Posted: 03 Jan 2018 04:30 AM PST
With the main Greek fleet homeward bound, Ovid tells a brief tale about the death of Memnon, one of Achilles’ victims, and starts the next major cycle of stories about Aeneas.
The goddess Aurora joins in the lament over the destruction of Troy. She not only had supported the Trojan cause, but her son Memnon had been killed by Achilles in combat. She was stricken with grief, and couldn’t bear to watch his cremation on his funeral pyre. She knelt before Jupiter and begged him that her dead son might be granted an honour.
Jupiter agreed, and the smoke from Memnon’s pyre darkened the whole sky, as might have happened during a major volcanic eruption. That smoke was then transformed into a flock of birds:
Those birds are Memnonides, after Memnon.
Ovid then assures us that the Fates didn’t completely crush the hopes of Troy in its destruction: from within the burning ruins, the hero Aeneas is fleeing, his aged father on his shoulders, and with his son Ascanius:
This opens Ovid’s treatment of the story of Aeneas, as told briefly in Homer’s Iliad, and in great detail in Virgil’s Aeneid.
The story of Memnon and the Memnonides doesn’t appear to have attracted the brush of any artists, although some huge Egyptian statues traditionally thought to be of Memnon have been painted in the nineteenth century. Memnon is claimed to have been African, and brought his army of “Aethiopians” with him to fight the Greeks, alongside the Trojans.
Bernard Picart’s engraving from the early eighteenth century of Memnon, son of Eos and Tithonus shows a young warrior in Egypt, looking into Aurora’s dawn light. He may be sat on his own sarcophagus too.
The two colossi at Al Bairat near Luxor in Egypt were known in classical times, and became quite popular motifs for ‘orientalist’ artists in the nineteenth century, several of whom showed them in dramatic lighting. I have chosen three paintings which I think are among the best.
Gustav W. Seitz’s Egypt: the Statues of Memnon, seen here as a colour lithograph of his original watercolour, is highly atmospheric, and an excellent demonstration of the moon illusion.
The colours in Charles Vacher’s watercolour of The Statues of the Memnons (1864) are superb.
Finally, Albert Zimmermann’s oil painting of The Memnon Statues captures the heat haze, and a snake moving through the water.
There is no shortage of paintings of Aeneas bearing his father Anchises on his back, as they flee the ruins of Troy.
Unusually, one of Adam Elsheimer’s paintings of Aeneas Saving Anchises from Burning Troy was made in gouache. Of all the depictions, this seems to be the only one based on a reconstruction with models, as the method of carrying is not only feasible, but practical. Note the way in which Aeneas is grasping a robe acting as his father’s seat, and Anchises has interlocked his fingers on his son’s forehead.
That doesn’t, though, appear to have been a study for Elsheimer’s finished work The Burning of Troy (c 1600-01) painted in oil on copper. The pair, with young Ascanius and his mother to the right, are seen in the left foreground. Elsheimer’s backdrop of the burning city includes the Trojan Horse, to the left of the upper centre, and hints with subtlety at the vast tragedy taking place.
Simon Vouet’s Aeneas and his Father Fleeing Troy from about 1635 shows the family group in close-up. From the left are Creusa, Aeneas’ wife who died before she could leave the city, Aeneas, Anchises, and a very young Ascanius, the son of Aeneas and Creusa. This is the start of their flight, as Aeneas and Creusa are persuading Anchises to let Aeneas carry him to safety.
Pompeo Batoni’s Aeneas Fleeing from Troy (1753) shows the family as they leave the burning city behind them. Creusa is already falling slightly behind, and looks particularly distressed. Oddly, Ovid does not mention her fate in the Metamorphoses, although it is covered in detail in Virgil’s Aeneid.
The English translation of Ovid above is taken from Ovid. Metamorphoses. Tr. Brookes More. Boston. Cornhill Publishing Co. 1922, at Perseus. I am very grateful to Perseus at Tufts for this.
Filed under: General, Language, Life, Painting
Posted: 02 Jan 2018 11:30 PM PST
I have been using the last release of xattred quite a bit, and spotted two relatively minor features in need of improvement. As they make quite a big difference to its usability, I thought that you might appreciate rapid fixes:
This new version is available here: xattred06a2
Filed under: Macs, Technology, xattr
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