The Birth of Aphrodite – Revisited

This blog is a series of snapshots, taken at any one point in time. Like a photograph, it freezes thoughts, memories, and a huge amount of randomness onto this page. For example, this entry, will contain nothing that I forgot yesterday, nor does it have any room for what I’ll learn tomorrow.

What I am trying to say is, sometimes, just sometimes, what I’ve written is not only “insane” as my thoughtful brother described it, but also complete and total rubbish. So, sometimes the facts are a little skewed.

I think the best example of this so far, is the legend of Aphrodite. But let’s face it, I knew it at the time too, right? 🙂 So, long overdue, are the corrections. With a little more recent research 🙂

So there’s the daddy god of all god’s. I don’t think that’s Zeus, he’s just the leader, head of the superhero’s. And there’s the mummy god. She’s pretty important too.

There are actually two different versions of the story of Aphrodite’s birth. One of them by Homer (Iliad, Book V, 370), she’s the daughter of Zeus and Dione (Dione is just the name that is merely the feminine form of Zeus in Greek). That one’s not very interesting though, and doesn’t involve the rocks in Cyprus at all, so we’re going to go with the other one for now.

That’s the one by Hesiod (Theogony, 188-198) and resembles my vague recollection. So the father was Ouranos (Uranus). He’s still the father of the Gods.

They have loads of baby gods, and the youngest of them (he’s one of the evil ones in the Age of Mythology, Hades, or one of them), walks in on mummy and daddy god having sex. He’s a bit annoyed, so takes the harsh action of cutting off his dads testicles, and throwing them down to earth.

The youngest of the gods, is the Titan Kronos. I sort of remembered that, when we were driving back from Nicosia, and the tour guide pointed out a mountain that was named after him. I was right though, Kronos is an evil god in Age of Mythology. Thank you Microsoft.

Couldn’t find any reference to him walking in on his mum and dad, but he obviously didn’t like his dad very much either way – as he did cut off his genitals, and cast them into the sea.

Well, they land on earth, but daddy god’s a bit fertile, and impregnates Mother Earth, or nature. And then, presumably 9 months go by, and voilà (our tour guide said voilà a LOT), Aphrodite emerges from this rock on the Cyprus coastline.

There wasn’t exactly your standard 9 months involved in this birth. From the foam that gathered around Oranous’ genitals, Aphrodite emerged fully formed. In some ways, the story is a lot more analogous to one of those sponges you can get; you throw it in water, and you get a bigger sponge, or a flannel.

Personally I much prefer Hesiod’s, and I’m not alone. It supports the Aphrodite, Goddess of fertility idea. She has also been depicted by a number of artists as Anadyomene (meaning “She who emerges”).

Now that that’s cleared up – I’ll tell you the even more exciting news, that the HR department managed to come up with 5 days more holiday for me to use before the end of the year! so now I have a grand total of three weeks off in December, or something stupid like that. Two at the start, and one at the end after Christmas. So I have the travel itch again. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do with those two weeks yet, but I welcome any ideas you want to offer in the comments. Mimi from work has already suggested sorting the books in her basement and painting some rooms in her house. So you don’t have to go very far to top it 🙂

I’m hoping for something more along the lines of “Oh look, you can spend 10 days in Peru for only 100 pounds around that time of year”. But I don’t think I’m that lucky 🙂

The Flying Mouflon

Remember that entry I wrote about the Flying Goat? The one on the Cyprus Airways logo? Well, it’s called the Cyprus Mouflon. Apparently it’s not even a goat, but a wild sheep (looks more like a goat to me!) – that’s native to Cyprus, and the largest native mammal on the island. A while back, The Troodos Mountains were opened up as a huge game reserve, and large numbers of the Mouflon were wiped out. The Mouflon is apparently very very fast (hence the reason for the logo), and has large horns, so presumably a fantastic sport for rich men many hundreds of years ago with something to prove. During the first year of British rule in 1878, a survey only found 20 of the animals (the survey probably wasn’t too in depth, no doubt) – but the numbers have been increasing since 1939, when the Pafos forest became a reserve, and goat grazing was banned (removing a lot of the competition for food). They estimate around 3000 of them currently on the island. The interesting fact from my Globetrotter’s guide to Cyprus – is that remains of the Mouflon have been found in Neolithic settlements dating back to 6000 BC when they might have been domesticated.

