Last week, on ‘As The Pottery Wheel Turns’, we told the tale of Argus, a many eyed monster who was transformed into a peacock by Hera to pull her chariot. We left poor Io who faced unwanted advances from Zeus as a wandering cow, thanks to Hera’s wrath. Zeus still didn’t get the girl! How many peacocks does it take to pull a chariot anyways?
Today’s vase, ‘Io‘, tells the tale of it’s namesake, a wandering cow with a secret, a man in chains, the ultimate cosmetic transformation, and an ending where the god gets the girl.
The Flies Have It!
Io, a former priestess in the temple dedicated to Hera in Argos had faced unwanted attention from Zeus who was in love with her, and from Hera who punished Io for her husbands attraction by turning her into a beautiful white cow. Hades hath no fury like a goddess scorned.
Bovine Io, unfairly punished, was left to wander through deserts and the world. To make matters worse, Hera had another meltdown when her pet monster Argus was killed by Zeus. So she sent a gadfly to follow Io around and harass her in all the places her tail could not reach. I am sure she would have given anything for a can of raid. Or opposable thumbs to use it.
Io wandered and wandered, growing more and more upset and disoriented. It seems she was afflicted with the original mad cow disease. Eventually she reached the Black Sea and the what is now called the Bosporous, (ox passage) which was named in her honour.
So things were looking up and her situation was about to improve. Being named after one of the most strategic areas in the world was cowtastic.
It was on this leg of her journey that she would meet up with another victim of the gods, Prometheus.
HerA and Stones May break my Bones, But Heroes in Chains Excite Me!
It was when Io was passing Mount Caucasus that hope was restored. There she ran into Prometheus, another toy of the gods, who had been chained to the mountain by none other than Zeus.
It was in this moment, that Prometheus told Io that she would eventually be restored to human form and not give up hope. She would be the ancestress of many powerful figures. Holy Cow!
Io was often associated with the moon by the ancients. The self proclaimed ‘horned virgin’, made her way across the Ionian Sea to Egypt. I guess the original sailor moon may not have been a goddess, but she definitely had bovinity!
It was in Egypt that Zeus finally restored Io to her human form. Her long journey as a wandering cow had finished, but her story and those of her ancestors was just starting. It would take many generation, but one of Io’s descendants would be one of the most famous figures of the ancient world.
Next week on ‘As the Pottery Wheel Turns’
We will tell the story of the birth of her most famous relative, where Hera will once again get up to some of her usual tricks, and we’ll all learn not to cry over spilt milk. Its just not the ‘way’.
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