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Drawing of a Bronze Tablet of Jupiter Dolichenus.

Drawing of a Bronze Tablet of Jupiter Dolichenus.

Votive relief from the Dolichenum on the Aventine Hill (Rome) with Jupiter Dolichenus, Juno Regina, Isis and Serapis.

Jupiter Dolichenus was a Roman god created from the syncretization of Jupiter, the Roman ‘King of the gods’, and a Baal cult of Commagene in Asia Minor. The cult was one of the Mystery Religions that gained popularity in the Roman Empire as an alternative to the open ‘public’ religion of mainstream Roman society. As a king deity he required a consort and the natural counterpart was Jupiter’s own wife Juno. Within this cult she takes the name Juno Dolichena. In iconography she always appears on the right of her partner.  Isis and Serapis appear with some frequency, perhaps as ‘guests’ or as allusions to the royal pair of Doliche.
Few of the characteristic attributes of Jupiter appear in the representation of Jupiter Dolichenus, apart from the thunderbolt, a beard, and at times the eagle. In all other respects the god is a new creation which blends oriental and Hellenistic conventions. The god always appears dressed in a military fashion, armed and dressed in a cuirass. This does not necessarily mean that his cult was especially militaristic; rather, the attributes signify power and royalty. The cuirass in particular is a Hellenistic artistic convention to portray divinity. The weapon that the god carries is usually a double-headed axe (a labris), a weapon often associated with the kings of Thrace and Asia Minor and not a common soldier’s weapon. In accordance with Roman oriental convention he also wears the Phrygian cap and trousers, clothing worn by other oriental gods that the Romans invented or adapted, such as Mithras.

Votive relief from the Dolichenum on the Aventine Hill (Rome) with Jupiter Dolichenus, Juno Regina, Isis and Serapis.

Jupiter Dolichenus was a Roman god created from the syncretization of Jupiter, the Roman ‘King of the gods’, and a Baal cult of Commagene in Asia Minor. The cult was one of the Mystery Religions that gained popularity in the Roman Empire as an alternative to the open ‘public’ religion of mainstream Roman society. As a king deity he required a consort and the natural counterpart was Jupiter’s own wife Juno. Within this cult she takes the name Juno Dolichena. In iconography she always appears on the right of her partner. Isis and Serapis appear with some frequency, perhaps as ‘guests’ or as allusions to the royal pair of Doliche.
Few of the characteristic attributes of Jupiter appear in the representation of Jupiter Dolichenus, apart from the thunderbolt, a beard, and at times the eagle. In all other respects the god is a new creation which blends oriental and Hellenistic conventions. The god always appears dressed in a military fashion, armed and dressed in a cuirass. This does not necessarily mean that his cult was especially militaristic; rather, the attributes signify power and royalty. The cuirass in particular is a Hellenistic artistic convention to portray divinity. The weapon that the god carries is usually a double-headed axe (a labris), a weapon often associated with the kings of Thrace and Asia Minor and not a common soldier’s weapon. In accordance with Roman oriental convention he also wears the Phrygian cap and trousers, clothing worn by other oriental gods that the Romans invented or adapted, such as Mithras.

Statue of Antinoos, Roman period, 130 AD, Permanent exhibition of the Archaeological Museum of Delphi.
This well preserved sculpture (only the forearms are lacking) portrays Antinoos, the youth from Bithynia whom Emperor Hadrian loved passionately until his premature death. Antinoos’s long hair was crowned by a wreath, of which there are indications of a band with leaves of a different material. This work exemplifies the evolution of ancient portraiture. Its melancholy beauty, the graceful angle of the head and the high polish of the marble surface embody the spirit of the Roman Imperial age, when there was a tendency to revive ancient Greek ideals. This most moving portrait of Antinoos was placed in the Delphi sanctuary by decision of the Amphictyons (presidents of the Pythian games) and of Aristotimos the priest. Antinoos drowned in the Nile in 130 AD and was subsequently proclaimed a god by Hadrian, who had statues and busts of the beloved youth placed in various cities and sanctuaries of the Roman empire, and established his worship, which included rituals and games in his honour.

The omphalos in the museum of Delphi.
An omphalos is a religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means “navel”. In Greek lore, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its center, the “navel” of the world. Omphalos stones marking the centre were erected in several places about the Mediterranean Sea; the most famous of those was at Delphi.

The omphalos in the museum of Delphi.
An omphalos is a religious stone artifact, or baetylus. In Greek, the word omphalos means “navel”. In Greek lore, Zeus sent two eagles across the world to meet at its center, the “navel” of the world. Omphalos stones marking the centre were erected in several places about the Mediterranean Sea; the most famous of those was at Delphi.

The Nine Progressive Stages of Mental Development According to Shamatha Meditation Practice (Tibetan Thangka Painting).
 The practice of Shamatha meditation develops the ability to focus the mind in single-pointed perfect concentration and is a prerequisite for the development of vipashyana or analytical insight meditation. Shamatha meditation should ideally practice in an isolated place and one should seat in meditation posture of Vairochana Buddha. The object of concentration is usually the image of the Buddha or a deity. The illustration of the development of mental tranquility is brilliantly depicted in this thangka in nine progressive stages of mental development which are obtained through the six powers of study, contemplation, memory, comprehension, diligence and perfection. The first stage is attained through the power of study and or hearing. The monk fixes his mind on the object of concentration. Here a monk chasing, binding, leading and subduing elephant whose colour progresses from black to white. The elephant represents the mind and its black colour the gross aspects of mental dullness. The monkey represents distraction or mental agitations, and its black colour, scattering. The hare represents the more subtle aspect of sinking. The hooked goad and lasso which the monk wields represent clear understanding and mindful recollection. The progressive diminishing along the path represents the decreasing degree of effort needed to cultivate understanding and recollection. The five sense objects represent the five sensual source of distraction.

