Feb. 19th, 2017

athousanderrors: from 'Spirited Away' - soot sprites, clutching confetti stars, running about excitedly. (Default)
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It’s a load of WANK

I have actually added this to the original post, but obviously there are about 780 versions of that post floating around at this point and nearly all of them are like ‘omg i’m so glad that this 100% unverified post about persephone proves that everyone has been wrong about the myth for the past hundreds of years… thank god for no sources

But anyway, here are my thoughts on the matter. It would probably help to have the original post open at the same time, as this response does make some close references to it: 

A disclaimer, first of all: any post that says THIS IS THE ORIGINAL MYTH is going to be wank, because we don’t know what the original myth was - we only have the first written sources, but without a time machine there’s just no way of finding out how the myth developed in an oral tradition. So already, we can debunk about 80% of that post. Groovy.

The first source we have for Persephone being carried away is in Hesiod’s Theogony, written in the 8th or 7th century BC. We also have the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, written in the 7th or 6th century BC, which is explicitly about her being taken away by Hades.

Hesiod is one of the oldest Greek sources that we have, roughly contemporaneous with Homer. We don’t have any earlier sources than this which say ‘hey, Persephone went to Hades because she thought it would be cool’. A lot of people have theorised that this could have been an original, or at least an earlier tradition, but it’s about 60% wishful thinking, 20% misinterpreting evidence (i.e. assuming that Persephone and Demeter used to be aspects of a great mother goddess, which they weren’t) and about 20% conjecture based on actual rational thought (i.e. the fact that the oldest written source we have is about an abduction doesn’t mean that it is the original source; there could be older non-extant written sources or just oral tales which pre-dated writing). It’s not fact.

It’s true that Homer himself never explicitly says that Persephone was abducted - he just describes her as Hades’ wife - but he also doesn’t say that she wasn’t abducted; it could well be that the myth of her abduction was so well known that he had no need to recount it.

It is true that Persephone’s name was Kore, which means ‘maiden’; however, this could be an epithet because she was unmarried. It’s also theorised that it was a euphemism of sorts for when people didn’t want to name Persephone outright; again, this is a theory. Lots of gods had epithets - basically cooler names which underlined some of their core attributes, e.g. Apollo = Loxias, which highlights Apollo’s powers of prophecy. Unlike the post claims, the name ‘Persephone’ does not definitively mean death / destroyer; the etymology is unknown. The ‘death / destroyer’ theory is just one of many, and others are based around ideas of harvest and grain.

The reason Zeus got involved wasn’t just because he was tasked with sorting out justice - it was because he had told Hades ‘hey, you want a wife? Cool! Abduct my daughter, Persephone. Her mum totally won’t mind,’ and then when Persephone’s mother did mind, Zeus was like ‘I fucked up real bad, I should sort this shit out.’ In Ancient Greece, women didn’t have to consent in the same way as we do now. Abduction marriages were actually illegal (or at least very very naughty) but the bride’s consent basically took the form of her father saying ‘you’ll marry this dude, right? Yeah, cool. She’ll marry you, dude.’ Here, Zeus gives Persephone’s consent to Hades by telling Hades that he can marry her - this is why technically she wasn’t exactly abducted, because the necessary consent - her father’s - was given. HOWEVER, let’s not get into Greek law here. She was abducted by our standards.

It is also true that Persephone became a very feared goddess and basically had a great time in the Underworld. She wasn’t exactly more terrible than Hades, though; there are certain myths (e.g. Sisyphus and Orpheus) where she’s the one who says ‘Hades, babe, shall we give this guy a chance to make his way out of the Underworld alive?’ HOWEVER, she did usually do this with the implementation of specific terms, meaning that she had a level of control in proceedings which a lot of other wife goddesses didn’t have over their respective spouses’ spheres. Most mythological canons also give her and Hades a very healthy and monogamous relationship (with the exception of Orphism, which is a bit more iffy on that front) so, disregarding the abduction part of her myth, their marriage was really relatively healthy, even by modern standards. Also, Persephone did not ‘lay the smack down on sinners’, as quoted in the original post - the whole idea of sinners is basically a Christian concept. The Underworld was not Hell. It wasn’t a place for bad people. It was just where the dead went. Tartarus was the place where the really bad guys went to be tortured and shit, and is more indicative of Christian notions of Hell. People weren’t punished in the Underworld. They just went there.

I love the idea of Persephone as a consenting wife of Hades. I am a fan of modern reinterpretations in which she chooses to eat the pomegranate seeds willingly, or where she falls in love with Hades and goes to the Underworld of her own accord. However, these are modern interpretations, based on modern gender politics and ideas of reclamation and representation. I will forever fight for people’s right to reinterpret myths however they like, but this whole idea of the ‘original myth’ of Persephone being devoid of any misogynistic undertones really needs to die. 

