From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Florida python: Apollo revisited

Apollo killing Python (1581 engraving by Virgil Solis)
Not too long ago, a 16-foot Florida python was
making major headlines.  It had apparently just
dined upon a 76-pound female deer before meeting its own demise - at the hands of another legendary predator:  man. reported that the reptile “was one of the largest ever found in South Florida.”  Deer and all, its girth measured 44 inches.  This Burmese python was “killed with a shotgun blast.”  Scott Hardin of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission explained that this was
necessary in order to “help stop the spread of pythons further north.”

Certainly, northerners would not want to end up as python stuffing.  However, this “look what we got” shot heard round the world seems a far cry from the respect that pythons once received (from so-called “less advanced” cultures).

Way back in ancient Greece, it was not some government official who took down Python (with a capital P, mind you).  It was instead the great Olympian deity, Apollo, who slew the almost-as-great “earth-dragon of Delphi,” Python.  (Not to mention that “slew” implies a lot more courage than “shot” does…)

Even after this fatal encounter, Apollo showed a great deal of respect to his erstwhile enemy.  It is said that he buried Python right there under the Omphalos (Mother Earth’s “navel-stone” which marked Her very core) - and then proceeded to build his own temple on that very spot.  The priestess at the Oracle of Delphi became known as Pythia in honor of the fallen “dragon.”

Florida might therefore wish to rename the Everglades “Pythonia” so as not to incur the wrath of Apollo.  After all, where would the Sunshine State be today without his glowing example?


Copyright November 4, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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