Category: Mythology

Pygmalion – A Sculptor who fell in love with his own creation

Pygmalion – A Sculptor who fell in love with his own creation

The island of Cyprus lies not far from the lands that we nowadays call Turkey and Syria. In its center rise snow capped mountains covered with Cyprus trees. In ancient times, Cyprus was famous as the home of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. You can visit the ruins of her sanctuary near the town of Paphos. If you look very carefully out to sea, you might still catch sight of a beautiful woman, sailing over the sea foam in a giant conch shell.

Many centuries ago, a man called Pygmalion lived and worked in Cyprus. He was a sculptor and he used to carve statues of the gods and demigods who frequented the island. He had the greatest skill. Those who admired his work said that his statues almost lived and breathed, they were so lifelike.

Pygmalion had some eccentricities. Not least, he avoided women so far as he could. All girls, he thought, were as annoying as his sister! When it came to females, he just did not understand what the point of them was. Temperamental, sissy, narcissistic – yuck he thought! Girls – who needs them? Life, he considered, should be dedicated to art, not women. If he was going to put anybody or anything on a pedestal, it would be a statue.

Of course, he could not avoid the female sex all together. Often women would come into his studio to choose one of his miniature statues of the gods or goddesses. Many people had shrines at home, where they said their prayers to the gods. Shrines needed statues. Occasionally he would find that his eyes were lingering on one of those female forms. He would watch her examine the work of his hands with her gently slanting brown eyes, run her slender fingers over his smooth carvings, perhaps blush at his effigies of satyrs, which were rather rude sometimes. And he could not help wondering at her wavy auburn hair, and the mysterious feline way that she moved, and her soft lips and.. oh.. well it was annoying, and he certainly did not tell anybody else about these feelings.

One night, as the sculptor lay asleep, Aphrodite herself appeared to him.

“Listen now Pygmalion,” she said, ticking him off. “You are dishonouring me by refusing to love a woman. There are several nice young girls in the village. You must pick one for your wife, and if you don’t, I will choose one for you!”

Poor Pygmalion. The goddess was ordering him to marry. This was not so much a dream, as a nightmare! Fortunately, a cunning plan occurred to him.

“Oh goddess, please,” he begged. “Before I marry I must create my greatest work. Give me time to create a statue in your likeness. It will be the most lovely lifelike statue ever made, and will do you the greatest honour. I cannot do this when I am married, for my wife will be jealous of its great beauty.”

Aphrodite was famously open to flattery and she smiled at his suggestion. “All right then,” she agreed. “I shall give you a stay of execution. You may have time to make a statue of me before you marry. I look forward to seeing it.”

In the morning, Pygmalion went down to the port and spoke to a merchant. He ordered the finest ivory from Africa. He knew that it would take several months to arrive. When it did come, he started to make small statues of the goddess, trying them out in different poses. When Aphrodite appeared to him in a dream to complain about the delay, he replied that art cannot be rushed.

A year went by, and Pygmalion ran out of excuses. He began to work on the life-sized statue for real. He made her perfect. Her ivory surface was as white as snow. She had more beauty, in an unblemished sort of way, than any real girl could have. And yet, she was so real, she seemed at first glance to be living. He painted her eyes blue, and you could see daylight in them. You could fancy that the breeze was playing in her wavy hair. Her lips were just slightly parted. She seemed just about to move – only she stayed quite still. The sculptor marveled at his wonderful creation. He held her hand. Was she really ivory, and not flesh and blood? She was so real, she could not be ivory surely? But he knew that she was. After all, he had made her. He kissed her, and it seemed that she returned his kiss. He spoke to her, and it was as if he could hear her beautiful, wise and witty thoughts. He told her many times how lovely she was. When he went out for walks, she was always on his mind, and he searched for presents for her. Smooth pebbles, winding shells, and wild flowers. His delicate hands made jewelry for her out of silver and amber. He slipped a ring on her finger. He draped her in lovely dresses. He even brought her a little pet bird for company while he was away. He lay her down on the bed with a soft pillow for her head. When he spoke to her, he gave her a name, Galatea. Of course, Aphrodite saw all of this, and she laughed at the sculptor who scorned all women and who yet, had fallen in love with one, or the idea of one, sprung from his own imagination and craft.

“Yes,” she thought. “My power is greater than that of all the gods and goddesses.”

It was the holiday of Aphrodite. People were dancing and singing in the streets. Incense burnt on the altar of love in the temple. Pygmalion kneeled down and prayed:

“Oh Mighty Aphrodite! I have chosen the girl I wish to marry. She is my sculpture. Please bring her to life, for I can love no other.”

