Finalmente acabei de ler esta Descrição da Grécia de Pausânias. Julgando-a apenas pelo título poderia parecer uma obra enfadonha, mas a verdade é que tem muita informação interessante; mais do que tratar somente de história e geografia, como se poderia supor, o autor aborda igualmente aspectos culturais dos locais que descreve. Vejam-se quatro pequenos exemplos (a tradução citada aqui é a de W.H.S. Jones, com ligeiras alterações):
when I saw that the statue of Athena had blue eyes I found out that the legend about them is Libyan. For the Libyans have a saying that the Goddess is the daughter of Poseidon and Lake Tritonis, and for this reason has blue eyes like Poseidon.
[I saw] a wooden image of Zeus, which has two eyes in the natural place and a third on its forehead. (...) The reason for its three eyes one might infer to be this. That Zeus is king in heaven is a saying common to all men. As for him who is said to rule under the earth, there is a verse of Homer which calls him, too, Zeus:– Zeus of the Underworld, and the august Persephonea. The god in the sea, also, is called Zeus by Aeschylus, the son of Euphorion. So whoever made the image made it with three eyes, as signifying that this same god rules in all the three “allotments” of the Universe, as they are called.
Near the well is a hall of Dionysus and a sanctuary of Black Aphrodite. This surname of the goddess is simply due to the fact that men do not, as the beasts do, have sexual intercourse always by day, but in most cases by night.
The Phigalians accept the account of the people of Thelpusa about the mating of Poseidon and Demeter, but they assert that Demeter gave birth, not to a horse [Areion], but to the Mistress [Despoine], as the Arcadians call her.
Claro que nesta obra também existem vastas descrições históricas e geográficas, mas pessoalmente (e, como de costume, trata-se de uma opção meramente pessoal) pareceram-me muito mais interessantes estes aspectos culturais, bem como as descrições das mais diversas imagens e pinturas que Pausânias vai vendo. Muitas das vezes o autor aborda histórias sobejamente conhecidas, mas acaba por também lhes dar alguns elementos adicionais, muitos deles hoje perdidos. Aqui ficam mais alguns exemplos.
Nestes dois primeiros poderá notar-se um pequeno mito relativo à divindade de Teseu, e uma rara menção ao nome do Minotauro.
When Minos was taking Theseus and the rest of the company of young folk to Crete he fell in love with Periboea, and on meeting with determined opposition from Theseus, hurled insults at him and denied that he was a son of Poseidon, since he could not recover for him the signetring, which he happened to be wearing, if he threw it into the sea. With these words Minos is said to have thrown the ring, but they say that Theseus came up from the sea with that ring and also with a gold crown that Amphitrite gave him.
It was said that the temple was founded and the name Saviour given by Theseus when he returned from Crete after overcoming Asterion [the Minotaur] the son of Minos. This victory he considered the most noteworthy of his achievements, not so much, in my opinion, because Asterion was the bravest of those killed by Theseus, but because his success in unravelling the difficult Maze and in escaping unnoticed after the exploit made credible the saying that it was divine providence that brought Theseus and his company back in safety.
São várias as histórias da divinização de seres humanos (a de Héracles é, até certo ponto, uma das mais famosas), mas poucas tão claras como esta:
It is said that Cleomedes of Astypalaea killed Iccus of Epidaurus during a boxing-match. On being convicted by the umpires of foul play and being deprived of the prize he became mad through grief and returned to Astypalaea. Attacking a school there of about sixty children he pulled down the pillar which held up the roof. This fell upon the children, and Cleomedes, pelted with stones by the citizens, took refuge in the sanctuary of Athena. He entered a chest standing in the sanctuary and drew down the lid. The Astypalaeans toiled in vain in their attempts to open the chest. At last, however, they broke open the boards of the chest, but found no Cleomedes, either alive or dead. So they sent envoys to Delphi to ask what had happened to Cleomedes. The response given by the Pythian priestess was, they say, as follows:– Last of heroes is Cleomedes of Astypalaea; Honor him with sacrifices as being no longer a mortal. So from this time have the Astypalaeans paid honors to Cleomedes as to a hero.
Uma história que me pareceu hilariante, de uma fonte que perdeu os seus poderes miraculosos:
There is a spring also on Taenarum but now it possesses nothing marvellous. Formerly, as they say, it showed harbors and ships to those who looked into the water. These sights in the water were brought to an end for good and all by a woman washing dirty clothes in it.
Duas citações relativas aos mitos de Dédalo e Ícaro. De notar que os elementos mais extraordinários da história, como a construção do labirinto ou o uso das tão conhecidas asas, estão aqui totalmente ausentes, sendo substituídos por uma versão menos improvável (e, obviamente, mais realista).
Daedalus belonged to the royal Athenian clan called the Metionidae, and he was rather famous among all men not only for his art but also for his wandering and his misfortunes. For he killed his sister's son, and knowing the customs of his city he went into exile of his own accord to Minos in Crete. There he made images for Minos and for the daughters of Minos, as Homer sets forth in the Iliad but being condemned by Minos on some charge he was thrown into prison along with his son. He escaped from Crete and came to Cocalus at Inycus, a city of Sicily.
