Monday, August 06, 2007

Its all Greek

The meaning behind all the intertwining flowers I've been painting recently is probably quite obvious. They represent people, or more accurately, lovers.

Inspiration for these came from a story from Ovid I recall reading over and over as a youngster. I was (and still am) fascinated by Greek mythology.

Zeus and Hermes disguised themselves as poor peasants and visited a small town. They began asking the people of the town for a place to sleep that night. But "all the doors bolted and no word of kindness given, so wicked were the people of that land."

Except for one humble home.

The disguised Gods came upon the rustic cottage of Baucis and Philemon. Although they were very poor, they gave Zeus and Hermes what they had to eat and drink. Baucis noticed that although she had refilled her guest's cups many times, the pitcher of wine was always full. Realising that their guests were in fact gods, Baucis and Philemon knelt before them begging indulgence for their simple home and fare. Philemon thought of catching and killing the goose that guarded their house and making it into a meal for the guests. But when Philemon went to catch the goose, it ran onto Zeus's lap. Zeus said that they did not need to slay the goose and that they should leave the town. He was going to destroy the town and all the people who had turned him away. He said Baucis and Philemon should climb the mountain with him and not turn back until they reached the top.

After climbing the mountain, Baucis and Philemon looked back on the town and saw that it had been destroyed by a flood. However, Zeus had turned Baucis and Philemon's cottage into an ornate temple. The couple were also granted a wish; they chose to stay together forever and to be guardians of the temple. They also requested that when it came time for one of them to die, the other would die as well. Upon their death, they were changed into an intertwining pair of trees, one oak and one linden, standing in the deserted terrain, forever in each other's arms.


MissT said...

I've always been interested in the concept of soulmates. This too started with the a Greek established this myth concerning the origin of the two sexes.

Zeus, King of the gods, became angry with his creation, a single-sex creature that could reproduce and wandered the earthly paradise in perfect harmony with its surroundings, and sent a lightning bolt to split these creatures in two. This caused the male and female forms to come into existence, but Zeus went a step further and spread all of the two forms throughout the world, thus making it almost impossible for the one half to find the other matching half.

From that day onward, according to Greek legend, men and women have been looking for their other half, their 'soul mate'.

SueC said...

Thats really interesting stuff. I spent a great deal of my childhood confined to a wheelchair and I used to read avidly. My favourites were always the Greek myths and legends.