Athena's Web Weekly Column

Week of May 23rd - May 29th,  2003

Chapter II

With Noise like Thunder

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  In our Astro 101 series, we are going back to basics. We have been examining Taurus energy, the strength of the bull, of it's fertility and natural power. Last week we saw how Exodus, in the first of its many Taurian images, equated the numbers and strength of the Hebrews in Egypt, and how their growing multitudes frightened the new Pharaoh, who determined to beat them into submission through hard work, heavy loads, and with projects requiring clay and brick. The only problem is that this is exactly what Taurus energy is good at, just as the bull bends his back, shoulders and strength to the plough.

The Face that launched a thousand ships

The face that launched a thousand ships
The crowded battleground of Troy

  This notion of the fertility of Taurus is a common one. This is a herd animal, and in the same way the bison once filled this land's plains, or the manner in which bees* swarm, or a people can migrate in an exodus, these are all notions common to mass movements of a people or species. This week we again examine this Taurian theme, but from the vantage point of Greek literature. Astrology was the hi-tech of ancient civilization. Many cultures wove its esoteric information into their fiber. The Bible did this in its original books, but so did Homer's Iliad. Just as the first book of the Bible equates to Aries, so does the first chapter of the Iliad. Chapter II is our Taurian example. Here, it is not the strength of the Jewish people which is being held aloft as our celestial example, but rather the strength of the Greek forces surrounding Troy.


"With noise like thunder pent in earth
under their trampling, under the horses hooves,
they filled the flowering land beside Skamander,
as countless as the leaves and blades of spring.
So, too, like clouds of buzzing, fevered flies
that swarm about a cattle stall in summer
when pails are splashed with milk: so restlessly
by thousands moved the fighters of Akhaia
over the plain, lusting to rend the Trojans."


Agamemnon, seated, and depicted in Book II
as 'a great bull in his majesty'.

  This notion of there being so many troops that the earth groaned under their collective weight is one that appears several times in Chapter II. Here's another example from earlier in the chapter:


"...and all that throng, aroused, began to surge
as ground swells do on dark Ikarian deeps
under the south and east wind heeling down
from Father Zeus's cloudland-"

  And just who is the leader of these magnificent hosts of the multitudes? Who has been appointed by Zeus, god on high to lead these champions to battle?


"Agamemnon's lordly mien
was like the mien of Zeus whose joy is lightning;
oaken-wasted as Ares, god of war,
he seemed, and deep-chested as Lord Poseidon,
and as a great bull in his majesty
towers supreme amid a grazing herd,
so on that day Zeus made the son of Atreus
tower over his host, supreme among them."

  The bovine images are clear. Agamemnon is the bull, his troops the cattle. Approximately one third of this entire chapter is a listing of the captains and number of ships which sailed with the Greeks and their allies; one hundred and twenty ships from the Boiotians, fifty from Athens, eighty with Diomedes, Odysseus of Ithaka had brought twelve, etc. These are ships referenced in the line- 'The face that launched a thousand ships.' Together with their many comrades from many lands, the earth groaned under their collective weight (Taurus is an earth sign) and strength.

  (* In another example from Book II, the troops are compared to bees swarming...


"From the earth
the troops turned out, as thick as bees
that issue from some crevice in a rock face
endlessly pouring forth, to make a cluster
and swarm on blooms of summer here and there
glinting and droning, busy in bright air
Like bees innumerable from ships and huts
down the deep foreshore streamed those regiments
toward the assembly ground- and Rumor blazed
among them like a crier sent from Zeus.
Turmoil grew in the great field as they entered
and sat down, clangorous companies, the ground
under them groaning, hubbub everywhere.")