Friday, June 10, 2016

Jack Scott writes

Note or Notes on The Wasteland

A large tree fell in the forest. No one was there to hear it fall. We know it fell, because its massive carcass lies there still mouldering. Was there no sound when it fell because there was no one there to hear?

There was one more element to the occurrence. The tree struck a deaf idiot wandering through the wood, crushing him to death. Was there still sound, or no sound, no one else hearing, not hearing? Was there something like the sound of a tree crashing in the mind of the victim as he was struck down?

               The following note or notes
               was found in the victim’s pocket.
               The paper was yellow with age
               and wrinkled with much carrying.

“There is an awful Void, and that Void is Shit.
Out of misery, company.
Out of company, more misery.
Words, words! I am mobbed by words.
Bombarded, not by random missiles missing,
but by words well aimed, homing true.
It’s over - dead, not dead.

With my nails, I dig it up once more, it’s dead again,
then once more not dead.”

I have caught from what made me merely uncomfortable- the contagion of poetry with age- what now sickens me with life. I have caught not what I will die from, but what I must live with. I am alive with the maggots of other life, not mine, which are now all that moves of me.

(But there is still a me!), I say quietly. I say I am not all maggots
and the dung of less fertile insects, that distant life of other on me.

I, Tiresias, queer old man with wrinkled dugs,
perceive the scene, and foretell the rest.
I, too await the unexpected guest
and, queer no more, I age with zest.
Free in the rattling mold
I shrink as I grow old.
All I know of space and time
is what is left
when filled with ancient rhyme.

Tough shit, Eliot.
Though shit, world.
Through shit, people.
If there are no words, there are no people.
If there are no people, there is no world.
Go home, Eliot.
Tough Shit, you have no home except in words.

You sonofabitch. If I knew where your words had been, I would have robbed you of them before they grew and married (what’d you get married for if you didn’t want children?)
and spawned the many sighs and silences, and died silently with them within me instead of of them. Poison the well! There is no water.

Slough, you meat of you, dead Eliot! Essence that hast never been. (or never wert)
(or something) Believe, ye who cannot. Believe and be free to write or withhold The Wasteland.

No one is using the land. It is the waste land.
No one admits he knows how to use the land. It is still the waste land.
It is the People who do not use (and say they do, and can’t) the land.

It is still, nevertheless, the waste land of wasted people.

We are waiting, we say self-consciously:
To use the water,
To use the land,
To hold the wetness,
To build the sand,
To smell the sweetness,
To breathe the freshness,
To touch the pulse,
To quicken the hand,
To hear . . .
to hear . . .
We are waiting to hear:
that we need,
what we need,
who we need,
when we need,
why we need,
and where we will fill the need.

We are thirsty for all of this.
(drip drop)
We are waiting to hear
(I think drip drop)
how to drink,
and what to drink,
(drop drop)
and the rest . . .
(but there is still no water)

My thirst creates a Trinity:
Myself, whom I cannot know,
Yourself, whom I cannot touch,

And the mirage who walks always beside you.

The strength of my thirst creates the wasteland. (Where is my England in it?) And deafens me.

April is the cruelest date.
(I am born in April, too.)
Equally January and July.
(When lilacs fade, I start to die.)
Till crocus is the longest wait.
(Before I die, I start to hate.)
April is the cruelest, true,
when endless resurrection’s due.

Is boredom the waste? (It fills the land.)
Orderliness? (It fills the boredom.)
Orderly boredom? (It fills us.)
The boredom of order? (up,)
The orderly boredom of bored orderliness? (up to here)
Or the symptom (merely?) of the waiting
for the Word from the Void
and the solution (the only?)
to what to fill the waiting with?
(to hear.)

My nerves are bad tonight.
(Who was that corpse I saw you plant last Spring?)
(That was no corpse, that was my life.)
My nerves are growing worse.
(Will it bloom this year?)
(And next and next and next and next and next and next
until my end of next

Speak to me. Why do you never speak. Speak!
What are you thinking of? What thinking? What?
I never know what you are thinking. Think!
Or is it that I never hear? Listen!

Hurry up, please, it’s Time.
Yes, bad. Stay with me.
A sudden frost disturbs my bed of stony rubbish.

