Thursday, September 24, 2009

A procession of voices

Lycidas has been fraught with strong responses from readers since it first saw the light of print. Considered by many to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest English lyric (it's been called "the high-water mark of English Poesy" and, "the most perfect piece of pure literature in existence,") it also has met with lively displeasure from other distinguished readers: was detested for its artificiality by Samuel Johnson, who found "the diction is harsh, the rhymes uncertain, and the numbers unpleasing" and complained that "in this poem there is no nature, for there is no truth; there is no art, for there is nothing new." [From "Lycidas" in Wikipedia.]
(A comment all the more provocative as it concerns a poem whose final, crucial word is "new.")

What's clear is that the poem seems to leave large areas of itself open to multiple, uncertain, and highly varying readings, despite innumerable learned readings by academics and men of letters. Some of these cruxes are famous, especially the notorious "two-handed engine."

Others, less renowned, still remain problematic, even on the basic level of deciding who is speaking. For example:
It was that fatall and perfidious Bark [ 100 ]
Built in th' eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark,
That sunk so low that sacred head of thine.
Does the "uncouth swain" make this charge? Or is it a continuation of the reported speech of Triton (who is here speaking for Poseidon), a reported speech which itself encompasses the answer of the winds, brought by sage Hippotades? Here's the entire passage:
But now my Oate proceeds,
And listens to the Herald of the Sea
That came in Neptune's plea, [ 90 ]
He ask'd the Waves, and ask'd the Fellon winds,
What hard mishap hath doom'd this gentle swain?
And question'd every gust of rugged wings
That blows from off each beaked Promontory,
They knew not of his story, [ 95 ]
And sage Hippotades their answer brings,
That not a blast was from his dungeon stray'd,
The Ayr was calm, and on the level brine,
Sleek Panope with all her sisters play'd.
It was that fatall and perfidious Bark [ 100 ]
Built in th' eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark,
That sunk so low that sacred head of thine.

Clearly a key word here is "listens": this is a poem that in the act of being sung is listening to other voices, here staged as a kind of coroner's inquest. The culminating apparent accusatory speech, involving perfidy, eclipse, and dark curses (more reported speech: who did the cursing?) depends even for a basic sense of its bearings upon whom we believe we have been listening to.

Navigating this text would appear to require a finely tuned aural compass, along with whatever else we bring. Here we appear to be listening to the poet as uncouth swain, reporting the speech of the winds as reported by Hippotades (perhaps in turn to Triton?) - culminating in a charge of a mysteriously cursed bark voiced by one of these speakers (but who?) -- presenting a further note of murky Miltonic mystery.

This ambiguity of speech and speaker is both underscored and resolved at the end of the poem, when the voice we've identified as the shepherd-friend of Lycidas flows into the voice of the poet, now separate, distinguishing his voice from that the "uncouth swain." This is the "asymmetric frame" we mentioned last time - asymmetric because there is no similar introduction of the swain at the outset of the poem. The question of who is/was speaking comes to the foreground even as the final notes of the poem mark the moment when the voice we thought we were listening to resolves itself into a narrator, who describes the swain, who narrated the poem we have just heard.

Whatever else we are dealing with in Lycidas, it seems there's more, as we heard in Il Penseroso, "than meets the ear."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Typhoeus: A few loci classici

Hesiod, Theogony 820 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or C7th B.C.) :
Typhoeus; the hands and arms of him are mighty, and have work in them, and the feet of the powerful god were tireless, and up from his shoulders there grew a hundred snake heads, those of a dreaded drakon, and the heads licked with dark tongues, and from the eyes on the inhuman heads fire glittered from under the eyelids: from all his heads fire flared from his eyes' glancing; and inside each one of these horrible heads there were voices that threw out every sort of horrible sound, for sometimes it was speech such as the gods could understand, but at other times, the sound of a bellowing bull, proud-eyed and furious beyond holding, or again like a lion shameless in cruelty, or again it was like the barking of dogs, a wonder to listen to, or again he would whistle so the tall mountains re-echoed to it."

Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound 353 ff (trans. Weir Smyth) (Greek tragedy C5th B.C.) :
"That destructive monster of a hundred heads (hekatonkaranos), impetuous (thouros) Typhon. He withstood all the gods, hissing out terror with horrid jaws, while from his eyes lightened a hideous glare."

Then, when Zeus had put him down with his strokes, Typhoeus crashed, crippled, and the gigantic earth groaned beneath him, and the flame from the great lord so thunder-smitten ran out along the darkening and steep forests of the mountains as he was struck, and a great part of the gigantic earth burned in the wonderful wind of his heat, and melted, as tin melts in the heat of the carefully grooved crucible when craftsmen work it, or as iron, though that is the strongest substance, melts under stress of blazing fire in the mountain forests worked by handicraft of Hephaistos inside the divine earth. So earth melted in the flash of the blazing fire; but Zeus in tumult of anger cast Typhoeus into broad Tartaros.

