Hercules and Alcestis: Personal Excellence & Social Duty

Hercules and Alcestis: Personal Excellence & Social Duty


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For the ancient Greeks, the quality of arete (personal excellence) and the concept of eusebia (social duty) were most important. Aristotle discusses both of these at length in his Nichomachean Ethics and relates arete to eudaimonia - translated as "happiness" but actually meaning "to be possessed of a good spirit". To have arete, Aristotle claims, one must associate oneself with those striving for the same goal. If one wanted to become an excellent musician, one should associate oneself with excellent musicians and the same if one wished to be a star athlete or carpenter or doctor. The Greek concept of eusebia is often translated into English as "piety" (as, for example, in Plato's dialogue of the Euthyphro), but the concept is actually much closer to "duty", particularly social duty. Eusebia dictated how one interacted with one's husband, wife, parents, servants, and those of higher and lower classes. Eusebia also touched on how one understood the gods (though not on how one interacted with the gods, which would be the concept of housia, much closer to "piety"). The gods, and especially the all-powerful Fates, controlled and directed the lives of human beings and one needed to accept that fact and live one's life accordingly. If one suffered some tragic loss or financial set-back, it was the will of the gods, or the Fates whom not even the gods could sway, and by accepting this as the order of the universe, one could better accept such loss.

The stories the Greeks told - which today are referred to as their myths - played a part in understanding arete and eusebia in that they illustrated for the listeners these virtues of Greek civilization. In hearing how heroes and kings and even gods behaved, one was provided with a model for one's own behavior. Among the many myths the Greeks told, one that exemplifies the virtues of personal excellence and social duty is the story of Hercules and the Queen Alcestis. There are two versions of the myth, one in which Hercules plays no part at all, but thanks to the playwright Euripides (480-406 BCE), and his play Alcestis, the version featuring Hercules is the better known.

The Story of Alcestis & Admetus

Both versions begin the same way and emphasize the importance of loyalty, love, and kindness in informing one's social duty. Once upon a time, as the story goes, there lived a gentle king named Admetus who ruled over a small kingdom in Thessaly. He knew each of his subjects by name and so, one night when a stranger appeared at his door begging for food, he knew the man must be from a foreign land but welcomed him into his home anyway. He fed and clothed the stranger and asked him his name but the man would give no answer other than to ask Admetus if he could be the king's slave. Admetus had no need for another slave but, recognizing the man was in distress, took him on as shepherd for his flocks.

Apollo thanked Admetus for his kindness and offered him any gift he desired.

The stranger stayed with Admetus for a year and a day and then revealed himself as the god Apollo. He had been sent to earth by Zeus as punishment and could not return to the realm of the gods until he had served a mortal as a slave for a year. Apollo thanked Admetus for his kindness and offered him any gift he desired; but Admetus said he had all he needed and required nothing for what he had done. Apollo told him he would return to help him whenever he needed anything in the future and then vanished.

Not long after this, Admetus fell in love with the princess Alcestis of the neighboring city of Iolcus. Alcestis was kind and beautiful and had many suitors but only wanted to marry Admetus. Her father Pelias, however, refused Admetus' request for her hand and stipulated that the only way he would give his daughter to him would be if he rode into the city in a chariot pulled by a lion and a wild boar. Admetus was despondent over this situation until he remembered the promise of Apollo. He called on the god who appeared, wrestled a lion and a boar into submission, and yoked them to a golden chariot. Admetus then drove the chariot to Iolcus and Pelias had no choice but to give him Alcestis in marriage. Apollo was among the wedding guests and gave Admetus an unusual gift: a kind of immortality. Apollo told them how he made a deal with the Fates who governed all so that, if ever Admetus became sick to the point of death, he might be well again if someone else would volunteer to die in his place.

The couple lived happily together for many years and their court was famous for their lavish parties but then, one day, Admetus fell ill and the doctors said he would not recover. The people of his court remembered the gift of Apollo and each felt that someone should give their life to save so kind and good a king; but no one wanted to do so themselves. Admetus' parents were old and so it was thought that one of them would volunteer but, even though they had only a short time left on the earth, they refused to surrender it. None of the court, nor any of Admetus' family, nor any of his subjects would take the king's place on his death bed - but Alcestis did.

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At this point the two stories diverge. In the older version, Admetus wakes on his bed feeling better and runs to tell Alcestis he is cured - only to find it was she who took his place. He then sits by her body in mourning and refuses to eat or drink for days. As this is going on, Alcestis' spirit is led down into the underworld by Thanatos (death) and presented to Queen Persephone. Persephone asks who this soul is who has come willingly to her realm and Thanatos explains to her the situation. Persephone is so moved by the story of Alcestis' love and devotion to her husband that she orders Thanatos to return the queen to life. Alcestis and Admetus then live happily ever after.

Hercules & Alcestis

In the version popularized by Euripides in his play Alcestis (written c. 438 BCE), however, Hercules plays the pivotal role in bringing Alcestis back from the dead. In this version, as in the first, no one will take Admetus' place in death except for Alcestis. Admetus is informed of this, accepts her sacrifice, and begins to recover as his queen grows weaker. The entire city falls into mourning for Alcestis as she hovers on the brink between life and death. Admetus stays by her bedside and she requests that, in return for her sacrifice, he should never marry again and so keep her memory alive. Admetus agrees to this and also swears he will never throw another of their parties again nor allow any merrymaking in the palace once she has gone; after these promises are made, Alcestis dies.

Hercules was an old friend of the couple and he arrives at the court knowing nothing of Alcestis' death. Admetus, not wishing to spoil his friend's arrival, instructs the servants to say nothing about what has transpired and to treat Hercules to the kind of party the court was known for. The servants, however, are still upset over the loss of the queen and Hercules notices that they are not serving him and his entourage properly. After a number of drinks, he begins to insult them and ask for the king and queen to come remedy this poor performance on the servant's part, when one of the maidservants breaks down and tells him what has recently happened.

Hercules is mortified by his behavior and so travels to the underworld where Thanatos is leading Alcestis' spirit toward Persephone's realm. He wrestles death and frees the queen, bringing her back up into the light of day. Hercules then leads her to where Admetus is just returning from her funeral. He tells the king that he must depart on other business and asks him to take care of this lady while he is gone. Admetus refuses because he promised Alcestis that he would never marry again, and it would be unseemly for this woman to reside at the court so soon after his wife's death. Hercules insists, however, and places Alcestis' hand in Admetus'. Admetus lifts the woman's veil and finds it is Alcestis returned from the dead. Hercules tells him that she will not be able to speak for three days, and will remain pale and shadow-like, until she is purified, after which time she will become as she always was. Euripides' play ends there while other versions of the myth continue the story further and conclude with everything then happening as Hercules has said, and Alcestis and Admetus living a long and happy life together until Thanatos returns and takes them both away together.

Personal Excellence & Social Duty in the Tales

The characters of Admetus, Alcestis, and Hercules, all at some point in the story exemplify - or fail to meet - the values of personal excellence and social duty. Admetus exemplifies the value of hospitality (which would be considered part of social duty) in taking in the stranger at the beginning of the story and would fall short of that value when he allows festivities in his home directly after his wife's death. These two incidents are directly related to each other, however, in that, when Hercules arrives at his home, Admetus is under a social obligation to entertain his friend according to the custom he is used to. Even though Hercules would have certainly understood the house being in mourning after Alcestis' death and is embarrassed when he finds out he has been drinking and carrying on in the palace so soon after a death, Admetus values social obligation to such a degree that he fails to keep his promise to his wife - and so fails in arete and, because he neglected the promise he had made to Alcestis, eusebia as well.

Alcestis epitomizes the loyal, loving wife who is so devoted to her husband that she would literally die for him. In this, she exemplifies both arete and eusebia. A modern-day reader may feel uncomfortable with the version of the story in which Admetus accepts his wife's sacrifice, but this would have been completely understandable to an ancient Greek audience. The husband, especially the husband who was a king, was responsible for the well-being of more people than the wife or queen. Alcestis' virtue in taking Admetus' place is admirable in that she not only sacrifices herself for the man she loves but also for the people who depended upon Admetus for their continued well-being. Her personal excellence is illustrated in her willingness to die for the good of others and the value of eusebia through her understanding of the social order and how she could do her best to maintain it. In all ways, Alcestis stands as a model for proper behavior.

Hercules exemplifies the values of arete and eusebia and provides the story with its heroic climax. In his drunken behavior in the house of mourning, he fails in both, of course, and yet he cannot be blamed for this in that he was not told of Alcestis' death. The more important - and interesting - breach in social conduct is his wrestling Thanatos for Alcestis' soul. The Fates were all powerful to the ancient Greeks, and Apollo had made a deal with them for Admetus' continued life. The Fates had kept their part of the deal and restored Admetus to life, once someone else agreed to take his place. By wrestling Alcestis' soul away from death, Hercules was breaking the deal. If one made a deal with the supernatural powers, one was expected to honor that deal. This can be most clearly seen in the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, where Orpheus makes the deal with Hades that he will not look back on his way up from the underworld but then breaks that deal, and so loses Eurydice. Unlike that story, at no point in any version of the Alcestis story is Hercules portrayed in any way but admirably for rescuing the queen from death. Further, by placing himself in danger by physically wrestling death, Hercules embodies the personal excellence of courage and heroism and, by doing so, he restores order to the kingdom by bringing the queen back to her king and rewarding the selflessness of Alcestis.

The story operates on many levels, of course, which is why it has resonated so strongly with audiences for over 2,000 years but, on the simplest level, it would have transmitted the values of the society to those who heard it sung or recited or watched it performed. How one balances one's personal excellence with one's place in society and, further, in the universe, would have been illustrated through Hercules and his confrontation with Thanatos. In defeating death, Hercules is shown as the ultimate hero who defies even the will of the Fates in order to do what he feels is right.

In the version of the story where Persephone sends Alcestis back to life, it is eusebia which is emphasized through Alcestis' selfless gesture while, in the Hercules' version, it is arete through Hercules' decision to fight with death, and yet both versions highlight the importance of both of these values to ancient Greek society. The popularity of the Hercules' version indicates that, while the ancient audience would have understood the value of social duty and conduct, they also valued personal achievement and, of course, heroism, which is the embodiment of personal excellence. Scholars have long been divided on the Alcestis play by Euripides regarding why he wrote it and even what he was trying to say in it but, perhaps, it was as simple as promoting the concept that one should do what one feels one must to right a wrong no matter what societal rules may stand in the way and, in doing so, one can actually restore order instead of upsetting balance.


Hercules and Alcestis: Personal Excellence & Social Duty - History

Schein Seth. L. ΦIΔIA a in Euripides' Alcestis. In: Mètis. Anthropologie des mondes grecs anciens, vol. 3, n°1-2, 1988. pp. 179-206.

ΦΙΛΙΑ IN EURIPIDES' ALCESTIS

In classical Greek, φιλία signifies a relation or attitude of solidarity or affection between members of the same family, community, social club - even the same business partnership or occupation. Φιλία cuts across our usual distinction between kinship and friendship. It allows, even requires, that one person think of another as someone on whom to rely and who can rely on one in turn, in contrast to those who are «outsiders», αλλότριοι, or «enemies», εχθροί. The word φιλία does not occur in Homer or in extant Greek literature before the third quarter of the fifth century, apart from three instances in the élégies of Theognis1 . Rather, the traditional word for the relationship later expressed by φιλία is φιλότης, and those who par- ticipate in such a relationship are φίλοι. The shift in the fifth century from φιλότης to φιλία as the prévalent word is contemporaneous with the in- creasing disenchantment of Greek, especially Attic, society and culture with traditional institutions and values.

