April 3, 2011 § 1 Comment
A large white butterfly with large orange or red spots and clear areas on the wings. It is described as a good flyer, but it also comes off as a bit clumsy when it flutters over meadows, flapping its large wings. The Apollo loves natural chalky slopes. It is found near mountain streams, meadows where streams originate, and inundated ground, where the plants on which they feed grow. A preference for the Apollo butterfly is the flowers of thistles. The caterpillar’s favorite food plant is stonecrop (Sedum).
The Apollo is only active in bright sunlight, and flies from June to August.
The female lays many hundred tiny white eggs, from which caterpillars emerges. The caterpillars are velvety black with orange-red spots along the sides. The caterpillar may molt (discard its old skin) as many as 5 times before it is fully grown. The next stage is to bury itself in the ground, where it will pupate in debris on the ground, forming a loose, silky cocoon. In the pupal stage, its body dissolves completely and is then rebuilt as a butterfly. The chrysalis bursts open and the adult emerges. When the wings have expanded and the skin hardened, it flies off. The average lifespan of an adult butterfly is just a few weeks.
Mount Parnassus is a mountain of limestone in central Greece. This mountain was sacred to Apollo; it was also the home of the Muses.
November 20, 2010 § Leave a comment
Utopia – Arcadia – Forest
I’ve now read “In the Realm of the Lithuanian Bison”, the first chapter of Landscape and Memory. So far, I feel I have come across some interesting ideas presented by Schama. One of them is the idea of the wilderness of the deepest parts of the forest as a sort of “primitive paradise”.
Schama first connects the primeval forest with the idea of Arcadia on page 67, when he says that the writings of the Greek traveller and geographer Pausianias, describes the historical province Arcadia (from which the utopian Arcadia has derived its name) as an unruly wilderness, teeming with wild boars, and the people who lived in the forests there were more animal-like than they were human. The “heart” of the forest, the primeval wilderness untouched by human civilization, is like a primitive forestial paradise, where Nature rules alone.
Later on, as Schama writes about Adam Mieckiewicz epic poem Pan Tadeusz , he reconnects to this idea and elaborates on it (p. 81). The protagonist Tadeusz travels by horse through the forest and as he arrives at the deepest, darkest part of the forest, it is a place of death and decay; sick and deformed trees with branches covered in moss and trunks attacked by fungi. Behind a thick fog lies a “primitive paradise”, or as Schama describes it, a zoological Utopia. An “Ark” containing archetypical animals who send out their offspring from their secret inner city, but they themselves remain there.
October 29, 2010 § Leave a comment
Some sources offer different myths that explains how amethysts got their purple colour, and how they were given their name.
In some of the myths, Bacchus/Dionysus, the god of intoxication, is angry at the mortals and decides to slay the next mortal crossing his path. The next mortal happens to be Amethystos, a beautiful maiden on her way to pay tribute to Diana/Artemis. Diana saves Amethystos from being killed by the tigers/lions that Dionysus had sent to kill the mortal. Diana transforms the maiden into a statue of crystalline quartz so that the tigers’ claws would not harm her. When Dionysus saw the beautiful statue he wept tears of wine, in remorse, and the tears stained the quartz purple.
In another version, Dionysus was pursuing a beautiful nymph who refused him. Amethystos prayed to Diana to remain chaste and the goddess answered the prayer by turning the young woman into a white stone. This humbled Dionysus, who poured wine over the stone to honour the maiden, and this dyed the crystals purple.
In yet another variant, the amethyst is given to Dionysus in order to preserve the wine-drinker’s sanity.
May 9, 2010 § 3 Comments
Amethysts are said to keep its bearer from becoming intoxicated. The name of the stone is derived from the Greek ἀ a- (“not”) and μέθυστος methustos (“intoxicated”). Drinking from a vessel made out of amethyst would therefore prevent drunkenness. The Magi also tell us that if amethysts are inscribed with the names of the Sun and the Moon and are worn hanging from the neck along with hair of the cynocephalus and feathers of the swallow they are a protection against spells. (B 37, c 40)
April 17, 2010 § 2 Comments
“The ancients stained their statues with bitumen, which makes it the more remarkable that they were afterwards fond of covering them with gold.” (B 34, c 9)
“In the lake Asphaltites, in Judæa, which produces bitumen, no substance will sink, nor in the lake Arethusa.” (B 2, c 106)
“Bitumen, to be of good quality, should be extremely brilliant, heavy, and massive; it should also be moderately smooth, it being very much the practice to adulterate it with pitch. Its medi- cinal properties are similar to those of sulphur, it being naturally astringent, dispersive, contractive, and agglutinating: ignited, it drives away serpents by the smell.” (B 35, c 51)
“Taken internally, with wine, it alleviates chronic coughs and difficulty of respiration.” (ibid)
“Taken internally with vinegar, it dissolves and brings away coagulated blood.” (ibid)
“It staunches blood also, heals wounds, and unites the sinews when severed.” (ibid)