Let’s drink coffee after and talk for an hour.
In the mountains you feel free
twit twit twit
Mountains of rock without water
where one can neither stand nor lie nor sit.
My nerves are bad tonight.
There is not silence in the mountains,
nor even solitude.

And the dry stone gives no sound of water.
I thought . . .
I thought in the mountains you felt free.
I never know what I am thinking.
(I have heard the key
turn in the door once and turn once only.
We think of the key, each in his prison,
hers’n in hers’n, and his’n in his’n.)

The boat responds daily
to controlling hands.
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me . . .
If there were the sound of water only
If there were only the sound of water
If there were the sound, only, of water
If there were the sound of only water
But there is no water.
Burning burning burning burning
Oh, Lord, I fuckest


jug jug jug jug jug jug
twit twit twit
drip drop drip drop drop drop drop

- - - But who is that on the other side of you?

Then spoke the thunder:

I do not fear death by water
Waiting, wasting,
I fear only
Jug, Jug
to my dirty senseless ears.

®Copyright 2016 Jack Scott. All rights reserved.

T. S. Eliot


  1. T. S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” is an encyclopedic hodge-podge of allusions, shifting perspectives, and literary experimentation. It can be partially interpreted as a series of failed encounters between impotent fertility archetypes engaged in meaningless relationships. In short, it is a twisted, bitter love poem. As he once remarked, however, “a god love poem, though it may be addressed to one person, is always meant to be overheard by other people.” If this is so, Jack is the ultimate eavesdropping voyeur. He obviously disapproves of the exposed lovemaking but can’t stop watching. (In Leonard Cohen’s phrase, he is like the shy one at an orgy.) His poem bristles with allusions to the famous old poem, far too often to detail here, but if you enjoy literary sleuthing, have at it!
    However, I hope you noticed the pun on comedian Henny Youngman’s old punchline, “That was no lady, that was my wife.”

  2. The nymph Chariclo was impregnated by Everes, a sheherd. Their son, Tiresias (Teiresias) happened to see Athena unclothed and was struck blind as a result. Chariclo begged the goddess to store his sight, but, unable to undo her curse, she cleaned his ears so he could understand birdsong and tell the future. On Mt. Kyllene, the birthplace of Hermes, he encountered two copulating snakes and struck them with his staff, killing the female; as punishment, Hera, the queen of the gods, changed him into a woman. For the next seven years he earned his living as a prostitute and bore a daughter, Manto, who had even greater prophetic powers.(During the war between the sons of Oedipus, Manto was taken to Delphi as a war prize, and Apollo sent her from there to Colophon on the Ionan coast to find an oracle devoted to him. She married Rhacius of Caria and gave birth to Mopsus. When Amphilochus at Colophon contemplated going to war, he consulted both Mopsus and Calchas, who had been the soothsayer for the Greeks during the Trojan War. Mopsus predicted disaster, but Calchas promised success. Calchas was so mortified by Amphilochus’ defeat that he died. When Amphilochus visited Argos, he left Mospsus in charge of the kingdom for a year, but when he returned Mopsus refused to give up his power, and they killed each other in combat. They were buried in tumuli that were mutually invisible to each other.) When Tiresias eventually came upon a new pair of copulating snakes and killed the male, his gender was restored, and Hermes acquired the staff along with its transformative powers (which became known as the caduceus, pictured as two snakes wrapped around a winged staff). (According to one account, Hera and Zeus argued over who had the most enjoyment in sex, with each deity claiming that it was the opposite gender; calling on Tiresias to settle the matter, based on his own experience, who judged that "of ten parts a man enjoys one only." Hera blinded him for his impiety, but Zeus rewarded him with clairvoyance and a lifespan equal to seven lives.)