One of the most distinctive features of Attic tragedy is the way the poets invite their audiences and readers to rethink traditional institutions and values by evoking contradictions among (or within) them in light of this disenchantment. In the tragic dramas, language and gesture may lose their old meanings or take on new ones that conflict with the old. Often a par- ticular word becomes, so to speak, both the arena and the object of the struggle for power in the culture between conventional and modem ways of life and thought2. To cite a familiar example, in Sophocles' Antigone,


Contents

The mission of the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron is "to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach." [7]

Due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, the 2020 show season was truncated. Their first show of the 2021 season will be in Lakeland, FL at the Sun N' Fun Aerospace Expo on 17 April. [8] The "Blues" perform at both military and non-military airfields, and often at major U.S. cities and capitals also locations in Canada are often included in the air show schedule.

During their aerobatic demonstration, the Blues fly six F/A-18E Super Hornets, split into the diamond formation (Blue Angels 1 through 4) and the Lead and Opposing Solos (Blue Angels 5 and 6). Most of the show alternates between maneuvers performed by the Diamond Formation and those performed by the Solos. The Diamond, in tight formation and usually at lower speeds (400 mph), performs maneuvers such as formation loops, rolls, and transitions from one formation to another. The Solos showcase the high performance capabilities of their individual aircraft through the execution of high-speed passes, slow passes, fast rolls, slow rolls, and very tight turns. The highest speed flown during an air show is 700 mph (just under Mach 1) and the lowest speed, is 126 mph (110 knots) during Section High Alpha with the new Super Hornet (about 115 knots with the old "Legacy" Hornet). Some of the maneuvers include both solo aircraft performing at once, such as opposing passes (toward each other in what appears to be a collision course) and mirror formations (back-to-back, belly-to-belly, or wingtip-to-wingtip, with one jet flying inverted). The Solos join the Diamond Formation near the end of the show for a number of maneuvers in the Delta Formation.

The parameters of each show must be tailored in accordance with local weather conditions at showtime: in clear weather the high show is performed in overcast conditions a low show is performed, and in limited visibility (weather permitting) the flat show is presented. The high show requires at least an 8,000-foot (2,400 m) ceiling and visibility of at least 3 nautical miles (6 km) from the show's centerpoint. The minimum ceilings allowed for low and flat shows are 4,500 feet, and 1,500 feet respectively. [9]

The team flew the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet from 1986 until the end of 2020, which had served in the fleet and is constantly maintained and updated to be a combat-ready fighter aircraft. [ citation needed ] Modifications to each F/A-18 include removal of the weapons and replacement with a tank that contains smoke-oil used in demonstrations and outfitted with a control stick spring system for more precise aircraft control input. Control sticks are tensioned with 40 pounds (18 kg) of force to allow the pilot minimal room for uncommanded movement of the aircraft.

The show's narrator flies Blue Angel 7, a two-seat F/A-18F Hornet, to show sites. The Blues use this jet for backup, and to give demonstration rides to VIP civilians. Usually, two back seats at each show are available one goes to a member of the press, and the other to the "Key Influencer". [9] The No. 4 slot pilot often flies the No. 7 aircraft in Friday's "practice" shows.

The Blue Angels use a United States Marine Corps Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules, nicknamed "Fat Albert", for their logistics, carrying spare parts, equipment, and to carry support personnel between shows.

In August 2018, Boeing was awarded a contract to convert nine single-seat F/A-18E Super Hornets and two F/A-18F two-seaters for Blue Angels use. As converted aircraft were delivered, they were used for testing maneuvers starting in mid 2020. [10] [11]

As of the 2020 season [update] , there have been 272 demonstration pilots in the Blue Angels since their inception. [12] [13]

All team members, both officer and enlisted, pilots and staff officers, come from the ranks of regular Navy and United States Marine Corps units. The demonstration pilots and narrator are made up of Navy and USMC Naval Aviators. Pilots serve two to three years, [3] and position assignments are made according to team needs, pilot experience levels, and career considerations for members. Other officers in the squadron include a Naval Flight Officer who serves as the Events Coordinator, three USMC C-130 pilots, an Executive Officer, a Maintenance Officer, a Supply Officer, a Public Affairs Officer, an Administrative Officer, and a Flight Surgeon. Enlisted members range from E-4 to E-9 and perform all maintenance, administrative, and support functions. They serve three to four years in the squadron. [3] After serving with the squadron, members return to fleet assignments.

The officer selection process requires pilots and support officers (flight surgeon, events coordinator, maintenance officer, supply officer, and public affairs officer) wishing to become Blue Angels to apply formally via their chain-of-command, with a personal statement, letters of recommendation, and flight records. Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18 demonstration pilots and naval flight officers are required to have a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet hours and be carrier-qualified. Marine Corps C-130 demonstration pilots are required to have 1,200 flight hours and be an aircraft commander. [15]

Applicants "rush" the team at one or more airshows, paid out of their own finances, and sit in on team briefs, post-show activities, and social events. It is critical that new officers fit the existing culture and team dynamics. The application and evaluation process runs from March through early July, culminating with extensive finalist interviews and team deliberations. Team members vote in secret on the next year's officers. Selections must be unanimous. There have been female and minority staff officers as Blue Angel members, [16] including minority Blue Angel pilot Lt. Andre Webb on the 2018 team. Flight surgeons serve a two-year term. The flight surgeon provides team medical services, evaluates demonstration maneuvers from the ground, and participates in each post-flight debrief. The first female Blue Angel flight surgeon was Lt. Tamara Schnurr, who was a member of the 2001 team. [17]

The Flight Leader (No. 1) is the Commanding Officer and is always a Navy commander, who may be promoted to captain mid-tour if approved for captain by the selection board. Pilots of numbers 2–7 are Navy lieutenant commanders or lieutenants, or Marine Corps majors or captains. The No. 7 pilot narrates for a year, and then typically flies Opposing and then Lead Solo the following two years, respectively. The No. 3 pilot moves to the No. 4 (slot) position for their second year. Blue Angel No. 4 serves as the demonstration safety officer, due largely to the perspective they are afforded from the slot position within the formation, as well as their status as a second-year demonstration pilot.

Flight Leader/Commanding Officer

Commander Brian C. Kesselring is the 38th Blue Angels Flight Leader/Commanding Officer. [18] He is from Fargo, N.D., and graduated from Concordia College, MN, with a Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree with majors in Physics, Mathematics, and Business in 2000. After college, Kesselring went to Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida, where he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy in March 2001. Kesselring became a naval aviator in 2003, and has accumulated more than 4,000 flight hours, and has 812 carrier-arrested landings. He also is a graduate and former staff instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). He joined the Blue Angels in September 2019, [19] and took command of the squadron on 10 November for the 2020–2021 seasons. His military awards include the following decorations: Meritorious Service Medal, six Air Medals (Strike/Flight), three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Annual winter training takes place at NAF El Centro, California, where new and returning pilots hone skills learned in the fleet. During winter training, the pilots fly two practice sessions per day, six days a week, to fly the 120 training missions needed to perform the demonstration safely. The separation between the formation of aircraft and their maneuver altitude is gradually reduced over the course of about two months in January and February. The team then returns to their home base in Pensacola, Florida, in March, and continues to practice throughout the show season. A typical week during the season has practices at NAS Pensacola on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. The team then flies to its show venue for the upcoming weekend on Thursday, conducting "circle and arrival" orientation maneuvers upon arrival. The team flies a "practice" airshow at the show site on Friday. This show is attended by invited guests but is often open to the general public. The main airshows are conducted on Saturdays and Sundays, with the team returning home to NAS Pensacola on Sunday evenings after the show. Monday is an off day for the Blues' demonstration pilots and road crew. Extensive aircraft maintenance is performed on Sunday evening and Monday by maintenance team members.

Pilots maneuver the flight stick with their right hand and operate the throttle with their left. They do not wear G-suits because the air bladders inside repeatedly deflate and inflate, interfering with that stability. To prevent blood from pooling in their legs, Blue Angel pilots have developed a method for tensing their muscles to prevent blood from pooling in their lower extremities, possibly rendering them unconscious. [20]

Overview Edit

The Blue Angels were originally formed in April 1946 as the Navy Flight Exhibition Team. [21] They changed their name to the Blue Angels after visiting the New York nightclub, The Blue Angel, also known as The Blue Angel Supper Club. [22] The team was first introduced as the Blue Angels during an air show in July 1946. [23]

The first Blue Angels demonstration aircraft were navy blue (nearly black) with gold lettering. The current shades of blue and yellow were adopted when the first demonstration aircraft were transitioned from the Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat to the Grumman F8F-1 Bearcat in August 1946 the aircraft were an all-yellow scheme with blue markings during the 1949 show season. [24]

The original Blue Angels insignia or crest was designed in 1949, by Lt. Commander Raleigh "Dusty" Rhodes, their third Flight Leader and first jet fighter leader. The aircraft silhouettes change as the team changes aircraft. [1]

The Blue Angels transitioned from propeller-driven aircraft to blue and gold jet aircraft (Grumman F9F-2B Panther) in August 1949. [25]

The Blue Angels demonstration teams began wearing leather jackets and special colored flight suits with the Blue Angels insignia, in 1952. In 1953, they began wearing gold colored flight suits for the first show of the season and or to commemorate milestones for the flight demonstration squadron. [26] [27] [28] [29]

The Navy Flight Exhibition Team was reorganized and commissioned the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron on 10 December 1973. [30]

1946–1949 Edit

The Blue Angels were established as a Navy flight exhibition team on 24 April 1946 by order of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Chester Nimitz to generate greater public support of naval aviation. To boost Navy morale, demonstrate naval air power, and maintain public interest in naval aviation, an underlying mission was to help the Navy generate public and political support for a larger allocation of the shrinking defense budget. Rear Admiral Ralph Davison personally selected Lieutenant Commander Roy Marlin "Butch" Voris, a World War II fighter ace, to assemble and train a flight demonstration team, naming him Officer-in-Charge and Flight Leader. Voris selected three fellow instructors to join him (Lt. Maurice "Wick" Wickendoll, Lt. Mel Cassidy, and Lt. Cmdr. Lloyd Barnard, veterans of the War in the Pacific), and they spent countless hours developing the show. The group perfected its initial maneuvers in secret over the Florida Everglades so that, in Voris' words, "if anything happened, just the alligators would know". The first four pilots and those after them, were and are some of the best and most experienced aviators in the Navy. [31]

The team's first demonstration with Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat aircraft took place before Navy officials on 10 May 1946 and was met with enthusiastic approval. The Blue Angels performed their first public flight demonstration from their first training base and team headquarters at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida, on 15 and 16 June 1946, [32] with three F6F-5 Hellcats (a fourth F6F-5 was held in reserve). On 15 June, Voris led the three Hellcats (numbered 1–3), specially modified to reduce weight and painted sea blue with gold leaf trim, through their inaugural 15-minute-long performance. [1] The team employed a North American SNJ Texan, painted and configured to simulate a Japanese Zero, to simulate aerial combat. This aircraft was later painted yellow and dubbed the "Beetle Bomb". This aircraft is said to have been inspired by one of the Spike Jones' Murdering the Classics series of musical satires, set to the tune (in part) of the William Tell Overture as a thoroughbred horse race scene, with "Beetle Bomb" being the "trailing horse" in the lyrics.

The team thrilled spectators with low-flying maneuvers performed in tight formations, and (according to Voris) by "keeping something in front of the crowds at all times. My objective was to beat the Army Air Corps. If we did that, we'd get all the other side issues. I felt that if we weren't the best, it would be my naval career." The Blue Angels' first public demonstration also netted the team its first trophy, which sits on display at the team's current home at NAS Pensacola. During an air show at Omaha, Nebraska on 19–21 July 1946, the Navy Flight Exhibition Team was introduced as the Blue Angels. [33] The name had originated through a suggestion by Right Wing Pilot Lt. Maurice "Wick" Wickendoll, after he had read about the Blue Angel nightclub in The New Yorker magazine. After ten appearances with the Hellcats, the Hellcats were replaced by the lighter, faster, and more powerful F8F-1 Bearcats on 25 August. [33] By the end of the year the team consisted of four Bearcats numbered 1–4 on the tail sections.

