This man found fault with [S]adyattes, because he afforded special treatment to Gyges, an ancestral enemy, and made him master of all. But the king did not pay any attention, but thought he made these criticisms out of envy. And since after repeating his complaints many times Lixus was unable to persuade him, he went through Sardis pretending to be mad and shouting, that Gyges the son of Dascylus was about to kill Sadyattes. And Lixus turned away on every occasion, travelling by other routes, denied access to royal highways. Gyges however wanted to seize him, but was unwilling to do so in contravention of his oath.
And one of his friends suggested that if he wanted to arrest him in accordance with the oath, he should turn aside to the roads Lixus usually travelled by; the friend claimed to know them. Gyges ordered the man to lead and he drove his chariot that way, and it chanced that Gyges came across Lixus at a bend in the road. As the road was narrow and he had nowhere to turn from the royal gaze, Lixus slipped under the chariot and tried to hide. A most powerful leader of the Britons, called Ligesauc.
Then he was pursued by Arthur wherever he turned, and he found nowhere that was safe, and nobody would protect him from fear of the aforesaid king. The fugitive takes refuge with a holy man for seven years, but when Arthur discovers his whereabouts, St. As with Lixus, we have this time the notion of the offender as an outlaw pursued by a relentless opponent determined to get round the sparing of the victim.
We can tabulate the overall tally of resemblances as follows: Gyges Gawain uncle Ardus Nicolaus uncle Artus French form has to avenge a blood-feud Nicolaus has to avenge a blood-feud Rigaudel falls into tomb through landslip landslip followed by underground adventure? A much later one is associated with the division of the Peloponnese among Heraclid rulers, and becomes King of Argos. We should note that the Temenos appears on the borders of Lydia and Phrygia much later in connexion with the foundation of Temenothouroi, Temenus gates; as so often there is a connexion with West Asia not too far off.
We shall note in due course the considerable contribution of this latter work to supplying comparative material on Tristan in the person of Feridun. The Pahlavi scriptures add that there they will await the day of Resurrexion. For beauty she had not her peer in the whole world; there was no detail of her loveliness in which a flaw was to be discovered. In the darkness of the night he had returned in a drunken state from a wedding feast. When he saw me in the distance, in the confusion of his mind he drew a gleaming sword and would have hewn my head from my body.
I had money and jewels beyond counting and, on my head, a golden crown. Over there they took my horse from me and somone beat me with the scabbard of a sword. I ran away in fear and came into this forest weeping tears of blood. When my father is restored to sobriety again he will undoubtedly send knights in search of me with speed. My mother too will come in haste. I have no desire to forsake my country or my home. That is why I galloped so fast ahead. Do not utter falsehoods for the sake of a slave-girl.
No man of honour seeks a quarrel. This is a mountain-doe, truly a heart-ravishing gazelle; but game appropriate only to the highest. We will spend the day telling the story of how certain warriors caught the sun with hunting cheetahs. My grandfather is the puissant commander Garsivaz, whose encampment lies on the frontier there. It would be my task to set you in a place of gold and make you queen over my loveliest ones. Once more we can anticipate the surprise Westerners should have found in finding Arthurian material waiting for them in the East, just as Ps.
We might also keep an open mind on whether we are looking at Parzival in the Garsivaz of the same passage. If we are, the chronology of these knights is awry, as Garsivaz is already old. But that may not be the end of the story. But that is not a licence to ignore the evidence we have. His relationship with the queen contributes to the destruction of the Round Table fellowship itself. And there are peculiar interludes, as when he is forced to dance in a magical dance under arms. His name is given as Moxus in Nicolaus, Mopsus in Xanthus.
He encouraged the Lydians to tithe their crops, as he himself had done, in honour of the gods. This man is said to have made many expeditions, and his fame was foremost among the Lydians for courage and justice. So far so good. If Meles is Meleagant or Maelwas, then the conqueror will be equivalent to Lancelot, whatever his actual name. In a celebrated scenario in the Mort Artu and in Malory Although the medieval tradition gives her a Christian burial on land,53 the coincidence seems worth pursuing.
We are given further notices and slightly different accounts, in Diodorus 2. Beside it is the sacred precinct of a celebrated goddess, whom the Syrians call Derceto. The most learned local tradition goes like this: Aphrodite was annoyed at the goddess just mentioned, and made her fall madly in love with a handsome youth among those who offered sacrifice there. The child, nourished by doves, becomes the celebrated queen Semiramis of Babylon. One notes in this context the identity of the Lady of the Lake as a White Serpent.
We also have another connexion noted by Xanthus fr. Askalos was chosen by Akiamus? It may be best however to try to keep our two Askalonian women separate, at least at this point. Let us look instead at the name of the key place itself, with which Mopsus and the eponymous founder Askalos were associated. Askalonios , of which it would have been a speciality caepe Ascalonicum. But it has to be justified and substantiated by a good deal of correspondence in content.
Both the founder of Askalon and Moxus would be associated with the name of the city, perhaps at widely different periods: we are reminded that medieval genealogies give Lancelot a grandfather of the same name; or they may be identical, if only by legendary conflation. Askalos has a brother Tantalus; the latter has Graal-seeking or Graal-possessing credentials, as we have noted elsewhere. Xanthus offers the variant Mopsus, who has a career with two or even three possibly separate identities as a heroic-age seer.
Thanks to Mopsus, a miracle takes place of bringing a spring into an unwatered landscape65 — yet another restoration of Waste Land. In the same sequence it is implied that he participates in an armed dance undertaken by the crew, and commanded by Orpheus;66 one thinks of the unusual episode in the Prose Lancelot where the knight is forced to dance in an armed dance in a magical trance. These are from the Melampodia, whose hero Melampous it will be remembered magically restores a maimed figure.
The contest with Amphilochus in this instance is a monomachia in which both are killed and are not to be buried facing each other. No one will pretend that the above account is free of problems: it is well to emphasise that a general air of plausibility is bedevilled by continued uncertainties in the details. Given the Egyptian connexions of Gyges that proved his downfall, we may not be wise to brand these associations as totally unhistorical.
By several routes, then, we come at least towards Lancelot. We have at least got him to a misadventure involving one if not more amorous women and a lake, and a plausible ancient Askalon as the address for Elaine. And J. What, then, can be said to be proven, or indeed provable? We can offer an ancient CV for Lancelot that points to a powerful military commander with a womanising reputation and association with at least one tragically amorous water-lady, and an association with the city that is acknowledged as the origin of Shalott.
We have no trace of the involvement with Arthur or Guinevere. But there are unexpected touches of consistency. More important, we have a strong sense, as with Ardus, Gyges and Kambles, that there is a good deal of real history here, and that we are not just dealing with one distraught victim of Love for Lancelot, but a genocidal massacre by a puritan fanatic. Unlike the Tristan materials, for example, the Graal-texts preserve an enormous variety of manifestations. The king himself is or is related to an ill old man, often with an old war wound, usually sustained by a magic plate, vessel, cauldron, or the like.
