Posts tagged ‘The Emerald Tablet’

The charms of Aphrodite codified in the First Greek Sex Manual

Image from Greek drinking up 500 BC.

If you were ever in doubt about the realism of a Temple of Aphrodite with one thousand sacred prostitutes as I describe in The Emerald Tablet, you might enjoy this article drawn from Greek texts. Long before the kama sutra, a fair number of Greek women, both famous and unknown, codified in great detail the arts of love and carnal pleasure.

In this instance, the serving girl of the renown Helen of Troy, kidnapped wife of Menalaos, is credited with discovering positions for intercourse and other wanton acts.

Helen’s Serving Girl Wrote the First Greek Sex Manual

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October 5, 2017 at 7:54 pm Leave a comment

Oculus in Aphrodite’s Temple in Korinth as featured in The Emerald Tablet

The oculus of the Temple of Aphrodite of Korinth featured in the early chapters of The Emerald Tablet might have looked very similar to this ceiling of the grand foyer at the Altes Museum in Berlin.

Oculus at Altes Museum Berlin

October 4, 2017 at 5:59 pm Leave a comment

And at last I arrive in Egypt

For those of you interested in my progress with The Black Scroll, let me say that I’m advancing at a rapid clip. 59,967 words. 185 pages. Ready to start Chapter 29. Ready to visit Alexandria, 130 AD, 15 years after the Great Jewish Revolt that almost burnt the city to the ground.

You might ask how I know the page numbers with such precision.

I gather that I’m an odd duck among writers, as my preferred technique for channeling the story is to manifest the visual form as I create. I write directly into Adobe InDesign. As the words flow onto the page, they look exactly as they will look in final published form. That’s the print version I’m talking about.

Before putting the first word on the first page, I set up the layout, which in the case of The Black Scroll is the same as The Red Mirror and The Emerald Tablet – the first two novels of the Red Mirror Series. I’ve got the header at the top of the 6×9 facing pages with my name or title, book-specific Egyptian hieroglyph, and page number. The margins are there. The title page has been created.

note: As a reminder – or for those who haven’t seen the print versions – the glyph for The Red Mirror is a snake, typically Pharaonic Egyptian to my mind. The glyph for The Emerald Tablet is the owl – for Athena, the wisest of Greek Goddesses.  The one I have chosen for The Black Scroll is the lion – Rome – Africa.

The print version must be re-formatted for export into Kindle, so thinking logically, I decided to write The Black Scroll directly into the layout I use for the ebook version. It’s the biggest market, after all.

It didn’t work for me. All those lovely graphic details of layout disappear. The process is no longer visual.

After a chapter or two, I gave up and allowed myself the crutch. Didn’t authors of old write with a favorite pen? Or typewriter? I need my print version InDesign layout for the Muses to sing. And so be it.

I’ve got an art degree. What’s wrong with painting with words?

February 11 was the Monday I started – day after Chinese New Year. Today is March 12. Three days from the Ides. Five days from St. Patrick’s Day. Eight days from my 38th wedding anniversary and the spring equinox.

Goodbye Libya. It was quite a ride. Hello Egypt. I can’t wait to see what happens.

March 12, 2013 at 7:46 pm 6 comments

New titles and new covers for the Red Mirror Series

If you’ve ever wanted to follow the twists and turns of a crazy author’s mind, you can scroll through my blog and see for yourself the evolution of my Isis story. After working with a marketing person, I decided that the series needed re-titling. As fond as I am of my three women, their eyes and their names, I never felt I achieved the sense of romantic adventure that I wished to convey. I  never created a cover for Athena (now The Emerald Tablet) that quite matched the power of Isis (now The Red Mirror.)

It was a hard decision to dump the eyes, harder than changing the title. But I am content now with the change and hope you are, too.

Ancient Greek gold bracelet showing snakes, first half of the 2nd century BC, Profzheim, Schmuckmuseum

Ancient Greek gold bracelet showing snakes, first half of the 2nd century BC, Profzheim, Schmuckmuseum

And, as if the Universe wished to convey its pleasure at my decision, I immediately found this marvelous image of a 2nd century BC Greek snake bracelet from Pforzheim, Schmuckmuseum – more or less the time period of Athena and The Emerald Tablet.

What is truly extraordinary, I had never seen the image before, yet I described it exactly as the bracelet Hektor gives Athena the morning after the symposion in Korinth. I even placed the garnet in the Herakles knot where the tails of the two snakes entwine.

Now I am the first to admit that this is a common enough motif, and that I most probably have seen something quite similar elsewhere. But I’d like to imagine that Athena spoke to me as I wrote, describing the details as she was telling me her story.

February 7, 2013 at 9:08 pm 2 comments

Research for Athena – The Emerald Tablet at the Malibu Getty Roman Villa

photographs by yours truly. For those of you who are reading, or have read, Athena (now re-titled as The Emerald Tablet), I’m posting here a few photos I took at the Getty Museum in Malibu – photos which served as inspiration particularly with scene-setting.