So why am I telling you this? A lot of you know about the obsession with Llama’s. They’re just cool. In a similar way, goats also have that special air of greatness about them. Especially extremely wise ones (they have those wispy beards), and mental devil ones (they have *those* eyes).

Okay, I know I said Mouflon’s are sheep – but so what – when I heard about the Mouflon, I decided I had to see one. Disappointed that I haven’t seen any walking down the street, I’d hoped to see entire herds of them strolling around the mountains, drinking local wine and sipping coffee at the coffee shops in the small villages, perhaps sharing a joke with some of their friends. None of that either. Mouflon’s are very shy animals. THAT’s why I hadn’t seen one, I’d been looking in all the right places after all…

So today I did the next best thing to seeing them in their natural habitat – and went to the Limassol Zoo.

At the bargain price of 80 cents (almost a UK £1), I walked through the gates of the zoo, turned to my left – and there were the Mouflon. All wandering around miles away at the back. Like I said, it looks a lot like a goat. Actually, in the same way a Llama is a sheep crossed with a horse, a Mouflon is a goat crossed with a small donkey (without the belly – they run really fast remember). They look like fantastic animals though, with huge curled horns (THAT parts looks like a sheep – so maybe I can believe they’re sheep after all).

The zoo also had some other fascinating animals. Including cockateils, rabbits, and guinea pigs. More exciting than that was the huge camel, that I called Clive; a big monkey thing I called Norris (sorry Norris, I don’t know what kind of monkey you are); some very sleepy leopards that might well have been dead for all I knew; a lion that wanted to eat me – as I walked past it said “growl” at me, although it might have been purring; some goats (they were all called Goaty, in true goat-tradition); some *HUGE* vultures that had some really nice looking rotting carcasses for lunch; some zebras (they still make me laugh – one was called Marco, but I didn’t name the rest); and a few others, but I won’t keep listing them.

Sadly missing from its cage was the bear. It was on the map “here be bears” – but the cage was empty. No missing bars, and no bear hiding with its arms and legs stretched out on the roof of the cage – waiting for the zoo keeper to walk in, scratch his head and walk out leaving the door open.

The zoo was rather small, so I walked around it a few times, before stopping at the gate to watch the Mouflon. Since they were really what I’d paid the 80 cents for. I’m afraid the pictures of the Mouflon I got are probably rather crap, since the only way I could get a photo over the 8ft fence (in case they run and jump) was when they were far away. We’ll see how they turn out though, and I’ll put them on-line.

For now, I dedicate this entry to the Mouflon, and their bravery in the face of near-extinction. Mouflon. We salute you!

Pafos and Ancient Cyprus

Today I took the coach to Pafos, and to visit a few of the archaeological sites on the way. We had an extremely good tour guide, who knew a lot about the history of the island, and the politics of today. She also seemed genuinely interested in it herself – which really came through as she was telling us the stories.

Before leaving Limassol, I also learnt a few things about the different areas I had already visited; such as that run-down area which I went to earlier in the week, looking for people who didn’t speak English – that is the Turkish community who refused to leave Limassol when their government ordered it during the 1974 invasion in the North. Approximately 1/3rd of the Turkish people did so. We also drove nearby by to Agios Nikolaos ton Gaton. Where the nuns fed the cats that St Helena brought to the island! What I didn’t know, and that had seemed rather harsh on the cats that were brought here to kill poisonous snakes – the cats are immune to poisonous snake bites. Which is how they’ve come to be known as having 7 souls, around these parts 🙂 Funny, I thought it was 9 lives. But there you go.