There may also be a corpse or a severed head, a bleeding lance, or some other feature which occasions or requires the avenging of a murdered man by the Graal seeker. There is often too some kind of hitch: an ignorant or naive hero may fail to perform some action that will somehow free the Graal people from their plight, so that he or some successor has to succeed only on a second attempt. Two Graal stories in Herodotus? Herodotus has a fair approximation to Graal-related material in his account of the early history of the Scythians 4. Targitaus they say had three sons, Lipoxais, Arpoxais, and the youngest, Colaxais; and while they were reigning gold objects fell from the sky into Scythia, a plough, a yoke, a battleaxe, and a goblet.
The eldest saw these first, and as he approached with a view to taking possession of them, the gold blazed up. He retreated and the second of the brothers came up, with the same result. The eldest brothers acknowledged the portent and handed over the entire kingdom to Colaxais. And if any guardian of the gold falls asleep in the open air during the festival, the Scythians say that he will not last out the year. But a still more neglected narration in Herodotus does do so. From there they crossed into upper Macedonia and arrived at the city of Lebaea; there they were hired to do menial work for the king, one looking after the horses, a second the oxen, and the youngest, Perdiccas, the sheep and goats.
When this went on happening every time, she mentioned it to her husband. And it immediately struck him that this was a portent of some great event, so he summoned the three servants and ordered them to leave his territory. The young men said they were entitled to their wages, and offered to go when they had been paid. At first sight this tale might be read as a typical tale of divine assent to a change in dynasty. But it can also be understood in terms of two widespread and overlapping tale complexes.
The magically doubling bread is described simply in terms of itself: but the bread is presumably served on some sort of platter, tray or container. Like Perdiccas he gains possession of a circle of enchantment, which gives him a mount for his quest for the coveted bowl and spear. The three in Herodotus go to Mount Bermium where Midas had his orchards. This is where Midas catches his satyr, as a result of which he obtains golden fruit, inter alia.
In that adventure three knights visit a kingdom whose king is surrounded by poverty an implication of the King of the Waste Land theme , and is strangely sustained by the miraculous food of the Graal. The youngest of the three is successful in being marked out as in some sense the successor to the Graal Kingdom. The motif of the changing bread does occur in Graal contexts,11 as does some distinguishing mark for the youngest of the three such as a gold circlet,12 corresponding to the circle of sunlight.
The Estoire has a negative version of it: when Gawain fails the test, he is covered in gloom, while the sun shines elsewhere. Graal town. And it does seem an odd coincidence that an almost literal form of Gawain should have a father or ancestor Temenos, when Gawain is traditionally the son of Lot.
A temenos is a lot, in the Germanic and Anglo-Saxon sense of an allocation of land. But we must allow for potential confusion through any Latin transcription which would not distinguish the vowel quantity. We seem to have found a Graal kingdom where no one was looking. Perdiccas here serves in the role of successful Graal Knight, i. Are there any other shared common characteristics? We have several allusions in Late Latin poetry and mythography to a Perdix or Perdiccas in love with his mother, variously given as Castalia, Polykarpe or Polycaste. In one of these it is the mother who dies as the result of disastrous love Claudian ;18 one recalls the fate of the mother of Perceval.
From such a complex, then, we can distinguish an ancient form of Gawain, participating already in some kind of Graal adventure. Is this a unique tradition of Gawain, then, or can we extricate any more? Maimed king and Waste Land in Nicolaus? We should also test the fragments of Nicolaus previously discussed to determine whether there are any hints of Graal narrative surrounding Gyges. F44 and F45 : When Ardus was already growing old he enjoyed a great bond of friendship with Dascylus the son of Gyges, a Mermnad. This man was virtually in control of the whole of Lydia.
So [S]adyattes, the son of Ardus, secretly killed Dascylus, out of fear that when his father died everything should be under him. When Ardus found this out, he was greatly distressed and called the Lydians to an assembly; and he himself was brought to the place; he was on a litter because of his great age; and he himself accused the guilty not knowing who they were , and called on the Lydians to look out for the slayer of Dascylus, and vowed countless curses on the murderers, and offered a reward for any who should wish to kill them if he caught them.
And after a reign of thirteen years Ardus died. When Meles was on the Lydian throne there was a famine, and people turned to oracles. And the god told them to exact justice for the death of Dascylus from their kings. When they heard this answer from the oracle-givers, and that it was necessary for the guilty to atone for three years for the slaughter, Meles flew of his own accord to Babylon.
But [the boy] could not be persuaded, and argued that he had never seen his father, since he was still in the womb when he had been killed, and so it was not proper for him to meddle. Meles took flight and entrusted the kingship to Sadyattes of the line of Kadus, originally from Tylon, who received him as a fugitive and on his return from Babylon after three years dutifully restored the kingdom to him. During the reign of Myrsus, Dascylus, the son of the Dascylus slain by Sadyattes, fearing that some plot should be hatched against him by the Heraclids, fled from Phrygia to the Syrian community in Pontus above Sinope.
There he settled and married a local girl, who gave him a son Gyges. The land is punished by a famine as the result of the murder of Dascylus, and will not be restored except in accordance with divine decree. An old king too frail to stand is carried in on a litter and demands vengeance from there, just as in Graal-texts the Waste king or his staff will reveal blood feuds to be settled by the questers. There he saw a lame grey-headed man sitting on one side of the hall. There is a prediction that thou art to avenge these things.
We should note that in Greek daskillos meant a kind of fish, and diskillos a platter, so that Dascylus can be presented as a Fisher-king whose name was easily confused with the word for the Graal platter which survives as dyscyl in the Celtic texts. It is as though we are seeing a Graal episode reduced to crudely historical presentation. We have various shady characters in Arthurian tradition who find themselves in this awkward position, with names ranging from Maelwas or Melias to Meleagant; usually such a character actually captures Guinevere, and some accommodation has to be reached to get her back, which this enemy of Arthur survives.
We have contemporary seventh-century BC Akkadian inscriptional evidence of two embassies of Gyges to the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal to seek aid against raids from the north by the Cimmerians. Ashurbanipal himself. This Greek impression accords well with the general impression of the Waste kings: wrapped in luxurious garments, attended by a considerable squad of women,26 in the manner of oriental grandees.
He reached the border of my country. But of all the languages of East and of West, over which the god Ashur has given me control, there was no interpreter of his tongue. His language was foreign, so that his words were not understood. From his territory. During the night [Ashur, the god revealed to me in a dream. Acknowledge his [overlordship][ ]your [enemies? You shall defeat, and you shall overwhelm them in battle. From that day on, yearly, without interruption, I do bear a heavy tribute [and] against his i. To ensure future prosperity, Gyges has to ask the right question.
