Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm In A Weird Mood

Nothing of any real interest happened today, I was studying. So instead of a real post, here's a picture of an embryonic snake. Isn't it awesome the way the tail curls into a perfect spiral?


I also have this to offer you: a retelling of a story from Phrygian mythology. However, we only have this story though the Greeks, so it's my retelling of a Greek adaptation of a story from Phrygian mythology.

See, it appears that Zeus is more normal than you'd think, because this myth starts out with him having a wet dream while sleeping on the ground. Now, the thing about gods is that when their stuff falls on the earth, it doesn't die; it invariably impregnates the earth-goddess Gaea. This, along with the commentary from the other day on paternity suits, is why it's probably for the best that there are no Greek gods wandering around today.

Especially since the child that the rather startled and disgusted (Zeus is her GRANDSON) Gaea produced was a hermaphroditic child they called Agdistis. But the gods were afraid of Agdistis with it's two genders and the power that would give it, and they cut off it's boy parts. It was thus made into a goddess, Cybele, who was primarily worshiped by the Phyrgians as their Great Goddess and was later confused with Rhea by the Romans.

But the story does not end there! See, the gods tossed Agdistis' genitalia on the ground, and, as ALWAYS happens when you toss the severed gonads of a person on the ground (see Lorena Bobbit), an almond tree grew there. That was the first almond tree from which all almond trees of today are descended, which is an argument for not eating almonds EVER EVER AGAIN.

Anyway, unknowing of all of this, one of the daughters of the River Sangarius, Nana, was sitting under the tree one day... She, for UNFATHOMABLE REASONS that probably today would involve much psychotherapy to correct, stuck an almond up her... yeah... and became pregnant. This was naturally somewhat embarrassing, considering that she was a virgin and would have to explain how the heck she'd gotten pregnant at all, and honestly, who wants to have THAT conversation with their father?

So claimed she was getting fat and then left the baby on a mountainside to die, because that's just what they did in those days. But as ALWAYS happens, the baby, named Attis, was suckled by goats and raised by shepherds. Grew up to be quite handsome, that boy did. So much so, in fact, that Cybele fell in love with him. Not knowing, of course, that she was technically his FATHER. Attis became her devout follower on the condition that he remain chaste.

Attis left the goddess, though, and had sex with a nymph, of which there always seem to be plenty available for such trysts. Cybele was less than pleased, and she drove him insane, in which state he castrated himself. Ouch. When he came to, and realized that he'd just ensured himself a place in the Phyrgian Boy's Choir, he tried to kill himself. Cybele intervened and turned him into a fir tree. After that, the priests of Cybele were always eunuchs, which puts it into the category of Really Sucky Jobs.

I'm guessing this story needs very little embellishment- it's officially the WEIRDEST one I've found in myth archives, and that's including that swan banging Leda (the logistics of which act were discussed for quite a long time in my Myth class a few weeks ago). But see, all myths are there for a reason, so we're going to look at possible morals of this story: hmm. Well, don't jack off if there's nothing between you and the ground, but honestly, I hope everyone knew that by now. Uh, don't eat almonds, ever; hermaphrodites have superpowers; don't cheat on a goddess... oh, screw it. Moral of the story: the Greeks were WEIRD, and the Phrygians? WEIRDER.

Oh, and this amused me immensely- there is a website that tries to make connections between Attis' story and the story of Jesus. The only ones that I really get on the list is that the festival honoring Attis' birth was on Dec 25th and his mother was a virgin, sorta. The rest depends on your sources. But honestly, who comes up with this stuff?


Okay, that's all I have for today's Weird Mythology Story of the Day. I'm basically gonna write these if there's nothing more interesting to talk about, which is usually the case. If I have time tomorrow I'll talk more about Sir Squirts-A-Lot, the ever-fascinating Heracles and his many, many adventures ("Hey guys! I remembered this cool myth that some hero did but I can't remember who did it. What should I say?" "Aw, man, just give it to Heracles like the rest of us!"), or maybe Odysseus, who loved his wife so much- he just had to get home- he couldn't think of anything else! Oh, wait, look, nice ass on that nymph... maybe he'll just rest here a moment- OKAY! NOW he can't think of anything else but his dear wife- oo, that little princess is cute... and that sorceress... Nothing compares to the comforts of home, naturally, but as long as you're on the road, might as well plow a few fields, am I right?

This is why I like mythology: there are two approaches to it. On the one hand, you can be all serious and talk about the deeper meaning of the myth and divine marriages and what it all meant to the Greeks, like much of academia. Or you can approach it like I do, take the stories at face value, and LAUGH YOUR ASS OFF. The above story is very, very significant to the culture and the dichotomy of women and men and all that jazz, but it's also so absolutely ridiculous that it's funny. This is also why I highly recommend taking mythology classes with people who are NOT classics majors and just want the credit. Their commentary is worth the homework hours.

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