Posts Tagged ‘boat’


Virginia Woolf, ” Solid Objects “.

The only thing that moved upon the vast semi-circle of the beach was one small black spot. As it came nearer to the ribs and spine of the stranded pilchard boat, it became apparent from a certain tenuity in its blackness that this spot possessed four legs: and moment by moment it became more unmistakable that it was composed of the persons of two young men. Even thus in outline against the sand there was an unmistakable vitality in them; an indescribable vigour in the approach and withdrawal of the bodies, slight though it was, which proclaimed some violent argument issuing from the tiny mouths of the little round heads. This was corroborated on closer view by the repeated lunging of a walking-stick on the right-hand side. ‘You mean to tell me . . . You actually believe . . .’ thus the walking-stick on the right-hand side next the waves seemed to be asserting as it cut long straight stripes upon the sand.

‘Politics be damned!’ issued clearly from the body on the left-hand side, and, as these words were uttered, the mouths, noses, chins, little moustaches, tweed caps, rough boots, shooting coats, and check stocking of the two speakers became clearer and clearer; the smoke of their pipes went up to the air; nothing was so solid, so living, so hard, red, hirsute and virile as these two bodies for miles and miles of sea and sandhill.

They flung themselves down by the six ribs and spine of the black pilchard boat. You know how the body seems to shake itself free from an argument, and to apologize for a mood of exaltation; flinging itself down ans expressing in the looseness of its attitude a readiness to take up with something new – whatever it may be that comes next to hand. So Charles, whose stick had been slashing the beach for half a mile or so, began skimming flat pieces of slate over the water; and John, who had exclaimed ‘Politics be damned!’ began burrowing his fingers down, down, into the sand. As his hand went further and further beyond the wrist, so that he had to hitch his sleeve a little higher, his eyes lost their intensity, or rather the background of thought and experience which gives an inscrutable depth to the eyes of grown people disappeared, leaving only the clear transparent surface, expressing nothing but wonder, which the eyes of young children display.

No doubt the act of burrowing in the sand had something to do with it. he remembered that, after digging for a little, the water oozes round your finger-tips; the hole then becomes a moat; a well; a spring secret channel to the sea.

As he was choosing which of these things to make it, still working his fingers in the water, they curled round something hard – a full drop of solid matter – and gradually dislodged a large irregular lump, and brought it to the surface. When the sand coating was wiped off, a green tint appeared. It was a lump of glass, so thick as to be almost opaque; the smoothing of the sea had completely worn off any edge or shape, so that it was impossible to say whether it had been bottle, tumbler or window-pane; it was nothing but glass; it was almost a precious stone.

You had only to enclose it in a rim of gold, or pierce it with a wire, and it became a jewel; part of a necklace, or a dull, green light upon a finger. Perhaps after all it was really a gem; something worn by a dark Princess trailing her finger in the water as she sat in the stern of the boat and listened to the slaves singing as they rowed her across the Bay. Or the oak sides of a sunk Elizabethan treasure-chest had split apart, and, rolled over and over, over and over, its emeralds had come at last to shore.

John turned it in his hands; he held it to the light; he held it so that its irregular mass blotted out the body and extended right arm of his friend. the green thinned and thickened slightly as it was held against the sky or against the body. It pleased him; it puzzled him; it was so hard, so concentrated, so definite an object compared with the vague sea and the hazy shore.

Now a sigh disturbed him – profound, final, making him aware that his friend Charles had thrown all the flat stones within reach, or had come to the conclusion that it was not worth while to throw them. They ate their sandwiches side by side. when they had done, and were shaking themselves and rising to their feet, John took the lump of glass and looked at it in silence. Charles looked at it too. But he saw immediately that it was not flat, and filling his pipe he said with the energy that dismissed a foolish strain of thought,
‘To return to what I was saying -‘
He did not see, or if he had seen would hardly have noticed, that John after looking at the lump for a moment, as if in hesitation, slipped it inside his pocket. That impulse, too, may have been the impulse which leads a child to pick up one pebble on a path strewn with them, promising it a life of warmth and security upon the nursery mantelpiece, delighting in the sense of power and benignity which such an action confers, and believing that the heart of the stone leaps with joy when it sees itself chosen from a million like it, to enjoy the bliss instead of a life of cold and wet upon the high road. ‘It might so easily have been any other of the millions of stones, but it was I, I, I!’

