‘Love can be disgusting, cruel and degrading, but even from the most humiliating liaisons, wonderful creatures may be born.’
From my research for my thesis I came across the story of Pasiphäe and the Bull and was fascinated. For me this story highlights the crazy lengths that people can go to in order to fulfill desires and obsessions- sometimes crazy enough to transform species!
This story kept unfolding in my mind and gave me many laughs and moments of mortification. Fantastic.
Pasiphäe, Queen of Crete had been put under a curse by Poseidon, Greek God of Sea, to fall madly in lust for a mysterious white bull. She wished to consummate their relationship with the help of the inventor Daedalus. He built a wooden cow for her that was pushed out into the field with Pasiphäe inside in order for the bull to mate with her.
“It is strange and beautiful that Homer should make the Sirens appeal to the spirit and not to the flesh”Jane Ellen Harrison.
I’m interested in the hybrid form, particularly in the half human and half animal characters that are often featured through Greek mythology. For me the hybrid form symbolises the crazy tug of war between the human conscious and the animal instinct that exists in all of us.
In Greek mythology, the Sirens are creatures with women’s heads, birds feet and feathers. I chose the heron to represent the bird of the other half because of all of the herons that are around my new location in Kinsale. The three singing Sirens, Peisinoe and Thelxepeia and Aglaope were daughters of Earth and their beautiful fatal voices and musical instruments enchanted all who sailed by. Rather then the sound of the melody, what was more important was their words which promised whoever listened wisdom and foreknowledge of all future happenings. The term ‘Siren song’ refers to an interest that is hard to resist but that if heeded will lead to a bad result. If some passer by heard their singing and escaped then the Sirens were fated to die.
They had been sent on a mission and given wings to find there friend Persaphone who had been abducted. Eventually they had to give up the hunt and settled on the island of Sirenum Scopuli where they lured sailors to the destruction on the rocks around the island with their song.
At one point in their time they had a singing competition with the Muses but the Sirens were defeated and lost the power of flight.
Odysseus sailed by their island but ordered his men to plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast no matter how much he would beg them to release him once he heard their song. They passed by without any of their lives taken and the Sirens flung themselves over the cliff and perished.
Europe & Zeus
This Bull is actually Zeus in disguise in order for him to seduce the beautiful and innocent Europe.
One day as Europe and her friends walked by the seashore, Zeus as a big beautiful white bull joined a herd of cattle that were close by. Europe was struck by his beauty and finding him to be as gentle as a lamb, mastered her fear and began to play with him; in the end she climbed upon him and let him make his way to the shore. He quickly swam away, taking with him her innocence.