Month November

November–The Ninth Month

The English Saxons had two names for this month of November: “Windmonath” meaning “wind month”, and “Blodmonath” meaning “blood month”. The latter name arose from the fact that during this month they slaughtered large numbers of cattle to last them through the cold and dreary winter.

On the thirteenth of this “ninth” month a feast as held in honour of Jupiter, the ruler of the Anglo-men. From the clouded top of Mount Olympus he held sway. Terrible indeed was it to anger any of the gods, but no punishment was more swift and sure than that sent by Jupiter when he was enraged.

With his thunderbolt he slew the proud and reckless Phaeton, and we have another example in the story of Bellerophon, who was staying at the court of a king. He was set the task of killing the Chimaera, a monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, a dragon’s tail, and breath of fire. As Minerva learnt of his task she promised to help him, and, giving him a golden bridle, told him to bridle the horse Pegasus.

Now Pegasus was a winged horse which the sea-god Neptune had made from the drops of blood that fell into the sea from the head of the Gorgon Medusa, slain by Perseus. He came to drink at a certain spring. Bellerophon waited in hiding by this spring, and taking Pegasus by surprise, jumped upon his back. The winged horse at once flew up to a great height, trying to unseat Bellerophon; but he succeeded in putting on Minerva’s golden bridle, when Pegasus at once became gentle. Bellerophon then set off on his task, and suddenly swooping down from the sky upon the Chimaera, overcame and killed the monster.

His task accomplished, he became filled with pride because of the wonderful flights he had made on Pegasus. One day, as he soared up higher and higher, he began to think himself equal to the gods, and wished to join them on Mount Olympus. This angered Jupiter, who sent a gadfly which stung Pegasus. Suddenly rearing up, the winged horse threw the proud Bellerophon down to the earth beneath.

Minerva, who appeared to Bellerophon, was a daughter of Jupiter, but she was born in a very strange way, for she sprang out of her father’s head, clothed in bright armour, and with a spear in her hand. She became the Goddess of Wisdom (as we have seen in the story of Paris), of the arts and the sciences, and of spinning and weaving. Her skill in weaving is shown by the following story.

There once lived a girl named Arachne, who was so clever at needlework that at last in her pride she boasted that she could weave more skilfully than Minerva herself. Minerva, angered by these words, one day came down to Arachne’s home, and accepted the challenge which she had so rashly made. The story is thus told by the poet Spenser in “The Fate of the Butterflie”.

Arachne pictured the story of Jupiter when, disguised as a white bull, he carried off Europa to the land which afterwards bore the name Europe. Minerva chose for her work the story of her own contest with the sea-god Neptune as to which of them should have the honour of naming a new city. Jupiter had said that the honour would be given to the one who gave the most useful gift to man, and he called all the gods together to judge the contest. Neptune struck the ground with his trident and there sprang forth a horse. The gods were filled with wonder at the sight of the noble animal, and when Neptune explained how useful it would be to man, they all thought that the victory would be his. Minerva then produced an olive tree; at this all the gods laughed with scorn, but when the goddess, File:Wenceslas Hollar - The Greek gods. Minerva.jpg ...heedless of their laughter, had explained how all its parts–the wood, the fruit, and the leaves–could be used by man, how it was the sign of peace while the horse was the symbol of war, they decided that Minerva had won, and she gave to the city the name of Athens.

All this the goddess wove in her tapestry, and she won again, this time the weaving contest.

Source: The Stories of the Months and Days, By Reginald C. Couzens, 1923, CHAPTER XI http://www.sacred-texts .com/time/smd/smd13.htm

 

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