Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Erisichthon

Yesterday I was reminded of the myth about Erisichthon, described by Ovid in his Metamorphoses. Erisichthon had no respect for the gods and decided to chop down an oak tree in a grove which was sacred to Ceres. Each blow from his axe produced blood from the tree and eventually a voice cried out, "I who dwell in this tree am a nymph beloved of Ceres, and dying by your hands, forewarn you that punishment awaits you."
Ceres gave her messenger this instruction,"There is a place in the farthest part of ice-clad Scythia, a sad and sterile region without trees and without crops. Cold dwells there, and Fear, and Shuddering, and Famine. Go to Famine and tell her to take possession of the bowels of Erisichthon." The messenger found Famine: "her hair was rough, her eyes sunk, her face pale, her lips blanched, her jaws covered with dust, and her skin drawn tight, so as to show all her bones," and Famine took hold of Erisichthon while he was asleep.
"When he awoke his hunger was raging. Without a moment's delay he would have food set before him, of whatever kind earth, sea, or air produces; and complained of hunger even while he ate. What would have sufficed for a city or a nation was not enough for him. The more he ate, the move he craved. His hunger was like the sea, which receives all the rivers, yet is never filled; or like fire that burns all the fuel that is heaped upon it, yet is still voracious for more."
He spent all his money and even sold his daughter "and at last hunger compelled him to devour his limbs, and he strove to nourish his body by eating his body, till death relieved him from the vengeance of Ceres."

5 Comments:

Blogger kinglear said...

I think the place you describe is very like the North of Scotland...

11:04 am  
Blogger Eurodog said...

Enjoyed reading this especially after last night's feast!

5:44 am  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Don't go there, KL

I'm glad you enjoyed it, ED.

9:20 am  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Goodness! What reminded you of it, WW?

10:55 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Hi WL - I saw a reference to him on Mary Beard's blog.

9:25 am  

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