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Greece 5: Scent of the Goddess

Of course I could not stop with The Golden Ass.  Greece is the land of trickster gods.  My real lack of preparation for visiting Greece was that I had not re-read Grave's The White Goddess.  Forget Hermes-- I had forgotten Her, an even bigger problem! There was a time while in college that I would reply, when asked my religion, that I was a devotee of the White Goddess.  Grave's book made such an impression on me that I wholly believed no poetry could exist without Her as an ingredient.

As an aside, I found it curious that John Fowles undervalued his novel The Magus and claimed that young men of college age seemed to find in it far more than he had tried to put there.  Ah, but it was a successful evocation of the White Goddess, perhaps unwittingly done, or maybe foxily denied, and surely that is the power of the book.

Graves in Chapter 24 takes up the White Goddess and Shakespeare, and calls A Midsummer Night's Dream an "extraordinary mythographic jumble" in which Shakespeare presents older mythic figures in altered forms.  One would expect Shakespeare to speak of nymphs, but instead Graves suggests he transmutes Greek Fates into the fairies.  The transformed Bottom he labels: "...most monstrous of all, the Wild Ass Set-Dionysus..."   Titania of course is the Goddess.

Was my attention taken by a woman who crowded against me in the Metro, held my eyes with an ambiguous look briefly, while an accomplice worked unseen behind me?  Or did she manage the transfer of my wallet herself, trusting I could not avert my eyes? 

Later I would be allowed access to the temples of Pallas Athena, and Aphrodite.  Delos and Delphi would be denied me.  Why?

The short answer is that Greece does not yield itself easily to strangers.  Access must be earned, and all travelers must endure their trials.


Cydonia photo: ESA

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