Bakkhai

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This episode we discuss the Stratford Festival’s production of Ann Carson’s translation of Euripides’ Bakkhai, which ran at the Tom Patterson Theatre June 16- September 23, 2017. (Image sourced from the production website.)

Warning: This podcast discusses adult themes and theatre scenes of an erotic nature.

Blood. Violence. Passion. Wine. This episode has it all, as we discuss the Stratford Festival production of Bakkhai, a new translation of Euripides’ Bacchae by Ann Carson.

We apologize for a few audio glitches, especially around the eleven minute mark. We thought this episode was worth sharing anyway and hope you enjoy it.

Find out more about the Stratford Festival production of Bakkhai, including photos and a video trailer, on the production’s website.

You can read more about the Twitches & Itches production of Euripides’ Bacchae in January 2017 in the Brock News.

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Sources

Bakkhai. Euruipides. Translation by Ann Carson, directed by Jillian Keiley, performances by Mac Fyfe, Lucy Peacock, Gordon Miller, Stratford Festival, 23 September 2017, Tom Patterson Theatre, Stratford, Ontario.

Bacchae. Euripides. Directed by Colin Anthes. Twitches and Itches Theatre, 18 January 2017, First Ontario Performing Arts Centre, St. Catharines, Ontario.


Patrons

These people like our show so much, they decided to support us on Patreon! Thank you so much!

Aven McMaster & Mark Sundaram (Alliterative); Joelle Barfoot; Erika Dilworth; Stargate Pioneer (Better Podcasting); Greg Beu.


We want to hear from you!

Join us on Twitter @InnesAlison and @darrinsunstrum or #MythTake.

Give us a like, let us know what you think, and follow along on Facebook at MythTake.

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Like what you hear? Please support us on Patreon.

We’re a part of the #HumanitiesPodcasts podcasting community. Check out the hashtag and follow @HumCommCasters to find many more engaging and knowledgeable podcasts.

This week’s theme music: “Super Hero” by King Louie’s Missing Monuments from the album “Live at WFMU” (2011). Used under Creative Commons license. Music used under Creative Commons license and available from Free Music Archive.

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Episode 25: The Perseids

Sidney_Hall_-_Urania's_Mirror_-_Perseus
Nineteenth century illustration of the constellation “Perseus and Caput Medusæ” by Sidney Hall (1788-1838). Plate 6 in Urania’s Mirror, a set of celestial cards accompanied by A familiar treatise on astronomy … by Jehoshaphat Aspin. London. Astronomical chart showing Perseus holding bloody sword and the severed head of Medusa forming the constellation. 1 print on layered paper board : etching, hand-colored. Source: WikiPedia

What do you see when you look up at the August night sky? If you time it right, you’ll see the Perseid meteor shower. In fact, you can see the whole store of Perseus laid out in the constellations.

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Patrons

These people like our show so much, they decided to support us on Patreon! Thank you so much!

Aven McMaster & Mark Sundaram (Alliterative); Joelle Barfoot; Erika Dilworth; Stargate Pioneer (Better Podcasting); Greg Beu.


We want to hear from you!

Join us on Twitter @InnesAlison and @darrinsunstrum or #MythTake.

Give us a like, let us know what you think, and follow along on Facebook at MythTake.

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Like what you hear? Please support us on Patreon.

We’re a part of the #HumanitiesPodcasts podcasting community. Check out the hashtag and follow @HumCommCasters to find many more engaging and knowledgeable podcasts.

This week’s theme music: “Super Hero” by King Louie’s Missing Monuments from the album “Live at WFMU” (2011). Used under Creative Commons license. Music used under Creative Commons license and available from Free Music Archive.

Episode 24: Wonder Woman

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Wonder Woman. Starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright. Directed by Patty Jenkins. Screenplay by Allan Heinberg. Based on “Wonder Woman” by William Moulton Marston. Distributed by Warner Brothers, 2017.

In this very special episode, we turn our analytical talents to a modern myth: Wonder Woman! Need we say more?

