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From Pawn to Player: Rethinking Sansa XIII

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since we were talking about what sandor's deathbed words may have meant, i just found this in tumblr, but since it's a bit long and i am not sure just how relevant it is,it's under spoilers... i found it intresting, and it's just some food for thought:

“He’s attracted to her because she’s the thing he can never have.”

That’s straight from David Benioff’s mouth. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve read the same books.

Of all the reasons I can think of for Sandor to be attracted to Sansa, this one is almost completely off my radar. I never thought, reading ACOK, that he wants her because he can never have her. He wants her because she is the living, breathing testament to every story and song about knights and fair maidens he heard when he was a boy, before his brother shoved his face in that fire and burned away not only flesh, but idealism and honor and the possibility of something beautiful and real in an otherwise ugly world. Sandor is attracted to Sansa because she’s not just a pretty little bird who recites all the pretty little things she’s been taught to say. She has a mind and an opinion and she’s not afraid to show him that. He’s attracted to her because she’s offered him compassion and tenderness and empathy. He’s attracted to her because she reminds him that he’s more than just a dog.

Is there a small part of him that thinks he can never have her? I suppose it’s possible, but that didn’t stop him from waiting in her room and offering her protection and a way out of King’s Landing during the Blackwater Bay battle. If he truly thought he could never have her, would he have done that? Would he have waited around, knowing his life was now forfeit, if he didn’t believe in the possibility that Sansa might accept his offer and come with him?

No wonder the Sandor/Sansa dynamic was gutted so badly in the second season of GoT. At least half of the showrunner team is utterly without a clue.

You’re actually saying partly the same thing as Benioff, I think. Sandor wants the thing he can never have- that sweet innocence and hope that Sansa has. Compassion and a positive sort of strength, and a warm safe place- that’s what she is to him, and what he thinks he doesn’t deserve, and so he won’t have. He may want her and that goodness, but he doesn’t actually believe he can have it. He may have tried in Blackwater, when he was drunk and desperate, since he had just walked away from the king, a dangerous act. But I suspect he didn’t really believe she’d take him up on his offer.

Benioff is straight-up wrong about plenty of things but this isn’t one of them. It’s largely a matter of interpretation, so neither of the takes on it- yours or Benioff’s- is wrong.

Pretty much this.

is illuminating — the songs of knights and fair maidens, the “idealism and honor and the possibility of something beautiful and real in an otherwise ugly world” are the things Sandor feels he can never have, not anymore. He both wants Sansa for these reasons and is angered by these elements of her at the same time. His fundamental conflict in the first two books is the part of him that wants to have and protect these things, and the part of him that wants to break and destroy them, as he himself was broken, perhaps to prove to himself that those ideals were never real and he was a fool for believing in them.

And Sandor’s actions in Sansa’s room at Blackwater is the culmination of that mental conflict. His offer to take her home is never actually stated as such (book version, not show), and he takes her silence/misunderstanding as a rejection, far too easily — because, again, in his mind, someone like him could never have someone like her. He offers to protect her and yet threatens her with a knife; he says he’ll kill anyone that hurts her and yet one of the reasons he was in her room was out of that same mix of desire/destruction (yes, what he told Arya was incite her to kill him, but I believe there was a lot of truth there as well).

But in the end, Sansa’s idealism and goodness and empathy win out over his destructive urges, and Sandor leaves because he knows he’s too ruined and broken for her… tearing off the white cloak of the Kingsguard (knights and honor and protection, all his childhood dreams, torn and stained) as he goes.

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Caro! I didn't realize you are on tumblr? If so, PM me your username so I can follow you! :) Thanks for re-posting that, btw. :)

ETA: Oh, and I was remiss earlier....welcome, Beets! :)

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Hi Beets and welcome :drunk:. I can't believe how fast the last few pages of the last thread and now this one have flown by. It's nice to see new people on here and the return of others who have been away for a while. Welcome back Marya Stone!