In May 1947, flight leader Lt. Cmdr. Bob Clarke replaced Butch Voris as the leader of the team. The team with an additional fifth pilot, relocated to Naval Air Station (NAS) Corpus Christi, Texas. On 7 June at Birmingham, Alabama, four F8F-1 Bearcats (numbered 1–4) flew in diamond formation for the first time which is now considered the Blue Angels' trademark. A fifth Bearcat was also added that year. A SNJ was used as a Japanese Zero for dogfights with the Bearcats in air shows.

In January 1948, Lt. Cmdr. Raleigh " Dusty" Rhodes took command of the Blue Angels team which was flying four Bearcats and a yellow painted SNJ with USN markings dubbed "Beetle Bomb" the SNJ represented a Japanese Zero for the air show dogfights with the Bearcats. The name "Blue Angels" also was painted on the Bearcats. [34]

In 1949, the team acquired a Douglas R4D Skytrain for logistics to and from show sites. The team's SNJ was also replaced by another Bearcat, painted yellow for the air combat routine, inheriting the "Beetle Bomb" nickname. In May, the team went to the west coast on temporary duty so the pilots and the rest of the team could become familiar with jet aircraft. [35] On 13 July, the team acquired, and began flying the straight-wing Grumman F9F-2B Panther between demonstration shows. [36] On 20 August, the team debuted the panther jets under Team Leader Lt. Commander Raleigh "Dusty" Rhodes [33] during an air show at Beaumont, Texas and added a 6th pilot. [37] [38] The F8F-1 "Beetle Bomb" was relegated to solo aerobatics before the main show, until it crashed on takeoff at a training show in Pensacola on 24 April 1950, killing "Blues" pilot Lt. Robert Longworth. Team headquarters shifted from NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, to NAAS Whiting Field, Florida, on 10 September 1949, announced 14 July 1949. [39]

1950–1959 Edit

The Blues Angels pilots continued to perform nationwide in 1950. On 25 June, the Korean War started, and all Blue Angels pilots [40] volunteered for combat duty. The squadron (due to a shortage of pilots, and no available planes) and its members were ordered to "combat-ready status" after an exhibition at Naval Air Station, Dallas, Texas on 30 July. [41] The Blue Angels were disbanded, [33] and its pilots were reassigned to a carrier. Once aboard the aircraft carrier USS Princeton on 9 November, the group formed the core of Fighter Squadron 191 (VF-19), "Satan's Kittens", under the command of World War II fighter ace and 1950 Blue Angels Commander/Flight Leader, Lt. Commander John Magda he was killed in action on 8 March 1951.

On 25 October 1951, the Blues were ordered to re-activate as a flight demonstration team, and reported to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. Lt. Cdr. Voris was again tasked with assembling the team (he was the first of only two commanding officers to lead them twice). In May 1952, the Blue Angels began performing again with F9F-5 Panthers [42] at an airshow in Memphis, Tennessee. [43] In 1953, the team [44] traded its Sky Train for a Curtiss R5C Commando. In August, "Blues" leader LCDR Ray Hawkins became the first naval aviator to survive an ejection at supersonic speeds when a new F9F-6 he was piloting became uncontrollable on a cross-country flight. [45] [46] [47] After summer, the team began demonstrating with F9F-6 Cougar.

In 1954, the first Marine Corps pilot, Captain Chuck Hiett, joined the Navy flight demonstration team. [48] The Blue Angels also received special colored flight suits. [33] In May, the Blue Angels performed at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. with the Air Force Thunderbirds (activated 25 May 1953). [49] The Blue Angels began relocating to their current home at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida that winter, [50] and it was here they progressed to the swept-wing Grumman F9F-8 Cougar. In December, the team left its home base for its first winter training facility at Naval Air Facility El Centro, California [51]

In September 1956, the team added a sixth aircraft to the flight demonstration in the Opposing Solo position, [52] and gave its first performance outside the United States at the International Air Exposition in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It also upgraded its logistics aircraft to the Douglas R5D Skymaster. [ citation needed ]

In 1957, the Blue Angels transitioned from the F9F-8 Cougar to the supersonic Grumman F11F-1 Tiger. [53] The first demonstration was flying the short-nosed version on 23 March, at Barin Field, Pensacola, and then the long-nosed versions. The demonstration team (with added Angel 6) wore gold flight suits during the first air show that season.

In 1958, the first Six-Plane Delta Maneuvers were added that season. [ citation needed ]

1960–1969 Edit

In July 1964, the Blue Angels participated in the Aeronaves de Mexico Anniversary Air Show over Mexico City, Mexico, before an estimated crowd of 1.5 million people.

In 1965, the Blue Angels conducted a Caribbean island tour, flying at five sites. Later that year, they embarked on a European tour to a dozen sites, including the Paris Air Show, where they were the only team to receive a standing ovation.

In 1967, the Blues toured Europe again, at six sites.

In 1968, the C-54 Skymaster transport aircraft was replaced with a Lockheed VC-121J Constellation. The Blues transitioned to the two-seat McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II in 1969, nearly always keeping the back seat empty for flight demonstrations. The Phantom was the only plane to be flown by both the "Blues" and the United States Air Force Thunderbirds (the "Birds"). That year they also upgraded to the Lockheed C-121 Super Constellation for logistics.

1970–1979 Edit

In 1970, the Blues received their first U.S. Marine Corps Lockheed KC-130F Hercules, manned by an all-Marine crew. That year, they went on their first South American tour.

In 1971, the team which wore the gold flight suits for the first show, [54] conducted its first Far East Tour, performing at a dozen locations in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Guam, and the Philippines.

In 1972, the Blue Angels were awarded the Navy's Meritorious Unit Commendation for the two-year period from 1 March 1970 to 31 December 1971. Another European tour followed in 1973, including air shows in Tehran, Iran, England, France, Spain, Turkey, Greece, and Italy.

On 10 December 1973, the Navy Flight Exhibition Team was reorganized and commissioned the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. [55] [56] The Blues mission was more on Navy recruiting.

In 1974, the Blue Angels transitioned to the new Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II. Navy Commander Anthony Less became the squadron's first "commanding officer" and "flight leader". A permanent flight surgeon position and administration officer was added to the team. [55] [57] The squadron's mission was redefined by Less to further improve the recruiting effort.

Beginning in 1975, "Bert" was used for Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO) and short aerial demonstrations just prior to the main event at selected venues, but the JATO demonstration ended in 2009 due to dwindling supplies of rockets. [58] "Fat Albert Airlines" flies with an all-Marine crew of three officers and five enlisted personnel.

1980–1989 Edit

In 1986, LCDR Donnie Cochran, joined the Blue Angels as the first African-American Naval Aviator to be selected. [59] [60] He served for two more years with the squadron flying the left wing-man position in the No. 3 A-4F fighter, and returned to command the Blue Angels in 1995 and 1996. [61]

On 8 November 1986, the Blue Angels completed their 40th anniversary year during ceremonies unveiling their present aircraft, the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The power and aerodynamics of the Hornet allows them to perform a slow, high angle of attack "tail sitting" maneuver, and to fly a "dirty" (landing gear down) formation loop. [62] [63]

1990–1999 Edit

The Blue Angels Creed, written by JO1 Cathy Konn 1991–1993 [64]

In 1992, the Blue Angels deployed for a month-long European tour, their first in 19 years, conducting shows in Sweden, Finland, Russia (first foreign flight demonstration team to perform there), Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Spain.

In 1998, CDR Patrick Driscoll made the first "Blue Jet" landing on a "haze gray and underway" aircraft carrier, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75).

On 8 October 1999, the Blue Angels lost two pilots. LCDR Kieron O'Connor and LT Kevin Colling were returning from a practice flight before an air show when their F/A-18B crashed in a wooded area of south Georgia. [65]

2000–2009 Edit

In 2000, the Navy was conducting investigations in regard and connected to the loss of two Blue Angels pilots in October 1999. The pilots of the F/A-18 Hornet were not required to wear and do not wear g-suits.

In 2006, the Blue Angels marked their 60th year of performing. [66] On 30 October 2008, a spokesman for the team announced that the team would complete its last three performances of the year with five jets instead of six. The change was because one pilot and another officer in the organization had been removed from duty for engaging in an "inappropriate relationship". The Navy said one of the individuals was a man and the other a woman, one a Marine and the other from the Navy, and that Rear Admiral Mark Guadagnini, chief of Naval air training, was reviewing the situation. [67] At the next performance at Lackland Air Force Base following the announcement the No. 4 or slot pilot, was absent from the formation. A spokesman for the team would not confirm the identity of the pilot removed from the team. [68] On 6 November 2008, both officers were found guilty at an admiral's mast on unspecified charges but the resulting punishment was not disclosed. [69] The names of the two members involved were later released on the Pensacola News Journal website/forum as pilot No. 4 USMC Maj. Clint Harris and the administrative officer, Navy Lt. Gretchen Doane. [70]

On 21 April 2007, pilot Kevin "Kojak" Davis was killed and eight people on the ground were injured when Davis lost control of the No. 6 jet and crashed due to G-force-induced Loss Of Consciousness (G-LOC) during an air show at the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in Beaufort, South Carolina.

The Fat Albert performed its final JATO demonstration at the 2009 Pensacola Homecoming show, expending their eight remaining JATO bottles. This demonstration not only was the last JATO performance of the squadron, but also the final JATO use of the U.S. Marine Corps. [71]

In 2009, the Blue Angels were inducted into the International Air & Space Hall of Fame at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. [72]

2010–2019 Edit

On 22 May 2011, the Blue Angels were performing at the Lynchburg Regional Airshow in Lynchburg, Virginia, when the Diamond formation flew the Barrel Roll Break maneuver at an altitude lower than the required minimum. [73] The maneuver was aborted, the remainder of the demonstration canceled and all aircraft landed safely. The next day, the Blue Angels announced that they were initiating a safety stand-down, canceling their upcoming Naval Academy Airshow and returning to their home base in Pensacola, Florida, for additional training and airshow practice. [74] On 26 May, the Blue Angels announced they would not be flying their traditional fly-over of the Naval Academy Graduation Ceremony and that they were canceling their 28–29 May 2011 performances at the Millville Wings and Wheels Airshow in Millville, New Jersey.

On 27 May 2011, the Blue Angels announced that Commander Dave Koss, the squadron's Commanding Officer, would be stepping down. He was replaced by Captain Greg McWherter, the team's previous Commanding Officer. [75] The squadron canceled performances at the Rockford, Illinois Airfest 4–5 June and the Evansville, Indiana Freedom Festival Air Show 11–12 June to allow additional practice and demonstration training under McWherter's leadership. [75]

On 29 July 2011, a new Blue Angels Mustang GT was auctioned off for $400,000 at the Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture Oshkosh (Oshkosh Air Show) annual summer gathering of aviation enthusiasts from 25 to 31 July in Oshkosh, Wisconsin which had an attendance of 541,000 persons and 2,522 show planes. [76] [77]

Between 2 and 4 September 2011 on Labor Day weekend, the Blue Angels flew for the first time with a fifty-fifty blend of conventional JP-5 jet fuel and a camelina-based biofuel at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. [78] [79] McWherter flew an F/A-18 test flight on 17 August and stated there were no noticeable differences in performance from inside the cockpit. [80] [81]

On 1 March 2013, the U.S. Navy announced that it was cancelling remaining 2013 performances after 1 April 2013 due to sequestration budget constraints. [82] [83] [84] In October 2013, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, stating that "community and public outreach is a crucial Departmental activity", announced that the Blue Angels (along with the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds) would resume appearing at air shows starting in 2014, although the number of flyovers will continue to be severely reduced. [85]

On 15 March 2014, the demonstration pilots numbered 1–7 wore gold flight suits to celebrate the team's "return to the skies" during their first air show of the season [86] there were only three air shows in 2013.

