Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Potnia Theron

photo from

Hymn 9 to Artemis

Sing Muse, of Artemis,
Sister of the far worker.
Virgin spitter of arrows,
Fed at the same table as Apollo.

She refreshes her horses
The waters of reedy thick Meletos.

Swiftly through Smyrna
She drives her golden chariot
To Klaros rich in vines while
Apollo of the silver bow awaits
The arrow-pourer.

Hail Goddess! At the same time
Embroider lyrics. Of you I sing.
And now I shall pass over
Into another mournful song.

this one from

some words on Artemis

Artemis has many different guises, she seemed to start as a fertility goddess, as in Artemis of Ephusus and later takes the role of the virgin mistress of wild animals. She is quite cruel in her protection of her sacred animals, and in the protection of her virginity.

When I read of Artemis and Apollo and the serenity with which they can torture and kill us mortals I am reminded of Rilke's Angels from the first of his Duino Elegies. (which was written in Trieste while Joyce was writing Ulysses.)

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic
Orders? And even if one were to suddenly
take me to its heart, I would vanish into its
stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but
the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear,
and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains
to destroy us. Every Angel is terror.

Ekatos - the far shooter, a name for Apollo, the younger twin brother to Artemis.

Iocheairan - This word is commonly translated as arrow pourer. Ios is the word for arrow as well as the word for venom. I combined the arrow and the venom of the snake and made the image of the mistress of the wild beasts (potnia theron) spitting arrows, as a snake will spit venom.

Bathuschoinoio - combining Bathos; deep, used in many metaphorical ways as well, including the connotation that is still current, profound, and schoinos which means reeds. Coincidently schoinos can be used to mean arrow or javelin.

Meletos a river, which may have been near to city of Smyrna.

Kleros - a site sacred to Apollo, where there was once an oracle.

Humnos - a hymn, but also a word with wider intimations, a simple strain or melody but also a hymn, an ode to the gods, but also a mournful song. As all art has an element of sorrow I used to translation of mournful song.

Again I am no scholar in the classics, but a vain and puny amateur who gains enjoyment trying to make sense of the word about us.

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