Blog for the international research project "Our Mythical Childhood… The Reception of Classical Antiquity in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture in Response to Regional and Global Challenges", financed by the ERC Consolidator Grant led by Prof. Katarzyna Marciniak, Faculty of "Artes Liberales" of the University of Warsaw. Team members: Prof. Susan Deacy and Steve K. Simons, University of Roehampton; Prof. Elizabeth Hale and Dr Miriam Riverlea, University of New England; Prof. Lisa Maurice and Dr Ayelet Peer, Bar-Ilan University; Prof. Daniel A. Nkemleke, Dr Divine Che Neba and Dr Eleanor A. Dasi, University of Yaoundé I; Dr Elżbieta Olechowska, Dr Hanna Paulouskaya, Dr Sonya Nevin, Dott. Edoardo Pecchini, Marta Pszczolińska, Angelina Gerus and the Project Officers: Magdalena Andersen, Maria Makarewicz, and Olga Strycharczyk from the Faculty of "Artes Liberales" UW.
Ćmielów [ˈt͡ɕmʲɛluf], a small town in Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship, is home of the one of the oldest china manufactories in Poland. Fine porcelain is still produced there according to old recipes and manufacturing techniques. The company has been operating since 1804 and offers an abundance of the most delicate and wafer-thin handmade models in line with various styles of design and purposes.
The 12th owner, Adam Spała, who has bought the company from the Polish state after the political transformation of the country, is truly passionate about fine china and anything associated with it. He has led the company into 21st century and developed it into a manufacturer of collections worthy of kings. His idea was also to open the Living Porcelain Museum where visitors can watch, touch, and ask, in one word, experience different stages of making porcelain without being limited to gaze in silence upon dusty exhibits.
Among various items made in Ćmielów manufacture, there are classical, old fashioned objects. One of them is, for example, the Matylda collection, a replica of a service set composed of over 100 items that the Russian tsarevich Nikki, the future tsar Nikolai II Romanov, ordered for his mistress, the Polish ballerina Matylda Krzesińska (Kschessinska, later princess Romanovskaya-Krasinskaya). As Nikolai Romanov wished, all the forms for casting the service were destroyed to prevent another copy from being made. Fortunately, the service still exists and became the model for replicating the original (here in sapphire blue, originally in white).
Other amazing achievement of the company, or rather of its current owner Adam Spała, is the re-discovery of the secret of pink porcelain and re-creation of the once-lost recipe. The secret of pink china was known to one person only – its inventor and former pre-war owner of the company, Bronisław Kryński. Unfortunately, the recipe was never written down and lost when Kryński died in Buchenwald, a Nazi concentration camp, in the end of WW2. Prima facie, the way of producing pink porcelain was gone forever. About 70 years after the secret was lost, Zofia Kryńska, the daughter of the inventor has donated to Adam Spała notes of her late father found in the attic of the old family house. Spała treated the notes as a mystery or a puzzle to be solved. Two years and hundreds attempts later, he succeeded in recreating the unique pink mass. The company has released a new pink line with a flagship design model called Prometheus.
The pink china recipe is much more complex than classical white porcelain and that was why it was extremely difficult to bring together all its elements in the required configuration. It is composed of as many as 11 raw materials, including liquid gold, all mixed in specific proportions. In comparison, the white mass needs only three basic ingredients.
The pink china is of course much more expensive than the “ordinary” white one, due to the demanding production process and handmade decorations. Most visitors can only afford to admire it in display cabinets, but… If you visit Ćmielów manufactory, you can feel there for a while as if you were of royal blood – in Leżąca Kotka [The Lying Kitty] café, you may order a cup of coffee in a luxurious wafer-thin pink Prometheus cup decorated with 24 K gold. I tried it for you and believe me, its aroma, taste, and feel are royally delicious.
One could ask whether recreating the pink line is the final successes of the Ćmielów manufacture. It could be, as it is a really remarkably achievement, but it is not the end! Travelling in South Africa, Adam Spała visited an emerald mine and grindhouse. He noticed that everything there was covered with a light green dust. When the Covid-19 pandemic started, there was plenty of time for him to make new discoveries and patents. The image of emerald dust was an inspiration for creating the next line of porcelain – the green one in a light pistachio shade released in 2021. At first, the colour does not bring emeralds to mind, until a bright light comes through the walls of a cup and makes the green show up.
