1) Pindar, 12th Pythian Ode (ca 490 BC). The specific flute Athena is credited with inventing, here, is called the Phrygian flute; it is a double flute thought to have been formed by her out of stag’s bones or horns.

2) C.W. Frampton, The Origins of Modern Woodwind Instruments, University of Mexico, Albuquerque, 1963, p.27. This proposal seems more speculative than Frampton’s earlier one that suggested the blowing or sucking out of marrow generated the flutes without side holes found in Paleolithic excavations.

3) The sexual innuendo implicit in Aphrodite’s mockery of Athena’s Phrygian flute is reinforced in Plato’s Minos, where Athena refers to the two appendages of the flute as “shameful things, an outrage to my body. I yield me not to such baseness.”

4) These Platonic rejections of the flute were later taken up by Aristotle in his Politics VIII, where the instrument is reviled as having “nothing to do with the mind.”

5) Pindar, Pythian XII, for Midas of Aphragas, Winner in Flute Playing.

6) This conjunction of “tail” and “spin” did not come into English usage until around 1910 and is clearly part of Rouse’s attempt to emulate Homer’s vernacular tone, rather than render a literal translation.

7) Frampton, op cit, p.6. This fragment of a satyr play generally attributed to the third century BC writer Nossis ends, “Marsyas subdued the violence of his breath and drew Zephyr’s rage into grace.” While many Greek writers claimed Marsyas’s flute continued to play by itself those tunes Athena had blown into it before she hurled it to earth, Nossis, like Euripides, was more willing to credit Marsyas with actually founding the rules of the flute.

8) Philip Bate, The Flute, W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1957, p.57.

9) Hyginus has confused the musical contest between Apollo and Marsyas with that of Apollo and Pan. It is unclear from the extant texts whether Pliny himself was confused or whether he simply chose to make his character confused.

10) Since 1991, replaced by the term “hubris pill.”

11) The first Olympiad took place in 776 BC and was held regularly every four years until AD 393. In addition, there were the Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian contests.

12) By the 15th century BC, flute playing was the only musical competition still taking place at these games. Chariot racing, wrestling, horse racing, and boxing were amongst the other 11 contests.

13) This lost sculpture by Zeuxis is the earliest known representation of Marsyas. Possibly the myth of Apollo and Marsyas did not fully evolve until the fifth century BC. From then on, Apollo and Marsyas figure the vases of the Kleophon Painter and a succession of anonymous artists.

14) Song, more than purely instrumental music, would naturally be favored by Greek writers.

15) Roman Jakobson, Language and Literature, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Mass., 1987, p.463. Historically, it would be more accurate to say that the movie camera’s lens sees Homerically.

16) Such ithyphallic characters were not found again in Europe, until the 16th century.

17) Ernest Hemingway, in A Farewell to Arms, condenses this tale even further by simply having a woman of Abruzzi say, “It was bad for the girls to hear the flute at night.”

18) George Bataille, The Tears of Eros, City Lights Books, San Francisco Cal., 1989, pp 73–74.

19) From the Greek word athlos meaning “contest.” The first use of the word seems to be in Homer’s Odyssey (Book XVIII), when Euryalus mocks Ulysses’s weary refusal to take part in the games at Alcinous’s palace: “I see not of a man expert in feats athletic.”

20) The primacy wrestling held in Greek culture can be gauged, as well, from Homer’s many references to it. In the 23rd book of the Iliad, it is the wrestling match that promises the biggest prize at the games held at the funeral rites of Patroclus. The loser receives “A woman well skilled in women’s work, valued at four oxen,” which is the same prize the winner of the chariot race receives.

21) Plato also refers to a “winged chariot” in the Phaedrus.

22) In Icaromenippus (ca 160 AD), Lucian equipped Menippus with one wing from an eagle and another from a vulture to fly to Mount Olympus. He was propelled to the moon on a giant waterspout.

23) Zeus’s prayer holes bear uncanny resemblance to late-20th-century images of moon craters.

24) Plato’s Atlantis is linked, by modern archeologists, to the recently excavated island of Thera, which is a remnant of a much larger island destroyed by a volcanic eruption around 1500 BC.

25) Where Thetis held him when she dipped him into the River Styx in order to insure his physical invulnerability.

26) Venus drawing an anemone from the dying Adonis’s blood and Apollo’s tears mixing with Hyacinthus’s blood to form a hyacinth are perhaps the most well known examples of this phenomenon.