When he was fleeing from Crete in small vessels which he had made for himself and his son Icarus, he devised for the ships sails, an invention as yet unknown to the men of those times, so as to take advantage of a favorable wind and outsail the oared fleet of Minos. Daedalus himself was saved, but the ship of Icarus is said to have overturned, as he was a clumsy helmsman. The drowned man was carried ashore by the current to the island, then without a name, that lies off Samos. Heracles came across the body and recognized it, giving it burial where even to-day a small mound still stands to Icarus on a promontory jutting out into the Aegean. After this Icarus are named both the island and the sea around it.
O mito de Agdistis, uma figura provavelmente provinda de uma outra cultura, mas venerada em alguns locais da Grécia:
Zeus, it is said, let fall in his sleep seed upon the ground, which in course of time sent up a demon, with two sexual organs, male and female. They call the demon Agdistis. But the gods, fearing38Agdistis, cut off the male organ. There grew up from it an almond-tree with its fruit ripe, and a daughter of the river Sangarius, they say, took of the fruit and laid it in her bosom, when it at once disappeared, but she was with child. A boy was born, and exposed, but was tended by a he-goat. As he grew up his beauty was more than human, and Agdistis fell in love with him. When he had grown up, Attis was sent by his relatives to Pessinus, that he might wed the king's daughter. The marriage-song was being sung, when Agdistis appeared, and Attis went mad and cut off his genitals, as also did he who was giving him his daughter in marriage. But Agdistis repented of what he had done to Attis, and persuaded Zeus to grant that the body of Attis should neither rot at all nor decay.
Uma transformação de mortal em rio, como as popularizadas por Ovídio nas Metamorfoses. Ainda assim, esta tem uma pequena diferença; em virtude da sua mortalidade Selemno envelhece, torna-se menos apelativo para a ninfa, e acaba por ser abandonado, o que o leva a morrer de amor.
The local legend about Selemnus is that he was a handsome lad who used to feed his flocks here. Argyra, they say, was a sea-nymph, who fell in love with Selemnus and used to come up out of the sea to visit him, sleeping by his side. After no long while Selemnus no longer seemed so handsome, and the nymph would not visit him. So Selemnus, deserted by Argyra, died of love, and Aphrodite turned him into a river.
Será esta uma possível origem para as histórias das criaturas a que hoje chamamos "lobisomem"?
It is said, for instance, that ever since the time of Lycaon a man has changed into a wolf at the sacrifice to Lycaean Zeus, but that the change is not for life; if, when he is a wolf, he abstains from human flesh, after nine years he becomes a man again, but if he tastes human flesh he remains a beast for ever.
Presumo que todos os leitores conheçam o mito que relaciona Zeus com Cronus, em que o primeiro é substituído por uma pedra após o nascimento. Porém, essa parece não ter sido a primeira vez que Reia utilizou um tal subterfúgio, já que também Poseidon tinha um mito semelhante...
When Rhea had given birth to Poseidon, she laid him in a flock for him to live there with the lambs, and the spring too received its name just because the lambs pastured around it. Rhea, it is said, declared to Cronus that she had given birth to a horse, and gave him a foal to swallow instead of the child, just as later she gave him in place of Zeus a stone wrapped up in swaddling clothes.
Mencionada pelo autor em VIII.16.5, a identidade desta Helena deixa-me curioso. Não poderia ser a de Tróia, e parece-me improvável que fosse a Helena conhecida por Simão Mago, mas quem seria essa mulher nativa de Jerusalém, e porque razão teria um tão-singular túmulo?
The Hebrews have a grave, that of Helen, a native woman, in the city of Jerusalem, which the Roman Emperor razed to the ground. There is a contrivance in the grave whereby the door, which like all the grave is of stone, does not open until the year brings back the same day and the same hour. Then the mechanism, unaided, opens the door, which, after a short interval, shuts itself. This happens at that time, but should you at any other try to open the door you cannot do so; force will not open it, but only break it down.
Uma versão alternativa do mito de Narciso:
There is another story about Narcissus, less popular indeed than the other, but not without some support. It is said that Narcissus had a twin sister; they were exactly alike in appearance, their hair was the same, they wore similar clothes, and went hunting together. The story goes on that Narcissus fell in love with his sister, and when the girl died, would go to the spring, knowing that it was his reflection that he saw, but in spite of this knowledge finding some relief for his love in imagining that he saw, not his own reflection, but the likeness of his sister.
Uma minúscula menção a um mito hoje perdido:
Eurynomus, said by the Delphian guides to be one of the demons in Hades, who eats off all the flesh of the corpses, leaving only their bones.
Uma história muito semelhante à de São Guinefort:
A certain chief, suspecting that enemies were plotting against his baby son, put the child in a vessel, and hid him in that part of the land where he knew there would be most security. Now a wolf attacked the child, but a serpent coiled itself round the vessel, and kept up a strict watch. When the child's father came, supposing that the serpent had purposed to attack the child, he threw his javelin, which killed the serpent and his son as well. But being informed by the shepherds that he had killed the benefactor and protector of his child, he made one common pyre for both the serpent and his son. Now they say that even to-day the place resembles a burning pyre, maintaining that after this serpent the city was called Ophiteia.
Apenas aqui mencionei algumas das histórias que me pareceram mais interessantes, mas ao longo dos seus passeios importa relembrar que Pausânias viu, directa ou indirectamente, muitas outras coisas, desde o túmulo do filho de Aquiles até às casas dos mais diversos heróis, passando por locais historicamente importantes, templos há muito abandonados, e até singulares árvores. Porém, quem quiser saber essas outras coisas terá de ler a própria obra, já que ficam além do objectivo deste espaço...