Mythursday Returns: Much Ado About a Milky Lady
It’s Thursday, so that means it’s time for another opportunity to fail to monetize my education!
Last week, Twitter user @BurritoAlPastor requested an installment about the character Galatea. When I asked him to clarify which one he meant, he said he hadn’t realized there was more than one.
So, boy howdy, hold on to your pant parts, that is what we’re talking about today!
There are, in fact, two characters in classical mythology named Galatea.
The first was the wife of Lamprus (I don’t know who he is either, don’t worry). They had a daughter and were like, “Ugh,” and so Leto changed the daughter into a son. Ta-da, gender reassignment prayer.
That’s the whole story. It is possible that she could be less important, but it would be extremely difficult. Her story didn’t even rate an A-list god.
The more significant of the two Galateas is a sea-nymph who apparently splashed around the waters near Sicily, where she caught the eye of Polyphemus the Cyclops, whom you may know from the Odyssey.
When you catch the eye of a Cyclops, it means literally twice as much as it does to a normal person.* Polyphemus went pretty crazy for Galatea. In fact, I shit you not, he wrote her a song. Here is an excerpt from what I assure you is a much longer piece:
“White Galatea, why disdain thy love?
White as a pressed cheese, delicate as the lamb,
Wild as the heifer, soft as summer grapes!”
That is some Barry White shit. You can’t tell because I’m not updating this in real time, but I seriously swooned while transcribing that.
The bad news is this: Galatea basically did not know/care that Polyphemus existed. Now, I can’t say for sure why a beautiful mermaid would not requite the love of a shaggy, one-eyed, giant cannibal, but it was probably because he was a “nice guy.”
No, in fact, Galatea loved a handsome youth named Acis. One day, while Polyphemus was blaring his mixtape from a boombox held aloft over his head, Acis and Galatea were probably somewhere around first and a half base. And they got
IN THE ACT
BY A MONSTER
Look, if you are going to be the Archie to someone’s Reggie, your ass had better make sure that Reggie can’t lift and subsequently throw a boulder at you with approximately zero mercy.
So, anyway, Acis is crushed to death by a boulder, and his blood is flowing out Riki-Oh-style when Galatea is like “Oh no he is dead and his blood is flowing like a river and also his mom is a river and also I have poorly defined water related abilities and this seems pretty logical” and anyway that guy is a river now.
What’s that? You say that neither of these is the mythological Galatea you’ve heard of?
Oh, you mean the statue who came to life when her sculptor, Pygmalion, fell in love with her and Aphrodite, feeling pity, did a Real Doll Pinocchio up ins? Yeah, she didn’t have a name in classical myth. She was given the name Galatea in some 18th century adaptation of the myth, but she’s the Galatea that people know, all George Bernard Shaw and Power Girl and what have you.
Anyway, the end for real.
*Dear Um, Actually: This is mathematically sound. A Cyclops has one eye (traditionally), so catching it means you have caught 100% of his eyes, rather than the 50% you would have catching a regular person’s eye. LAWYERED.
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