Disney Mythology vs. Greco-Roman Mythology: Part I

Posted on 19. Nov, 2014 by in Roman culture

Salvete Omnes,

With the many of you learning Latin and the Roman culture; I believe it is important to observe how antiquity permeates through modern media. So today I propose we observe the role of mythology, mythic characters and items within Disney films and series.

Walt Disney World. Courtesy of Flickr & Dawn Ashely.

Walt Disney World. Courtesy of Flickr & Dawn Ashely.

#1. Character or Item FEMALE CENTAURS OR KENTAURIDES

Film or Series: Fantasia; 1940 & The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe; 2005

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Commentary: Female Centaurs are not really discussed at length within modern or even ancient mythology. When recalling recent films with centaurs (Harry Potter, Step- Brothers, Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief), the centaurs are male.  However that small amount of mythology which is discussed by ancient sources does reflect the imagery that Disney produces in these films (i.e.- beauty consumed creatures, but nobly warlike when they need to be).

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Disney Mythology: Within Fantasia ( the video above) is from the chapter known as “The Pastoral Symphony” by Beethoven. The setting is a mythical world of centaurs, cupids, fauns and other figures from classical mythology. A gathering for a festival to honor Bacchus (Dionysus), the god of wine, is interrupted by Jupiter (Zeus), who creates a storm and throws lightning bolts at the attendees. The mythology of centaurs present in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is that of C.S Lewis’ mythology (here)and not necessarily of Disney.

Greco-Roman Mythology: Though female centaurs, called Kentaurides, are not mentioned in early Greek literature and art, they do appear occasionally in later antiquity. A Macedonian mosaic of the 4th century BC is one of the earliest examples of the Centauress in art.

Female centaurs flanking Venus (Mosaic from Roman Tunisia, 2nd century AD).Courtesy of WikiCommons & GiorcesBardo55 .

Female centaurs flanking Venus (Mosaic from Roman Tunisia, 2nd century AD).Courtesy of WikiCommons & GiorcesBardo55 .

Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”  also mentions a Kentaurides named Hylonome who committed suicide when her husband Cyllarus was killed in the war with the Lapiths:

“In the high woods there was none comelier of all the centaur-girls, and she alone by love and love’s sweet words and winning ways held Cyllarus, yes, and the care she took to look her best (so far as that may be with limbs like that). She combed her glossy hair, and twined her curls in turn with rosemary or violets or roses, and sometimes she wore a pure white lily. Twice a day she bathed her face in the clear brook that fell from Pagasae’s high forest, twice she plunged her body in its flow, nor would she wear on her left side and shoulder any skin but what became her from best-chosen beasts.

#2. Character or Item: KING TRITON or TRITON

Film or Series: The Little Mermaid; 1989

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King Triton added to Ariel's Undersea Adventure Building at Disneyland. Courtesy of Flickr and Loren Javier.

King Triton added to Ariel’s Undersea Adventure Building at Disneyland. Courtesy of Flickr and Loren Javier.

Commentary: King Triton often confused with Neptune (Poseidon) due to this Disney portrayal. Neptune is the king of the seas, but Triton is actually a son of  Neptune. Ariel does not exist in any mythology.

Disney Mythology: King Triton is king of the sea and has a triton. He is a widower with seven daughter including Ariel who is the protagonist of the featured film “The Little Mermaid.” The film is based upon the Hans Christen Anderson’s fairy tale which is simply called “The Little Mermaid” and the stories are almost identical except for a few details: she has no name (simply known as the Little Mermaid), her legs hurt with excoriating pain, her prince does fall in love with her (but marries someone else), heartbroken she is given the choice to kill the prince (a become a mermaid again) or not, and lastly she throws herself into the sea unable to kill the prince and becomes foam and then an air spirit.

The Triton Fountain, by Gianlorenzo Bernini, Rome.Courtesy of Wikicommons & Tritonbrunnen rom.

The Triton Fountain, by Gianlorenzo Bernini, Rome.Courtesy of Wikicommons & Tritonbrunnen rom.

Greco-Roman Mythology:  He is usually represented as a merman, having the upper body of a human and the tail of a fish, “sea-hued”, according to Ovid “his shoulders barnacled with sea-shells.  According to Hesiod, Triton dwelt with his parents in a golden palace in the depths of the sea. He is said to have had one daughter , Pallas, who was killed by Minerva (Athena), who was a foster daughter or ward to him, in an innocent friendly fight.