Whether this thought or not was in John’s mind: the lump of glass had its place upon the mantelpiece, where it stood heavy upon a little pile of bills and letters, and served not only as an excellent paper-weight, but also as a natural stopping place for the young man’s eyes when they wandered from his book. Looked at again and again half consciously by a mind thinking of something else, any object mixes itself so profoundly with the stuff of thought that it loses its actual form and recomposes itself a little differently in an ideal shape which haunts the brain when we least expect it.

So John found himself attracted to the windows of curiosity shops when he was out walking, merely because he saw something which reminded him of the lump of glass. Anything, so long as it was an object of some kind, more or less round, perhaps with a dying flame deep sunk in its mass, anything – chine, glass, amber, rock, marble – even the smooth oval egg of prehistoric bird would do. He took, also, to keeping his eyes upon the ground, especially in the neighbourhood of waste land where the household refuse is thrown away.

Such objects often occurred there – thrown away, of no use to anybody, shapeless, discarded. In a few months he had collected four or five specimens that took their place upon the mantelpiece. They were useful, too, for a man who is standing for Parliament upon the brink of a brilliant career has any number of papers to keep in order – addresses to constituents, declarations of policy, appeals for subscriptions, invitations to dinner, and so on.

One day, starting from his rooms in the Temple to catch a train in order to address his constituents, declarations of policy, appeals for subscriptions, invitations to dinner, and so on.

One day, starting from his rooms in the Temple to catch a train in order to address hi constituents, his eyes rested upon a remarkable object lying half-hidden in one of those little borders of grass which edge the bases of vast legal buildings. He could only touch it with the point of his stick through the railings; but he could see that it was a piece of china of the most remarkable shape, as nearly resembling a starfish as anything – shaped, or broken accidentally, into five irregular but unmistakable points.

The colouring was mainly blue, but green stripes or spots of some kind overlaid the blue, and lines of crimson gave it a richness and lustre of the most attractive kind. John was determined to possess it; but the more he pushed, the further it receded. At length he was forced to go back to his rooms and improvise a wire ring attached to the end of a stick, with which, by dint of great care and skill, he finally drew the piece of china within reach of his hands. As he seized hold of it he exclaimed in triumph. At that moment the clock struck. It was out of the question that he should keep his appointment. The meeting was held without him. But how had the piece of china been broken into this remarkable shape?

A careful examination put it beyond doubt that the star shape was accidental, which made it all the more strange, and it seemed unlikely that there should be another such in existence. Set at the opposite end of the mantelpiece from the lump of glass that had been dug from the sand, it looked like a creature from another world – freakish and fantastic as a harlequin.

It seemed to be pirouetting through space; winking light like a fitful star. The contrast between the china so vivid and alert, and the glass so mute and contemplative, fascinated him, and wondering and amazed he asked himself how the two came to exist in the same world, let alone to stand upon the same narrow strip of marble in the same room. The question remained unanswered.

He now began to haunt the places which are most prolific of broken china, such as pieces of waste land between railway lines, sites of demolished houses, and commons in the neighbourhood of London. But china is seldom thrown from a great height; it is one of the rarest of human actions. You have to find in conjunction a very high house, and a woman of such reckless impulse and passionate prejudice that she flings her jar or pot straight from the window without thought of who is below. Broken china was to be found in plenty, but broken in some trifling domestic accident, without purpose or character. Nevertheless, he was often astonished, as he came to go into the question more deeply, by the immense variety of shapes to be found in London alone, and there was still more cause for wonder and speculation in the differences of qualities and designs. The finest specimens he would bring home and place upon his mantelpiece, where, however, their duty was more and more of an ornamental nature, since papers needing a weight to keep them down became scarcer and scarcer.

He neglected his duties, perhaps, or discharged them absent-mindedly, or his constituents when they visited him were unfavourably impressed by the appearance of his mantelpiece. At any rate he was not elected to represent them in Parliament, and his friend Charles, taking it much to heart and hurrying to condole with him, found him so little cast down by the disaster that he could only suppose that it was too serious a matter for him to realize all at once.