  3. He served as a seer in the city state of Thebes for seven generations, beginning with its founder Cadmus. Cadmus and the goddess Harmonia (the daughter of Aphrodite and Ares) had a daughter, who married the wisest of the five Spartoi (the "sown men" who sprang up from the dragon's teeth that Cadmus had planted at the beginning of the city’s history). In old age, Cadmus abdicated in favor of his grandson Pentheus, who banned the worship of the new god Dionysus (the son of his aunt Semele) despite the warnings of Tiresias. Dionysus retaliated by sending the women of Thebes to Mt. Cithaeron in a frenzy and lured a disguised Pentheus to watch their orgiastic activity. His mother mistook him for a wild boar and attacked him, tearing off his arm and head. Pentheus was succeeded by Cadmus’ oldest son, Polydorus, who died while his son Labdacus was still young, and Polydorus’ father-in-law Nycteus became regent. Zeus impregnated Nycteus's daughter, Antiope, who fled in shame to Sicyon and married king Epopeus. Nycteus invaded Sicyon to recover his daughter, but both he and Epopeus were fatally wounded. Nycteus’ brother Lycus took over as regent, but Epopeus’ heir made peace by giving him Antiope to punish. On her way back to Thebes in captivity, Antiope gave birth to twins Amphion and Zethus at Mt. Cithaeron, but Lycus abandoned them there, and she became the slave of Lycus’ wife Dirce. Hermes gave Amphion a golden lyre and taught him to become a great singer and musician; Zethus became a famous hunter and herdsman. Labdacus briefly became king but, like his cousin Pentheus, he was ripped apart by women in a bacchic frenzy for disrespecting Dionysus, and Lycus again became regent again for the young king Laius. [Meanwhile, Tantalus of Lydia had cut his son Pelops into pieces as a sacrifice to the gods; Demeter ate the left shoulder, but the other gods resurrected and reassembled Pelops. Hephaestus forged an ivory shoulder for him, and Poseidon made him his lover and chariot driver. Pelops sought to marry Hippodameia, whose father, king Oenomaus of Pisa, seeking to forestall a prophecy that he would be killed by his son-in-law, had already slain18 of her suitors after defeating them in a chariot race. Poseidon provided Pelops with a chariot drawn by winged horses, and Pelops (or Hippodameia in some accounts) bribed Oenomaus’ charioteer Myrtilus (a son of Hermes) into throwing the race by promising him half the kingdom and the first conjugal night with Hippodameia. Myrtilus replaced the bronze linchpins that attached the wheels to the axle with pins made of beeswax, and Oenomaus was dragged to death by his horses after the chariot broke apart. However, when Myrtilus tried to claim his sexual prize, Pelops threw him off a cliff into the sea, and Myrtilus cursed him during the fall, leading to generations of atrocious crimes committed by and inflicted upon his descendants. Pelops and Hippodameia had at least 16 children; four of their daughters married into the House of Perseus, including Eurydice, who married Electryon, the son of Perseus and Andromeda. Their favorite son, Chrysippus, the heir apparent, was killed by two other sons, Atreus and Thyestes; for their crime, Pelops banished them and also Hippodameia, who then hanged herself. The family curse extended to Atreus’ sons, Menelaus (whose desertion by his wife Helen led to the Trojan War) and Agamemnon, who sacrificed his daughter in order to gain victory over Troy, only to be slain in turn by his unforgiving wife, Helen’s sister, who was then murdered by their son Orestes.]

  4. Antiope’s sons deposed Lycus, slew Dirce by tying her to the horns of a bull, took over the city, and built the walls around its citadel. (Zethus had to struggle to carry his stones, but Amphion merely played his lyre and his stones put themselves into place.) In exile, Laius went to Pisa to teach Chrysippus, then kidnapped and raped him, causing the gods to curse him for violating his sacred position as both guest and tutor. In Thebes, Amphion married Pelops’ sister Niobe, and they had many children, but Niobe taunted the goddess Leto for bearing only two, Artemis and Apollo; they then killed Niobe's children in retaliation. Amphion either killed himself out of grief or was slain by Apollo when he attacked his temple. Zethus married Thebe and gave her name to the city, but she killed their son in a fit of madness and was turned into a nightingale. Zethus killed himself in despair, and Laius returned to Thebes from exile to become king. His wife was Jocasta, the granddaughter of Pentheus. After years of childlessness, Laius consulted the oracle at Delphi, who prophesied that his son would kill him. So, when Jocasta finally gave birth to a son, Laius had his ankles pierced and tied together so he could not crawl, and condemned the baby to be exposed to the elements. The boy was rescued, however, and grew up in the court of another childless king, Polybus of Corinth, who named him Oidipous (“Oedipus”) [“swollen foot"]. When Oedipus grew up, the oracle at Delphi told him he would murder his father and marry his mother. Believing Polybus was his father, Oedipus abandoned Corinth. At Davlia, where three roads crossed, he quarreled with Laius over the right of way and killed him when the king’s charioteer tried to run him down. In Thebes, the newly widowed Jocasta’s brother Creon promised to crown anyone who saved the city from the Sphinx. Oedipus outwitted the monster, took the throne, and married Jocasta. They had two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, and two daughters, Antigone and Ismene. When the city’s inhabitants, livestock, and crops were struck by a plague of infertility, the Delphic oracle told Creon that the city harbored an abomination and could only be saved if the killer of Laius was brought to justice. Tiresias tried to dissuade Oedipus from pursuing the matter, but Oedipus provoked him by denying his prophetic ability and accusing him of conspiring with Cleon against him. After the truth came out, Jocasta hanged herself and Oedipus blinded himself with the pin of a brooch he ripped from her dress and sent himself into exile.

