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draconia   draconia is offline 
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2004 1:05 pm
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Ever since I wrote my research paper on the allusions in Hannibal, I have become intrigued by the mythologial tale of Leda and the Swan.

Just to give a short summary: Zeus sees Leda bathing by a river, and being the man whore he is, decides he wants her. He guises himself as a swan in distress and takes refudge in Leda's embrace. He see his chance and pretty much rapes her, that is, according to William Butler Yeat's poem:

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?



If you type in a search engine, "Leda and the Swan," you will find numerous paintings and sculptures of the pair. Their relationship resulted in two children: Helen of Troy and Castor. She also had two children from her husband, one of them oddly being the twin brother of Castor, Pollux (or Polydeuces). If any of you have seen Face/Off, Nicholas Cage's character's name is Castor Troy and his brother is Pollux.

I big reason I brought this up is because I came across this adorable doll of Leda with the Swan:

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

I had wanted to share it with you all, since a big reason I am infatuated with this story is due to Lecter.


"Certainly thy lordship of Love is evil; seeing that the more homage his servants pay to him, the more grievous and painful are the torments wherewith he torments them."
~La Vita Nuova
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Morticia   Morticia is offline 
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:26 pm
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Sorry about being the crass materialist here, but are you about to buy that doll, or what? It's nice, I agree, but it's really "tame" compared to the story it illustrates. Which, I suppose, is a good thing, considering... Angel


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draconia   draconia is offline 
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:51 pm
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Morticia wrote:
Sorry about being the crass materialist here, but are you about to buy that doll, or what?


Oh, yeah, I'm getting it. Haha, I seem to have left that part out...oops. Clown


"Certainly thy lordship of Love is evil; seeing that the more homage his servants pay to him, the more grievous and painful are the torments wherewith he torments them."
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Clariz   Clariz is offline 
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2004 2:56 am
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To go along with Morticia, I hate to be crude but there is nothing sweet or romantic about the whole "thing" of Leda and the Swan.

Doll or no Doll


"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished by how much he'd learned in seven years."
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Belladonna   Belladonna is offline 
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2004 8:25 pm
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swans are some of the most vicious birds on the planet, it's true, but generally only when they feel threatened. they also mate for life, and are very intelligent for birds..... do i see any parallels? hm... Roll eyes


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Melissa   Melissa is offline 
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2004 9:20 pm
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Belladonna wrote:
swans are some of the most vicious birds on the planet, it's true, but generally only when they feel threatened. they also mate for life, and are very intelligent for birds..... do i see any parallels? hm... Roll eyes


Oooh... I didn't know that. Very interesting. Very indeed.


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Mischa   Mischa is offline 
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 8:15 pm
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I don´t know if anibody from here had the oportunity of reading what Anne Shingleton, herself, thinks about the mention of her painting in the "Hannibal" book, it´s quite interesting... she also gives some insight about "Leda and the swan"... i found it in hannibal annotations, but i will post it here, in case someone finds it interesting too.
Sorry if my post came too long! Undecided
So, here it goes:

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A WORD OR TWO ABOUT LEDA

I.

EVER SINCE THE misty dawn of Greek mythology, LEDA and her doting swan have lived and loved in countless poets' lays and, less ephaemerally, in thousands upon thousands of embodiments in paint, line, stone and metal.

They appear in the arts of Rome and Hellas in a profusion of sizes and materials, from golden bracelet pendants and silver table ornaments to great sculptures cast in bronze and hewn from marble (such as the Great Relief in the British Museum), from delicate drawings on precious ceramics to colourful frescoes on the walls of atria and chambers. But after the decline of Rome they nodded off into the many long centuries of bleak post-Roman Europe, awaking briefly now and then and here there to invigorate some ornamental arts and crafts of the Middle Ages.