Regarding the Sweetrobin discussion, I just want to say that I agree that whether Sansa protects him in the end will be her defining moment. She is on a moral precipice and has some disturbing unsympathetic thoughts about giving him the sweetsleep to get him down the mountain that make you wonder, but on the other hand, there's all the mother imagery and the fact that Sansa so closely resembles Ned in personality, and Ned would never sacrifice a child. It makes me hopeful that Sansa will make the right decision.

Also, like Beets, I don't hate Sweetrobin and certainly don't want to see him dead. I think he's had a very sad lonely life and that's why he is such an annoying child but it's not his fault. I do get the sense that he can overcome his illness if properly taken care of and I agree that the Vale lords and Bronze Yohn would not want to see him dead. KRBD has called out Lf on this as others have noted. What we have seen from the Lords Declarant is that they want Sweetrobin alive and to foster him into a good lord.

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It is Petyr who says that the Vale won't ever love Sweetrobin. Petyr says that everyone will swoon over Harry "The Young Falcon" but remember, Petyr is a liar and bullshitter. We have only his word on this. And again I emphasize - in the words of Petyr himself - "I did warn you not to trust me." Myranda Royce never says that anyone dislikes SR or prefers Harry, nor does anyone else. In fact, Bronze Yohn wanting to foster SR makes no sense unless he thinks that SR needs to be trained for his future as a lord (not gotten rid of).

:agree:

The Vale lords seem more concerned than anything else: they want SR to have a good upbringing so he'll make a good lord, just like Jon Arryn. There are lots of these little opinions hanging about, lime the Tywin one about "forgetting" Elia. (The hell he did.) Littlefinger is a bigger bullshitter than Tywin, so we should take everything he says with a bucket of salt when it is an opinion he wants others to accept as truth.

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I doubt that in a world as cold and cynical as the SoIaF one that the Lords Declarant actually want to cure SR. Sure, it would be nice to have a strong lord, but they didn't do this when Lysa was alive because they don't really care - they just hate LF. LF in control of the Vale is the last thing anyone but LF wants, and with SR, LF is definitely in control. That's why Lyn Cobray freaks out at the dinner. He never freaked out when Lysa was alive, because he wanted to marry Lysa so he could control the Vale. He who has SR has basically everything.

While most of the Lords Declarant probably take that view (notably Cobray), a few of the others, Lady Waynwood in particular (BEST MINOR CHARACTER ALKDJGALGASKJFH), have good strong morals as far as we've seen. Lady Waynwood is upset at how Cobray acted at the dinner, which may have spurred her unanticipated friendship with LF. It's sad that LF is only using her, but nice to see that there's someone with morals in the Vale. While we don't know her too well yet, I'd say Waynwood is a good bet if Sansa needs protection in the future.

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I think that Sansa has just enough of her song-oriented thinking left to spare SR. From a narrative perspective, it would be a great way to show that even after all she's been through, Sansa still believes in heroes.

There's a new thread on the board talking about LF's words to Sansa on life not being a song. What I find interesting about all this is how LF actually utilizes the power of songs throughout his relationship with Sansa, underscoring once again the hypocrisy of the man, but also what I think will lead to his undoing. First he gets Dontos to pretend to be the Florian to her Jonquil when he needs her to commit to escaping the Lannisters. Then he goes off to Highgarden, and the seeds of his entrapment of Sansa are watered when he uses songs as a means of convincing Mace to put Loras Tyrell on the KG and spread rumors about Joffrey. We know that the fear of another kingslayer stew convinces Olenna to murder Joff, a plot that LF uses to get Sansa away from KL. After this, we have the incident with Lysa and Sansa, where LF murders her aunt, and blames Marillion - the singer - while still reminding Sansa that she has blood on her hands for all these crimes.

LF is comfortable, extremely comfortable, with wielding the power of songs to his own advantage, but wants Sansa to believe that life is not a song because in doing so it makes her much more likely to accept the path of no resistance that would open her up to his influence. To come back to your point Beets, I think while he may have successfully managed to convince Sansa that no "heroes" exist (even though we know they do, see Jon Snow), he isn't prepared for Sansa taking on the role of hero in her own journey, which if we can take the crossing of the mountain with SR as foreshadowing, seems extremely likely.