In July 2014, Marine Corps C-130 pilot Capt. Katie Higgins, 27, became the first female pilot to join the Blue Angels, flying Fat Albert for the 2015 and 2016 show seasons. [87] [88] In July 2015, Cmdr Bob Flynn became the Blue Angels' first executive officer. [89]

In July 2016, Boeing was awarded a $12 million contract to begin an engineering proposal for converting the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for Blue Angels use, with the proposal to be completed by September 2017. [90]

The Fat Albert (BUNO 164763) was retired from service in May 2019 with 30,000 flight hours. The Blue Angels replaced it with an Ex-RAF C-130J (BUNO 170000). [91]

2020-present Edit

In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Blue Angels flew over multiple US cities as a tribute to healthcare and front line workers. [92]

The Blues officially transitioned to Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets on 4 November 2020. [93] [94] [95]


Hercules and Alcestis: Personal Excellence & Social Duty - History

> The Shame Culture
Aidos, or shame, was the worst fate to befall a warrior. "The warriors of the heroic caste were impelled to certain courses of action, or were restrained from others, by aidos: they were ashamed of ‘losing face’ among their equals or inferiors, and this fear of public indignation kept before the mind of the heroes where their duty lay" (Hooker 121). Not having arete, losing timé, and never gaining kleos could all lead to aidos. Therefore, it is apparent in the epics that "valor and the adherence to duty in the face of overwhelming odds were all important. Heroism is all the greater because a Greek will fight until the end [so that] he will not lose his honor" (Pre-Axial 4). Both the desire for glory and the fear of shame created a society that valued battle and success above all else. “Inherent in this code was a too-ready acceptance of bloodshed and carnage: without violent death there can be no kleos” (Toohey 22).

An important aspect of the Shame Culture is that "it makes no difference to the evaluation of the situation whether the failure results from cowardice, or from mistake: only the result is taken into account. Homeric society is a ‘results-culture’” (Adkins 29). This idea that society only focuses on results and ignores intention is much different from modern society. We often tell children, "Just try your best." The Greeks would say, "Just win." Simply put, “no quality has any value unless it leads to success” (Adkins 29).

> Hospitality
The practice of xenia, or hospitality, was particularly important to the Greeks. In a world before hotels and restaurants, the only way to survive while traveling was through the hospitality of friends or strangers. It was understood that if someone came to your door looking for food or a place to sleep, you would provide what you could for that person. Also, it didn't matter if you knew the person or not. Strangers and friends were treated equally.

The second reason xenia was important was because "e very stranger and beggar comes from Zeus" (Odyssey 14.64). The Greeks had a great fear of the gods and believed that they involved themselves in human affairs. They believed the gods might send a stranger to someone's house, or a god himself might come disguised as a beggar to test someone. If the god was not provided for correctly, there could be terrible consequences for the person and his entire family.

Because the Greeks felt so strongly about taking care of guests, any lapse in xenia could be grounds for a loss of honor or status in the community. The gifts exchanged with a guest were a form of timé, and being able to present great gifts was a public showing of arete.


Hercules and Alcestis: Personal Excellence & Social Duty - History


Apollo was a sun god of great antiquity, yet he is represented as an ever youthful god, just, wise and of great beauty. He has been the subject of many great paintings and statues throughout the ages. Apollo was well loved among the gods. Only his half brother, Hermes, dared to play a trick on him when he stole Apollo's cattle.

As well as physical beauty, Apollo represented the moral excellence that we think of as civilization. His cult at Delphi had enormous influence on matters of state and religion, as well as on everyday law and order. The influence of Apollo at Delphi helped to spread tolerance in all social ranks. Apollo was above all, a god of justice, law, and order.

The many and varying functions of Apollon suggest that the god had many personalities derived from various origins. Some mythologists say that he was a sun god from Asia, who merged with a pastoral god from the countries north of Greece, known as Hyperborea, that is the "Far North" making him and the other gods extraterrestrials. Images of human worshipping gods and goddesses take us to Ancient Alien Theory.


Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in ancient Greek and Roman religion, Greek and Roman mythology, and Greco-Roman Neopaganism. The ideal of the kouros (a beardless, athletic youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, healing, plague, music, poetry, and more. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu.

Among the proposed etymologies is the Hurrian and Hittite divinity, Aplu, who was widely invoked during the "plague years". Aplu, it is suggested, comes from the Akkadian Aplu Enlil, meaning "the son of Enlil", a title that was given to the god Nergal, who was linked to Shamash, Babylonian god of the sun.

Apollo, like other Greek deities, had a number of epithets applied to him, reflecting the variety of roles, duties, and aspects ascribed to the god. However, while Apollo has a great number of appellations in Greek myth, only a few occur in Latin literature, chief among them Phoebus which was very commonly used by both the Greeks and Romans in Apollo's role as the god of light.


As the patron of Delphi (Pythian Apollo), Apollo was an oracular god - the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle. Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague. Amongst the god's custodial charges, Apollo became associated with dominion over colonists, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. As the leader of the Muses (Apollon Musegetes) and director of their choir, Apollo functioned as the patron god of music and poetry. Hermes created the lyre for him, and the instrument became a common attribute of Apollo. Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans.

In Hellenistic times, especially during the 3rd century BCE, as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks with Helios, Titan god of the sun, and his sister Artemis similarly equated with Selene, Titan goddess of the moon. In Latin texts, on the other hand, Joseph Fontenrose declared himself unable to find any conflation of Apollo with Sol among the Augustan poets of the 1st century, not even in the conjurations of Aeneas and Latinus in Aeneid XII (161-215). Apollo and Helios/Sol remained separate beings in literary and mythological texts until the 3rd century CE.

The Roman worship of Apollo was adopted from the Greeks. As a quintessentially Greek god, Apollo had no direct Roman equivalent, although later Roman poets often referred to him as Phoebus. There was a tradition that the Delphic oracle was consulted as early as the period of the kings of Rome during the reign of Tarquinius Superbus.

On the occasion of a pestilence in the 430s BCE, Apollo's first temple at Rome was established in the Flaminian fields, replacing an older cult site there known as the "Apollinare". During the Second Punic War in 212 BCE, the Ludi Apollinares ("Apollonian Games") were instituted in his honor, on the instructions of a prophecy attributed to one Marcius. In the time of Augustus, who considered himself under the special protection of Apollo and was even said to be his son, his worship developed and he became one of the chief gods of Rome.


When Zeus' wife Hera discovered that Leto was pregnant and that Zeus was the father, she banned Leto from giving birth on "terra firma". In her wanderings, Leto found the newly created floating island of Delos, which was neither mainland nor a real island. She gave birth there and was accepted by the people, offering them her promise that her son would be always favorable toward the city. Afterwards, Zeus secured Delos to the bottom of the ocean. This island later became sacred to Apollo.

It is also stated that Hera kidnapped Eileithyia, the goddess of childbirth, to prevent Leto from going into labor. The other gods tricked Hera into letting her go by offering her a necklace, nine yards (8 m) long, of amber. Mythographers agree that Artemis was born first and then assisted with the birth of Apollo, or that Artemis was born one day before Apollo, on the island of Ortygia and that she helped Leto cross the sea to Delos the next day to give birth to Apollo. Apollo was born on the seventh day of the month Thargelion - according to Delian tradition - or of the month Bysios - according to Delphian tradition. The seventh and twentieth, the days of the new and full moon, were ever afterwards held sacred to him.

Four days after his birth, Apollo killed the chthonic dragon Python, which lived in Delphi beside the Castalian Spring. This was the spring which emitted vapors that caused the oracle at Delphi to give her prophecies. Hera sent the serpent to hunt Leto to her death across the world. To protect his mother, Apollo begged Hephaestus for a bow and arrows. After receiving them, Apollo cornered Python in the sacred cave at Delphi. Apollo killed Python but had to be punished for it, since Python was a child of Gaia.

Hera then sent the giant Tityos to kill Leto. This time Apollo was aided by his sister Artemis in protecting their mother. During the battle Zeus finally relented his aid and hurled Tityos down to Tartarus. There he was pegged to the rock floor, covering an area of 9 acres (36,000 m2), where a pair of vultures feasted daily on his liver.

Apollo shot arrows infected with the plague into the Greek encampment during the Trojan War in retribution for Agamemnon's insult to Chryses, a priest of Apollo whose daughter Chryseis had been captured. He demanded her return, and the Achaeans complied, indirectly causing the anger of Achilles, which is the theme of the Iliad.

In the Iliad, when Diomedes injured Aeneas, Apollo rescued him. First, Aphrodite tried to rescue Aeneas but Diomedes injured her as well. Aeneas was then enveloped in a cloud by Apollo, who took him to Pergamos, a sacred spot in Troy.

Apollo aided Paris in the killing of Achilles by guiding the arrow of his bow into Achilles' heel. One interpretation of his motive is that it was in revenge for Achilles' sacrilege in murdering Troilus, the god's own son by Hecuba, on the very altar of the god's own temple.

When Zeus struck down Apollo's son Asclepius with a lightning bolt for resurrecting Hippolytus from the dead (transgressing Themis by stealing Hades's subjects), Apollo in revenge killed the Cyclopes, who had fashioned the bolt for Zeus. Apollo would have been banished to Tartarus forever, but was instead sentenced to one year of hard labor as punishment, due to the intercession of his mother, Leto. During this time he served as shepherd for King Admetus of Pherae in Thessaly. Admetus treated Apollo well, and, in return, the god conferred great benefits on Admetus.

Apollo helped Admetus win Alcestis, the daughter of King Pelias and later convinced the Fates to let Admetus live past his time, if another took his place. But when it came time for Admetus to die, his parents, whom he had assumed would gladly die for him, refused to cooperate. Instead, Alcestis took his place, but Heracles managed to "persuade" Thanatos, the god of death, to return her to the world of the living.

Niobe, the queen of Thebes and wife of Amphion, boasted of her superiority to Leto because she had fourteen children (Niobids), seven male and seven female, while Leto had only two. Apollo killed her sons, and Artemis her daughters. Apollo and Artemis used poisoned arrows to kill them, though according to some versions of the myth, a number of the Niobids were spared (Chloris, usually). Amphion, at the sight of his dead sons, either killed himself or was killed by Apollo after swearing revenge.

A devastated Niobe fled to Mount Sipylos in Asia Minor and turned into stone as she wept. Her tears formed the river Achelous. Zeus had turned all the people of Thebes to stone and so no one buried the Niobids until the ninth day after their death, when the gods themselves.


Hermes was born on Mount Cyllene in Arcadia. The story is told in the Homeric Hymn to Hermes. His mother, Maia, had been secretly impregnated by Zeus. Maia wrapped the infant in blankets but Hermes escaped while she was asleep. Hermes ran to Thessaly, where Apollo was grazing his cattle. The infant Hermes stole a number of his cows and took them to a cave in the woods near Pylos, covering their tracks. In the cave, he found a tortoise and killed it, then removed the insides. He used one of the cow's intestines and the tortoise shell and made the first lyre.

Apollo complained to Maia that her son had stolen his cattle, but Hermes had already replaced himself in the blankets she had wrapped him in, so Maia refused to believe Apollo's claim. Zeus intervened and, claiming to have seen the events, sided with Apollo. Hermes then began to play music on the lyre he had invented. Apollo, a god of music, fell in love with the instrument and offered to allow exchange of the cattle for the lyre. Hence, Apollo then became a master of the lyre.


Apollo was one of the foremost gods of Olympus and supremely handsome. Like all the gods and goddesses, Apollo had many lovers. Apollo's love affairs reference both males and females - gods and humans - all of them myths. Love affairs ascribed to Apollo are a late development in Greek mythology. Their vivid anecdotal qualities have made favorites some of them of painters since the Renaissance, so that they stand out more prominently in the modern imagination.


Daphne was a nymph, daughter of the river god Peneus, who had scorned Apollo. The myth explains the connection of Apollo with the laurel whose leaves his priestess employed at Delphi.

