Saturday, May 28, 2011

Greeks were perverts ...

My goodness, but the Greeks were perverts. I know the broad outlines of Greek mythology; I probably know more than the broad outlines. And I knew that some of the anti-Nicene Christian writers used the violent and perverted acts of the gods as an argument against paganism and for Christianity. That was, in fact, my introduction to the seamier side of the mythology. (I read the ten volume set of The Anti-Nicene Fathers once upon a time.)

George Stanley Faber, a 19th Century clergyman and writer saw in the pagan gods an echo of the sinning angels of Genesis. No reputable scholar who wants to keep tenure would suggest that today, but his book is provocative and thoughtful. I read it once or twice. It does not at all touch on the truly strange bits of Greek myth. Who knew, huh?

Well … obviously many did and do. There is a significant literature on Greek sex-worship. Many of those books are illustrated with vase paintings. One of these is euphemistically entitled Satyr and Deer Sniffing Each Other. I saw the illustration, and this pixie believes they’re doing a bit more than sniffing. The painting is neither the worst nor particularly outstanding in … ummm … strangeness.

One true puzzle is the concept of the penis bird. I have my own unauthoritative opinion about their significance. For the irrepressibly curious the penis bird is a phallus with wings and chicken feet. Yes, you read that correctly. What ever class of being it represents was obviously very single minded.

Some writers say the most outrageous things. One “scholar” suggested that Pan was depicted as part goat because a buck can service … are you ready for this? … 150 does in a night. Obviously this guy never visited a goat farm. There ain’t no goat capable of that, not even an old Scottish goat with knobby knees.

This is ruining my rather playful view of satyrs. Damn it. I may have to account for some difference between my nice goat-boys and girls and the extremely perverted nature of Greek myth. I’m still interested in some aspects of the mythology though, especially the cultic dance. If it makes it into my story it won’t be the same. Instead of being a dance leading to more or less consensual rape, or at least wanton sex, it will become a “mate for life” choosing dance. Someone has to give these creatures some morals, don’t they?

Sorry. No photos with this one. I can’t find one tame enough to keep this a PG(13) blog.

1 comment:

  1. The penis-bird (I like the name dicky-bird) has a good long run as a decorative motif. Mark sells reproductions of a 15th c. carnival badge in the same shape - there's a whole sequence of pussy and dicky badges, including ones where pussy goes a hunting for dicky birds, pussy goes on pilgrimage with a phallic pilgrim's staff, etc.

    I think there's at least one NW Coast native story about a man who can detach his penis and send it flying into the women's lodge. Don't remember if it has wings, though.