Fanax: the Mycenaean term for "king"; pronounced "wanax". The funny initial letter, "F", is called digamma and shows up in Archaic Greek epigraphy (papyrus and tablet writings). The sound, if not the letter form, and its linguistic equivalent initially show up in the heiroglyphic writings (Linear B) of Bronze Age Greece both at Pylos, in the far west of Greece (Peloponnese), and at Knossos in north central Crete, the funny "F". Specifically, digamma shows up in the Greek of Homer's Iliad with the word "F"anax, but there it's a "rough breathing" in the form "(h)anax", where the term is linked to an important individual at Pylos. In Classical and Hellenistic Greek, the F continues in this aspirant, or "h" sound, form at the beginning of many Greek words.

Entries for month: June 2004

New site or not!

June 10, 2004 ·

The following is a group effort by a number of contributors. Sue is the parent here and Jason has contributed, but our thanks also go to Liz McMullen, Rick Marshall, Lisa Robinson, and Amy Barr!

The story so far ...

Cicada Chronicles.

Chico lay panting in the dew, his red eyes adjusting to the light of this new world.  He had been awaiting this day for seventeen years, lying dormant, in limbo, in his subterranean chamber.  He climbed away from his discarded chrysalis, a ghost shell, his eerie reflection, an onion skin so familiar, yet inert and lifeless.   He clung to a blade of grass, testing his legs, his feelers, his thorax.  It would be a few days before he could vibrate his body in the mating dance of his kind.  He could feel her presence on the wind, however, his soul mate, the one he had anticipated for over a decade.  Celeste was about to emerge.

He knew her  from the dreamtime, the long years between the laying of his capsule and his emergence.   In those shadow days she was always present in his mind, though they had not yet met. The crimson glint of her eyes just barely hinted at the delights to come, the buzz of her wings was as zither music on the wind,  her exoskeleton glowed green as an emerald in the sun. It was this image of her that gave him the strength to push up through the compacted clay soil, a feat which strained his fragile body to the utmost. And now he was on the surface, free at last of the confines of the ground and of his former self, free to find his love. But where was she?

Chico knew the perils on the ground.  Birds were not kind to the newly-emerged, although that death was a mercy compared to the slow torture inflicted by many of the area cats ...  He moved his limber body to the trunk of the nearest tree and began the arduous climb to the top. The name Celeste beat a tatoo in his head as he strove to the branches above. The brush of a bushy squirrel's tail tickled his feelers and jolted him back to reality.  He headed for the nearest branch and found a leaf with a decent view.

A violent rainstorm shook the tree that evening.  Chico clung to his leaf, now shared with four others, desparate to ride out the deluge. Knowledge of the various forms his destruction might take was imprinted in Chico's very core. Drowning was just one of the dangers that Brood X's billion-strong emergence attempted to correct for.  Ironic, thought Chico, was that this very rain that could so easily kill him was also the thing that could prolong the mating season, and hence his life.  A good thing, he thought, since he still had not found Celeste.

She lay on a branch nearly a thousand inches in the air, buffeted by every breeze that seemed to pound her fragile leaf like a hammer. Celeste had little memory of her journey since the fierce heat and blazing brightness had instinctually dragged her from the safety and coolness of her tree-root repast for all those years. There was a sense of loss, leaving behind those burrows, so familiar for 17 years, knowing that her end was coming soon, a vague sense of pain as the memory of breaking into that horrible light was already fading, that memory of the convulsions that wracked her already exhausted body as she broke free from the chrysalis of her grub years, a sense of wonder that somehow she had filled her wings and crawled so laboriously to the top of this very tree whose roots she had grown up among.

Finally, it seemed the exhaustion was fading and her feel for her surroundings was becoming clearer ... how amazing she had not yet been eaten or crushed or drowned in those ever-so-inviting pools of water all about her journey. And ... what ... was that sound on the wind ... a new sound she had never heard before ... it wasn't there yesterday, and yet it was so familiar. Someone, someone very intriguing, was calling her name so sweetly ...