I think it also speaks to a worrying argument that in order to empower Persephone, some people need to remove her trauma. Why can’t Persephone be a terrible dread queen of the Underworld and a survivor? Why should her experiences need to be erased in order to make her into a strong woman? If you ask me, she’s already stronger than Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. I don’t think that the modern need to reframe Persephone as architect of her own descent into the Underworld is necessarily as progressive as others think it is. I think it sends the message that a strong woman always has agency, and I actually think that a better message to send would be that it’s totally possible to lose your agency and still retain your strength, because you define yourself through your own actions, not what is done to you.

tl;dr any post that makes a broad sweeping claim like ‘hey this greek myth was originally like this and u r all wrong’ without any sources is what my tutor would call ‘specious’ and what I call ‘bollocks’.
athousanderrors: from 'Spirited Away' - soot sprites, clutching confetti stars, running about excitedly. (Default)
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sashayed:

i get a lot of questions about what it’s like to live in DC! I keep meaning to make a fun post about it, and this is not that. But I do wish I could communicate to you guys what it is like to live here in the days leading to the inauguration of Donald Trump. 

I have never felt this place thrumming so palpably with shared, invisible disgust and tension. Like, as a person who lived here on 9/11 and during the days of anthrax threats and fighter jets constantly flying overhead and the D.C. sniper, I am truly not exaggerating when I say that the day after election day 2016 was the grimmest I’ve ever felt or seen this place. There were people crying in the streets in 2001, but there was a kind of communion too, a sense of public mourning and catharsis. In November, people cried silently. I have never seen a city that quiet. The streets were like a weird dream. People aren’t sitting on curbs weeping anymore, but right now this city is almost vibrating with tension. 

The first GWB inauguration was fraught. (The second certainly was too, but I wasn’t here.) D.C. residents are super democratic; there were a lot of protests and a lot of anger and sorrow. But Donald Trump is on a whole other level. Not only does he stand against everything that well-meaning people here stand for – mostly the West Wing illusion of creating, from whatever ideological standpoint, A Smarter, More Decent America – but he has been using this city as a metaphorical punching bag for months. If not years. 

Imagine if some dude ran for the mayor of your town by talking about how much your town fucking sucks and is ruining America (while also happily using your town to enrich himself). And then OTHER PEOPLE got to vote for your mayor. AND HE WON!!!! Whether or not you like your town, whether or not you think it’s the greatest place on earth, whether or not you believe it has flaws that should be addressed – you would still probably be like “What the fuck?” And now he is coming to your town in a week, with all the fucking people who hate or at best have no respect for you, and he and they are going to team up with your worst councilmembers (who you ALSO did not vote for) and use your town’s resources to do shitty, stupid, malicious things. You also have to imagine, in this metaphor, that your town has access to nuclear weapons.

In D.C., in my experience, the incumbent president has more influence on the culture and mood of the city than the mayor does. (We’re talking post-Marion Barry here.) For one thing, we are essentially subject to the will of the federal government; not only can we barely make our own laws, since all legislation here must be approved by Congress, but much of our civic funding comes from federal spending bills. For an example, see this article about that time the House voted to strike down a DC law banning discrimination against employees for their reproductive decisions. Would this law have affected Ted Fucking Cruz or his constituents? Of course the fuck not!!! Did he lead the movement to block it because he was so conceeeeeerned about the religious freedommmmmm of the employers of Washingtooooooooon?? Haha, take a guess! (No.) To people like Ted Cruz we are not a city full of people, 50% black, 10% immigrant, a place that needs resources and ingenuity to solve a widening income gap tied closely to race. Instead, we get to be a useful metaphor, a flag to wave at everybody else, and we don’t get a fucking vote in the Senate about it, and we are no longer going to have a President with veto power and our best interests in mind. 

In fact, I feel like a huge hypocrite even using the word “we!” I pay taxes in D.C., but I still vote in Maryland, because if you can – if you want any kind of voice – you have to. As many do, I try to use that privilege to listen to and advocate for D.C. itself. But when I use the word “we,” I am speaking in that sense as an outsider.

Anyway. I am trying to talk about how it feels. Friends who have visited from New York and Los Angeles and New Haven – engaged, hooked-in, progressive activist communities – have noticed that it’s different here. On the bus the other day I made eye contact with a stranger over an overheard comment, and he said quietly “did you watch the press conference?” and I said, “yeah,” and then we just stared at each other with flaming, furious, scared eyes. 

I was talking to @valencing​ about the way this place feels and she said “what you’re describing is the mood of a city that’s just been occupied and the enemy army is moving in.” Obviously I wouldn’t know. But it feels similarly visceral. 
athousanderrors: from 'Spirited Away' - soot sprites, clutching confetti stars, running about excitedly. (Default)
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lupitas:

#finnpoe confirmed

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