Roberto Calasso

Roberto Calasso was born in 1941 in Florence and pursued his studies in Rome. In 1962, he joined Adelphi Edizioni in Milan, the distinguished Italian publishing house known for its uncompromising literary excellence. Calasso is one of the world’s great readers and great writers. His work presents a portrait of the mind of man. “With the heroes man takes his first step beyond the necessary: into the realm of risk, defiance, shredness, deceit, art.” The Ruin of Kasch (1983) traces the birth of “the Modern” out of the collapse of the classical world. “This is the story of the passage of one world to another, from one order to another – and of the ruin of both.” The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (1988), his synthesis of the Greek myths, received France’s most prestigious Prix Veillon in 1991 and the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger in 1992. Ka (1996) approaches the Indian cultural tradition. “To invite the gods ruins our relationship with them but sets history in motion.” Roberto Calasso lives in Milan.

Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony

On a beach in Sidon a bull was aping a lover’s coo. It was Zeus. He shuddered, the way he did when a gadfly got him. But this time it was a sweet shuddering. Eros was lifting a girl onto his back: Europa. Then the white beast dived into the sea, his majestic body rising just far enough above the water to keep the girl from getting wet. There were plenty of witnesses. Triton answered the amorous bellowing with a burst on his conch. Trembling, Europa hung on to one of the bull’s long horns. Boreas spotted them too as they plowed through the waves. Sly and jealous, he whistled when he saw the young breasts his breath had uncovered. High above, Athena blushed at the sight of her father bestraddled by a girl. An Achaean sailor saw them and gasped. Could it be Tethys, eager to see the sky? Or just some Nereid with clothes on her back for a change? Or was it that trickster Poseidon carrying off another wench?