1) This is the second time Lucian makes Mercury the vehicle for Menippus’s reentry.

2) John F. Gilbey, Western Boxing and World Wrestling, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, Cal., 1986, p.83. Gilbey never identifies the “expert” referred to here and elsewhere, but denies his contention that both dancing and procreation were derived from wrestling.

3) Many of these holds can be seen on the tomb reliefs at Beni Hassan (2380–2167 BC) on the Nile.

4) Gilbey, op cit., p.90. The law of Ulpianus.

5) Wrestling first became part of the Olympiad in 704 BC.

6) Given wrestling’s growing importance in Greek culture, it is not as remarkable as these modern commentators have suggested to find Socrates and the young Alcibiades wrestling at a palestra in Plato’s Symposium. Echoing Plato, Aristotle found wrestling “salubrious for the mind.”

7) Milon of Croton was as renowned for this hold as he was for his ability to carry an ox around the stadium and kill it with one punch.

8) Pindar, Nemean VI, for Alkimidas of Aegina, Winner in the Boys Wrestling (ca 461 BC).

9) In Pythian VIII, Pindar continues these musical analogies: “To let your eyes rain melody/ on every step that I take.”

10) Seen on many Red Figure vessels and still employed in wrestling today, this hold immediately preceded Heracles’s fatal chokehold on the Nemean lion.

11) This is the only wrestling event that is part of Judeo-Christian Mythology.

12) Gilbey’s contention that “Israel” is thought to mean a “wrestler with god” runs counter to the accepted Hebrew meaning of “Israel” (“God perseveres”).

13) Beyond this, Athena and Jesus, of course, were both parthenogenetic.

14) A chariot of similar design, composed of three-headed vultures, is observed by Menippus on the moon.

15) Plutarch also pictures the moon (The Face of the Moon, ca 1000 AD) as a kind of second earth populated with demons living in caves.

16) George Steiner, After Babel, Oxford University Press, London, 1975, p.401.

17) This version of the Pan pipe is made from an aldershoot from which the bark has been stripped.

18) The tears of Marsyas condensed into a spring that then became the source of the clearest river in Phrygia.



1) In Consulting the Oracle in Hades, Lucian has Menippus return to the surface of the earth via a crossing through a hidden interior artery.

2) This disguise was ambiguous enough so that Menippus could alternately be taken for Ulysses, Hercules, or Orpheus.

3) Not only for Columbus, but for many other 15th-century navigators, especially the Portuguese, the primary motives were to reach Cathay or to discover Atlantis.

4) The other method of reaching the moon discussed by Cyrano and de Guiche is still more fabulous and entails an iron chariot drawn upwards by magnets that are continually thrown ahead of it by the driver.

5) Stanley Goldstein, Reaching for the Stars, Praeger, New York, 1987, p.46.

6) Harley Earle was the designer who introduced the tailfin to the Cadillac in 1948, and he was largely responsible for the “aircraft styling” so typical of American automobiles of this era.

7) Peter K. Vogel, The American Dream Machine, D.H. Ingersoll Press, Los Angeles, Cal. 1977, p.154.

8) Michael R. Ball, Professional Wrestling as Ritual Drama in American Popular Culture, Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, New York, 1983, p.21.

9) Ibid., p.6. Although Ball refers to wrestling as the “great American Passion Play,” his basic thesis is Marxist driven and emphasizes the notion of modern wrestling as a ritual of elitist social manipulation and control.

10) Roland Barthes, Mythologies, The Noonday Press, New York, 1992 ed., p.21. While Barthes, like Ball, sees wrestling as a ritual spectacle rather than a sport, he sees it in a positive light that illuminates “the ancient myth of public Suffering and Humiliation: the cross and the pillory.”

11) The first of the three Stations where Christ falls down.

12) Even more consequent to wrestling’s resurgence in the late 1940s was the advent of television.

13) Sufficient visual and technical similarities do not exist to support Franklin’s comparison of Sputnik with the V-2 rocket. He himself seems to be a victim of the aggression underlying the rampant enthusiasm and anxiety of the space race that he seeks to analyze.

14) It does seem ironic that the Cadillac tailfins had been completely removed by 1965, during the very height of America’s rocket obsessiveness. But, in point of fact, the actual laws of aerodynamics, rather than the look of Earle’s “aircraft styling” now began to rule automotive design.

