Sunday, August 20, 2017

A. V. Koshy writes

Swapna Sundari
(First Draft.)

Leptis Magna 2

Look on that pile of stones

Grecian in their shape

There sat I once

in the shade

sipping wine

with you on my lap


being ardently kissed

Our tools raised a temple

to your heavenly likeness

even here in Khums

What may remain, I know not

but with you

nothing's amiss

 Artemis statue from the Amphitheater of  Lepcis Magna, now in the Archaeological Museum of Tripoli. Anatolian-Greek mythological image from an ancient mother nature. Contrasting it with the current vision on nature, it may invite thoughts like Hegel's description of "the True” as “the Bacchanalian revel in which no member is not drunk". Not to say that we are sober today. Are we missing something like a caring Artemis in our competitive vision on nature?
 Statue of Artemis, Lepcis Magna,


  1. Artemis (Diana), the chaste goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, and virginity, was the twin sister of Apollo. The first born, she assisted her mother Leto in the birth of Apollo. One of her most persistent suitors was the river god Alpheus, but she foiled his attempt to abduct her by covering her face with mud; when Alpheus tried to rape her virgin attendant Arethusa, Artemis transformed her into a spring in her temple in Letrini. When Sprite accidentally saw her bathing, she transformed him into a girl. Similarly, Actaeon saw her naked, tried to seduce her, boasted he was a better hunter, or bragged that he was a rival of her father Zeus for the affections of Senele (the daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia), and Artemis turned him into a stag which was then killed by his own hunting dogs. She also sent a wild boar to kill Adonis to punish his hubris in claiming that he was a superior hunter. The only man she seemed to have an interest in was Orion the hunter; Apollo saw him swimming, with just his head visible above the water, and challenged Artemis to shoot that moving target, thus killing him; in other variants, she killed Orion in self-defense after he told hold of her robe, or she killed him to protect Opis, one of her virginal followers. Otos and Ephialtes, the Aloadae, the giant twin sons of Poseidon and Iphidemia, could only be killed by each other; they boasted of their intention to abduct Artemis and Hera, so Artemis transformed herself into a doe and jumped between them, and the Alboadae killed themselves when they threw their spears at the disguised goddess.Her name probably derived from the Persian “art” (great, excellent, holy). Her statue was one of the treasures excavated at Leptis Magna, a Roman copy of a bronze the 4th-century BCE Athenian sculptor Leochares for the Mausloeum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum, Turkey). Mausolus had been the autonomous satrap of the Persian province of Karia, a region of western Anatolia along the coast from Mycale to Lycia to Phrygia. He had conquered parts of Lycia, Ionia, and several Greek islands and had supported Rhodes against Athens in the Social War (357-355 BCE), the beginning of the end of Greek political independence imposed by Philippos II of Macedon. He was succeeded after his death by his sister/wife Artemisia II, who commissioned the Mausoleum, employed the leading Greek rhetoricians to praise her husband in their orations, and drank a daily brew that included his ashes. Rhodes objected to female rule over Karia and sent a fleet to depose her, but Maussollos had already constructed a secret harbor. When the Rhodians disembarked in Halicarnassus, Artemisia led her ships into the main harbor, captured their empty boats, slaughtered the men on shore, and then sent her army back to Rhodes on the captured ships and captured the city. She erected the Abaton there to commemorate her victory, but the Rhodians made it inaccessible after they regained their liberty. Leochares also carved the Apollo Belvedere and the chryselephantine (ivory and gold) statues of the Macedonian royal family in the Philippeion, the memorial Philippos build in the Altis at Mt. Olympus to commemorate his 338 BCE victory at Chaaeronea, the final act in his destruction of Greek autonomy, a process that began with the Social War. It was the only structure in the Altis that was dedicated to a human rather than a god.

    1. Thanks for such excellent notes Duane - you have lifted the poem to the level of a classic by making more evident the depth in it.


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