«The gods at six», read the Iliad… at aperitif time


By John

To bring to light what is dark, we must look inside it. He knows it well Giovanni Nucci, Roman poet and writer who has been studying Greek myths for more than twenty years and making them dialogue with today, because myth has to do with the substance of human existence. Therefore, in his «The gods at six. The Iliad at aperitif time” (Bompiani), a beautiful essay-novel of gods and heroes, rereads the myth given to us by the sacred poet Homer. But the only way to do it, “to immerse yourself and not drown in the myth – as the author writes in the note at the bottom of the volume – is to let yourself go, abandon yourself to the story and let yourself be transported wherever you think best”.
And so does the reader, supporting the reading of a foundational myth such as the Trojan War, by a restless myth lover like Nucci, nourished by readings of texts – starting from the Iliad in the translation by Guido Paduano – from which it is made to support and illuminate. Nucci, however, “places the responsibility of the story on the solid and fictitious shoulders” of a second-rate narrator, Professor Goffredo Mainardi, who arrived in Paris to give lectures on the Iliad at the Collège de France. There, in the midst of the audience, he sees a beautiful woman again, «a great love to which she had not yet been able to match any possibility» and from that moment he decides to want to give a romantic reading of the Iliad, thinking that «the divine plan had come to fruition experience what was happening to them.” Since they meet up every evening for an aperitif, this thing about the gods at six comes from there.
Mainardi is convinced that it is necessary to reverse the way we think about the divine: the gods do not observe the heroes fighting from above while they have an aperitif. But they enter into their fights, they support them, they are inside them, they make themselves think, becoming their most profound behaviors. Just as Dionysus and Aphrodite had come to inhabit the gin and tonic they took every evening around six. And so the five lessons unfold, from the background, when Zeus falls in love with Nemesis who transforms into a goose to escape him; and Zeus transformed into a swan, not being able to possess all that beauty of hers, puts her in an egg which is then carried by Hermes between Leda’s legs who will give birth to Helen, Clytemnestra, Castor and Pollux. Therefore, here the play of forces between masculine and feminine is staged, even if – writes Nucci – «we must not think of the masculine as that which belongs to man and the feminine as that which belongs to woman because they also belong to both if in different measures and balances”.
But if it is true that the conflict of Troy is caused by the feminine, since it arises from the clash between Hera, Aphrodite and Athena, in which Aphrodite prevails, and the conflict will lead to the end of the era of heroes, it is equally true that only the feminine will be able to offer heroes the self-awareness necessary to survive such devastation. Aphrodite, Hera, Athena, Thetis, Helen who contains within herself the beauty of the world. Hector, the hero par excellence, understands this well, and Andromache and the other women know it perfectly, aware that the fate of Troy is sealed but that they will be the only ones to survive.