Extra Credit- Selfie with a Python

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I remember in Classics, we learned about a Greek myth pertaining to how the god Apollo slayed a huge serpent named Python at Delphi. While I was at my friend’s house, I saw that he owned a snake. Albeit it may not be large like the serpent Python, it has the capabilities of growing up to be one. I don’t know what breed this particular snake is, but I do know that it is a female, which likewise in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, was the original gender of Python. Later in Euripides’ Iphigenia Among the Taurians, Python’s gender was portrayed as male. In the story, Apollo killed the serpent because it prevented him from finding his oracle. This snake isn’t harming anybody, therefore I don’t have any ill intentions towards it. Overall it was a good experience holding the snake and at the same time relating it to Classics.

Mary Huang, Team Vulcan

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Cursed? Try a mati!

On a certain Sunday, my best friend came back from Uzbekistan. After embracing her in a big hug, my eyes immediately fell upon the blue bracelet she was wearing on her hand. This bracelet is called kuzmunchoq. As you can see from the picture, the bracelet is decorated with big blue eye – like balls with black pupils. In our culture, this bracelet is worn to protect an individual from evil eyes and meant to be a good luck charm. This superstition was popularized during Ancient Greece around the sixth century. The Greeks created a tangible device in the shape of an eye with a blue iris and named it the mati. The evil eye, they believed, was a type of curse that was brought upon a person when another glared at them with negative intensions and jealousy. Often times, if someone were to compliment one excessively it represented hidden begrudge. Furthermore, the Greeks believed that children were more subject to the evil eye because of their youth and innocence. In order to protect himself from the evil eye, the Greeks prescribed the mati. The mati was a apotropaic visual device in the shape of an eye with a blue iris. It existed in many forms such as jewelry or as a part of vessels and antiquities of the classical era. The idea of the evil eye was spread to different parts of the world and became especially popular in the Mediterranean by Alexander the Great. As you can see, this superstition has dominated much of the eastern world and still exists today.

 

-Khilola, Team Juno

Aphrodite’s Backstory; or, Her Complicated Relation to Zeus

This is a book about Greek mythology I found in the Brooklyn College library on the “for sale” shelf. (For the record, although it is a CliffNotes book, I did not read it to find the following information. This is prior knowledge, because I happen to like Greek mythology.)

Aphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty in Greek mythology. The man on the cover is most likely Zeus, king of the gods and father to quite a few of them, usually depicted bearded and scowling as pictured. He’s related to Aphrodite in a complicated way…

The Greeks believed that way back in the very beginning of everything, there was Chaos. Then there was Gaea, their (vaguely psychopathic) version of Mother Earth, and then Ouranos (or Uranus, as the Romans spelled it) as the Sky. Gaea and Ouranos had children called the Titans, including Kronos (sometimes spelled Cronus; the Romans called him Saturn). Kronos decided, with the urging of Gaea and the help of his brother Titans, to kill Ouranos and take over. Kronos cut Ouranos into pieces with his scythe, and one of the pieces fell into the sea and the foam formed Aphrodite. It’s a weird origin story. So where does Zeus come in?

Kronos married his sister Rhea (gross, but there wasn’t anyone else around yet). But Kronos had heard a prophecy (from another of his sisters, the Titan of prophecy) that his child would overthrow him and cut him up, just like he’d done to Ouranos. So when Rhea gave birth to a daughter (Hestia, later to be known as goddess of the hearth and home), he saw how threatening these kids would be. They weren’t Titans; they were gods: way more powerful. He got worried about the prophecy, and ate Hestia whole. He continued eating his children as Rhea handed them to him, one at a time: Demeter (goddess of agriculture), Hera (goddess of marriage), Hades (god of death), and Poseidon (god of the sea). Francisco Goya painted Saturn eating his children, as mentioned in Art1010.

Finally Rhea had had enough of her husband eating their children, so she gave birth to the sixth child, Zeus, on an island away from Kronos and secretly swapped the baby with a rock. She left Zeus to be raised by nymphs and a magical goat. (Also a weird origin story. I’m not making this up.) Kronos was evidently not the brightest, as he ate the rock and believed it to be Zeus. Zeus grew up and came back to rescue his siblings, gaining Kronos’ trust and then feeding him mustard wine to make him regurgitate the swallowed gods and goddesses, who then went on to overthrow the Titans and become the Olympians. Zeus cut up Kronos with his own scythe, just as prophesied, and threw him into Tartarus (AKA a big scary pit in the Underworld).

Essentially, therefore, Aphrodite is the eldest of the gods, and Zeus’ aunt. She doesn’t really have parents, so it’s hard to make claims like that, but Ouranos gave her life and he is Zeus’ grandfather. So “aunt” it is. Imagine the family reunions!

We’ve been learning about different viewpoints about Aphrodite, including the story of her affair with Aeneas. This was brought about because Zeus was annoyed that Aphrodite kept making him love mortals, so he made her love a mortal to give her a taste of her own medicine. Aphrodite and Zeus have always had a complicated relationship, both in the sense of family trees and of interactions.

Chaya Ovits, team Venus

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