“As long as I live they too will live inside me and battle, positively and fruitfully, giving me strength.” Dialectics (3)

"Maddening, beautiful, magical, horrible, painful, wonderful, joyous thing": Love

“Maddening, beautiful, magical, horrible, painful, wonderful, joyous thing”: Love. And its ‘fruits’? Click for credits and to enlarge

 

Furious Love’s Children

We have talked about two (human) trees dialectically intertwined in furious love.

Will English philosopher (and Sci-Fi writer) Olaf Stapledon from Seacombe possibly shed light on other species’ (or aliens’) love?

Or Hegel ? Or Darwin?
[tough, I know, though tougher than it seems: pls go on reader]

ψ

In the meanwhile we’ll continue with this ‘maddening love’ thing yet from the view-point of its ‘fruits’.

Children.

What happens to the fruits of struggling lovers?

No output here (am I right?) though maddening non the less

No output here (am I right?) though ‘maddening’ none the less. Click for credits

To Anju (Nomad) & to Reema,
Bengali Sisters

We all have (or have had) parents therefore all readers /writers are ‘children’, figli.

Now, my dear Indian bloggers being the first ones to baptize the Man of Roma I hence feel affection to all of them:

[Ashish the GeekWrestler, the first commentator ever of this blog; Poonam Sharma; Ishmeet; Nita J. Kulkarni; Devinder; Amith; Chandrahas; Falcon;  Destination Infinity; Anshul, Usha; Shefali.. the list is not complete damn. It will be]

ψ

Two Bengali sisters are though important here from a certain angle.

Mario: “Don’t get it. Bengali Indians and NOT all Indians?”
Manius:Sir Rabindranath Tagore is Bengali: a genius polymath shedding light, in his sublime way, on harmonious Love, among the rest. Giovanni btw knows only two Bengali bloggers.”

Exactly.

This post is in fact dedicated to Anju and Reema

[whose parents being 'harmonious' were though man and woman, ie different]

Let us start.

Nikos Kazantzakis’
Twin Currents of Blood

nikos kazantzakis

Nikos Kazantzakis, a modern Greek genius. Click for attribution and additional infos

How do children from ‘struggling’ loves react?

In his spiritual autobiography (Report to Greco) Greek Nikos Kazantzakis from Crete (Νίκος Καζαντζάκης, 1883 – 1957) mentions several times this crucial relationship that shaped his life (and work.)

Two quotes.

1. “The influence of this [….] hoax – Kazantzakis writes -, of this delusion (if it is a delusion) that twin currents of blood, Greek from my mother and Arab from my father, run in my veins, has been positive and fruitful, giving me strength, joy and wealth. My struggle to make a synthesis of these two antagonistic impulses has lent purpose and unity to my life.”

2.Both of my parents circulate in my blood, the one fierce, hard, and morose, the other tender, kind, and saintly.

I have carried them all my days; neither has died. As long as I live they too will live inside me and battle in their antithetical ways to govern my thoughts and actions.”

“My lifelong effort is to reconcile them so that one may give me their strength, the other their tenderness to make the discord between them, which breaks out incessantly within me, turn to harmony inside their son’s heart.”

 ψ

Reconcile them … eg the discord which breaks out incessantly turning to harmony. How can one not adore Kazantzakis (also for making dialectics clearer, I hope?)

রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর

Tagore

Sir Rabindranath Tagore, Rabīndranātha Thākura, রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর. Public domain. Click for source. Majestic and sweet

Now, look at this man, at this polymath.

Who is better than him as for harmony, struggle reconciliation – aka σύνθεσις?

[Another help for fathoming Hegelian dialectic, I do hope]

 

Piercing the Darkness of Time

Here come clips related to Tagore and the Bengali culture.

The above clip, found here, is bit westernized and mixes up Tagore‘s poems Unending Love and My Song.

A few more words on Tagore:

“Tagore (রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর) was possibly the greatest writer in modern Indian literature, “Bengali poet, novelist, educator, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. Tagore was awarded the knighthood in 1915, but he surrendered it in 1919 as a protest against the Massacre of Amritsar, where British troops killed some 400 Indian demonstrators protesting colonial laws.”

[quote credits]

ψ

 

Still have to write down a note with bibliography etc.

India's emblem

 

Previous installments:

Love Never Did Run Smooth. Dialectics (1)

WTM?!? …. Dialectics (2)

I Saturnali a Roma: frenesia, banchetti, schiavi e regali. Somiglianze con Natale e Capodanno (2)

Tempio di Saturno a Roma, alle pendici del Campidoglio. Click for attribution

English original

I Saturnali al tempo di Nerone

Roma, 17 dicembre, 62 dopo Cristo. Nerone è a capo dell’impero romano. Il filosofo Seneca scrive una lettera (n. 18) all’amico Lucilio:

December est mensis
(E’ il mese di dicembre)
cum maxime civitas sudat.
(quando la vita è più intensa che mai in città.)
Ius luxuriae publice datum est;
(Il diritto all’eccesso è stato ufficialmente proclamato;)
ingenti apparatu sonant omnia [...]
(ogni angolo risuona dei chiassosi preparativi  [...])

L’inizio della festa più amata a Roma e nel resto dell’impero, i Saturnalia, è stato ufficialmente proclamato. L’eccitazione cresce ovunque.

Il filosofo, tranquillamente seduto nel suo elegante tablinum, riflette su ciò che lui e il suo amico dovrebbero fare, se cioè partecipare o meno alla gioia dei banchetti.