The company also produces special sets commemorating eminent Poles, e.g., Chopin (below), which are designed by leading artists or based on their art (series Tamara de Łempicka, Józef Wilkoń). For example, in order to celebrate the famous composer Krzysztof Penderecki’s 75th birthday, his wife Elżbieta designed a coffee service called “national hussars” with a characteristic wing motif (below).
And what about Classical Antiquity?
Last but not least – Classical Antiquity is also present in this abundant china collection. The most impressive are big decorative plates with the motif of Medusa, full of vivid colours (note, that each colour is burnt separately, and so the more colours, the more difficult it is to achieve the final result). Along with a china copy of Caravaggio’s shield framed with gold, another Medusa’s image is in stock – Adam Spała’s own composition (2019) that focuses rather on Medusa’s beauty and mysteriousness than monstrosity symbolized by snakes. Her gaze definitely does not kill.
Collectable figurines designed by various artists include: Venus’ Birth (2005, by Lubomir Tomaszewski), Themis – Lady of Justice (2007, by Kazimierz Czuba), Asclepius (2012, by Jadwiga Stan), Abduction of Europe and Europa Bull (2014, both by Adam Spała). Although the figurines are all designed as modern adaptations of ancient characters, they still show the relevance of ancient motifs and myths in the contemporary world.
Come and see for yourself!
This report from Ćmielów manufactory has been prepared by Marta Pszczolińska, peer-reviewed by Elżbieta Olechowska, placed by Olga Strycharczyk
The SandmanNetflix series (released August 19, 2022) based on Neil Gaiman’s comic books ends its first season with a bonus episode containing two separate stories not connected directly with the series’ story plot.
The first of them is an animation, Dream of a Thousand Cats, directed by Hisko Hulsing, the second – Calliope– directed by Louise Hooper.
The TV series is an adaptation of Gaiman’s comic books from 1989 with Morpheus (aka Dream, Oneiros) as the leading character. As a god of dreaming, he is able to travel between many worlds, realms and realities that are not always connected with Greek and Roman Antiquity, and meet many mythical, legendary, or fantastic characters of various origins. Although his Greek roots and Greekness are not explicitly highlighted, many of his ancient features are preserved, and according to his Greek name derived from μορφή [morphē] (form, shape) he is identified as the one “whom the Romans called the shaper of form”. Other important mythical characters present in the series are the Fates who are merged here with some elements of other beings, like for example oracles.
[Spoiler alert & domestic violence content] The episode Calliope, at the very end of season one, shows the Muse (Mellissanthi Mahut) imprisoned by mortals. Instead of worshipping her, they bound her by using an ancient rite, locked up, and forced to provide inspiration. Erasmus Fry (Derek Jacobi), a writer who captured her on Mount Helicon in 1927, kept her in a basement and violated her for years, until he passed her on as a chattel to Richard Madoc (Arthur Darvill), another author, unable to find ideas for a new novel. The new owner may consider unbinding the Muse at first. Instead, he refuses her pleas to free her and only then ask her for inspiration. When his writing deadline passes, he abuses her like Fry did before. Calliope summons the Fates with the hope that they can help her. The Fates (Nina Wadia, Souad Faress, Dinita Gohil) appear and tell her that only one of the Time’s & Night’s children (called the Endless) could help: Morpheus/Oneiros (Tom Sturridge), Calliope’s husband of long ago and father of their son, Orpheus. Unfortunately, Morpheus is also imprisoned by mortals. Her only hope is his release from captivity. One day, Calliope realizes that Oneiros is free. Despite their difficult past, he answers her call, comes and promises to get Richard to free her. Morpheus curses Richard with such an abundance of ideas that the writer goes mad and Calliope regains her freedom.
In the episode Calliope, the protagonist is undoubtedly the title character – the Muse of Homer – Calliope. Other Greek mythological characters are the Fates summoned by the Muse, and her former husband, Morpheus, called here by his Greek name Oneiros (Ὄνειρος) – Dream. While in the comic book Calliope is shown as a supernatural thin and extremely tall woman with messy blonde curls, in the TV series, her character is much more realistic, closer to the viewer and more relatable due to the brilliant performance of Melisanthi Mahut, known to wide audiences as the voice of Kassandra, the canonical hero misthios (mercenary) in the video game Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, and as the voice of Athena in the video game Immortals Fenyx Rising. The Greek Canadian actress is perfectly cast. Her Greek accent is emphasised to make a connection with other Greek characters previously played by her, and to reinforce the obvious idea that Homer’s mythical Muse is Greek. Another link to Homer is the use of moly(μῶλυ), a mythical plant mentioned in the Odyssey as a potent magical drug (φάρμακον); it has milk-white flowers and black roots, hard to pull out for mortal men. Theophrastus discussed it as a species of Allium [ornamental garlic]. Gaiman reuses the powerful moly flower motif as part of the magic ritual binding the goddess, Fry names it “sorcerer’s garlic”. Another part of the capturing rite is depriving Calliope of the scroll, her ancient attribute.