When he is understood, his kingdom prospers. We should take the opportunity to ask whether there is any connexion between Gyges and Gawain as actual names. In those forms, no such correspondence is apparent. But when we set forth a wider range of versions the possibility of correspondence becomes more likely. We should at least note the possibility that the Black Book of Carmarthen, referring to what must be a tomb of Gawain, refers to a Gugaun. His supposed tomb at Sardis has a monogram motif that has been read as both gugu and walwe. As the details of this are hotly disputed it is unwise to rely on it as conclusive evidence.
In later Greek gamma could itself be used for digamma. All that can be said is that the hesitation between galgan and walwan appears to be reflected in Guges and Walwe; we should prefer to establish the identity on folkloric rather than philological grounds, though the latter are not incompatible with the former. Alexander tries to take it, till a divine voice restrains him. And when we meet a Gauanes son of Temenos in early Macedonian foundation legend, we can reasonably look for further traces of Arthurian materials far earlier than the end of antiquity. We can also perhaps begin to account for why it should surface just at the point it does, at the beginning of the Dark Ages.
This is the point when the conventional Graeco-Roman educational system loses its grip, and a more folkloric voice, rarely heard since Herodotus himself, has no longer any competitors for a hearing. There is an early tradition in a fragment of Hesiod that Medea was able to renew Aeson, father of Jason, in a golden lebes cauldron ;37 the instance that tends to be cited is the case of her murdering his wicked brother Pelias in a vessel misrepresented as a cauldron of renewal.
But we should at least pause over the nomenclature here. As is well known, the name Pelles persists in the Graal legends, with a prominent position in both Perlesvaus and the Prose Lancelot in the Vulgate Cycle. The name Perdiccas already noted in Herodotus in itself has other associations that are relevant to any ancient Arthur.
The name itself is a by-form of perdix, a partridge, with the following connotations: in Ovid there is an Athenian Perdix who invents a pair of compasses. It can hardly be coincidence that his claim to fame includes the same operations as those of Perdiccas — tracing a circle by inventing a pair of compasses. He discovers the Holy Graal of the Holy Graal, so to speak. Normally one thinks of the Tantalus as permanently punished in the other world for his oathbreaking over the possession of the golden dog, and for betraying the secrets of the gods and dispensing immortality.
But there is a variant, and an oriental one, available from Late Antiquity: the Life of Apollonius of Tyana offers the portrait of Tantalus as a benefactor of mankind, dispensing a cup of immortality. The gods have Pelops reconstituted and so the dish is able to function as a dish of immortality. But if nothing else it underlines the credibility of the material in Herodotus concerning the traditions of Lebaea. There is yet another Graal personage to be considered. In the Cistercian Queste Text we have the image of the bread served by the Graal seeming to turn into a child, an image easily transmuted into that of the eucharist, with the child seen as Christ.
The subtitle From Celtic myth to Christian Symbol well describes the picture that appeared to emerge from medieval texts alone: Loomis pointed to heroic tales in the Irish Echtras which are wholly secular in spirit and are gradually overlaid with an interpretatio Christiana all too apparent in the Vulgate Queste and Perlesvaus. And the material is at least partly historical.
Once more an exploration of Lydian geography yields interesting, if inconclusive, results in this domain. A kiathos would be odd applied to a metal or stone object, but would reasonably represent a broad, shallow platter. Lastly, we might note that even Arcadia has its Graal castle site. The place in question is Phigalia, mentioned in some detail by Pausanias,61 who notes that in the time of one Boukolion it was renamed Phiale, and that the name was changed back. The epigraphic and literary picture is not quite so simple; but in the form Phialia the connexion would easily be made with a cup or vessel phiale.
The site itself is on high ground, and surrounded by mountains, and would well merit the kind of description applied to Graal Castles. The presence of Gauanes makes the evidence in Herodotus hard to ignore, and the context among Lydian Ardus-material does the same for the episode in Nicolaus. In many of the other cases we should wish to know much more than we do about the broader mythological context of figures as mysterious and elusive as Melampus, Philoctetes, Pelias or Tantalus. But even without such knowledge it is unwise to think of the Graal as a distinctively medieval phenomenon.
We should bear in mind too the fact that Pelops, son of the Lydian Tantalus, travels to Greece to give his name and legend to the Peloponnese, just as the similarly dismembered Arkas gives his to Arcadia. But all this can only be made to prove that the story was well established in Celtic quarters in the early Middle Ages and beyond. A study by Eisner in argued strongly that a number of motifs in the tales from classical mythology had found their way into the Tristan tradition, including the motif of the black and white sail, from the Theseus cycle, and the healing of Paris by Oenone.
It is therefore natural to look for any Eastern predecessor of the story even earlier. But we might note a vernacular form of Isolda, Isonde in English and Scandinavian versions, and this would at least be comparable to the Greek oblique case stem which would offer an accusative Sinonida.
But, above all, both contain the love-potion. This is the mainspring of the Tristan story; in Iamblichus it is slipped in as a digression, when the eunuch Zobares falls in love with Mesopotamia, the doublet of the heroine Sinonis, as a result of drinking from an erotic river. It may be that cultural preference encouraged removal of the love-potion to a subplot.
Greek readership seems to prefer lovers who love of their own free will rather than chemical compulsion. It should however be noted that Thraetaona was singled out as one of the first Persian heroes to be associated with the fabulous haoma juice with its intoxicating properties once more we seem to be approaching the association of a Tristan-type hero and a powerful and overmastering potion. No variant of this name is ever actually applied to Mark himself.
Garmus , and is of African extraction. Again sceptics might argue that this is the wrong enemy of Tristan, who offers him no opposition after the initial episodes, and that he is not a rival for Isolde, who is in fact his daughter. An ancient Tristan narrative With the basic relationships established, we are now in a position to look in some more detail at the way the ancient Tristan was handled in comparison with its Medieval analogues both East and West.
The most convenient way of presenting the comparisons is episode by episode in the logical progression of the story as familiar from the Western Tristan tellings. A Chaldaean announces the future success of Rhodanes, but not until much later in the story. Western versions differ considerably in the degree of hostility to Tristan both by Mark and by a fostermother. The rest of the oriental tradition is more muted. In the Shah-Nama the dragon is really identical with Zahak himself, for reasons that will appear below.
The Visramiani contents itself with mere military and so realistic exploits. Iamblichus differs in his handling of Rhodanes from the Shah-Nama, the Visramiani and the Western Tristans, in having Rhodanes apparently lawfully married to Sinonis; this means that the king is the would-be adulterer, and so the whole point of the love-potion, to make the lovers technically innocent of adultery, is not required. When the night grows dark his conduct is even worse. Now, my lord, make your plans and look to what needs to be done.