  5. The sons of Oedipus agreed to take turns ruling the city, alternating every year, while Oedipus wandered around Greece with Antigone as his guide. King Theseus of Athens pitied him and gave him refuge at Colonus, an area sacred to both the sea god Poseidon and Prometheus, the Titan who gave fire to mankind. Creon demanded that he return to Thebes and bless Eteocles. But, angry at both sons for their neglect, he cursed them, died, and was buried in an unmarked grave. Back in Thebes, Eteocles reneged on his agreement with his brother and refused to surrender his rule at the end of the first year, and Polynices revolted. Creon’s son committed suicide by throwing himself from the walls, after Tiresias predicted that the voluntary death of a Theban would save the city from destruction. In the battle over the succession, Eteocles and Polynices slew each other. Creon seized the throne, declared that Polynices’ rebellion was treasonous, and refused to allow him burial rites. When Antigone defied her uncle and tried to bury her brother, Creon buried her alive in a rock cavern despite her betrothal to his son Haemon. Ismene declared herself to be Antigone’s accomplice and demanded the same punishment, but Cleon declined, and when Tiresias condemned Cleon’s actions, he rescinded his orders and undertook to bury Polynices himself, only to discover that Antigone had hanged herself. To avenge her death, Haemon attacked his father, then killed himself after his attack failed. When Creon's wife learned of Haemon’s death, she too took her own life.

  6. Alcmene was the daughter of king Electryon of Mycenae and Eurydice (although some sources claimed she was the offspring of the pairing of other sons of Perseus and daughters of Pelops, such as Mestor and Lysidice or Alcaeus and Astydamia, or even their daughter Anaxo, who married her uncle Electryon). Hēsíodos called her the tallest, most beautiful, and wisest woman with mortal parents. Taphius, the son of Perseus’s granddaughter and Poseidon, had founded a race of piratical slave traders on Samos, the Taphians. Their most noted king was Pterelaos, a descendant of Mestor, whom Poseidon made immortal by planting a golden hair in his scalp. Electryon rejected the demand by Pterelaos’s six sons for a share of the kingdom, and they drove off his cattle. Electryon's 10 sons pursued them, killing all but one, but they were also all slain but one illegitimate son by a Phrygian woman. Alcmene was betrothed to Amphitryon, a Theban general who was the son of the king of Tiryns, but she refused to marry him until he avenged her brothers and recovered the rustled cattle. Pterelaos’ daughter Comaetho fell in love with Amphitryon and plucked her father’s golden hair while he slept, allowing Amphitryon to kill him. He then executed Comaetho and gave her kingdom to Kephalos. (He had disguised himself to test the fidelity of Phocris, his wife. Ashamed of being seduced in that manner, Phocris hid in the forest to hunt with Artemis, who presented her with a javelin that never missed its mark and Laelaps, a dog that always caught its prey, which she gave her husband in reconciliation. Later Phocris came to doubt his faithfulness as well and tried to spy on him. Kephalos heard her rustling in the bush and, thinking she was an animal, threw his javelin at her and killed her. Though he married again, and thus became the great-grandfather of Odysseus, he never forgave himself for the deathof Phocris and committed suicide by leaping from Cape Leucas into the sea.) The night before Amphitryon arrived back in Thebes, Zeus disguised himself as the victorious general, and, brandishing a Taphian cup as a sign of his success, and extending one night into three, he seduced his great-granddaughter, Alcmene, thus fathering Heracles. When the real Amphitryon returned, he also impregnated Alcmene, who eventually delivered “twins.” Unfortunately, when Amphitryon returned Electryon’s cattle, he accidentally killed him throwing his club at one of the cows. Electryon's brother Sthenelus (married to Pelops’ daughter Nicippe) became king, charged Amphitryon with murder, and exiled him. He fled to Thebes with Alcmene. It was at this time that Tiresias dislosed what Zeus had done. Creon agreed to purge Amphitryon’s guilt if he killed the gigantic Teumessian fox (or Cadmean vixen), which could never be slain. Dionysus had sent it to prey upon the children of Thebes. Amphitryon retrieved Laelaps from Kephalos, and Zeus resoved the inevitable paradox by turning both animals into stone and making them into the constellations Canis Major and Canis Minor.

