A confused chorus

To a Lonely Hermaphrodite


John M. Burns, Biograffiti: A Natural Selection, Norton, 1975

“Most European languages have two verbs with the sense of ‘to know,’ one meaning to know a person in the sense of friendship or acquaintance (French, connaitre; German, kennen; Spanish, conocer, Russian, poznakomit’), and other meaning to know facts (French, savoir; German, wissen; Spanish, saber; Russian, znat’).”
Curtis Brautigam

And Adam knew (yada’) Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
Genesis 4:1

“Yada’: a primitive root; to know (properly, to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially (including observation, care, recognition; and causatively, instruction, designation, punishment, etc.) (as follow):–acknowledge, acquaintance(-ted with), advise, answer, appoint, assuredly, be aware, (un-)awares, can(-not), certainly, comprehend, consider, X could they, cunning, declare, be diligent, (can, cause to) discern, discover, endued with, familiar friend, famous, feel, can have, be (ig-)norant, instruct, kinsfolk, kinsman, (cause to let, make) know, (come to give, have, take) knowledge, have (knowledge), (be, make, make to be, make self) known, + be learned, + lie by man, mark, perceive, privy to, X prognosticator, regard, have respect, skilful, shew, can (man of) skill, be sure, of a surety, teach, (can) tell, understand, have (understanding), X will be, wist, wit, wot.”
Strong’s Bible Dictionary

“The verb yada’ (‘to know’) exhibits a wide array of meanings in biblical Hebrew. In various contexts yada’ and its cognates may denote sense perception, intellectual apprehension, possession of facts and information that can be learned and transmitted, practical skill, discriminating judgment, even physical intimacy. However, when yada’ has God as its object, it implies far more than simple ‘acknowledgment.’ Nahum Sarna writes:
In the biblical conception, knowledge is not essentially or even primarily rooted in the intellect and mental activity. Rather, it is more experiential and is embedded in the emotions, so that it may encompass such qualities as contact, intimacy, concern, relatedness and mutuality (Exodus, JPS Torah Commentary, p. 5).
Commentary Press

Know thyself. (Gnothi seauton)
“ATTRIBUTION: Delphic Oracle. Inscription on the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi, Greece, 6th century B.C.
“The words are traditionally ascribed to the ‘Seven Sages’ or ‘Seven Wise Men’ of ancient Greece, and specifically to Solon of Athens (c. 640-c. 558 B.C.).”
The Columbia World of Quotations

“The Greeks were always careful to solicit approval from their gods before setting out from home, whether for commercial voyages or colonization. The god most frequently consulted about sending out a colony was Apollo in his sanctuary at Delphi, a hauntingly beautiful spot in the mountains of central Greece. The Delphic sanctuary began to be internationally renowned in the eighth century B.C. because it housed an oracular shrine in which a prophetess, the Pythia, spoke the will of Apollo in response to questions from visiting petitioners. The Delphic oracle operated for a limited number of days over nine months of the year, and demand for its services was so high that the operators of the sanctuary rewarded generous contributors with the privilege of jumping to the head of the line. The great majority of visitors to Delphi consulted the oracle about personal matters such as marriage and having children. That Greeks hoping to found a colony felt they had to secure the approval of Apollo of Delphi demonstrates the oracle was held in high esteem already as early as the 700s B.C., a reputation that continued to make the oracle a force in Greek international affairs in the centuries to come.”
Thomas R. Martin, An Overview of Classical Greek History from Mycenae to Alexander

“Reality and rhetoric are becoming confused. The means through which the United States pursued its Cold War goals – world leadership, global responsibility, strategic alliances, declaratory morality, and so on – have become ends in themselves. Geopolitical analysis is taking second place”.
Jonathan Clarke, “America, Know Thyself”

“Apollo ritually purifies Orestes after the murder of his mother Clytemnestra. The ritual cleanses Orestes of guilt for having committed matricide. The pig’s blood symbolically absolves him from his crime. Delphi became associated with ritualistically cleansing moral pollution; thus, it became a place of exile for those who committed murder or other morally questionable deeds.

“Apollo returned to Delphi in the form of a dolphin (hence, the name Delphi). The Delphic oracle, known also as ‘Pythia,’ would be seated on a tripod (Apollo’s symbol of prophesy) in a trance. Scholars believe that the tripod might have been situated above a fissure in the floor of the temple from which arose the vapors. The oracle would also chew laurel leaves.

“The laurel is an important symbol for Apollo. Eros made Apollo fall in love with the nymph, Daphne, because Apollo mocked his archery skills. Daphne rejected Apollo and fled him. When he caught her and just as he was embracing her, she turned into a laurel tree. Thus, to commemorate his love for Daphne, Apollo made the laurel his sacred tree.

“The Pythia, in a trance state, would only mumble her answer, which a high priest would translate into Apollo’s prophesy. Everyone involved in the ritual had to be ritually washed in the springs. An animal would be sacrificed and, if conditions were favorable, the petitioner could then enter the sanctuary. The question, which had been previously written, was handed to the priest, who in turn asked the Pythia for Apollo’s answer. The priest would translate into hexameter verse.

“The Omphalos, literally the navel, sits in the middle of the sanctuary at Delphi. Pausanias refers to it as the center of the Earth. According to myth, Zeus, trying to determine the middle of the Earth, sent two eagles, one flying east and another flying west. They met at Delphi. It became an important symbol of the prophetic arts.

“Cassandra, a figure in the Oresteia, also is associated with Apollo. Apollo made overtures to Cassandra. She agreed to be with him if he gave her the gift of prophesy. After he taught her prophesy, Cassandra refused Apollo. There is some disagreement as to whether she outright refused him or she did not bear him any children. Nonetheless, to exact revenge, and since he could not take back his gift of prophesy, Apollo cursed Cassandra. All her prophesies, though true, would not be believed or understood. Agamemnon returns from the Trojan War with Cassandra as his concubine. She foretells his death and the Orestes’ revenge on Clytemnestra to a confused chorus.”

Angie M. Kenna, “Apollo: Background, Mythology and Images”

“I absolutely cannot believe that the U.S. is bombarding a mosque in Iraq. The stupidity, arrogance, and total lack of comprehensive thinking – not to mention foresight about the consequences of their actions – the administration is exhibiting are so appalling that there is nothing to say; one listens, reads the headlines, and goes away slack-jawed and stupified, and –shaking that off — desiring nothing more than to climb to the top of the highest building and shout ‘WAKE UP!!!’ But what would come back? A giant, empty echo?”

the cassandra pages (April 7, 2004)

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