Wednesday sees Letters to Max from Eric Baudelaire, Elena Alonefti's Empousa
: Youth and Alcohol (a look at four local teenagers' extracurricular activities), and The Men's Room from Norwegian directors Petter Sommer and Jo Vemud Svendsen.
Antiquity provides us with shape-shifting, blood-sucking succubi (the Greek empousa
or Latin lamia), maidens who return from the dead to fulfill their thwarted sexual destiny, and witches who either resuscitate the dead for prophetic purposes or surreptitiously remove vital organs, leaving the apparently intact victim to die shortly afterwards.
In saying that the child-killing demon figures found in Greek myth, such as Empousa, Mormo, Gello, and Lamia, prefigure characteristics of the mother as she is delineated in certain Roman texts, I do not mean that all mothers were constructed as child-killers.
Let us take as an example of such demons Empousa. Empousa is a shapeshifter and part of Hecate's entourage, a chthonic dweller, the child-eating monster who frightens Xanthias and Dionysus in Aristophanes' Frogs (285-96):
DION: It's Empousa. XA: Whoever she is, she's caught fire.
Empousa is depicted differently in different texts, always as a shapeshifter and always evil and terrifying: sometimes as an erotic seductress who is said to make love to her victims before eating them; sometimes taking the form of a young girl to attract her victims; other times as a bereft mother who eats the children of others; sometimes slipping between the worlds of animals and humans.
Con el apelativo griego de Empousa
, Hecate es polimorfa y adquiere aspecto de perro, mujer con cabeza de perro (o de leon o de caballo o de vaca), de anciana gigante con cabellos de serpiente.
In the Frogs (305 ff.) Dionysos demands that Xanthias swear three times by Zeus that the monster Empousa
has really gone away.