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Source Passages

Wonder Woman. Dir. Patty Jenkins. Gal Gadot. Warner Brothers, 2017. Film. http://wonderwomanfilm.com


Patrons

These people like our show so much, they decided to support us on Patreon! Thank you so much!

Aven McMaster & Mark Sundaram (Alliterative); Joelle Barfoot; Erika Dilworth; Stargate Pioneer (Better Podcasting)


We want to hear from you!

Join us on Twitter @InnesAlison and @darrinsunstrum or #MythTake.

Give us a like, let us know what you think, and follow along on Facebook at MythTake.

Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play so you don’t miss an episode! Find our RSS on Podbean.

Like what you hear? Please support us on Patreon.

We’re a part of the #HumanitiesPodcasts podcasting community. Check out the hashtag and follow @HumCommCasters to find many more engaging and knowledgeable podcasts.

This week’s theme music: “Super Hero” by King Louie’s Missing Monuments from the album “Live at WFMU” (2011). Used under Creative Commons license. Music used under Creative Commons license and available from Free Music Archive.


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Hydna and Scyllis

This poem was inspired by Pausanias’ report of (Description of Greece 10.19.1) Hydna and her father, Scyllis, who volunteered to assist Greek forces by vandalizing the nearby Persian naval fleet (480 BCE).

by Darrin Sunstrum

As dreams unfold and manifest
Their glittering visions before us
I awoke anew into a time before this day
I awoke in the midst of a fateful night whose heroes
were daughter and father

A fearful moonlight danced above the Scione port
now swollen with the vessels of the enemy.
Hydna drew the veil from her head in the darkness
as a cool rain began to dampen her bared skin.
Scyllis crouched, through sheets of rain and wind
he surveyed the anchored jostling fleet below.

The empty beach was a vast trembling expanse
that flared in the fitful moonlight and pallid stars.
Arching across his vision, a sandy bulwark between safety
and danger, his worlds only fortification.

The winds offshore began to quicken and rise,
and before long Hydna and Scyllis
flowed from the headland to the waters dangerous edge.
Called by the noble and heroic spirit of
their own storm swept ancestors

Poseidon raised his briny trident and heaved the waters,
Tritons blast whipped the enemy decks
and the midnight sea began to rise and roll.
As Olympian powers stirred to defend
the lofty realm of Zeus.

A father and daughter slipped into the black waters.
They plumbed the familiar depths this night
not for shell or sponge, but in this time of challenge
their diving required a bitter harvest
from this sea of night.

With knives in their hands they sought
the connecting hawsers and lines.
They would sever these umbilicuses,
they would let the enemy ships be birthed unto the sea.
Deadly midwives of storm and rock

The clouds obscured  Selene’s bright face
as they swam amongst the Xerxian host,
they dove below and as ships began to pull
on anchor lines that were no longer taught
they pitched toward the rocks and disaster at sea.

The knives of Hydna and Scyllis cut loose
the lines of many vessels that trying night.
Cut free to a clashing disaster amid the rocks
of Hellas.

They drew themselves from fateful waters,
as the winds died and the rain ceased.
Their evenings work accomplished,
for now to be taken up again another day,
by the bright sons of Themistocles,
and the wooden walls of Athens.

 

Episode 23: Homeric Hymn to Apollo Part 3 (Conclusion)

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We pick up the pace of our analysis and finish off the Homeric Hymn to Apollo in part 3, covering the second, or Pythian, half of the hymn. Here we learn about Apollo’s connection with Delphi and how he establishes power in a way similar to Zeus.

 

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Source Passages

Homeric Hymn to Apollo


Translation Sources

Homeric Hymn to Apollo. Translated by Susan C. Shelmerdine. Focus Publishing: 1995.


Selected Sources

William J. Broad. The Oracle: Ancient Delphi and the Science Behind its Lost Secrets. Penguin. 2006.


Patrons

These people like our show so much, they decided to support us on Patreon! Thank you so much!

Aven McMaster & Mark Sundaram (Alliterative); Joelle Barfoot; Erika Dilworth


Join us on Twitter @InnesAlison and @darrinsunstrum or #MythTake.

We’re a part of the #HumanitiesPodcasts podcasting community. Check out the hashtag and follow @HumCommCasters to find many more engaging and knowledgeable podcasts.

