Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Leda and her Swans

Hunting around for usable material at recycling depots and collectable fairs and in friends' garages and the such, I have found several old pre-loved timber brief cases, and so a theme for my latest batch of artworks to come out of my studio could be described as "Traveling Art" ... over the next few weeks as they come off the production line, I will be showing off these themed works ...

The first travel case is all about
Leda and her Two Swans

Roughly based on the ancient Greek Mythology about Leda and the Swan - this time it's more about Leda and her Chinese lover and the two swans ...


Leda was a daughter of Thestios, the King of Pleuron; and when of age, Leda was married to King Tyndareus of Sparta; Tyndareus having been placed on the throne by Heracles.

Leda was a beautiful woman, and her beauty attracted the attention of Zeus ( the god of heaven and earth ), who spied her from his throne on Mount Olympus. The beauty of Leda roused Zeus to action, and the god transformed himself into a magnificent swan. Then, portraying himself as a bird escaping from a bird of prey, Zeus lay down next to Leda, and impregnated her. On the same day, Leda would also sleep with her husband.

Leda would subsequently produce two eggs, from which four offspring were born; the children being Helen, Clytemnestra, Castor and Pollux. ( this is ancient mythology … !!! ).

It was generally considered that Helen and Pollux were children of Zeus and Leda, whilst Clytemnestra and Castor, were the offspring of Tyndareus and Leda.

The fame of the four children would far outstrip that of their mother ...

Helen is arguably the most famous of the four children of Leda, and is more often referred to as "Helen of Troy". ​In adulthood, Helen was known as being the most beautiful of all mortals, a fact which would see her abducted by Paris whilst married to Menelaus. This abduction would see the Greeks and Trojans go to war.

Castor and Pollux were twins who were considered inseparable, and the pair were highly regarded heroes in Greek mythology.

When young, the twins would lead the Spartan army against Athens, to retrieve the abducted Helen ( their half-sister ). Then later in life they would be counted as members of the Argonauts ( a band of heroes in Greek mythology - of the quest for the Golden Fleece fame ).

Pollox was immortal, whilst Castor was mortal, and when Castor was killed, Pastor would give up his immortality, so they pair could be placed for eternity in the heavens, as the constellation Gemini.

Clytemnestra, whilst less well known, would also play an important role during and after the Trojan War. Clytemnestra was married to King Agamemnon of Mycenae, the most powerful king of the day; this meant she was sister-in-law to Helen as well as sister. ( ... stay with me ... )

Clytemnestra would sometimes be depicted as the wronged woman, and sometimes as the murderous wife. Before the Trojan War started Agamemnon would sacrifice their daughter, Iphigenia to the gods, to allow the fleet to sail from Aulis; and during the war, Clytemnestra would start an affair with Aegisthus. These two points would lead to Clytemnestra killing Agamemnon on his return from Troy; whilst she herself would subsequently be killed by Orestes, her son, because of the murder.

so, getting back to Leda - why did she have two swans, we shall never know ...


... and why Leda had a Chinese lover, and what it has to do with the story of her relationship with the god Zeus, we shall never know that either - think it's called "artistic license" ... 


Sadly, the importance of Leda in Greek mythology ends after she has given birth to the children of Zeus, and there is relatively little mention of the queen afterwards; although the story of her husband continues for many years afterwards ( typical ).

The story of Leda and Zeus is interesting though, as Leda some how managed to escape the jealous Hera's ( Zeus' main wife and nasty-hardly-done-by goddess ) wrath, and even the illegitimate children of Zeus were not punished by the goddess, unlike so many of Zeus' other lovers and children.

So perhaps it's best to leave our heroine Leda as she sadly ponders her future - and close this impossible case and move on ...

... remember, my art is about story telling - fake or real - and that story is what comes to your mind - your interpretation of what what you see - not trying to get into the artist's mind to understand what has motivated him ... !!! ... I think you can safely say that it is rubbish that motivates me ...

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