15) Goldstein, op cit, p.5.

16) E.g., “I kindle light with flaming songs” (Pindar, Olympian IX, for Epharmostos of Opous, Winner in the Wrestling).

17) Repeatedly referred to by Xenophon as “celestial mechanics.”

18) These attempts at weather control pioneered by Von Neuman preoccupied almost as many physicists, in the 1950s and 1960s, as did space exploration.

19) James Gleick, Chaos, Viking Penguin, New York, 1987, p.313. It remains moot whether this newer model of liquid crystallization might make weather control possible.



1) Although the most often quoted of the dedicatory speeches, this was but one of many that transformed the Brooklyn Bridge into a passageway to utopia.

2) Hapnell took this hyperbole quite literally and sought to set up an international committee to proclaim the bridge the Eighth Wonder of the World.

3) Alan Trachtenberg, Brooklyn Bridge, Fact and Symbol, University of Chicago Press, 1965, p.68.

4) Roebling’s belief in the sovereignty of reason did not preclude him from becoming involved with this kind of millennial mysticism, and the teachings of the so-called “Poughkeepsie Seer” were quite important to him.

5) This surely is a confusion of “androgyne” with “hermaphrodite.”

6) The secret son of Poseidon and the cousin of Heracles, Theseus, together with Heracles and Hermes, was a patron of all the palestras. His wrestling contest with the ogre Sinis led many to credit him with founding modern wrestling.

7) Not to be confused with the cross-buttock move.

8) Until the 5th century BC, Greek wrestlers performed nude.

9) Fittingly, the publication date (1865) of From the Earth to the Moon is the same year as Roebling’s founding of the company that was to build the Brooklyn Bridge.

10) Verne’s calculations for the velocity necessary to overcome gravity (25,000 mph) were accurate. The launch in Florida was preceded by an animal test flight.

11) The cat ate the squirrel.

12) This theme is reiterated in Verse IV (Cape Hateras), where the Wright Brothers become “windwrestlers” who "ride/ The blue’s cloud-templed districts unto ether . . . ”

13) Crane moved to New York City in 1923 in order to live in sight of the bridge he would mythologize in his final work.

14) Although Walt Whitman is more frequently named than the author of the Iliad, the self consciously Olympian tone of The Bridge and its Classicizing similes constantly invoke Homer.

15) At this Station, Christ met his mother.

16) Betty Mary Spears, History of Sport and Physical Activity in the United States, Wm. C. Brown & Co., Dubuque, Iowa, 1978, p.37.

17) Crane had already introduced these musical and nautical metaphors in the introductory verse (e.g. “harp and altar,” “choiring strings,” “ . . . and of the curveship lend a myth to God").

18) The only athlete celebrated by Pindar who competed in both wrestling and chariot racing, at the Nemean Games.

19) In this final stanza, Cathay and Atlantis are conflated as the “upward veering bridge seeks its final destination.”

20) Steiner, op cit, p.401.

21) “Stars scribble on our eyes the frosty sagas/ The gleaming cantos of unvanquished space” (Verse IV, Cape Haters).



1) The catenary curve is formed by a rope or cable hanging freely between two fixed points and supports the greatest possible weight with the least tension at the point of suspension.

2) He was the only poet drawn to orchestrate the cables of this bridge.

3) E. Norman Gardner, “Wrestling”, Journal of Hellenic Studies, London, 1905, vol.25, p.17.

4) Athena is generally credited with instructing Theseus in the art of wrestling, but Hermes is its Olympian inventor. The Greek wrestling gymnasiums bore his daughter Palestra’s name.

5) Gardner, op cit, p.20. This analysis of the contest between Ulysses and Ajax (Iliad, Book XXIII), together with the subsequent analyses of Attic vase depictions comprise the most thorough study of the relationship of the holds of England’s Cumberland Westmoreland wrestling to Greek wrestling.

6) M. Briggs Hunt, Greco-Roman Wrestling, Ronald Press Co., NY, 1964, p.72.

7) Jake Pfeffer was the 1930s wrestling impresario who invented this blood capsule and prided himself on the freakishness of his wrestlers. (“You can’t get a dollar with a normal looking guy.”).

8) The tag teams “Demolition” and “Ax and Smash” embody some of these more recent stereotypes.

9) Although Barbanell’s scholarly rigors have failed, thus far, to identify the Christian fathers who initiated the almost universal removal from or mutilation of male genitalia on Classical statuary, this monograph on the Barberini Faun remains seminal.