Si te hic haberetur,
(Se ti avessi qui)
libenter tecum conferrem quid estimare esse faciendum [...]
(sarei felice di consultarti su ciò che sia opportuno fare [...])
utrum nihil ex cotidiana consuetudine movendum,
(se lasciare immutate le nostre quotidiane abitudini,)
an, ne dissidere videremur cum publicis moribus,
(o, per non sembrare fuori sintonia con i costumi della gente,)
et hilarius cenandum et exuendam togam
(se anche noi dobbiamo banchettare allegramente e toglierci la toga)

Banchetto in un affresco a Pompei

Modalità del rito

Il sacrificio ufficiale – che si celebra nel tempio di Saturno, sul lato occidentale del foro – è probabilmente terminato. Sarà seguito a breve da un banchetto nello stesso tempio durante il quale i partecipanti grideranno il saluto augurale: Io Saturnalia! (che ricorda i nostri brindisi di Capodanno) e dove la celebrazione presto si trasformerà in una festa accesa e caotica.

Una (vaga) idea della cerimonia può esserci fornita da un testo rituale scritto da un neo-pagano ricostruzionista, Apollonius Sophistes [vedi il sito Biblioteca Arcana].

L’obiettivo di Apollonius è quello di far rivivere il rito nella vita reale.

ψ

Mario: “Celebrare il rito oggi?? Ma è fuori di testa questa gente?”

Extropian: “Forse, anche se cercare di rivivere forme di paganesimo con un minimo di accuratezza storica è sempre meglio dei pastrocchi alla Wicca. Il che, in un caso o nell’altro, non fa per me”.

Dettaglio dalle ‘Rose di Eliogabalo’ del vittoriano Lawrence Alma Tadema (1836-1912). Click to zoom in and enter Tadema’s vision of Roman Antiquity

Banchetti nelle case e doni

L’euforia pervade la città. I banchetti nelle abitazioni private saranno sregolati, come succede ogni anno. Ci si appresta agli ultimi ritocchi a piatti elaborati, biscotti, doni, alla disposizione di candele (cerei) che simboleggiano la rinascita del sole; si preparano pupazzi di pasta (sigillaria) e si finisce di organizzare spettacoli, danze e musiche, tra cui una scelta di canti non di rado scurrili ed altri di tono più elevato, spirituale.

Brevi testi, proprio come i bigliettini dei nostri regali, accompagnano i doni. Il poeta Marziale, che ne ha composti diversi nei suoi epigrammi, ci dà informazioni sul tipo di regali scambiati:

“Tavolette per scrivere, dadi, aliossi [un gioco con ossicini ormai in disuso, ndr], salvadanai, pettini, stuzzicadenti, cappelli, coltelli da caccia, scuri, lampade di vario genere, biglie, profumi, pipe, maiali, salsicce, pappagalli, tavoli, tazze, cucchiai, capi di abbigliamento, statue, maschere, libri, animali domestici”.
[elenco tratto dalla Wiki inglese]

Licenza degli schiavi,
vesti e formulazione di desideri

Agli schiavi sarà permesso ogni tipo di licenza (o quasi). Un maestro della festa o ‘re del disordine’ impersonerà il gioviale Saturno con la barba che, scelto a sorte nelle case, orchestrerà il divertimento (personaggio simile al nostro Babbo Natale).

[Un Lord of Misrule è figura comune del Natale britannico nel medioevo, con ruolo quasi identico, così come il Pape des Sots o des Fous in Francia]

Scrive lo storico americano Gordon J. Laing (Survivals of Roman Religion):

Gli schiavi dei Saturnali romani erano “autorizzati a trattare i loro padroni come fossero loro pari. Spesso infatti padroni e schiavi si scambiavano i ruoli e questi ultimi venivano serviti dai primi [...] Un ‘re’ scelto a sorte ordinava a un ‘suddito’ di ballare, a un altro di cantare, a un altro ancora di portare sulle spalle una flautista e così via. Con tale gioco i romani ridicolizzavano la regalità”.

L’assiro Luciano di Samosata scrive nei suoi Saturnalia (un dialogo satirico del II secolo d.C. che si svolge tra Kronos-Saturno e il suo sacerdote)

“Durante la mia settimana [è Crono che parla, ndr] la serietà è bandita; ogni commercio e attività sono proibite. Il bere, il chiasso, i giochi e i dadi, la scelta dei re e la gioia degli schiavi che cantano nudi, il battito frenetico delle mani e i visi con la bocca tappata che vengono tuffati nell’acqua gelida: sono queste le funzioni a cui presiedo [...] questo il periodo di festa, quando è lecito ubriacarsi e gli schiavi hanno licenza di insultare i loro padroni”.

Come alla vigilia del moderno Capodanno, è il momento di esprimere i desideri per l’anno a venire. Dice Crono al suo sacerdote:

Crono: “Volgi il pensiero a ciò che mi vuoi chiedere [...] farò del mio meglio per non deluderti”.

Sacerdote:
“Nessuna originalità in proposito. Le solite cose, per favore: ricchezza, abbondanza d’oro, proprietà di terre, folle di servi, gaie e morbide vesti, argento, avorio, in realtà tutto ciò che è di un qualche valore. O migliore dei Croni, dammi un po’ di queste cose!”.

I Sansculottes della rivoluzione francese con i ‘berretti della libertà’, tipici degli ex schiavi o liberti. Essi erano copricapo comune nei Saturnali come simbolo d’uguaglianza

Come si vestiva la gente? In modi che suggerivano l’uguaglianza sociale. Seneca aveva infatti accennato al fatto di togliersi la toga, indumento solenne e d’alto ceto. Le gente ai banchetti indossava infatti la synthesis, un semplice vestito da cena, e il pileus, il berretto conico dei liberti, un cappello di feltro aderente simile al cappello frigio che non a caso in epoche successive diverrà l’icona della libertà nelle rivoluzioni francese e americana [il bonnet rouge dei sanculotti: vedi l’immagine sopra].

