Richibi’s Weblog

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Month: November, 2020

“The Story of of Cadmus” – Ovid

Lying Cow, 1883 - Vincent van Gogh

        Lying Cow(1883)


             Vincent van Gogh



            When now Agenor had his daughter lost,


Agenor, king of Tyre, father of

Europahis daughter lost

            He sent his son to search on ev’ry coast;


his son, Agenor’s son, Cadmus,

Europa’s brother

            And sternly bid him to his arms restore
            The darling maid, or see his face no more,
            But live an exile in a foreign clime;
            Thus was the father pious to a crime.


pious to a crime, intent on, devoted to,

having justice restored


            The restless youth search’d all the world around;
            But how can Jove in his amours be found?


amours, loves, trysts, entanglements


            When, tir’d at length with unsuccessful toil,
            To shun his angry sire and native soil,


his angry sire, Agenor, father, sire


            He goes a suppliant to the Delphick dome;


suppliant, supplicant, petitioner,

one in search of a favour


Delphick dome, the Temple of Apollo

at Delphi, where the oracle, Pythia,

proclaimed her cryptic prognostications,

her famously ambiguous prophecies


Delphi, incidentally, was one of several

sacred sites in Greece, sanctuaries,

open to any Greek, or person who

could speak Greek, regardless of

geographical provenance, any

city-statefor instance then, or

kingdom, akin to embassies today,

or places where people can expect

to find similar political haven


Delphi was the destination then also of

pilgrimages, comparable to our own

Santiago de Compostela today, an

ancient path I dearly would’ve, but

never have, unfortunately, undertaken


though I did walk to Mission B.C. some

several years ago, from my home in

Vancouver, to a monastery there, a

place of recuperation when I needed

one, three days there, and a half, three

days and an equal half back, my feet

were blistered, I noticed at one point,

but hadn’t at all registered any pain,

a truth I gathered about the power of

intention, one’s very aim can be a

salve, a balm, a solace, against any



but back to Cadmus


            There asks the God what new appointed home
            Should end his wand’rings, and his toils relieve.


where do I land, asks Cadmus,where

is my appointed home, my final


            The Delphick oracles this answer give.


The Delphick oracles, subordinates

to Pythia, the high priestess at Delphi


            “Behold among the fields a lonely cow,

            Unworn with yokes, unbroken to the plow;

            Mark well the place where first she lays her down,

            There measure out thy walls, and build thy town,

            And from thy guide Boeotia call the land,

            In which the destin’d walls and town shall stand.”


Boeotiaa region still of Greece


            No sooner had he left the dark abode,
            Big with the promise of the Delphick God,


the Delphick God, Apollo, god of

music, dance, truth, prophecy,

healing, the sun, light, poetry,

among many other things

            When in the fields the fatal cow he view’d,
            Nor gall’d with yokes, nor worn with servitude:


fatal, fateful


gall’d, irritated, frustrated

            Her gently at a distance he pursu’d;
            And as he walk’d aloof, in silence pray’d
            To the great Pow’r whose counsels he obey’d.


the great Pow’r, Apollo, by way of his

Delphick oracles,the high priestesses,

through their counsel, their divinations

            Her way thro’ flow’ry Panope she took,


Panope, plural, were sea nymphs, not

places, in Ancient Greece, therefore

Cadmus must’ve been crossing water,

however flow’ry, I’ll have to check my

Latin text for, maybe, inaccuracies in

the translation

            And now, Cephisus, cross’d thy silver brook;


Cephisus, or Cephissus, a river in Boeotia,

a brook, a stream, anthropomorphized here,

which is to say Cephissus, the flow, the

waterway, is being addressed as a rational

being, I have cross’d thy silver brook, he 

says, speaking to the torrent


meanwhile, to brook, to conquer, to

overcome, a wonderful, a shimmering,

literarily speaking, homonym, which is

to say, a word with two faces

            When to the Heav’ns her spacious front she rais’d,
            And bellow’d thrice, then backward turning gaz’d
            On those behind, ’till on the destin’d place
            She stoop’d, and couch’d amid the rising grass.


she, the fatal cow, see abovehas led

Cadmus to his famed, his mythic,

destination, destin’d place, destiny


stay tuned



R ! chard

“Europa’s Rape” (ll) – Ovid

The Rape of Europa, c.1732 - 1734 - Francois Boucher

         The Rape of Europa” (c.1732 – 1734)


               François Boucher





            Agenor’s royal daughter, as she plaid

            Among the fields, the milk-white bull survey’d,


Agenor, king of Tyre, in Phoenicia,

an area comprised then of ancient

Lebanon, as well as a good part of

the Eastern, and later, the Southern,

which is to say the African,

Mediterranean coasts, father of,

notably, Europa, his royal, his

indeed mythic, daughter 

            And view’d his spotless body with delight,

            And at a distance kept him in her sight.


