Many people know the famous myth of Sisyphos (Sisyphus Lat.) He was the king of Ephyra (Corinth) who was punished by Zeus for cheating death twice. His punishment was to carry a boulder up a hill only for it to come rolling down. He would have to repeat this task for all of eternity. The myth has greatly influenced our culture, for example when a person is struggling with a task and they feel there is no victory in sight the task is called ‘Sisyphean’.
I feel that most peoples lives are ‘sisyphean’. We all have a boulder that we roll up a hill only for it to come down again. For most people the struggle is never ending. Some people have it better, of course, but they are always dealing with something, and others have it much, much worse.
Others have much bigger bolders to roll up hills and others have smaller ones. Nonetheless, everyone has a task they have to do that is not easy.
“People settle for a level of despair they can tolerate and call it happiness.“-Soren Kierkegaard (Danish Theologian)
Πολλοί γνωρίζουν τον περίφημο μύθο του Σίσυφου. Ήταν ο βασιλιάς της Εφύρας (Κόρινθος) που τιμωρήθηκε από τον Δία επειδή εξαπάτησε τον θάνατο δύο φορές. Η τιμωρία του ήταν να μεταφέρει έναν ογκόλιθο πάνω σε ένα λόφο μόνο για να κατέβει. Θα έπρεπε να επαναλαμβάνει αυτό το έργο για όλη την αιωνιότητα. Ο μύθος έχει επηρεάσει πολύ στην σύγχρονη κουλτούρα μας και τον ξένο πολιτισμό. Για παράδειγμα όταν ένα άτομο παλεύει με ένα έργο και αισθάνεται ότι δεν φαίνεται νίκη, το έργο ονομάζεται «Σισυφαίος».
Νιώθω ότι οι ζωές των περισσότερων ανθρώπων είναι «σισύφειες». Όλοι έχουμε έναν ογκόλιθο που που κουβαλάμε σε ένα λόφο μόνο για να κατέβει ξανά. Για τους περισσότερους ανθρώπους ο αγώνας δεν τελειώνει ποτέ. Κάποιοι περνούν καλύτερα στη ζωή τους φυσικά, αλλά ολο και κάποιο πρόβλημα έχουν, και άλλοι περνούν χειρότερα και έχουν μεγαλύτερα προβλήματα.
Κάποιοι έχουν πολύ μεγαλύτερους ογκόλιθος να κουβαλάνε στο λόφο, και κάποιοι μικρότεροι. Παρόλα αυτά όλοι έχουν ένα έργο που πρέπει να πραγματοποιήσουν που δεν είναι εύκολη.
«Οι άνθρωποι συμβιβάζονται με ένα επίπεδο απόγνωσης που μπορούν να ανεχθούν και το αποκαλούν ευτυχία.» -Soren Kierkegaard (Δανός Θεολόγος)
‘Pandora Close Your Box’ handmade word collage by Angela Zafiris
‘Pandora Close Your Box’ digital collage by Angela Zafiris
In the creation myths, Zeus was so enraged with Prometheus for stealing fire, that he plotted his revenge against him. He ordered Hephaestus to create a beautiful woman with clay and water. The goddess Athena gave his creation charm and grace and Hermes gave her cleverness and the art of lying (!) She was given the name ‘Pandora’ meaning all-giving. Hephaestus gave her to the Titan Epimetheus who ignored his brothers’ advice to not to accept any gifts from Zeus, but he ignored his brother and married Pandora. Pandora brought with her a box that the gods told her to never open. Pandoras’ curiostiy got the best of her and she opend it and in doing so released all of the troubles into the world. Only hope remained in the box which whispered big dreams and false hopes into peoples weary ears and thus keeping them alive.
Similarly to the Eves’ biting of the forbidden fruit as the reason for the ills of the world so to is Pandora to blame, a woman! But, if we look closer it’s not a woman who is the source of all that has plague humans since antiquity. If Zeus had not sought revenge against Prometheus, and if he had not created that darn box than all calamities would have been avoided. But, of course the female has to be the scape goat. In the famous story of the Trojan war, Helen and her irresistible beauty, was said to be the reason for the war, but these two enemies (Achaean Greeks and the Trojan Anatolians) only found a beautiful excuse to go to war. The blame was put on a womans’ beauty and not on the war mongering nature of most men. Men abuse nature, men abuse animals, men abuse children and men abuse women and each other. Yet it’s the ‘cunning, lying, curious, manipulative, and idle woman who is said to have started it all.
Nonetheless, the story is inspiring and the references to Pandora can be spotting everywhere from pop culutre to the media. With all the catastrophes that seem to be multiplying like a hydra recently, we all know who is to be blamed..a woman! A very ancient woman and her box!
A a visual person I can see some strange things in my head sometimes. When I saw the above image in my mind, I decided to attempt to paint it. The painting made me think of an Oceanid-a sea-nymph from Greek and Roman Mythology. There are three thousand Oceanids and they are daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys. Each Oceanid were patronesses of rivers, ponds, lakes and so on.
One of my favourite things to take pictures of are statues. Both Gods and mortals have been the subjects of the talented ancient sculptors. These artisans with their skilled and caring hands have captured the beauty of the Gods and Goddesses and the burdens of the mortals. Skilled hands that have carved such realistic eyes that seem as though they are looking right at you. Skilled hands that have carved such realistic mouths that seem like they could speak to you. During their two thousand-year existence these statues have seen it all. If only those statues could speak. If they could what would they say?
After years of living in Athens I paid my first and overdue visit to the ancient Agora. For the past few weeks I felt drawn to the Temple of Hephaestus. The temple is located just below the Acropolis in the ancient Agora (market place). Hephaestus is the God of blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals, fire and volcanoes. The temple is the best preserved ancient temple in all of Greece. Upon visiting the temple I was awe-struck by its beauty and energy. Even though I don’t work with metals I do get crafty, I am good with my hands. What a coincidence that I would feel a pull to visit this place!
The temple with the Agora below
View of the temple from the front with its Doric columns
The west side of the temple facing Thiseio
Not a bad-looking temple for a God who was considered the ugliest God of all, and who was crippled by Zeus!I walked for hours that day and the next I could barely walk. I felt crippled just like Hephaestus!
Paper collage on 40 x 40 cm canvas By Angela Zafiris
When I began making my artwork I had no idea what the theme would be i just worked from intuition placing images together on the canvas. When I was done, I decided that I was going to call it ‘Precious Time’ since I used jewels and faces of watches. That same day I was on the internet when I cam across an article n about mythological creatures. One creature that caught my attention was that of Charybdis. In Greek mythology Charybdis was the daughter of Poseidon and Gaia . She was once a beautiful naiad who was turned into a sea monster by Circe, a witch, who was extremely jealous of the maiden. Charybdis is the personification of a whirl pool in the ocean that sinks Greek ships. She is referenced in Homers’ ‘The Odyssey’ where Odysseas is faced with Scylla (another monster) and Charybdis in a narrow strait and where Scylla took the lives of some of his crew men.
Was it mere coincidence? Fate? Whatever it was I just thought it was so odd how I came across this mythology that I wasn’t very familiar with on the day that I was to name and publish my artwork on my site. Artwork that might have been inspired by the mythology but was not-or maybe it was… perhaps subconsciously?