[per ulteriori informazioni (in inglese) sui Saturnalia: Lacus Curtius; un bell'articolo di Mary Beard e la ricca voce Saturnalia della Wikipedia inglese]

Intellettuali in conflitto

Di fronte a tanta frenesia lo stoico Seneca propende per la via intermedia (notate l’accenno alla folla ‘pilleata’, che indossa cioè i ‘pilei’):

Si te bene novi,
(Se ben ti conosco)
nec per omnia nos similes esse pilleatae turbae voluisses
(avresti desiderato che non fossimo né simili alla folla imberrettata)
nec per omnia dissimiles;
(né del tutto dissimili;)
licet enim sine luxuria agere festum diem
(è opportuno infatti partecipare alla festa senza eccessi.)

E’ comprensibile. L’intellettuale tende a comportarsi diversamente dall’uomo della strada, ed è spesso (ma non sempre) infastidito e un po’ blasé di fronte al trambusto della gente comune.

Durante le feste di dicembre che si svolgono a casa sua “Plinio il giovane – scrive Mary Beard nell’articolo citato – si rifugia altezzosamente nell’attico per continuare a lavorare (non vuole rovinare il divertimento dei servi – ma, forse ancor più, non vuole esporsi ai loro giochi ruvidi)”.

Catullo in visita da Lesbia. Laurence Alma Tadema (1836-1912)

Il poeta Catullo invece adora i Saturnali (“il periodo più bello”) così come il poeta Stazio, che alla fine del I secolo d.C. esclama:

“Quanti anni ancora durerà questa festa! Mai il tempo cancellerà un così santo giorno! Finché esisteranno le colline del Lazio e il padre Tevere, finché la tua Roma rimarrà in piedi, e il Campidoglio, che hai restituito al mondo, i Saturnalia vivranno”.

[Silvae, I.6.98 e sgg.]

ψ

E infatti i Saturnali per molti aspetti sopravviveranno, come abbiamo visto e forse ancora vedremo.

ψ

Prima parte sui Saturnalia:

Sopravvivenza dei Saturnalia dell’antica Roma nel Natale, Capodanno e Carnevale (1)

Sopravvivenza dei Saturnalia dell’antica Roma nel Natale, Capodanno e Carnevale (1)

English original

Cerchiamo di capire come i Saturnalia (la festa più popolare della Roma antica e la più diffusa in tutto l’impero romano) possano essere sopravvissuti fino a noi. Qui sotto vediamo una statua del dio Saturno, a cui la festa era dedicata.

Il dio Saturno. Museo nazionale del Bardo a Tunisi

Saturno e l’età dell’oro

Saturno, dio romano dell’agricoltura e divinità assai antica secondo le fonti, aveva (ed ha) il proprio tempio ai piedi del Campidoglio, nel Foro Romano. L’edificio ospitava una statua del dio con in mano una falce. La statua, di legno e successivamente d’avorio, aveva i piedi incatenati da fili e trecce di lana, che venivano slegati soltanto durante i Saturnali, cioè dal 17 dicembre in poi.

Il tempio venne ricostruito tre volte e le otto colonne che vediamo oggi nel foro (cfr. l’immagine qui sotto) sono ciò che rimane dell’ultimo rifacimento.

Non è un caso, credo, che il tempio ospitasse anche quanto di più prezioso vi fosse a Roma, cioè il tesoro della città o aerarium (monete, lingotti ecc.). Perché?

Perché nella mente dell’antico romano medio il dio Saturno – che, sconfitto da Giove suo figlio, trovò rifugio in Campidoglio – aveva portato nel Lazio la mitica Età dell’Oro (Aurea Aetas), un’era felice in cui gli uomini erano uguali, le leggi non necessarie, la primavera perenne e la terra spontaneamente prodiga di grano biondo e fiumi di latte e nettare che scorrevano meravigliosamente.

Il tempio di Saturno nella parte occidentale del Foro Romano. Solo il portico frontale con le sue 8 colonne è ciò che resta. Click for attribution and to zoom in.

Parole da un lontano passato

Ma ascoltiamo la descrizione dell’età dell’oro direttamente dalle parole suggestive di un antico romano, Ovidio (Metamorfosi, I, 89 e sgg.):

aurea prima est aetas
(prima viene l’età dell’oro)
sponte sua sine lege fidem rectumque colebat
(che alimentava spontaneamente, senza bisogno di leggi, verità e bontà)
nec supplex turba timebat iudicis ora suis, sed erant sine vindice tuti
(non vi era folla di supplici che temesse il volto del giudice: si viveva in sicurezza senza bisogno di protezione)
mollia peragebant otia gentes
(in molle pace la gente conduceva l’esistenza)
ver erat aeternum
(la primavera era eterna)
per se dabat omnia tellus … fruges inarata ferebat
(e la terra spontaneamente dava tutto … il frumento, non arato, cresceva)
flumina iam lactis, iam flumina nectaris ibant
(qui fiumi di latte scorrevano, lì torrenti di nettare)


Rievocazione di un’età senza legge

Ora è chiaro che i Saturnali erano una sorta di rievocazione di tale primordiale età senza legge in cui gli uomini vivevano in eguaglianza e abbondanza di tutto.

Durante i Saturnali i ricchi doni della terra erano celebrati con feste e banchetti in cui ai celebranti, riscaldati dal vino, era lecito trans-gredire (letteralmente, ‘andare oltre’, da trans + gradior) fino a stati superiori (o inferiori) della mente che potevano comportare esaltazione, spiritualità, atti esoterici, scherzi villani, giochi d’azzardo, promiscuità, scambi di doni, e in cui agli schiavi era concessa la più ampia licenza in ricordo di un’età in cui vigeva la parità tra gli uomini. Tali cerimonie collettive (come anche i riti di Dioniso noti a Roma come Baccanali) erano spesso indicate con il termine greco ὄργια o con quello romano di orgia.