And yet sweet was not exactly what she had in mind after all those lonely years ...  She had heard the stories murmered all around her that would prepare her for her destiny ...  The stories of her part in the continuation of her beloved race.  Her quest was to find a mate, someone strong to mingle her energies with to create the next generation of her kind.  The sweet sound, although very appealing to her was perhaps not what she had in mind. She wanted a hero, a prince that would break the spell of the evil witch ... oops ... wrong story ...  She wanted a hot blooded stallion of a ... oops ... too racey--She wanted someone of a like mind ... A similar goal ... To create more winged creatures of the nite that would someday re-emerge and send young children screaming to their mothers for protection ... Okay--The sweet sound was very appealing and pretty much any man would do so off she went in his direction ...

Chico sat on his leaf, depressed. He should be grateful, he thought. After all, he had survived incredible odds and successfully finished the arduous climb up the tree from his underground birthplace. But it was a hollow victory for him, for he was still alone. He had not found his love, Celeste, and worse, had no idea how to go about doing so. Thoughts of her haunted him day and night.

He also noticed a new sensation that seemed to coincide with thoughts of her and her luminous crimson eyes. It was a greatly increased pressure in his lower thoracic cavity, one that was somehow pleasurable and painful at the same time. There were times when it was nearly unbearable, and he had no idea where it came from or how to relieve it. Chico turned to the cicada on the next leaf and said "Hey, Ed. I've got a question for you."

Ed turned his bulbous red eyes on Chico and replied "Sure. What's up?"
"I've got a weird thing going on in my lower thorax."
"Is it like pressure, sort of like an itch that needs to be scratched?"
"YES!" shouted Chico, excited that he wasn't alone, "that's exactly it!"
"I get it too, usually when I'm thinking about women", Ed said.
"Is there anything we can do about it?"
Ed scratched his head with his rear leg and said "Well, I've never tried this but I heard a couple of grasshoppers talking about it last week. If you rub certain body parts together it will make you feel really good, and make the pressure go away."
"Does that really work? Which body parts?"
"I don't know which parts you have to rub, I guess you'll just have to experiment. It's too bad there are no elders around to ask these kinds of questions. They all died 17 years ago, or so the other bugs have said."
Chico sighed and said "Thanks, Ed. I'll give it a try. I feel better just talking about it."
Ed replied "Any time" and went off to the other side of his leaf to take a nap.

Chico lay down on his leaf and took an inventory. He decided that he'd just start moving his parts and see what happened. First he rubbed his legs on his head - nothing. It made his head ache a bit but that was it. Then he rubbed his wings together - nothing. Leg to wing - nothing. Wing to thorax - nothing, but it did seem to relax him a bit. Then leg to thorax - yes, that must be it! Waves of pleasure started to course through him, and it felt so good that he started to use the other leg as well. Yes, oh yes, this was what the grasshoppers were talking about.

In the midst of his reverie all of a sudden he noticed a high pitched buzzing noise coming  from right behind him. With a sudden sense of shock he realized that it wasn't from behind him, it was coming FROM him! He moved his legs faster and rubbed his thorax harder, and the buzz increased in pitch and volume until it was nearly deafening. Suddenly his world exploded in a burst of bright light and Chico blacked out. When he came too he was surrounded by other cicadas anxiously peering down at him. "Chico! What the hell was that? How did you do that?" demanded Ed, who had him by the shoulders and was shaking him to bring him back to consciousness.

Chico weakly said "I figured it out. Rub your thorax with your legs".
Ed propped him up so that he could see the next branch, where 5 young female cicadas were giggling, blinking their eyes and flitting their wings at him.
"Nice going, Chico - it looks like you've discovered more than just a way to relieve yourself!"  Ed clapped him on the back and hooted "You've discovered how to attract women!"

Similar discoveries were being made all over the region ...

Elsewhere ... in Cheviot ....

Vinny, his chirpers chafed from a day long songfest in search of honeys, woke from his evening slumber.  He rubbed his read eyes and scratched is proboscis and flew to higher branch to the place where he saw the most babes last night.  He began to sing:

"Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Baaaaaaaaaaaaaabbyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy...
Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Baaaaaaaaaaaaaabbyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy"

He thought is chirpers were in great form today. No doubt, Today was the day... the epiphany!...the end of his quest.

"Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Baaaaaaaaaaaaaabbyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy...
Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Baaaaaaaaaaaaaabbyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy"

He continued.

Then he saw her, perched just under the gutter of the house across the yard. She was looking his way.

"Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Baaaaaaaaaaaaaabbyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy...
Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Baaaaaaaaaaaaaabbyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy"

Vinny thought, "It is now or never, yous has to do it Vin ... Go for it ... She's Hot. and what da heck ... I'm in da mood!"

"Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Baaaaaaaaaaaaaabbyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy...
Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Baaaaaaaaaaaaaabbyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy"

Vinny then lept into the air. fighting the breeze Vinny spiraled his way across the yard ...

"Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Baaaaaaaaaaaaaa....."

Vinny's song was cut short as a large form descended from above casting a shadow across Vinny's orange wings ...



Vinny's wing spiraled to the ground like a oaken seed pod.

Sandra barely even flinched as she saw the starling swoop in and make short work of that manly hunk she had just been ogling across the yard. She had seen the same short tragedy play itself out dozens of times ... see a guy ... make eyes ... see him eaten before he even had the chance to do a solo on that manly drum set of his.  "Oh well," she shrugged and careened placidly to the middle of a nearby tree trunk.

She glanced with deep boredom at the two dozen or so other gals snoozing nearby.  Their luck, she assumed, had been the same as hers.  Sure, there were always variations on each tragedy:  a school bus, someone's sneakers, the pack of kids pulling the wings off cicadas just to see if their heads would stay on ... it all ended the same--once again lonely Sandra.  She knew all the girls felt the same--the constant ticking of some inward clock getting louder every hour.

Sandra dozed and dreamed of a buzzing sound that couldn't be stopped by any mindless force of nature or cruel destroyer.  To her delight, the sound grew louder until it surrounded her every fiber.  She even felt the vibrations rattle her magenta eyeballs until her vision blurred.

She was suddenly jolted awake by the brush of wings as she saw her trunk mates taking off to careen downward.  She was surprised to hear the buzzing of her dream life brought to reality all around her.  She knew it!  It was him!  The one who couldn't be knocked down by cruel fate!

Quickly, she scanned the yard to find him, the source of this joyous racket. For a moment, she was shocked and disappointed.  "Well,"  she thought, "he certainly isn't much to look at!"  Then her eyes nearly blurred with the raucous vibration of noise once again enveloping her.  "What a hunk of burning drum rhythm," she spoke out loud.

Without another thought she headed directly toward her heart's desire. Her wings beating, she dove and wove her way towards him.  She landed hard on the grass.  She turned her shining gaze toward her beloved.  As he charged toward her with the abandon of one once lost and now found, she read in his gaze . . . "TORO."  Blackness took Sandra quickly as her body became mulch beneath Fred's self propelled mulching mower.

The story was the same all over town ... thousands of their kind were being taken in by the evil metal imposters ... Tragic ... They came with many names--TORO, BOBCAT, CRAFTSMAN ... What kind of demented mind would take their song and put it in the form of a killing machine!!!!! It was just too horrible to imagine. The very thought made Grizelda shiver as she spent a quiet afternoon in the old maple on O'Leary in Deer Park. That man ... that evil man was again using his death machine back and forth back and forth across his lawn ... it beckoned her ... "Come to me Grizelda ... walk toward the sound ..." She however was wise to what horror would befall her if she headed in THAT direction ... She could smell the stench rising from behind the large wooden structure that she spent her first few sweet days in the sun on ... It was the rancid smell of death. It even made the lady with the screaming red head child not venture near it. The only one not bothered by the smell was this golden haired four legged thing that repeatedly threw his body down in the grass and rolled as if to embed the smell on his very being. Was that some kind of war trophy? Was he trying to wear the scent of her beloved family that he had so recklessly eaten not minutes before? She pondered her fate ... It was not looking good from her perspective and yet ... that sound was drawing her closer and closer ... She just had to go see if the stories were true ...

Tags: miscellany

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