Friday, December 04, 2009

A Trip To The Met

I spent Tuesday at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, staring at glass beads from Mycenae and other items from the dates surrounding my Trojan War and my Helen's life. The real reason we went was for the Art of the Samurai exhibit, for my husband, but I can't pretend that I wasn't totally distracted by the Greco-Roman antiquities to the point where I had no patience for the glass cases of samurai swords.

Finding Rodin's Caryatids was a pleasant surprise, in the European Art wing. I actually recognized it from Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein. Not because I had ever actually seen the sculpture, but from his description of the work in that book. I'm not such a fan of Rodin's Eve sculpture, however, from the Gates of Hell. And while I took a picture of Adam for posterity, I really could have lived without him, too.

And then there was Theseus.

I wish that I had gotten a better picture, but the only camera I had available to me was my phone since my husband had the real one. Poor planning on my part, I suspect, but I'll be going back for more in January, because we didn't get to see even half of the museum in the measley four hours we had, a good quarter of that taken up with swords that didn't even have handles attached.

But that's beside the point. The point is, I was looking at one of my favorite paintings in all the world (Spring, by Pierre Auguste Cot) and when I turned around, there was Theseus fighting with a centaur, and I couldn't look away. Theseus looks quite youthful in the sculpture, but incredibly powerful in all his heroic glory.

There are absolutely better pictures of this than mine, and I will probably spend some time scouring the internet for them, but I can't adequately describe what seeing this sculpture made me feel after all the research I'd done on Theseus, and all the time I spent getting to know his character. There he was, not even remotely in the flesh, but at least in three-dimensions, and I understood even more fully how Helen must have felt when she met him for the first time.

Yeah, okay, I'm a little bit of a romantic. What can I say? I'll tell you right now that if there had been a larger than life sized classical sculpture of Theseus in marble, I would have been beside myself. Unfortunately, I'm not sure that a marble exists of him, though the Met has both a youthful Heracles and an older Heracles facing eachother in the hall of statues.

I honestly hadn't been expecting to see Theseus at all, but it was an amazing moment. Kind of like meeting an old friend unexpectedly. It seemed fitting, somehow to run into him that way, on the first of December, as I put Helen away, and it makes me eager to get back to that manuscript when Generations is polished.

There's nothing like a good trip to the museum!


  1. The Greco-Roman period is probably my favorite sculpture-wise (were I an affluent heir, I'd probably decorate the house w/ dozens of sculptures), but a Samurai exhibit sounds pretty slick.

  2. Yeah, my husband loved it. It didn't do that much for me though-- I was too distracted by the rest of the museum to really enjoy it, I think.

  3. Definitely a little serendipity / synchronicity there...what do you (will you) make of it?

  4. I'm not sure. Theseus isn't nearly as determined to haunt me as other characters can be, but there's definitely something compelling about him. I feel like I know him.

    But the writing of Helen has been punctuated by these moments of serendipity, so the only thing I can think is that I'm onto something important. That there's something in this story that needs to be told. I can't seem to leave it alone, and when I'm determined to, there's some new coincidence to remind me of it, and send me back to it all over again.

    The same thing kind of happens with Thor a lot, though, too.

  5. I love the Met!

    I never even made it to the Greco-Roman rooms- I was too enamored with the Egyptian wing. Specifically the Hatshepsut room, of course.

    I'm so jealous!

  6. We barely even made it to that side of the museum--but have no fear, I'll be back for Egypt in good time!


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