In truth, John had been that day to Barnes Common, and there under a furze bush had found a very remarkable piece of iron. it was almost identical with the glass in shape, massy and globular, but so cold and heavy, so black and metallic, that it was evidently alien to the earth and had its origin in one of the dead stars or was itself the cinder of a moon. It weighed his pocket down; it weighed the mantelpiece down; it radiated cold. And yet the meteorite stood upon the same ledge with the lump of glass and the star-shaped china.

As his eyes passed from one to another, the determination to possess objects that even surpassed these tormented the young man. He devoted himself more and more resolutely to the search. If he had not been consumed by ambition and convinced that one day some newly discovered rubbish heap would reward him, the disappointments he had suffered, let alone the fatigue and derision, would have made him give up the pursuit. provided with a bag and long stick fitted with an adaptable hook, he ransacked all deposits of earth; raked beneath matted tangles of scrub; searched all alleys and spaces between walls where he had learned to expect to find objects of this kind thrown away. As his standard became higher and his taste more severe the disappointments were innumerable, but always some gleam of hope, some piece of china or glass curiously marked or broken, lured him on.

Day after day passed. he was no longer young. His career – that is his political career – was a thing of the past. People gave up visiting him. He was too silent to be worth asking to dinner. He never talked to anyone about his serious ambitions; their lack of understanding was apparent in their behaviour.

He leaned back in his chair now and watched Charles lift the stones on the mantelpiece a dozen times and put them down emphatically to mark what he was saying about the conduct of the Government, without once noticing their existence.

‘What was the truth of it, John?’ asked Charles suddenly, turning and facing him. ‘What made you give it up like that all in a second?’
‘I’ve not given it up,’ John replied.
‘But you’ve not the host of a chance now,’ said Charles roughly.
‘I don’t agree with you there,’ said John with conviction. Charles looked at him and was profoundly uneasy; the most extraordinary doubts possessed him; he had a queer sense that they were talking about different things. He looked round to find some relief for his horrible depression, but the disorderly appearance of the room depressed him still further. what was that stick, and the old carpet bag hanging against the wall? And then those stones’ Looking at John, something fixed and distant in his expression alarmed him. he knew only too well that his mere appearance upon a platform was out of the question.

‘Pretty stones,’ he said as cheerfully as he could; and saying that he had an appointment to keep, he left John – for ever.

(Cfr. Virginia Woolf, Selected Short Stories. 2011 Clays Ltd.)




With the sorrowful events that recently take place in Kos, Greece, the Facebook team “We say no to the Golden Dawn” posted the above photograph of a dead migrant woman raised from a boat that sank on October 2013 in the open sea outside the Italian island of Lambedousa.
The Facebook post writes the following:
“She was found floating on the waves as she is in this picture with her mobile phone, her wallet with a few small bills and pictures of her loved ones back home clenched onto her chest. She wouldn’t let the waves take away her only possessions, her beloved persons back home she didn’t want to feel alone the moment she felt the cold and death approaching.
There are many dead people on the shore. Many have no name. The news people talk of numbers, hundreds and hundreds of dead. No one knows their names. Who they’ve left behind? From whom they run away? What were their dreams? And when one says “the boats sink” this woman, this mother holds her dreams tight onto her breast.

“Let us remain…HUMAN”