  7. On the day Alcmene was to give birth, Zeus told his fellow gods that the boy born on that day would rule all those around him, and Hera made him swear an oath to that effect. She then caused Nicippe to give birth to Eurystheus after only seven months, while instructing pharmacides ("herbalists") to obstruct the birth of Alcmene’s twins. After seven days and nights of agony, Tiresias’ daughter Historis deceived the women by announcing that Alcmene had delivered her children, and they left, allowing the actual births to proceed. However, the Zeus/Hera proxy war between cousins Eurystheus and Heracles continued. At one point, Hera drove Hercules temporarily insane, and he slew his son, daughter, and wife in a fit of madness. Afterwards he accompanied Amphitryon in his fatal expedition to deliver Thebes from a disgraceful tribute levied by the Minyans. Alcmene married a son of Zeus and lived in exile with him in Boeotia. The oracle at Delphi told Heracles he could atone for the murders by serving Eurystheus for 12 years, performing whatever labors he set before him.

  8. Heracles' first task was to slay the Nemean lion. It had claws sharper than mortals' swords and could cut through any armor, while its golden fur was impervious to weapons. Heracles entered the lair and killed the lion by clubbing and strangling it. He was unable to skin the lion until Athena told him to use the monster’s own claws. When he returned wearing the pelt, Eurystheus hid in a subterranean bronze winejar and ordered Heracles never to enter the city; henceforth, he communicated with Heracles exclusively through a herald. The second labor was to destroy the Lernaean hydra, which Hera had raised specifically to slay Heracles. Its breath was poisonous and its blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly, and if one of its heads was chopped off it would replace it with one or more new ones. Heracles covered his mouth and nose with a cloth and attacked the hydra with a harvesting sickle or sword and each time he severed a head he dipped his blade in its neck and used the venom to burn it so it couldn't grow back. After dispatching the beast he dipped his arrows into its poisonous blood. For the third labor, Eurystheus ordered Heracles to capture the Cerynian hind, a golden-horned deer that could outrun any arrow. Since it was sacred to Artemis, Eurystheus hoped to incite her anger against Hercules if he succeeded. He pursued the creature on foot for a year, finally capturing it while it slept, either with a trap net or by putting an arrow between its forelegs. Returning from the hunt, he met Artemis and Apollo and promised to return the deer after he completed the task. When Eurystheus came out to accept the trophy, the deer ran off as soon as Heracles let her go.

  9. The herald then sent Heracles to capture the Erymanthian boar which Apollo had sent to kill Aphrodite’s favorite, Adonis, in revenge for her blinding of Apollo's son Erymanthus when he saw her bathing. En route, Heracles visited the centaur Chiron, who had been sired by the Titan, Cronus, when he had assumed the shape of a horse to impregnated the nymph Philyra, and who taught medicine, music, archery, hunting, and prophecy to the young Apollo and Artemis. Acting on Chiron’s advice, he drove the boar into thick snow, captured and bound it, and took it to Eurystheus, who once again hid in the winejar and demanded that Hercules get rid of it. Heracles threw it in the sea, and it swam to Italy, where its tusks were preserved in the temple of Apollo at Cumae. Three days later, in order to humiliate Heracles rather than glorify him, Eurystheus sent him to clean the Augean stables. was the king of Elis and his stables, which housed 3,000 immortal cattle, had never been cleaned; he promised to give Heracles 10% of the herd if he completed the task in one day. Heracles finished the job by rerouting two rivers through the stables, but Augeas welched on the deal. So Heracles killed him and collected his share of the cattle.