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I doubt that in a world as cold and cynical as the SoIaF one that the Lords Declarant actually want to cure SR.

Some definitely don't care, but Bronze Yohn Royce is of the Ned Stark school: he will do what is right. Anya Waynwood only agreed to marry Harry the Heir to LF's bastard after he bought up all their debt, and even then she doesn't want Harry to marry against his will. Clearly she has some of the old honour in her still. The others are probably somewhere along the scale of "more mercenary" to "outright scoundrels", but I do not believe that Bronze Yohn is. Littlefinger has also worked hard at isolating him, and that makes sense strategically.

However, as with all structures built on lies, it will be interesting to see what it will take for it to come crumbling down.

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I agree with what Lyanna just said above and was about to post something similar. Lyn Corbray reacted the way he did at the dinner because he was part of LF's plan at that point but I got the sense that both Lady Waynewood and Bronze Yohn do care. In fact, if you look at the description of Bronze Yohn and Sansa's memory of him from the time he visited Winterfell, BY strikes me as an older highborn version of the Hound (perhaps what the Hound might have been like had he not been so traumatized as a child). I don't think that's a coincidence. This plus the fact that BY was the most vocal about wanting to go to war with Robb suggests that there will be more to him in the upcoming books as he seems to be set up as another potential ally for Sansa.

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“He’s attracted to her because she’s the thing he can never have.”

That’s straight from David Benioff’s mouth. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve read the same books.

I am actually surprised that he said that he's attracted to her. I figured he'd miss that, too. (Not a big fan of season 2.)

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For whom it may concern:

Hey guys, all invites have gone out and we're live :) Please check your email now.

For some reason, I haven't gotten an invite? I may have forgotten to send my email address?

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I am actually surprised that he said that he's attracted to her. I figured he'd miss that, too. (Not a big fan of season 2.)

True. I suppose even D&D can remain in denial for only so long..... ;)

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For some reason, I haven't gotten an invite? I may have forgotten to send my email address?

No, K3 has it. Ok, I think she's trying to see what's happening.

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On the whole, I admire Martin's effort to get inside the head of his female characters and present such a wide variety of women in the books. But, that doesn't mean he is infallible. Dany's feelings of Daario is a great example of this, the portrayal has never struck me as being all that realistic even though I think her feelings of desire are legitimate.

I admire that he tries, too. Although I liked the Daario and Dany parts, too. I think he just took her breath away.

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Some definitely don't care, but Bronze Yohn Royce is of the Ned Stark school: he will do what is right. Anya Waynwood only agreed to marry Harry the Heir to LF's bastard after he bought up all their debt, and even then she doesn't want Harry to marry against his will. Clearly she has some of the old honour in her still. The others are probably somewhere along the scale of "more mercenary" to "outright scoundrels", but I do not believe that Bronze Yohn is. Littlefinger has also worked hard at isolating him, and that makes sense strategically.

However, as with all structures built on lies, it will be interesting to see what it will take for it to come crumbling down.

Waynwood was a point I made earlier, and her honor and the respect that she gives even a bastard like Alayne (when the other guys are teasing her and making jokes about her maidenhood) is what makes her my favorite minor character. Not too sure about Bronze Yohn, though... I probably missed something, so what is it that makes BY so honorable?

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since we were talking about what sandor's deathbed words may have meant, i just found this in tumblr, but since it's a bit long and i am not sure just how relevant it is,it's under spoilers... i found it intresting, and it's just some food for thought:

Oh, that's mine. I was the OP.

And I'm still not convinced that Sandor thought he could never have Sansa/didn't deserve her. :ohwell:

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Oh, that's mine. I was the OP.

And I'm still not convinced that Sandor thought he could never have Sansa/didn't deserve her. :ohwell:

I do agree that his statement over-simplifies Sandor's motivations far too much, although given its Benioff saying this, it doesn't really surprise me. :P

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Origins of the Tale in Ancient Greece and Rome

A Very Old Tale This Is, My Young Padawan

Tale as old as time,

True as it can be.

