Hey y’all! It’s been a while. I have some updates, including four new perfumes you may have noticed. Let’s start off with two minor updates though.
First up: Sangria was offline shortly but it’s back in the shop, as an oil only. (The catalog picture is still a solid, but that will change in the next day or two–I wanted to put it back up now since I noticed some people ordering samples.) I’ve decided to stop offering it as a solid perfume. Solid perfumes are more labor-intensive but almost always priced less, and demand wasn’t high, so it just made sense. Sangria’s still a delicious scent in oil form!
Second: I have removed all unnecessary gender markers from product descriptions. That means “unisex” is no longer a scent category (Dark & Unisex has changed to Dark & Earthy), and perfumes like Dove are no longer described as “feminine.” I have let them remain in some places where it makes sense–search keywords on Etsy, for example, or of course mentioning the history of women-loving-women in Sappho is important. But in the products themselves… all of them are unisex! Anyone is encouraged to wear any of them.
The set of four perfumes named Cruel Flora was released on Friday, consisting of Anaxarete, Anthemusa, Khloris, and Kythereia. The idea behind this was mythological women who have some darker connection to flowers.
Anthemusa is the island of the sirens. The island is described as flowering, and Homer’s Odyssey adds that it is “in a meadow; men’s corpses lie heaped up all round them, mouldering upon the bones as the skin decays.” That image has always stayed with me! A lovely, flowering island hiding the decaying bodies of their male victims. Right on.
Khloris was not actually all that mean, but her style was still a little twisted. Khloris was abducted, as so many women in myths are, as a nymph, and transformed into the goddess of flowers. As the goddess of flowers, she was responsible for turning the bodies of slain young men into flowers, like Narcissus. Not bad, except she seemed to take pleasure in it, per Ovid’s Fasti: “I first made a flower from Therapnean blood and its petal still inscribes the lament. You, too, narcissus, have a name in tended gardens, unhappy in your undivided self. Why mention Crocus, Attis or Cinyras’ son, from whose wounds I made a tribute soar?”
Kythereia is one of the many names/titles of Aphrodite. Many ancient scholars and poets classified her into two types: Aphrodite Pandemos or Venus Vulgivaga, the common goddess of “low” pleasures, and Aphrodite Ourania, the pure and divine Aphrodite. Of course men would, right? But it’s true that there were different facets to any Aphrodite. She was the goddess of love, but she was also known for punishing those who ignored love (more on that in a minute). She was birthed from sea foam and incense and roses are among her symbols.
Last but not least is Anaxarete. Her connection to flowers is more loose, but she was the anchor for this collection. She was a creation twice removed of a man, but her story fascinated me.
Here’s the short of it: In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, he writes about the god Vertumnus (god of the seasons, plants, and gardens) attempting to woo the dryad Pomona. Vertumnus disguises himself as an old woman, and encourages her to choose Vertumnus (aka himself) to wed. He warns her of the consequences of not doing this — “That you may fear them more, I will tell you a story, famous through all of Cyprus, by which you might easily be swayed and softened” — by telling the story of Anaxarete.
Below is an excerpt:
“Once, Iphis, a youth, born of humble stock, saw noble Anaxarete, of the blood of Teucer, saw her, and felt the fire of passion in every bone. He fought it for a long time, but when he could not conquer his madness by reason, he came begging at her threshold. Now he would confess his sorry love to her nurse, asking her not to be hard on him, by the hopes she had for her darling. At other times he flattered each of her many attendants, with enticing words, seeking their favourable disposition. Often he gave them messages to carry to her, in the form of fawning letters. Sometimes he hung garlands on her doorpost wet with his tears, and lay with his soft flank on the hard threshold, complaining at the pitiless bolts barring the way.
But she spurned, and mocked, him, crueler than the surging sea, when the Kids set; harder than steel tempered in the fires of Noricum; or natural rock still rooted to its bed. And she added proud, insolent words to harsh actions, robbing her lover of hope, as well. Unable to endure the pain of his long torment, Iphis spoke these last words before her door. ‘You have conquered, Anaxarete, and you will not have to suffer any tedium on my account. Devise glad triumphs, and sing the Paean of victory, and wreathe your brow with shining laurel! You have conquered, and I die gladly: now, heart of steel, rejoice! Now you will have something to praise about my love, something that pleases you. Remember that my love for you did not end before life itself, and that I lose twin lights in one.
No mere rumour will come to you to announce my death: have no doubt, I myself will be there, visibly present, so you can feast your savage eyes on my lifeless corpse. Yet, if you, O gods, see what mortals do, let me be remembered (my tongue can bear to ask for nothing more), and suffer my tale to be told, in future ages, and grant, to my fame, the years, you have taken from my life.’
The sound of mourning rose to the ears of stony-hearted Anaxarete, her house chancing to be near the street, where the sad procession passed. Now a vengeful god roused her. Still, she was roused, and said: “Let us see this miserable funeral” and went to a rooftop room with open windows. She had barely looked at Iphis, lying on the bier, when her eyes grew fixed, and the warm blood left her pallid body. Trying to step backwards she was rooted: trying to turn her face away, also, she could not. Gradually the stone that had long existed in her heart possessed her body.”
In most versions, Aphrodite is the one who transformed Anaxarete to stone.
I was just completely taken by this girl, created by a man who was created by a man to scare another girl into accepting his advances. What did Iphis do to deserve her affection, besides toss some flowers on her doorstep and harass her attendants and then blame his suicide on her? Anaxarete was demonized for not caving to a man’s persistence that his passion for her meant she had to love him. But unlike Pomona, who ended up agreeing to be with Vertumnus (not that we can blame her, considering what would happen if she hadn’t agreed), Anaxarete refused to the very end.