Archives for category: Aegean

Having just completed

    Minoan and Mycenaean Art

, I thought a little review including my impressions would be in order. This book is the sort that one would find in the gift shop of a museum exhibition on Minoan art. It is part of the Thames & Hudson world of art collection. As such, it has the benefit of a host of pictures and therefore is rather fast reading. It illustrates the progression of artistic styles beginning in the early Minoan periods and finishing in the late Bronze Age.

Of particular note, in my opinion, are some of the grave artifacts listed, and I was struck by the complexity of the jewelry making skills as early as the middle Minoan period (circa 1700-1550 BC). One piece of jewelry in particular caught my eye – it was a pendant or part of a larger piece and made of gold depicting two bees or wasps gathered around a honeycomb or nest. The symmetry and detail are breathtaking and the cleanness of the execution are admirable even by today’s standards.

In my opinion this is a book which is worth the purchase if you have a particular interest in ancient art or are interested in the progression of artistic motifs of the ancient Mediterranean. Beyond that, I would suggest finding it at the lowest possible used cost to provide you with a glimpse into what the art and culture of the day may have looked like. Interesting, but not essential reading.

Having read several works by Sortia d’Este (many of them co-authored by David Rankine) I was eager to read Artemeis: Virgin Goddess of the Sun, Moon and Hunt. I have always admired her work for its clarity, and scholarship. This book proved to be a further credit to her skills as an author and scholar.

I can only begin to guess at daunting task which one would discover when attempting to write a book concerning a goddess as widely known and worshipped as Artemis. The sheer amount of sources which would need to be consulted, both ancient and (comparatively) modern would be daunting indeed. D’Este seems to have taken this all in stride and has produced a relatively short but rich book which covers not only the myths and themes concerning the Artemis, but her varying relationships in myth with other gods and goddesses. In doing so, she addresses some very complex topics such as the conflation of Artemis with Hecate, Selene and Iphigenia. She also explores some of the ancient works describing Her worship, shrines through out the Greek world.

The fact that nearly 40% of this work is bibliography and endnotes is a testament to the quantity of research which went into this book, and I found it to be a very worthwhile read. If found many interesting similarities between Artemis and the Goddess of the Wica and more completely understand why many early authors on the subject equate the two. I also discovered relationships between Artemis and other deities of which I was previously unaware.

Having just finished Donald Mackenzie’s Myths of Crete and Pre-Hellenic Europe, I am left with an interesting urge to both learn more and to empty my overfull brain. From the discovery of Troy and the subsequent excavation of the Palace at Knossos, to the speculation of Cretan sea trade routs to Egypt, this rather academic work is exhaustive in its discussion of the probable roots of Minoan culture. Mackenzie provides numerous examples from art and pottery finds which links the Minoan culture with that of Egypt and Ireland through an unknown culture which predates all three civilizations.

I had expected to find more information on the subject of Minoan myth, but was only treated to a few examples which held similar themes to to those shown in the myths of other cultures (specifically Egypt and Ireland). Perhaps “The Civilization of Crete and Pre-Hellenic Europe” would have been a more fitting title.

With the academic nature and publication date of this book, I am left wondering what newer research and excavation may have uncovered. I will say that the plates which are shown in the book do a wonderful job of illustrating the similarities in the art of the three cultures, and did a wonderful job of describing and detailing the various periods in Minoan culture. I now feel that I could read other books like it and have a good base knowledge of the subject upon which to build. If you are not prepared to wade through the a more academic work, avoid this one.

This is an Aegean Fiction Review by HornedOne

Set in what can only be assumed to be ancient Crete, this novel tells the story of the village of Ma-ii.  The prince has died, and the queen is in mourning.  They royal gardener’s daughter, Ierii, is in love with the son of the Master of the Bulls Thyloss.  As the story progresses, it is foreshadowed that the queen’s intentions to drastically break with tradition and alter the rites and ceremonies associated with her son’s funeral will lead to ruin.  It is up to Ierii and Thyloss to restore order and balance in Ma-ii.

This story of polarity stresses the need for balance and the honoring of tradition.  When these are followed, peace and prosperity are ensured.  As witches, these themes are instructive in that they allow us to examine the themes of light vs. dark, life vs. death, masculine vs. feminine, and projective vs. receptive in our own lives and practices. Whether these polar opposites manifest themselves in a group or an individual, they represent primal and potent mysteries.  The emphasis on proper observance of tradition urges us to examine our motives and instructs us to consider how we approach power and deity.

I found this novel to be an easy and enjoyable read.  Caldecott’s writing style is accessible and concise and allows you to become immersed in the story. I would recommend this book as both an enjoyable story and a parable.