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Thoughts on Peitho

August 17, 2009

Red, red, red. The colour is hers mostly, Aphrodite’s sometimes. Red: hearts, blood, flowers and pulsing heat. She is warmth, desire, passion; and yet she is none of these. She is seduction, possession, obsession, need. She is the primal side of love – she is the teeth behind the smiles, the nails waiting to rip and tear and bleed. She is blood and hunger. She is the stirring of need, and the naming of thus: she is well-described passion. It is she who pushes mortals to lingering gazes and smooth words; and it is her influence that drives them to rape.

Peitho is seduction; the woman dressed all in red who smiles indulgently and whispers to those who listen for her. She is not lovely nor gentle, and yet she is. She is animal instinct combined with human emotion – she is thrumming desire, pulsing need. She is the herald of Aphrodite, and thus privy to both sides of her mistress: the blurring softness of beauty and love, and the harsh sharpness of addiction and survival. She is necessary in all of this, too: she is what separates man from beast: she is sex for the sake of sex, need for the sake of need.

Music pulses in her veins. She wears soft animal skins, turned inside-out. She paints her lips with blood. She is not a civilised goddess: she is wild and dangerous, and yet she is soft, too. She does not encourage rape, but it is within her domain. She is deceit, temptation; she is sweetness and soft seduction. She is the enemy of Artemis, protector of maidens and virgin women, for she encourages them to forsake virginity and dissolve their spirits in mindless, animal, pulsing sex.

She draws blood with her kisses; she smiles with too many teeth. She is poisoned honey, gentle sacrifice. She is a primal goddess, borne of hunger and need. Nothing is denied to her: she rides with Aphrodite and her Erotes, and laughs in the face of Thanatos’ cool, creeping death, as no other would dare to do. She joins Ares and Aphrodite in war for love and love for war; and she is companion to both Eris and Harmonia and yet lives worlds apart from them.

She is plunging hunger, stinging lust, itching need. She kisses and bleeds and lives on, pulsing, changing. She is Aphrodite’s daughter and herald and yet she is her own master. She wears roses around her neck and waist and spins into eternity in the arms of blurring lovers – and then she is with Hermes again, kissing her husband with her bloodied lips and smiling against him eager kisses. Theirs is an unspoken agreement, a desire that both and neither name; he does not ask of her discarded lovers, and she does not ask of his.

She is the essence of red-red roses. She spreads their petals and prickles about her skin to remind herself of her dual nature: of her softness and her sharpness, her love and her hate, her gentle smiles and cruel laughter. She is a warrior of love and of pulsing need. She is Peitho.

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