So, in case you couldn’t tell, over the last seven days, I’ve been writing one part of an acrostic poem for Megalensia, each day with the honorand of the date (as established a few years ago) as the beginning letters of the lines written; however, it is a double acrostic, so that the last letters of each line, in reverse order, also spell what the first letters do in forward/regular order. This means that there aren’t end-rhymes, and the whole thing is more loose free verse than anything, but it also forced interesting word choices a lot of the time–it’s hard to find English words that end in “u,” for example! ;)
Anyway, to get the full effect, here it is…
Megalensia, the date on which the city of great Roma
Accepts into its sacred precincts the holy Galli,
Goddess-sworn priests of a Great Mother Goddesss
New to the side of Tiber, but in origins Phrygian—
Asia Minor’s black heavenly stone, its very pride:
Magna Mater’s emblem brought thence with travail
Across the wide expanse of the wine-dark Mediterranean Sea
To make a new life, to bring victory and a new beginning
Enshrined on a hill in a temple in the eternal city, Rome:
Rejoice, O children, at what Aeneas’ seed did reclaim!
Agdistis, the powerful parent, themeslves monstrous,
Gods may thus have said–as if Ananke is impromptu!–
Deeming it necessary that they be changed, a genital
Inconsistency something to fear, needing to cull…
Snipping humans in two did not meet the divine quota,
Therefore what was one whole was victim of cutting
In the scheme of making divine diversity more dim:
Such decisions do not prefer the trouser, but the tutu.
At this time, we also honor the first of the castrati,
The unfortunate Attis–but none of pity should we feel:
That which was “lost” was not for quid pro quo,
Instead his votaries–and this is not a fib—
Stone-cold sober, slicing, into another existence, go.
Cry out! Clash the cymbals and make the tympanon a rumbler,
Yelling out “Euoi!” to the sacred stone in situ
By the Tiber or on Pessinus’ city with Midas of Phrygia…
“Euoi!” when the Galli whirl and dance and are cut,
Letting out cries of ecstasy and inebriated madness divine;
“Euoi!” again at dawn’s first light and when night’s dark will fall.
The bull’s blood flows like melting snows from Ida, blade
Acting as the sacred spring bringing flows not to tub
Underneath, like the baths in Rome, but instead the steady
Rain falls upon the priests and votaries who come, caustic
Orations of critics aside, the vain detractors
Believing that one must slice oneself like the Galli
Or be bereft of the Goddess’ favor, or those who yet
Lecture that proper Romans and balanced Greeks should not
In Asian and Phrygian Mysteries dabble…but the coda
Unknown to such fools is that the Great Mother Goddess
May yet hear the prayers of these, whether Galli or non-Galli.
Give alms to this one, the whirling begging priest
At the service owed by them and the Archigallus—
Love poured in blood by the sodality of the Galli,
Love for the Great Mother Goddess and her slain God—
Until your pockets are empty because of your giving:
Such does not begin to equal their debt, not one iota.
Magna Mater, the savior of Rome from the terrors of the Carthaginian’s war,
Every soul that gathers to honor you in the Circus at the public game—
Gallus and Archigallus, Thracians and Phrygians, mad maenad and ship’s pilot,
Astute philosophers and Roman plebs, and fierce gladiators from the arena—
Long to praise you and receive your blessings on this day and each day, and from
Eastern reaches of the Empire to the West, the passing pilgrims scent the aroma,
Noses of the gods and mortals thrill to the sweet smells of sacrifices slain,
Signs of human gratefulness at what you have given, what you are giving
In your heaveny abode, city-crowned, mountain-adorned, lion-flanked, Domina,
Agdistis, Attis, and Cybele, the Magna Mater: on Megalensia, the Galli give a Taurobolium.
I was making daily offerings during this entire time, and I’m now contemplating (though I have done this in previous years as well) getting an image of Cybele to enshrine in my home in the near future, since she does get a seven-day festival, as well as other honors, during each year from me now…
But, in terms of getting to observe other aspects of the series of holy days? I was not quite so fortunate to be able to do so. The quarter started this week for college. Today, I did walk down to the bus stop (about 1.75 miles), so even though it’s not the Circus Maximus, I did kind of have some physical exertion to get to my (public) “chariot,” so to speak. ;)
I had hoped to have some appropriate lunch with a few students and colleagues, but the colleague cancelled out (again!), so it was down to me and one student. Oh well–we went anyway, and I had a rather crazy notion on the bus on the way in as far as something possibly food-appropriate that could be done for the occasion. This was the result:
The following actually did occur as far as a consultation/conversation as we were in the line at the Asian buffet: “Which do you think looks more testicular: these crab cheese wontons, or these sesame balls?” We went with the sesame to accompany the egg rolls, and topped it with
blood sweet ‘n’ sour sauce, and then also had some beef (for the Taurobolium), and the broccoli like it was little trees, since people bore tree-branches for Attis as well. (Some Naval aviators who were nearby at the time didn’t seem to appreciate parts of our conversation, but then again, they shouldn’t have been listening to us so intently either.)
So, what did you do for Megalensia? I’d be really interested in knowing!
Ave Magna Mater! Ave Cybele! Ave Agdistis! Ave Attis!