It was the Italian Renaissance with its exuberant rediscovery of classical antiquity &endash; say, from about 1400 or so onward &endash; that brought them once again into the limelight of profane (in the sense of non-ecclesiastical) imagery. Nearly all the great Renaissance artists drew, painted or sculpted their Ledas, conspicuous among these being an oil-on-canvas by LEONARDO DA VINCI known only through several copies by his followers, and MICHELANGELO'S stunning marble, today in Florence's Bargello. From there they coupled their way through the next five centuries and far beyond Italy's shores and borders, into and out of the Baroque and Rococo, into the nineteenth century to brighten some sclerotic corners of Neo-Classicism, and eventually even into Art Nouveau, there briefly to beguile a languorous Belle Époque. After August 1914 they withered, along with the rest of Europe's humanistic culture.

Nevertheless, even today, in our own age of mostly meretricious rubbish art mass-produced to con newly-rich illiterates, they glow softly still among the now very distant and still receding constellations of our classical heritage.

I I.

Who, then, was LEDA, and who the swan? Antiquity sang several different versions of her tale. Most agree that she was the daughter of THESTIUS, king of Aetola, and the wife of TYNDRAEUS, king of Lacedaemon.T Somehow she inflamed the passions of ZEUS (JUPITER to the Romans), Chief of all the gods on Mount Olympus: some said that he saw her bathing in a sparkling sun-drenched stream, others that HEPHAISTOS (Roman VULCAN) had told him about her dissatisfaction with her husband's ways in bed, and others still that he was only out to spite his consort, HERA (JUNO). In any event, he was smitten and, having just lately visited DANAË as a shower of gold, EUROPA as a bull, IO as a cloud, GANYMEDE as an eagle and others still in guises no less inventive, he decided to assume yet another one for his tryst with LEDA: he would swoop down majestically on snowy pinions . . . as a swan. Mythology fails to tell us whether these forms were mere travelling costumes, so to speak, and whether, as we may well suppose, upon arrival at the bedside he reassumed his customary and divine semblance of a robust, virile man in the prime of his maturity. I've heard that a swan's penis - to be precise: a cob's - is exactly like a circumcised human one in miniature, and that this gave rise to the amorous-swan legends . . . but I confess that I've never checked it out with a cygnologist, though I should've done so long ago. Perhaps some thoughtful cygnologist will let me know?

T Cf. Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, Vols. I & II, Penguin Books, London and New York, edd.vv. 1955-84, ISBN 011 02.0508 8 and 0509 X. Refer to Index at end of Vol. II.

In any event, swan or man, he had his way with her, or she with him, or each with the other. Of it came an egg, or, in other versions, three eggs, and in others still seven, and you mustn't act surprised: when a fertile lady mates with a cob she'll lay eggs - faultless logic, that, and winsome science.

One tremendous event that soon followed was to become a bedrock and fountainhead of Western culture: for whilst out of two eggs hatched the twins CASTOR and POLYDEUCES (after their deaths their father set them in the heavens as the constellation Gemini, or Twins - go out and look at them tonight), out of another hatched - are you ready ? . . . HELEN OF TROY! Yes!

I relinquish the podium to Homer.

I I I .

My own versions (I've done two: the present painting, and a largeish bronze &endash; some snapshots herewith) differ a little from the conventional ones.

For one thing, neither my painted nor my sculpted ZEUS arrives in the form of a swan but rather dressed up as one . . . he's wearing a (rather skimpy) swan costume, under which he is very much the Chief Olympian: strong, handsome, supremely male, his ebullient libido refined by aeons (he being immortal) of experience and divine dedication to his beloved's (not always female) pleasure.

For another thing, most LEDA depictions are intra-coital: it's happening, nobody can figure out just how but they're at it. My painting instead shows them as post-coital, my bronze as pre-coital.

In the painting, the oil lamp on the rocks just right of the love nest is still burning but night is fleeing, crescent SELENE is fading, colours are being reborn everywhere. First light is bathing the two dreamy, sated lovers. Birds chirp in chorus. An exquisite post-orgasmic LEDA is savouring the last after-tremors of her lique-factions while scenting the dewy flowering of day. ZEUS has retired to the top of the bower, his costume all awry, a smile of surfeit on his lips. Post coitum omne animal triste, said Aristotle: after mating all creatures are sad. I think there is truth in that, but it is more complex, less formulaic. The martyrs enter the arena hand in hand but the lions eat them one by one. Lovers in the act dispense with the meum-teum sense (Robert Graves), but after the shared orgasmic heats, the post-orgasmic chills overtake them one by one, and, slowly, deliciously if all went well, they drift apart, sometimes a little numbed, nearly always bewildered, on separate outbound tides. Even, or perhaps especially, if they're gods. My painted LEDA and her god are poised over this hot-cold watershed. Until the next time.