Tale as old as time,

Song as old as rhyme,

Beauty and the beast.

Thus begins and ends the theme song of one of the most famous animated films of the 20th century: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the most widespread version of this celebrated tale. And it’s certainly a very old tale. The first written version is at least a pair of millennia old, we can find it in written form in Rome during the second half of the 2nd century A.D. The myth itself may be older but what’s known for sure is that the earliest work that mentions one of the protagonists –Theogony– is from seven centuries B.C., and was composed by the great Greek poet Hesiod, but focuses more on the gods’ origins –in this case, Eros– than their interactions with humans.

Legends about Eros’ origins have changed over the centuries. Hesiod declares that he was the last of the four primal gods to come into existence, after Chaos, Gaia (Earth), and Tartarus (Abyss); and later it was registered by the likes of philosopher Parmenides and historian Acusilaus that he was the first. In the Orphic version, Eros was double-sexed, had golden wings and four heads: a bull, a lion, a snake and a ram; and had no parents. Moreover, later mainstream Greek mythology attributes the paternity of Eros to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who conceived him in an extramarital affair (she was married to the ugly and lame smith god Hephaistos) with handsome but ruthless Ares, the god of war, with whom she had three more sons that together with the firstborn would be known as Erotes or Amores. The Romans, who would adopt the Greek pantheon as their own, called him Cupid and his mother Venus, yet Psyche kept her Greek name [1].

It was the Roman writer Lucius Apuleius Africanus who bequeathed to posterity the story of these two lovers in his most famous work, The Metamorphoses, or The Golden Ass. In the middle of this novel he inserted the beautiful allegory of Cupid and Psyche, which goes as follows:

''There was a certain king who had as wife a noble dame, by whom he had three daughters exceedingly fair: of whom the two elder were of most comely shape and beauty, yet they did not excel all the praise and commendation of mortal speech; but the singular passing beauty and maidenly majesty of the youngest daughter was so far excellent, that no earthly tongue could by any means sufficiently express or set out the same: by reason whereof the citizens and strangers

there, being inwardly pricked by zealous affection to behold her famous person, came daily by thousands to see her, and as astonished with admiration of her incomparable beauty did no less worship and reverence her, bringing their right hands to their lips, with the forefinger laid against the thumb, as tokens, and with other divine adorations, as if she were the goddess Venus indeed.” [2]

The ancients made the aforementioned gesture, called proskynesis, only in the presence of their deities to honour them. Therefore this conveyance of divine worship to a mortal kindled the anger and jealousy of Venus, who couldn’t suffer a mortal maiden to partake in her worship and, in true Snow White Stepmother fashion, decided she’d punish the younger and more beautiful Psyche for her loveliness.

"Then by and by she called her winged son Cupid, […] egged him forward with words and brought him to the city, and showed him Psyche –for so the maiden was called– and having told him of her rival beauty, the cause of her anger, not without great rage, 'I pray you,' quoth she, 'my dear child, by the motherly bond of love, by the sweet wounds of your piercing darts, by the pleasant heat of your fire, revenge fully the injury which is done to your mother upon the false and disobedient beauty of a mortal maiden; and this beyond all I pray you without delay, that she may fall in desperate love with the most miserable creature living, the most poor, the most crooked, and the most vile, that there may be none found in all the world of like wretchedness'.”

Cupid bent to her will, and thenceforward Psyche was wondered at and praised by everyone, but no man approached her or dared to woo her. Her sisters were soon married to kings, but Psyche stayed at home lamenting her loneliness, and began to hate her own beauty. Then her father went to the oracle of Apollo, where he made his prayers, offered sacrifices and asked for a husband for his daughter. The god commanded that she be clad in mourning clothes and set on a rock to await her destiny:

”Her husband is no wight of human seed.

But serpent dire and fierce as may be thought.

Who flies with wings above in starry skies

And does subdue each thing with fiery flight.

The gods themselves and powers that seem so wise

With mighty Jove be subject to his might;

The rivers black and deadly floods of pain

And darkness eke as thrall to him remain.”

