Aphrodite Agon Entry 5

Laughter-loving Aphrodite by Amanda Forrester

Golden-skinned, full-hipped, heavy-breasted

Dances and laughs, loves and eats, drinks and plays,

Among the Halls of the Gods

Our powerful Lady of Love is named as an Olympian

But in reality She is a Force far more primal

Than the civilized generation of Gods She among

For Her birth was part of the saga of creation

Born from sea-foam and blood form the severed manhood of Father Sky,

Thrown into the primordial ocean by Kronos

Aphrodite therefore is older than the King of the Gods

And indeed She moves Zeus as She will.

Arisen from the sea, She came to drive the world mad with lust

And turn one’s heart to another in partnership.

She causes animals to couple and so the flocks and herds to increase

Likewise She is the Hunger for union in the higher species

The drive to abandon the safety of isolation for the risk of heart-break,

In hopes of forming a new singular entity from two separate ones,

An equal partnership with the potential for increase.

Love is kindness, but not merely gentleness,

For Aphrodite has a steel core to Her,

Under the flowers, cheerfulness, and rosy cheeks.

Aphrodite is a Goddess of the harder lessons too, of “tough love”,

Not merely the fun roll in the hay.

She governs the first flirtations of love,

But also the stick-to-it-ativeness, the slow periods,

The intimate knowledge of a couple long together,

Who know each others every psychic crack and crevice,

As well as bodies well-loved and well-used.

A fiercer Goddess is She, too, than some may at first suspect

She dons golden armor to follow Ares into battle,

For Aphrodite understands the true value of a rare love

And will stop at nothing o protect Him.

So this is my hymn to the laughter-loving Goddess

Golden-skinned, wide-hipped, heavy-breasted —

But more than many may have supposed.

Hera Agon Entry 5

For Hera by Edward Butler

 

Poets can lie, enamored of their invention;

thus do I say that of no spite was Hephaistos born to you,

Queen Hera.

 

You created him alone, out of your own nature,

Like the first born of the cosmos.

How could anyone imagine it done for any but the highest purpose?

There are no jealous Gods.

 

But balance for Athena’s birth Olympian order did demand.

Far sighted Queen Hera envisioned through technology

The horizon itself expanding.

Hera Agon Entry 4

Hymn to Hera by Jennifer Savage


Hera in a bluster
Hera in a rain
Hera makes me happy
Like a candy cane.

Hera in a moonbeam 
Hera in a star
Hera is a hopefulness
Sitting in my car.

Hera makes me happy
Going for a drive
Hera sings the dew drop
Hera is alive. 

Wearing my raincoat
Boots on for a walk
Hera kicks my scarf out
Flying like a lark.

Hera is a sweetness
Hera walks alone
Hera is a kindness
That I have shown.



–Jennifer Savage


Aphrodite Agon Entry 4

For Aphrodite by Neve

From your Sappho

flowed honeyed words

many of which

spoke in flowering terms

spoke of1

flowers and breezes

flowers

flowering fields

flowering sweetclover

dewy banks of lotus

hyacinth on the mountain

hyacinth-colored egg

violets in her lap

arms like roses

dawn with arms of rose

share in the roses

goatherd […] roses

roses bloom

rosyfingered moon

I used to weave crowns

garlands made of flowers around your soft throat

gathering flowers so delicate a girl

oh for Adonis

Adonis, Adonis

Delicate Adonis is dying / What shall we do? 

Strike yourself / maidens / and tear your garments

Oh may you grant

this humble poet

a tongue which

might sing such

words of sorrow

and delight

honey this tongue

that it might sing

of that ecstasy

especially yours

yours which loves and suffers

loves entirely

loves in the gardens of Adonia

from beginning to end

like a rose

cut to whither

yet no less pungent

less moon-colored

less thorny

for the fact of its demise

let me be a voice

that informs of the dangers

gives fair warning

so we may knowingly

hazard that path regardless

up the mountain

where flowers are stompt and windswept

spare me not your initiations lady

that I may struggle

to speak the unspeakable 

ἄρρητος

mysteries

held in your mirror.
1 Translations of individual phrases taken from Anne Carson, as rendered in If Not, Winter

Aphrodite Agon Entry 3

Prayer to Aphrodite

By G. Krasskova

Born of Power,

Rising jubilant from the sea-foam,

Cytherea, Cyprian, Queen,

I hail You.

Inciter to Lust,

Inciter to War,

All bow in time to Your power,

save Three.

As Areia, You are fierce in battle.

As Pandemos, you are rich in praise.

As Ourania, You delight the Heavens.

In the mountains and by the sea

Your praises are sung,

and everywhere in between.

You, Golden One,

are the object of

for Gods and mortals alike.

Few can resist You,

Fewer wish to try.

Laughter-Loving Mother of desire,

Richly adorned, crowned, and beautiful,

I too will praise You always.

I too will not resist Your call.

Hail to You, Divine One,

glorious Aphrodite.

May this prayer find favor

in Your eyes.

Ever may You be praised.

Ever may You inspire.

Hail, Aphrodite. 