Aphrodite saw that the heart of Pygmalion had changed. She knew that he had done her a great honor by falling in love. She made the flame on the alter leap and dance for joy. Pygmalion understood that she had granted his greatest wish, and he rushed home. He found the statue, standing quite still as she always did. There were tears of disappointment in his eyes. He held her darling hand and stroked her slender arm. Gradually he felt her skin soften, as wax softens in the sunshine. She began to turn from snow white to slightly pink. There was warmth in her body. Gradually she leaned her head back, and her hair fell down loosely over her shoulders. Her eyes moved. Her mouth opened. The statue of Pygmalion was alive!

Pygmalion married Galatea and he soon discovered that she was not actually perfect – because no living person is. Only a statue or a figment of the imagination can attain perfection. But she was lovely, and that was more than enough. They lived very happily together. A year later, a lovely baby was born to the sculptor and his wife. They called him Paphos, and as time went by, the place on the island where Aphrodite was born was named after him.

And that was the story of Pygmalion.

Bertie says that the story of Pygmalion has inspired many writers. George Bernard Shaw wrote a play called Pygmalion. It wasn’t actually about a statue, but about a cockney girl called Elisa Doolittle. A gentleman tried to make her into a lady by teaching her to speak poshly. She was to be his work of art. The play was later made into a musical called My Fair Lady. The film starred Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

 

Source: Storynory

The Mysterious Secret Society of Ancient India and The Nine Unknown Men of Ashoka

The Mysterious Secret Society of Ancient India and The Nine Unknown Men of Ashoka

There is a pervasive legend in India of a secret organization that allegedly has a vast amount of advanced knowledge in their possession. Believed to have been formed over 2000 years ago, the Nine Unknown Men is widely suspected of manipulating political and societal trends in order to further the personal goals of the Nine. But is such a secret organization a reality or is it merely the stuff of legend?

Origin Story

The society of the Nine Unknown Men was formed shortly after 226 BC by Emperor Ashoka. Grandson of the legendary Emperor who unified the Indian subcontinent, Chandragupta, Ashoka was anxious to uphold his grandfather’s legacy and maintain the empire. In the region between Calcutta and Madras, the Kalingan’s resisted the imperial rule, leading to an all-out war. Ashoka’s vastly superior forces are said to have killed over 100,000 of Kalinga’s warriors and deported over 150,000 of the region’s villagers. Even though he had won the war, Ashoka was aghast at the carnage such a victory entailed. From then on, he swore off violence forever.

 

 

An Indian relief that may depict Ashoka in the center. From Amaravati, Guntur district, India. (CC BY SA 3.0)
An Indian relief that may depict Ashoka in the center. From Amaravati, Guntur district, India. (CC BY SA 3.0)

Emperor Ashoka is best known for his conversion to Buddhism and his efforts to spread the peaceful religion throughout India as well as Malaya, Ceylon, and Indonesia. His efforts contributed to Buddhism’s later rise in China, Nepal, Tibet, and Mongolia. Ashoka was a sworn vegetarian but did not force others to do likewise. Indeed, he was incredibly tolerant of other religious sects. He did, however, prohibit the consumption of alcohol.

Most importantly, “he renounced the idea of trying to integrate the rebellious people, declaring that the only true conquest was to win men’s hearts by observance of the laws of duty and piety, because the Sacred Majesty desired that all living creatures should enjoy security, peace and happiness and be free to live as they pleased” (Pauwels and Bergier). So committed was the Emperor to this mission that he sought to prevent his fellow man from putting their intelligence towards perpetrating evil, particular the evil involved with warfare. The task of collecting, preserving, and containing all knowledge was too great for one emperor to do alone, not the least because of the other duties required by ruling an empire. So Ashoka summoned nine of the most brilliant minds in India at the time. For security purposes, the identity of these men was never made public. Together, these geniuses formed a secret society that came to be known as the Nine Unknown Men.

Ashoka’s envoy declares peace. Illustration from Hutchinson’s Story of the Nations. (Public Domain)
Ashoka’s envoy declares peace. Illustration from Hutchinson’s Story of the Nations. (Public Domain)

The organization set up accumulating all of the scientific knowledge they could, from natural science to psychology to the composition of matter. Fearing that if ordinary men were given scientific knowledge they would use it for destruction, only the Nine Men were allowed to study and develop scientific theories and technology. To better accomplish this daunting task, each of the nine was charged with a specific book that he was to update, revise, and ultimately perfect the knowledge therein. When one of the nine could no longer complete the task – whether from the wish to retire, fading health, or death – the obligation was passed to a chosen successor. The number of members in the society was always to be nine. Thus the society of the Nine Unknown Men has allegedly lived on for over 2000 years.

1923 Book

Speculation about the contents of each of the nine books varies widely. Talbot Mundy, an English writer, published a book entitled The Nine Unknown Men in 1923, which contained a list of the nine books. This list has come to be generally accepted.

1. Propaganda: The first book dealt with techniques of propaganda and psychological warfare. “The most dangerous of all sciences is that of molding mass opinion, because it would enable anyone to govern the whole world,” according to Mundy.

