The Ancient Greek Legend of Pygmalion & Galatea – Accompanied by an Ancient Greek Lyre! |


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The story of Pygmalion and Galatea – accompanied by an ancient Greek lyre!

This timeless legend is found in Greek Mythology, and in the famous work “Metamorphoses”, by the great Roman poet Ovid. Their love was so unique that it is difficult to define it. But from this legendary love story, one thing is clear, man can never love an inanimate object with as much passion as he loves a living, breathing being. Love gives rise to desire and without this passion any love remains unfulfilled.

Pygmalion was a master sculptor in the ancient city of Greece. All day he sculpted beautiful statues from huge pieces of rock. In fact, his creations were so wonderful that whoever saw them were mesmerised by their sheer artistic beauty and exact finish. Pygmalion himself was a fine and handsome young man. He was liked by all men and women. Many women loved him for his great skill and looks.

He was a sculptor, and with his with wonderful skill he sculpted a beautiful ivory statue which was so lifelike that it was difficult to believe that it was lifeless at the first glance. His art was so perfect that it concealed itself and its product looked like the workmanship of nature. Pygmalion spent hours admiring his creation.

By and by Pygmalion’s admiration for his own sculpture turned to love. Oftentimes he laid his hand upon it as if to assure himself whether it were living or not, and could not, even then, believe that it was only ivory. He caressed it, and gave it such presents as young girls love – bright shells and polished stones, little birds and flowers of various hues, beads and amber. He adorned his ivory maiden with jewels. He gave the statue a name: “Galatea”, meaning “sleeping love’.But what will be the consequence of falling in love with a lifeless ivory maiden?

The festival of Aphrodite was at hand – a festival celebrated with great pomp at Cyprus. Victims were offered, the altars smoked, and the odor of incense filled the air. When the festivities of Aphrodite started, Pygmalion took part in the ceremonies. He went to the temple of Aphrodite to ask forgiveness for all the years he had shunned her.

When Pygmalion had performed his part in the solemnities, he hesitantly prayed for a wife like his ivory virgin statue.

But Goddess Aphrodite understood what the poor man was trying to say. She was curious. How can a man love a lifeless thing so much? Was it so beautiful that Pygmalion fell in love with his own creation? So she visited the studio of the sculptor while he was away.
What she saw greatly amazed her. For the sculpture had a perfect likeness to her. In fact, it would not have been wrong to say that the sculpture was an image of Aphrodite herself. Goddess Aphrodite was charmed by Pygmalion’s creation. She brought the statue to life.

When Pygmalion returned to his home, he went before Galatea and knelt down before the woman of his dreams. He looked at her lovingly, with a lover’s ardour. It seemed to him that Galatea was looking at her lovingly too.

He laid his hand upon the limbs; the ivory felt soft to his touch and yielded to his fingers like the wax of Hymettus. It seemed to be warm. He stood up; his mind oscillated between doubt and joy.

He laid his hand upon the limbs; the ivory felt soft to his touch and yielded to his fingers like the wax of Hymettus. It seemed to be warm. He stood up; his mind oscillated between doubt and joy. Fearing he may be mistaken, again and again with a lover’s ardor he touches the object of his hopes. It was indeed alive! The veins when pressed yielded to the finger and again resumed their roundness. Slowly it dawned on Pygmalion that the animation of his sculpture was the result of his prayer to Goddess Aphrodite who knew his desire. At last, the votary of Aphrodite found words to thank the goddess. Pygmalion humbled himself at the Goddess’ feet.

Soon Pygmalion and Galatea were wed, and Pygmalion never forgot to thank Aphrodite for the gift she had given him. Aphrodite blessed the nuptials she had formed, and this union between ygmalion and Galatea produced a son named Paphos, from whom the city Paphos, sacred to Aphrodite, received its name.

This improvisation in the sensual ancient Greek Hypolydian mode, was performed on “The Lyre of Thamyris”:



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