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Under spam attack again: commenting requires login (temporary measure)

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 10:50 AM PST

I am afraid that this blog has once again been under a spam attack all day, in which spammers are trying to post spurious comments at a rate of about one every minute.

I have therefore had to limit comments to those who are already recognised by the blog, or who log in to make their comment. I am very sorry that this will make it more difficult to add a comment for some. Once the attack has gone away, I hope to be able to ease that restriction again.

Please don’t let it inhibit your use of the blog, or making comments.

I will update this article when I am able to relax these temporary restrictions.

Bigamy, sorcery, and rotting timbers: was Jason just another rat?

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 04:30 AM PST

Jason, of Golden Fleece fame, comes across as one of the better heroes of classical myth. Compared with multiple murderer, rapist, and utterly untrustworthy partner Theseus, or Hercules/Heracles, or …, perhaps he’s just the best of a bad bunch. Until you look at the way that he treated the women whom he married.

His first bride is almost forgotten now: Hypsipyle, Queen of Lemnos, a rather beautiful Greek island known now for its superb sandy beaches.

According to myth, Lemnos had a troubled history. Its womenfolk had neglected due worship of Venus/Aphrodite, so the goddess made their husbands reject them. In revenge, the women decided to kill the men, leaving the island populated only by women. There had been one exception: Hypsipyle had spared her father, originally the king, by tucking him into a large wooden chest and pushing him out into the sea. King Thoas was recovered, and Hypsipyle secreted him away quietly.

Just when the situation for the women of Lemnos was looking worrying, who should turn up but Jason and his fifty hunky Argonauts. Perhaps word had got around that they might be welcomed there. They certainly seemed to enjoy their visit, and didn’t find much time to send any postcards back to their families explaining what they were doing. Jason, according to his status, was entertained by Queen Hypsipyle to the point where they married and she later gave birth to twins.

Jean Pichore (fl 1502-1521), miniature in Héroïdes d’Ovide (c 1510), further details not known. Wikimedia Commons.

But Jason and the Argonauts had a mission in Colchis, and once it became clear how fruitful their stay on Lemnos had been, they set sail in quest of the Golden Fleece. Jean Pichore’s miniature shows Jason parting from Hypsipyle, making their twins look quite advanced in age.

Jason then met the sorceress daughter of King Aëtes, Medea, who helped him accomplish the series of trials, culminating in him putting the monster which guarded the Golden Fleece to sleep, and achieving his mission. King Aëtes welshed on his deal with Jason, so the hero made off with both the Golden Fleece and Medea, marrying her bigamously on their way back to Thessaly.

When Hypsipyle hears of this, she is unimpressed, to say the least. It is at this stage that Ovid imagines, in the sixth letter of his Heroides, Hypsipyle writing to Jason, as shown in the two miniatures below, painted by Robinet Testard.

Robinet Testard (c 1471-1533), illustration of Hypsipyle 1 (c 1496-98), in translation of Ovid’s Epistulae heroidum by Octavien de Saint-Gelais, colour on parchment, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris. Wikimedia Commons.
Robinet Testard (c 1471-1533), illustration of Hypsipyle 2 (c 1496-98), in translation of Ovid’s Epistulae heroidum by Octavien de Saint-Gelais, colour on parchment, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris. Wikimedia Commons.

Medea’s bigamous marriage didn’t last long either.

Gustave Moreau (1826–1898), Jason (1865), oil on canvas, 204 × 115 cm, Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Wikimedia Commons.

The writing is not on the wall in Gustave Moreau’s Jason (1865), but in the almost illegible inscriptions on the two phylacteries wound around the column.

Cooke has deciphered their Latin as reading:
nempe tenens quod amo gremioque in Iasonis haerens
per freta longa ferar; nihil illum amplexa timebo

(Nay, holding that which I love, and resting in Jason’s arms, I shall travel over the long reaches of the sea; in his safe embrace I will fear nothing)
et auro heros Aesonius potitur spolioque superbus
muneris auctorem secum spolia altera portans

(And the heroic son of Aeson [i.e. Jason] gained the Golden Fleece. Proud of this spoil and bearing with him the giver of his prize, another spoil)

We should thus read the painting in terms of the conflict between Jason and Medea: Medea expresses her subjugate trust in him, whilst Jason considers her to be just another spoil won alongside the Golden Fleece. And she was a spoil which Jason was quick to dispose of when it suited him: when he met Glauce (or Creusa, but not the wife of Aeneas), he decided to move on and marry her too.