2. Physiology: The second book discussed physiology and explains how to kill a person simply by touching him or her, known as the “the touch of death,” simply by the reversal of a nerve impulse. It is said that the martial art of Judo is a result of “leakages” from the second book.

3. Microbiology: The third volume focused on microbiology and biotechnology.

4. Alchemy: The fourth dealt with alchemy and transmutation of metals. According to another legend, in times of severe drought, temples and religious relief organizations received large quantities of gold from “a secret source.”

5. Communication: The fifth book contained a study of all means of communication, terrestrial and extraterrestrial. Alluding then that the Nine Unknown Men were aware of alien presence.

6. Gravity: The sixth book focused on the secrets of gravitation and actual instructions on how to make the ancient Vedic Vimana, (like Vaiminika Shastra on aerospace technology).

7. Cosmogony: The seventh contained cosmogony and matters of the universe.

8. Light: The eighth dealt with light including the speed and how to use it as a weapon.

9. Sociology: The ninth and final book discussed sociology. It included rules for the evolution of societies and the means of foretelling their decline.” (Mundy paraphrased by Ancient Explorers)

Fact or Myth?

But were the Nine Unknown Men real? Ashoka may very well have asked nine men of unknown identity to gather scientific knowledge, particularly with regards to its application to warfare. This was a very fractious time and other Emperors have been known to order similar initiatives. These men may have explored different empires’ battle tactics and training, weapons manufacturing, horse/elephant handling, and maybe even gunpowder usage. However, an ancient group living on in secrecy for over 2000 years, controlling global events from the remote jungles of India with not a hint of modern equipment, infrastructure, or technology is hard to believe. For many, the legend is most likely just a legend.

 



Top image:  Illustration of Unknown Hooded men. (wallpapercave.com)

Originally Posted in: Ancient Origins

Sources:

Ancient Explorers Staff. “India‘s Ancient Illuminati: The Nine Unknown Men.” Ancient Explorers. Ancient Explorers, 2016. Web. 20 Sept. 2016. http://ancientexplorers.com/blog/indias-ancient-illuminati-nine-unknown-men/

Baidya, Sankalan. “20 Interesting The Nine Unknown Men.” Facts Legend. Facts Legend, 10 Apr. 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2016. http://factslegend.org/20-interesting-the-nine-unknown-men-facts/

Pauwels, Louis, and Jacques Bergier. “The Nine Unknown Men – Sub-Figura Vel Liber Caeruleus.” Excerpts from ‘The Dawn of Magic’Bibliotecapleyades, n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2016. http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/bb/bluebook001.htm

Swancer, Brent. “The Mystery of the Nine Unknown Men.” Mysterious Universe. Mysterious Universe, 10 Nov. 2015. Web. 20 Sept. 2016. http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/11/the-mystery-of-the-nine-unknown-men/

 

 

The Man Who Could not Die

The Man Who Could not Die

Eos, Goddess of Dawn fell in love with a youth named Tithonius, and the two spent many happy years together. But while Eos being a goddess retained her youth, Tithonius began to age. He asked his beloved to grant him immortality. She couldn’t do it on her own so she pleaded his case with Zeus, the supreme deity.

Zeus reluctantly granted the boon.

The story unfortunately does not have a happy ending. Tithonius had forgotten to ask for eternal youth. So though he could not die he could age. As his age advanced he became wrinkled and hunchbacked and revoltingly ugly. He pleaded with Eos to help him.

She could not take back the gift of immortality nor could she give him back his youth. But she could change his form. She turned him into a grasshopper.

 


Source: English for Students

Eros’ (Cupid) little story

Eros’ (Cupid) little story

Eros was the son of Aphrodite, Goddess of love, and was always at her side to assist her in her matchmaking endeavors.

He was a blond and playful winged youth, armed with a golden bow and arrows. Whoever he shot at immediately fell in love.

One day Aphrodite, jealous of the beauty of the earthly princess, Psyche, ordered her son to make the princess fall in love with the ugliest man on earth. Eros set out to do his mother’s bidding, but when he saw Psyche, he fell in love with her himself.

He began to visit her every night, but afraid of his mother’s wrath, always remained in the shadows, to conceal his identity.

One night while he was asleep, Psyche lit an oil lamp in order to get a look at his face. But her hand trembled and a drop of hot oil fell on the god, awakening him. Angry and frightened, he made himself invisible and went away, never to return.

But the two pined for each other and eventually Zeus, the king of gods, intervened to bring them together again.

Psyche was taken to Mount Olympus, the abode of the gods, and there she became revered as the personification of the human soul.

Later, when the Romans imported Greek gods into their pantheon, Eros became Cupid and though he remained the god of love he was not given as much importance as the Greeks had given Eros.

Cupid was usually shown blindfolded, perhaps to indicate that he chose his victims at random. In later art Cupid was shown as a small cherubic winged boy armed with a bow and arrow.

 

Source: English for Students