Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Carpe Theos

This 3rd Century BCE bas-relief is in the Benedictine convent in Trogir, Croatia, looked after by the sweetest nun ever.

Let me introduce you to a Greek god you've probably never heard of: Kairos.
He's young, he's sexy, he's always naked ... and you've got to grab him.

Kairos is one of the personifications of Time. Linear, ordinary, inescapable, time is Chronos, depicted as an old, bearded man. Kairos is the opportune moment, the perfect chance. He is the god of "Carpe Diem." He runs in, intersecting with linear time, and runs out again. He has long hair at the front, because you have to seize him as you see him approach. He's bald at the the back though - because once he's passed you by he can't be grabbed. He is beautiful because beauty, like opportunity, is fleeting and must be taken advantage of without delay.

Kairos is the time that comedians and musicians know intimately:  the exact right moment to act.  He is the god at the heart of all drama and fictional action, as he is the defining moment in which everything can change. He is time as Right Now.

- Who are you?
- Kairos. I surmount everything.
- Why do you walk on tiptoe?
- I am always in a hurry.
- And the wings on your feet?

- I am quicker than the wind.
- Why do you clench the razor in your right hand? 

- To tell people I am sharper than the tip of the knife.
- Why does the tuft of hair fall on your forehead?

- Everybody who comes in front of me should grasp it.
- Why are you bald in the back?

- Who I overfly can never catch me again, no matter how he longs for it.
- Why did the artist create you?
- To remind people, stranger!
   Because of that I am a moral to everybody in this hall.
( Posidippos, 3rd Century BCE)

Sieze the day!


Eccentric Scholar said...

What a lovely tribute to my favorite temporal deity! Chronos gets all the glory (he has a better agent, apparently), but Kairos has the most glamour. Thank you for this!

Janine Ashbless said...

I was delighted to make Kairos'acquaintance for the first time recently - it's a pleasure to spread the word!