The kid and I are studying Greek Mythology together, as I prep for the Mythology in Literature class I'm teaching, TR afternoons this semester.
(You should see this 2 volume Manga book on Greek myths she got for Hanukkah this year -- it's manga everything these days, I suppose, but nevertheless it cracks me up, especially the footnotes: for example, right after Gaia and Ouranos "get married," which is how the text puts it, the manga version has a footnote: "You're probably wondering how a mother can marry her son! Well! Lots of strange things happen in mythology!" <-- That's the entire footnote, I swear.)
Anyway, studying an academic subject with your seven year old is an experience not to be missed. She asks me endless questions, some of which are just annoying, but some of which are actually fruitful -- for instance, what *is* up with those ashtree nymphs?
You remember. This is after Kronos castrates his father (The Manga version tastefully cuts away and doesn't show precisely what Kronos is doing to Ouranos, just that he's wounding him somehow) and throws his whanger into the sea?
And as he's flinging the whanger into the sea, some drops of blood fall onto "the dark earth"?
And from that union of dark earth and blood spring first the Furies, and second, the Giants, and finally the Ashtree Nymphs.
Okay, the Furies make sense. They're Vengeance demons. You can see why the blood of a castrated father would cause them to be born.
And the Giants, well, they're monsters. They cause a lot of trouble during the War with the Titans, later on. Still making some sense.
But the Ashtree Nymphs? They're sort of...sweet. What is up with that?
(And the last thing to be born, after Ouranos's whanger falls into the sea, by the way? It floats around, and foam foams up around it? And from this foam? Arises Aphrodite. Lovely Aphrodite. Goddess of Love. Meditate on that one a bit.
But even that sort of makes sense. Love is dangerous, as Billy Bragg says. And Aphrodite did start the Trojan War, as the kid pointed out to me. So.)
So why the Ashtree Nymphs?
I hunted around and found this article
which helped a bit -- basically what it's saying is that the ashtree puts out a substance like honey or like manna, a sweet sap, which, when it ferments, will get you high.
Peyote, if you will.
Blood of the gods.
Or the god, in this case.
Since we're all born of Aphrodite, in one sense, born of her blood, which is in another sense Ouranos's blood; and since the ashtree puts out Ouranos's blood, exudes that blood, if we drink that blood, according to this myth, we're connected back to the god.
Anyway, the ashtree nymphs are another way to connect to the gods -- I think. They leak the blood of the wounded god, and if we drink that blood, we become part of the god, for awhile.
Not that I'm advising anyone to do such a thing! Heavens no! This is all academic here!
18 hours ago