And the sun still rises

The sun rising over the Maddalena Archipelago in Sardinia, August 2022, from our boat ‘At Last’

If European literature begins with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, then European literature begins with the most beautiful sunrise.

The early Dawn was born; her rose fingers bloomed.

Rhododactylos eos. Dawn with its rose fingers. Two Greek words for universal beauty.

Homer doesn’t stray from this singular metaphor every time a new day begins and the sun regains its place in the heavens.

It’s a bit like in a Terrence Malick film.

Colour is one of the key elements in ancient epic. Everything shines, sparkles and gleams with gold, silver and brass. It all has a blinding effect. The sea is wine-red, the stars copper-like and the honey glows green.

But the dawn, one can’t get over the beauty of those early moments in the history of our civilization. It begins well, though it might not end well. In fact, it often ends with carnage and grief.

In the face of suffering, nature is hopeful, though in the end indifferent. For all the involvement of the gods in Homeric affairs, the dawn is autonomous, it can’t be controlled by the will of the gods or the virtue of the heroes. It does its thing, which is to rise over everyone.

From rose to blood red. Curiously, the sunset doesn’t get much of a treatment in Homer. Night falls over everyone surreptitiously, while some are making love and others are making war.

The rose-fingered reset. The new day, the new dawn, but with a catch. While every day is different, and Homer loves marking each new day with a dawny line or half -line, history is nevertheless always the same. Because humans are the same, and the epic bard is clever enough to understand that not even the gods can escape the great cycle and the inexorable repetition of metaphysical push: panta rhei, everything flows, but in a great circle of water and life.

The dawn is new but the day is old.

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