The World's A Stage

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

William Shakespeare - All the world's a stage (from As You Like It 2/7)

World Stages

The yellow, red and white ochre paintings of people who long ago came together in the Stone Country, 100 kilometres north-west of the Darling River at Wilcannia in the far west of NSW, occur in many places amidst the red sandstone cliffs and gullies of the new Mutawintji National Park.

Images of kangaroo, dingo, euro and emu tracks are interspersed with the numerous stencils of hands. Many paintings do not tell a story although there is a story in them. Most of the paintings in the best-known sites are by women and children, and are evidence of their relationship to the country. Elsewhere stories of hunts and legends are recorded in engravings and paintings. Once thought to have 300 archaeological sites, Mutawintji in fact has many times that number.

Current information suggests an Aboriginal presence for at least the past 8,000 years. Mutawintji had been a place of ceremony and celebration, an important stage for local custodians, 'artists and pilgrims.

According to Sarah Murgatroyd who wrote 'The Dig Tree' Burke and Wills had no appreciation of the spiritual world they had entered when they stumbled into the haunting spiritual world of Mutawintji. Murgatroyd says that "the plants, the trees, the earth even smell different" and that 'deep inside the network of red gorges the atmosphere of secrecy is overwhelming. The narrow tumbling gullies hide dark silent pools, surrounded by some of the most sacred Aboriginal art in south-east Australia.

Along the Sacred Way at Delphi, treasuries were built to house the even more precious offerings that were brought out on special occasions and used in sacred processions. One such occasion would be the Pythian games which were second in popularity only to the Olympic games.

Most of these treasuries were built about one third of the way up the path, at the first turn in the road. All the treasuries were built with an architecture providing at least two columns on the proaia. The most famous of these, the Treasury of the Athenians, held a prominent location next to the Council House. On the other side of the Council House is the rock of Sybil, and just beyond that towered the Sphinx of the Naxians.

The sanctuary of Dodona is in the northwestern Greece, 22 km south of Ioannina was another important stage during its golden era.

The sanctuary lies in the midst of a narrow valley on the eastern slopes of Mt Tomaras. Ancient tradition held Dodona to be the oldest of the Greek oracles and unique in its time. The Pelasgians had consulted it on whether they should adopt the names of the gods from the barbarians, and the Oracle had answered in the he affirmative. (Herodotus 11, 52)

When Herodotus visited Dodona himself, the priests recounted to him a local tradition, a variant of one he had already heard of in Egyptian Thebes: two black doves flew from Thebes, and one of them founded the sanctuary of Zeus Ammon in Libya, while the other alighted in an oak tree at Dodona, and announced in human speech that the oracle of Zeus was to be built in that place.

The tradition was corroborated by the other Dodoneans at the Oralce. The Dodona Oracle was mentioned in the Argonautica, an epic now lost and known to us only from summaries by the ancient writers, and in Homeric epics.

According to the "Argonuatica" Jason came to Dodona on the advice of Athena to fetch a branch from the prophetic Oak-tree and mount it on the prow of his ship, to guide them on the way and to guard them from the dangers of their perilous voyage.

In the Odyssey, too, Odysseus, the hero of the poem, comes to ask the oracular Oak-tree how he should return to his home on Ithaca, secretly or openly.

When Renaissance artists painted exquisite religious scenes for churches they were, in a sense, creating theatre props for a most unique stage. Acutely aware of their audience they crafted luminous scenes that filled people with a sense of awe and wonder.

Clearly the world still offers many stages and each day players step out on to the stage to engage, communicate, bear witness, and captivate their audience.

Which will be your stage? What stages are you preparing to work on? You could test the waters by joining a blogger here at Soul Food and by participating in the Pythian Games.

When you discover your stage and the audience response you hold Eldorado in your hand.

The Alluvial Mine is the property of Heather Blakey and Miners who have generously shared their work. Please do not replicate any part of this mine without written permission.