10) Very little is known about Amico di Sandro or what his inspiration was for this unconventional and unique depiction of the adult Christ with a visible male organ.

11) Satyrs, of course, were the models for these medieval representations of devils.

12) Closer to the blue of the sky in Giovanni Bellini’s Saint Francis, this blue is very different from the “Robin’s Egg Blue” so prevalent on the El Dorado’s of the 1950s.

13) Even Pravda employed these analogies and referred to Gagarin’s space capsule Vostok as an “ariel chariot” (April 13, 1961, p.1).

14) The word “horsepower” was simply incorporated into the vocabulary of these aeronautic obsessions.

15) On this same day (July 16), 24 years earlier the first atom bomb was detonated.

16) Burroughs concurs with Crowley that “The human body is much too dense for space conditions,” and, on page three of the above-mentioned text, concludes, “The shift from time to space may involve mutations as drastic and irreversible as the shift from water to land.”

17) Diana would obviously have been a more appropriate choice, since she is the goddess of the moon, and her brother Apollo is the god of the sun. But NASA officials were loathe to choose a female patron for their missions.

18) This ceremony is not unlike the Mayan ritual in which blood from the pierced foreskin is collected on a piece of paper and thrown into a fire to produce visions of gods.

19) Gleick, op cit, p.314. These states of crystallization are referred to as “nonequilibrium phenomena . . . . They are the products of imbalance from one piece of nature to another.”



1) Thrasymedes’s tunnel from Hades is clearly indebted to the one found in Lucian’s Menippian voyage, but the labial folds that camouflage the entrance and his protagonist’s “brazen spear” adumbrate this tale with a more erotic charge.

2) P. Levi, History of Greek Literature, Viking, London, 1985, p.33.

3) “Nevertheless awake the fine strings of the harp? And turn your thoughts to wrestling.” (Pindar, Nemean X, For Theioas of Argos, a Wrestler.)

4) Now known as the “near side cradle” hold.

5) The Greeks referred to this hold as “flying mare.”

6) Acheiropoietos is the Greek word for these so-called “paranormal” images.

7) Eva Kuryluk, Veronica and Her Cloth, Basil Blackwell Inc., Cambridge, Mass., 1991, p.5.

8) Ibid., p.52. This correlation of the transference of Christ’s bleeding and sweating face to Veronica’s cloth with female menstruation is the primary premise of Kuryluk’s book.

9) In Judaism, the blood shed at circumcision is also considered as sacred ink.

10) Most of the scientists with STURP (The Shroud of Turin Research Project) had previously been involved with the nuclear space probe and military technology.

11) Only the invention of photography had been able to make the image on the Shroud of Turin clearly visible. The Shroud itself is a negative image that becomes positive when seen in photographic negative.

12) Frank C. Tribble, Portrait of Jesus?, Stein and Day, New York, 1983, p.36: “ . . . microchemical tests detected no pigment binders, or other foreign substances to a level of less than one millionth of a gram, thus totally demolishing any claim that paint had been used . . . ”

13) Ibid., p. 253. The contention that light radiation not heat radiation is responsible for the image might also be proposed for the transference of the image of the Gorgon Medusa’s head to the reflective shield loaned to Perseus by Athena.

14) This episode is most vividly recounted in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, 4.

15) Known as “release.”

16) In Book XVIII of the Iliad, Homer’s elaborate description of the microcosm depicted on Achilles’s new armor seems to all but overlook his physical invulnerability (but for his heel). Indeed, Achilles would have no need for armor.

17) The “guillotine” hold seems more an invention of modern wrestling.

18) While Marsyas’s skin was hung on a tree, in the Aztec ritual of Tlacaxipehualiztli, the priests actually donned the flayed skins of the sacrificial victims, in emulation of the golden cloak of Xipe Totec, in order to insure the success of the new harvest.

19) Also known as “Our Lord the Flayed One” and “Yopi.”

20) There is no known Aztec or Mayan glyph for “statue.”

21) Burroughs continues (p.82), “However, we have a model to hand that is much less dense in fact almost weightless: the astral or dream body.” Neither he nor Crowley have yet to explore how these transformations might relate to Gleick’s “Chaotic Harmonies.”

experimental writing
music theory
greek mythology
Spring 1994
The cover of BOMB 47