the gods in winter air

A day of museums in Quebec City. Everything was interesting but the best was the last: the Treasures from the Greco-Roman Collections of Berlin at the Musee de la Civilisation. It was so intelligently presented — the pantheon of Greek gods, larger than life, against a background of deep blue sky and cloud, as if they’d come to earth for a moment, caught in a world utterly not their own. Outside, the snow fell softly on streets where we could imagine purposeful life a century or two earlier, stone and cobbles and cold wind off the St. Lawrence.


I think I loved best the votives, the small offerings (or maybe especially the small ones) to be left in sanctuaries, central places for worshipping gods and lesser divinities. From Olympia, the most glorious horses, bulls, and an elegant clay pig. Who loved that pig enough to model it in clay and offer it to the gods?


And the tiny beautiful bronze shepherd with a ram slung casually under his arm?

Hermes Kriophoros ram

And look at his heels! It’s Hermes, at work among the sheep and carrying a wish to a sanctuary more than 2500 years ago.

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