Saturday, January 25, 2014

Enter Artemis

Bridging the last scene and the Epilogue is this final paean to Aphrodite -- it repeats the theme of the power of Cypris and her son from earlier odes, but is relatively brief:

σὺ τὰν θεῶν ἄκαμπτον φρένα καὶ βροτῶν
ἄγειςΚύπρισὺν δ᾽
1270 ποικιλόπτερος ἀμφιβαλὼν
ὠκυτάτῳ πτερῷ.
ποτᾶται δὲ γαῖαν εὐάχητόν θ᾽
ἁλμυρὸν ἐπὶ πόντον,
θέλγει δ᾽ Ἔρως  μαινομένᾳ κραδίᾳ
1275πτανὸς ἐφορμάσῃ χρυσοφαής,
φύσιν ὀρεσκόων σκύμνων πελαγίων θ᾽
ὅσα τε γᾶ τρέφει
τά τ᾽ αἰθόμενος ἅλιος δέρκεται,
1280ἄνδρας τεσυμπάντων βασιληίδα τι-
μάνΚύπριτῶνδε μόνα κρατύνεις.

You carry along the unyielding hearts of the immortals, Aphrodite, and the hearts of men, and with you is he of the many-colored wings, surrounding them with his swift pinions. Eros flies over the earth and over the loud-roaring salt sea and bewitches the one on whose frenzied mind he darts, winged and gold-gleaming, he bewitches the whelps of the mountain and those of the sea, what the earth brings forth and what the blazing sun looks down upon, [1280] and likewise mortal men. Over all these, Aphrodite, you alone hold your honored sway.




Before even discussing what she says, note that Artemis appears precisely as the chorus sings the  final words of its ode to Aphrodite. The seeming totality of 

Alone you rule

is challenged and offset by the entrance of a goddess who seems to embody everything Aphrodite is not. 

The dialectical movement of the action subverts the totalizing worldview of the characters and the chorus, even as the entrance of Artemis structurally balances that of Aphrodite. The opening of the Epilogue reflects the opening of the Prologue, producing a theatrical symmetry that could reflect a world alive with dynamic tension between opposing powers. Whether the vision of the play can be reduced to this duality remains to be explored.

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