Europa is intrigued, delight[ed], by this

milk-white …spotless …bull, but from

a distance, discreetly, furtively

            At length she pluck’d the rising flow’rs, and fed

            The gentle beast, and fondly stroak’d his head.


pluck’d, dared, mischievously, to



the rising flowers, offering [their] cup

to the sun


            He stood well-pleas’d to touch the charming fair,

            But hardly could confine his pleasure there.

            And now he wantons o’er the neighb’ring strand,

            Now rowls his body on the yellow sand;


to wanton, to play, to frolic, often

immodestly, like puppies, goats


strand, shore


rowls, rolls


            And, now perceiving all her fears decay’d,


decay’d, dispelled, dissipated,



            Comes tossing forward to the royal maid;

            Gives her his breast to stroke, and downward turns

            His grizly brow, and gently stoops his horns.


grizly, grizzly, grayish

            In flow’ry wreaths the royal virgin drest


drest, adorned


            His bending horns, and kindly clapt his breast.

            ‘Till now grown wanton and devoid of fear,

            Not knowing that she prest the Thunderer,


the Thunderer, Jove / Jupiter / Zeus


            She plac’d her self upon his back, and rode

            O’er fields and meadows, seated on the God.


however heedlessly, however

immoderately, immodestly,

however innocently


see above

            He gently march’d along, and by degrees

            Left the dry meadow, and approach’d the seas;

            Where now he dips his hoofs and wets his thighs,

            Now plunges in, and carries off the prize.

            The frighted nymph looks backward on the shoar,


shoar, shore


            And hears the tumbling billows round her roar;

            But still she holds him fast: one hand is born


born, borne, held


            Upon his back; the other grasps a horn:

            Her train of ruffling garments flies behind,

            Swells in the air, and hovers in the wind.


see here also for a more windswept

picture of Europamore in keeping

with the last few lines

            Through storms and tempests he the virgin bore,

            And lands her safe on the Dictean shore;


Dictean, of Dicte, or Dikti, a mountain

range in Eastern Crete, site of the

Diktaion Antronor Dictaean Cave,

the place where Jove / Jupiter / Zeus

was apparently born, if it wasn’t the

Idaean Cave, which is to say a cave on

Mount Idatherefore Idaean, also in

Crete, both hollows having claimed

the right to be called the site of the

exalted provenance


            Where now, in his divinest form array’d,

            In his true shape he captivates the maid;


Jove / Jupiter / Zeus manifest, no

longer bull, but divinity, dripping

still in bovine potency, however


            Who gazes on him, and with wond’ring eyes

            Beholds the new majestick figure rise,

            His glowing features, and celestial light,

            And all the God discover’d to her sight.


once, to a man who’d bewitched me,

how could you touch me, I wrote, you

must’ve known you would transfix me,

leave me breathless, which he,

however inadvertently, had, did


I went on, of course, to not populate

continents, nor to become queen of

Crete, but was Europa, in that

instance, before my own exalted




R ! chard

“Europa’s Rape” – Ovid

Bulls, 1948 - Bertalan Por

       Bulls” (1948)


               Bertalan Por





though I’d heard, indeed, of the rape of

Europa, I wasn’t aware, I’d thought, of

the details, was loathe, therefore, to

read on, in the next segment of Ovid’s

Metamorphoseshaving been earlier

put off by such incidents in that text


as it turned out, Europa isn’t raped,

but, rather, abducted, more or less

willingly, however innocently, by

Jove / Jupiter / Zeus, and will even,

later, consensually, bear his children


who will then migrate, from their base

in Crete, to populate, to people, the

continent which we’ll come to know

as Europe, after their mum


but that’s a whole other story




           When now the God his fury had allay’d,

           And taken vengeance of the stubborn maid,

           From where the bright Athenian turrets rise

           He mounts aloft, and re-ascends the skies.


the God, Hermes / Mercury, if you’ll

remember, had just transformed

Aglauros, the stubborn maid, into a

statue for having been impudent

with him, and mounts aloft now,

re-ascends the skies over Athens,

where the damsel had lived

           Jove saw him enter the sublime abodes,


the sublime abodes, Olympus,

home of the gods

           And, as he mix’d among the crowd of Gods,

           Beckon’d him out, and drew him from the rest,

           And in soft whispers thus his will exprest.


