dimanche 31 août 2008

Andromeda 10

Linguists think vincere to conquer, and vincire, to bind or tie, are probably related. Varro gives the etymology of Venus from vincere, and says vinctio ‘binding’ is Venus ‘Love':

Therefore the conditions of procreation are two: fire and water. Thus these are used at the threshold in weddings, because there is union here, and fire is male, which the semen is in the other case, and the water is the female, because the embryo develops from her moisture, and the force that brings their vinctio ‘binding’ is Venus ‘Love'. Hence the comic poet says, "Venus is his victress, do you see it?" not because Venus wishes vincere ‘to conquer,' but vincire ‘to bind.

Manilius likens falling in love to being vanquished; "victorque Medusae victus in Andromeda est", translated; "the vanquisher of Medusa [Perseus] was vanquished at the sight of Andromeda". Latin vincere, to conquer, comes from the Indo-European root ; 'To fight, conquer'. Derivatives: wight² (valorous; brave, able in battle), vanquish, victor (from victus), victory, vincible, convict, convince, evict, evince (to win out, from Latin vincere, to conquer), invincible, Victoria, Victor, Vincent.

But after a victory (victoria), when the enemy were defeated (devincere, past participle of devictus), the sacrifices they would slaughter were 'victims' (victima). Victims are larger sacrifices than hostiae. Others think that a victim is so called because it would fall dead when struck by a blow (ictus), or because it would be brought to the altar bound (vincio, past participle of vinctus).

In the picture of Andromeda, the virgin was laid in a hollow of the rock, not fashioned by art, but rough like a natural cavity; and which, if viewed only with regard to the beauty of that which it contained, looked like a niche holding an exquisite fresh from the chisel; but the sight of her bonds, and of the monster approaching to devour her, gave it rather the aspect of a sepulchre. On her features extreme loveliness was blended with deadly terror, which was seated on her pallid cheeks, while beauty beamed forth from her eyes; but, as even amid the pallor of her cheeks a faint tinge of color was yet perceptible, so was the brightness of her eyes, on the other hand, in some measure dimmed, like the bloom of lately blighted violets. Her white arms were extended, and lashed to the rock; but their whiteness partook of a livid hue, and her fingers were like those of a corpse. Thus lay she, expecting death, but arrayed like a bride, in a long white robe, which seemed not as if woven from the fleece of the sheep, but from the web of the spider, or of those winged insects, the long threads spun by which are gathered by the Indian women from the trees of their own country. The monster was just rising out of the sea opposite to the damsel, his head alone being distinctly visible, while the unwieldy length of his body was still in a great measure concealed by the waves, yet so as partially to discover his formidable array of spines and scales, his swollen neck, and his long flexible tail, while the gape of his horrible jaws extended to his shoulder, and disclosed the abyss of his stomach. But between the monster and the damsel, Perseus was depicted descending to the encounter from the upper regions of the air--his body bare, except a mantle floating round his shoulders, and winged sandals on his feet--a cap resembling the helmet of Pluto was on his head, and in his left hand he held before him, like a buckler, the head of the Gorgon, which even in the pictured representation was terrible to look at, shaking its snaky hair, which seemed to erect itself and menace the beholder. His right hand grasped a weapon, in shape partaking of both a sickle and a sword; for it had a single hilt, and to the middle of the blade resembled a sword; but there it separated into two parts, one continuing straight and pointed, like a sword, while the other was curved backwards, so that with a single stroke, it might both inflict a wound, and fix itself in the part struck. Such was the picture of Andromeda.

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