[Da notare che i termini antichi solo vagamente si ricollegano al termine moderno 'orgia', fosse solo per il fatto che avevano significato religioso]

A differenza del culto di Saturno, quasi sconosciuto al di fuori del Lazio, i Saturnalia divennero la festa più diffusa in tutte le province dell’impero, amata da gente di ogni condizione sociale, finché essa non venne abolita dal Cristianesimo.

I cristiani in realtà non poterono eliminare del tutto i Saturnalia e così la festa fu assorbita nel Natale [vedi dopo]. Questa festa pagana sopravvisse in forme mascherate in Italia, Inghilterra, Germania, Francia, ecc.

Cerchiamo di capire meglio. Alcuni aspetti dei Saturnalia possono infatti apparire incomprensibili ai moderni.

Anche il Carnevale significava il rovesciamento dell'ordine e un passaggio dall'inverno alla primavera

Cicli e riti di passaggio

I Saturnalia appartenevano a quei riti tipici delle culture agricole più antiche di tutto il mondo.

Tali culture avevano una visione ciclica, cataclismatica – e non lineare – del tempo.

Scrive Chiara O. Tommasi Moreschini:

Siamo di fronte a “una nozione di ‘cosmo’ costituito da cicli, nati dal caos e al caos destinati a ritornare mediante una ‘catastrofe’ o ‘grande dissoluzione’, unitamente alla sete di rigenerazione e rinnovamento implicite nel compiersi dei rituali orgiastici, le cui forme aberranti rappresentano una degradazione di questa idea del ritmo dell’universo. Giacché ad un livello cosmologico l’orgia rappresenta il caos, ossia la scomparsa di limiti o barriere e la fusione in una unità, il desiderio di abolire il tempo è particolarmente evidente nelle orge che avvengono, in varie forme, durante le feste del nuovo anno, considerato il dramma stagionale per eccellenza. Insieme alle altre caratteristiche di eventi analoghi, il ritorno simbolico del caos primigenio indica l’abolizione del tempo profano in modo che si compia la dissoluzione del mondo ed il ripristino del momento mitico in cui inizio e fine coincidono. È questo il motivo per cui tali feste sono costantemente caratterizzate da un tentativo di abolire ordine e consuetudini, dando libero corso alla licenza, violando le regole e sospendendo le leggi, con possibili ribaltamenti delle condizioni sociali, e, in altre parole, convergenza degli opposti”.

L’universo, la storia si ripetevano dunque in un eterno ritorno ad epoche mitiche in modo che la fine di un ciclo (solare, annuale, lunare o stagionale) generava un nuovo inizio; così che la dissoluzione coincidesse con la rigenerazione, il caos, l’arbitrarietà e la trans-gressione si tramutassero in un nuovo ordine in cui la gente si sentiva rigenerata e disposta a tornare alla norma.

Il sole sorge all'orizzonte

Tali momenti di passaggio venivano celebrati in festività in cui la promiscuità era un modo per ottenere la fertilità.

“L’antichità classica – nota ancora Chiara O. Tommasi Moreschini – ricorda varie feste durante le quali ciò che di norma era proibito era invece tollerato: i Sacaea a Babilonia o nella regione del Ponto, che erano celebrati in estate in onore della dea Ishtar o Anaitis e che comprendevano, tra l’altro, un re travestito da servo; lo Zagmuk, o festa delle ‘sorti’, che si celebrava in Mesopotamia all’inizio dell’anno ed annoverava licenza in materia sessuale, oltre alla detronizzazione simbolica del re; i Kronia in Grecia [ad Atene e in Attica, MoR] ed i Saturnalia a Roma [il romano Saturno e il greco Kronos vennero identificati dai Romani, MoR]; ma altresì feste femminili come le Tesmoforie o la celebrazione romana della Bona Dea [di cui una descrizione, in questo blog, è nel post Sex and the city (de Roma) 2, MoR], che offrivano alle donne l’opportunità di indulgere a modo loro in certi eccessi”.

Tracce nella mente dei moderni

Ora è probabile che questo passato spirituale (assieme al perdurante effetto dei mutamenti naturali) abbia lasciato / lasci profonde tracce anche nelle menti contemporanee. Continuiamo ad avvertire questo fine-inizio di qualcosa durante il periodo di Natale / Capodanno; l’effetto ci colpisce nel profondo, e ci agita anche, come una specie di sisma che ci investe. E, allo stesso tempo, sentiamo la dolcezza della famiglia e le sensazioni religiose cristiane.

Il che ci porta alla nascita di Cristo.

I Saturnali, la nascita del Dio Sole e Cristo

Disco dedicato a Sol Invictus (Sole Invitto). Argento, opera romana del III sec. d.C. Da Pessinus, Asia Minore. British Museum. Click for attribution

Data la popolarità dei Saturnalia i fondatori del cristianesimo, desiderando conquistare i pagani alla nuova fede, assorbirono i Saturnalia nelle celebrazioni della nascita di Cristo.

I Saturnalia iniziavano il 17 dicembre e si concludevano il 25 dicembre, il giorno del solstizio d’inverno secondo il vecchio calendario giuliano istituito da Giulio Cesare (è il nostro 21 dicembre secondo l’attuale calendario gregoriano).

Ebbene, quando nacque Cristo? Nessuno lo sapeva esattamente, anche se alcuni passaggi biblici fanno pensare alla primavera.

Fu Papa Giulio I che nel 350 d.C. scelse il 25 dicembre (corrispondente al nostro 21 dicembre, dunque il solstizio d’inverno), il che si rivelò una saggia decisione non solo per la data della fine dei Saturnalia, ma anche perché in quello stesso giorno, il 25, si celebrava da secoli la nascita di Mitra / Sol Invictus, il dio solare (e infatti il solstizio d’inverno altro non era che la morte / rinascita del sole).