We’re on Facebook! Give us a like, let us know what you think, and follow along at MythTake.

Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play so you don’t miss an episode! Find our RSS on Podbean.

Like what you hear? Please support us on Patreon.

This week’s theme music: “Super Hero” by King Louie’s Missing Monuments from the album “Live at WFMU” (2011). Used under Creative Commons license. Music used under Creative Commons license and available from Free Music Archive.


Parallel Worlds: Superheroes, Cosmogony and the Homeric ‘ethos’.

When thinking further on the hero and the worlds they inhabit, I was struck by the fact that for much of our experience of narrative, not only are we naturally expected to integrate with characters and their characterization, but much of what we do as the audience and/or readers of narrative is dependant upon our capacity to understand and recognize setting. Where the story takes place.
Places create stories? What an absurd concept.
Not really – if characters are given this privilege, why not the worlds that they inhabit? For many this may be included in their descriptions of genre but this lies outside of the scope of this exploration of heroes and their parallel lives. We are expected to handle narrative worlds as easily as our own.
MCU / DCEU (Marvel Comics Universe / DC Comics Extended Universe)
As Classicists and Historians we are trained, almost by default, with the capacity to inhabit the ‘mind-scapes’ and environments of the ancient world (Diskin, 2008). The heroes, gods and monsters of the ancient mythological mind-scape become for us a familiar or accustomed place, an ‘ethos’. It is the ‘homeworld’ of the heroic or from the narratological perspective the protagonist’s setting.
Whether we are reading the Archaic and Classical poems of Hesiod, Homer, Pindar or Plutarch we have accepted a construct of mediated reality, a framework that allows us to negotiate meaning. Like any good cosmogony (the birth of a universe), this one being mythical, fantastic and ancient, we populate it with figures; characters. Characters that are archetypal, universal or ideal is some way and name them heroes.
This process is no different from what is occurring in todays ‘heroic narrative’. The medium of popular heroic narrative has changed, but there is much that is familiar. The realm of the MCU (Marvel Comics Universe) and the DCEU (D.C. Extended Universe) are examples that have exploded across our television sets, our movies screens and streaming services. (Netflix / Amazon Prime / ShowMe / Sony Pictures / Hulu…) *Detect a trend here?*
It seems that wherever there exists a medium for communication and entertainment our ‘heroes’ are the pioneers. The pathfinders that are willing, ready and able to rush forth and make their world and our own familiar.
If we were continuing with Classical themes and what is called ‘Divine Myth’ we would almost certainly move into populating our world with the heroes, gods and monsters mentioned earlier. This ‘theogony’ (the birth of gods) places our ‘heroes’ (narrative functions) in a larger universe (cosmos). Like in the epic poems of Archaic Greece, today’s heroes (Superheroes) themselves materialize and coalesce inside a created world.
The modern pop-hero narratives–comic book hero, Superhero, call it what you will– manifest themselves in a created cosmos. Their worlds are like our own but enhanced in certain ways. Their worlds resonate with qualities that connect them with their principle players – the very heroes that live there.
Common examples of these uncanny yet ‘accustomed places’ (ethos) include the ‘gothic’ Gotham city, home to the vigilante hero Batman; the hidden Themiskyra of Wonder Woman; the Metropolis of Superman; the fictive and mythological undersea realm of Atlantis for Aquaman; and The African kingdom of Wakanda, home of the Black Panther. The Asgard & Midgard of Thor and even the oscillation that occurs between eras of time and place as evidenced in the popular hero Captain America are also examples.
It’s not enough to simply categorized heroes as Vladimir Propp has done as merely ‘dramatis personae’, as plot elements no more or less important than the magic ring, the dark forest, the guardian, the ruined castle and the dozens of other functions outlined in his groundbreaking “Morphology of a Folktale”.
This dispassionate and dismissive analysis of the hero overlooks his/her narratological function. Heroes are epistemological figures, they are ’thinking points’ – they are ’thinking portals’ that allow us access into their worlds.
As audiences (both poetic and literary) engage with them they/we are locked into a deepening cycle of exchange and self-definition. These epistemological figures and the worlds they inhabit allow us to negotiate new layers of meaning in our own world. They provide models for emulation, revulsion, elation, expectation – the list is endless.