Along the road out of Limassol, and towards Pafos, our first stop was the Ancient City of Curium, where we saw the Greek-Roman theatre, and the house of Eustoilios. All the visible remains are from the Roman period, although the ancient kingdom of Kourion was also on the spot. The Greek-Roman theatre was something I’d really wanted to see. It was one of the photos that I looked at, and was one of the deciding factors in the “oh, I want to go there” scale. And it looked really nice, it’s on top of this cliff face that overlooks the sea and there’s a really impressive view below out and over the theatre. The theatre itself has been destroyed many times, due to earthquakes and the tsunami that came straight through Curium eventually destroying the magnificent city. Some 20,000 people used to live in the city (as far as they can tell) – which is really quite huge for such a small island, in 5 A.D. Including a couple that have been nicknamed Romeo and Juliet, as their remains were found in their bed wrapped closely together believed to have been killed as the tsunami swept through.

Back on the road, we passed through the the huge British military base on the south of the island, (Episkopi). We drove through the base for a huge amount of time actually, because it’s massive – and looks a lot more like an enormous holiday resort than a military base. The Limassol – Pafos road runs straight through the middle of it, but only vehicles are allowed to use it (no walkers), and none of the Cypriot public are allowed in the British controlled area. For this privilege, we Brits are supposed to be paying Cyprus a huge bag of money in rent every year. However, as tour lady pointed out. It’s never been paid. Instead, the British government say they’ve paid it elsewhere, in U.N. payments, and *cough cough* candy *cough mumble* and pocket money *cough* and stuff.

There are even Cyprus villages on the edge of this base, within the borders. People who we’ve (the Brits) so very kindly let stay there, as long as they don’t build hotels, or attract any more people to live there! It’s amazing we as a country have this kind of hold on any other countries, still. I’m sure the empire disbanded quite a while ago now. I’m surprised other world governments aren’t a lot more pissed off with us instead – but it must be our winning smiles and charming good looks that make them all bend over backwards for us 🙂

Anyway, birth of Cyprus, Aphrodite’s birthplace, and all of that stuff. That was our next stop 🙂 A little café that overlooks the birthplace, a set of 3 rocks that spread out into the sea. The rumour is, on a full moon at midnight, if you swim around the middle rock (Aphrodite’s) 3 times – you’ll become 20 years younger instantly. We even saw some people trying it – but …. well … it wasn’t midnight, and there wasn’t a full moon – sorry guys. So why the birthplace of Aphrodite? Sorry, I think my greek mythology is going to get a bit mixed up here, but I’ll do my best to remember. I’ve forgotten most of the names I’m afraid – I’ll do my best to look them up when I get back and maybe insert them here. So there’s the daddy god of all god’s. I don’t think that’s Zeus, he’s just the leader, head of the superhero’s. And there’s the mummy god. She’s pretty important too. They have loads of baby gods, and the youngest of them (he’s one of the evil ones in the Age of Mythology, Hades, or one of them), walks in on mummy and daddy god having sex. He’s a bit annoyed, so takes the harsh action of cutting off his dads testicles, and throwing them down to earth. Well, they land on earth, but daddy god’s a bit fertile, and impregnates Mother Earth, or nature. And then, presumeably 9 months go by, and voila (our tour guide said voila a LOT), Aphrodite emerges from this rock on the Cyprus coastline.

And that’s your idiots guide to Greek Mythology. As I say, I might look this one up when I get back. And rewrite this. So I can see exactly what I (if not all), I got wrong 🙂

It is a gorgeous area though. Ali, you would have loved it. I wish we could have spent more time there, and maybe gone down onto the beach closer to the rocks. Maybe next time 🙂

Leaving my crap mythology behind for a little while – we drove onto the village of Yeroskipou, where we stopped at the Church of St. Paraskevi. This village is really famous for its Cyprus Delights (remember I mentioned them earlier?). In fact, they’re in the Guinness Book of Records for producing the worlds largest Cyprus delight (they’re called Loukoumi) weighing in at a staggering 1.5 tonnes. The boxes I have are only 300g apiece. Remember I thought 7 boxes would be excessive? Well that’s a lot of loukoumi. Say that 10 times in a row.