The Nine Progressive Stages of Mental Development According to Shamatha Meditation Practice (Tibetan Thangka Painting).
The practice of Shamatha meditation develops the ability to focus the mind in single-pointed perfect concentration and is a prerequisite for the development of vipashyana or analytical insight meditation. Shamatha meditation should ideally practice in an isolated place and one should seat in meditation posture of Vairochana Buddha. The object of concentration is usually the image of the Buddha or a deity. The illustration of the development of mental tranquility is brilliantly depicted in this thangka in nine progressive stages of mental development which are obtained through the six powers of study, contemplation, memory, comprehension, diligence and perfection. The first stage is attained through the power of study and or hearing. The monk fixes his mind on the object of concentration. Here a monk chasing, binding, leading and subduing elephant whose colour progresses from black to white. The elephant represents the mind and its black colour the gross aspects of mental dullness. The monkey represents distraction or mental agitations, and its black colour, scattering. The hare represents the more subtle aspect of sinking. The hooked goad and lasso which the monk wields represent clear understanding and mindful recollection. The progressive diminishing along the path represents the decreasing degree of effort needed to cultivate understanding and recollection. The five sense objects represent the five sensual source of distraction.

Buddha sitting in bhumisparsha-mudra posture (calling the earth to be his witness). Birmany. White marble with traces of polychromy. Gallo-Roman museum of Lyons.
The “earth witness” Buddha is one of the most common iconic images of Buddhism. It depicts the Buddha sitting in meditation with his left hand, palm upright, in his lap, and his right hand touching the earth. This represents the moment of the Buddha’s enlightenment.

Buddha sitting in bhumisparsha-mudra posture (calling the earth to be his witness). Birmany. White marble with traces of polychromy. Gallo-Roman museum of Lyons.
The “earth witness” Buddha is one of the most common iconic images of Buddhism. It depicts the Buddha sitting in meditation with his left hand, palm upright, in his lap, and his right hand touching the earth. This represents the moment of the Buddha’s enlightenment.

Rare acrolithic marble sculptures of Demeter and Kore, from the extramural S. Francesco Bisconti sanctuary, Morgantina, central Sicily.
An acrolith is a composite sculpture made of stone and other materials, as in the case of a figure whose torso is made of wood, while the head, hands, and feet are made of marble. The wood was concealed either by drapery or by gilding; only the marble parts were exposed to view. This type of statuary was common and widespread in Classical antiquity.

Minotaur in Labyrinth, Roman mosaic at Conímbriga, Portugal.

Minotaur in Labyrinth, Roman mosaic at Conímbriga, Portugal.

King Minos and The Labyrinth, silver coin from Knossos, 200 BC.
In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth (probably derived from the Lydian word labrys ) was an elaborate structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur, a mythical creature that was half man and half bull and was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus. Daedalus had so cunningly made the Labyrinth that he could barely escape it after he built it. Theseus was aided by Ariadne, who provided him with a skein of thread, so he could find his way out again.

King Minos and The Labyrinth, silver coin from Knossos, 200 BC.
In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth (probably derived from the Lydian word labrys ) was an elaborate structure designed and built by the legendary artificer Daedalus for King Minos of Crete at Knossos. Its function was to hold the Minotaur, a mythical creature that was half man and half bull and was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus. Daedalus had so cunningly made the Labyrinth that he could barely escape it after he built it. Theseus was aided by Ariadne, who provided him with a skein of thread, so he could find his way out again.

Sacred Minoan symbols: Bull and Labrys.

Sacred Minoan symbols: Bull and Labrys.

An ornamented golden Minoan labrys.

An ornamented golden Minoan labrys.

Libation scene on the famous painted sarcophagus (dated to 1400 BC) found at Haghia Triada (ancient Minoan settlement in south central Crete). The priestess and her handmaiden are pouring the content of conical vessels on an altar adorned with double-axes (labrys).

Libation scene on the famous painted sarcophagus (dated to 1400 BC) found at Haghia Triada (ancient Minoan settlement in south central Crete). The priestess and her handmaiden are pouring the content of conical vessels on an altar adorned with double-axes (labrys).

Colossal statue of a hero, ‘Gilgamesh’, plaster cast, original in Khorsabad,late 8th c. BCE © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum / photo: Olaf M. Teßmer

Colossal statue of a hero, ‘Gilgamesh’, plaster cast, original in Khorsabad,late 8th c. BCE © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum / photo: Olaf M. Teßmer

The ceremonial vase from Uruk (copy), Original end of 4th millennium BCE © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum / Olaf M. Teßmer

The ceremonial vase from Uruk (copy), Original end of 4th millennium BCE © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum / Olaf M. Teßmer

Discovery of the statuette of a “high priest” in a vessel from Uruk/Warka Excavation
© Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Orient Abteilung

Discovery of the statuette of a “high priest” in a vessel from Uruk/Warka Excavation
© Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Orient Abteilung