the Greeks?

Quantum Physics tells us that once a particle has come in contact with another particle it will continue to influence it no matter how far away it is. Soon they will be telling us that isn’t magic either.


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