Amongst the so many masterpieces which surrounded us at the National Gallery last Saturday was this painting by Tintoretto about the origin of the Milky Way.
This painting was certainly beautiful, eye-catching and dramatic.
The little blurb that went with the painting says that it was based on a Greek legend for the Milky Way.
Apparently Zeus had a child from one of his many affairs with humans. The child was Hercules, Zeus’ son from a liaison with a mortal woman called Alcmene.
Anyway Zeus grew very fond of Herucles, so much so that he decided to give the child godlike power and qualities. But giving power to a mortal was not straightforward with just a wave of a magic wand or incantation of magic words. It was rather tricky, the child needs milk from a divine being.
Obviously Zeus, being a male god and the supreme deity to boot made up his mind and to hell with consequences. Zeus does not do NOs!!!!
To cut the long story short, he sneaked in to his divine wife with the infant, who he let suckle to the sleeping Hera. Obviously Hera woke up from her deep sleep upon realising that she was breastfeeding an unknown infant. She was so surprised and then furious that she pushed the baby Hercules away, thus her breast milk spurted into space creating a rather milky environment which became the Milky Way!
That is the legend of the origin of the Milky Way, our galaxy!