Episode 22: Homeric Hymn to Apollo Part 2

 

Above: As promised in this week’s podcast, here are a few of Alison’s photos from a 2009 visit to the Temple of Apollo at Didyma (just south of Miletus). It is impossible to adequately convey the massive scale of the temple in photographs! The temple is approached by six steps and is surrounded by a forest of massive columns. Column drums as a wide as a person is tall and column flutes are wide enough to fit a human head. Unusually for a Greek temple, the interior is entered through a narrow tunnel. 

This episode we continue with our close analysis of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo. We discuss Apollo’s birth story and the festival on Delos in his honour.

We also have some listener mail!

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Download this episode (right click and save)


Source Passages

Homeric Hymn to Apollo 


Translation Sources

Homeric Hymn to Apollo. Translated by Susan C. Shelmerdine. Focus Publishing: 1995.


Patrons

These people like our show so much, they decided to support us on Patreon! Thank you so much!

Aven McMaster & Mark Sundaram (Alliterative); Joelle Barfoot; Erika Dilworth


Join us on Twitter @InnesAlison and @darrinsunstrum or #MythTake.

We’re a part of the #HumanitiesPodcasts podcasting community. Check out the hashtag and follow @HumCommCasters to find many more engaging and knowledgeable podcasts.

We’re on Facebook! Give us a like, let us know what you think, and follow along at MythTake.

Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play so you don’t miss an episode! Find our RSS on Podbean.

Like what you hear? Please support us on Patreon.

This week’s theme music: “Super Hero” by King Louie’s Missing Monuments from the album “Live at WFMU” (2011). Used under Creative Commons license. Music used under Creative Commons license and available from Free Music Archive.


Pathfinder

They have moved beyond the sacred gate and struck out,
for us and themselves into the world beyond the plough,
beyond the hound’s bodies and broken spears.

The Evenstar rises and sets in a mythic world of their own design,
for us they have moved beyond the days of our feeble hopes
and into the twilight, to leave behind fame, glory, wrath and ruin.

What say you?

What golden notions have stirred you heroes heart?
For sword and sandals have been placed in your safe keeping,
A father’s gift that pulls you forward,
To a destiny now hidden from all our eyes.

From where did you come and into what bright future will you travel?
Like flowers we turn our eyes to whatever bright sun is offered.
We raise our hands into the Olympian mists with prayer.

What cool distant evening will find you awash and beached
amongst the Isles of the Fair?

What then, will you return to us?

The heroes journey reaches out and weaves
a Thassian fabric as old as storied time,
to shape the very world beyond words and lips,
into ears beyond hearing.

As they strike out, we strike out with them,
for us they have ranged out beyond the guarded gate
and our grasp, to wander and wonder forever
into the dreams of mere men.

Sleepless pathfinders whose trackless course will never be forgotten,
by the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve.
The hero beyond the silver fire,
the hero beyond ourselves.

Episode 21: Theseus

775px-Theseus_deeds_BM_E_84
Theseus cycle of deeds: centre, Minotaur; around, clockwise from top, Kerkyon, Prokrustes, Skiron, bull, Sinis, sow. Attic red-figured kylix, ca. 440-430 BC. From Vulci. Kodros Painter. Image source: Wiki Commons.

It’s been a wait for episode 21, we know, but we think it will be worth it! This episode is a very special joint project between us here at MythTake and our friends Aven and Mark at The Endless Knot Podcast.

If you’re already subscribing to The Endless Knot (and really, you should be!), you’ll know that our areas of interest often intersect and overlap. We’ve had many conversations with Mark and Aven over the last year, and finally decided to do a joint podcast–with a twist. To get the whole episode, you’ll have to listen to both our podcasts!

As usual, we examine the primary sources for Greek mythology. This episode is all about the Athenian hero Theseus, most famous for the slaying the Minotaur. We take a look at two dithyrambs by Bacchilydes that tell part of the Theseus story. Then, Aven and Mark tackle some of the etymology that comes out of this myth over on their podcast. So, once you’ve listened to our episode, make sure you catch theirs!

