Ancient art and ritual by Jane Ellen Harrison

By Jane Ellen Harrison

Ancient paintings and Ritual is a quick evaluation of dance and artwork in historic Greece.

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I can see people wandering off befuddled husbands knowing their wives but not knowing them at the same time, and friends passing each other and remembering that they are friends but not knowing what a friend is.  Alas, these poor pundits later migrated to a land just north of the Alps and developed a maddening portmanteau language that when faced with a miracle such as the Assumption of the Virgin into heaven on a cloud of angels came up with Himmelfahrt Maria, which, though not precisely untrue, reveals no sense of God as a patriarchal vacuum or the shock of the Apostles below and their desolation at losing her.

The thing I love most about being in Italy are the naps, under the strolling clouds but inside, too, two beds pushed together, their legs tied with twine. What would life be without siestas, long afternoons of sleep, beckoning from the fury of work, or on a hillside, weary under the fierce September sun? We eat, we talk, we eat, a grape in one mouth, a slice of mortadella in another, then wine or water or wine. The thing I love most about being with you is that my body, so often an encumbrance, becomes the vehicle of such pleasure that the whole cannot be contemplated, Page 36 so I close my eyes and imagine your arms, from the beginning the object of my sincere admiration, the portion above the elbow, beneath the shoulder, freckled, shaped like an eggplant, sweet as a peach, a pear, not edible exactly, but something that the teeth can define, and the lips, poor parched thin flaps of skin to be turned to such divine employment.

Freud had any grip at all upon the perambulations of the psyche because both are the same, he says, which I don't believe for a minute. My brain is quite tidy, thank you very much, although I do think about death all the time, usually when I'm having fun. " That stupid bed, I've stretched the sheets on it a thousand times.  Then it's show tunes. " I think of stupid Mitzi Gaynor with her stupid haircut and that ugly gingham ball gown. Why waste a fabulous Italian basso on her, I ask God, and he replies, Page 28 "Because wearing the right dress does not matter.

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