In Ovid's Metamorphoses, Phoebus Apollo chaffs Cupid for toying with a weapon more suited to a man, whereupon Cupid wounds him with a golden dart simultaneously, however, Cupid shoots a leaden arrow into Daphne, causing her to be repulsed by Apollo. Following a spirited chase by Apollo, Daphne prays to her father, Peneus, for help, and he changes her into the laurel tree, sacred to Apollo.

Artemis Daphnaia, who had her temple among the Lacedemonians, at a place called Hypsoi in Antiquity, on the slopes of Mount Cnacadion near the Spartan frontier, had her own sacred laurel trees. At Eretria the identity of an excavated 7th and 6th century temple to Apollo Daphnephoros, "Apollo, laurel-bearer", or "carrying off Daphne", a "place where the citizens are to take the oath", is identified in inscriptions.

Leucothea was daughter of Orchamus and sister of Clytia. She fell in love with Apollo who disguised himself as Leucothea's mother to gain entrance to her chambers. Clytia, jealous of her sister because she wanted Apollo for herself, told Orchamus the truth, betraying her sister's trust and confidence in her. Enraged, Orchamus ordered Leucothea to be buried alive. Apollo refused to forgive Clytia for betraying his beloved, and a grieving Clytia wilted and slowly died. Apollo changed her into an incense plant, either heliotrope or sunflower, which follows the sun every day.

Marpessa was kidnapped by Idas but was loved by Apollo as well. Zeus made her choose between them, and she chose Idas on the grounds that Apollo, being immortal, would tire of her when she grew old.

Castalia was a nymph whom Apollo loved. She fled from him and dove into the spring at Delphi, at the base of Mt. Parnassos, which was then named after her. Water from this spring was sacred it was used to clean the Delphian temples and inspire the priestesses. In the last oracle is mentioned that the "water which could speak", has been lost for ever.

By Cyrene, Apollo had a son named Aristaeus, who became the patron god of cattle, fruit trees, hunting, husbandry and bee-keeping. He was also a culture-hero and taught humanity dairy skills, the use of nets and traps in hunting, and how to cultivate olives. Hecuba, w

as the wife of King Priam of Troy, and Apollo had a son with her named Troilus. An oracle prophesied that Troy would not be defeated as long as Troilus reached the age of twenty alive. He was ambushed and killed by Achilleus.

Cassandra, was daughter of Hecuba and Priam, and Troilus' half-sister. Apollo fell in love with Cassandra and promised her the gift of prophecy to seduce her, but she rejected him afterwards. Enraged, Apollo indeed gifted her with the ability to know the future, with a curse that she could only see the future tragedies and that no one would ever believe her.

Coronis, was daughter of Phlegyas, King of the Lapiths. Pregnant with Asclepius, Coronis fell in love with Ischys, son of Elatus. A crow informed Apollo of the affair. When first informed he disbelieved the crow and turned all crows black (where they were previously white) as a punishment for spreading untruths. When he found out the truth he sent his sister, Artemis, to kill Coronis (in other stories, Apollo himself had killed Coronis). As a result he also made the crow sacred and gave them the task of announcing important deaths. Apollo rescued the baby and gave it to the centaur Chiron to raise. Phlegyas was irate after the death of his daughter and burned the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Apollo then killed him for what he did.

In Euripides' play Ion, Apollo fathered Ion by Creusa, wife of Xuthus. Creusa left Ion to die in the wild, but Apollo asked Hermes to save the child and bring him to the oracle at Delphi, where he was raised by a priestess.

Acantha, was the spirit of the acanthus tree, and Apollo had one of his other liaisons with her. Upon her death, Apollo transformed her into a sun-loving herb.

According to the Biblioteca, the "library" of mythology mis-attributed to Apollodorus, he fathered the Corybantes on the Muse Thalia.


Hyacinth or Hyacinthus was one of Apollo's male lovers. He was a Spartan prince, beautiful and athletic. The pair was practicing throwing the discus when a discus thrown by Apollo was blown off course by the jealous Zephyrus and struck Hyacinthus in the head, killing him instantly. Apollo is said to be filled with grief: out of Hyacinthus' blood, Apollo created a flower named after him as a memorial to his death, and his tears stained the flower petals with 'alas'. The Festival of Hyacinthus was a celebration of Sparta.

Another male lover was Cyparissus, a descendant of Heracles. Apollo gave him a tame deer as a companion but Cyparissus accidentally killed it with a javelin as it lay asleep in the undergrowth. Cyparissus asked Apollo to let his tears fall forever. Apollo granted the request by turning him into the Cypress named after him, which was said to be a sad tree because the sap forms droplets like tears on the trunk.

After the battle of Actium, which was fought near a sanctuary of Apollo, Augustus enlarged Apollo's temple, dedicated a portion of the spoils to him, and instituted quinquennial games in his honor. He also erected a new temple to the god on the Palatine hill. Sacrifices and prayers on the Palatine to Apollo and Diana formed the culmination of the Secular Games, held in 17 BCE to celebrate the dawn of a new era.

The chief Apollonian festivals were the Boedromia, Carneia, Carpiae, Daphnephoria, Delia, Hyacinthia, Metageitnia, Pyanepsia, Pythia and Thargelia.

Apollo's most common attributes were the bow and arrow. Other attributes of his included the kithara (an advanced version of the common lyre), the plectrum and the sword. Another common emblem was the sacrificial tripod, representing his prophetic powers. The Pythian Games were held in Apollo's honor every four years at Delphi. The bay laurel plant was used in expiatory sacrifices and in making the crown of victory at these games.

The palm tree was also sacred to Apollo because he had been born under one in Delos. Animals sacred to Apollo included wolves, dolphins, roe deer, swans, cicadas (symbolizing music and song), hawks, ravens, crows, snakes (referencing Apollo's function as the god of prophecy), mice and griffins, mythical eagle-lion hybrids of Eastern origin.

As god of colonization, Apollo gave oracular guidance on colonies, especially during the height of colonization, 750-550 BCE. According to Greek tradition, he helped Cretan or Arcadian colonists found the city of Troy. However, this story may reflect a cultural influence which had the reverse direction: Hittite cuneiform texts mention a Minor Asian god called Appaliunas or Apalunas in connection with the city of Wilusa attested in Hittite inscriptions, which is now generally regarded as being identical with the Greek Ilion by most scholars. In this interpretation, Apollo's title of Lykegenes can simply be read as "born in Lycia", which effectively severs the god's supposed link with wolves (possibly a folk etymology).

In literary contexts, Apollo represents harmony, order, and reason - characteristics contrasted with those of Dionysus, god of wine, who represents ecstasy and disorder. The contrast between the roles of these gods is reflected in the adjectives Apollonian and Dionysian. However, the Greeks thought of the two qualities as complementary: the two gods are brothers, and when Apollo at winter left for Hyperborea, he would leave the Delphic oracle to Dionysus. This contrast appears to be shown on the two sides of the Borghese Vase.

Apollo is often associated with the Golden Mean Ratio.


Apollo is a common theme in Greek and Roman art and also in the art of the Renaissance. The earliest Greek word for a statue is "delight" and the sculptors tried to create forms which would inspire such guiding vision. Greek art puts into Apollo the highest degree of power and beauty that can be imagined. The sculptors derived this from observations on human beings, but they also embodied in concrete form, issues beyond the reach of ordinary thought.

The naked bodies of the statues are associated with the cult of the body that was essentially a religious activity. The muscular frames and limbs combined with slim waists indicate the Greek desire for health, and the physical capacity which was necessary in the hard Greek environment. The statues of Apollo embody beauty, balance and inspire awe before the beauty of the world.

The evolution of the Greek sculpture can be observed in his depictions from the almost static formal Kouros type in early archaic period, to the representation of motion in a relative harmonious whole in late archaic period. In classical Greece the emphasis is not given to the illusive imaginative reality represented by the ideal forms, but to the analogies and the interaction of the members in the whole, a method created by Polykleitos. Finally Praxiteles seems to be released from any art and religious conformities, and his masterpieces are a mixture of naturalism with stylization.


The evolution of the Greek art seems to go parallel with the Greek philosophical conceptions, which changed from the natural-philosophy of Thales to the metaphysical theory of Pythagoras. Thales searched for a simple material-form directly perceptible by the senses, behind the appearances of things, and his theory is also related to the older animism. This was paralleled in sculpture by the absolute representation of vigorous life, through unnaturally simplified forms.

Pythagoras believed that behind the appearance of things, there was the permanent principle of mathematics, and that the forms were based on a transcendental mathematical relation. The forms on earth, are imperfect imitations trying to find the mathematical relation, that would lead to the esthetic perfection.

In classical Greece, Anaxagoras asserted that a divine reason (mind) gave order to the seeds of the universe, and Plato extended the Greek belief of ideal forms to his metaphysical theory of forms (ideai: ideas) - indicating how the Greek mind moved from the gift of the senses, to the principles beyond the senses. The artists in Plato's time moved away from his theories and art tends to be a mixture of naturalism with stylization. The Greek sculptors considered the senses more important, and the proportions were used to unite the sensible with the intellectual.


Apollo as a handsome beardless young man, is often depicted with a kithara (as Apollo Citharoedus) or bow in his hand, or reclining on a tree (the Apollo Lykeios and Apollo Sauroctonos types). The Apollo Belvedere is a marble sculpture that was rediscovered in the late 15th century for centuries it epitomized the ideals of Classical Antiquity for Europeans, from the Renaissance through the 19th century. The marble is a Hellenistic or Roman copy of a bronze original by the Greek sculptor Leochares, made between 350 and 325 BCE.

The life-size so-called "Adonis" found in 1780 on the site of a villa suburbana near the Via Labicana in the Roman suburb of Centocelle is identified as an Apollo by modern scholars. In the late 2nd century CE floor mosaic from El Djem, Roman Thysdrus, he is identifiable as Apollo Helios by his effulgent halo, though now even a god's divine nakedness is concealed by his cloak, a mark of increasing conventions of modesty in the later Empire.

Another haloed Apollo in mosaic, from Hadrumentum, is in the museum at Sousse. The conventions of this representation, head tilted, lips slightly parted, large-eyed, curling hair cut in locks grazing the neck, were developed in the 3rd century BCE to depict Alexander the Great. Some time after this mosaic was executed, the earliest depictions of Christ would also be beardless and haloed.


Heroism: Why Heroes are Important

When I was 16 years old, I read Henry David Thoreau's book Walden for the first time, and it changed my life. I read about living deliberately, about sucking the marrow out of life, about not, when I had come to die, discovering that I had not lived, and I was electrified. Somehow he convinced me that living deliberately meant becoming a philosopher, and I have not looked back since. And I try as often as I can to remind myself of Thoreau's warning to all philosophy professors: "There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers. Yet it is admirable to profess because it was once admirable to live. To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically." If - horrible thought - I should fail to earn tenure here, I would largely blame that damned quotation. But even if that disaster should strike, I know I would find solace by asking how Henry would respond to such a setback, and I know I would be a better man by following his example. Thoreau is one of my dearest heroes, and I do not know who I would be without him.

The term "hero" comes from the ancient Greeks. For them, a hero was a mortal who had done something so far beyond the normal scope of human experience that he left an immortal memory behind him when he died, and thus received worship like that due the gods. Many of these first heroes were great benefactors of humankind: Hercules, the monster killer Asclepius, the first doctor Dionysus, the creator of Greek fraternities. But people who had committed unthinkable crimes were also called heroes Oedipus and Medea, for example, received divine worship after their deaths as well. Originally, heroes were not necessarily good, but they were always extraordinary to be a hero was to expand people's sense of what was possible for a human being.