The analogy has been correctly drawn to the Asiatic Midas story known as early as Classical Antiquity. Just as Frocin is killed for his betrayal, Midas takes the precaution of executing the barbers who are privy to the royal shame. Punishment is now threatened for the lovers. This latter detail does not occur in Iamblichus at this stage, but we hear not long afterwards of a temple of Aphrodite on an island which later forms the focus of a complex of incidents. The Prose Tristan has a magically hidden house beside a rock in the forest. In the Western versions, Mark discovers the lovers, by looking into the cave or seeing them lying asleep in the open air; he mistakes the couple for innocent, shields Isolda from the sunlight Gottfried and leaves a recognition-token.
In Iamblichus the pursuers mistake the ailing couple for dead, cover them, and leave funeral offerings. Rhodanes and Sinonis journey to an island where there is a temple of Aphrodite, whose custom is described. The Visramiani likewise includes an oath which Vis has to swear. Apart from the temple, the island also introduces two brothers Tigris and Euphrates and their sister Mesopotamia, whom one of the brothers when captured passes off as Sinonis herself. The latter acts as a substitute for Isolde, yielding her virginity to Mark in place of her mistress; much less distinctively, Mesopotamia is simply mistaken for Sinonis.
Rhodanes had discovered gold at the beginning of the story, and by his disclosing the site to Soraechus the latter is able to raise a revolt by Alan mercenaries against Garmus, forced in turn to engage Rhodanes as his general. The surprise must be rather that the texts have not diverged a great deal further than they have actually done. It is closer in style to Gottfried than to any other version, as we should expect from the rhetorical training of a second sophistic author;53 though in incident-pattern it is nearer to the inclusiveness of the Prose Tristan, given to quite substantial accumulation of digression and minor incident.
It is, however, more dramatically taut and compacted than the latter text, where a number of shorter episodes are selfcontained. The double-identity confusions in Iamblichus are carefully planned and plotted. It is also clear that Iamblichus is sometimes closer to the Tristan analogues the Diarmaid complex, the Visramiani than to the closely congruent details of the Western Vulgate.
Overall the relative strangeness of this version should not surprise us. Not only is it a thousand years older and the product of a somewhat different society; but the Tristan legend has a considerable variety of episodes not found in the Vulgate: these include the Lay of the Honeysuckle and a small number of episodes thrown up by the later European vernaculars.
The analogue with Paris below shows that the story was found very early in the Eastern Mediterranean in its Western tragic version.
Some scenes are not paralleled elsewhere, such as those concerning the executioner, at least as reported by Iamblichus; or the death of the informer thrown by the camel;55 and the bizarre and distasteful story of Trophime and the dog. There is no shortage of allusions in classical literature to names and materials which turn up in the medieval Arthurian corpus from time to time. Clearly when classical names are being used as namedrops in a text with a generally erudite, rhetorical feel, the explanation may be different from what we expect in the case of an isolated name or motif that seems integral to a story as a whole.
Correspondingly, scholars are inclined to view medieval materials bearing classical or other exotic names as garble or caricature of their character in classical literature. Details of this story have been singled out as contributions to the British tale, and Eisner argued for learned borrowing of the motif of the discarded lover needed to heal the wounded warrior. We should be tempted to see Paris as a Tristan by another name, still closer to the Lydian epicentre of other Arthurian materials than the Iranian connexions of Iamblichus.
The Paris traditions are of course traditionally much older than the world of Ardus of Lydia and Gyges, belonging as they do to late Mycenaean legend; but they are also relatively local: the Hellespont is just over miles from Sardis. This is an ingenious variation, or yet another variant, of the Tristan story itself. Further interest lies in names and setting: the epicentre is firmly the Greece of the Byzantine Empire; the betrayer who sees the naked lovers is a Thracian; and the girl has a name that would relate her to Phoenicia Fenice.
We should ask whether we are dealing with a merely mechanical transfer by a French author from his familiar Arthurian setting to something which from a French point of view might have been felt as more exotic. The book that is the authority for the truth of this story is very ancient, which makes it all the more worthy of belief. We should also note the importance of a pretended death scene of Menelaus, not Helen in the same play of Euripides. We are entitled to suspect that Scott Littleton was searching in the right area, even if we have to revise our view of the transmission of such stories.
We must also conclude that not only was there Arthurian material in Asia Minor, but that the Tristan and Arthur materials were intertwined long before the Middle Ages. In the light of the foregoing chapters we could evoke a less familiar but still better authenticated scenario, some fourteen centuries earlier, where a character Arcturus dressed in some sort of star-adorned costume comes on stage and boasts to a Roman Republican audience at a rough-and-ready rustic comic farce shortly after the Second Punic War that he is an agent of Jupiter who has just sent a storm at sea to rescue two damsels in distress from an evil brothel-keeper.
We are also told that this is an adaptation of a Greek play from several centuries earlier still. Loomis went on to reclaim Arthur for the Celts, and for a mythology which he was quick to relate to the Persephone myth. Inertia wins. That's simple, because they look good naked. He just coined my new favorite word for good harp: Hohnerific. The minimalist subtitles are a big fuck you to non-French speakers. Oh, and Patti Smith. I want the one that says Spoiled. You'll love it! Not one commuter, a bazillion cops.
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Guess I'm in good company. Everyone is biased by their own racial background, even if they think they aren't. Rosi added the writer's character to the film. Chopsticks In Japan it was taboo to serve a bowl of rice with chopsticks in except when the rice was prepared as a gift for the dead. In this case, a pair of chopsticks was thrust upright into the bowl. Chopsticks were originally a Chinese invention, widely adopted in the country around bce at the time that the scholar replaced the warrior as the ideal type of citizen, although bronze chopsticks have been unearthed from royal tombs dating back to.
Food was prepared in small pieces before reaching the table and then eaten with chopsticks, a custom that was preferable to the savage habits of Europeans who used knives at table, or, as the Chinese put it, ate with swords. That a taboo, like that imposed on chopsticks in Japan, should be reversed at the time of death is not unusual. In Japan, as in most other cultures, a corpse was traditionally thought to be dangerous and certain rituals needed to be followed to mitigate the harm.
Just as food offerings for the dead differed from those of the living, a bedside screen was erected upside down near the head of the deceased and instead of cold water being added to hot to wash the corpse, hot water was poured onto cold. References Farb, Peter and George Armelagos. Consuming Passions: The Anthropolov of Eating. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company. Natley, Malika.
Personal communication. Clitoris The discovery of the clitoris, as Thomas Laqueur reveals in his article on the topic, has been claimed by Renaldus Columbus. In Columbus writes from Venice in his De re anatomica: Therefore, since no-one has discerned these projections and their working, if it is permissible to name things one has discovered, it should be called the love, or sweetness of Venus And this, most gentle reader is that: pre-eminently the seat of womens delight Laqueur, p.
It is perhaps the seat of womens delight, but it is also a part of the body considered so taboo that many cultures have seen fit to remove it in a clitoridectomy or excision. Columbus claim to be the first to discover the organ, however, has been fiercely contested. Bartholinus, an early 17th-century anatomist remarks that the clitoris has been known to everyone from the second-century physicians Rufus of Ephesus and Julius Pollux to the Arabic anatomists Albucasis and Avicenna and fifty years later Regnier De Graaf traces its history back to Greek anatomists.