  10. Then he was sent against the man-eating Stymphalian birds with poisonous dung, bronze beaks, and sharp metallic feathers they could shoot like arrows. Pets of Ares the war god, ot escape from a pack of wolves they had migrated to a marsh in Arcadia, where they bred quickly and destroy crops and orchards. Hercules was too heavy to penetrate the marsh in order to attack their nests, but Athena gave him a rattle which Hephaestus had made especially for the occasion. The rattle’s noise frightened the birds into the air, and Hercules shot at them with his poison arrows. The survivors flew away to an island in the Euxine Sea and never returned, though later Jason and the Argonauts had to deal with them.

  11. When Minos sought to have his right to rule Crete confirmed over the claims of his brothers, he asked Poseidon to send him a sign of favor in the form of a snow white bull, but when he received it he sacrificed an inferior bull to the god. Poseidon persuaded Aphrodite to cause Minos’ wife to fall in love with the bull, and she gave birth to the Minotaur. Minos had Daedalus construct the Labyrinth to hold the Minotaur, but the bull continued to wreak havoc by uprooting crops and leveling orchard walls. So Eurystheus sent Heracles to capture the Cretan bull. He lassoed it and strangled it into submission, then rode it back to Eurystheus, who once more hid in his winejar. Hera rejected his offer to sacrifice it, and it was released and wandered to Marathon. (When Minos’ son won all the games held by Aegeus of Athens, the king had him killed, provoking a Cretan war against Athens. Losing, the Athenians were forced to send hostages to Crete every nine years, to be devoured by the Minotaur. Theseus captured the Marathonian bull and took it to Athens, where he sacrificed it to Athena. Then he went to Crtete and killed the Minotaur.) Heracles’ next mission was to capture the four fire-breathing mares that the giant king Diomedes of Thrace had trained to eat human flesh; their diet made them uncontrollable, so Diomedes stabled them in a bronze manger, tethered by chains. Hercules cut their chains and drove them onto high ground, then used an axe to dig a trench across the peninsula, turning it into an island. When Diomedes arrived on the scene, Heracles killed him with the axe and fed him to the mares to calm them down enough so that he could bind their mouths shut. Eurystheus sent them to Olympus to be sacrificed to Zeus, but Zeus rejected the offer and sent wolves, lions, and bears to kill them. It was later claimed that Bucephalus, Alexander the Great's magnificent horse, was descended from one of them.

  12. Then Eurystheus sent Hercules to acquire for his daughter the girdle (the symbol of her authority) from Ares’ daughter Hippolyte, the queen of the Amazons. En route, two of his companions were killed on Paros by Minos’ sons, and Heaclers went on a murderous rampage until two of Minos’ grandsons, Alcaeus and Sthenelus, were substituted for the slain men. Then he aided Lycus against king Mygdon of Bebryces before setting off for Themiscyra, the home of Hippolyte. She visited him on his ship and offered to give her girdle to him, but Hera disguised herself as an Amazon and persuaded the warrior-women that Heracles was abducting their queen. In the assault that followed, Heracles thought Hippolyte had reneged on her offer, killed her, stripped her of the belt, fought off the attackers, and sailed away. But in some accounts, Heracles was accompanied by Theseus, or that Heracles was not involved at all; Theseus abducted Hippolyte , or Heracles gave her to Theseus as a trophy, or that she fell in love with Theseus and went to Athens to marry him. Betrayed by her desertion, the Amazons attacked Athens but were defeated by Theseus or Heracles. In other renditions, Theseus abandoned her in order to marry Phaedra, and Hippolyte led the Amazons in an attack against the wedding ceremony, during which she was killed in a fight with Theseus or accidentally by another Amazon or by her sister (or in a separate incident altogether), and Theseus (or Achilles) then slew her killer. In other accounts, this battle never happened, since Hippolyte died before Theseus married Phaedra. Or the Amazon who was killed attacking the wedding was actually one of Hippolyte’s sisters, or that Heracles abducted and killed Hippolyte while Theseus (aided by Sthenelus and another legendary Greek hero, Telamon) abducted and married her sister Antiope. Or that Theseus had a son by Hippolyte or Antiope. In any event, however, Hercules acquired the girdle, and Eurystheus then sent him to steal the red cattle of Medusa’s grandson, the winged giant Geryon, who had three bodies or one body and three heads or six legs (or six hands and six feet). He had to cross the Libyan desert; maddened by the heat, he shot his arrows at Helios, the sun, who, in admiration at his courage, gave him his golden chariot to travel to Erytheia. When he arrived, he was attacked by a two-headed dog and the herdsman Eurytion, but Heracles killed them both with his club. Then Geryon, carrying three shields and three spears and wearing three helmets, pursued Heracles but was slain by one of his poisoned arrows. On the route back to deliver the cattle to Eurystheus, Hera sent a gadfly to scatter the cattle, and it took him a year to retrieve them. She then caused a flood which prevented him from crossing a river, but he piled stones in it to make it shallower.

