Litany – “Niobe”

Greek mythology is replete with cautionary tales of the consequences of hubris, that tendency of exceptional humans to push the bounds of the natural order and transgress upon the prerogatives of a pantheon of jealous gods and goddesses. It is inherent in a human condition caught between the bestial and the divine: what is the […]

Wrathblade – “God-Defying Typhoeus”

One of the most iconic scenes in world mythologies is that of the dragon combat, where a hero overcomes a great monster in order to secure both immortal fame and the earthly rewards of the rule of a kingdom. Perseus used the freshly severed head of Medusa to petrify the great sea monster Cetus and […]

Venus Victrix – “The Oath of Lucretia”

For heroines in Greek mythology, things don’t often end well. The case is similar for their counterparts in Roman mythology, which the Romans patriotically took as the historical foundations of their people, city, and their free republic. Several important stages in the evolution of the Roman state were catalyzed by various women’s sexual violation: Romulus’ […]

System Shock – “Marathon”

Given the overblown and often problematic glamorization of Sparta (or rather, the myth of Sparta) and the last stand of the 300 at Thermopylae in 480 BCE, other pivotal events of the Persian Wars tend to be overshadowed. Such is certainly the case in metal music, where in contrast to dozens of songs on the […]

Gotland – “Adrianopoli”

The year 378 CE has traditionally been marked as the beginning of the end of Roman Empire, when on a scorching August day the legions of Rome were annihilated by a force of Goths, and with them the emperor Valens himself. What led these armies to clash in the first place? A disastrous immigration policy […]

Well of Night – “Pyrrhonist”

Greek philosophy in the Hellenistic world developed in response to the new world order violently ushered in by Alexander and his squabbling Macedonian successors who carved his global empire into vast multinational kingdoms, where semi-divine monarchs commanded massive professional armies. The days of the polis city-state, where one’s identity and moral obligations were tied to […]

Aphrodite – “Aphrodite, Queen of Lust”

The origins of the goddess of erotic desire in both the mythology and religious practice of the ancient Greeks is, typically, a matter of conflicting accounts and theories. Many suppose that Aphrodite is related, even etymologically, to her counterpart in Mesopotamia, namely the patroness of love and war Ishtar aka Astarte and Innana. Given the […]

Cemetery Lights – “Lemuralia”

Day 7 of 7 Days of Roman Founders. Our final track in this series on the reception of Rome’s foundation myth comes from the Rhode Island black metal project Cemetery Lights. This title track to their 2018 EP Lemuralia is based on the poet Ovid’s account (in the Fasti) of the origin of the Roman […]