Friday, April 4, 2014

Fitting Fourth Days

Once upon a time, the Roman calendar was lunar. The fourth day of the month was the fourth day of the new moon. All fourth days (and all things four) are dedicated to Hermes. It's fitting, then, that the Megalesia begins on the fourth day of the month, since it was Hermes who brought the infant Dionysos to Cybele:
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 9. 136 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) : 
"[The jealous goddess Hera would have destroyed the infant Dionysos who was then nursed by Ino:] She [Hera] would have destroyed the son of Zeus [Dionysos]; but Hermes caught him up, and carried him to the wooded ridge where Kybele (Cybele) dwelt. Moving fast, Hera ran swift-shoe on quick feet from high heaven; but he was before her, and assumed the eternal shape of first-born Phanes [one of the first born gods]. Hera in respect for the most ancient of the gods, gave him place and bowed before the radiance of the deceiving face, not knowing the borrowed shape for a fraud. So Hermes passed over the mountain tract with quicker step than hers, carrying the horned child folded in his arms, and gave it to Rheia [i.e. Kybele, Cybele], nurse of lions, mother of Father Zeus, and said these few words to the goddess mother of the greatest: ‘Receive, goddess, a new son of your Zeus! He is to fight with the Indians, and when he has done with earth he will come into the starry sky, to the great joy of resentful Hera! Indeed it is not proper that Ino should be nurse to one whom Zeus brought forth. Let the mother of Zeus be nanny to Dionysos--mother of Zeus and nurse of her grandson!’

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