Pausanias describes Triton(s) (the children and class of mermen/mermaids) as the following:

On their heads they grow hair like that of marsh frogs not only in color, but also in the impossibility of separating one hair from another. The rest of their body is rough with fine scales just as is the shark. Under their ears they have gills and a man’s nose; but the mouth is broader and the teeth are those of a beast. Their eyes seem to me blue, and they have hands, fingers, and nails like the shells of the murex. Under the breast and belly is a tail like a dolphin’s instead of feet

#3. Characters or Item PANTHEON of GODS

Film or Series: Hercules; 1997

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Commentary: While the names of the Gods are from the Greek Mythology; Hercules is the Romanized version of Herakles. Furthermore, Mount Olympus would rarely house all the gods at one time for the birth of a god. There is no record of this ever taking place within mythology. Lastly, the entire film is based upon Hercules seeking to be a hero to regain his “godhood;” when in fact Hercules was never a god. He was also a demi-god and Hera was not his mother let alone loving towards him at all!

Courtesy of GraphJam.com

Courtesy of GraphJam.com

Disney Mythology: The birth day celebration of Hercules the god, who is the son of Juno (Hera) and Jupiter or Jove (Zeus). It features Neptune (Poseidon), Minerva (Athena), Jupiter (Zeus), Jove (Hera), Mars (Ares), Venus (Aphrodite), Vulcan (Hephaestus), Mercury (Hermes), Diana (Artemis), Bacchus (Dionysus), Sol (Helios), and more! The scene is filled with gods who are too obscure to see or who shouldn’t be considered a “god” (like Narcissus).

Fragment of a Hellenistic relief (1st century BC – 1st century AD) depicting the Twelve Olympians carrying their attributes in procession; from left to right, Hestia (scepter), Hermes (winged cap and staff), Aphrodite (veiled), Ares (helmet and spear), Demeter (scepter and wheat sheaf), Hephaestus (staff), Hera (scepter), Poseidon (trident), Athena (owl and helmet), Zeus (thunderbolt and staff), Artemis (bow and quiver), Apollo (lyre), from the Walters Art Museum. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Fragment of a Hellenistic relief (1st century BC – 1st century AD) depicting the Twelve Olympians carrying their attributes in procession; from left to right, Hestia (scepter), Hermes (winged cap and staff), Aphrodite (veiled), Ares (helmet and spear), Demeter (scepter and wheat sheaf), Hephaestus (staff), Hera (scepter), Poseidon (trident), Athena (owl and helmet), Zeus (thunderbolt and staff), Artemis (bow and quiver), Apollo (lyre), from the Walters Art Museum. Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Greco-Roman Mythology: The gods would rarely been seen together, but the 12 Olympians would be seen as the hierchacial gods that would reign from Mount Olympus. The gods were known for fighting with another, taking sides in the affairs of mortals, and hardly being cordial or nice unless you were Jupiter or Jove (i.e. King of the Gods!). For more information on stories of the Greco-Roman Gods; check it out here.

#4. Characters or Items: MYTHOLOGICAL CROSSOVER

Films or Series: The Little Mermaid; 1989 & Hercules;1997

Courtesy of WDWMAGIC.COM & Allyinwonderland.

Courtesy of WDWMAGIC.COM & Allyinwonderland.

Commentary: This connection between Disney and Greco-Roman mythology was included merely for fun and humorous sake. Since Ariel is not a “real” or “true” mythological character- most of this means nothing.

Disney Mythology: The world of Disney (in films) does not remark of this correlation other than “memes” that fans have figured out and one conversation reported with two Disney actors:

Courtesy of Evergreenring.

Courtesy of Evergreenring.

Courtesy of Pinterest of Thalia Grace.

Courtesy of Pinterest of Thalia Grace.

Greco-Roman Mythology: According to Greek mythology, Ariel’s father, Triton, is the son of Poseidon, which would make the sea god Ariel’s grandfather. Poseidon’s brother Zeus is the father of Hercules, so Herc and Triton are first cousins. The child of your first cousin is your first cousin once removed, therefore Hercules and Ariel are first cousins once removed.

