It's Valentine's Day so I get to tell you my favorite love story.
Once upon a time a bunch of Greek men were all sitting around together being drunk and having a speech competition.*
The subject of the speech competition was love.
Some people had given beautiful, rational, speeches about love - any of which would have put a decent person to sleep on the spot.
Finally it was Aristophanes' turn. Some were worried that he would not be very serious because he was a comic playwright. To them he said, " I am not worried about saying something funny in my coming oration. That would be pure profit, and it comes with the territory of my Muse. What I'm worried about is that I might say something ridiculous."
He did say something ridiculous.
Something ridiculously false and absurdly true all at the same time.
And it went something like this:
Long ago human beings were very different. First off there were three kinds of people - male, female and androgynous. Secondly, they were fantastically odd looking. The shape of each person was completely round, with back and sides in a circle; they had four arms and legs and one head with two faces. They had two sets of reproductive organs and ears and eyeballs and....you get it. They walked around and whenever they wanted to go fast, they stuck out all their eight limbs, and flipped head over heels, the way gymnasts do cartwheels. They were terribly fast at this - and it was quite dangerous because they charged everywhere like bowling balls.
They were round because they were descended from the heavenly bodies. Like the heavenly bodies they were powerful but unlike the heavenly bodies they were terribly behaved. They decided to attack the gods.
Zeus and the other gods had a family meeting to speak about what could be done. On the one hand, the gods wanted to keep humanity around because they liked the sacrifices given to them. On the other hand, the human beings were attacking heaven so something had to be done to stop them.
Zeus said, "Hey other deities, I have a plan to put the kibosh on the misbehaving human beings. It does not even involve killing them off. I will simply blast them all in half. They will not be as strong and they will walk around on two legs instead of spinning about and making everyone dizzy. If they still run around idiotically and cause problems - I will split them in half yet again and they will have to get about by hopping around on one leg."
Zeus didn't wait for anyone else to agree with his plan because he did whatever he wanted anyway - so he just whacked them in half right then like fruit ninja. Apollo was given the job of sewing them up a bit but he got lazy around the middle so we have bellybuttons.
But the human beings were so utterly distraught and alone without their opposite halves that they just lay around everywhere holding each other and dying of starvation. Zeus felt sorry for them because they were so pitiful. He solved their problem by flipping their reproductive organs round to the front so that they could have sex and be one person again.
And Aristophanes summed up his story about the origin of love by saying: "So this is where love comes from, love calls the halves of our original nature back together and it tries to make one out of two and heal up our terrible alone-ness. love is the name for our pursuit of wholeness and our desire to be complete. Also we should behave ourselves if we don't want to end up half-faced creatures who get about by hopping on one leg. Let us respect the gods because it would be awful to have half a nose."
And what he said was obviously false and profoundly true.
(*this story comes from Plato's Symposium, I have bowdlerized it somewhat - and cut out some chunks because it is very lengthy. I am too lazy to cite every quotation but you can find the beginning of it at 189a)
An Aristophanes Valentine - what everybody has been waiting for.
If we only had one leg and we hopped about on it - would we also have half a butt?I think that we would.
For some reason I find the one-legged hopping thing hilarious.
And also these additional valentines which I made this morning instead of studying:
Feb -RU-ary. Brew? Brew what? Beer? A magic potion? Stupid month.
Through extensive research I have discovered some possible alternative names for the month of February - for example some Old English terms for this month are: "solmonath" (meaning: mud month) and "Kalemonath" (meaning month of cabbage). A month named after kale! Health-nuts rejoice!
Who likes my computer mouse painted hearts?
Another Lego Valentine because yes.
My thumb is in this picture because I am too lazy to crop it.
Doing great on that forth section.