Today, it is much harder to detach the concept of heroism from morality we only call heroes those whom we admire and wish to emulate. But still the concept retains that original link to possibility. We need heroes first and foremost because our heroes help define the limits of our aspirations. We largely define our ideals by the heroes we choose, and our ideals -- things like courage, honor, and justice -- largely define us. Our heroes are symbols for us of all the qualities we would like to possess and all the ambitions we would like to satisfy. A person who chooses Martin Luther King or Susan B. Anthony as a hero is going to have a very different sense of what human excellence involves than someone who chooses, say, Paris Hilton, or the rapper 50 Cent. And because the ideals to which we aspire do so much to determine the ways in which we behave, we all have a vested interest in each person having heroes, and in the choice of heroes each of us makes.

That is why it is so important for us as a society, globally and locally, to try to shape these choices. Of course, this is a perennial moral issue, but there are warning signs that we need to refocus our attention on the issue now. Consider just a few of these signs:

o A couple years ago the administrators of the Barron Prize for Young Heroes polled American teenagers and found only half could name a personal hero. Superman and Spiderman were named twice as often as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or Lincoln. It is clear that our media make it all too easy for us to confuse celebrity with excellence of the students who gave an answer, more than half named an athlete, a movie star, or a musician. One in ten named winners on American Idol as heroes.

o Gangsta rap is a disaster for heroism. Just this week, director Spike Lee lamented the fact that, while his generation grew up idolizing great civil rights leaders, today young people in his community aspire to become pimps and strippers. Surely no one wants their children to get their role models from Gangsta rap and a hyper materialistic, misogynistic hiphop culture, but our communities are finding it difficult to make alternative role models take hold.

o And sometimes, the problem we face is that devotion to heroes is very strong, but directed toward the wrong heroes. In the Muslim world, Osama bin Laden and his like still have a widespread heroic appeal. We can tell how we are doing in the struggle for Muslim hearts and minds by the degree to which this continues to be true.

So what must we do? How should we address the problem? Part of the answer is personal. It never hurts us to remind ourselves who our own heroes are and what they represent for us, and to ask ourselves whether we are doing all we can to live up to these ideals. Not long ago there was a movement afoot to ask always, "What would Jesus do?" I'd like to see people asking questions like that, about Jesus or others, all the time. I confess I get a little thrill every time I see a protest poster asking, "Who would Jesus bomb?" That's heroism doing its work, right there. Moreover, those of us who are teachers - and all of us are teachers of our own children at least - have a special opportunity to introduce heroes to those we teach. And teaching about heroes really isn't hard heroic lives have their appeal built in, all we need to do is make an effort to tell the stories. I assure you, the reason those students didn't choose Lincoln and King and Gandhi as heroes was not that they had heard their stories and dismissed them. It is our job to tell the stories. Tell your students what a difference people of courage and nobility and genius have made to the world. Just tell the stories! We should recommit to that purpose. Start by going home tonight and listing your five most important heroes.

But part of the answer to our problem is broader. It is clear that the greatest obstacle to the appreciation and adoption of heroes in our society is pervasive and corrosive cynicism and skepticism. It was widely claimed not long ago that 9/11 signalled the end of irony, but it is clear now that the reports of irony's death were greatly exaggerated. This obstacle of cynicism has been seriously increased by scandals like the steroids mess in Major League Baseball, by our leaders' opportunistic use of heroic imagery for short term political gain, and by the Pentagon's stories of glorious soldiers like Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman that - by no fault of the soldiers involved - turned out to be convenient fabrications.

The best antidote to this cynicism is realism about the limits of human nature. We are cynical because so often our ideals have been betrayed. Washington and Jefferson held slaves, Martin Luther King is accused of philandering and plagiarizing, just about everybody had sex with someone they shouldn't, and so on. We need to separate out the things that make our heroes noteworthy, and forgive the shortcomings that blemish their heroic perfection. My own hero Thoreau had his share of blemishes. For instance, although he was supposed to be living totally independently out by Walden Pond, he went home to Mother on the weekends. But such carping and debunking misses the point. True, the false steps and frailties of heroic people make them more like us, and since most of us are not particularly heroic, that may seem to reduce the heroes' stature. But this dynamic pulls in the other direction as well: these magnificent spirits, these noble souls, amazingly, they are like us, they are human too. And perhaps, then, what was possible for them is possible for us. They stumbled, they wavered, they made fools of themselves - but nonetheless they rose and accomplished deeds of triumphant beauty. Perhaps we might do so too. Cynicism is too often merely an excuse for sparing ourselves the effort.

Again, the critical moral contribution of heroes is the expansion of our sense of possibility. If we most of us, as Thoreau said, live lives of quiet desperation, it is because our horizons of possibility are too cramped. Heroes can help us lift our eyes a little higher. Immanuel Kant said that "from the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made." That may well be true. But some have used that warped, knotted timber to build more boldly and beautifully than others, and we may all benefit by their examples. Heaven knows we need those examples now.


Hercules and Alcestis: Personal Excellence & Social Duty - History

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DPhil Candidate, Classical Languages and Literature, University College, Oxford.
Dissertation title: '"Grace no longer grace": A Theology of Pauline Charis in the First-Century Roman World'.
Supervisors: Teresa Morgan

In the past fifty years and more, when studying and writing about Sophocles’ Ajax, classical scho. more In the past fifty years and more, when studying and writing about Sophocles’ Ajax, classical scholars have focused much of their attention on drawing out some coherent understanding of justice propounded by the author in his drama of anger, vengeance, and suicide. While Sophocles undeniably allows his remarkably humane Odysseus and eloquent Tecmessa to embody a new code of justice based on empathy and compassion, more central to his purposes, I argue, is his penetrating critique of the traditional heroic understanding of justice based on revenge and of the comfortable assumptions of his contemporary Athenian audience concerning their own city’s role as the moderate and just arbiter of the Hellenic world. By paralleling in his characters Athena and Ajax their insulted statuses and consequent desire to humiliate their offenders, Sophocles highlights the terrifying consequences of an “eye for an eye” system of justice, which leaves the weaker (in this case, mortals) utterly at the mercy of the stronger (here, immortals). Yet in this drama, mercy is just what neither goddess nor hero can understand. By twice refusing her aid, Ajax gains the implacable hatred of the insulted Athena, just as the sons of Atreus gain that of Ajax by denying him the arms of Achilles. Both goddess and hero view themselves as victims of the hubris of their offenders, and each is consumed throughout the play by a lust for vengeance, for the power to laugh at his humiliated enemy. Ajax commits his tragic suicide, however, upon his own recognition of his utter helplessness as a mere mortal attempting to defy the power of an avenging deity. His only recourse lies in the denial of the goodness of life itself, in the one absolute power reserved to a man: his own death. Dramatically engendered by the ancient code of justice by vengeance, the terrifying conflict between Athens’ two central mythic patrons demanded that Sophocles’ Athenian audience reevaluate their own city’s ability to remain untainted by the tyranny of power into which such a moral code must inevitably degenerate.

This paper was presented as part of Eta Sigma Phi's undergraduate research panel at the January 2015 convention of the SCS.


Personality

Thanatos was believed to be merciless and undiscriminating, sharing a mutual hatred for most of the other gods and mortals. However, he may resent his job because doing so could cost his demigod rescuers their lives and he would be forced to bring them to the Underworld, prompting the other to ask if he even wanted to be free.

Thanatos explains to them that death isn't fair, but it is his duty to stop souls from returning. He may have a dark sense of humor as once he is free, he checks his list of souls and when he doesn't see Hazel's, he tells her he could call Pluto and get this oversight taken care of. However, this could simply be him doing his job.

Thanatos doesn't seem to care about returning favors. When Frank frees him, Frank asks if he would help and Thanatos said he will prevent those that die in this fight from returning, something he is supposed to do anyway as he is the god of death.


Gender and the City in Euripides’ Political Plays

Traditionally dismissed as propagandistic and incoherent, Euripides’ Children of Heracles and Suppliant Women have long deserved a fresh look. Indeed, it is remarkable that in a decade of emphasis on the political context of Athenian drama, so little attention has been paid to either of these two plays. Daniel Mendelsohn provides a masterful and compelling rereading of both plays and in the process not only challenges standard assessments of their value but also demonstrates the centrality of gender for structuring their political debates.

The book began as a Princeton dissertation, completed in 1994, under the supervision of F. Zeitlin, whose influence is felt strongly throughout. The book is divided into three parts followed by a brief conclusion. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the scholarly tradition on the two plays and lays the theoretical groundwork for the argument. Detailed readings of Children of Heracles and Suppliant Women form the subject of Chapters 2 and 3, respectively. Mendelsohn’s analysis demonstrates the pervasive importance of gender for these plays and its function as a vehicle for social and political critique as well as elucidates unexpected similarities between the two plays.

In Chapter 1, Mendelsohn sets out to prove that both plays have more aesthetic merit, and are more unified, than the previous generation of scholars have suggested. He argues that awareness of gender brings renewed appreciation of the plays, even though both lack central female protagonists but rather are structured around opposing feminine pairs. Because women in tragic space transgress gender boundaries, their presence implicitly critiques or calls into question masculine political ideology, particularly when they appropriate male heroic identity. Pairings of contrasting females, such as the sacrificial virgin and the vengeful mother in Children of Heracles, provide “a coherent structural device with particular implications for political theorizing (46).”

Mendelsohn envisions the same narrative movement from containment to disruption in both plays, embodied in contrasting feminine pairs: in the first part, males successfully control the intrusive female in the second, feminine disorder schools the male to “play the other” and thereby achieve a fuller understanding of his world. Such negotiations dramatize the ways in which the other may threaten civic unity while at the same time showing the importance — indeed, the necessity — of diversity to the city. Whereas Euripides’ political theorizing may be viewed as complicit in a patriarchal agenda, it is simultaneously inflected with a feminine dimension to suggest that democratic ideology “imposes itself at a considerable price (49).”

Mendelsohn locates his argument between what he views as two basic strands of contemporary criticism on tragic women, the psychoanalytic approach and historicist feminist readings, neither of which he finds satisfying. N. Rabinowitz is made to stand for the “classic feminist reading of tragedy” (if there is such a thing) in which the victimized tragic female is seen as reinforcing patriarchal ideology. 1 The “materialist and historicist” approach seems to be exemplified by the work of H. Foley, although accompanying footnotes mention only one of her articles. 2 This “narrow” approach, the author argues, must yield to a “more symbolic feminist reading.” To this end, Mendelsohn leans rather heavily on A. Saxonhouse’s interpretation of the tragic female as a symbol of undesirable political and social diversity. 3

This chapter more than any other suggests the book’s origins as a dissertation formulated in the early 1990s. There is almost nothing in the bibliography later than 1997 indeed, an early footnote explains that the study was “essentially complete” prior to 1995 (p. 27, n. 50). 4 By framing the book around an artificial opposition of psychoanalytic and historicist feminisms, neither of which is adequately defined, Mendelsohn constructs a bit of a straw man to be knocked down in subsequent chapters. Fortunately, this theoretical positioning does not detract from the author’s final point, and his ultimate contribution to the study of Euripidean drama, that gender is central to the political agendas of Children of Heracles and Suppliant Women, as well as to their dramatic structure.

Chapter 2, ” Children of Heracles : Territories of the Other,” explores the play as a suppliant drama of dislocation. The wandering Heraclids under the guidance of the aged Iolaus flee Argos and the tyranny of Eurystheus to seek asylum at Marathon. Deprived of heroic identity by old age and of civic identity by exile, Iolaus in his flight creates a political crisis resolved only by the sacrifice of an unnamed parthenos. This death heroizes the girl while at the same time feminizing the male (by now a familiar trope in Euripidean studies, as exemplified by Medea and Jason, Alcestis and Admetus). And yet her speech and her selfless gesture serve to “soften and redefine key terms of masculine heroism” (92). The maiden’s unseemly intrusion into the world of men becomes a model of “correct and appropriate civic ‘boldness’ ” (93). Since her sacrifice on behalf of her family ultimately contributes to the political stability of Athens, she may rightly be compared to the ephebe as she “stands beside” her death like a hoplite in formation ( paristasthai sphagei, v. 502).