~Translated from the Greek by Manolis Aligizakis

Με αφορμή τα θλιβερά περιστατικά που σημειώνονται τις τελευταίες ημέρες στην Κω, η ομάδα στο Facebook «Λέμε Όχι στη Χρυσή Αυγή» ανάρτησε μια φωτογραφία που ανήκει σε νεκρή πρόσφυγα που ανασύρθηκε από ναυάγιο που σημειώθηκε τον Οκτώβριο του 2013 στ’ ανοικτά της νήσου Λαμπεντούζα, στις ακτές της Ιταλίας.
Η σχετική ανάρτηση της ομάδας στο Facebook γράφει χαρακτηριστικά:
«Την βρήκαν στα κύματα έτσι, με το κινητό και το πορτοφόλι με τα λίγα λεφτά και τις φωτογραφίες των αγαπημένων της προσώπων στο στήθος. Δεν ήθελε να αφήσει στα κύματα της θάλασσας τα αγαπημένα της υπάρχοντα, δεν ήθελε να νιώσει μόνη τη στιγμή που αισθάνθηκε το κρύο και τον θανάτο να πλησιάζουν.
Υπάρχουν πολλά πτώματα στην παραλία. Πολλοί από αυτούς δεν έχουν ούτε ένα όνομα. Τα tg μιλάνε για αριθμούς, εκατοντάδες και εκατοντάδες νεκροί. Κανείς δεν ξέρει ποιοι είναι,ποιους άφησαν σπίτι, από τι τρέχουν, ποια ήταν τα όνειρά τους. Και όταν κάποιος λέει «βουλιάζουμε τα ποταμόπλοια» αυτή η γυναίκα, η μητέρα, , πιέζει ακόμα πιο δυνατά στο στήθος τα όνειρά της.
Ας παραμείνουμε ‘ΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΙ’…».



Στον παλιό καιρό, στα χρόνια του Τρωικού πολέμου και του Όμηρου που λένε, ένα καράβι ταξιδεύει στις θάλασσες. Οι ναύτες του είναι σκαριά και ράτσες. Γεμιτζήδες, μούτσοι, λοστρόμοι, καμαρώτοι. Ανάμεσά τους βρίσκεται ίσως και κάποιος κοντραμπατζής.
Είναι όλοι τους άνθρωποι αγράμματοι, μεροκαματιάρηδες, αγροίκοι. Το ξεροβόρι και η αρμύρα έχει αργασμένο το πετσί τους. Είναι ξυπόλυτοι, χελωνόδερμοι, σκύλοι καραβίσιοι, θαλασσόλυκοι που λέει ο κόσμος. Η γλώσσα τους είναι φτενή, οι λέξεις το πιότερο χυδαίες. Οι βρισιές περισσεύουνε — Μη βρίζεις σα ναύτης! Που λέει η παροιμία.
Όλο ετούτο το τσούρμο ταξιδεύει στα πέλαγα μήνους, και κάποτε χρόνους. Δε βλέπουνε παρά θάλασσα και ουρανό. Και ζούνε με τους αέρηδες, τις τρικυμίες, τα κίντυνα, τους σκορβούτους, τη ναυτία. Και οι καρχαρίες να χάσκουν στου καραβιού τις πάντες. Ο καθένας στη δουλειά του. Στο κουπί, στο βίτζι, στον αργάτη, στη γέφυρα, στο δοιάκι.
Κάθουνται τα βράδυα, αστρονιμίζουνται, κοιτάνε το Νότιο Ιχθύ, τον α του Κενταύρου, το Σταυρό του Νότου, και σκέφτουνται το σπίτι τους. Να γυρίσουνε στα παιαδιά, στη γυναίκα, στους φίλους. Το λιμάνι, η ταβέρνα. Να πιούνε το κρασάκι τους, να καλοκαρδίσουν, να τραγουδήσουνε, να ξεδώκει ο νους. Να ξαναγίνουνε άνθρωποι, μωρέ.
Πολλά τους λείπουνε. Και η τέρηση κρατά την ψυχή τους φρυγμένη γη. Αλλά πάνω απ’ όλα λείπει η γυναίκα. Αχ, το θηλυκό, η τρυφερή σάρκα, το νόστιμο φιλί, το παίξε με.
Και είναι όλοι τους στο φόρτε της ηλικίας. Δυνατοί, νταβραντισμένοι, ακαταπόνητοι, να πλαντάξουν. Το βράδυ στυλώνουν το βλέμμα σε κάποια γυμνή καρφωμένη στον τοίχο της κουκέτας. Τότε το μάτι τους μαυρίζει. Για μια στιογμή σταματά η ανάσα τους. Ένας υδράργυρος νιώθουν να κυλάει στην πλάτη τους ως κάτου στη ραχοκοκαλιά.
Τι πάει να πει γυναίκα για το ναυτικό, το ξέρει όλος ο κόσμος.
—Ο στόλος! Έρχεται ο στόλος! Θυμηθείτε το σύρμα που έπεφτε σε παλιότερους καιρούς στον Πειραιά, όταν έφτανε ο 6ος Στόλος. Η προκυμαία, τα μαγαζιά, τα ντερσέκια, η Τρούμπα. Όλα τα σήκωνε και τα αρμένιζε ένας άνεμος πυρετός. Σε κορμιά και σε παντελόνια, σε σάρκες και σε τσέπες συναγερμός και πόλεμος.

