Sunday, September 19, 2004

Ares and Aphrodite

"Ocean" by Andy Simmons

The two white creatures were sexless. But he of Malacandra was masculine (not male); she of Perelandra was feminine (not female). Malacandra seemed to him to have the look of one standing armed, at the ramparts of his own remote archaic world, in ceaseless vigilance, his eyes ever roaming the earth-ward horizon whence his danger came long ago. "A sailor's look," Ransom once said to me; "you know . . . eyes that are impregnated with distance."

But the eyes of Perelandra opened, as it were, inward, as if they were the curtained gateway to a world of waves and murmurings and wandering airs, of life that rocked in winds and splashed on mossy stones and descended as the dew and arose sunward in thin-spun delicacy of mist. On Mars the very forests are of stone; in Venus the lands swim. For now he thought of them no more as Malacandra and Perelandra. He called them by their Tellurian names. With deep wonder he thought to himself, "My eyes have seen Mars and Venus. I have seen Ares and Aphrodite."
~C.S. Lewis, Perelandra(1944), Chapter 16.

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3 Comment(s):

At Tue Sep 21, 07:49:00 AM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. It's just that simple. ;) (Wow, that book is annoying.)

It's interesting, the contrast between (the planet) Malacandra and (the planet) Venus. Now that I'm reading it slightly out of context, one can almost make this into a discription on man and woman: man is cold, lifeless but woman is sweet and full of life, and, of course, fertile. (Cough, cough.)

But what is femininity? Or masculinity for that matter. We talk of effeminite men and masculine women, but I feel that these are more gender stereotypes than anything else.

At Tue Sep 21, 10:20:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Hmm...I wonder if he meant it to be taken that masculine was "cold and lifeless". I just thought that he was describing the warlike Roman god Mars. Here's a passage from Wikipedia:

"Mars was the Roman god of war and the son of Juno and a magical flower (or Zeus) and initially was the Roman god of fertility and vegetation, and protector of cattle, but later he became associated with battle. As the god of spring, when his major festivals were held, he presided over agriculture in general. In his warlike aspect, Mars was offered sacrifices before combat and was said to appear on the battlefield accompanied by Bellona, a warrior goddess variously identified as his wife, sister or daughter. His wife was also said to be Nerio.

It is believed that Mars was originally an ancient chthonic god of spring, nature, fertility and cattle. He fused with the Greek Ares and became a god of death and war as well."

(I had to look up "chthonic"--it means "Of or relating to the underworld"--my new word of the day!)

At Tue Sep 21, 01:13:00 PM EST, Blogger Sandicomm said...

How does one pronounce, um chthonic? Kuh-tonic?

There's also an interesting section that you quote from that talks about genders of nouns, but I think that's enlightening for no one but those of us who take a romance language or Ancient Greek.


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