Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Cranes of Stymphalos

This week's #Hercworks is labour 6
#laboursofheracles #heracles #greekmythology #greekmyths

(My apologies this is later than usual having trouble with the wifi on the laptop)


The painter has basically used the myth as an excuse or opportunity to demonstrate his ability to paint birds and the limited color makes the painting more beautiful. 

Greek vase painters used a limited range of colors because many pigments used by painters can not be used for ceramics due to the effect of heat and fire on them. True Glazes despite the use of faience by the Egyptians didn't reach the Mediterranean cultures from the Far East until much later.

The shine of the black part is burnished clay slip.

Now back to the myth.

There is still a lake in Arcadia by this name today. 

In ancient times there was a small city many religious shrines to Artemis and wetlands near the Lake. 

 A group of birds described as cranes migrated and settled there. 
These birds were said to have had razor sharp beaks and feathers and poisonous dung. Apparently none of the local farmers they were plaguing had archery skills at least not on the level of Heracles. Or the birds had the sense to hide deep in the marshes? 

Heracles used a rattle to startle them so he could shoot them. 

Some writers claim the "cranes" were actually fever demons.

However large birds despite their fragile appearance can be quite strong and a  swan can break a man's arm with its wings.

I suspect the farmers tried to drive the birds away from their fields and out of the wetlands but the birds defended their nesting sites so they had to call the Mycenaean age's leading pest control expert  HERACLES !