On “Balance”

Reflections on “Balance” by Ece Serpil Eraslan

Throughout literary and mythologic history, the sun and the moon have been respectively situated as different polarities of male and female energy. The symbol most prominently used in describing the glistening beauty, athleticism, the active and warrior-like nature of men has always been the sun. Whereas the unpredictable, mysterious nature, the constant tendency to disappear and above all, the fact that it orbits around a bigger, “more important” subject, has landed women with the metaphor of the moon.

The Greek Titan Helios, who has been blessed with the “crown of the shining light of the sun,” circles the oceans in his golden chariot before he returns, at the end of the day, to the place he first emerged: the east. The female counterpart to Helios is his sister Selene, the goddess of moon who wears the lunate crown instead, and rides her moon-chariot across the heavens. It is no wonder than, that Homer affixes the epithet “tireless” to Helios, whereas Selene is just “rich-tressed,” meaning the one who possesses wild (braided) hair.

As time passes from that of the Titans to the Olympians, Helios, who was a direct personification of the sun, is replaced, for lack of a better word, with Apollo. In these organic synthesis of the deities, Apollo has a greater variety of subjects of which he is responsible from; he is the God of sun, light, medicine and knowledge. The tendency to categorize the male psyche not only with physical superiority but also with the workings and outcomes of the “rational” mind, has still not been overthrown and it will therefore seem painfully familiar to many of us. In the same transitional way, Selene comes to be associated with her Olympic counterpart, the sister of Apollo; Artemis, who also takes on a larger scope of responsibilities, being the goddess of hunting, wilderness, virginity and childbirth. This, of course, reproduces the age-old symbol which claims that women are unpredictable and wild forces.

When I look at this sculpture, I see the figure of a woman who is able to establish balance among the polarities only by holding the moon, or in other words, womenhood and femininity, high up above all else. I am reminded of Sappho, who would rather see the brightness of her lover’s face rather than the golden soldiers of Lydia.

“Some there are who say that the fairest thing seen / on the black earth is an array of horsemen / some, men marching; some would say ships / but I say / she whom one loves best”

“…and whose lovely walk and the shining pallor / of her face I would rather see before my eyes / than Lydia’s chariots in all their glory / armored for battle.”