Monday, August 17, 2015

Clytie’s plight after being betrayed by the Sun

A  black and white rendition of one of my beloved sunflowers
CC Jean Stimmell 8/17/15
I have always tended to view sunflowers as positive, personifying life and transcendence. Most people do: in the literature, sunflowers are most often associated with truth, loyalty, and honesty.

But, if you are a Jungian, you know that everything has a shadow side. The Sunflower’s shadow side – including betrayal, jealousy, rage, grief, misogyny – is illustrated in the following story I have cobbled together from various renditions springing from Greek and Roman mythology. 

Clytie’s plight after being betrayed by the sun

Clytie was an ocean nymph, daughter of the Titans Oceanos and Tethys.  She was loved by the Sun, who could be either Helios or Apollo depending on the version of the myth; in return, Clytie loved the Sun with all her heart. Then the Sun broke off the relationship, deserting her for another woman.

When Helios abandoned her for Leucothea, Clytie was so hurt and angered by his betrayal that she told Leucothea’s father, Orchamus, about the affair. Since the Sun had defiled Leucothea, Orchamus had her put to death by burial alive in the sands. Clytie intended to win Helios back by taking away his new love, but her actions only hardened his heart against her. She stripped herself and sat naked, with neither food nor drink, for nine days on the rocks, staring at the sun, Helios, and mourning his departure. After nine days she was transformed into a heliotrope (a flower known for growing on those sunny, rocky hillsides), which turns its head always to look longingly at Helios' chariot of the sun. Modern narratives of this myth have substituted the sunflower for the heliotrope. 


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