Jove / Jupiter / Zeus wants something

from Hermes / Mercury

“My trusty Hermes, by whose ready aid

           Thy sire’s commands are through the world convey’d.


sire, Jove / Jupiter / Zeus is the father

of Hermes / Mercury, his sire


Hermes / Mercury, the messenger god,

patron of travellers, heralds, newscasters,

those who convey information

through[out] the world

           Resume thy wings, exert their utmost force,

           And to the walls of Sidon speed thy course;


Sidon, a city still in Lebanon

There find a herd of heifers wand’ring o’er

           The neighb’ring hill, and drive ’em to the shore.”

           Thus spoke the God, concealing his intent.


Jove / Jupiter / Zeus, the God, has

an ulterior motive, a conceal[ed] …


           The trusty Hermes, on his message went,

           And found the herd of heifers wand’ring o’er

           A neighb’ring hill, and drove ’em to the shore;


mission accomplished

           Where the king’s daughter, with a lovely train
           Of fellow-nymphs, was sporting on the plain.


the conceal[ed] …intent is exposed,

Jove / Jupiter / Zeus, in character,

is on the prowl


           The dignity of empire laid aside,

           (For love but ill agrees with kingly pride)


power, empire, will not abide being

deprived, we’ve seen ample examples

of that in our, even most recent, past

           The ruler of the skies, the thund’ring God,

           Who shakes the world’s foundations with a nod,


Jove / Jupiter, Zeus, god, remember,

of Thunder


           Among a herd of lowing heifers ran,

           Frisk’d in a bull, and bellow’d o’er the plain.


Frisk’d, accoutered, dressed up as,

in the guise of, a bull


           Large rowles of fat about his shoulders clung,


rowles, rolls

           And from his neck the double dewlap hung.


dewlap, a looseflap of skin hanging

from the throat of some animals, or

birds, cattle, for instance, turkeys,

a wattle

           His skin was whiter than the snow


see above


                                                             that lies

           Unsully’d by the breath of southern skies;


breath of southern skies would

melt away white snow, revealing,

fatefully, ignominiously, patches

of [ ]sully’d earth

           Small shining horns on his curl’d forehead stand,

           As turn’d and polish’d by the work-man’s hand;

           His eye-balls rowl’d, not formidably bright,


rowl’d, rolled

           But gaz’d and languish’d with a gentle light.


as in doe eyes

           His ev’ry look was peaceful, and exprest

           The softness of the lover in the beast.


a wolf, if here a bull, in

sheep’s clothing


stay tuned



R ! chard

my 10 best films – “Copenhagen”

