Some Cases of Burial Mounds (Part 2 of 3)

After being imprisoned by Polyphemus in his cave, Odysseus states that his name is Nobody: this or because the child that faced the initiatory ritual of rebirth didn’t had yet a real, concrete and defined identity, had not yet inherited a name that identified him within the ancestry and therefore was not yet considered a proper human being; or because his previous self, his previous immature and shapeless identity, simbolically died following the entry in the cave or burial mound: in reality both the hypothesis complement each other. The wine offering to the Cyclops with the intention to placate and subjugate him can be compared both to the honey offered to the she-bear inside its cave and the mistletoe shown to the sorceress or priestess inside the burial mound, both having an analogous and symbolic function relating to having been chosen in a higher sense. Many of Odysseus’s companions are devoured by Polyphemus whereas some manage to escape from the cave: the survivors are the embryos that the she-bear has decided to develop and give birth to, i.e. the children that have accomplished the initiation. After escaping from the cave Odysseus feels the need to affirm and make known to the Cyclops his true identity and name, obtained after having incarnated the identity of one of his honourable ancestors, i.e. of himself in a previous life: he is no longer Nobody but Odysseus son of Laertes.



One of the tales that describe the birth of Zeus claims that the infant god was nursed inside a sacred cave by the nymphs Melissa (“bee”) and Amalthea (“goat”), which nourished him respectively with honey and milk, i.e. the melikraton, a drink that was compared to the very essence of life: with the passage of time the sorceress or priestess took the place of the she-bear inside the cave (and it is significant that according to another version of the tale were two she-bears, Helike and Kynosura, that nursed the infant Zeus inside a cave), nevertheless the child continued to have the task of bringing honey as a gift (the child brought honey to the she-bear to nourish it and be simbolically chosen: he was compared to an embryo and as such he also had to feed himself with that honey, analogously to the embryos that develop thanks to what the mother eats) and this is the reason why he was simbolically compared to a bee, as indeed the sorceress or priestess (the three priestesses that teached the art of prophecy to Apollo were described as if they were bees and the Pythia was identified as “delphic bee”) that received him inside the cave or burial mound, the symbolic beehive where the child-bee had to go with his sweet gift; the nymph Melissa (“bee”) – whereas in another version of the tale the nurturers were a group of huge sacred bees – nourished the infant Zeus (which was worshiped in Crete with the epithet of “Melissaios”) with honey, the same that the child brought her as a gift in view of the accomplishment of the initiation.

Cave of Zeus, Mount Ida in Crete:


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