Thursday, August 12, 2010

FID: Greek Mythology

You ask, “Why Greek Mythology?”

Long, long ago, man created Greek mythology to explain life and everything in the world—weird things that couldn’t otherwise be explained.

Samael Janus (the villain in “Flight into Darkness”) turns to Greek mythology to explain a few things he can’t understand about himself.

There are three stories from the Greeks that I would like to review:

I. Zeus and Io – one of the most touching dramas in Greek Mythology; a story of infidelity and revenge.

Once upon a time, Zeus (the father of gods and men) was sitting high up on his Olympian throne when he spotted a beautiful young priestess named Io. When he came to her, she was so awed by him that she immediately fell in love with him.

Io falls for Zeus
Zeus obviously knew that if he and Io were caught together, bad things would happen to Io. But being the typical womanizer (Rexter) that he was, having no fear of being caught, Zeus threw caution to the wind and entered into a passionate affair with Io.

Zeus and Io
It wasn’t long before Zeus began to sense that Hera (the goddess of women and marriage, and wife of Zeus) might be suspicious of his relations with Io. In an attempt to hide her from Hera, he changed the girl into a beautiful white cow, but Hera saw right through Zeus' plot. Pretending that Io was just a normal cow, she demands Zeus to give her the heifer maiden as a gift. Now, Zeus could not refuse Hera without giving himself away. He had no choice but to turn Io over to Hera.

Hera assigns Argus the job of guarding Io
Hera assigns the herdsman, Argus (Argus Panoptes, meaning ‘all seeing’), to guard Io. Argus was perhaps the best guard in Ancient Greece, for he had 100 eyes, and never needed to close them all at the same time when he slept. He could, in essence, watch Io all of the time. Hera told Argus to let Io wander as she wanted, as long as she kept away from Zeus. Hera later sent a gadfly to torment and sting Io, forcing her to wander farther and farther away from her home and happiness.

Hermes kills Argus and frees Io
Zeus was inflamed. With Argus on guard, he couldn’t secretly meet with the lovely Io. He instructed his son, Hermes, to kill Argus. To this day, Hermes is often called Argeiphontes, ‘the slayer of Argus’. He lulled the herdsman to sleep with sweet music and then beheaded the sleeping watchman before he could defend himself. Io was now free of the all seeing Argus.

Europe and Asia divided by Bosphorus Stait

The punishment was not over yet. The gadfly was still goading the heifer-girl to the ends of the earth. Io’s flight took her East towards Asia, hopping across the Bosphorus Strait (a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia), giving the strait its name (boos-foros, which is Greek for cow-ford).

Bosphorus Straits connect the Black Sea (to the north) and the Marmara Sea (to the south)

After years of tortuous wandering, Io came upon what is now the Golden Horn River where the hand of Zeus reached out and touched her, lifting Hera’s curse and restoring her to her youthful beauty.

The Golden Horn, the Golden Horn River, the Bosphorus Strait

Impregnated by the divine sperm of Zeus, Io gave birth to a daughter, Keroessa.

II. Keroessa (Chrysoceras: Chryso-gold; ceras-horn)

When Keroessa was born, she carried the scars of her mother’s transformation: there were two projections on both sides of her forehead like horns. It was because of her golden hair and the little horns on her forehead that the mythical nymphs along the river named her Keroessa (Chrysoceras: Chryso=gold; ceras=horn). The Golden Horn River is named after Keroessa (Chrysoceras).

The Golden Horn River
III. Byzas the Megarian (founder of Byzantium)

Poseidon and Keroessa
In Greek mythology, Keroessa later bore a son to Poseidon (elder brother of Zeus and lord of all waters). This son in time became the founder of Byzantium and named the Golden Horn (Chrysoceras) after his mother, Keroessa (Chrysoceras).

The Golden Horn River

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