Way back when, in the early months of Ancient Armitage, I frequently found myself comparing elements of Richard Armitage characterizations to those of the male Olympian deities….Ares, Hades, Poseidon, Hermes, Dionysus, Apollo, Apollo, Apollo…as well as a few heroes and demigods along the way. There are a couple though, who are absent from the list. (I was surprised to realize that I haven’t ever talked directly about Zeus vis a vis the Armitage oeuvre…a rather obvious comparison sprang to mind immediately…note to self.)
The Greek god Hephaestus has been a rather difficult one to nail down…hehehe…Hephaestus, nail. Sorry – got ahead of myself with the mythology pun there. Hephaestus was the Greek god of fire and the forge along with craftsmanship. Metalworkers, stonemasons, architects and sculptors all benefited from his patronage. Like many of the younger generation of Greek deities, Hephaestus’ birth story is varied. Some sources record him as an offspring (along with Ares, Hebe, Eilethyia and Eris) of Zeus and Hera, but others tell a different story. One of the most interesting birth myths for Hephaestus comes from the Theogony of Hesiod. Here Hesiod recounts that Hera had been angered by the fact that Zeus had by himself ushered in “bright-eyed Athena” without a mother, so she decided to try a solo act and produced Hephaestus with no help from Zeus.
Greek mythology is a weird and wacky universe, but what happens next is tragic in an all too modern way. All of the birth myths of Hephaestus record that shortly after his birth, his mother Hera cast him aside because he was born “lame” with a misshapen foot. In fact, she threw him off Mt. Olympos…
“But my son Hephaistos whom I bare was weakly among all the blessed gods and shrivelled of foot, a shame and a disgrace to me in heaven, whom I myself took in my hands and cast out so that he fell in the great sea. But silver-shod Thetis the daughter of Nereus took and cared for him with her sisters: would that she had done other service to the blessed gods!’”
– Homeric Hymn to Apollo
With a mother like that, who needs a wicked stepmother? Even so, as often happens with children and mothers, Hephaestus evidently forgave her, which only set him up for more agony – both physical and emotional. In another prominent myth, he was back on Olympos and attempted to help Hera escape a punishment from Zeus. His reward for this was to once again be flung off the sacred mountain – this time by Zeus himself. All of these rocky landings left physical marks on Hephaestus. He is the only one of the Greek deities who is consistently referred to as less than physically perfect and divinely beautifu – in fact, common epithets of his are Ἀμφιγύεις (the lame one) and Κυλλοποδίων (halting one) in reference to his damaged legs.
Even though he is the butt of more than one godly joke – including those about his constantly cheating wife Aphrodite – when the Greek deities want top quality workmanship, they turn to Hephaestus again and again – Hephaestus Χαλκεύς (coppersmith) or Κλυτοτέχνης (renowned craftsman). From forging chains strong enough to contain Prometheus for his daily liver extraction to the delicate craftsmanship of the Armor of Achilles, Hephaestus was the god for the job.
I can’t recall what I was thinking about last week when it occurred to me that there was perhaps a similar figure in the Armitage repertoire of characters. A character who was born imperfect, abused, neglected and ridiculed…like Hephaestus, at the hands of a powerful maternal figure. A character bearing scars, both physical and emotional that would follow him into adulthood.
Hannibal’s Francis Dolarhyde, born with a cleft palate and victimized by an abusive grandmother, is clearly still impacted by the shame and ridicule of his childhood when we see him in the company lunchroom…buttoned up to the wrists and neck. Circumspect. Self-conscious. Solitary.
Yet there is another side to this broken creature…a side that the people around him don’t see. (and not the murdery side…)
Leaving aside the grisly nature of the product that he’s working on, here is Francis Dolarhyde, skilled craftsman – complete in ancient Greek craftsmanship wardrobe – mostly naked!
Despite the increasing horror and madness of the man, there is no denying that there is also an enormous amount of skill and “craftsmanship” that goes into the planning and execution of all he does. He couldn’t remain undetected so long, then successfully fake his own death and nearly succeed in toppling Hannibal himself without being a master “craftsman” of sorts.
Eureka Francis Dolarhyde!
DUBIUM – today’s Latin word is a 2nd declension neuter noun that means DOUBT.
