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Monday, January 16, 2012


Only because I've referenced him recently, 
here's Arthur Rackham's Puck, from
A Midsummer Night's Dream.
As is generally the case, I started with the name of the city: Leandra, and went to behindthename.com, my old standby.  This is what I found (not what I expected, considered the arachnoid theme of chapter 5 and that Leandra, the city, seems to match): 

From the Greek Λεανδρος (Leandros) which means "lion of a man" from Greek λεων (leon) "lion" and ανδρος (andros) "of a man". In Greek legend Leander was the lover of Hero. Every night he swam across the Hellespont to meet her, but on one occasion he was drowned when a storm arose. When Hero saw his dead body she threw herself into the waters and perished. 

Cool little story, huh?  But there are two more names as well, the species of the two gods that rule here:
  • Lares (I love this one -- all from Wikipedia, and perfectly appropriate to Polo's description (or Kublai's) of Leandra):  "Lares are sometimes categorised as household gods but some had much broader domains. Roadways, seaways, agriculture, livestock, towns, cities, the state and its military were all under the protection of their particular Lar or Lares."  (See the rest of it here.)
  • Penates (which seems to me a variation of the lares):  Penates "were among the dii familiares, or household deities, invoked most often in domestic rituals. When the family had a meal, they threw a bit into the fire on the hearth for the Penates.[1]They were thus associated with Vesta, the Lares, and the Genius of the paterfamilias in the "little universe" of the domus."  (See the rest here.)
(The opposite of a puck, maybe, despite the cross-cultural leap such a connection would require?)

Now, all that said, what do you make of the fitting of this chapter and the "gods" into the spider theme?  

(Living in a particularly old house as I do, which is infested with spiders in the summer and ladybugs in the winter, the connection seems obvious and, yeah, nerdy, gleeful.

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