Hippocrates knew it as columnella, little column, he says. It was better known to the Greeks as kleitoris, and the verb form, kleitorizein, is first recorded by Rufus who gives its meaning as to touch [the nymphe] lasciviously and Gabriello Fallopius, the 16th-century Italian anatomist who discovered the fallopian tubes, speaks of the lewd verb, from which to touch the clitoris is derived Laqueur, p. Certainly the clitoris has been known of for a long time, and not just in Europe.
A 19th-century ethnographic work, Das Weib woman by Hermann H. Nici Nelson, who conducted field research among the Kikuyu of Mathare Valley, Kenya, offers a motivation for the operation: M edical doctors and Kikuyu women to whom I talked agreed that circumcision would limit womens sexual pleasure since the most sensitive tissues of the female genital organs, the clitoris and the labia minora, are excised. Old women interviewed during a return visit in confirmed this. They said that girls were circumcised to limit their sex drive and to keep them under control sex was for procreation only rather than for pleasure Nelson, p.
Before this transference can be effected, a certain interval of time must often elapse, during which the young woman is [vaginally] anaesthesic When erotogenic susceptibility to stimulation has been successfully transferred by a woman from the clitoris to the vaginal orifice, it implies that she had adopted a new leading zone for the purposes of her later sexual activity The fact that women change their leading erotogenic zone in this way, together with the wave of repression at puberty, which, as it were, puts aside their childish masculinity, are the chief determinants of the greater proneness of women to neurosis and especially to hysteria Freud, p.
So the erotic zone of woman migrates, as Thomas Laqueur amusingly puts it, like a Bahktiari tribesman in search of fresh pastures Laqueur, p. Freud is not the first to suggest this. In the s, Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing, a neurologist specialising in sexual pathology, had written of the transference, supposing it to occur after defloration, although he did not deny the existence of other erogenous zones.
But as Thomas Laqueurs essay shows, there exists no basis in physiology for such a view. Rather, it is cultural or social considerations that recognise, in the unruly and excitable clitoris, a barrier to reproductive intercourse and a concomitant, settled, family life. Moreover, as Freud has shown, humans are latently bisexual so a rejection of the male clitoris in favour of the female vagina helps to differentiate the sexes.
But as the vagina is relatively insensitive, a sense of pleasure can only be achieved through a feat of imagination in much the same way that an amputee might experience pain in a missing limb or, as in hysteria, symptoms are manifested which have no physical cause.
The move from clitoris to vagina, therefore, is hysterical: Like the missing limb phenomenon, it involves feeling what is not there. Becoming a sexually mature woman is therefore living an oxymoron, becoming a lifelong normal hysteric, for whom a conversion neurosis is termed acceptive Laqueur, p. Freud may not have advocated clitoral excision but he nonetheless designated the clitoris a forbidden zone.
His rejection of clitoral orgasm led to a reaction later in the century when feminists, such as Helena Wright, once again claimed to have discovered the seat of womens delight. References Freud, Sigmund. Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. The Penguin Freud Library. James Strachey. Laqueur, Thomas W. Amor Veneris, vel Dulcedo Appeletur. Part Three. New York: Zone. Masters, W. Human Sexual Response. New York.. Little, Brown and Co.
Nelson, Nici. Selling her kiosk: Kikuyu notions of sexuality and sex for sale in Mathare Valley, Kenya. In The Cultural Construction of Sexuality. Pat Caplan, p. London: Routledge. Weideger, Paula. Cook, Captain James and Taboo in Polynesia Captain Cook, the British naval captain, navigator, explorer and astronomer is responsible. Later ethnographers, visiting the Polynesian islands in the early 19th century, continued to explore the concept of taboo. George von Langsdorff was interested in the social aspects of taboo; he compiled a list of taboo customs and translated the word as forbidden.
Adam von Krusenstern emphasised the religious implications of taboo while Urey Lisiansky defined taboo as a sacred prohibition. The difficulties of an adequate definition were reiterated by Otto von Kotzebue who commanded the Rurik in Louis de Freycinet, who had accompanied Kotzebue on an earlier expedition in , decided that the word meant forbidden or prohibited and that the custom of taboo was an institution, simultaneously civil and religious Steiner, p.
Franz Steiner, in his book, Taboo, supplies a Polynesian etymology in which the word tabu is derived from ta to mark and pu thoroughly , indicating something that is marked off or, as Keesing puts it, offlimits. References Keesing, Roger M. In Journal of Anthropological Research, no. Steiner, Franz. Cows For Hindus, cows are a sacred species, protected by Indias federal constitution. Article 48 of the governments Directive Principles of State Policy recommends a prohibition on the slaughter of cows and calves and many religious Hindus are agitating for a total ban on the killing of cattle.
The champion of Indian independence, Mohandas Gandhi, was an ardent advocate of cow protection, a feature that endeared him to the Hindu masses, and the protection of cows has a marked political dimension, separating Hindus from the beef-eating Muslims. Gandhis treatise, How to Serve the Cow, articulates the general principle of ahimsa, or non-injury, a doctrine whose foundation lies in the practices of the sramanas world-renouncers of the 6th century bce and which was adopted by the composers of the Upanishads and by Buddhists and Jains.
The sanctity of the cow is well attested in myth. In Vedic tradition, Tvastr, the architect and artisan of the gods, possesses a magic cow capable of yielding soma, the potent ambrosia of the gods which is stolen by the god, Indra. Hymn Hindu festivals celebrate the merciful Krishna, protector of cows, while Shiva, the divine avenger, rides on a bull. All that the cow produces is holy, whether milk, urine or excrement and ghee, clarified cows butter, is burned in lamps in the temples. Yet the taboos on killing cattle have not always existed. Texts of the Vedic period bce focus on the yajna, the fire sacrifice, an essential rite necessary for maintaining cosmic order.
The Brahmins the priestly caste were responsible for the sacrifice and cattle,. References Ambedkar, B. The Untouchables. New Delhi: Amrit Book Company. Brown, W. The Sanctity of the Cow in Hinduism. Journal of the Madras University. Detienne, Marcel and Jean-Pierre Vernant.
The Cuisine of Sacrifice among the Greeks. Paula Wissing. Good to Eat: Riddles of food and Culture. London: Allen and Unwin.
The Laws of Manu. Lincoln, Bruce. In The Encylopedia of Religion, vol. New York: Macmillan. OFlaherty, Wendy Doniger. Dreams, Illusions and Other Realities. The Rig Veda, trans. Wendy Doniger OFlaherty. Simoon, Frederick J. Cross-roads Cross-roads are places of danger; haunted by spirits, demons, ghosts and gods, they can not be crossed with impunity. Almost every society in the world has at some time treated them with apprehension, as repositories of all that is polluted or all that is magical, and requiring special rituals if they are to be traversed safely. Greek and Roman writers identified the convergence of paths with Hekate, a goddess who had to be supplicated by means of rituals and meals, or suppers, if she was to keep the uncanny ghosts of the cross-roads at bay and allow the traveller safe passage.
