Tuesday, 22 March 2011

pearly king

Nacre appears iridescent because the thickness of the aragonite platelets is close to the wavelength of visible light. This results in constructive and destructive interference of different wavelengths of light, resulting in different colors of light being reflected at different viewing angles.

The layers of nacre smooth the shell surface and help defend the soft tissues against parasites and damaging debris by entombing them in successive layers of nacre, forming either a blister pearl attached to the interior of the shell, or a free pearl within the mantle tissues. The process is called encystation and it continues as long as the mollusk lives.

I fainted with pain, and the horror of that dim milk-white panic is as ineffaceable as the scar my flesh still bears
Herbert Read / The Innocent Eye

aristotle/ history of animals - the soft parts / milk

5. The soft parts are either entirely so, or so long as they are in a natural condition, as blood, serum, fat, tallow, marrow, semen, gall, milk [in those animals that give milk], flesh, and other analogous parts of the body. In another manner also the excretions of the body belong to this class, as phlegm, and the excrements of the abdomen and bladder; the hard and dry parts are sinew, skin, vein, hair, bone, cartilage, nail, horn, for that part bears the same name, and on the whole is called horn, and the other parts of the body which are analogous to these.

the immortal horses

Homer, Iliad 17. 426 ff :
"But the horses of Aiakides [Akhilleus] standing apart from the battle wept, as they had done since they heard how their charioteer[Patroklos] had fallen in the dust at the hands of murderous Hektor. In truth Automedon, the powerful son of Diores, hit them over and over again with the stroke of the flying lash, or talked to them, sometimes entreating them, sometimes threatening. They were unwilling to go back to the wide passage of Helle and the ships, or back into the fighting after the Akhaians, but still as stands a grave monument which is set over the mounded tomb or a dead man or lady, they stood there holding motionless in tis place the fair-wrought chariot, leaning their heads along the ground, and warm tears were running earthward from underneath the lids of the mourning horses who longed for their charioteer, while their bright manes were made dirty as they streamed down either side of the yoke from under the yoke pad.
As he watched the mourning horses the son of Kronos [Zeus] pities them, and stirred his head and spoke to his own spirit : `Poor wretches, why then did we ever give you to the lord Peleus, a mortal man, and you yourselves are immortal and ageless? Only so that among unhappy men you also might be grieved? Since among all creatures that breathe on earth and crawl on it there is not anywhere a thing more dismal than man is. At least the son of Priam, Hektor, shall not mount behind you in the carefully wrought chariot. I will not let him. Is it not enough for him that he has the armour and glories in wearing it? But now I will put vigour into your knees and your spirits so that you bring back Automedon out of the fighting safe to the hollow ships . . .'
So spoke Zeus, and breathed great vigour into the horses, and they shaking the dust from their manes to the ground lightly carried the running chariot among Akhaians and Trojans."
Homer, Iliad 19. 392 ff :
"Automedon and Alkimos, in charge of the horses, yoked them, and put the fair breast straps about them, and forced the bits home between their jaws, and pulled the reins back against the compacted chariot seat, and one, Automedon, took up the shining whip caught close in his hand and vaulted up to the chariot, while behind him Akhilleus helmed for battle took his stance shining in all his armour like the sun when he crosses above us, and cried in a terrible voice on the horses of his father : `Xanthos, Balios, Bay and Dapple, famed sons of Podarge, take care to bring in another way your charioteer back to the company of the Danaans, when we give over fighting, not leave him to lie fallen there, as you did Patroklos.’
Then from beneath the yoke the gleam-footed horse answered him, Xanthos, and as he spoke he bowed his head, so that all the mane fell away from the pad and swept the ground by the cross-yoke; the goddess of the white arms, Hera, had put a voice in him : `We shall still keep you safe for this time, o hard Akhilleus. And yet the day of your death is near, but it is not we who are to blame, but a great god and powerful Destiny. For it was not because we were slow, because wee were careless, but it was that high god, the child of lovely-haired Leto [Apollon], who killed him among the champions and gave the glory to Hektor. But for us, we two could run with the blast of the West Wind (Zephryos) who they say is the lightest of all things; yet still for you there is destiny to be killed in force by a god and a mortal.’
When he had spoken so the Erinyes stopped the voice in him, but deeply disturbed, Akhilleus of the swift feet answered him : `Xanthos, why do you prophesy my death? This is not for you. I myself know well it is destined for me to die here far from my beloved father and mother.'"

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