E, va detto, il dio del sole in tutte le sue forme era molto amato. Prima di essere gradualmente sostituito dal Dio cristiano, il Sol Invictus era il culto ufficiale del tardo impero romano.

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Extropian: “Secondo Tom Harpur (The Pagan Christ) pochi cristiani si rendono conto oggi che ancora nel V secolo d.C. [quindi ben quattro secoli dopo la nascita di Cristo!] Papa Leone Magno dovette ordinare ai fedeli di smetterla di adorare il sole”.

Mario: “Ho letto qualcosa in un forum americano: questa “diceria che i Saturnalia spesso degeneravano in una grande festa con orge e alcol … è ironico che noi cristiani utilizziamo questa giornata per celebrare la nascita del nostro Salvatore venuto su questa terra proprio per salvarci da tali peccati “.

MoR: “Be’, come detto prima, avvertiamo tutti come uno strano conflitto durante queste feste: combattuti tra religiosità e divertimento, eccesso e buona volontà, sentimenti della famiglia e consumismo pagano”.

MoR: “Un conflitto, forse, generato da quel compromesso antico (dare forma cristiana a feste pagane), conflitto che probabilmente era assente ai tempi dei Saturnalia, quando trans-gressione (l’andar oltre, l’eccesso) e religione non erano sempre separate come lo sono oggi. Al contrario, esse a volte coincidevano. τὰ ὄργια (o orgiae) era caratteristica dei culti misterici, intrisi di altissima spiritualità ed etica. Una cosa impensabile oggi, dopo quasi due millenni di Cristianesimo”.

ψ

Nel prossimo articolo vedremo meglio come si svolgevano i Saturnalia.

Roman Saturnalia. Frenzy, Banquets, Slaves and Gifts (2)

Originally posted on Man of Roma:

Temple of Saturn in Rome. Click for attribution and to enlarge

Saturnalian Days in Nero’s Time

Rome, 62 AD, December. Emperor Nero is ruling. The philosopher Seneca is writing a letter (num 18) to his friend Lucilius:

December est mensis
(It is the month of December)
cum maxime civitas sudat.
(when the city is in great sweat and hectic.)
Ius luxuriae publice datum est;
(The right to looseness has been officially given;)
ingenti apparatu sonant omnia [...]
(everything resounds with mightily preparations  [...])

The festival most loved by the peoples of the empire, the Saturnalia, has officially started. Excitement is growing everywhere.

The philosopher calmly sitting in his elegant tablinum is reflecting on what he and his friend should do, whether participate or not in the joy of the banquets.

Si te hic haberetur,
(If I had you here with me)
libenter tecum conferrem [...]
(I should be glad…

View original 1,075 more words

Survivals of Roman Saturnalia in Christmas, New Year and Carnival? (1)

Originally posted on Man of Roma:

Dafna asked me to write about the Roman Saturnalia, a festival in honour of Saturn.

“Inspired by Richard’s musing about Christmas – she said – I just discovered the term: ‘Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time ….’ Sounds like fun.”

So here we are Dafna, although my mind is blurred by all this saturnalian revels, starting in Italy on Dec. 24 and ending with the Epiphany, Gen. 6.

Quite a long time isn’t it.

Ma poi ecco l’Epifania
che tutte le feste si porta via.

Saturn & the Golden Age

Saturn, the Roman god of seed and sowing, very ancient according to sources, had his temple built at the foot of the Capitoline hill. It housed a wooden (later ivory) statue of the god filled with oil, holding a scythe and whose feet bound…

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Blog Break. And a Conversation on Love over at Richardus’ Londinium Pub

Pastry shop Bernasconi

Enjoy a Roman everyday's scene. "The family-run kosher pastry shop Bernasconi, on Via dei Giubbonari, has only one table outside. Actually one table, period." Picture (and text) by Eleonora Baldwin, from her "Roma every day". Click to enlarge.

This blog is taking a vacation. A one month vacation.

Above you can see a Roman scene as taken by Eleonora Baldwin’s camera. Eleonora is a Roman, but her father is Irish American.

ψ

Here is a conversation occurred over at Richardus.

It is about Love.

I paste, as usual, what I deem relevant to my blog themes.

Wow, Love! [Readers will think]

Wrong. No easy stuff … but fun, none the less.

Richardus:

“Aristophanes may search for his other half, but I search for my whole self.

Thrust into a hostile world, I trudge towards my inevitable grave in utter isolation, seeking an impossible solace, never knowing who I am.

Suddenly, I peer into the eyes of another and see myself. Here is my peace, my consolation, my defence.

I claim those eyes to be always with me as I am always with myself. Perhaps I procreate, but only incidentally.

Selfless caring for another is true love. With practice it may become as universal as its source.

Lev Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana", 1908, the first color photo portrait in Russia

Geraldine: I hear Tolstoy in this post and I’m not surprised.

Richardus: How would you unravel Christianity from Anna Karenin, Geraldine? I haven’t read War and Peace.

Geraldine: Your post reminded me more of how Tolstoy thought. For example you said:

“Suddenly, I peer into the eyes of another and see myself. Here is my peace, my consolation, my defence.”

Tostoy was conscious that the soul is godlike and unites all of us [italic by MoR]. The same soul lives in all of us. Emerson also refers to this in “The Over Soul.” The Hindu religion refers to this with the hands in prayer and the bow to each other: The God in me recognizes the God in you. Is this not what you mean?

To answer your question, I unravel Christianity in the novel in a simple way. Even though Toystoy had a profound insight into human suffering and behaviour his writing is morally severe. There is punishment and it is binary. I believe Levin is modeled after Tolstoy.

