We have had a winter of everyone’s discontent. It’s rained, and rained, and rained some more. We’ve had terrible flooding here on the Pelion. Some of the worst ever in parts. Great destruction. Millions of euros of damage. There seems little chance now of seeing a bridge back in Kalamos given how very little money there is in Thessaly’s coffers.
This morning the sun has made a valiant effort to revive people’s spirits. The cats are enchanted – butterflies, bees, beetles and all manner of airborne flitters to chase, not to mention racing to ambush each other and unwary critters. Try as I might I can’t get a decent photo of the antics, so fast do they all move.
But the spring flowers are more composed. The first of them are beginning to appear. Slowly. Gently. Nodding a brief hello. Secure in the knowledge that before long they’ll begin to explode upon the scene they will dominate for a while, changing roles, giving way to new performers in differently colored costumes, as they retire from center stage assured that they will reprise their roles again and again in new performances.
Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, snatched by Hades to be queen of his underworld, has returned to the earth, as she does each year to bring spring to winter-weary mortals. What a mismatch her parent’s union was! Her mother is the goddess of the harvest; her raucous, thundering father’s behind all this ghastly weather we’ve been having. Well, you can’t choose your parents, but Persephone does all she can to make up for her egotistical father and we’re grateful. She stays but a little while before she’s obliged to return to her underground kingdom.
Rain is forecast again for tonight. And wind. Lots of it. Persephone probably won’t be too thrilled about that, but her father hates to be upstaged and hasn’t yet ordered Boreas, his god of the wind, to skulk back to the north. And Chione, the goddess of snow, daughter of cold Boreas, still lingers on Mt Pelion. Persephone’s resourceful though and won’t be intimidated – she’ll triumph over all of them before long.
The burial mound at Amphipolis, near Thessaloniki in Greece, has been very much in the news recently but now that an ancient skeleton has been found the excitement has reached peak levels. Thanks to modern science we’re accustomed to the fact that age, sex, height of skeletal remains can be determined, but it’s astonishing that scientists fully expect to learn details such as colour of hair and eyes of the person buried in this tomb. He or she was certainly of great importance as indicated by the splendour of the burial chambers, though the tomb has unfortunately long since been looted.
The pomegranate – known since antiquity
The mosaic floor is of superb quality. Only imagine the skill and expertise required to carry out the back-breaking work of assembling the scene. I wonder if the pebbles were collected and sorted for the artist by helpers? One would think so. This National Geographic article gives a brief description of the mosaic.
Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus, featured prominently in Greek mythology, though the concept of a goddess responsible for the rebirth of plant growth in the spring has a history which predates the latest versions of the Greek myths; birth and death have always preoccupied Man’s mind.
Needless to say, after all the skulduggery and trauma of being dragged underground, Persephone was more than a little anxious to return to her mother from the Underworld. In one version of the Greek myth, Hades agreed to free her if she hadn’t eaten or drunk anything while in his underground kingdom.
Winter fruits: Apples and pomegranates are frequently mentioned in the Greek myths
But he tricked her, of course – Greek myths are big on tricks and treachery!
He fooled her into eating some pomegranate seeds, with the result that her freedom came with certain conditions: six months on Earth, six months with him as Queen of the Underworld. Thus did the ancient Greeks explain the seasons.
Some years ago I knitted my friend a shawl in what has become my signature style, using many colours and textures of yarn; the original shawl is featured in my first book (2000).
Jason’s quite cosy in warm winter colours
We were photographing this one in late Fall before Aeolus, that normally nimble god of the wind, had dispersed all the Bougainvillea blooms, and together with a bowl of pomegranates on the table – the colours were irresistible. So much fun setting up the pictures!
Persephone is a lovely classical name, not often heard nowadays; Persa is the common pet name. Persephone, a favourite subject of artists and sculptors, is frequently depicted delicately draped in floating wraps and shawls.
Highlighting the colours
Worn by an antique olive jar
Did she knit brightly coloured shawls to cheer her through the dark dismal days in Hades?
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Tagged Aeolus, antique, apples, Bougainvillia, Centaurs, colours, Demeter, Greece, Greek, Hades, Jason, knitting, olive jar, Persephone, Pounda Paou, seeds, shawl, Thessaloniki, Underworld, winter