If this is still causing issues in the respect to “your mind is blown;” I have provided a helpful image of a family tree illustrating this (here). However, since Ariel does NOT exist then perhaps it is better said that King Triton and Hercules are related.

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

I do hope you enjoyed this! I have more similarities next week! Some of them are super obvious and others are bit harder to discern! Have an awesome weekend!

 

 

Dido & Aeneas: Through the Ages

Posted on 13. Nov, 2014 by in Latin Language, Roman culture

Salvete Omnes,

I would like to take some time this week to indulge in one of my favorite love stories: Dido and Aeneas. Over this weekend, I saw at the Los Angeles Opera Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas;” and it got me thinking about the countless retellings of this couple and their themes of love and fate.

Banner at the LA Opera of Dido & Aeneas from my personal camera.

Banner at the LA Opera of Dido & Aeneas from my personal camera.

The opera that I saw was an interesting retelling (debuted in 1688) felt extremely Shakespearean and far removed from the Latin and Roman myth. There are no gods and fate is not the villain, but instead three witches.  I have provided the opera in its entirety, and interestingly enough it is one of few operas in English.

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OR- if you prefer a quicker rendition of it the opera; check this out!

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Artwork has constantly retold and reimagined the myth of love and fate to become one of the first (if not the first) star-crossed lovers.

Aeneid, Book IV, Death of Dido. From the Vergilius Vaticanus (Vatican Library, Cod. Vat. lat. 3225). Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Aeneid, Book IV, Death of Dido. From the Vergilius Vaticanus (Vatican Library, Cod. Vat. lat. 3225). Courtesy of WikiCommons

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the myth of Dido and Aeneas, it is quite heart-breaking. Aeneas is a Trojan survivor who in his own right is a “hero.” A hero in the sense that his parentage is one involving a god and a mortal. His mother was Venus and his father was a Trojan commander known as Anchises. Aeneas is fated to find Rome and on the way his fleet arrive at Carthage where Dido reigns. Upon his arrival, Dido’s cold heart ( widowed and bitter) is melted by Aeneas and Cupid. However their love is not meant to be, because Aeneas must find Troy and Rome and Carthage must have their resentment and bad relationship for future strife.  Therefore, Aeneas leaves to find Rome at the bequest of the gods visiting him and reminding him of his fate. And, thus- Dido out of love (perhaps rampaged crazy Cupid causing love) kills herself and curses Aeneas and his people (Romans).

Dido, attributed to Christophe Cochet, formerly at Marly (Louvre). Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Dido, attributed to Christophe Cochet, formerly at Marly (Louvre). Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Furthermore,  this story of Aeneas and Dido from Vergil’s Aeneid has also found its way into modern television and retellings. There is a wonderful article on how the Aeneid ( an thus Dido and Aeneas) is retold in Battlestar Galactica (the article is here). The Aeneid even finds it way into the Star Trek lore; as seen (here).

Pope ditches Latin as official language of Vatican

Posted on 06. Nov, 2014 by in Latin Language

Salvete Omnes,

I hope that everyone has had a great Halloween with party, candy, and great costumes! However what I would like to talk about today is the fact that the Latin language has become a little less bright in the world this last month.

Pope Francis in August 2014. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Stemoc.

Pope Francis in August 2014. Courtesy of WikiCommons and Stemoc.

“In a break with the past, Pope Francis has decided that Latin will not be the official language of a worldwide gathering of bishops at the Vatican.” reports the Reuters (a news site).

In synods, Latin was the official language of documents for meetings and even some participants chose to speak in Latin. However with Pope Francis’ announcement; Italian would become the synod’s official language.

For those who are unsure what a synod is; let me explain. A synod is ” a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application.”

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In all honesty, I feel quite upset and perturbed at this new because I was such strong advocate for the Catholic church’s use of Latin.  Upon my beginning this position with Transparent Language Company, I wrote one of my first post on the usefulness of Latin in the world (here). The Catholic Church is like one of the last advocates for Latin.

It is no lie that the use of Latin in the Church has greatly diminished since the turn of favor for local languages. However, Latin still remains the official language of the universal Church. And it is the language of reference for translating major documents into the modern language.

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Next week, I am hoping to start a new type of post next week that focuses on grammar and my first stab at video blogging.  Please let me know if there is anything you, my audience, would prefer me to focus on. However, I would like to start at the beginning of grammar for Latin.