  13. After sacrificing the cattle to Hera, Eurystheus sent Heracles to steal the golden, immortality-granting, apples from the garden of the Hesperides, the nymphs of the evening. Gaia (the Earth) had given the apples to Hera as a wedding gift, who gave the Hesperides the task of tending them, and placed the never-sleeping hundred-headed dragon Ladon to guard the orchard. Heracles began by catching the shape-shifting “Old Man of the Sea” and forced him to reveal the garden’s location (Cadiz). On the way, he encountered Antaeus, who was immortal as long as he touched Gaia, his mother, and slew him by holding him aloft and crushing him in a bearhug. He was also captured briefly by king Busiris of Egypt but escaped by breaking his chains. He tricked Atlas into getting the apples from his daughters, the Hesperides, by offering to hold up the heavens in Atlas’ absence, but Atlas tried to avoid resuming the heavy burden by volunteering to deliver the apples to Eurystheus himself; Heracles tricked him again by agreeing to the suggestion if Atlas would hold the heavens for just a moment so Heracles could adjust his cloak to make it more comfortable. As soon as Atlas shouldered the burden, Heracles left with the apples. The final task was to capture Cerberus, the three-headed hound that guarded the entrance to the land of Hades. After being initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries to prepare him for his descent into the underworld, he entered Hades’ realm with Hermes and Athena as his guides. While there, he met Theseus and Pirithous, who had tried to rescue Demeter’s daughter Persephone. Hades invited them to a feast and sat snakes coiled around their legs and turn into stone. Herakles was able to pull Theseus from his chair, but the earth shook when he tried to liberate Pirithous, due to his desires to have the goddess for himself. Hades agreed to let Heracles take the dog if he could subdue it without using any weapons. Subduing it with his bare hands, he carried it to Eurystheus, who again hid in the winejar. Eurystheus begged Heracles to return Cerberus to the underworld and released him from any further labors. Then Heracles joined Jason and the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece. After Heracles died, Eurystheus placed his kingdom in the hands of Atreus and Thyestes while he treid to wipe out Heracles’ son Hyllus and the rest of his family, but Hyllus killed Eurystheus and presented his head to Alcmene, who gouged out its eyes with weaving pins. His corpse was buried in Athenian territory and protected the Athenians from Heracles’ descendants, including the Spartans and Argives. Atreus and Thyestes usurped the kingdom, but Atreus soon exiled his brother and took sole control. When Alcmene's died, she turned into a stone. Tiresias died after drinking water from the tainted spring Tilphussa, where he was struck by an arrow of Apollo. His shade descended to the Asphodel Meadows, the first level of Hades, where he was visited by Odysseus. He was so sentient in death, that he came up to Odysseus and called him by name even before he had drunk the black blood of the sacrifice. He instructed Odysseus how to get past Scylla and Charybdis and advise him not to eat the cattle of Helios on Thrinacia. (Odysseus' men did not heed his warning and were killed by Zeus' thunderbolts during a storm.) In literary terms, he made a comeback in the early 20th century: in 1913 Guillaume Apollinaire wrote the play “Les mamelles de Tirésias » (The Breasts of Tiresias ), which was performed in 1917 with a preface that introduced the term "surrealism" to describe his new style of drama; it became the basis of a 1947 opera by Francis Poulenc; he was also featured in “The Waste Land” and, beginning in 1917, in several of the cantos written by that book’s co-creator Ezra Pound; Virginia Woolf's “Orlando” was also inspired by his life.


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