Psyche resigned herself to this gloomy fate she suspected was Venus’ doing, and even tried to console her distraught parents and those walking with her in the bridal procession before she was left weeping and trembling on the highest top of the mountain, whence a gentle wind carried her down into a valley at the foot of the mountain. When she awoke, she found a stunning golden palace in the woods nearby, where she found all sorts of precious things she could wish for, and she heard a disembodied voice that told her to dress in her bridal costume for the wedding banquet. Food and drink appeared in front of her, and she went through the whole feast hearing invisible voices only and a ghostly choir. At midnight, as she lay awake in her bed, her unknown bridegroom

“[climbed into bed beside her…] and after he had made her his very wife, he rose in the morning before day and departed.”

Psyche soon made herself a home at the palace and grew to love the husband that continued to come in the dark of night and depart before sunrise could expose his face. One day, Cupid warned her that her sisters, thinking her dead, were coming to their home and she shouldn’t respond. But her solitary life had made her long for human contact, and she begged him to allow her to see her sisters; he yielded to her tearful wishes on condition that she must keep his identity a secret. The young woman entertained her sisters graciously and gave them splendid gifts, and responded when asked about her spouse that:

“[…] he was a young man of comely stature with soft down, rather than a beard, just beginning to shadow his cheeks, and had great delight in hunting in the hills and dales hard by.”

Her sisters returned home feeling utterly envious of their little sister’s happiness in comparison to their unsuccessful marriages, and decided to ruin it. The god was aware of their treacherous intentions and warned his wife that they’d try to make her succumb to the temptation of looking at his face and that if she did, she’d lose him forever and the baby she carried in her womb would be a mortal, whereas if she kept quiet about his identity, the child would be immortal. Next time her sisters approached her, Psyche told them her beloved was a prosperous merchant, middle-aged and with hair already greying. This contradicting statement made her sisters suspect the truth about Psyche’s husband’s divine nature, and they became even more determined to ruin her good fortune. The third time they went to her palace, they revealed that her unseen partner was in truth the cruel serpent the oracle of Apollo had spoken of, a savage and dreadful beast that would devour her and her unborn child. Terrified by this, she confessed that she’d never seen her husband and agreed to follow their advice: she had to hide a knife under her pillow and have a lamp ready near the bed, and when her husband fell asleep, she should light the lamp and cut his head off to save herself and her child. That night, whilst he slept, she uncovered the lamp and

“[…] she saw the most meek and sweetest beast of all beasts, fair Cupid.”

Overcome with awe and guilt, Psyche tried to stab herself, but the knife fell off her hands and she dropped to her knees. Steadying herself, she saw one of his arrows, took it out of curiosity and unwittingly pierced her thumb and drew drops of blood. As she went to embrace him, a bit of hot oil from the lamp she was still holding fell on Cupid’s right shoulder. He instantly leapt from bed and flew away with Psyche clinging to his leg to stop him. From the top of a cypress, he reproached her for not trusting him and then revealed he’d disobeyed his mother’s command, and now he had to leave her for good. And so he did, after promising her sisters would suffer for what they’d done. Depressed, she made an attempt at suicide by throwing herself into a river, but was saved by the river deity, and later Pan, who happened to be at the riverbank, advised her not to kill herself but try to find her beloved and win him back. She then went to see her eldest sister, explained to her that Cupid had pronounced the Roman formula of divorce and was now free to remarry. Her hopeful sister went to the mountain from whence the god’s servant Zephyrus used to carry visitors down into the valley where the palace lay, and prayed for him to come and take her there as his new bride, but as she leapt trying desperately to catch the gentle wind she missed it and fell to her death. The middle sister died in like sort.