Τέτοιοι είναι και οι ΄συντροφοι του Οδυσσέα. ΟΙ ασκητάδες της λανγείας. Και ξαφνικά βρίσκουνται σ’ ένα εξωτικό νησί. Ξανοίγουν μπροστά τους μια ωραία γυναίκα. Είναι τόσο έμορφη που μοιάζει μάγισσα. Καθώς τους πλησιάζει, περπατάει και νομίζουνε πως γίνεται σεισμός.
—Παναγιά μου! Θα βουλιάξει το νησί.
Μάγισσα λέμε και σήμερα μια ωραία γυναίκα. Όπως και γόη έναν αρρενωπό άντρα. Γητευτής που μαγεύει τα σουρούλια και τα φίδια. Πόσα τραγούδια δεν σκαρώσανε ο Μάρκος και ο Μπάτης και ο Τσιτσάνης για μάγισσες και βότανα, και λαγγεμένη Ανατολή.
Αυτή λοιπόν είναι η Κίρκη. Μια γυναίκα θύελλα και καταποντισμός. Στέκεται αγνάντια, κουβεντιάζει τους ναλυτες, και η ερωτική πενία αγκριφώνει έγρια τα κορμιά τους. Νιώθουν να τους χτυπάνε απανωτά ουρές από κίτρινους σκορπιούς.
Αλλά και ην Κίρκη είναι μόνη. Βασίλισσα στην ερημιά σαν τη βασίλισσα του Σαβά στα ταξίδια του Σολομώντα. Απολησμονημένη σε μια εξωτική όαση.
Πόση εμορφιά, και πόσα καλέσματα του αίματος τριγύρω της. Κήποι, χουρμαδιές και ανανόδεντρα, λωτοί για λωτοφάγους, ίσκιοι, φυλλωσιές που τις τυφλώνει το κάθετο φως, πουλιά να κελαηδούν κρυμμένα στους φοίνικες. Και οι καθαρές αμμουδιές απλωμένες ανάσκελα. Στη μέση το ωραίο παλάτι, στην άκρη το ατλάζι του πελάγου. Και κάπου κοντά οι σπηλιές της αμμουδιάς. Τόποι για εμπνοή και ποίηση.
Μέσα στις θαλασσινές σπηλιές υπάρχει μια δίψα υπάρχει μια
αγάπη υπάρχει μια έκσταση
Και η Κίρκη η σκοτεινή είναι φλεγόμενη σαν του ήλιου τις κηλίδες. Ο Όμηρος κάπου τη φωνάζει και ηλιογέννητη. Είναι δροσάτη και θαλερή. Και πάνου απ’ όλα διψασμένη για άντρα.
Καθώς καίει το τζάκι κέδρα και λιβανωτούς — καθώς ανάβουν τα δαδιά και οι λαμπάδες στους λυχνοστάτες, καθλώς κορώνει ψηλά ο πολυέλαιος, εκείνος ο τολμηρός του Καβάφη που
μες τη φλόγα του την καθεμιά πυρώνει μια λάγνη πάθησις, μια
λάγνη ορμή
καθώς στρώνεται το πλούσιο τραπέζι με κυνήγια, με καθαρά ψάρια, με δυνατά κρασιά, καθώς αρχίζουν τα λιανοτράγουδα…
Οι σύντροφοι ένας-ένας, γνωρίζουν τους κόλπους της Κίρκης.
Και η δαιμονική γυναίκα είναι αχόρταγη. Ορμάει και μπαίνει στο βαθύ της στοιχείο σαν την πανσέληνο.
Ποιος αρχαίος συγγραφέας αναφέρει για την Κλεοπάτρα Σελήνη, τη γνωστή μας, ότι σε μια νύχτα έκανε στοματικό έρωτα με δεκάδες ρωμαίους ιππείς. Και ο λατίνος ιστορικός μιλά για την ακαταπόνητη Μεσσαλίνα, τη γυναίκα του Κλαύδιου, ότι σε διαγωνισμό δύναμης, ταχύτητας και αντοχής κατατρόπωσε τις πιο διαβόητες εταίρες της Ρώμης. Η Κίρκη γίνεται στέρνα ακένωτη χυμών και βροντείο ήχων.
Έρχεται, λοιπόν, η ερωτική παννυχίδα χωρίς όρια και μέτρα. Βόγγος άγριος του πελάγου, τρικυμία τρικούβερτη στους κήπους, αστραπές και τρέμουλο στα παράθυρα, στις κάμαρες, στα φωτανάμματα. Είναι αγριολατισμένο το τραγούδι του Καϊκια και του Σκλιρωνα, του Εύρου και του Λίβα. Θα υπάρχει στη θέση του αύριο το νησί; Ή θα το `χουν καταπιεί οι ροές του ωκεανού και η συνταραχή των άστρων;
Και τη μία νύχτα ακολούθησε άλλη. Και τη μία μέρα ακολούθησε άλλη, και άλλη. Και επέρασε καιρός πολύς σε ώρα λίγη. Και ο Οδυσσέας περιμένεις το καράβι με την παλάμη κεραμίδι στο μέτωπο.