The episode about the captured Muse is an opportunity to discuss the difficult theme of abuse. It is striking how contemporary the subject is, and how little has changed since 1986 (when the comic books’ action is set). The story of a beautiful woman kept in home arrest and called by her captor and jailer his “muse” is powerful and poignant, even though the viewer knows it is a fictional story. Additionally shocking is the point that the victim here is an immortal goddess who can suffer violence and humiliation for an eternity instead of being worshipped.
As mentioned above, exhausted by incessant suffering, Calliope, a divine being, a daughter of Zeus, calls for help the Fates and prays as an ordinary supplicant to powerful female deities she hopes can save her. They appear and the scene’s background looks as “Arcadian” as can be. In contrast with Calliope’s obscure room and her nightgown, the Fates wear proper ancient garments and behind them, opens a vista of an idyllic freshly green Greek landscape, with clear water running and a small round temple on a hill.
Unlike in the episode S01E02 where Morpheus summons the Fates in a dark scenery and the rule “one question, one answer” applies, the omniscient Fates talk with Calliope freely, almost as equals, without riddles or ambiguities and without asking for a payment. Unfortunately for the Muse, they cannot help her but they leave her with a shadow of hope. The scene also informs the viewer of Calliope’s family connections – Orpheus is mentioned as her son and his entire life story is told in a single well-turned sentence: “that boy-child who went to Hades for his lady-love and died in Thrace torn apart for his sacrilege; he had a beautiful voice too”. Already in his comic book and later in the television series, Gaiman made Oneiros the father of Orpheus contrary to ancient sources that claim that it was Oiagros, Calliope’s Thracian lover. Most probably, the romantic relationship between Oneiros and Calliope will be developed in the forthcoming season two of Sandman.
To sum up, Calliope brings to mind cases of domestic violence when a helpless woman sequestrated at home against her will is secretly abused and the perpetrator is considered by society to be a “decent guy”. Calliope, the proud daughter of Zeus, treated as property is a symbol of victims who cannot speak for themselves. Her divine strength of character and the dignity she preserves against all odds, make it possible for her to show clemency and not to resort to vengeance on the brutal perpetrator, because, as she says: “Without forgiveness wounds will never heal”.
Post by Marta Pszczolińska, peer-reviewed by Elżbieta Olechowska, placed by Olga Strycharczyk
For Polish click here. For Maria’s text about the girls’ names click here.
In this next post about names, I would like to focus on the names given to men in Poland. As I mentioned before, many of contemporary names have their roots in ancient Greece or Rome. To show how popular each name is in Poland, I will refer to the PESEL register (Universal Electronic System for Registration of the Population) from the dane.gov.pl website (an official source of the Polish State). I chose 15 names from Antiquity for this post, but there are many more. Maybe your name has such provenance, or you know someone who bears a name referring to ancient heroes.
Here is a list of 15 ancient names held today by men in Poland:
Adrian – Latin name, carried by Hadrian – the successor of Trajan, Roman emperor in the 2nd century AD. There are 147 761 Adrians in Poland, and in 2021 this name was given 615 times.
Aleksander – a very old, double-barreled name. Frequently interpreted as “protecting/caring for men”. It was borne by the Macedonian king Alexander the Great and (as a second name) by Paris, the hero of Homer’s Illiad. There are 144 324Polish men with this name, and in 2021 the name Alexander was given to 6 919 children, which makes it the third most popular name now given to newborns in Poland.
Andrzej – a name of Greek origin, translates as “man”. Andrzej is a very popular name in Poland, borne by 552 430 men, and third among most popular names carried by Poles. However, it lost popularity – in 2021, it was given only to 186 infants.
Antoni – a name from the ancient Roman family of Antonius. Greek biographers (vide Plutarch, The Life of Antonius, 4) suggested that family name could have origins in the name Anton, son of Hercules. Antoni, in 2021, was the name given most frequently and was given to 7 821 boys. Whereas in Poland, there live 161 690 people with this name.
