Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Gates of Horn and Ivory

I was in the middle of blogging when my computer crashed. It hadn't auto saved yet and I haven't gotten to the end of a paragraph yet, so not too much lost. Looks like it wasn't time for me to post that post yet! Funny how that happens.

I've been going back and forth tonight about which topic to pursue: The name Mary as an epithet of the Sea Goddess? Workshop I'm working on with my Evil Twin? Revisiting previous posts and expanding? Aeneas? Cybele? You can tell I'm a bit out of sorts tonight. I'm being called to dream. I'm unusually tired even after sleeping in this morning.

I've rewritten this several times. I'm going back and forth with Mercury as one who guides through dreams and The Aeneid. Perhaps I should marry the two topics?

From The Odyssey:

He (Hermes) led them down dank ways, over gray
Ocean tides, the Snowy Rock past shores
of Dream and narrows of the sunset, 

From Karl Krenyi's Hermes: Guide of Souls:

Here Hermes is... the "ruler of dreams" (hegetor oneiron), not the
"leader of souls." To this we could perhaps compare the Homeric
passage in which the dream-like people of Phaiakia-a Hermetic
people, worthy of the world of the Odyssey-sacrifice to Hermes
before going to sleep (Odyssey, Book VII, 138); yet the last book
of the Odyssey, with the epiphany of the psycho-pomp, is again
removed into the distance of another world. Missing here, too, is
any hint of Phalakian mildness; we must think rather of the
deceit-fulness of misleading dreams. 

Moving back to the Odyssey for a moment, which Virgil used as a model for The Aeneid, we have Homer's famous metaphor, "the Gates of horn and ivory." It's a passage back from The Underworld which both Odysseus and Aeneas must travel to return from their sojourn with the dead. The "gates of horn and ivory" is a pun, a play on Greek words: the Greek word for "horn" sounds like the word "fulfil" and the word for "ivory" sounds like "deceive." Hence false dreams are ivory and true are horn. In The Odyssey, Penelope has a dream which signals Odysseus' return, but she doesn't believe it, calling it a false dream, passing through the gate of ivory. False dreams were thought to occur before midnight and so when Aeneas returns from the Underworld, it's allegedly before midnight, and therefore he goes through that gate. There are Inception-like discussions about whether or not the rest of the book is "true" but I'm not following that thread tonight.

I find it very interesting that the gates to the Underworld are the ones through which dreams pass as well. Dreams can deceive, they can say one thing and mean another. Sounds like our man, eh?

Off to sleep. It's after midnight; time to get some true dreaming underway.

Sogni d'oro!

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