Don’t miss the rest of the show at here at The Endless Knot or subscribe via iTunes, GooglePlay or the podcatcher of your choice!

Listen to Episode 21 on PodBean

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Knossos35-768x530
Possible source of the labyrinth myth? Minoan palace floor plan. Knossos, Crete. Image source: Wiki Commons.

Source Passages

Bacchylides. “The Coming of Theseus: A Dithyramb”

Bacchylides. “Theseus and the Ring: A Dithyramb”


Translation Sources

Greek Lyric Poetry. Translated by Richmond Lattimore. University of Chicago. 1960.


Further Reading

Jeremy B. Rutter. “Neopalatial Minoa and Its Influence in the Aegean and Eastern mediterranean Worlds.” Brewminate: A Bold Blend of News & Ideas. 8 March 2017.


Patrons

These people like our show so much, they decided to support us on Patreon! Thank you so much!

Aven McMaster & Mark Sundaram (Alliterative)
Joelle Barfoot
Erika Dilworth


Join us on Twitter @InnesAlison and @darrinsunstrum or #MythTake.

We’re a part of the #HumanitiesPodcasts podcasting community. Check out the hashtag and follow @HumCommCasters to find many more engaging and knowledgeable podcasts.

We’re on Facebook! Give us a like, let us know what you think, and follow along at MythTake.

Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play so you don’t miss an episode! Find our RSS on Podbean.

Like what you hear? Please support us on Patreon.

This week’s theme music: “Super Hero” by King Louie’s Missing Monuments from the album “Live at WFMU” (2011). Used under Creative Commons license. Music used under Creative Commons license and available from Free Music Archive.


The Heroic Complex: the ‘telling world’ of the Hero. Part III.

war-roomI have been working through a specific vision of the hero. A 3-part structuralist model of heroic narrative that seeks to establish a unified framework. A global system that will help unify the far-flung depictions of the hero and facilitate their comparison for study.

Narratives, both modern and ancient are filled with heroes, in fact if you were to accept an entirely reductionist approach to the hero, you may define them as the protagonist of any story. I am not comfortable with this notion, it is entirely to simple even for myself.

As someone who studies heroic narrative I see that the hero is both a character and an idea. They are manifest in narratives, but their source is informed by deeply embedded cultural codes. This universal heroic narrative structure I have come to define as the “Heroic Complex”.

The Heroic Complex is akin to a form of narrative consciousness. It is not as Nicholson states a perfect place but an ethos that is “an uneasy thing” (2). A ‘telling world’ where heroics are at play. I would suggest that within the Heroic Complex the ideas of heroes and their stories are to be rationalized as Claude Levis Strauss suggests “[as] patterns showing affinity, instead of being considered in succession, [they are] to be treated as one complex pattern and read globally” (6).

As a result of this the hero is transformed into an epistemological figure, that allow its audience and yet even further, its culture to shape, display and validate our moral truths (Rollins 433). We are never finished with this process. The Heroic Complex is a churning gyre of new material and association. It is an ever-evolving metanarrative structure of connected parts that dialogue with one another. This ongoing discourse is subject to fluctuations and is never cemented in place.

Our heroes allow us to move beyond ourselves and engage with narrative on a vicarious level that is transfixed by the heroic ethos. This is the Heroic Complex. This metanarrative realm existing independently of genre – yet simultaneously permitting all genres to intermingle and inform each other. Nothing is excluded here; the Heroic Decision (discussed early) has identified the hero and the Heroic Enterprise has transitioned the hero across this liminal boundary, placing them within the Heroic Complex.

 

Works Cited

Levis-Strauss, Claude. The Structuralism of Myth. The Journal of American Folklore. Vol. 68. No. 270. Nov. 1955. pp. 428-44.

Nicholson, Adam. Why Homer Matters. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2014.

Rollin, Roger B. Beowulf to Batman: The Epic Hero and Pop Culture. College English. Vol. 31. No. 5. Feb. 1970. pp. 431-449.