Δεν ημπορούμε παρά να λογαριάσουμε την ψυχολογική μετάλλαξη που συντελέστηκε στα συνήθια των συντρόφων. Των άξεστων συντρόφων που βρεθήκανε καταμεσίς στη δίνη του αρσενικού ζώου. Πού ήσανε χθες, και πού βρίσκουνται τώρα; Όλο τον καιρό επαλεύανε με την κόλαση. Η βάρδια, το κουπί, η αϋπνία, η πείνα, ο κίνδυνος, η ναυτία, η ανία, το ως πότε;
Και ξαφνικά η μέρα εγύρισε φύλλο, και η σκυλίσια αίσθηση έγινε όνειρο. Παράδεισος, χορτασμός, μαγελια, όργος και τελεσμός. Ένα παραμύθι ανύποπτης φαντασίας εκατέβηκε, και ετύλιξε με μουσική βαθύηχη και όραση θολή ολάκερη την ύπαρξη των συντρόφων.
Μα το να ζήσεις έτσι είναι διάταξη και σύνταξη θαυμάτων. Και να πεθάνεις έτσι είναι μεταλλείο μετεώρων που, μέσα από τα ερείπια και την τέφρα των άστρων, χύνουνται καταχυτά στους καταρράχτες των γαλαξιών.
Ο πιο ωραίος θάνατος, λέει κάπου ο Γκαίτε, είναι να στροβιλιζεσαι σ’ ένα τρελό χορό με τη γυναίκα που αγαπάς, και να πέσεις απότομα ξερός.
Οι σύντροφοι σιγά σιγά βουλιάζουν σ’ ένα ηδονικό αποκάρωμα. Ένας γελούμενος πυρετός, μια άισθηση παντοδυναμίας μέσα στην τέλεια άφεση τους κυριεύει ως τις ίνες και τα κύτταρα. Σιγά σιγά τα ξεχνούν όλα.
Πάει και κυβερνήτης και καράβι. Πάει η θάλασσα, το ταξίδι, η αποστολή, ο νόστος και η Ιθάκη. Αυτά τώρα πια είναι για τους πεζούς και τους φρόνιμους. Ετούτοι το κρασί τους το πίνουνε άκρατο. Δε γίνεται να το νερώσουν. Ακριβώς σύμφωνα με την αίσθηση εκείνου του τρομαχτικού λυρικού, που πέθανε στα είκοσι εννέα του χρόνια:
Της πον ορίζει Ποστούμιας ο νόμος τό `πε: Όπου αρέσει σας
δώθε πάρτε δρόμο νερά εσείς, τον κρασιού χαμός, τραβάτε
στους σεμνούς. Εδώ μένει αγνός ο Βάκχος.
Εάν χρωματίσουμε με λίγο ηθικό λουλάκι ετούτη τη σύρριζη αλλαγή στη συμπεριφορά των συντρόφων, βλέπουμε τους εαυτούς μας αναγκασμένους να μιλήσουν για ανθρώπους που γινήκανε ζώα. Τα ξεχάσανε όλα. Και στο θόλο της ζωής τους ένας είναι ο ήλιος. Η Κίρκη με τα θέλγητρα και με τα παιχνίδια της. Ο πόλεμος του θέρου και του τρύγου.
Τη μεταμόρφωση ο Όμηρος την περιγράφςει με μιαν απλότητα που κλονίζει. Η Κίρκη άγγιξε τους συντρόφους με τη μαγική βεργούλα. Να `τανε άραγε αυτό η αχνογελούσα κλειτωρίδα της; Κι εκείνοι γενήκανε γουρούνια.

