On NAME THAT CLASSICAL CONNECTION (5)…
From now on I will name myself like some darn Medieval monk and call myself: Rob the Obscure. Many of you have written in and expressed frustration with ‘Name that Classical Connection 5’ which showed three Chinese attendants singing next to Chairman Mao in the Opera: NIXON IN CHINA.
What was the classical connection?
The three graces is a sculpture of the mythological three charities, daughters of Zeus identified as Euphrosyne, Aglaea and Thalia (beauty, charm and joy) and were said to be the personifications of beauty, charm and joy.
Well…years ago I saw an ad in a college paper about a movie where the Chinese conquered France and the city of Paris was undergoing an occupation. The movie was a commentary on the Vichy government’s cooperation with the Fascists. One of the scenes was a photo of the statue: The Three Graces in the Louve with three female Chinese revolutionary guards posed exactly like the statue out in a garden. Eventually, the Chinese are decadently overcome by the French and had to pull out of the country. ViVe La Difference?
When I saw Nixon in China I immediately thought of The Three Graces. However, maybe I was off base on this. Can you possible see these dour maidens walking with Chairman Mao presiding over banquets “to entertain and delight the guests of the Gods?” Nope.
On Facebook the educated guesses came in.
Vicky Alvear Shecter thought I was referring to the three ladies as a ‘Greek chorus.’ This is a pretty good connection. Is she wrong? Not really. They acted like a Greek Chorus in the scene, repeated and echoing the sayings of MAO. Is this not the purpose of a Greek Chorus?
Jordan Harbour referenced a chorus on June 6th at 12:37 p.m.
Robert W.M. Greaves on Sunday at 5:14 a.m. said they were the chorus as well.
On June 6th at 2:34 p.m. Sam Shantz declared them the three fates. So did Vickey Alvear Shecter on June 6th at 7:12 p.m.
This has caused me to reevaluate what they really are. I am wondering if the three attendant helping Chairman Mao would be better described as THE THREE FATES. They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal from birth to death. Who better than Chairman Mao who lived a life bordering on myth have looking over him the three fates of ancient times? Clotho the spinner of thead. Lachesis the measurer of the length of thread. Atropos the cutter of the thread meaning one’s unexpected death. Who better to stand next to a man who affected the lives of millions for better or for worse. The fates are called moira which means a portion or lot of the whole. In Arabic it is Kismet – predetermined events, in Persian qisma meaning “lot.”
Yuan is the Chinese word for fate by the way.
It is so easy to imagine that a man at the center of revolution to be carried through by three fates that follow him through the Chinese countryside. Feet away during battle and revolution, just feet away during political upheaval, and finally in his dotage they help him in and out of the room to meet with dignitaries such as a President from some foreign land. Give me the 20 million dollar budget and I will write in THE THREE FATES into my movie called “MAO: Rising of the Red Book.”
Yes, if you guessed the three Chinese women was a Greek Chorus you are correct.
Yes, if you said they were the three fates…you are correct. .
Yes, if you called them the three graces…you are correct…but maybe not so correct as answered 1 and 2.
THE WINNERS ARE…
Vickey Alvear Schecter, Jordan Harbour and Robert W.M. Greaves win for calling them a Greek Chorus.
Sam Shantz wins for his guess that they were THE TREE FATES.
I would like to say that all questions have one answer. I don’t know if Chairman Mao would agree, but possibly Confucius.
I end this posting with a Greek Chorus. It was from a Woody Allen movie called Mighty Aphrodite. Want to see lots of classical connections? Watch this film sometime. The section opens with a two couples out to dinner, and use a Greek Choir to push the story along. Isn’t that the purpose of a Greek Choir? Wait for the dinner to be over and prepare to be amazed.