Cezary – a name of Latin origin, created from the name Cezar (Caesar). 45 447 Polish men bear the name Cezary, and in 2021 it was given to 952 children.
Damian – a name associated with the ancient goddess Damia or Greek verb δαμάζω (tame). The name Damian was given to 183 726 Poles, and in 2021 305 children were born with this name.
Filip – very old, Greek double-barreled name. It is translated as “loving horses”. This name was carried by the Macedonian king, the father of Alexander the Great. In Poland, the name Filip is borne by 162 071 people, and in 2021 was given 4 884 times.
Hermes – a name from Greek mythology. It relates to the god of trade, merchants, and thieves. Currently 14 people of this name live in Poland. Whereas in 2021, it was not given to any child.
Hiacynt – a name of Greek origin, born by a figure from Greek mythology. Hiacynt was a favourite of Apollo and Zephyrus, who, out of jealousy, lead the young man to his death. From his blood grew flowers called hyacinths. In Poland, there are only 9 men with this name, and in 2021 it was not given to any newborn. However, this name is far more popular in its alternative form, Jacek. It is the name of 234 901 Polish men, and in 2021, 144 boys were born with this name.
Hektor – the name of the hero of the Trojan war, the prince of Troy. In Poland this name, written as Hektor, is carried by 200 people, and 103as Hector. 22 Hektors were born in 2021.
January – a name of Latin origin, meaning born in January. It also relates to one of the oldest Roman deities, Janus. In Poland the name January is held by 487 men, unfortunately, there were no parents who gave this name to their child in 2021.
Marcin – a Latin name related to Mars, the god of war. It translates as “devoted to Mars” or “belonging to Mars”. There are currently 451 581 Poles named Marcin. Data shows that the name was given 366 times in 2021.
Marek – a name of Latin origin, was one of the names popular in Rome already in archaic times. It also derives from the god of war, Mars. In Poland there are 386 516 people with this name, and 213were born in 2021.
Platon – the Greek name of a great Greek philosopher. It was originally his nickname meaning broad-shouldered, robust man. According to the PESEL database, there are 173 Platons living in Poland. In 2021, this name was given to 12 newborns.
Tytus – one of the oldest Latin names. Was borne, inter alia, by the son of Domitilla the Elder and Vespasian; Titus was a Roman caesar of the Flavian dynasty. In Poland, 1899 people currently carry the name Tytus; in 2021, it was given to 55 children.
Post by Maria Łysoń, placed by Olga Strycharczyk who also prepared its English version, proofread by Anna Olechowski
Henryk Fros, Franciszek Sowa, Twoje imię: przewodnik onomastyczno-hagiograficzny, Kraków: Wydawnictwo WAM, 2000.
Na temat imion noszonych przez współczesne Polki vide tutaj.
W kolejnym moim poście o imionach chciałabym się skupić na tych nadawanych Polakom. Tak jak wspominałam wcześniej, wiele ze współczesnych imion ma swoje korzenie w starożytnej Grecji bądź Rzymie. Aby pokazać, jaką popularnością w Polsce cieszy się dane imię, skorzystałam z bazy PESEL ze strony dane.gov.pl. Na potrzebę tego posta wybrałam 15 imion, które wywodzą się z kultury antycznej, ale jest ich dużo więcej. Może Twoje imię jest właśnie takiego pochodzenia albo znasz osobę, której imię odnosi się właśnie do bohaterów antyku.
Oto lista 15 antycznych imion noszonych obecnie przez Polaków:
Adrian – imię łacińskie, noszone przez Hadriana – następcę Trajana, cesarza rzymskiego z II w. n.e. W Polsce jest obecnie 147 761 Adrianów, a w roku 2021 imię to nadano 615 razy.
Aleksander – bardzo stare, dwuczłonowe imię greckie. Bywa interpretowane jako „broniący/troszczący się o mężów”. Imię to nosił król macedoński, Aleksander Wielki, oraz (jako drugie imię) Parys, bohater Iliady Homera. Polaków o tym imieniu jest obecnie 144 324, natomiast w 2021 roku imię Aleksander nadano 6 919dzieciom, co czyni je trzecim najpopularniejszym imieniem obecnie nadanym noworodkom w Polsce.
Andrzej – imię pochodzenia greckiego, tłumaczone jako „mężczyzna”, „mąż”. Andrzej to bardzo popularne imię w Polsce, nosi je 552 430mężczyzn, znajduje się zatem na trzecim miejscu wśród najpopularniejszych imion noszonych przez Polaków. Imię to jednak traci na popularności – w roku 2021 dostało je zaledwie 186noworodków.
