Friday, April 23, 2010

Ringside on Earth Day

(ca. 1530, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1472-1553)

The myth tells us that Antaeus was a giant, the son of Gaia (the goddess who personifies Earth) and Poseidon (the god of the seas).  His name means "against" or "anti"--the ultimate adversary.  He was a warrior skilled in wrestling, the ancient Greek version of the sport that involved toppling one's opponent to the ground; the loser was the man whose back first touched the earth, or who tapped out, or who was forced out of the arena, the wrestling area covered in sand.

Antaeus challenged every man who passed him to a wrestling match, killing him when the mere mortal inevitably lost.

Herakles (Hercules) killed Antaeus in Libya during the eleventh of his twelve labors.  Since Antaeus received his power from his mother, the earth, he could not be defeated so long as his feet were touching the earth.  Herakles' brute strength enabled him to hold Antaeus up off the earth and crush his ribs in a deadly bearhug.

I used to use "Antaeus" as a screen name, because I love wrestling, of course, and because I just so happen to have been born on an American military base in Libya--that bit of information on my passport gets me pulled from the line at airports every single time I travel abroad.  Nowadays that screen name is taken before I can claim it.


I love Steve Reeves, but I'm pretty lukewarm about Hercules.  I like Antaeus, but then, as you know, I love the badasses.  Also, I love the earth.  Happy Earth Day Weekend, guys.  Find a badass and wrestle, why don't you?  (Just don't kill anybody.)

(ca. 1600, Giambologna, 1529-1608)

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