Before you jump in with objections that the museum in Malibu is a ‘reconstructed’ Roman villa from Herculaneum, I want to point out that the Romans borrowed many elements of design from the Greeks, including interior decoration in addition to the ever-present columns.

There are also quite a few Greek works of art displayed at the Getty Roman Villa Museum, as well as a few, but exquisite, Egyptian pieces.

I definitely used the peristyle gardens with portico on three sides as my mind’s vision of Athena and Eugenia sipping pomegranate juice while they watched the children play beside the sparkling fountains. Of course, Athena’s view through the unusual open side of the columned arcade was of a long walkway through palm trees to the Nile, rather than a slope to the Pacific Ocean. A Greek or Roman garden villa would typically be enclosed on all four sides. An open-ended garden configuration would be rare. In my mind’s eye, there is a larger grass plain surrounding the pool and many more trees, both palm and flowering – and all filled with singing birds.

Getty Museum Roman Herculaneum villa

Peristyle three-sided garden opening onto the Nile (in my mind’s eye.) Here Athena and Eugenia sip pomegranate juice and watch the children play. Malibu Getty.

The ceiling of Athena’s bedchamber in the Alexandrian villa by the sea with painted lyres and flying Eros might have looked something like this from the room at the Getty Villa that I call the ‘marble room.’ The details are different, but I think you might catch the mood.

detail of ceiling from Herculaneum Roman villa Getty Museum

Athena’s bedchamber ceiling in her villa in Alexandria might have looked something like this.

The fountain statue of Aphrodite in the small enclosed garden outside Athena’s bedchamber in Hector’s Naukratis villa was made of gold, but I imagine Aphrodite to be caught in surprise just as this marble Roman Venus.

Getty Villa Malibu

Imagine this marble statue made in gold and you will see the fountain outside Athena’s bedchamber in Hektor’s Naukratis villa.

Remember the discussion between Isis and  Tony at the Metropolitan Museum of Art about Polykleitos and his cannon of perfect art? This Roman copy of a Greek statue shows the ideal proportions of the human male according to the man who inspired Renaissance sculpture almost two thousand years later.

Getty Herculaneum Roman Villa Museum in Malibu

The perfect male body according to the canon of Polykleitos, Greek Sculptor. I wouldn’t argue with him.

From here I will let the photos and captions tell the story. I hope you see the Athena story come alive as it is for me. I hope you can smell the sweet fragrance of roses and hear the thousands of birds singing in the myrtle trees.

Getty Museum Malibu Herculaneum Roman Villa

Alexander the Great

Getty Museum Malibu Herculaneum Roman Villa

Epikouros (Epicurus) – Hektor’s favorite philosopher. “We are all atoms moving in space.” Our choice is to choose pleasure or pain.

Getty Villa Museum Malibu

Menander, the great Greek comic playwright who wrote ‘Double Deceiver,’ the play Hektor invites Athena to see in Korinth.

Getty Malibu Herculaneum Roman Villa Museum

A mask of a Satyr, a common symbol in Greek and Roman times of all base desire. Sappho’s poem sings of the satyr and the lilac-tressed nymphs Iphis and Io.

Getty Herculaneum Roman Villa Museum Malibu

A Greek artist memorialized a commonplace  activity of  a symposium.

Getty Malibu Roman Villa Museum

The participants at a symposium would have drunk wine from a cup (kylix) like this.

This gold hair decoration is actually from Alexandria Egypt and might have held Athena’s chignon.

Getty Roman Villa Museum Malibu

An example of the Korinthian (Corinthian) column. Of the basic three types of Greek columns (Doric, Ionic, Corinthian), the ornate Korinthian with acanthus leaf capitals was most popular with the Romans. As Ptolemy’s taste ran to the exuberant, I would imagine he would prefer them as well.

Getty Roman Villa Museum Malibu

Ptolemy’s wild ‘Syracuse-style’ collection of marble in his presence chamber might have looked something like this.

Getty Roman Villa Museum Malibu

A Greek vase showing Hercules battling the Hydra.

A Greek helmet, certainly used for ceremonial purposes such as Ptolemy’s birthday celebration at the Hippodrome.

Getty Roman Villa Museum Malibu

Glass vials like these would have held the fragrant oils used in Athena’s bath.

Getty Roman Villa Museum Malibu

These gold snake bracelets might have been gifts from Hektor.

Getty Roman Villa Museum Malibu

The Muse of music Euterpe. O may my muses continue to whisper in my ear as I write Elektra!

Getty Roman Villa Museum Malibu

Painting on wood from Egypt of the Alexandria hybrid god Sarapis created by Ptolemy I (Soter) to unify Egyptians and conquering Greeks.

Getty Greek Theater

The Getty’s modern day version of the Greek Theater

Poster for Greek theater presentation at Getty Malibu Roman Villa Museum

A Greek actor might have looked something like this.

Getty Roman Villa Museum Malibu

And finally a plaque showing Hermes Trismegistus (right) debating Myth and Science with Ptolemy the astronomer and mathematician (left).

June 22, 2012 at 3:04 pm 4 comments


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