My bronze LEDA and her god are instead captured whilst pirouetting through the upper airs, teasing, seducing, he flying on great swan's wings strapped to his back and arms, she borne aloft and along by, what else, his omnipotence and immortality. They're not at it but will be soon, somewhere in the aethers over snowy Olympus or the blue Aegean Sea. Whilst in the painting all sexual tension has flowed from them, in the bronze it spurts from their every pore.

I V .

LEDA and HANNIBAL LECTER. Why does the doctor 'delight' in the Leda story?

I don't know. Best ask Tom Harris. But I'll have a guess.

As he does in Silence of the Lambs, as does so much literature both old and modern, Harris draws unconsciously or knowingly - I don't know which - on the world of myth and fable, that genome of the collective human subconscious. The leitmotif in both Silence and Hannibal, not deafening or intrusive but audible throughout from the dark beyond the firelight, is that of The Beauty and The Beast. Since I'm neither a poet nor a scholar I'll refrain from windy disquisitions, but to me the parallels between that fable and the interbraiding of the lives of Hannibal and Clarice Starling seem clear enough.

Clarice-Leda has taken vestal vows, has dedicated her body and soul to the FBI: not for her the traditional rôle of wife and woman as prescribed by patriarchal orthodoxy. Like the life of chaste and virginal Beauty, Clarice's life, so far as we've been told, is manless, and hence, conventional wisdom would have it, arid. The fable now demands that she be sexually fulfilled, 'sexually' having here a wide, deep, polyhedral meaning far beyond mere genital tiddlywinks.

Lecter-Swan is a beast &endash; not doubt of that, and no need to dwell on definitions. The fable now demands that she make him human, meaning here humane.

And behold, in the book, though alas not in the film, both undergo the magical transformation: Beauty turns the Beast humane, the Beast wafts Beauty to, up and over the moany summit where she is, presumably, fulfilled. Both are reborn from scratch - from the egg, so to speak, through each other.

I think that could well be why the doctor delights in the one painting in the room that he leaves uncovered for Clarice to see.

Anne Shingleton

Salisbury,England



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Guy   Guy is offline 
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2005 10:11 am
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I swan attacked me at the lake near my home, needless to say I ate it for dinner later that day. NOT very appetising but 'as a dish served cold...

Though I am rather fond of Lohengrin (the swan knight)


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2005 11:30 am
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Taken from Mischa's quotation of Anne Shingleton above:

"I've heard that a swan's penis - to be precise: a cob's - is exactly like a circumcised human one in miniature, and that this gave rise to the amorous-swan legends . . . but I confess that I've never checked it out with a cygnologist, though I should've done so long ago. Perhaps some thoughtful cygnologist will let me know?"

Well Anne, if you're reading this, the only bird in the animal kingdom with an external penis is the ostrich. As one can imagine, it is in proportion with the size of the creature!

Is the killing of swans legal in Australia, Sir Guy? In Merrie England they are all the property of the Queen, and not on the quarry list. As she is still the Queen of your wonderful country as well, I wonder if Australian swans are hers too?

An Australian friend of mine spends his leisure time bow-hunting for feral goats when back down under. I hope to team up with him one day when I get out there, he tells me that hunting feral pigs with pitbull cross dogs is very exciting. Apparently they give the dogs leather armour to wear in protection against the boar's tusks, just as they did in Europe in the middle-ages.


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Guy   Guy is offline 
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2005 12:37 pm
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meredith wrote:
Is the killing of swans legal in Australia, Sir Guy? In Merrie England they are all the property of the Queen, and not on the quarry list. As she is still the Queen of your wonderful country as well, I wonder if Australian swans are hers too?

Probably. We have many native species of these animals, and being native species... they are probably protected (by rangers with bowie knives). If her Maj would like them, she may have them. At least they aren't like those no-good Koalas, who although cute, are lazy, grumpy and have syphilis.