For instance…in light of Richard Armitage’s latest tweet about the loan of a Gibson Les Paul model guitar,
one might conjecture that perhaps there is a pending biopic of an iconic Les Paul favoring guitarist….
However, talented as he is, I have DUBIUM that Richard Armitage will be playing Slash😀
No DUBIUM a little G-n-R is in order…
Rock on Armitageworld!
I found something new to distract me from things I’m supposed to be doing for the people who pay me to do them…I now have a daily email subscription to a word of the day site that publishes for Latin. I mean really, who *doesn’t* need that?!?
Always on the lookout for Armitage Classical connections, I couldn’t help but jump on the word for today:
I love to use word association exercises in classes…it seems I also do it in my spare time. In Latin. Mollis popped up in my email and an image popped immediately into my head:
From S1, Ep4 of Strikeback, here John Porter (Richard Armitage) learns via video conference with his daughter of the unexpected death of her mother. It’s not a terribly long scene…only a few seconds, but the tenderness is palpable – pictured here in the expression on his face as he tries to visually commiserate with his daughter from a thousand miles away. For me, we miss the very best bit of this scene in the screen caps…that is, when he reaches out one finger and strokes it down the screen to comfort her.
In a very short collection of frames, Richard Armitage’s John Porter is heart wrenchingly showing us his latus molle (“soft side”). I think it’s particularly effective because it stands in stark contrast to the preceding hour of John Porter – bad ass SAS commando on a mission.
Tenderness seems like an odd trait for such a person, in fact, Latin literature is full of pejorative uses of mollis in contexts that seek to characterize men as soft or effeminate. In the case of John Porter though, the glimpses of mollis seem to be one of the biggest draws to a character who could have been really one dimensional. Throughout the Strikeback series, in little vignettes, Richard Armitage consistently brings a degree of mollis to John Porter that makes him a far more complex and interesting character.
Small wonder he’s still solidly in my top 5!
“I recognize the traces of an old flame”
…Vergil, Aeneid IV
Old flame indeed…I have a feeling that things are about to flare up around here very soon!
I know, I know…there’s all that first class travel to exciting destinations in fancy socks
and glamorous film premieres in designer duds…
Not to mention hobnobbing with royalty..
That is all pretty cool, but you have not truly lived until you have suited up for year two of the backyard bee bliztkrieg! We are not talking about our apis mellifera friends either…
No sir, the fuzzy honeybees are more than welcome Casa Obscura…pollinate, pollinate, pollinate.
In fact, there were reports of a more nefarious foe abuzz when I sent Showbiz out Sunday to mow the neighbor’s lawn. When I looked at him sideways for leaving it half done, he answered,
“Not doing it. BEES!”
In the bees’ defense, they are not the invaders. Nope. These are wasps…yellow jackets I think…nesting in a hole in the ground in my neighbor’s yard. This would be a problem for my neighbor if we didn’t take care of cutting the lawn for her. If you’re not aware, yellow jackets are plenty aggressive and will happily sting several times before retreating. They are particularly tetchy about defending their nests and will do so en masse if provoked. Evidently, they consider the lawnmower roaring over the entry to their nest a threat and react accordingly.
Both Showbiz and Hubs were casualties of last year’s assault…multiple stings both under and through clothing. Consequently, when I sent him out this year, the sight of any flying insect seems to have given Showbiz a flashback. Hubs, less perturbed by stingers, has been sidelined with a bum back. That leaves your’s truly to lead the charge.
I don’t like to be stung by insects either, but HERBA SECARANDA EST! So, I did some brief reconnaissance and despite identifying only one lonely bumblebee in the area, I headed out armed with my siege engines.
That’s right, it’s a pot – my brand new canning kettle to be exact. I used it to cover the main entrance to the apiary fortress and then proceeded to mow the area…keeping an eye out for defenders exiting through a postern gate. Having seen nothing in the twenty minutes it took me to cut the grass, once I’d put the mower away, I went back to retrieve my pot. I was listening for the sounds of angry buzzing and hard little bullet bodies hitting the metal sides, (and preparing to make a hasty retreat until nightfall if I heard anything). Nothing. Not a single bee, wasp, hornet or anything else came out of that hole. Evidently, they have decamped since last summer.