Aphrodite Agon Entry 2

To Aphrodite by HeathenChinese

 

Aphrodite, when first I saw You
standing upon your scalloped pedestal,
powdered with rich pinks and dusty reds like sandstone,
ever-smiling, serene but not aloof,
borne reverently in the hands of Your priestess,
followed by a procession
of those who came to give You homage,
in that charged moment, that καιρός,
I became a multi-tradition polytheist,
I realized that ancestry is cultural,
and that relationship is everything.
I knew in that instant that Botticelli
saw a true vision,
that the Gods, and You especially,
are deathless indeed, that the Italian Renaissance
deserved its name and had no better σύμβολον
than Your own famous birth from the waves.

 

You answered my prayer that very evening,
though the possibility You opened my heart to
took years to realize, and was never inevitable
(for the tapestry woven by the Moirai shifts
by choice and chance and
in ways unknowable to mortals).
I knew Your awesome power at once,
I joyfully gave you and Hestia,
the hearth-tender of Your tribe,
the hospitality of my home,
a place within it that is still Yours,
I purified myself with glistening water,
I burned sweet myrrh and λιβανωτός for You,
and poured out sea-dark wine and prayers.
I learned to de-armor, piece by painful piece,
and open myself to Your blessings,
to cultivate right relationship
with You,
with the woman I love,
in all the realms
of the spirit which is part of the body
and the body which is part of the spirit.

 

This is not the first poem I’ve written for You,
nor the last, Golden One,
You who are accompanied by the Χάριτες,
Splendor and Joy and Abundance.
The offerings we give to the Gods, and to You especially,
from a simple grain of incense to glittering gemstones,
are objects of Beauty and acts of Love.
To sacrifice is to make sacred,
or perhaps more accurately for an animist,
to make the sacred explicit and exalted and paramount.
Beauty and Love are Yours already,
and reciprocal χάρις too,
but in their gifting and re-gifting,
they gain new stories with each transfer,
like a gold and silver wine bowl,
wrought by a divine smith,
father of the Kabeiroi,
handed from Sidonian host to Danaan guest,
and to another guest-friend in turn,
the great-grandson of the Wolf Himself,
the son of crafty Hermes.
In fulfillment of a vow,
wreathed with rose and ivy,
I gave You a dove
offered by the hands of a King,
witnessed by hopping sparrows,
by Your night-wandering star,
and by persimmon-fiery Helios,
blazing as Nyx baptized Him once again
in the sea whence You emerged
from severance and blood,
a tributary of Okeanos far from pacific.

 

Ally, as You were named
by both Sappho and the Mantineans,
no stranger to war and warriors,
for You I have fought, and will fight again,
in Your blessings I rejoice and give thanks,
to You I dedicate this poem,
these words that You have inspired,
just as You encourage the rose
to unfurl her crimson banners,
and the apple to ripen upon the branch,
and the clam to bring forth a σφαίρα,
iridescence from irritation,
Love from Strife.
You who set foot first on Cyprus,
where wildflowers sprang from the earth
to celebrate Your arrival,
I hail you now from California,
land of the Black pagan queen of Amazons,
who led man-slaughtering griffins in battle.
Grant to me that I may win this agon,
may my praises of You be acclaimed,
for Your immortal glory and honor.

Hera Agon Entry 3

Telia by Jennifer Lawrence


I understand you so much better now.


The stories of the gods were written by men:

Vain men, proud men, wanton and willful,

With a man’s hungers, and a man’s needs.

They portrayed your husband as one of themselves:

A father, a lord, a king,

With a man’s hungers, and a man’s needs.


Without his trysts, they say, so many Olympians and heroes

Simply would not be:

No Apollo and Artemis, no Dionysos,

No Hercules, no Perseus,

No Persephone, no Hermes,

No Graces and no Muses,

No Seasons and no Fates

Most of the seats on the heights of Mount Olympus

Would simply stand empty.


But–

From the first, you spurned his advances and ignored his pleas,

Knowing he knew nothing of fidelity;

Every gift he brought, you refused;

Every flattering compliment he whispered, you stopped your ears against.

Eventually, he sunk to trickery,

Changing his shape to beguile your pity,

And only when you had brought that half-drowned bird

Inside from the pounding storm laced with wild lightnings–

(and oh, if only you had recognized that warning sign!)

–he took you by force, and when he was done,

You had no choice but to wed your brother,

Or live with the shame forever after.


Perhaps you thought that,

At least with the title of queen,

You could content yourself with respect, if not love,

But he made no effort to hide his affairs,

And you knew others knew of them, also.

The cloak of dignity you would have wrapped round yourself

Became the cuckold-wife’s tattered veil,

And all that was left to you then

Were the flames of jealousy and rage

And the icy chains of hatred.

Perhaps you could understand that the women he chose had little choice of their own–

For who could withstand the King of the Gods?

What woman could withstand his guile, or stand fast against his strength?

Nonetheless, your fury needed a target,

And you could no more strike against him, your King,

Than they could,

And so you chose to strike them down when you could–

Rewarding their illicit pleasure with death if possible,

Or changing their shape to something not nearly so tempting,

If your lethal hatred was balked.


Only a woman treated thusly could share

Some of the anger, the despair, the hatred that you felt;

The need to strike out at the one who had hurt you so,

Or, failing that,

At the ones he had hurt you with.

When a woman has no such touchstone for the pain you felt,

It is easy to read the stories written by men,

And see you with clouded eyes,

Thinking you spiteful or cruel,

Instead of a woman seeking only the recompense of justice

For the crimes against you.


I understand you so much better now.