In ancient times, the times of Homer and the Trojan war, there is a ship that sails the seas. Its sailors are hardened men, different races and from all walks of life. Each has a job on the ship and perhaps some are even dealing with contraband.
All of them are from a rough stock; uneducated people, working hard for their daily bread. The dry sea-winds and the salt have hardened their skin over the years. Their feet are bare, their skins cracked, sea-dogs one and all. They don’t talk much and when they do, their language is base and obscene. Swearing abounds, “Swears like a sailor”, as the saying goes.
This uncouth crowd spends months on sea, sometimes years. All this time, they encounter nothing but sea and sky. And they live with the winds, the heavy seas, the dangers, the scurvy, the sea-sickness. And all the while their ship is
trailed by sharks. Yet everyone remains at their posts; at the oar, the bridge, the mast, the helm, the hull.
At nights, they gather round and find their bearing by the stars. They look at the constellations and think of their homes. They long to return to their children and wives and friends. Their home port and familiar drinking places. They long to have a drink, to be merry and sing, to put their minds at ease. To be men among men again.
They are destitute. And the constant deprivations have turned their souls into a barren land. But above all, they miss a woman’s touch. Ah, the female, the softness of the skin, the tasty kisses, the ancient play.
And they are all in their prime. Strong, well-built, restless in their discomfort. In the evenings, perhaps their eyes wander towards a picture of some naked woman, pinned against the wall of their bunk. And then a darkness creeps over them. For a moment they cannot breathe. They feel as if mercury is trickling down their backbone, all the way down, to the base of their spine. These hermits of lustfulness.
What the female form means to every sailor, is known all over the world. The commotion that accompanies the arrival of a fleet at port is also well known. It is as if the whole port town has been swept up by a feverish wind. And it has been
so since ancient times.
Such kind of men are the companions of Ulysses. Ascetic and lustful. They have spent years at sea and now they suddenly find themselves on an exotic island. Before long, they encounter a beautiful woman. Bewitchingly beautiful, a temptress. As she approaches them, they feel the earth tremble under their feet.
– “Steady on lads! The island is shaking…”
Even at this day and age, we still describe a beautiful woman as bewitching. Similarly, we may call a handsome man charming. A charmer, seducing a nimble snake with his melodies. One soon loses count of how many songs have been written about such lustful bewitchings, magic love potions and the lure of the near East.
So this then is Circe. A stormy woman and wild like the sea. She stands opposite the sailors and talks to them, and the bodies of these beggars of love are tense and electrified. They feel as if they are being stung by a thousand yellow scorpion tails.
Yet Circe is also lonely. A queen of her deserted island like the queen of Sheba in wise Solomon’s travels. All but forgotten in an exotic oasis.
So much beauty and the strong intimate call of warm blood surround her. Lush gardens, palm and pineapple trees, lotus flowers for the lotus eaters, cool shades and clusters of leaves blinded by the incident light, unseen birds chirping away, hidden in the foliage. And the clean sandy beaches unfurling toward the sea. Right in the middle of the island, stands her fine palace; at the edge, the blue satin of the ocean. And somewhere close-by are the seashore caverns, and the wavy murals of the sea. Places of inspiration and poetry.
In the sea caves
there’s a thirst there’s a love
there’s an ecstasy16
And Circe the dark is aflame like a burning sunspot. At some point Homer refers to her as “sun-born”. She is refreshing and youthful. And above all else, she thirsts for a man. Like a fireplace burns cedar wood and dried weeds; like a torch ignites and flame flickers to life in lanterns; like a chandelier burns bright;
and in each of its flames a sensual fever,
a lascivious urge, grows with the heat17
A rich table is set with fresh game, plenty of fish and strong wine; and then singing…
The companions get to know Circe intimately, one by one. And the demonic female is insatiable. She lunges and plunges into her innermost element like the full moon reaching its fullness.
Which ancient writer is it that mentions that Cleopatra Selene, the one we know, had oral sex with dozens of Roman legionnaires on the same night? And the Latin historian
talks about the tireless Messalina, wife of Claudius, which bested the most famous courtesans of Rome in a competition of strength, speed and resilience. Circe becomes a bountiful cistern of lustful juices and sounds of pleasure.
Night descends and everything transforms into an endless love-play, knowing no bounds or limits. The ocean heaves and groans wildly; in the gardens a storm rages furiously; lightning-bolts set the windows trembling and in the warm chambers the flames burn brightly. The whizzing song of the hot north-easterly wind sweeps the coast. Will the island be the same on the morrow? Or will it have been swallowed up by the flow of the ocean and the syzygy of the constellations?
And this one night was followed by another. And each new dawn was succeeded by another, and yet another. A very long time passed when it had only seemed so short.
All the while Ulysses was waiting on the ship, with his calloused hand shielding his eyes from the burning sun, straining his eyesight.