Hearing from a white bird [3] about what had happened between her now grievously burnt son and the mortal woman, an enraged Venus tried to find her with no success, and then issued a proclamation for Psyche’s capture. Not knowing Cupid was with his mother, she’d been wandering from one place to another in search of him, trying to get any help from the god Pan and goddesses Ceres and Juno, who declined and only bade her beware of Venus’ vengeance, and soon she was brought before this goddess, who imposed upon her as punishment some tasks as impossible as those of Hercules’, with the difference that hers were four in number:

1.
“Venus […] took a great quantity of wheat, barley, millet, poppy-seed, pease, lentils, and beans, and mingled them all together on a heap,
[and told Psyche to]
‘separate all these grains one from another, disposing them orderly in their quality, and let it be done […] before night’.”

Psyche managed to enlist the support of some ants that commiserated with her and sorted all this grain for her.

2.
“There be great sheep shining like gold, and kept by no manner of person; I command you that you go thither and bring me home some of the wool of their fleeces.”

She picked a lapful of fleeces hanging in the briars at the woods where the sheep went to rest.

3.
“See the high rock that overhangs the top of yonder great hill, from whence there runs down water of black and deadly colour which is gathered together in the valley and thence nourishes the marshes of Styx and the hoarse torrent of Cocytus? […]Go thither and bring me a vessel of that freezing water from the middest flow of the top of that spring.”

Psyche almost died because of the poisonous waters and the dragons that guarded them. But Jupiter was indebted to Cupid for a past service; and he sent an eagle that filled his wife’s bottle for her.

4.
“Take this box and go to Hell and the deadly house of Orcus, and desire Proserpina to send me a little of her beauty, as much as will serve me the space of one day, and say that such as I had is consumed away in tending my son that is sick; but return again quickly.”

This meant Psyche’s death, for the living couldn’t descend into the Underworld while still breathing. She was about to throw herself from a tower, but a spirit spoke through the tower giving her detailed instructions as to how to get there and warning her that she shouldn’t look in the box. She obeyed the voice, but in the end was unable to resist opening that box, which contained no beauty ointment but a deadly sleep, and she fell to the floor unconscious. By then, Cupid, who’d been closed fast in a chamber by his mother to recover from his wounds and prevent him from seeing Psyche, escaped and reached her in time to remove the sleep from her. Thus she was able to complete the last task.

Cupid went to plead with Zeus to approve his marriage despite his mother’s opposition, and the god agreed, forcing Venus to approve it as well. Psyche was summoned to the god’s dwelling and was given a cup of nectar to drink and become an immortal.

“… thus Psyche was married to Cupid, and after in due time she was delivered of a child, whom we call Voluptas" [4]

So is the ending of the first ever Beauty and the Beast in History.

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For the love of Zeus and Jove!

The immense majority of classicists and folktale experts agree that there’s no better parallel with the contemporary Beauty and the Beast to be found in ancient mythology than the story of Eros and Psyche; however, Swedish folklorist Jan-Öjvind Swahn claims some elements point to the legend of Zeus and Semele as the earliest variation of this tale, but only if we take into account a very late version told in the epic poem Dyonisiaca, written by Hellenised Egyptian poet Nonnus of Panopolis in the second half of the fifth century A.D., because earlier mainstream Greek renditions such as Hesiod’s and Pindar’s differ from this later version from a time when classical myths were in their final stage of degeneracy. In this, we find the narrative of a curious relationship between the highest-ranking Hellene god and a mortal female:

Semele, the beautiful fourth daughter of Harmonia, the goddess of concord, and King Cadmus, felt troubled by a strange dream she once had, in which she saw:

“[…] in a garden a tree with fair green leaves, laden with newgrown clusters of swelling fruit yet unripe, and drenched in the fostering dews of Zeus. Suddenly a flame fell through the air from heaven, and laid the whole tree flat, but did not touch its fruit; then a bird flying with outspread wings caught up the fruit half-grown, and carried it yet lacking full maturity to Cronion. The Father received it in his kindly bosom, and sewed it up in his thigh; then instead of the fruit, a bull-shaped figure of a man came forth complete over his loins. Semele was the tree.” [6]