Antoni – imię wywodzące się ze starożytnego rzymskiego rodu Antoniuszów. Greccy biografowie (vide Plutarch, Żywot Antoniusza 4) sugerowali, że nazwa tego rodu mogła wywodzić się od Antona, syna Herkulesa. Antoni w 2021 roku był najczęściej nadawanym imieniem, tak zostało nazwanych 7 821 chłopców. Natomiast w Polsce obecnie żyje 161 690osób o tym imieniu.
Cezary – imię o łacińskim pochodzeniu, utworzone do imienia Cezar (Caesar). Imię Cezary nosi obecnie w Polsce 45 447osób, a w roku 2021 zostało nadane 952dzieciom.
Damian – imię przejęte z języka łacińskiego, łączone się z imieniem starożytnej bogini Damii lub z greckim czasownikiem δαμάζω (oswajam, ujarzmiam). Imię Damian noszone jest przez 183 726Polaków, a w roku 2021 urodziło się 305dzieci o tym imieniu.
Filip – bardzo stare, greckie imię dwuczłonowe. Jest tłumaczone jako „lubiący konie”. Imię to nosił król macedoński, ojciec Aleksandra Wielkiego. W Polsce imię Filip nosi 162 071 osób, a w roku 2021 zostało nadane 4 884 razy.
Hermes – imię pochodzące z mitologii greckiej. Odnosi się do boga handlu, kupców oraz złodziei. Obecnie w Polsce żyje 14osób o tym imieniu. Natomiast w 2021 roku nie nadano go żadnemu dziecku.
Hiacynt – imię pochodzenia greckiego, noszone przez postać z greckiej mitologii. Hiacynt to ulubieniec Apollina i Zefira, który przez zazdrość doprowadził do śmierci młodzieńca. Z jego krwi wyrosły kwiaty nazwane hiacyntami. W Polsce żyje tylko 9mężczyzn o tym imieniu, a w 2021 roku nie zostało ono nadane żadnemu noworodkowi. Natomiast imię to funkcjonuje w Polsce dużo częściej w formie swojego odpowiednika Jacek. W Polsce imię Jacek nosi 234 901 osób, a w 2021 roku urodziło się ich 144.
Hektor – imię bohatera wojny trojańskiej, księcia Troi. Imię to w Polsce nosi 200osób, używając pisowni Hektor, oraz 103 w zapisie Hector. W 2021 roku nadano imię Hektor, stosując we wszystkich przypadkach polską pisownię (przez k); imię to otrzymały 22noworodki.
January – imię pochodzenia łacińskiego, oznaczające urodzonego w styczniu. Odnosi się również do jednego z najstarszych rzymskich bóstw, czyli Janusa. W Polsce imię January nosi 487osób, niestety, w roku 2021 żaden z rodziców nie nazwał tak swojego dziecka.
Marcin – imię łacińskie, odnoszące się do Marsa, boga wojny. Jest tłumaczone jako „poświecony Marsowi” lub „należący do Marsa”. Polaków o imieniu Marcin jest obecnie 451 581. Z danych z 2021 roku wynika, że w owym roku imię to zostało nadane 366razy.
Marek – imię pochodzenia łacińskiego, było jednym z imion używanych w Rzymie już w czasach archaicznych. Również to imię wywodzi się od boga wojny, Marsa. W Polsce jest 386 516osób noszących to imię, a w roku 2021 urodziło się 213Marków.
Platon – imię greckie, pod którym znany jest wielki filozof grecki. Pierwotnie było to jego przezwisko, oznaczające człowieka barczystego, krzepkiego. W Polsce według bazy PESEL żyje 173Platonów. W roku 2021 imię to nadano 12 noworodkom.
Tytus – jedno z najstarszych imion łacińskich. Nosił je między innymi syn Wespazjana i Domitilli Starszej, wódz i cesarz rzymski z dynastii Flawiuszy. Obecnie w Polsce imię Tytus nosi 1 899 osób, a w 2021 roku zostało ono nadane 55noworodkom.
Post napisany przez Marię Łysoń, zamieszczony przez Olgę Strycharczyk
Henryk Fros, Franciszek Sowa, Twoje imię: przewodnik onomastyczno-hagiograficzny, Kraków: Wydawnictwo WAM, 2000.