Tag Archives: classical mythology

“Cyclops”

“Cyclops (Blinded by Odysseus)”
[A monologue in blank verse by Paul Burgess]

[painting: Polyphemus, Johan Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein]

…More like a twig or crunchy bread than bone—

Reducing them to mush, I didn’t strain

My jaws on brittle bones as slight as theirs.

One man provided meat too scarce to hush

The growling beast inside my angry gut.

Who would expect the hero Ulysses—

Of prophecies divining tragedy—

To be the head of men a mouthful’s size?

Though blind, there’s something that I clearly see:

The cause of drastic effects might be small.

[A second attempt to explore the scene also examined in this poem:

https://paulwhitberg.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/the-blinding-of-the-cyclops-polyphemus/

At some point, I will likely try again to bring out the possible layers of interpretation contained in this classic scene from Homer.

“Why Mars Is Red…”

Inspired by Homer, Ovid, and the following post by CP Singleton: http://cpsingleton42.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/fridayfacts-11-june-6th/
“Mars in Love”
A Sonnet Explaining why Mars is Red

Some might assume he wears a rusty red
Because his lust for restless, raging war
With blood has dyed his garments’ ev’ry thread,
And red he has become from skin to core.
But truly, Mars, despite his brutal fame,
For more than blood alone has felt some care.
His reddish hue was caused by rueful shame.
When Vulcan revealed the god’s affair,
The tender place inside his broken heart
Was touched whenever Ares gave a thought
To Venus and him being kept apart
Or to infamy that for Love he’d bought.
Though from the snare of Vulcan he’s released,
To blush the warring God has never ceased.

 

by Paul Burgess

[The story of the love affair between Mars/Ares and Venus/Aphrodite comes from mythology, and the idea that Mars is red because of guilt, grief, and shame (especially for making his lover infamous) come from the addled head of Paul Burgess.]

“The Blinding of the Cyclops Polyphemus”

Modern Heroic Couplets by Paul Burgess–inspired by a scene in Homer [Book 9 of The Odyssey; one might view these lines as a compressed adaptation and modernization of a much longer passage.]

While clutching at his mutilated eye,
To Ulysses, the Cyclops gave reply:
“An oracle, whose words I could recite,
Predicted that the man who’d take my sight
Would be the famous hero Ulysses.
From mini morsels, shorter than my knees,
I had no fear of death or even harm—
A shadow might have caused me more alarm!
Assuming only force could make me blind,
I was not ready for a deadly mind.

 

–Anyone interested in Homer, Classical Poetry, or Early Modern English Literature* should check out George Chapman’s brilliant translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey. The following link leads to information on an inexpensive edition of the translation so famously praised by Keats: http://www.amazon.com/Chapmans-Homer-Odyssey-Classics-Literature/dp/1840221178/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1401367076&sr=1-3&keywords=wordsworth+classics+chapman%27s+homer

*from the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods in which Shakespeare was one among several brilliant minds

“Jove and Arcadian Callisto” [Practical Morals from Mythology]

Further advice for surviving in the world of Classical Mythology, by Paul Burgess

If you’d prefer to not become a bear,
Do not let Jove remove your underwear.

[Callisto’s “crime” was having a child after being raped by Jove. For this crime, Hera turned the girl into a bear. A moral we see throughout the classics is: Do not let one of the Universe’s most powerful entities rape you…]

“Zeus and Io”* [Practical Morals from Mythology]

Further advice for surviving in the world of Classical Mythology, by Paul Burgess

If Zeus decides it’s you he’d like to woo,
In time, you might be saying only “Moo.”*

*Zeus/Jove turned his love interest Io into a cow to hide her from his wife.

“Venus/Aphrodite Turns ‘Forgetful’, Insufficiently Grateful Hippomenes and Atalanta into Lions” [Practical Morals from Mythology”]

“Venus/Aphrodite Turns ‘Forgetful’, Insufficiently Grateful Hippomenes and Atalanta into Lions” [Practical Morals from Mythology”] by Paul Burgess

If gods provide in any way for you,
Be sure to thank them each instant or two.

“Sirens” [Morals from Mythology, or Practical Advice from the Classics] by Paul Burgess

“Sirens” [Morals from Mythology, or Practical Advice from the Classics] by Paul Burgess

To safely hear the song that Sirens sing,
You must become a legendary king.

Medusa’s Transformation from Beauty to ‘Petrifying’ Horror” [Morals from Mythology]by Paul Burgess

If Neptune rapes you and Minerva wakes,
She’ll turn your silky hair to slimy snakes.

“Achilles in the Underworld” [adapting some lines from Homer]

“Achilles in the Underworld—A Modernization of Some Lines from Achilles (in the Odyssey) [Book 11 642-45]

I’d rather have a humbler life on Earth
As one who serves someone of nobler birth
Or labors hard to earn his daily bread
Than reign as first in fame among the dead.

“The Death of Hercules*” (or “Hercules and Deianira”) [Morals from Mythology]by Paul Burgess

“The Death of Hercules*” (or “Hercules and Deianira”) [Morals from Mythology]*

Beware of garments given by your wife.
A shirt one day might take away your life.

*The mighty hero who was killed by a poisoned shirt…