We cannot but take note of the psychological transformation that occurred in the customary habits of the companions. These uncouth companions, who found themselves trapped in the vortex of the masculine animal. Where were they yesterday and where are they to be found today? All this time they were struggling with hell. The night-shift, the heavy oars, insomnia, hunger, the constant danger, nausea, the monotony, until when?
But the day turned and this dreary sensation gave way to a pleasant dream of paradise, satiation, magic and utter satisfaction. A tale of unsuspecting fantasy descended and, with reverberating music and a blurred enticing vista, enveloped
the companions’ entire existence.
To live this way is an assembly of composite miracles. And to die this way is a heavenly meteor shower which, emerging from inside the remnants and cold dusty halos of stars, spills over and towards galactic waterfalls.
Goethe wrote18 that the most delightful death is to whirl your life away in a feverish dance with the woman you love, and then collapse suddenly.
The companions are gradually sinking ever deeper into a sensual stupor. A joyous fever, a mighty sensation of letting go overwhelms and conquers the vital forces of their cells and fibres. Gradually, they forget everything.
Gone is the captain and his mighty ship; gone is the sea, the voyage, the mission, the longing for distant Ithaca. Such thoughts are now only for sensible, prosaic minds. They are no longer entertained by these companions, who now enjoy sublime red wines under a glorious sun. They will not deign to add water to their cups. All in good accord with the sensibilities of that uncanny lyrical poet who died at twenty-nine years of age:

Minister vetuli puer Falerni
inger mi calices amariores,
ut lex Postumiae iubet magistrae
ebrioso acino ebriosioris.
at vos quo lubet hinc abite, lymphae,
vini pernicies, et ad severos
migrate. hic merus est Thyonianus19.

If we may spare a little moral indigo from our palette of colours and attempt to draw a picture of this thorough change in the behaviour of the companions, we will find
ourselves forced to tell of men who became beasts. They forgot everything. The canopy of their lives has room for but one sun. Circe, with her attractions and fascinating games. The endless struggle between the sowing and the harvest.
This transformation is described by Homer in a shockingly simple manner. Circe touched the companions with a magic wand. Could that perhaps have been her laughter-loving clitoris? And they all turned into swine.


~Translation from the Greek to English by prof. Yannis Tsapras

~Μετάφραση από ελληνικά στα αγγλικά του καθηγητή Γιάννη Τσάπρα.