Marsyas

theparisreview.org
Iris Murdoch’s Favorite Painting
Titian, The Flaying of Marsyas, ca. 1570–76, oil on canvas, 83" × 81".Iris Murdoch, who would be ninety-six today, thrilled to paintings of every stripe, but she was compelled by one work in particular: Titian’s The Flaying of Marsyas, from the late sixteenth century. She mentions it in her 1990 Art of Fiction interview:INTERVIEWERDo you... Read More »
By Dan Piepenbring

Apollo flayed the satyr Marsyas alive for his hubris.

MUSIC WITH DEATH

ATHENA INVENTED THE FLUTE, BUT SHE WAS TOO GOOD FOR THE WHOLE PUFFY-CHEEK FLUTE PLAYING LOOK SO SHE DUMPED THE SHITTY INSTRUMENT.

SOME SATYR FUCKER MARSYAS FOUND IT AND MADE SOME BITCHIN’ SOUNDS. HE THOUGHT HE WAS SO FUCKING GOOD HE COULD CHALLENGE APOLLO (ONLY THE GOD OF FUCKING MUSIC).

APOLLO THOUGHT THIS SILLY LITTLE GOAT MAN WAS FUCKING HILARIOUS, SO HE HAD A MUSIC CONTEST WITH HIM. EVERYTHING WAS GOING GREAT UNTIL THE SECOND ROUND, WHEN APOLLO SAID THEY SHOULD PLAY THEIR INSTRUMENTS UPSIDE-DOWN FOR A LAUGH. THIS WAS FINE FOR APOLLO AND HIS LYRE, BUT HAVE YOU MOTHERFUCKERS EVER TRIED PLAYING A FLUTE UPSIDE-DOWN? IT’S FUCKING STUPID.

UNSURPRISINGLY MARSYAS LOST. SO APOLLO TIED HIM TO A TREE AND WHIPPED HIM TO FUCKING DEATH. CALM THE FUCK DOWN DUDE. 

MARSYAS’ BLOOD WENT ALL OVER THE PLACE AND HE WAS TURNED INTO A RIVER. AREN’T WE ALL?

Μαρσύας (Marsyas)

Marsyas, often depicted as a satyr, was the unlucky victim of the god Apollo.  Marsyas obtained the instrument auloi, which was two pipes connected by a mouthpiece, from Athena.  Like most Greek myths where the mortals and lesser beings had to be instigators against the gods, Marsyas challenged Apollo to a contest.  He mimicked the sounds of the lyre’s strings with the auloi perfectly each time, enraging Apollo with each passing note.  

Growing tired of how well Marsyas was playing, Apollo switched the lyre around so the instrument was played like a violin is played.  The only way Marsyas could mimic the lyre’s notes was if the two instruments were held in the same position, and the placement of an auloi is not interchangeable.  Needless to say, Apollo won the contest.  

Marsyas’s punishment was used to explain the reddish tint pine trees have. Apollo hung him from a pine tree and skinned him, thus the rouge tint pine trees have.

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