Because of this, she was advised to go to a temple and sacrifice a bull to appease the father of the gods, and there she had the sacrificial victim’s blood sprinkled on her, having therefore to bathe later in the waters of a river that stood near the road on her way back home. She was seen bathing there by Zeus, who, after being shot in the thigh by playful Eros, took the form of an eagle and descended into Earth to take a closer look at Semele. Satisfied with what his eyes had seen, he decided to seduce her. One night, he visited her taking various forms:

“[…] a horned head on human limbs, lowing with the voice of a bull… a shaggy lion’s form; or a panther… a young bridegroom [who] bound his hair with coiling snakes and vine-leaves intertwined, and twisted purple ivy about his locks... a writhing serpent crawl[ing] over the trembling bride…”

After the wedding night, Zeus reveals his identity to her and that she’s to give birth to a boy who’s going to be merry Dionysus. When word reached Hera, the ever-vigilant consort of Zeus, she decided to disguise herself as an old woman and goaded Semele into asking Zeus to show himself in all his glory, with thunder and lightning, so people have no doubt that it’s in truth the god himself who’s her spouse and the child is his, and not some baseborn mortal. Zeus replied that she was being unrealistic, because his thunders were anything but safe or gentle to be around, and that she should wait patiently until she brought forth their son. He warned her that none of his lovers, immortal or otherwise, had demanded thunderbolts and flames to celebrate their unions, only Hera was entitled to that honour. But Semele was adamant, she thought everybody derided their secret union, and blamed her and sneered at her for having a furtive affair. Zeus gave in and went unwillingly into her chamber with fires of thunder in his hands, which would in a moment destroy her.

“When Semele saw her fiery murderers, she held up a proud neck and said with lofty arrogance: “I want no clearsounding cithern, I need no hoboy! Thunders are here for my panspipes of Zeus’s love, this boom is my Olympian hoboy, the firebrands of my bridal are the flashes of heavenly lightning! I care not for common torches, my torches are thunderbolts! I am the consort of Cronion.”

“So she spoke in her pride, and would have grasped the deadly lightning in her own hands – she touched the destroying thunderbolts with daring palm, careless of Fate. Then Semele’s wedding was her death, and in its celebration the Avenging Spirit made her bower serve for pyre and tomb. Zeus had no mercy; the breath of the bridal thunder with its fires of delivery burnt her all to ashes.”

So she died, but her child was saved and grew up to be the god Dionysus.

Considering that the fundamental elements in Cupid and Psyche’s story are six (the marriage, the supernatural husband, the breaking of the prohibition/promise, the search for the husband, the reunion and the –usually satisfying– ending), it can be argued that this one is a variant that has barely half of the myth’s motifs, but nevertheless it’s the closest we have to a Beauty and the Beast plotline in the Classical world apart from the one we’ve mentioned before. It also illustrates that there are various types of endings to Beauty-and-the-Beast-like stories and those are both happy and unfortunate ones. According to Jerry Griswold, the main types are:

1. Beast is transformed into a normal human being/returns to his former handsome self.

2. Beauty is transformed into a beast to join her mate.

3. The final transformation takes place in perception only.

4. The transformation happens in the middle, and the Beauty must prove herself through

tasks.

Zeus and Semele’s story doesn’t fit well into any of these categories, although technically it would belong in the 4th had it not been for the heroine’s early death. Cupid and Psyche, on the other hand, do belong in this same category, and this brings to our attention what differentiates them from the French originals that present a maiden who accepts a monster as a mate: The Beast plays a passive role in a tale of feminine maturation, whilst Cupid plays a more active role in a tale that is essentially of masculine maturation. Psyche and Cupid enjoy sex first and then fall in love, Belle and Beast’s case is reversed, for theirs is a courtship where emotional bonds come before any sexual union; and besides, Psyche is a flawed woman that learns by trial and error and has to prove herself undergoing a series of tasks, and Belle is a virtuous girl whose tests are mostly psychological in nature, for she has to learn to reevaluate her perceptions and values. These differences with the Classical storyline have more to do with the fact that the ancients had a preference for converting inner issues like desires, emotions and feelings into externalised forms and figures, and they preferred to deal with concrete things, as classicist Eric R. Dodds has noted.

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