A week or so back, I had the pleasure of being invited to a friend’s solo exhibition at an art gallery in Deptford (feel free to view her website). Amazing, huh? I have somehow managed to acquire and maintain friends who have real talent. Sadly for you, none of them has proved willing to ghost write this blog and so you are stuck with me.
Over the course of the evening, I bought a couple more artworks – to grace the walls at Fish Towers and give the, entirely inaccurate, impression that I am a man of taste (and not just any taste, but good taste) and discernment – and also partook of some wine, some (OK, lots of) delicious Indian nibbles and lashings of conversation (it is high time the word ‘lashings’ was freed from its bondage to ‘ginger beer’ and allowed to associate with a wider circle of nouns).
One of my many conversations was with a young classicist – and what a joy that such people exist in this day and age! I’m not sure what it will do for his job prospects, but just knowing he exists makes me feel the world is a slightly better place. The conversation taught me that I had read rather more of the output of the classical world than is required to complete a degree in classics, but that my selections were from the rather duller canon of ancient Greece and Rome. There was also, it would seem, no shame to reading them in translation. So, I must add Homer (d’oh – still not a female deer, what was Julie Andrews thinking?) and Virgil (of the Aeniad rather than Thunderbird 2 fame) to my reading list.
I think the combination of wine, spicy food and ancient Greece must have had a rather curious effect on my sub- or un-conscious. The following day, I found my mind wandering to the rather poor husband that Almighty Zeus made for his long-suffering wife – or at least poor in respect to marital fidelity, he may have been great with the toilet seat and DIY for all I know (though I don’t recall any mention of Olympus being wall-to-wall MDF and rag-rolling). There is plenty of mention of his penchant for a bit of mortal ‘skirt’ and his wooing methods were far from commonplace. With Europa and Leda, it was more animal husbandry than a traditional date – arriving as he did in the form of a white bull and swan respectively. I can only assume he was possessed of some serious divine charm to overcome such an unpromising start to a tryst – or perhaps he tackled Europa as he might a china shop (I suppose it may be hard to say No to the King of the Gods). Danaë though faced the strangest seduction, tackled by Zeus while in the form of a shower of gold – real gold I think, rather than the less pleasant (though admittedly cheaper) liquid used in the more modern take on golden showers. Still, it seemed to work as a while later Perseus was brought forth into the world; his conception is still remembered through the naming of the Perseid shower of meteors which strike the earth each summer (or so I fondly imagine).
Say what you like about Zeus as a lover, at least the girls knew they’d been tupped by a god. He could also bring his own white, feathered wings to the party when required – just ask Leda. Since their glory days in the years BCE, Zeus and his kin have been dethroned and a new God has taken over responsibility for the Greeks (and many others besides) – but the new boy is no match for Zeus between the sheets. My limited grasp of theology suggests that the current God serving Greece has only put one lass in the ‘family way’ and she didn’t even know she’d been tupped until he sent a winged lackey to let her know after the ‘event’. Loath as I am to say this, God does seem to be a lousy lay – it’s hard to argue with the evidence, though perhaps the fact he is cursed with omnipresence might be considered extenuating circumstances. The poor chap is not just in bed with his chosen paramour but with everyone else too – and stuck on the delayed 1517 to Norwich, in the canned goods aisle in Tesco in Rotherham and everywhere else for that matter. I have always felt sorry for the poor Queen stuck watching the Royal Variety Performance (among other arcane forms of torture we inflict on our monarchy) but that’s as nothing to the tedium the omnipresent face. So, let’s all spare a thought for the omnipresent – the poor wretches are having to watch me type (and edit) this nonsense for a start (and you thought it was bad just reading it!).
The title, whilst perhaps being more obviously linked to Zeus in the context of this post, was in fact written about his successor by Charles Wesley – who, I suspect, was taking a rather broader view of what is represented by ‘love divine’.