The suppers were taken to the hekataia shrines of Hekate situated at cross-roads at the time of the new moon. If her desires were thwarted and she was denied homage, she could turn vengeful and summon up the wrathful spirits to do her bidding. Sarah Johnston suggests that it is the indeterminate nature of cross-roads that makes them so threatening: The Greeks, Romans, and many other ancient civilisations regarded both natural and man-made liminal points of all kinds doors, gates, rivers and frontiers, as well as cross-roads as uncertain places, requiring special rituals because of their lack of association with either of two extremes, liminal points eluded categorisation a threshold was neither in nor out of the house, a cross-road was part of neither road A nor road B nor road C.
On the one hand, liminal points and boundaries structured the world on the other hand the liminal point because it didnt belong to either of the two extremes it separated, was a sort of permanent chaos Johnston, p. This is certainly true; ambiguity and periods of transition twilight, midnight, mid-summer, Mayday Eve and Halloween turning points of the year in the Celtic calendar are all seen as hazardous. Moreover, cross-roads can cause confusion, especially to the traveller unsure of the route.
Legba must appear before any other god, or loa, can descend. He is the: M aster of the mystic barrier which divides men from spirits, Legba is also the guardian of the gates and of the fences which surround houses and, by extension, he is the protector of the home He is also the god of roads and paths. As M aster of Cross-roads he is the god of every parting of the way a favourite haunt of evil spirits and propitious to magic devices; and it is at cross-roads that he receives the homage of sorcerers and presides over their incantations and spells.
M any magic formulae begin with the words, By thy power, M aster of Cross-roads M traux, p. Johnston, Sarah Isles. Zeitschrift fr Papyrologie und Epigraphik, no. Mtraux, Alfred. Voodoo in Haiti. Hugo Charteris. New York: Schocken Books. Puhvel, M. The Mystery of the Cross-Roads. Folklore, no. Cunnilingus Cunnilingus, the oral stimulation of the female genitals from cunnus vulva and lingere lick , though until recently not spoken of openly in Western society, is accorded a revered place in Chinese Taoism. This is because the aim of Taoism is to achieve immortality, or at least longevity, and the loss of semen, vaginal, and other, bodily liquids is believed to bring about a corresponding loss of vitality.
However, conversely, by either semen retention or ingesting the secretions from the vagina, a male can conserve and increase his chi, or original vital breath. In Taoism: The Great Medicine of the Three Mountain Peaks is to be found in the body of the woman and is composed of three juices, or essences: one from the womans mouth, another from her breasts, and the third, the most powerful, from the Grotto of the White Tiger, which is at the Peak of the Purple Mushroom the mons veneris Paz, p. According to Philip Rawson Rawson in Paz, p.
But the Taoist ideal is not just about the male being enriched by female secretions; the female also benefits from her communion with the male, a feature that has led the sinologist, Kristofer Schipper, to denounce the ancient handbooks on the Art of the Bedroom as embracing a kind of glorified male vampirism, that is not truly Taoist at all Schipper, p. Ideally, by mingling the male and female liquids, the Taoist aims to reconcile opposites and to recapture the mythical time that existed before the division of the sexes, the primordial time of the original chi.
The religious historian, Mircea Eliade, speaks of a similar desire to transcend old age and death, and achieve a state of nirvana, in the Hindu practice of Tantric yoga. In Tantric yoga, the same emphasis is placed on the retention and absorption of vital liquids and Sanscrit texts describe how the male semen must not be emitted if the yogin is to avoid falling under law of time and death Eliade, p. References Eliade, Mircea.
Yoga, Immortality and Freedom. Willard R. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Girardot, N. Myth and Meaning in Early Taoism. Maspero, Henri. Les Procds de nourir le principe vital dans la religion taoiste ancienne. Journal Asiatique, no. Paz, Octavio. Conjunctions and Disjunctions.
Helen R. London: Wildwood House. Rawson, Philip. Erotic Art of the East. New York: G. Putnams Sons. Van Gullik, R. Sexual Life in Ancient China. Leiden, the Netherlands: Brill. D De Sade, Marquis D. The writings of de Sade are still officially banned by the French courts and sadism is still regarded as perverse and surrounded by taboos although in the Law Commission for England and Wales recommended that it should no longer be regarded as a criminal offence for consenting adults to indulge in acts of sado-masochism.
Deriving pleasure from the infliction of pain is certainly perplexing and it is difficult to imagine anyone not being disturbed by the cruelty and violence in de Sades books. A typical response to the marquis works is that of Jules Janin, writing in the Revue de Paris in There are bloody corpses everywhere, infants torn from their mothers arms, young women with their throats slit after an orgy, cups full of blood and wine, unimaginable tortures.
Cauldrons are heated, racks set up, skulls broken, men flayed alive; there is shouting, swearing, blasphemy; hearts are ripped from bodies When the author has committed every crime there is, when he is sated with incest and monstrosities, when he stands panting above the corpses he has stabbed and violated, when there is no church he has not sullied, no child he has not sacrificed to his rage, no moral thought on which he has not flung the foulness of his own thoughts and words, then at last this man pauses, looks at himself smiles to himself and is not Tightened Bataille, p.
What is surprising, given their contents, is the way in which de Sades writings have been acclaimed by artists and writers including the French poet, Apollinaire, the surrealists and even the champion of feminism, Simone de Beauvoir. To understand this is it necessary to look a little closer at the life and times of the marquis, writing as he was at a time of social and political revolution.
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The Marquis de Sade was born into an aristocratic family and, after abandoning a military career, he married the daughter of a magistrate, Rene-Plagie de Montreuil, in Four months after the marriage, he was imprisoned in Vincennes; the charges included blasphemy,. Besides, the carnal scenes in the novels are interspersed with cool philosophical reflections, hardly likely to inflame the passions. The actual events of the novels are totally implausible, calling to mind the wild excesses of Rabelais. But in his writings he describes deviancies that are known to exist and explains the pathological phenomenon known today as sadism.
In this way he has been influential in the realm of psychoanalysis. His attitude towards taboos is also revealing; he thinks those things that most repel the mind must be brought to the surface of the conscious mind as they are part of human nature. Only through self-knowledge is it possible to control ones own depravity.
The surrealists, influenced by Freud, took a similar view, aiming to destroy all censorship and liberate mains libidinal and anarchistic compulsions; in this way they hoped to undermine bourgeois sensibilities. Georges Bataille points out that violence often underlies not just sexual urges but also religious experience. Sacrifice has played a pivotal role in many religions and even Christianity has its roots in the Crucifixion, the divine sacrifice through which man is redeemed.