Vision of Medea 1828 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851
Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), Vision of Medea (1828), oil on canvas, 173.7 x 248.9 cm, The Tate Gallery (Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856), London. Image © and courtesy of The Tate Gallery, http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-vision-of-medea-n00513

In JMW Turner’s spectacular Vision of Medea (1828), Medea is now in the midst of an incantation to force Jason’s return. In the foreground are the materials which she is using to cast her spell: flowers, snakes, and other supplies of a sorceress. Seated by her are the Fates. In the upper right, Medea is shown again in a flash-forward to her fleeing Corinth in her chariot drawn by dragons, the bodies of her children thrown down after their deaths.

Meanwhile, life for the spurned Hypsipyle wasn’t easy either. The women of Lemnos discovered that she had been sheltering ex-King Thoas, and she ended up as a slave of Lycurgus, the King of Sparta. One of her tasks was to look after his son Opheltes, but one day her attention was distracted from her charge, and he was killed by a snake.

Johann Christian Reinhart (1761-1847), Classic landscape with Hypsipyle and Opheltes (1816), oil, dimensions not known, Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany. Wikimedia Commons.

Johann Christian Reinhart’s extraordinary Classic landscape with Hypsipyle and Opheltes tells this almost as Poussin would have done, with an idealised landscape, the boy swathed in the snake’s coils, and Hypsipyle rushing to try to save him. I think this is an extraordinary painting because, despite almost passing as a Poussin painted in about 1650, Reinhart completed it almost two centuries later, in 1816.

For neglecting Lycurgus’ son, Hypsipyle was almost put to death, but for once the Fates were lenient, and she and her two sons were allowed to return to Lemnos, where she retired gracefully from mythology.

Jason seemingly reaped what he had sown. Medea presented his new bride Glauce/Creusa with a magic dress, which burned her and her father to death. Jason’s faithlessness towards Medea brought him disfavour with Juno/Hera, and he spent the end of his life alone and unhappy, sleeping rough under the stern of the rotting hulk of his ship, the Argo. One night the timbers collapsed on him as he slept, killing him.

xattr: com.apple.diskimages.fsck, record of disk image integrity check

Posted: 08 Feb 2018 01:00 AM PST

Type: com.apple.diskimages.fsck
Subtypes: none
Serialisation: none
Data type: binary data lacking text content
Example: <19bf73df 1f0c3752 10d52ee3 a6a9686a 7a3b24aa> « ¿sß 7R Õ.㦩hjz;$ª»
macOS: El Capitan, Sierra, High Sierra
System use: none
App use: only if an app includes a disk image (rare)
Document use: only in stored disk images (rare)
Other usage: found in all stored disk images which have been mounted and undergone fsck check.

Purpose: contains details of the last integrity check of the disk image using fsck
When a disk image is mounted, this can be among the checks made by macOS, using diskutil verifyVolume and repairVolume. Once that check has been performed, this xattr records its details, and presumably its result.

This information is presumably then used to determine whether to attempt mounting the disk image, or to display an error alert.

Rarely, when a disk image fails to mount with an error, this xattr can be deleted and allow the next attempt to mount the image to complete successfully.

Tools: xattred, xattr


Original page: 2018-02-04
Last modified: 2018-02-04

xattr: com.apple.diskimages.recentcksum, disk image checksum

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 11:30 PM PST

Type: com.apple.diskimages.recentcksum
Subtypes: none
Serialisation: none
Data type: UTF-8 text containing an integer, UUID, time, and a full checksum result.
Example: <693a3432 39373930 31363332 206f6e20 46454633 44393444 2d424245 322d3341 43462d38 3741362d 46344436 30303237 42333938 20402031 35313236 30323436 35202d20 43524333 323a2437 39353531 384535> «i:4297901632 on FEF3D94D-BBE2-3ACF-87A6-F4D60027B398 @ 1512602465 – CRC32:$795518E5»
macOS: Sierra, High Sierra
System use: none
App use: only if an app includes a disk image (rare)
Document use: only in stored disk images (rare)
Other usage: found in all read-only or compressed disk images which have been mounted previously.

Purpose: contains details of the last checksum of the disk image using hdiutil
When a read-only or compressed disk image is mounted, its checksum is normally computed and checked against that expected, using hdiutil verify. This xattr contains a record of the most recent check performed, including the UUID of that event, the type of checksum calculated (usually CRC32), and the result in hexadecimal. This can be compared against the checksum stored in the image for verification. Read/write disk images don’t contain checksums, so cannot be verified in this way.

The content follows a standard format:
i:[decimal integer] on [UUID of event] @ [decimal integer system time] - CRC32:$[hex checksum]

Presumably other types of checksum can also be used, as documented in man hdiutil.

Tools: xattred, xattr


Original page: 2018-02-04
Last modified: 2018-02-04