Haunted by Works

Hateful to me as are the gates of hell is he who, hiding one thing in his heart, utters another.
– Achilles in the Illiad

I just remembered something today… I really love Greek and Roman mythology. I think I will pick up a book today that kind of covers it all. I have read Aesop’s Fables, Antigone, The Illiad, The Odyssey, Oedipus the King, Prometheus Bound, The Aeneid, the Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, and a few others. I guess Greek and Roman mythology just so exciting to me because of the limits that are not set by the authors. This is magical, but believed to be real which increases a certain jene sais ques…

Second on my favorites list is the works of Shakespeare. I would Love his complete works. Of my favorites are, The Merry Wives of WIndsor, The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (I was apart of a production of this one), Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew (LOVE THIS!) and then to Hamlet, Julius Caesar (oh my, Roman!), King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet (of course) and finally (perhaps) Titus Andronicus.

Third would be the works of Alfred Lord Tennyson. I was captured by The Lady of Shallot. The story is so powerful to me and recently I read that there is more truth to the story than what appears on the surface. The Lady of Shallot may have been raped by King Arthur prior to her death. tres intrigant! How the traditional story goes, the Lady of Shallot was a beautiful woman that no one really knew. She was cursed with beauty and life as long as she stayed in her tower and continued to weave. She could only see the world in a reflection.

Have you ever looked at the writting on your shirt in a mirror? Then you know that everything is quite obviously backwards in the reflection of a mirror. So was what the lady saw… As she was weaving, she caught the reflection of the knight Lancelot and fell in love with him. She knew that if she left her tower she would suffer death. But love got in the way and she ran from her tower and into a boat to see the beauty she had fallen in love with.

The picture you see below this is the greatest representation of the lady I have even come across. The three candles, only one remains lit as she floats down to the shore sitting atop the tapestry which represents her life up to the point she left the tower. She is letting go of the chains which she could have used to pull herself back to shore. Releasing the chains she has not set her fate.

And The Lady of Shallot is what lead me to Sir William Waterhouse who apparently had similar tastes in works of words as I. For my next to favorite Waterhouse is Narcissus. Ovid’s retold the story. Narcissus was the offspring of Cephissus (the river god) and his wife Liriope (a nymphe, water spirit). It was forseen by Tiresias that Narcissus would live to be very old, if not infinitely, as long as he does not look at himself. This reminds me of The Lady of Shallot who would live indefinitely as long as she never looked away from her tower.

Narcissus grew up to be very beautiful and it was noticed by his female peers aroudn him. I am not 100% for sure why, but he had to reject them, otherwise risk death. I read it as he could fall in love with with other people as long as it was not himself… Anyways, Echo, one of his rejects, asked the Goddess Nemesis (haha, where we get the word Nemesis) to curse Narcissus. Nemesis cast Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection in the water. He died because he could not take his eyes off of himself. I guess this teaches a lesson in being vain…

Thirdly favorite of mine is Waterhouse’s retelling of La Belle Dame sans Merci through paint. This is a story of love and again, love follwed by death. A knight stumbles upon a fairy in a forest. He falls in love with the fairy who seduces him. He gives her his life, as long as he is with her, love will keep him alive. However, she leaves him in the night and this once beautiful world of love has been replaced by a cold and bleak hillside.

Maybe I am just cynical these days. But I just feel that love lost leads to death or a life that feels like you are not living at all. I really enjoyed writing this stuff… maybe I will start to express my love for artwork and particular works more often. I would continue but my mom is probably getting irritated with me haha.

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