Anna defies or flaunts the rules of her society and receives a tragic end. Levin achieves fulfillment as a committed landowner and is involved in society. One protagonist lives outside of himself (if this sounds right) the other follows her own needs. Values, sacrifice, self-possession or self-control are scrutinized to the core.

In this work love is not light. It all suggest judgment.

Note I didn’t say that the love is not right. I do not know.

Kaytis:

True love is so hard to find and to keep. You paint a lovely picture Richard, of an ideal. Beautifully expressed.

Man of Roma:

What is true love? Everybody is in search for Love, in his /her own way.

Plato, Magister

While I am studying for my Manius soap I now think of this:

1) on one hand we have sapientiae voluptas (or wisdom’s, knowledge hedonism, since real knowledge implies passion, joy, love, it implies trying to probe – with poetry? sacred books? philosophy? science? – the big mysteries of the universe: death, God etc.

But on the other hand we also have 2) corporis volutpas, ie bodily pleasure, not necessarily vile: at its best it is love for a human being; at its worst banal lust.

A man (don’t know about women, they are more mysterious to me the more I age) is imo torn between 1 and 2.

Plato's chariot in Phaedrus: the Charioteer is our Reason, 1 horse is soul's positive passionate nature; the other horse our soul's concupiscent nature.

1) is the white horse in Plato’s Phedrus chariot (Plato influenced the Jews and the Christians), and 2) is the black horse, especially as for non-spiritual love. Who is riding the two-horsed chariot? It is our Reason.

Now men, I don’t know about women, are badly torn between 1 and 2. If they are not, throw stones at me because I am.

Torn between being a monk (of wisdom, at least tentative) and a libertine? Between ‘the Being’ & Love for a person in flesh? Hard to say.

At times the Woman, for a Man, may take us to God, to the Spirit, to the Being, like Beatrice did with Dante, or Polia with Polyphilo (ie, lover of Polia, in Francesco Colonna’a palatial neoplatonical Renaissance Comedy (Poliphilo’s Strife of Love in a Dream) – the anti-Dante – since the 2 lovers finally get united in their love – thanks to Polia – before the Cosmic Venus; yes, no Madonna there, but Venus at her highest level of purity).

Dante meets Beatrice at Ponte Santa Trinità

Dante meets Beatrice at Ponte Santa Trinità, by Henry Holiday, 1883. Click to enlarge

Now our flight in such chariot towards Platonic Good, the Ideas (or the Christian God, or the neoplatonic cosmic Venus etc.) goes up when reason and the white horse prevail. It tends to flap flap flap down to bodily vile stuff when corporis voluptas, bodily desire, is stronger.

As for myself, num 2 is very powerful. My flight is often low, non-spiritual, my quest vile, although my desire for num 1 – for Good, God and so forth – is never ending, and is bugging me all the time, and each time I flap flap flap a bit higher, I do feel better.

Ok. I am very confused (plus verbose). Asta la vista babies

Richardus:

Well, now Roma, since you seek to distinguish hormonal and spiritual love, I must re-read the Symposium to see what is said there on the subject.

You raise also the matter of Christianity, for which love is the beginning the middle and the end.

Then we have love by love by internet, whose progenitor is love by letter-writing, yet less considered, or maybe less the product of reason.

There is a common thread which I must seek. I may be a little while. :D

Richardus:

You remind me, MoR, of a blond Adonis I knew at school into whose arms a succession of beauties fell, unregretting.

We mortals listened to him in awe. It was a boys’ school, so our knowledge of female anatomy was rudimentary and, shall we say, of a more academic nature. We envied the time he spent on his special study and the joy and adoration he left in his wake.

He went on to become a doctor, the better to develop his talents.

:mrgreen:

Man of Roma:

I’ll be verbose as usual.

Dear Richardus, sweet Celtic Geraldine:

I was in a boys’ school too, for the reason that, in my Liceo Classico, the headmaster, an absolute moron, decided to create, right on that darn year, one class of just girls and another of just boys (us, alas). So, our knowledge of women was also very academical. And, among us, we also had a brown-haired green-eyed Adonis. So beautiful he was, Tommaso, that he made our ‘female vacuum’ (if one can say that) even more painful: since, each time a girl approached our buddies’ group he quickly seduced her – she was powerless before Him, so she knelt down, and was lost in love – and nothing was left to us.

This occurred again and again.

Oh boy, what absolute starvation for a couple of (very formative btw) years, ie btw 15 and 17. It made us ALL very shallow for a long while as for the other gender: id est, when we met ANYTHING that faintly reminded us of the human female (in an age range btw 13 to 98), she, to us, was just flesh, flesh, flesh. Well, at that age, hormones were active. I, for example, couldn’t easily conceive a girl-friend in the sense of a real ‘friend’. Then I evolved I guess (and hope lol).

Bust of Pythagoras

Pythagoras. Roman copy of a Greek original. Musei Capitolini, Roma. Via Wikipedia. Click for attribution

Yes, Richard, Plato is the Great Teacher of us Christians. Christ I guess did his part, but Plato is the supreme Magister of us all in the West. Forget Aristotle imo. But let us not neglect Pythagoras, Plato’s real mentor (even if dead long before Plato’s time) according to Plato himself and to many scholars, together with Socrates of course, of which little we know, and in any case Socrates was Pythagoras’ pupil also.

Now, what fascinates me [all readers here now taking a nap, I know] is the link Orpheus-Pythagoras. What a great theme!!

Which leads us into 2 sparkling directions: pre-Celtic North Europe, and India!

But that is a story I’ll try to unfold in the Manius plot.

Manius btw seems that it will be published – I was toasting yesterday with wifey – both in Italian (paper book) and in English (e-book: this version needs bigger editing, it is clear). I just have to finish it in 8 months time in a plausible and entertaining – and hopefully deep enough – way. Hard work, and contrary to my nature, whimsical & undisciplined. But in any case.

