flaying of marsyas

Thoughts

I see a lot on Tumblr about Apollo as the compassionate healer god, the remover of disease, the helper of mankind. All these things are absolutely true. Apollo is the Radiant Faced, He is beautiful, He is gold shining, and He has more capacity for compassion than anyone or anything I have ever known. So please don’t think I’m unaware of that, or that I think we shouldn’t sing these things and praise Him for that huge part of what He is. I tell Him this every single day.

But I’m starting to wonder why I never see anything about his more ruinous aspects. Apollo is the God who flayed Marsyas alive for his hubris, remember? Marsyas had the nerve to challenge Apollo to a music contest, inevitably lost, and as punishment Apollo had him tied to a tree and cut his skin off while Marsyas was still alive.

Apollo is not just the God who removes disease. He is the giver of it, too. Remember the arrows he carries are deadly, infectious things. To be shot by his bow is to be ruined, slowly and painfully. Disease is one of those things that is blind to innocence, or age, or pain. It is merciless, agonizing, and often unstoppable. That is Apollo as well.

Apollo is the God who punished Cassandra for refusing her body to Him. He punished her ruthlessly for this, presumably because He felt that there was no part of her that she should not relinquish to him. Even her own body. That is monstrous.

Apollo is compassionate, He is loving, He is dazzling, and He is the most magnificent thing I know to exist. And He is a wrathful, bloody, and ferocious God by turn. These things don’t make Him any less. They couldn’t; He is too good, too bright. I love Him for these things as much as I do for His healing hands and oft gentle touch. 

I’m not trying to scare anyone off Apollo. I know He has a way of appearing to newcomers and those who need Him, and I encourage you to run after Him with everything you have. Because it’s worth it. I just also encourage you to love Him as much for His sometimes brutality, because to glaze over it is to glaze over part of the God we love.

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Renaissance Foodies

Diners ate with two-tined forks and drank wine from crystal glasses made in Murano, a Venetian region known for glass making. In Paolo Veronese’s painting The Wedding Feast at Cana, a man holding a tazza, or shallow glass, is about to sip his wine. Wine-pairing first took place in the 16th century, making Veronese’s festive revelers especially on trend.

Elsewhere in the painting, a woman in a blue dress daintily holds a toothpick to her mouth. A toothpick was a personal item customarily contained in a jewel-encrusted golden case and worn on a chain as a necklace. Hygiene meets ornament!

How to Eat Like a Renaissance Courtier

The Flaying of Marsyas, c. 1570-1576

Titian

“ A contest has taken place between the satyr Marsyas and the god Apollo. Marsyas had discovered a set of reeds abandoned by Minerva. He learns to play them so well that he is foolish enough to challenge the god Apollo to a musical contest. Apollo agrees – but on condition that the victor will be able to inflict such punishment as he chooses upon the loser. Predictably enough, Marsyas loses, and Apollo inflicts his gruesome punishment, which is to flay Marsyas alive, stripping flesh from bone, inch by meticulous inch.”
- the Independent