“Mens sana in corpore sano” (“a sound mind in a sound body,” a line found in Juvenal, “Satires”)
The author is sitting in Gümüşlük , feeling rather sound, though much thoughts go around in is head…..
Brutus, as we know from school, murdered the great Caesar. As we know in Yarımadası too, he fled to Gümüşlük, ancient Myndos, and lived there for a while, far from the capitals of power.
“Brutus” means “stupid”, earnest, without whit; in fact we created “brutal” and “brute” from this adjective. It was told that Brutus, Marcus Junius, swore to save the Republic, the most modern achievement of common life, from people wanting to be the boss, the chief, the head of the state, and thus he stabbed his friend Cajus Julius Caesar…., who betrayed the Republic in wanting to be the one and only holder of power, the “Caesar”.
Five centuries earlier there was another Brutus (from the same family of Junii) stabbing the last of Roman kings, Tarquinius Superbus, which raped the beautiful Lucretia This ancestor was thus founder of the Roman Republic. It was said, that both Brutuses were quite planning and intelligent and disguised for a long time as fools. (You just watch the fools in Shakespeare’s plays).
But in spite of these Brutuses, the body of the Republic was replaced by the reign of the Caesars, the imperators, the queens and kings, the sultans, the başkan. Republic and real democracy are up to our days a rare and menaced species…….
From the Roman days up to our time there is as well the tradition of creating busts in public places. The human head marks the impact of individuality (and it is like one of those ironies of history, that one of the best early busts is that of Brutus…). Up to our century the bust, the human head without any body, is an icon, placed in academies, on altars, in gardens, barracks, above entrances, in public space, being the ornament of numerous representative buildings like parliaments, opera houses, churches… Even here in Turkey, still belonging to the non figurative sphere of eastern cultures, the portrait (for example of Kemal Atatürk), takes a decisive place in public sphere.
Thinking about that two facts forced their way into my mind: Islam destroys faces – for example of holy people shown in paintings –
and french revolution invented the guillotine, the machine to “harvest” cut off heads by dozens and hundreds……….
I may be allowed to put an etymology of the word “head” here:
Head: – old English heafod = “top of the body”, also “chief person, leader, ruler”, in old Saxon it was hobid (the hobbits!), German “Haupt”, Gothic “Haubib”, from the Proto-Indo-German kauput, Latin “caput”.
More or less derived from these we find a bunch of (important) words we rarely reflect about: headline, to head for, cabbage (!, from caput. French people even say ” mon chou” as a love word), cap, chief, captain, caporal/corporal (the head as leader of the corpse, the body), capo (in mafia), capital (the main town of a country) capital (the stocks, the property), capitalism, cattle (moveable property, especially livestock, Turkish küçük baş hayvan = sheep, goats, büyük baş hayvan = cows and horses…), capsize (when a ship is sinking by the head), cape, chapter, handkerchief (ker chief = cover head), Kennedy (said to be from old Irish cinneide = ugly head), pasha ( from Turkish baş = head (just collect the composed words of it), chaperon, penn (Gaelic = head, ”Pennsylvania”) and many many others… (see: Online Etymology Dictionary http://www.etymonline.com/index.php)
Is there any body?
Now have a look at – maybe – the oldest human sculpture of the world, the monumental “Venus” – which measures only about a span!, found in Willendorf near Vienna and about 30000 years old. Her body – a heap of wheat, as king Solomon would say, but her head, her face like wrapped in sheets and invisible. The body, today often a matter of shame, of strange desires (köfte! dance!! naked swimming!!!), which has to be covered, which one don’t has to talk about (Queen Victoria was not amused about visible ankles of her subjects) was then the important, the face still unindividual and not to be remembered…..
Obviously this Venus is similar to the ancient mother-goddess Kybele. Kybele – kubus – Kaaba/means “cube” (originally, says the tradition, Kybele was represented neither as human nor as animal but as a stone. Mekka as far as that the place of an adoration far older than the time of Prophet Mohammed…….)
The holy stones like the Kaaba were called Bayt Allah/Beth El “house of god”, these stones often were meteorites and are to be found in much important places. A late recall of these atavistic places of adoration may be the “Black Madonna”s to be found for example in Polonia or in Chartres and said not to be created by humans (“from the stars”)
Every year from 15. to 27 of march the Hilaria, the “ludi megalenses” were celebrated in Rome: to the honour of “Magna Mater” (the great mother, as Kybele was called too) a pine trunk was erected by young men and girls and women, covered with the blood of an sacrificed oxen, danced around it. These festivities had orgiastic character. In ancient Rome, Hilaria were a class of holidays, times of pomp and rejoicing; there were public ones in honor of Kybele at the spring equinoxes as well as private ones on the day of a marriage or a son’s birth. In reduced shape they did come up to our days: to the “Maibaum”, a trunk put every spring in the centre of German villages, often the new married couples or the new born babies were represented on the top, which shows the fertility touch of that tradition.
What a coincidence. It was on 21 march that Brutus murdered Cajus Julius Caesar….. as we might say now, the defender of the body (the people, the republic) against the head/face (look at coins: there’s the face of the mighty one!)
Do we know anything about the body of our kings and presidents? But we see her faces everywhere.
I am smiling now: as a big exception to that I saw huge photographs in public space, showing Mustafa Kemal in pants sitting on the shore….
But in a future article let’s talk about the body and it’s members: hands and feet…..