I stand victorious!! (I’m filling that thing in with dirt this weekend so Showbiz has no further excuse!)
So there you have it everyone…to call one’s life complete, one must have skulked about in one’s yard (in broad daylight no less) mowing and then tiptoeing around a giant pot defending against a non-existent hornet’s nest.
I hardly know what excitement will come next!
Hi, remember me? Been a long time right? It’s a sandwich issue that’s kept me running and unable to blog lately.
I love a good sandwich as well as the next gal, but unfortunately, this is not the kind of sandwich of which I speak. I was talking to a colleague from the Psychology Department the other day about some of the things that have been going on in my personal life and she replied,
“Oh yeah – you could have been a guest speaker in my Human Development class today – we were talking about the ‘sandwich generation'” The comment was generated by my relating that I’d sent my husband back east to be with his mother who had suffered a heart attack and was in the Intensive Care unit as the doctors tried to determine how best to treat her.
I confess, I’d not heard the term before, but I found that it fits me pretty well right now:
a generation of people, typically in their thirties or forties, responsible for bringing up their own children and for the care of their aging parents.
Sandwich generation. Yep, that’s me. I have an adolescent and a preteen at home and 75 year old parents across town. Then we throw in my in-laws halfway across the country and you’ve got a pretty imposing mix. The constant travails of my children are so well ingrained into my daily life as to be routine. My “aging” parents are generally very self sufficient. My mom has a myriad of health challenges – fortunately for me, she is diligent about staying in front of them (her day planner is well populated with various doctor appointments) Nevertheless, I’ve been privy to a fair amount of medical information over the past decade.
Thus, when my husband called from the hospital (after a middle of the night round trip to drop him at the airport) to give me an update, I already had an idea of what they had done and were doing. He reported that his mom several blocked arteries…the worst of them at 100% blockage. My response: “have they put in a stent yet?” Indeed – they had done that the previous evening shortly after she arrived at the hospital. I’m not medically clairvoyant – my mom had a heart attack a decade ago, and currently sports eight coronary stents along with her two stainless steel hip joints (you don’t want to be behind the Bionic Granny in airport security!) I’ve been down this road before, and for his mom who is diabetic and subsequently diagnosed as being in diabetic kidney failure, it’s going to be a very, very difficult ride. (she is currently stable, but still hospitalized and most likely looking at dialysis for the immediate future)
Sandwich for two anyone? Short of moving back east (which is NOT happening) there is very little we can do in a practical sense. My husband stayed for a week and is now in touch with his mother and his sisters regarding her condition, but it is a profoundly powerless feeling for both of us…this is not something that we can fix with a bandage and a kiss. This is real life grown up stuff.
Then there are those kids of mine. Those precocious, talented, bedeviling fiends. I love them fiercely, but there are days I think that I would cheerfully drop them off on the side of the road and drive away. It seems that if one is celebrating a high, the other is down in the dumps.
This weekend, Showbiz Kid scored a coup when he earned an Exemplary Soloist Award for a vocal performance at the Wisconsin State Solo and Ensemble Festival. It’s kind of a big deal as it is the pinnacle of achievement for a high school musician in the state of Wisconsin. We are all enormously proud.
Mini Me is right there with us, but there are also visible signs that she is struggling with a pretty formidable jealously in the face of her brother’s achievement. I get it, I really do. He is almost ten years older than her, he has rights and privileges that she doesn’t, and now this. How is 10.5 supposed to compete with *this* Of course, to me, as a parent, it’s not a competition, but I can see how she might think it is. Actually, I know for a fact she thinks it is because last night at bedtime when I told her I loved her she replied, “I know you love Showbiz more Mom.”
GREAT. BIG. GIANT. SANDWICH!
On top of all of that, my uncle died on April 24. Granted, he was 81 and he was very sick and living as an invalid for a long time would have been crushing to him, but he was the uncle who threw me in the lake and taught me to swim and the uncle who popped out my first loose tooth with his thumb. His gregarious, volatile, generous presence will be missed.
Times they are a changin’ I guess…Circle of Life and all that. Perhaps having written some of this down, I can move it out of my “hard drive” and free up some brain space for some much needed recreational Armitaging…
What say you?!