Secular lift is also suffused with violence, but this is often hidden or ignored, a fact that may explain Simone de Beauvoirs defence of the marquis: The merit of de Sade is not only to have cried loudly what all confess shamefully to themselves: it is to have taken sides. Instead of indifference, he chose cruelty. And that is why he finds so many echoes today, when the individual is aware of being the victim not so much of the malice of men, as of their good conscience Gonzaiez-Crussi, p.
At first, de Beauvoir appears to support the idea that anything is better than indifference; the existential philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, has argued that one hurts other people anyway, therefore it is better to do it consciously. But she is also denouncing human hypocrisy which proclaims the brotherhood of man while turning a blind eye to genocide.
References Barthes, Roland. Sade, Fourier, Loyola. Paris: Editions du Scuil. Bataille, Georges. Mary Dalwood. London: Marion Boyars Publishers. Carter, Angela. The Sadeian Woman. London: Virago. Faut-il brler Sade? Paris: Gallimard. Gonzalez-Crussi, Franz. On the Nature, of Things Erotic. London: Picador. Lynch, I. The Marquis de Sade. Boston, Massachusetts: Twayne Publishers.
Michael, Colette Verger. New York; London: Garland. Schaeffer, Neil. The Marquis do Sade: A Life. London: Hamish Hamilton. Death Death, and all that surrounds it, is steeped in taboos. Certain myths, such as those of Genesis, tell how death itself came into the world through the violation of a taboo. More often, though, tales trace the origin of death to a meaningless accident or an unfortunate choice: God sends a chameleon with a message of life and a lizard with a message of death to the ancestors, but the chameleon pauses on the way and the lizard arrives first; or man, given the choice between a stone and a banana, chooses the banana and, like it, is doomed to perish, forfeiting the permanence of stone.
An African myth from the Luba of Zaire is closer to the biblical story; here it is the eating of bananas, unwisely stolen from the creator, that causes man to sicken and die. The corpse and mortuary rites A fear of the corpse considered to he a major source of danger and pollution is almost-. The social dimension of mortuary rites It may he logical to attribute taboos surrounding the dead to a natural human aversion to the processes of bodily decay, the odour of putrefying flesh and the fear of disease.
But Hertz rejects explanations based on hygiene: This is not a matter of hygiene as we understand the word , nor even, exclusively, a concern to ward off foul smells: we must not attribute to these people feelings and scruples about smell which are foreign to them Hertz, p. Indeed, Hertz describes how in Bali it was the custom to keep the corpse in the house for many weeks before cremation with the liquids produced by decomposition drained through a hole in the coffin and collected in a dish which was ceremoniously emptied each day.
In Borneo a bamboo tube was used to drain the liquid from fermenting jars in which the body was pickled and this was then mixed with rice and eaten by close relatives during the mourning period. Moreover, the anthropologist, Peter Metcalf, noticed in his fieldwork among the Berawan of Borneo in that while not exactly indifferent to the smells of decomposition, Rotting does not have the wholly negative connotations for them that it does for us Metcalf and Huntington, p.
Clearly the death pollution is understood to be supernatural hence the common belief in the contamination of objects surrounding a dead man, things he has touched, the river in which he has fished, the fruit from his orchard. But social factors, such as the status of the deceased, also play a part in the contamination of death. Hertz noticed how, within a single society, the death of a chief would arouse intense revulsion and dread while that of a child or slave would go practically unnoticed.
The degree of kinship with the dead person is also important: the closer the relationship, the longer the mourning and the separation from the rest of community. Even the time of death is commonly determined by social convention rather than medical evidence. When Nigel Barley visited a Torajan family in Indonesia he was introduced to a grandmother. Unfortunately, the grand- mother was dead wrapped in layers of cloth to absorb the liquids of putrefaction and she could not return the greeting.
Enquiring as to how long she had been dead, Barley breached the rules of etiquette and appalled his host: We dont say that She wont die until she leaves the house. Shes been sleeping for three years now. Noticing that her body acted as a handy shelf for storing tapes, the anthropologist remarked sagely, Youll miss her when she dies Barley, P. On the other hand, among the Lugbara of Uganda, a dying man is considered dead as soon as he has spoken his last words and had them accepted by his successor.
The latter then steps outside the hut and calls the cere the personal cry of his predecessor who is no longer regarded as alive even though he may linger on. Similarly disconcerting is the fate of those presumed dead, but actually still living, among the Dogon of the Sudan. Once the funeral rites have been performed a person is considered dead and, should he reappear later, not even his closest relations will acknowledge him and he will he forced to remain a nameless beggar for the rest of his life.
The social dimension of death and mortuary rituals was investigated by the Frenchman, smile Durkheim, in an early essay of and in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life, published in Analysing a description of a death among Australian aborigines in which gashed thighs and heads, fighting and frenzy, would seem to point to overwhelming grief Durkheim shows how the degree of emotion manifested, and the level of self-mutilation, is assigned according to kinship roles mothers brother and brother, respectively.
The careful orchestration of grief in this way means that intense emotion can he utilised to foster social cohesion. Hertz, a pupil of Durkheim, agrees that the emotions and conceptions of death are socially determined and that rituals can manipulate private emotions. Moreover, grafted onto each physical individual is a social being in whom the society has invested considerable energy: Thus, when a man dies, society loses in him much more than a unit; it is stricken in the very principle of its life, in the faith it has in itself Hertz, p.
This explains why the death of a ruler or someone of high status is so much more traumatic than the death of a child who has yet to he invested with a social role. It takes time for a society to recover horn the crisis of losing an important member; gradually, society must reclaim what it has invested in the deceased and graft it onto a new member.
To accommodate this process, typical mortuary rites are characterised by two distinct rituals: rites of separation, the purpose of which, as the Mossi of Burkina Faso proclaim, somewhat paradoxically, is to kill the dead by which they mean to destroy what remains alive in a dead person by sundering the emotional bonds that link him to the community.
The roles once occupied by the deceased are reallocated and order is re-established. An important monograph analysing the way in which the roles and property of a deceased LoDagaa of West Africa are redistributed has been written by the anthropologist, Jack Goody.
The liminal period The period between the actual death of a person and the time when mourning ceases, between the rites of separation and those of integration, is known as the liminal period. It may vary from a few weeks to several years and is often demarcated by a double disposal of the dead. First the body is incarcerated in a temporary grave, or a Tower of Silence, or in fermenting jars, as in Borneo while the flesh decomposes, then a great feast is held and the remains of the corpse are recovered and buried or stored elsewhere, in a place free from the taint of decay.
While the underlying function of the burial customs may he social, the corpse itself is deemed dangerous and subject to taboos because, until its dissolution and reconstruction in the realm of the dead, part of its spiritual essence remains behind where it can menace and endanger the living. To free the soul, the body must be destroyed: The same belief applies to the soul and body of the deceased death is not a mere destruction but a transition: as it progresses so does the rebirth; while the old body falls to ruins, a new body takes shape, which with the soul provided the necessary rites have been performed will enter another existence, often superior to the previous one Hertz, p.
