The Dioskouri, Or The Fire Of The Tempest
For centuries the Dioskouri have appeared onboard ships, during storms, to predict shipwrecks or prosperous journeys to seafarers.
The Greeks called them Dioskouri. In the middle of a storm on the high seas, the tip of the masts would light up with a flare that did not burn, or burn the ship.
For the Greeks, the fire was the incarnation of the gods Castor and Pollux, who came to the rescue of mariners during storms. Castor and Pollux, also known as Dioskouri, were the sons of Leda and the brothers of Helen and Clytemnestra. The myth tells that, despite being twins, one of them was a son of Zeus and the other was not, but they loved each other so much that they refused to be separated, and the gods granted them a double life, part of which they spent among men and the other part on Olympia. Poseidon had given the twins the power to help shipwrecks and sailors during storms. In the sky, the Dioskouri were the constellation of Gemini, the twins, and in the ocean they were that light that burned during storms.
The appearance of the Dioskouri is described thus in the Homeric Hymns:
Then the shipmen call upon the sons of great Zeus with vows of white lambs, going to the forepart of the prow; but the strong wind and the waves of the sea lay the ship underwater, until suddenly these two are seen darting through the air on tawny wings. Forthwith they allay the blasts of the cruel winds and still the waves upon the surface of the white sea.
In his Naturalis Historia, Pliny said he had seen them shine in lances and ships, and also refers to the sound that the flares emit, a sound that compares to that of birds flitting from branch to branch. As the twins hated to be separated, if only one flare appeared it was considered bad luck. It was the sign of a shipwreck. But, on the other hand, if both flares appeared, it was a good omen, a sign of a prosperous journey. Pliny says there is no certain explanation for this phenomenon. He says the reasons are secret, that they are “hidden in the majesty of nature, reserved in its cabinet.”
In the Christian tradition, the fire is called that of Saint Elmo (Saint Elmo is the patron saint of sailors). In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the fire is the incarnation of Ariel, “a spirit that sometimes divides, burns in many parts, on the mast.” Robert Burton says in The Anatomy of Melancholy that the Dioskouri possibly live in a volcano, perhaps in Mount Hekla, in Iceland, in Mount Etna in Sicily, or in Vesuvius. In Moby Dick, the fire that descends the mast, and which shines like a pale phosphorescence in the eyes of the sailors, is an omen of the fall of Captain Ahab.
Science explains that the ionization of the magnetic field of storms causes the luminescent discharges onto the sharp objects of ships. Those lights, that fire that does not burn, has appeared to hundreds of sailors throughout history. Even though today we apparently have an explanation, we can still imagine the surprise and fear that they felt when they saw it and, very probably, if it appeared to us today onboard a ship in a storm our reaction would be similar. Explanations do not put an end to awe. It was seen by, among many others, Columbus during his voyages, and by Darwin aboard The Beagle.
Pictorial spiritism (a woman's drawings guided by a spirit)
There are numerous examples in the history of self-taught artists which suggest an interrogation of that which we take for granted within the universe of art. Such was the case with figures like
Astounding fairytale illustrations from Japan
Fairy tales tribal stories— are more than childish tales. Such fictions, the characters of which inhabit our earliest memories, aren’t just literary works with an aesthetic and pleasant purpose. They
A cinematic poem and an ode to water: its rhythms, shapes and textures
Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water. - John Keats Without water the equation of life, at least life as we know it, would be impossible. A growing hypothesis holds that water, including the
Watch beauty unfold through science in this "ode to a flower" (video)
The study of the microscopic is one of the richest, most aesthetic methods of understanding the world. Lucky is the scientist who, upon seeing something beautiful, is able to see all of the tiny
To invent those we love or to see them as they are? Love in two of the movies' favorite scenes
So much has been said already, of “love” that it’s difficult to add anything, much less something new. It’s possible, though, perhaps because even if you try to pass through the sieve of all our
This app allows you to find and preserve ancient typographies
Most people, even those who are far removed from the world of design, are familiar with some type of typography and its ability to transform any text, help out dyslexics or stretch an eight page paper
The secrets of the mind-body connection
For decades medical research has recognized the existence of the placebo effect — in which the assumption that a medication will help produces actual physical improvements. In addition to this, a
The sea as infinite laboratory
Much of our thinking on the shape of the world and the universe derives from the way scientists and artists have approached these topics over time. Our fascination with the mysteries of the
Sharing and collaborating - natural movements of the creative being
We might sometimes think that artistic or creative activity is, in essence, individualistic. The Genesis of Judeo-Christian tradition portrays a God whose decision to create the world is as vehement
John Malkovich becomes David Lynch (and other characters)
John Malkovich and David Lynch are, respectively, the actor and film director who’ve implicitly or explicitly addressed the issues of identity and its porous barriers through numerous projects. Now