Ogmios, Psychopomps, and Steve Reeves

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November 26, 2020 by libroshombre

            Saying Grannybelle Dunlap, my maternal grandmother, was a conservative Christian, is putting it far too mildly.  To her the Southern Baptists were wildly liberal, and apart from strict religious tracts, hers was a bookless house.  This drove me nuts with boredom when I visited her and my grandfather for weeks at a stretch, for I was used to being surrounded with those printed windows to the bigger world.  If there was a chink in Grannybelle’s cultural oversight, it was her mistaking Italian Hercules movies of the late 1950s, starring muscleman Steve Reeves in mini-togas, as being religiously oriented and therefore suitable for her eldest grandson to attend on his own.

            Since those cheap, Italian-made, dubbed movies featured Hercules, who was the Roman version of the Greek Herakles, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, the flicks were truly religiously based.  They were also colorfully action-packed and enthralling to a nine-year-old, so it was a win-win for Grannybelle and me.  She and Hercules came to mind while reading “The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts” by Graham Robb.  “Celts,” pronounced with a hard “C,” were “early Indo-European peoples distributed from the British Isles and Spain to Asia Minor,” according to Merriam-Webster.com, and they included Gauls, Germans, and many other peoples throughout modern Europe who came in many tribes, complexions, and mores but, despite being geographically disperse, they were connected by language, culture and the Druidic religion.  The Celtic version of Heracles was  Ogmios who not only performed the same “Twelve Labors of Hercules” (slay the Nemean lion and the nine-headed hydra, capture the Golden Hind of Artemis and Erymanthian boar, etc.),   but Ogmios was so incredibly eloquent that listeners “literally hung on his every word.”

            How literally did his listeners hang?  A second century CE Greek traveler and writer named Lucian of Samosata visited Gaul and saw a statue “he took to be an insulting depiction of the deified Herakles” since it “had the appearance of a grizzled old man … the tongue of the Celtic Herakles was pieced with delicate chains of gold and amber attached to the ears of a happily captive audience … his eloquence was such that his audience literally hung on his every word.”  Being a demi-god, Ogmios’ persuasive strength was such he could bind men to himself, and he was a “psychopomp.”  The word “psychopomp” conjures thoughts of a number of current political figures, but it actually meant Ogmios was a “binder of souls” who guided deceased souls to the afterlife.

             He was clearly not a pseudo-Aristotle, which, according to Wikipedia, is “a general cognomen for authors of philosophical or medical treatises who attributed their work to the Greek philosopher Aristotle … such works are known as ‘pseudepigrapha’.”  Aristotle’s students were the first to publish using their master’s name, but pseudo-Aristotle-ism’s highwater mark came in the Middle Ages, when most were published in Arabic.

Ogmios had literary powers as well: he could create “defixiones,” which were tablet-books containing curses he could bind to people who crossed him.  Some are extant; Wikipedia says they “are typically very thin sheets of lead with the text scratched on in tiny letters. They were then often rolled, folded, or pierced with nails, and the tablets were then usually placed beneath the ground: either buried in graves or tombs, thrown into wells or pools, sequestered in underground sanctuaries, or nailed to the walls of temples.”  

If I were to start a company promoting self-publishing I’d called it “OnlineOgmios.com.”  After all, self-publishing is booming, growing by 40% in 2018 alone, according to Bowker.com, librarians’ go-to source for publishing statistics.  Companies helping self-publishers realize their dreams are legion, but WriteMyWrongs.com caught my eye since they’ll “personalize an experience for you that will be something you will never forget. We will start with talking to you on the phone to get an idea of your project. You’ll never have to speak to a secretary or answering service. Your interaction with Write My Wrongs will begin at the very top through a one-on-one conversation with the owner, Allen. You and he will discuss your project in detail, and he’ll handpick a team of writers and editors who will best fit your needs. Yes, you don’t get just one writer, you get a team that works on your project to ensure it is perfect!”

“Your ghostwriter will get a complete understanding of what you are looking for, and when they feel they have everything they need, will go straight to work creating a free, no obligation, 2-4 page sample ghostwrite.  Once you’ve decided that WMW is the perfect company to ghostwrite your book, the owner, Allen, your ghostwriter, and your team will fly to your city to meet with you.   We’ll take you out to dinner and further discuss finalizing the process … You will have some of the most skilled editors in the industry working with you.  Every one of our editors had to compete against over 100 other editors to secure their place with WMW.”

The cost is 100 pages = $14,500, up to 250 pages = $29,500, and I wonder if it’s only for the contiguous states.  It’s only a matter of money to realize your publishing dreams.  Reinforcing our dreams is always important, but especially in troubled times.  As Sylvester Stallone confessed, “I was an insecure child.  Once I saw ‘Hercules’ with Steve Reeves, it completely changed my life.  If I hadn’t gone to that film, I wouldn’t be here today.”

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