|Baby Helen Says Hello|
have been amused by the painfully Little-Englander-middle-class spat between
Anglicans, Cadbury and the National Trust over the secularisation of egg hunts.
What is needed to reclaim the egg for longue-durée Human Studies is clearly a brief homily on Ovates in Classical Greek Art.
means, if we move swiftly on from the masculinist Cosmic Egg of the Orphic
mystery cult, from which hatched the primordial male Ur-being Phanes, that we need to talk about Helen.
|Leda perturbed by finding a gigantic egg on the temple altar|
was hatched from an egg laid by either Nemesis or Leda, depending on which
ancient author you are reading. Nemesis was an important goddess worshipped in
the well-preserved seaside town of Rhamnous, 45 km north-east of Athens. Zeus
was believed to have impregnated her there in the form of a swan or goose while
she was asleep; none too happy with the product of this rape, she dumped the
egg on Leda, who incubated it and became Helen’s adoptive mother.
|"I'll smash it with my mallet and pour the contents into your bucket"|
|The Dioscuri, Literal Egg-Heads|
Sub-Terra egg, a capsule in which terrified passengers were dropped into a
dystopic abyss, was until recently to be avoided at the theme-park Alton Towers.
But the other version of Helen's story is now better known. In this, the biological mother of Helen, the Dioscuri, and sometimes Clytemnestra, was Leda. One smartass Greek
poet, Lycophron, claimed that the Dioscuri’s dome-shaped hats memorialised their antenatal egg-shell, split in two. Note the baby with half an egg-shell on his head in the Bachiacca painting below.
|Nemesis' Egg at Disgraced Theme Park|
|Lady Gaga hatching at the Grammys|
tradition of Helen’s egg had a spectacular potential, as Lady Gaga knows well.
This made it a popular theme on the ancient Greek stage. Vases show Leda’s
stupefaction at the gift Nemesis has deposited for her; others comically depict
various spectators puzzling over the egg’s contents, wondering whether to smash
the eggshell with a mallet, or watching Helen actually emerge.
|Terracotta Egg (ᾠόν) |
Alternatively, Greeks could buy a painted egg, made from pottery, perhaps showing Paris and Helen in a chariot,
in an allusion to Helen’s birth. Some terracotta eggs were made, like
prototypical Kinder-eggs, with a
sweet little baby girl crouching inside.
of which, in my teen-dominated household at least, the confectionery of choice
this year is an entire E-Number sty-full of alliterative pigs and piglets. I think I’ll be
sticking to roast lamb.
|Bachiacca's Leda & Swan have FIVE egg-babies|
Post a Comment