Archive for July, 2014

Swimming in a wine dark sea

In my course of research for the Hades and Persephone story, I’ve come across many interesting facts and I’ve had to make some difficult decisions about how much to stick to the time and feel and historically accurate descriptions.

For example, were you aware that the ancient Greeks had no word for blue?  In fact, it seems that they didn’t so much determine color by shade so much as by luster or from light to dark.

Rather than being ignorant of color, it seems that the Greeks were less interested in and attentive to hue, or tint, than they were to light. As late as the fourth century BC, Plato named the four primary colors as white, black, red, and bright, and in those cases where a Greek writer lists colors “in order,” they are arranged not by the Newtonian colors of the rainbow—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet—but from lightest to darkest. And The Iliad contains a broad, specialized vocabulary for describing the movement of light: argós meaning “flashing” or “glancing white”; aiólos, “glancing, gleaming, flashing,” or, according to Cunliffe’s Lexicon, “the notion of glancing light passing into that of rapid movement,” and the root of Hector’s most defining epithet, koruthaíolos—great Hector “of the shimmering helm.” Thus, for Homer, the sky is “brazen,” evoking the glare of the Aegean sun and more ambiguously “iron,” perhaps meaning “burnished,” but possibly our sense of a “leaden” sky. Significantly, two of the few unambiguous color terms in The Iliad, and which evoke the sky in accordance with modern sensibilities, are phenomena of light: “Dawn robed in saffron” and dawn shining forth in “rosy fingers of light.”

And in this article, also discussing the neurological implications of color and perception and culture, someone points out in the comments that it may not really be about color at all:

The Wine dark sea is not translation but rather a traditional gloss of oinops – a compound of wine and face/expression.
the sea can be peaceful, quiet, sleepy, seductive… or suddenly tipsy, off-kilter, …or violent and irrationally destructive.
That is indeed the appearance of someone under the influence of wine.

Read the articles; they’re fascinating. In fact, I would suggest reading the comments, all of them. Most of them are interesting and bring up things I hadn’t known before. Such as that some cultures consider red a shade of yellow and some cultures differentiate between inanimate and animate when describing its color.

So, when I describe Persephone’s eyes as blue, I had to think about it and wonder if I should have used some other word instead. In the end I decided that it would be far too confusing if I said something about her wine dark eyes and took artistic license, but it’s definitely something that’s hovering on the edge of my consciousness now.


Hades and Persephone re-telling

So, my usual attention deficit self-sabotage at work, I am working on a Hades/Persephone re-telling instead of the second book of the Phoenix series. This, also before the boxset book that I should be working on since it’s due before Thanksgiving…

Ah, brilliant life decisions. I am full of them. Including the notion to become a writer. What was I thinking when I chose that?

Anyway, in my self defense, that is one of the myths that I have always felt needed a re-telling and I’ve been waiting for so very long for Charlene Teglia’s Bride of Fire that I’ve decided to scratch the itch by doing one of my own.

Which, btw, I adore Charlene’s books and sense of humor and I would be greatly pleased if someone else could go harass her about it. I got a response from her about re-releasing it in Sept of 2013. Procrastinator that I am (Conflagration was supposed to have come out in April of this year…), I can’t really judge, but I really, really, really want it.

So. Why does it need a re-telling?

I’ve always found it peculiar that the beloved daughter of Demeter and Zeus, of all people, would not have been warned against eating anything from the Underworld. Shouldn’t this be covered in toddler-goddess 101: do not take candy from strangers Hades? It only makes sense that she ate the thing of her own free will, knowing what it would do. Also, who eats just six or less seeds from a pomegranate? Who?

Further more, Hades is actually traditionally known as a stern and just, if somewhat forbidding god. Oddly enough, all the other stories I’ve heard about him, such as him allowing Orpheus a chance to regain his wife and his relative benign punishment of the man come to cuckold him, doesn’t exactly strike me as the actions of the evil sort, much less the “I’m going to steal away my niece, freak out Demeter, cause massive starvation and rape her and keep her against her will” sort.

Of course I could be completely deluded, but hey.

Although I’m trying to figure out what the fuck was the deal between him and Menthe…

In addition, Demeter is the high-handed sort that is the prime candidate for mother-daughter conflict. The lady went so insane over her daughter going missing that she plunged the world into famine, which sounds awesome until you consider that with great power comes great responsibility and it’s really kinda insane for her to starve other mothers’ children to death just because she lost hers. Then, she worked as a nanny for a while and decided to “burn away the mortality” of the prince she was looking after. Hello baby snatcher type? Also, who does that?

Not to mention she chased off her daughter’s suitors and apparently kept her to a role where she only had to pick flowers and romp all day. What self-respecting goddess would be good with that? I mean, a few millennia of flower-picking and I think I’d go stark raving mad.

so… re-telling time.

I’m intertwining the goddess-time story with an SFR version. We’ll see how that goes. Many of my ideas are falling flat because…well, in this day and age, who just takes in a strange maiden from out of nowhere? Who?

So instead of being a novella composed of two intertwining Hades/Persephone stories, it might just be the goddess-era version.

We’ll see!