A little Flashback Friday this week. I wrote this for a mythology class in college based on my love for The Odyssey and its many mentions of the rosy fingered dawn.
There was once a time when Dawn did not come with rosy fingers. She did not come to wake the mortals gently from their peaceful night time slumbers. There was no transition between the elusive Gods: Night and Day. These two were separated by a fretful Zeus who feared the results of Night and Day intermingling. So bright, hot Day would come directly after cold, black Night, harshly waking the sleepy mortals without much warning. The mortals tried to get used to the shock of Day, suddenly in their eyes, all lovely dreams erased, and they would never think to question the all-powerful and hospitable Zeus.
But Day, a beautiful maiden with sun touched hair and onyx skin, was tired of only seeing chaos, with men and women running around to work, trade, and clean without paying the slightest attention to the searing sun and beautiful, blue sky. They were both her lovely creations that brought life to the flowers and wheat, and warmth to the cold at heart. And Night, a striking young man with coal black hair and ivory skin was also tired of his job as everyone made too much merry and fell asleep too early to pay attention to the large, peaceful moon and little, silvery stars that he carefully crafted himself. Even though his creations kept the tides of the wine dark sea in order, and his cool air refreshed the hottest of heads, the mortals didn’t take notice.
They would both wander the world, more alone than any of the Deathless Ones ever felt. They never knew the other ever existed; Zeus avoided their questions of what happened when their times came to an end. It was not until a curious Night lingered much longer than he should have that he caught a glimpse of Day as she swept through the sky with white robes to bring about the shock of day. He could barely see her through the blinding light that followed her braided hair, but he instantly knew that he was in love. A crack of thunder broke Night from his reverie, and a terror filled Day looked around to see what shocked her so, and saw the back of black robbed Night as he heeded Zeus’s warning.
Zeus tried for months to keep the two lovers separated, but the pair were persistent. Through quick meetings when Night changed into Day, they created the fairest maiden out of stars and sunlight. She had rosy fingers, braided hair, and was bedecked in a flowery robe of gold. They named her Dawn, and sent her to Zeus to distract him. When the lovers knew they were free of Zeus’s critical eye, they embraced passionately, shirking their responsibilities as Gods for weeks on end.
And those were treacherous weeks for the mortals. When Night and Day came together, a strange light covered the earth. It was not yet night and not yet day, but a mixture of each that the mortals’ eyes could never adjust to. Not only that, but they didn’t even know when to sleep or wake up, all the plants and wheat began to die, and the tides stopped all together. Even the cold at heart could not find warmth, and the hot headed had nothing to calm them down. The lovers did not even notice as they lived in utter happiness, lavishing one another with hours of attention. Zeus, on the other hand, did notice the change and was angered beyond anger. He was in such a rage that he sent thunder and lightning out in droves, adding a horrible storm to the suffering of the mortals. Dawn noticed everything as well, and was upset over the suffering mortals. So, thinking it partially her fault, she sought out the selfish lovers, entreating them to separate and restore relative peace to the earth.
Flowery Dawn convinced Night and Day to see the chaos they unknowingly created. When they saw the suffering of the mortals, they knew they did wrong, but loathed to separate from each other. It was their sharp minded Dawn that had a wonderful idea. Night and Day worked together again to make a fair maiden out of the moon and the sky, and named her Dusk. Dusk, with violet fingers and a silver studded robe became Dawn’s beloved sister. So at every morning Dawn comes with rosy fingers, turning Night into Day, giving the lovers a few hours to be with one another, and gently waking the mortals from their restful dreams. Then later on, Dusk comes with Violet fingers, turning Day into Night, so the lovers can be together once more, and the mortals can prepare for a gentle Night, making merry, or settling down for a nice slumber. When Zeus saw what Dawn had done, he was happy once more, and the cycle has never been broken again.
Photo courtesy of Alessandro Santos