Copenhagen (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes




yesterday – a Sunday afternoon, much

like Sundays the way they were

supposed to be, gracious, cordial, if

somewhat reverent, but, especially,

and quite specifically, as specified in

its prevailing Good Book then, restful

– a friend and I watched a second of

my ten favourite movies


Copenhagena three-character play

that had won the Tony in 2000, had

been made into a film a couple of

years later, with Daniel Craig, no

less than Daniel Craig, yes, that

Daniel Craig, if you’ll pardon my

gushing, the most recent, and

therefore ,to my mind, nearly

definitive James Bond, with a

couple of other less well known,

though supremely capable



Daniel Craig is Werner Heisenberg,

the German physicist who’d studied

with Niels Bohr, his Danish tutor,

both becoming, individually, great

names in the history of 20th-Century

nuclear physics, right up there with

Einstein and Oppenheimer


the year is 1941, Denmark is

occupied, Heisenberg, though

earlier a beloved student, is

now a political enemy, of his

earlier mentor, Niels Bohr


conflicting, apparently, ideologies,

incompatible, clashing, loyalties,

fell even apparently indissoluble



it is allowed by the German High

Command that Heisenberg visit

Bohr in Copenhagen, at his home,

to, perhaps, glean information

about the atom bomb, its



Heisenberg, if not necessarily

coerced, is, however informally,

tasked with getting whatever

relevant information from Bohr,

who is not directly involved with

either the German or American

pursuits, his interest is essentially

theoretical, to the extent that he

can maintain that pose despite

intense international pressure


they meet, they met, an actual

historical event, Michael Frayn

the playwright, imagines their

meeting, which has never been

recorded, the play is a work of

the imagination, but of an

imagination of the very highest

order, and philosophical insight


Schubert provides most of the

music, sets the tone for the

film, the much more refined

atmosphere of polished Europe,

the Europe we look toward, like

Romans looked toward Athens,

for their moral and aesthetic

pre-eminence, a Europe that

profoundly reverberates still in

our, however globalized,





try hard to see the movie




R ! chard

“The Story of Aglauros, transform’d into a Statue” (lV) – Ovid


       Statue in the Park of Versailles


                   Giovanni Boldini





Envy, at the instigation of Minerva,

has flown towards the site of her

commissioned mischief, to hex

Aglauros, who’s miffed her


            When Athens she beheld, for arts renown’d,

            With peace made happy, and with plenty crown’d,


Athens, its glories, architectural,

literary, political, philosophical, would

have been impressive still, despite its

intervening decline, to the mind of a

Roman poet of the later First Century,

compare, say, a contemporary poet’s

evaluation of Great Britain’s grandeur

during its 19th Century supremacy, or

of the United States’ promise before

its late-20th-Century deterioration


            Scarce could the hideous fiend from tears forbear,

            To find out nothing that deserv’d a tear.


Envy, the hideous fiend, was upset

because she couldn’t find anything

to cry about, anything that deserv’d

a tear

            Th’ apartment now she enter’d, where at rest

            Aglauros lay, with gentle sleep opprest.


with gentle sleep opprest seems

to me oxymoronic, conflicting

definitions, how could a gentle

sleep oppress, but let’s continue

            To execute Minerva’s dire command,

            She stroak’d the virgin with her canker’d hand,

            Then prickly thorns into her breast convey’d,

            That stung to madness the devoted maid:

            Her subtle venom still improves the smart,


improves the smart, accentuates

the sudden pain


            Frets in the blood, and festers in the heart.


Frets in, unsettles, the blood, festers,

rots , becomes cankerous, in the heart.


            To make the work more sure, a scene she drew,

            And plac’d before the dreaming virgin’s view

            Her sister’s marriage, and her glorious fate:

            Th’ imaginary bride appears in state;

            The bride-groom with unwonted beauty glows:

            For envy magnifies what-e’er she shows.


Aglauros is not only struck with

subtle venom, but subjected to

psychological manipulation, if

you’ll excuse the reference to

modern analytical methods, is

made to see [h]er sister’s

marriage, Herse‘s, as well as 

her glorious fate


For envy magnifies what-e’er

she shows, an observation

worth remembering


            Full of the dream, Aglauros pin’d away

            In tears all night, in darkness all the day;


the dream, though Envy might’ve

envenomed Aglauros in her sleep,

the unwanted vision continues to

plague her throughout the following

days, and nights


            Consum’d like ice, that just begins to run,

            When feebly smitten by the distant sun;

            Or like unwholsome weeds, that set on fire

            Are slowly wasted, and in smoke expire.


the slow torture in the mind of

rancour there eating away at

the psyche

            Giv’n up to envy (for in ev’ry thought

            The thorns, the venom, and the vision wrought)


The thorns, the venom, and the vision,

all three, wrought, writhing, smouldering,

in ev’ry thought


            Oft did she call on death, as oft decreed,


decreed, resolved


            Rather than see her sister’s wish succeed,

            To tell her awfull father what had past:


her awfull father, Cecrops l, founder

and first king of Athens, according to



awfull, as in inspiring awe, reverence

            At length before the door her self she cast;


the door, of her chamber, where the

God Hermes / Mercury had asked

Aglauros to speak in his favour to

her sister, Herse, whom he had

wanted, if you’ll remember, to woo


cast, set herself up awaiting the

God’s return

            And, sitting on the ground with sullen pride,

            A passage to the love-sick God deny’d.


Aglauros denies the God his wish,

she will not praise him to her sister

            The God caress’d, and for admission pray’d,

            And sooth’d in softest words th’ envenom’d maid.


caress’d, used endearing words

            In vain he sooth’d: “Begone!” the maid replies,

            “Or here I keep my seat, and never rise.”


I’ll stay here till you leave, Aglauros

tells Hermes / Mercury

            “Then keep thy seat for ever,” cries the God,


the impudence of vying with a god

has its consequences

            And touch’d the door, wide op’ning to his rod.


his rod, his caduceus, his winged


            Fain would she rise, and stop him,




                                                             but she found

            Her trunk too heavy to forsake the ground;

            Her joynts are all benum’d, her hands are pale,

            And marble now appears in ev’ry nail.

            As when a cancer in the body feeds,

            And gradual death from limb to limb proceeds;

            So does the chilness to each vital parte

            Spread by degrees, and creeps into her heart;

            ‘Till hard’ning ev’ry where, and speechless grown,

            She sits unmov’d, and freezes to a stone.


Aglauros has become of stone,

a statue

            But still her envious hue and sullen mien

            Are in the sedentary figure seen.


still, though Aglauros might’ve been

rendered inanimate, it’s interesting

to note that she’s nevertheless

become immortal, immortalized


see, for instance, above



R ! chard