Blogger Love, you’ve mentioned.

The Love I developed for you Anglo-Saxons & similar, I guess I owe all to that,. To sweet Richard, Philippe, Mr C, Geraldine, and to ALL the American people, ALL of them etc. You people brought me -I forgot how – into discovering Ancient Britannia, fascinating to me to the extent that I now dream of it, like Giorgio in the plot (who in fact is me, obsessed by the theme).

This Love, dear dear Richard, gave me so much inspiration and happiness.

I read the elegance of you people’s words, I look at the pics you people publish (your houses, your windows so different from ours: they must allow more light, ours less) with so much Love (I now sound corny, I know). And well, yes, it is again the white and the black horse (hyperborea, the American & the British-isles type of Woman), and Reason, the Charioteer, sometimes (or often) faltering in its guide.

But this is the way we are, humans who are not only human, since perhaps there’s some extra sparkle (from somewhere where we came from and are bound to return).

As marvellous Geraldine so gently has told us – in her Irish Celtic, untouched-by-the-Romans, pure, Nordic Female’s words …

For My Eldest Brother

Rome at dawn

Rome at dawn. Click for attribution and to enlarge

A man-to-man thing, after an earlier post on how different women and men can be (see the original in Italian.)

ψ

Rome, April 2004. 6 o’clock of a cold but bright morning.

I am looking at the Roman rooftops, sitting in my terrace. It’s almost dawn and I’m cold.

You know, I had two sisters and 8 female first cousins and I met him when we were 3-4. He therefore became my eldest brother.

My Eldest Brother

I have heard him on the telephone the night before after many years of silence.

So now on my terrace on the first shred of paper I found I’m quickly jotting down the words I have in my head for fear of forgetting them.

Words thrown spontaneously – and a bit savage too perhaps.

1950s-1960s remote, antediluvian stuff?

What can I say, we lived in immediate post-war Italy. Judge for yourself.

My 'brother' at 13. We had the same colours, green eyes and blonde hair, but he was blonder. They took us for real brothers


For My Eldest Brother

My friend, companion of happy adventures
during the prime of life,
at 6 in a Roman morning,
a cold breeze running over the rooftops
of a pagan city,
you, companion and brother,
I here come to celebrate
as in an ancient rite,
a pencil splashing words
rapidly on a page,
words alive, unlaboured.

You taught me to enjoy this life,
its primordial side and strength;
I, more fearful,
brought up in a world of women,
was taught by you manly ways,
the male attributes, or nuts,
that you always had,
and have: do not forget!

Oh fuck, male attributes,
may the Lord be thanked!
In a world full of empty
jaded and phony people,
you always were an example,
my friend and brother,
of strength and courage
much more than my father.
You – and my mother’s brothers
so dear and much much loved.

And my father,
who meant a great deal,
from him I took other things.
But you were so much to me.
One more year is a lot
when one is so young,
It helps to establish a primacy
that I always have recognized you.

And here, on this small terrace
of the city of Rome,
in front of the ancient temples
of our primogenial culture,
I honour you,
my eldest brother;
I celebrate you, that primacy still recognizing
not solely because of age.

At this point red wine I would drink
(but it is early in the morning…)
the full-bodied red Tuscan wine
of our wonderful winter evenings
in our countryside – do you recall? -
when, roasted meat over embers
the Dionysian pleasures
of meat and wine you delivered
and of the women
taken by the hair
and gently, strongly,
tenderly loved.

The breeze is now warmer.
Words begin to fail.

I only hope,
dear friend, my strong companion
and eldest brother,
to have conveyed to you
these memories, these emotions
during abrupt awakening
after a phone call.

[Translation by Geraldine]

[This sweet, generous Celtic woman
is not responsible for the 'bad words'
that are mine since how
could she understand them
plus Google translator
doesn't provide help on that]

 

My friend at 22 with his dad Michele. They had a very strong bond. While G's mum was Tuscan his dad was from the South, which meant a lot to both of us

Note. I had talked to him the night before on the phone, as I’ve said. We hadn’t seen or talked to each other since years.

That is probably why I woke with a start at 5:30 am with my head so full of that joy – the years of infancy and adolescence, any reader knows them: we spent them together in the Arezzo’s countryside every single summer of the 1950s-1960s .

Joys (and sorrows) but all lived with exuberance and almost violent intensity.

Arezzo and its country. There's a third friend and we were like the 3 Musketeers. Shot with my little cellular Nokia E63. Click to zoom in

He had a house across from mine but when we first saw each other over the wall (I was alone, he with his grandma, a gentle lady as of from an old-time painting, we had 3-4 years) we did not like each other at all. He looked prissy and too well-groomed to my taste.

Then one day his mother took him to our house for an official visit (the two mums were close friends). Disturbed we were a bit so we began to throw pebbles at a can placed at 10 yards from where we were on a stone table, just to kill moodiness. He was a year older.

The throwing-pebbles-at-a-can thing triggered ALL. We have never left each other since then (apart from a few intervals.) Thing being our brains knew how to fly together, and we laughed and laughed and we laughed out loud. His mind, odd and humorous, was rich with ideas.

In the picture below I am 18. From then on we had the first break. A long one.

Man of Roma at 18 (1966.) Our friendship was about to go on a hiatus. Pauline O'Connor, my piano teacher, had just arrived. Magister will also, but in 1972

Now that we are old (or almost) we feel even closer and there won’t be intervals any more.

It’s this desire we have to stay close at the end of a marvellous adventure we did begin together, in the company also of the loved ones from his side and from my side – who make our life more human (and who console us of its miseries.)