But the gender reversal is only temporary: the sacrifice of the girl to Persephone unexpectedly rejuvenates the aged Iolaus. Taking the hoplite’s armor from the feminine interior of the temple, he reclaims his status as warrior. And yet this is not simply a recuperation of aristocratic heroism rather, the girl’s sacrifice effects a moral change in the old man. Whereas in the play’s opening Iolaus voices a pre-democratic world view, rejecting the claims of the polis in favor of the genos, the death of the maiden instructs him in the ultimate democratic lesson, the importance of the ephebe’s sacrifice for the city. The final, feminine intrusion of the wrathful Alcmene realizes and inverts the positive thrasos of the maiden instead of teaching citizenship, she provides a lesson in how the unbridled female may endanger the well-regulated polis.

Mendelsohn concludes, contra Rabinowitz, that the virgin sacrifice depicted in the Children of Heracles does not support patriarchal aims but rather validates the place of the feminine within the polis. The representation of conflicts between opposing feminine types, the pure virgin and the vengeful mother, combined with the reduplicative blurring of boundaries between masculine and feminine, dramatize the need for a balanced political and civic identity. In the end, the goddess Hebe — youthful, virginal, but significantly not a mother — appears as a mediating force, an Argive who winds up as a protector of Athens.

The third chapter, ” Suppliant Women : Regulations of the Feminine,” elucidates subtle unities within the play through analysis of another pair of contrasting feminine figures, the mourning mother and the suicidal wife. The play’s Demetrian context suggests the symbolic significance of marriage and motherhood for the play. At Eleusis, the suppliant band of Argive mothers seeking to recover the bodies of their slain sons confront Aethra, the mother of Theseus, while Evadne through suicide seeks to join her dead husband in the realm of Persephone. Whereas Children of Heracles emphasizes the daughter, Kore, to whom the maiden must be sacrificed, and with whom she was identified, Suppliant Women focuses on the importance of marriage and motherhood for the well-governed state. Aethra’s marriage to Aegeus provides a positive model for the integration of women into the city, in contrast to the careless exogamy of the Argive Adrastus. Moreover, marriage as a joining of masculine and feminine may be effectively marshaled as a potent symbol for other forms of political integration (161).

For Mendelsohn, Suppliant Women dramatizes the perils of two different models of marriage, endogamy and exogamy, both with political ramifications. Adrastus’ haste in selecting his daughters’ suitors compromises the integrity of his city by involving Argos in the affairs of other states indeed, it has led to the death of the Seven and their mothers’ sad plight. His uncivilized and dangerously bestial ( thersin hos, 145) form of exogamy betokens a feminine lack of self-control. In contrast, Theseus’ principle of marriage within the clan, informed by the rhetoric of autochthony, expresses a hyper-masculine need for self-sufficiency. Both positions are shown to be untenable: Athens and Argos have failed to master self-other integration both domestically and politically.

Like the maiden in Children of Heracles, Aethra must exploit masculine traits, in this case speech rather than valor, to ensure that feminine or cooperative values are upheld. In leaving the palace and confronting Theseus, she, too, must challenge male authority, and an aristocratic viewpoint, to effect change on behalf of a vulnerable group. Aethra successfully modulates her son’s heroic and epic value system, convincing him to fight not only for his own good name, but for his city, and even all of Hellas. Thus Aethra’s plea for intervention effects a moral transformation in the male: she “softens … her son’s outlook he literally broadens his horizons” (170). Like the maiden, she endorses only that heroic ethos that puts the group first. More could have been made of the religious context of Aethra’s intrusion into male space and the appropriateness of her intervention as a mother and older woman. 5 Indeed, she states that it is her religious duty to remind Theseus to do what is hosion (40). She claims to represent the will of the gods ( ta ton theon, 301) and to preserve the universal nomos of burial (310-11), a religious imperative not unlike that claimed by Sophocles’ Antigone.

The feminine transgression contained foreshadows the disruptive, and inexplicable, entrance of Evadne in the play’s conclusion. In Mendelsohn’s view, her gesture — the only on-stage suicide in extant tragedy — implicitly critiques the notion of euandreia embodied by her husband’s death. Evadne’s public proclamation of conjugal love as well as her refusal to submit to paternal control illustrate the dangers of the female incontinence. Like the maiden in Children of Heracles, she claims to die for the sake of arete, but she has redefined it in erotic terms. Her excellence as a wife consists of dying along with her husband rather than on behalf of her family, like that of the girl. Her heroic death mingles categories of living and dead, male and female, husband and wife in so doing, it recalls the dangerous symmeixis of Oedipus that lurks in the play’s mythic background. This final feminine action enacts yet another gender reversal, forcing Iphis, her mourning father, to “play” Demeter (215-18). Only Athena ex machina can set to rights this all-too-feminine world.

While Mendelsohn’s overarching argument, that the feminine modulates the state’s “archaic, masculine and monolithically unitary modes (230-31),” ultimately persuades, his ability to bring to the surface some of the profound similarities between the two plays is truly compelling. Both are suppliant dramas structured by reduplications and reversals of gender. Both make use of the same dramatic structure in which a passive male is enhanced by an active female the second half inverts this schema to show a female appropriation of male activities that in turn feminizes or educates the male. As Mendelsohn demonstrates, Children of Heracles and Suppliant Women should be interpreted as a pair, not simply because they praise Athens, or because they lack dramatic unity, but because they exemplify Euripides’ poetic technique during the 420s, as well as powerfully reflect the political turmoil of the early war years.

1. N. S. Rabinowitz, Anxiety Veiled : Euripides and the Traffic in Women (Ithaca, N.Y., 1993).

2. H. Foley, “The Politics of Tragic Lamentation,” in A. Sommerstein et al. (eds.), Tragedy, Comedy, and the Polis (Bari, 1993), 101-43.

3. A. Saxonhouse, Fear of Diversity: The Birth of Political Science in Ancient Greek Thought (Chicago, 1992).

4. For example, the following recent works on gender in Euripides and/or Euripidean drama are not cited: V. Wohl, Intimate Commerce: Exchange, Gender and Subjectivity in Greek Tragedy (Austin, TX, 1998) L. McClure, Spoken Like a Woman: Speech and Gender in Athenian Drama (Princeton, 1999) W. Allan, The Andromache and Euripidean Tragedy (Oxford, 2000) M. Cropp and K. Lee (eds.), Euripides and Tragic Theatre in the Late Fifth Century (Champaign, IL, 2000) H. P. Foley, Female Acts in Greek Tragedy (Princeton, 2001).

5. For women’s religious authority in Greek tragedy, see E. Hall, “The Sociology of Athenian Tragedy,” in P. E. Easterling (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy (Cambridge, 1997), 93-126.


Hercules and Alcestis: Personal Excellence & Social Duty - History

Dr. Alkistis Agio is a world-renowned speaker, author and consultant with over twenty years experience in working with professionals to transform fear, frustration, anger and anxiety into confidence and self-leadership, through her proven method, “The ALKISTIS Method”—which integrates the modern scientific, evidence-based techniques of neuro-coaching and CBT, with the ageless wisdom of ancient Greek philosophy. She is the author of The Stoic CEO and is internationally known as an ‘Ambassador’ of Greek philosophyThe daughter of immigrants from Greece, Dr. Agio has been a student of Stoicism for as long as she can remember. Her greatest teacher being her father, who “taught me the four virtues—self-discipline, courage, justice and wisdom—through his own living example He had been tortured on the island of ‘Macronissos’ by the colonels of the military junta, in Greece in 1967, and survived, reading Greek philosophy including Stoicism in his jail-cell.”

After her recent feature in the article in the Sunday Times of London written by the journalist Gavanndra Hodge, we reached out to Dr. Agio to learn more. In our interview below, Dr. Agio talks about the Modern Stoicism Movement, what some of the recent articles criticizing the resurgence of Stoicism gets wrong, the specific skills and concepts she helps people implement, and much more. Please enjoy our interview with Dr. Alkistis Agio!

Tell us about how you first encountered Stoicism. Why do you think it resonated with you? How have you found Stoicism has most beneficially impacted your life?

When I was a little girl, growing up in Canada, my parents, who were immigrants from Greece, used to read to me, from The Odyssey, the Greek Myths, like Hercules and the Amazons, and Aesop’s Fables. These ancient stories contain Hellenic values, such as Virtue (Aretē), Excellence (Aristeia), Integrity (Ethos) and Flourishing (Eudaimonia).

Later on, when I was about fifteen, my father, Nicholas, often shared Stoic and other philosophy texts and maxims with me, as he recounted war stories of his adolescence fighting Nazis, in WWII, in the high mountains surrounding Sparta, where he was born.

In my father’s mountain village of Kastanitsa, in Arcadia,Greece they still speak ‘Tsakonika’, an ancient Doric dialect, indicating that they are descendants of Spartans. Here, he fought the Nazis at age 14 and was widely known for it, they called him ‘The Captain’. He shared his love of Greek philosophy with me later on, to help me prepare for the ‘battle of life’.

He taught me the four virtues—self-discipline, courage, justice and wisdom—through his own living example He had been tortured on the island of ‘Macronissos’ by the colonels of the military junta, in Greece in 1967, and survived, reading Greek philosophy including Stoicism in his jail-cell. After that horrendous experience, every apparent obstacle in his life seemed trivial to him.

I found Greek philosophy on my path as a leadership trainer again, where I discovered how Socrates, Aristotle, Plato and the Stoic teachings could be applied for developing Ethos.

In 2019, after I had already written my book, The Stoic CEO, I came across the Modern Stoicism Movement I was thrilled to see that there was an organized effort to revitalize Stoic practices and that there was even a conference like STOICON, happening all over the world. I felt that I had found my ‘people’. I immediately contacted Donald Robertson, and implored him to organize STOICON in Athens, Greece. He agreed and together with a team of volunteers, we created a historical event never before, in over two millennia, had the Stoics (worldwide) come together at the Stoa Poikile!

Modern Stoicism has become an integral part of my life and I am deeply grateful to be able to share it with many more people. In my view, I see Modern Stoics as the natural inheritors and torch-bearers of the ‘Light of Greece’.

Do you have a favorite Stoic? Any favorite quotes?

Most of all I love Epictetus, because he is a living example of a person who went through such hardship, and instead of becoming a bitter, vengeful man, he got himself out of slavery, and evolved into a teacher of philosophy.

“It is not events that bother men, so much as their view of them.”

His quote has been so liberating to me in so many challenging situations of my life. It works every time. As Plato taught, “The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself.”

‘In Search of…’ my hero, Epictetus Here at the ancient ‘Odeon’ of Nicoupolis in Greece, where he opened a school after being released from slavery. I try to visit at least once a year.

You founded The Stoic Society of Athens in the 1980-90’s. What is the backstory of it? Why did you start it and how has it evolved to today?

Thank you for asking about that! The Stoic Society of Athens, originally named the ‘Greek Philosophy Dinner Club’ was founded in the 1980-90’s, by me and my sister Matina Agio, The Stylish Stoic. We began hosting informal, non-academic philosophical salons, during our bohemian student years in London and Paris.

These private meetings with a small group of friends, were meant to ‘explore philosophy in its profound, practical application to life’s challenges, referring to works on ancient Greek philosophy – mainly Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics, as well as works by other intellectuals like Kazantzakis, Gurdjieff, Frankl, Sartre etc.

​Since 2009 the society is established at the 1930’s historic Agiorgiti Residence, that our parents left us when they passed away, where we host private talks, small symposiums, workshops, concerts and events – often accompanied with music, selected wine or gourmet ancient Greek cuisine – courtesy of the home.

Our most recent project is ‘The Philosopher In Residence’. Throughout the year, The Agiorgiti Residence accepts applicants -writers, artists, philosophers, scholars, composers, entrepreneurs, humanists and philhellenes, whose interests concern Greek heritage and culture.

Your now annual event StoiconX is set for October 2020 in Athens. Can you tell the Daily Stoic community about the event and give us a glimpse at what the event is about?