Back to the church, it’s really old, you’ll see pictures – totally not what you’d expect a church to look like. Again painted completely inside with frescos in a similar way that the Kykkos monestary was. This time, I found out why – though it should have smacked me on the head like it did afterwards, and it probably already did for the rest of you. They’re all painted with scenes from the bible, because everyone’s too poor to own their own bible, or learn to read in most cases. Much the same way that most of churches in England have fantastic stained glass windows. Well the paintings let everyone know the story of Jesus Christ, regardless of if you can afford the Leather bound Bible Set in 12 parts, for only 24.99 a month, or not.

Arriving in Pafos, we first went in for a guided tour of the Roman Mosaics, in a massive archaeological site right next to the harbour. It was a lot like the area near the Colloseum in Rome, but with quite a few less standing structures. However, aside from Rome these are apparantly the best set of Roman Mosaics in the world. They would say that, wouldn’t they?

It was good to have a knowledgable guide for this, as otherwise there would been a lot of “oh, look at the pretty picture, looks like they missed a bit”, but the stories behind the mosaic’s and the mythology surrounding them made them that much more impressive. I know I’m going on a bit, so I’ll skip over most of them. I think the story of Aphrodite has already proven I’m rubbish at these anyway 🙂

One mosaic, the story that inspired Shakespeare to write Romeo and Juliet. And there was me thinking he’d come up with it, all this time! Not even Shakespeare in Love revealed the trut (did it?). So, the story is a lot more simplified in this version. Guy and Girl arrange to meet in a cave. The guy goes in and finds his girl sleeping, and a tiger, with blood all around his mouth (it’s been hunting, duh), and thinks the tiger’s killed his love. Not sure how to react to this, he kills himself with his own sword. Then the girl wakes up, and finds *her* love dead, so she takes his sword and kills herself too. The End.

You can call me Will 🙂

At the end of the tour, we had a couple of hours free time to explore Pafos, get some lunch and basically do whatever we wanted. So I walked around the Roman ruins for a while, and found a cool looking lighthouse (I say found, it was on top of a hill – not the most difficult game of hide and seek I’ve ever played), and then went to look around the Pafos harbour. It is a really nice city, very clean and new looking. Even moreso than the tourist area of Limassol – but it is also kind of small. I had originally wanted to go to Pafos as my base – but now I’m very glad I was forced into the more central Limassol – as there’s still a lot to do and see, and the rest of the island is far more accessible.

After Pafos, we still have no subway. Another Pizza express, KFC, Burger King, and McDonald’s though. Oh, and a Debenhams. I say that counts because it has a café in it 🙂 I think there must be a Debenhams in every country in Europe. It’s like Britain’s new flag. “I claim this land in the name of the Queen, and the country of Great Britain. Now go, and have coffee and scones at our new café on the mezzanine floor!”

43 things to do before you die

Actually, this is a list of things for me to do before I die, rather than before you die – as the title might suggest otherwise. Anyway, what a great web site 43 things. So at the time of writing, I haven’t thought of 43 things. But this isn’t something you should rush. Lots of time to think of things yet 🙂

The Grand Opening

Here we are again, the opening of another blog. The second opening of ‘another blog’ I’ve experienced so far. The last one, doomed to have a single message announcing the grand new beginning of a blogged future, only to fade away into just a future.

Well, with a little more motivation I’m trying again. So, contributing factors;

  • My brother and his fiance starting a blog to keep track of their forthcoming wedding.
  • Reading trippy’s blog and thinking “ooh, that looks like fun”.
  • My holiday to Cyprus next week. Sea, sunshine, and a whole lot of time.
  • The general growing realization that a lot of people have blogs, and I don’t.

Now, I’ve been told that it’s not all about fun, apparantly it’s all about expressing your thoughts, and getting things out in the open – I guess that clears your mind. But this is my blog, and I’ll do what I like. For the mostpart, that means getting drunk, and typing shit only to wake up in the morning, read, and delete.

Most of all, I intend to get annoyed that no-one’s reading my blog, nor posting any comments, and that’s fine too 🙂

Maybe we can all learn from one another, in this big collaborative utopian world we’re all striving for. And my blog can be a small part of that.

Yeah right.