Related posts.
Read 2 of our first adventures with the ‘other sex’:

Sex and the city (of Rome). Season II.1

Sex and the city (of Rome). Season II. 1

Monica Bellucci walking in Rome (Martini Gold by Dolce & Gabbana). Click for file source

Why a New Season on ‘Roman’ Sex

I hesitated before continuing this series on ‘Roman’ sex. Two recent facts though have convinced me I’d better go on with it, the latter probably more important.

1) Some interest grown around the way I connect Italian sexual (& non sexual) behaviour with ancient Roman culture, not only from weirdoes but from qualified people: journalists, an international Tv Channel, a few university scholars (& college students who apparently found here inspiration for their theses,) a couple of Web companies.

2) Such incipient interest (ephemeral I’m sure) had though the prodigious side effect of making the three Sybils who subtly govern my life suppose that perhaps I’m not just entirely fooling around when typing like mad on my keyboard.

Well, THIS simplifies things, readers, by providing me with (family) peace of mind so that I’d have a few of stories too tell … ;-)

Here other stories, of a totally different kind.

Sex and the city (of Rome) II

Venus de Milo, back view. Via Wikipedia

In the preceding post I was saying that, not having had brothers but sisters and needing to play male games etc., I was fortunate enough to meet at 3 a boy of 4 who became like my eldest brother.

Paul: “I have been a fratello maggiore [ie an eldest bro vs younger bros]. Believe me, it is no picnic.”

MoR: “It is no picnic with sisters either. Brothers and sisters – one doesn’t choose. My ‘eldest brother’ (the one in the poem), I chose myself. And he chose me being an only child.”

I then narrated two stories somewhat regarding the ehm éducation sentimentale we two lived together (see below).

ψ

At this point Jenny popped in (I guess she had already read the stories I now paste below) :

Jenny: “What a sweet photograph of you! I must tell you, in the small town where I grew up: three Catholic churches and nothing but boys with surnames like Petruso, Petrillo, Gianti, Limano, D’amico…the list goes on and on…”

MoR: “Jenny, yes, Italians are scattered all over the world. One blunt question allow the silly man such as I am: did you feel desire for these Petruso, Petrillo, Gianti, D’amico and so forth?

Jenny: “There he is: the charming and disarming Man of Roma. Not the place here for relating episodes from my ehm éducation sentimentale. We will just say, generally, that as Italians are scattered all over the world, girls (all over the world) like them.”

MoR: “What?? Even old (and odd) Italian blokes like me? Next time don’t forget your telephone number” (my usual flirtatious tone, what a moron I am :-( )

They Were Ready to Eat us Alive

Ok. Time to get back to Paul and to my ‘sex souvenirs’. I’ll remind you I was telling Paul:

MoR: “My ‘eldest brother’ (the one in the poem), I chose myself. And he chose me. Nothing sexual between us tho LOL, quite the contrary.

In fact as soon as we got the foggiest interest in the other sex our hunt began and became scientific. We had hunted lizards, mice, birds (you name it) – it was time for bigger preys we thought.

We were 12-13 (in the image below I am 7, but via the link above you can see him at 13).

Our first move was therefore a girls orphanage 15 minutes on foot from our houses, the Istituto Thevenin. The girls, from 8 to 16, were more than ready to eat us alive. They could not. The darn nuns were ALWAYS watching for virtues that didn’t give a damn to remain virtuous, or so it appeared to our boys’ minds.”

ψ

Story one ended, I then addressed readers and said:

“One anecdote that may be funny or annoying, according to who is reading. It regards ehm our (mine and my ‘eldest brother’s) éducation sentimentale.”

MoR at 7 in Castiglione della Pescaia. ‘He’ has to send pictures yet

Lovely Butt (With a Bottle but)

A couple of summers we both went for a maybe 15 days to Marina di Massa, on the Tuscan sea-side coast, although the rest of the summer we continued to spend it in Arezzo’s country as usual.

We now were 13-14 maybe.

One day while we were driving a tandem bicycle along an isolated road we saw a woman walking alone on that same road who had a great ass – we thought. I frankly still today believe she actually had.

In any case she was carrying a bottle of wine in her left hand and we being behind her but not that close we pedalled up to her and BAM! I slapped her ass with my left hand (I was a leftie and was freer since sitting in the back seat).

She yelled a bit at us but not much, and laughed also, she perhaps being 30 or something.

Aphrodite Kallipygos

Had Venus Kallipygos (ie Venus of the ‘beautiful buttocks’) the best butt in Antiquity? Scholars are still debating (via Wikipedia)

Terribly excited about our success (she had laughed!) we made a big U turn through side roads and there again behind her we were, pedalling this time up to her with all possible softness in order for her not to be aware of us.

BAAM I went again. She much surprised turned around, probably not thinking we would dare again, and this time she yelled a tad more angrily, but not that terribly angry – or so it seemed to us.

Made therefore even more daring and like drunk so as to try our luck a third time, there we drove on that road once more but before we could get close enough to slap her round bottom again she turned around abruptly and furiously holding her bottle towards us she really YELLED this time something like:

“Se un la smettete di fare i bischeri vi spacco questa bottiglia su quella testaccia!!! COGLIONI chevvoisiete!!!”

(“If you don’t stop play the jackasses I’ll smash your heads with this bottle, ASSHOLES!!!”)

Taken aback by such fierce reaction we lost control of our tandem that hit the side-walk curb – which caused the front tyre to burst – and headlong we fell over the side-walk asphalt.

Gosh now of course we felt more humiliated than excited and didn’t know what to do in such an embarrassing situation. She was looking still furious at us but after a while her eyes softened a bit (possibly seeing how young we were and how embarrassed we were? Or for some other, unhoped-for, reason?)

In the end she smiled at us and laughed. We laughed back and felt some joy coming back.

But I guess we learned that, when gambling with Fortune (and maybe at that age, I don’t remember, when playing with people) one has to know when it is time to stop.

Related posts:

Sex and the City (of Rome) season I

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