The Old Ways

Think of those old tales, how bloody and violent they were, how even when catechised their barbarity poured forth. Think of that trio of Greek gods, the wild outsiders, who were born in blood and pain beyond all human compassing: Aphrodite, stepping from the generative froth of Ocean, ripe with castrated Uranus Sky-God’s seed, how the blood that pulsed through her adorned even then the rude stone-sickle of her brother; Dionysus, lifted becauled and trailing vileness from the greasy ashes that had been Semele-princess, sewn into the raw thigh of Zeus, coming from Asia with leopards and with skirts, downy-cheeked and effeminate; and Hephaestus, spiteborn unfathered son of Hera, falling for a day and a night through the Aegean sky to shatter redly upon Lemnos.

How full of rage they were! How jealous! How petty and human!

Think too of those paintings of Venus rising, how clean-washed she looks, how delectable, like a hot-house orchid, how her limbs are folded to delight and entice. Those old masters, how they fought to keep Love and Wine and Craft from their dark and morbid roots! Venus, dainty on a shell, Dionysus, soft and bountiful while (just off-stage) his sharptooth honourguard wreaks bloody carnage.