StoiconX in Athens, which we are hoping will be a yearly event is truly unique in the sense that you are actually at the historical location of where Stoicism started. You can walk in the footsteps of Socrates, sit at a cafe next to the excavation site of the Stoa Poikile, Plato’s Garden School and Aristotle’s Lyceum grounds are still there for us to roam around and philosophise and reflect on our life.

StoiconX Athens is happening again October 17, 2020 on the historic grounds of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens. The amphitheatre is called Costsen Hall. It is by a wonderful coincidence that (ASCSA) is at the heart of the excavation of Stoa Poikile, the ‘Painted Porch’ where Zeno taught his version of Socratic and Cynic teachings, later named ‘Stoicism’.

For me, StoiconX is all about community and friendship, a living ‘Stoa’. I like that you don’t have to explain yourself, there is a sense of familiarity, like brothers and sisters, who share similar values. It’s a given that modern Stoics are people who are ‘working on themselves’, who are trying to live a life of Virtue, with or without religion. We all have a common understanding that life is too short to sweat the small stuff, we are here to be our best self and to serve wherever possible. As Aristotle taught, we are here to ‘flourish’ into our ‘Telos’, our full potential as a human being, to thrive.

Here is a photo with Massimo Pigliucci and his wife Gillian Dunn, some of the many new friends that I made.

You are also a coach and leadership trainer with over twenty year’s experience in working with professionals to “explore philosophy in its profound, practical application to life’s challenges.” What are the specific skills, ideas and concepts that you help people implement? How does that process look like?

“No man can lead others, who cannot lead himself.”Socrates

How can you lead others, if you can’t lead yourself ?

On the outside, a CEO may appear strong, successful and confident, but on the inside he or she often feels frustrated, angry and anxious. overwhelmed by life’s relentless onslaught of details, problems, alternatives and considerations They try to manage everything, but they often feel paralyzed by indecision and the feeling of being overwhelmed – a prisoner of their own thoughts.

So where do you begin? I believe it’s self-leadership. Self-Leadership means having, a developed sense of who you are, where you’re going, and what you want, as well as…the ability to formulate a strategy and influence and inspire yourself and others to follow it through. Self-Leadership is probably the most important skill you can ever develop as a person and as a professional. And as you see, it’s quite complicated.

I created The ALKISTIS Method specifically for developing self-leadership.

It is the first-ever method of self-leadership development that effectively integrates the modern scientific, evidence-based techniques of neuro-coaching and CBT, with the ageless wisdom of ancient Greek philosophy. (Especially Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and the Stoic school.)

Applied in practice, The ALKISTIS Method leads to calm, confident, self-leadership, for both personal happiness and professional excellence, something the ancients called “Aristeia”.

We Begin Where Aristotle Left Off…

The first book in history on the art of persuasion, The Rhetoric, was written by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. In his book, he presents the concepts of Ethos (credibility), Pathos (emotion, imagination) and Logos (logic, reason), as the three traits an orator must have in order to influence and persuade his audience.

These three concepts are still the cornerstones of modern leadership today. Let us look at them in more detail:

  • Ethos refers to the authority or credibility of the presenter the moral values he embodies and shares with his audience. For example, being a notable figure in the field in question, or being introduced by one.
  • Pathos refers to the audience’s emotions and imagination their hopes and fears. It can be particularly powerful if it agrees with the underlying values of the audience. Pathos also reflects the emotion or passion expressed by the speaker.
  • Logos refers to the facts, data and evidence presented to support the claims, thesis or position of the speaker. The word “logic” is derived from the Greek word, Logos.

This is the basic diagram showing Aristotle’s system “The Rhetorical Triangle”, as it is known:

For Aristotle, Ethos, Pathos and Logos, address the qualities that transform an ordinary person into a great influencer, someone who can inspire and lead others.

The unique approach of The ALKISTIS Method is that these same traits are applied to oneself, to lead one’s self, to take charge of your life and guide yourself to flourishing (Eudaimonia).

There are six major exercises (Askesis) which refocuses Aristotle’s insights and broadens their scope. It includes such things as making well thought out, balanced decisions and mastering your thoughts and emotions to command your psycho – physiological ‘state’. Participants are introduced to Stoic practices for integrating into their daily routines and habits.

“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.” – Epictetus

I have taught my method so far mostly in Dubai, AbuDhabi, Greece and Germany, but I welcome an opportunity to travel to anywhere in the world, and I invite people to Greece on short retreats or long stays at the Agiorgiti-Residence, a home for lovers of Greek philosophy.

There’s been several articles recently criticising Silicon Valley’s—and CEOs in general—increasing interest in Stoicism. Having authored The Stoic CEO and being internationally known as an ‘Ambassador’ of Greek philosophy, we’d love your opinion on those pieces and what you make of the modern resurgence of Stoicism?

As you say there have been several articles about Silicon Valley’s obsession with Stoicism, but I think they often have a superficial understanding of what it is, as do many of the followers of Stoicism. For example, in The New York Times, Nellie Bowles, Why Is Silicon Valley So Obsessed With the Virtue of Suffering? in she writes,

“They [Silicon Valley types] sit in painful, silent meditations for weeks on end. They starve for days — on purpose. Cold morning showers are a bragging right. Notoriety is a badge of honor.”

The premise is false. Stoicism does not teach self-imposed suffering, nor ‘showing-off’ Stoics in ancient Greece didn’t sit in painful, silent meditation for weeks on end… That’s more something religious ascetics would do. (I know because I’ve lived in both monasteries and ashrams for months). This is not the way of ancient Greeks, as you can see here from Pericles’ Funeral Oration, which encapsulates not only Stoic values, but the values of all Greek culture:

“We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without effeminacy wealth we employ more for use than for show, and place the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in declining the struggle against it. Our public men have, besides politics, their private affairs to attend to, and our ordinary citizens, though occupied with the pursuits of industry, are still fair judges of public matters for, unlike any other nation, regarding him who takes no part in these duties not as unambitious but as useless, we Athenians are able to judge at all events if we cannot originate, and instead of looking on discussion as a stumbling-block in the way of action, we think it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all.”

The Stoics don’t follow strict regimes in terms of eating, sleeping, or exercising primarily to improve their physical health any more than anyone else who wants to be healthy and fit. They choose disciplines that are healthy rather than ones that are unhealthy because physical health is a “preferred indifferent” i.e., something that’s preferable to its opposite. Greek philosophers went to the ‘gymnasium’ on a regular basis, even Socrates, who taught,

“No citizen has a right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training…what a disgrace it is for a man to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”

In general, I think the popular view of Stoicism as a solemn, serious regiment is misleading. The fact that Stoicism is such a great method for dealing with hardships, has resulted in the view that Stoics are somber, downcast and humorless individuals. The reason they are like that however is not Stoicism—it’s their problems. Stoicism offers a solution, the most effective way of dealing with those problems. Stoicism and Greek philosophy in general, is a way to find Eudaimonia (Flourishing, Thriving) for everyone, even those not handling a tragedy or crisis.

However, I thought the article in the Sunday Times of London recently, that featured a photo of Kathryn Koromilas and myself, was far more objective and excellent. This is probably because the journalist, Gavanndra Hodge, bothered to come to Greece and experience real modern Stoics, and did her research. I had lunch with her, and through our conversation, I saw that she was authentically curious about Stoicism, and had even studied Classics at university. She had a much deeper knowledge than some journalist who tries to write a ‘flashy’ story about Stoicism because it’s trending now.

We welcome publicity (preferred indifferent) but only when the reporter is willing to do investigation with Ethos.

What does your daily Stoic routine look like? Any particular Stoic exercises that you practice regularly, or perhaps other habits and routines the Stoics would have approved of?

Sure, I do a wide variety of Stoic practices…For example, I like to wake up at the crack of dawn each day and do a meditation which combines Marcus Aurelius with something like the Serenity Prayer, that really encapsulates the Stoic approach to life.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”

Then, I swim to a nearby island (I live on the coast, near Athens) which is exhilarating, but also requires self-discipline.

I have been journaling for as long as I can remember, this practice has helped me to process the events in my life in a way that I can accept what has occured, as an enrichment, in the spirit of “Amor Fati” i.e. loving, accepting what has happened.

Ever since I read about it in my youth, I practice, reflecting on my day in the evening. The Golden Verses of Pythagoras, quoted by Epictetus, famously suggest that we then ask ourselves three questions: What did you do amiss? What did you do? What duty was left undone?

Since I was sixteen, I always had a photo of a skull on my mirror, reminding me of my own mortality, on the brevity of life “Memento Mori”, as the Stoics call it…In fact I would like to say here that one of the reasons that I love living in Athens is because we are constantly reminded of our transience. The ancient monuments are ‘whispering’ to me, saying, “Strive for excellence, Ever to Excel, (AIEN ARISTEUEIN), but also know that you are just passing through here, as we have before you, kings, queens soldiers, craftsmen, philosophers, someday, you will be dust…” So, whenever I am faced with an obstacle or an upsetting event, I practice Epictetus: “It’s not the things that upset me, but my opinions about them.” In my mind, I aim to have a narrative that describes upsetting events without any dramatic language or value judgments, instead, I try to stick to the objective facts. To manage my anger or fear, I picture the longer-term consequences of allowing fear or anger to rule over me, instead I practice responding rationally, with greater self-discipline and certainty. I often ask myself what someone wise, just, self-disciplined and courageous would do when faced with the problem that I am facing. I imagine a situation that’s troubling me from high above, as though looking down on it from a hill or mountaintop, exercising Plato’s view from above. Recently I have been repeating the titles of Ryan Holiday’s trilogy: “The Obstacle Is the Way, Stillness Is The Key, and Ego Is The Enemy”.

There are a few more that I can’t recall right now, but also nurturing true friendships is a central aspect to Greek philosophy, “Philadelphia” (Brotherly/Sisterly Love) is a central component for Eudaimonia.

You also have a great YouTube channel dedicated to philosophy. What are some of your favorite videos you’ve created? What are the videos that you’d recommend the Daily Stoic readers to begin with?

Yes, ‘alkistisTV’ has been going since 2007.

I have different types of videos

  1. Short Speech “How To Overcome Your Fear & Any Other Obstacle” (Aristotle, Socrates, Stoicism) Link:https://youtu.be/xLnDGl59-uo
  2. Interview of Donald Robertson (next to Stoa Poikile in Athens) Link:https://youtu.be/YPLCw-5CZOY
  3. Deeply Relaxing Guided Meditations (based on Stoic philosophy) Link:https://youtu.be/9UMML8t9c0Q

For over thirteen years now I have been filming and editing the videos myself, I am self-taught and unfortunately, I am not gifted in technical things. So, now I am seeking patrons and sponsors to improve the quality, and offer my viewers the best experience possible To film at breathtaking locations here in Greece, inspire Stoics to visit Greece for the annual StoiconX or to stay for a year at the Agiorgiti-Residence.

In terms of recommending videos to “neophytes”, I would go with the videos of Ryan Holiday (who I would love to interview either here in Greece or via Skype) and also of Massimo Pigliucci.

Aside from the Stoic canon, what books—or even movies and documentaries—would you recommend to our readers who want to live a meaningful life? What would be some good compliments to the typical Stoic reading list?

Well I recommend my book The Stoic CEO, and of course all the top books of the Modern Stoicism Movement.

“Forrest Gump” with Tom Hanks

“The Pursuit of Happiness” with Will Smith

“Shawshank Redemption” with Tim Robbins

“Life is Beautiful” with Roberto Benini

“Rocky” with Silvester Stallone

“Slumdog Millionaire” with Dev Patel

“Dead Poet Society” with Robin Williams

“127 Hours” with James Franco

“The Truman Show” with Jim Carey

“Shindler’s List” with Liam Neeson

“Braveheart” with Mel Gibson

“Soul Surfer” with AnnaSophia Robb

THANK YOU once again for allowing me to share my views. Warm Greetings from Greece. See you all at StoiconX October in Athens.


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