It brings to mind a favourite quote:
"One should go through life like a swan,
smooth and unruffled on the surface,
but paddling like mad underneath.


Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.


meredith wrote:
An Australian friend of mine spends his leisure time bow-hunting for feral goats when back down under. I hope to team up with him one day when I get out there, he tells me that hunting feral pigs with pitbull cross dogs is very exciting. Apparently they give the dogs leather armour to wear in protection against the boar's tusks, just as they did in Europe in the middle-ages.

We have feral: pigs, goats, deer, camels, foxes (tally ho!), brumbys (horses), cats (now 'evolved' to the size of mountain lions) and many more. I believe it is pretty much open season on these pests all year. Tell your friends.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2005 1:11 pm
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Sir Guy wrote:

We have feral: pigs, goats, deer, camels, foxes (tally ho!), brumbys (horses), cats (now 'evolved' to the size of mountain lions) and many more. I believe it is pretty much open season on these pests all year. Tell your friends.


And most of them edible! Unless of Chinese extraction, of course, in which case all of them will be on the menu. Also I know that if Foxhunting gets banned in England Oz is one of the places people will be heading for to continue their sport (others including Ireland and New England).


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:19 am
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To go along with Morticia, I hate to be crude but there is nothing sweet or romantic about the whole "thing" of Leda and the Swan.


Beautiful (in your eyes) or not, Leda and the Sawn is a foreshadowing to what will happen between Hannibal and Clarice. Any intimacy they shared was due to some kind of manipulation of Clarice. We need to start looking the truth in its face and not to “bend” it to what is deemed “acceptable”. Personally I find Hannibal’s pursuit romantic but a few people cannot integrate this into the character. Hannibal did have the painful childhood of an ugly duckling and he grew to be a strong swan who was not shy of taking what he wanted. You can tell the story any way you like but the facts remain the facts. Leda is quite passive and that’s what Hannibal rendered Clarice too with great effort. He needs to use his spells {metaphor) to have some sort of consent, which is questionable. Point given: if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen because there are elements of possession in the Hannibal story. Ignoring it=misunderstanding Dr Lecter.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 11:12 am
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lucretia wrote:
We need to start looking the truth in its face and not to “bend” it to what is deemed “acceptable”.

“We” don’t need to do anything. You’re free to have your interpretation, but not to impose it on others.


lucretia wrote:
Leda is quite passive and that’s what Hannibal rendered Clarice too with great effort.

That is your interpretation. I disagree. They’re both active participants in their relationship, that’s why it works. He would’ve got bored a long time ago otherwise. You don’t have to agree, btw.


lucretia wrote:
Point given: if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen because there are elements of possession in the Hannibal story. Ignoring it=misunderstanding Dr Lecter.

Elements of possession go both ways. Ignoring it = misunderstanding the story. Feel free to disagree all you want. ^ ^ I do not seek to sway conviction, merely to show difference in perspective.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:47 pm
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I will not discuss here how I think Clarice was in “bed” although the end of SOTL is quite indicative. What I will say that she “participated” to the extent that his “spell” was working on her. As for Hannibal getting bored, Clarice was not the perfect choice but more of a consolation prize, so I don’t know what happens next but there is no one to play his Mischa in that relationship, that’s for sure. Feel free to believe whatever.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:31 pm
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Oh, I feel perfectly free to believe what I want. And I do believe they are perfect for each other. They’re perfectly compatible mentally (which, btw, is what I was referring to in my earlier post) – after all, they’ve been mentally drawn to each other for many years – and I have every reason to believe they’re perfectly compatible sexually as well. I won’t go into whether he’s good in bed or she is – that’s just crass. The writer had a very elegant way of making it very clear and there’s no reason to question it. I’ll just do the courteous thing and leave them be.


lucretia wrote:
there is no one to play his Mischa in that relationship, that’s for sure.

Couldn’t agree with you more on that one. Smiley


As for the actual topic of this thread… um, I suppose I’m indifferent to Leda and the Swan? For the most part? Not the nicest of stories, I have to agree.

I do like swans, though. :/
/incoherent rambly thoughts


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