It’s not secret that goddesses and Tatty Devine go hand in hand: from fluttering mirror acrylic Pegasus wings to our recent limited edition SS21 collection, ‘Held By Many Hands, divinity is all around Team Tatty.
Embrace goddess power with journalist and author Charlotte Higgins' latest novel, Greek Myths. Draw your ethereal bow and prepare to explore the unsung heroines of Greek mythology through a contemporary lens. Celestially inclined? Delight in star studded illustrations by artist Chris Ofili, from Circe to Penelope. Read on to discover the inspiration behind Greek Myths in an exclusive piece written just for us… Reader: meet Charlotte Higgins.
“For as long as I can remember knowing anything about classical myths - which probably goes back to being a very small girl, leafing through my elder brother’s illustrated book of stories from the Iliad and Odyssey - I have gloried in the power and presence of the Greek goddesses. Wilful and unpredictable they may have been, malicious, vindictive and quarrelsome certainly, but these potent beings were never boring. I was drawn to the idea of Artemis, the goddess who hunts by moonlight, who never married or had sex, the twin sister of Apollo, haunter of woods and forests, fleet of foot and a dead shot with bow and arrow. I found Hera, queen of the gods, impressive and regal rather than, perhaps especially loveable - she was an imperious and magnificent creature, quick to punish. Then there was Aphrodite, dripping with glamour, shimmering with desire, causing lust and feeling it too - feeble in combat but so powerful in other ways, since even Zeus, king of the gods, can be defeated by desire. And perhaps my favourite as a girl - because who can resist a clever goddess accompanied by an owl - was Athena, goddess of wisdom, technology and of winning, wise counsellor and protector of heroes such as Odysseus.
Years later - and after half a lifetime spent studying and writing about classics in different ways - it was a joy to return to the imaginative world of these immortal women, but this time as the author of a compendium of Greek myths based closely on ancient sources. I wanted the focus of this collection to be female characters: often, in modern compendia of classical mythology, it has been the hero’s story of quest, monster-slaughter and triumph that has most compellingly held the page. But classical literature has so much more to offer, so many complex and often troubling tales in which women, and goddesses, shape the narrative. A particular favourite of mine, for example, is the story of the goddess Demeter’s search for her lost daughter, Persephone, who has in fact been abducted to the cold shadowy world of the dead by her own uncle, Hades. As we learn in the beautiful poem known as the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, the mother’s journey is akin to a heroic quest; in the end, consumed by grief and fury, she holds the other gods to ransom by, in her capacity as protector of growth, seasons, fertility and harvest, keeping the world in the grip of winter until she gets her way. And I loved writing about Aphrodite, at times seducer extraordinaire of hapless humans (such as the hero Anchises, with whom she has a one-night stand, before making her excuses in the morning) and of course of Athena, so much more complex than I’d understood as a child: clever and fearless she may be, but in her capacity as protector of heroes she is also an upholder of patriarchy, the goddess who helps Perseus kill the Gorgon Medusa, who is perhaps - like a lot of female ‘monsters’ - nothing like as monstrous as we might have once thought.
It’s an exciting world to step into, this world of Greek myth. One that shines brightly with gold and precious gems, with splendid textiles and gorgeously embroidered dresses (the epic poems of Homer are laced-through with references to the sheer beauty of wonderfully made material things). It’s frightening at times, and confusing and strange, but also one that’s deeply rewarding and enriching. See you there!”
Calling all stargazers, enter our celestial IG competition here! To read more of Charlotte's wise words about goddesses and mythology, pick up a copy of her spellbinding new collection Greek Myths, now out in paperback and featuring original artworks by Turner Prize winning artist Chris Ofili.