Thursday, June 21, 2012

Midsummer quickie

A few thoughts before I head to bed this Midsummer night, pardon this stream of consciousness. I fully intend to return to this theme and explore it further:

According to legend: Theseus willingly goes to Crete as a sacrifice so he may kill the minotaur. Ariadne helps him. He promises to marry her. The pair leave together on his ship. She somehow, through abandonment, trickery or otherwise, winds up on the island of Dia, aka Naxos, bereft of Theseus and weds Dionysus.

Then Theseus goes after the Amazons, and when Hyppolyta turns down his proposal, he goes to war with the Amazons and kidnaps her.

The timing is interesting. That would place the Ariadne episode some time in Spring, I would say. I've been searching for information on the timing of the sacrifice to the minotaur. All I have found is that it happened at "regular intervals."

The mythology points to deeper themes:
The cult of Dionysos and the cult of Ariadne combining
The son of the sea bringing Ariadne ashore on the island of Dia (Goddess!)
Theseus "wooing" the leader of a warrior woman tribe,  Here is a quote from an interesting article on the play:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens with a public conversation between Theseus—the mythic leader of Athens and creator of democracy—and his bride Hippolyta—an Amazonian princess.  Theseus is moaning about the amount of time he has to wait until Hippolyta is his wife, and his terms are a bit intimate, particularly with the focus on the way the moon is “linger[ing] [his] desires.”  Hippolyta’s terms are no less fraught with meaning, but she uses the moon in another way.  “Like to a silver bow/New-bent in heaven,” the moon will be watching over their “solemnities” (1.1.19-21).  The moon and archery are both domains of Diana, the virgin goddess.  Funny that a bride would suggest she is being watched by Diana so close to her wedding.  Perhaps she is suggesting that she is watching the clock run out on her virginity; maybe she is hinting at a changing phase in her life.  Significantly, the mention of a bow recalls Hippolyta’s recent past as a warrior and a notable skill in archery.

Something to think about this Midsummer Eve!

Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.

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