During the transitional, or liminal, period the status of the individual is undetermined and he is a danger to himself and others. The intermediate period is determined by the rate of decay: only when the putrefaction is complete and the bones are dry may the final celebrations commence. Hertz has argued, somewhat ingeniously, that even when the aim of the mortuary rituals is to avoid putrefaction, through embalming the body, burning it or ingesting the flesh, a twofold process is evident. In the first case, the embalming gradually renders the putrefaction inert and the mummy can then he taken to the grave; while in the second, cremation destroys the flesh but the burned bones are later buried; and as for endocannibalism, the flesh is interred in the stomach of the cater while.
Throughout the transitional period, the corpse is in great danger from evil spirits and must he protected by ritual acts such as ablutions, the closing of the eyes and other orifices common entry points for the spirits with coins, vigils over the body and the beating of gongs to frighten the demons. Meanwhile, the soul, homeless and formless as the decaying corpse, is an object of both pity and dread and elaborate precautions are necessary to deflect its malevolence: In its present distress it remembers all the wrongs it has suffered during its life and seeks revenge.
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It watches its relatives mourning sharply and if they do not properly fulfil their duties towards itself, if they do not actively prepare its release, it becomes irritated and inflicts diseases upon them, for death has endowed it with magical powers which enable it to put its had intentions into practice Hertz, p. Though the soul may be directed to the land of the dead on the day after death, it can return at will until the time of the dissolution of the corpse and the final rites. After this, it may return only on specified dates and by official invitation.
Other scholars who have examined the distinct phases of separation, transition and integration in funeral rituals include Arnold van Gennep, a contemporary of Hertz, and Victor Turner. Van Gennep was surprised that the rituals that separate the deceased from the living, his social roles, and the rest of the community are less elaborate than those joining him to the realm of his ancestors and those rites which re-incorporate the bereaved into the community.
Concerning the rites of incorporation into the other world, he writes..
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They are equivalent to those of hospitality, incorporation into the clan, adoption, and so forth. They are often alluded to in legends whose central theme is a descent to Hades or a journey to the land of the dead, and they are mentioned in the form of taboos: one must not cat with the dead, drink or cat anything produced in their country, allow oneself to be touched or embraced by them, accept gifts from them and so forth. On the other hand, drinking with a dead person is an act of incorporation with him and the other dead, and it consequently allows one to travel among them without danger, as does the payment of a toll coins, etc.
About the transitional, liminal, rites, van Gennep has stated that their duration and complexity is so great that they can be granted a certain autonomy. Victor Turner, writing of liminality, describes it as a mediatory movement between past and future, marked by ambiguous, equivocal, ambisexual allusions; a time when social distinctions are often blurred, when conventions are discarded and taboos transgressed.
During the liminal stage, those affected are imbued with symbols of death, invisibility, darkness and decomposition followed by rebirth, vegetative growth, new dress and renaming. Sexuality and death Themes of regeneration and rebirth, expressed in allusions to agricultural and human fertility in the intermediate stage of funeral ceremonies, were observed by Hertz and van Gennep.
However, Peter Metcalf and Richard Huntington were not satisfied with the conclusions of their predecessors, whom they judged not to have adequately explained the prevalence of such motifs. For instance, as they explain in Celebrations of Death, not all societies have eschatological beliefs that include a long journey of the soul to the afterlife as the flesh rots. It is also unclear why certain funerals, such as those of the Bara of Madagascar,. But during the death dances, whose function is to restore an equilibrium after deaths disruption, couples make love freely in the fields outside the compound, an act which would normally pollute the crops.
Even incest is permitted. No children may result from these unions but the unrestrained sex, like death itself, represents an intrusion of the wild into the ordered world of the homestead Middleton, p. Bloch and Parry include the article on the Lugbara in their collection of essays on death rituals, and it is perhaps not surprising that many of these papers validate their thesis which identifies women with sexuality and sexuality with death.
In his examination of death pollution in Cantonese society, James Watson is startled by the communitys horror of the putrefying corpse although the bones, once stripped, enhance fertility in the descendants. Men, in particular, are contaminated if they handle the corpse, which depletes their yang, or male essence, and if they are unwise and repeat the process several times, the pollution will be indelible.
Yet a woman is not subject to such strictures and married daughters and daughters-in-law but not the sexually inactive unmarried daughters of the deceased rub their unbound hair against the coffin symbolically absorbing the pollution then leave it unwashed until the cessation of mourning seven days later Watson, p. Bloch and Parry also draw attention to Pina-Cabrals study of the cults of the dead in contemporary north-western Portugal.
In this region, the flesh is seen as a sign of mortality, binding the soul to the material world. Spiritual perfection is reached when the bones are disinterred and cleaned a few years after the initial burial. If, at this time, decomposition has not occurred, the priests conclude that the priest is still in a state of sin. However, the laity have a completely different interpretation of an uncorrupted corpse. This denigration of female sexuality in the death rituals of so many communities is seen by the authors as a deliberate ploy to ensure that social control remains in the hands of the male elders; by controlling the rituals necessary for the reproduction of the lineage, social rather than biological reproduction is paramount, nature has been subdued by culture, woman by man.
Predictably, every theory has its limitations. It may be questioned whether a womans hair can absorb and annul pollution if she herself is a source of it. Secular death Essentially, the aim of funeral rites is to reorganise the society that has been disrupted by death and to console the mourners. In a modern, urban setting many of the rituals have been abandoned, mourning itself is virtually tabooed, and an inevitable sense of isolation and alienation results. As Louis-Vincent Thomas argues so eloquently: Consider, for example, todays laying out of the dead: for the impurity of former times, the pretext of hygiene is substituted; for respect for the corpse as subject, obsession with or horror of the corpse as object; for family deference, the anonymity of an indifferent wage.
In the same way, the signs of mourning have fallen into disuse we have passed from mourning clothes in twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours of mourning and it is unseemly to show ones sorrow. People care less and less about the deceased, who sink into the anonymity of the forgotten; fewer and fewer masses are said for the repose of their souls, while the scattering of ashes eliminates the only physical support for a cult of the dead. We may well ask if our funerals, expedited in the strictest intimacy, do not dangerously deprive us of a ritual that would help us to live Thomas, p.
References Barley, Nigel. Dancing on the Grave: Encounters with Death. London: John Murray Ltd. Bloch, Maurice and Jonathan Parry. Introduction: death and the regeneration of life. In Death and the Regeneration of Life. Maurice Bloch and Jonathan Parry, p. London: Tavistock Publications. Hertz, Robert. In Death and the Right Hand, p.
Cohen and West. Metcalf, Peter and Richard Huntington. Middleton, John. Thomas, Louis-Vincent. Funeral Rites. The Encyclopedia of Religion. Mircea Eliade, p.
New York: Macmillan and Free Press. The Rites of Passage. London: Roudedge and Kegan Paul. Watson, James L.