Progress on the Sons of Zeus

Dioscuri poems & icons
Originally uploaded by anselm23

Back a number of years ago now, my Father and I visited Sicily. One of the places that we both had a deep reaction to was Agrigento — in ancient times the city of Akragas, called by Pindar “the most beautiful city of the mortals.” About a mile inland from the sea, the southern edge of the city served as the acropolis, where a high cliff was edged with temples.

One of the temples that resonated deeply with me was that of the Dioscuri, the Sons of Thunder or the Sons of Zeus, Castor and Polydeuces (more commonly known as Pollux). These are the twins of the constellation of Gemini, and it turned out that, on the day we visited these ruined temple complexes, that it was the anniversary of my grandmother’s death, and we saw a double rainbow, AND we were staying in the Dioscuri Hotel facing Dioscuri Bay. My father and I came back to the hotel. I was drunker than I’d ever been before in my life, and probably never again, in the middle of a Mediterranean March thunder-and-rainstorm, and I said to myself, “this is Dioscuri weather!”

Shortly after we made it back to the hotel, the sky cleared enough that we could go outside, and see the Dioscuri stars, Castor and Pollux, glimmering in the night sky. Out across the water, we could see the lights on some huge container ship glimmering, and there was a moon in the sky, as well.

The Dioscuri were not just protectors of horses and shipmen, as the Homeric Hymn recorded here documents. They were also (later) identified with Sts. Cosmas and Damien of early Christianity — holy men who took the form of physicians, and went house to house curing the sick for free. Their feast day was/is October 25, and I’m thinking I’d like to do something in their honor. In particular, I’d like to finish this pair of pages to them, with images of them an all, and work them into the Kavad somewhere. In the meantime, maybe you, my readers, can think how we can honor this divine pair, and restore some of their ancient honor and celebrity.

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