And from Typhoeus comes the force of winds blowing wetly, except Notos and Boreas and clear Zephyros. These are a god-sent kind, and a great blessing to men; but the others blow fitfully upon the seas. Some rush upon the misty sea and work great havoc among men with their evil, raging blasts; for varying with the season they blow, scattering ships and destroying sailors. And men who meet these upon the sea have no help against the mischief. Others again over the boundless, flowering earth spoil the fair fields of men who dwell below, filling them with dust and cruel uproar." (Theogony)

Winds of Hippotades

The mention of "Hippotades" (for Aeol0s, son of Hippotas, who appears in Lycidas) evokes scenes from the Odyssey, the Aeneid, the Metamorphoses, and other works in which Aeol0s, charged with control (governance) of the winds, binds and loosens the winds.

"Now in their age-old prison Hippotades [Aiolos] had locked the Venti (Winds)." - Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.663

"Hippotades [Aiolos] rules the Venti (Winds) [Anemoi] of heaven, holding imprisoned all their stormy strength, soothing at will the anger of the seas. When once the Venti (Winds) are loosed and seize the main, naught is forbidden them; the continents and oceans cower forsaken; in the sky they drive the clouds and with their wild collisions strike fiery lightnings crashing down the world." - Ovid, Metamorphoses 11.430

Those who remember their Hesiod will recall the origin of the winds:

"Zeus in tumult of anger cast [the typhoon giant] Typhoeus into broad Tartaros. And from Typhoeus come boisterous Winds (Anemoi) which blow damply, except Notos (South Wind) and Boreas (North Wind) and clear Zephyros (West Wind). These are a god-sent kind, and a great blessing to men; but the others blow fitfully upon the seas. Some rush upon the misty sea and work great havoc among men with their evil, raging blasts; for varying with the season they blow, scattering ships and destroying sailors. And men who meet these upon the sea have no help against the mischief. Others again over the boundless, flowering earth spoil the fair fields of men who dwell below, filling them with dust and cruel uproar." - Hesiod, Theogony 869

In the Odyssey he binds them for Odysseus:

"We [Odysseus and his men] came to the Nesos Aiolios (Aiolian island); here lived Aiolos, son of Hippotas; the deathless gods counted him their friend. His island is a floating one; all round it there is a wall of bronze, unbreakable, and rock rises sheer above it ... He gave me a bag made from the hide of a full-grown ox of his, and in the bag he had penned up every Anemos (Wind) that blows whatever its course might be; because Kronion [Zeus] had made him warden of all the Anemoi (Winds), to bid each of them rise or fall at his own pleasure ...

The men [Odysseus' crew] talked among themselves [on the return voyage over the contents of the bag], and the counsels of folly were what prevailed. They undid the bag, the Anemoi (Winds) rushed out all together, and in a moment a tempest (thuella) had seized my crew and was driving them - now all in tears - back to the open sea and away from home.

I myself awoke, and wondered if now I should throw myself overboard and be drowned in ocean or if I should bear it all in silence and stay among the living. I did bear it and did remain, but covered my face as I lay on deck. My own ship and the others with it were carried back by raging storm (anemos thuella) to the Nesos Aioloios (island of Aiolos), amid the groaning of all my company." - Homer, Odyssey 10.1

In other works, Hippotades is asked to let them loose - by Hera, for example, in her effort to prevent Aeneas from reaching his destination:

"The goddess [Hera] came to the storm-cloud country, the womb-land of brawling siroccos, Aeolia. Here in a huge cavern King Aeolus keeps curbed and stalled, chained up in durance to his own will, the heaving Winds and far-reverberating Tempests. Behind the bars they bellow, mightily fretting: the mountain is one immense murmur. Aeolus, aloft on his throne of power, sceptre in hands, gentles and disciplines their fierce spirits. Otherwise, they’d be bolting off with the earth and the ocean and the deep sky - yes, brushing them all away into space. But to guard against this the Father of heaven [Zeus] put the Winds in a dark cavern and laid a heap of mountains upon them, and gave them an overlord who was bound by a firm contract to rein them in or give them their head, as he was ordered. Him Juno [Hera] now petitioned.

Here are the words she used:- `Aeolus, the king of gods and men has granted you the rule of the winds, to lull the waves or lift them. A breed I have no love for now sails the Tyrrhene sea [Aeneas and his Trojans]. Transporting Troy’s defeated gods to Italy. Lash fury into your Winds! Whelm those ships and sink them! Flail the crews apart! Litter the sea with their fragments! Fourteen nymphae I have - their charms are quite out of the common - of whom the fairest in form, Deiopea, I’ll join to you in lasting marriage and seal her yours for ever, a reward for this great favour I ask, to live out all the years with you, and make you the father of handsome children.’

Aeolus answered thus:- `O queen, it is for you to be fully aware what you ask: my duty is to obey. Through you I hold this kingdom, for what it’s worth, as Jove’s viceroy; you grant the right to sit at the gods’ table; you are the one who makes me grand master of cloud and storm.’

Thus he spoke, and pointing his spear at the hollow mountain, pushed at its flank: and the Winds, as it were in a solid mass, hurl themselves through the gates and sweep the land with tornadoes. They have fallen upon the sea, they are heaving it up from its deepest abysses, the whole sea - Euros (East wind), Notos (South), Sou-wester thick with squalls - and bowling great billows at the shore. There follows a shouting of men, a shrilling of stays and halyards. All of a sudden the Storm-clouds are snatching the heavens, the daylight from the eyes of the Trojans; night, black night is fallen on the sea. The welkin explodes, the firmament flickers with thick-and-fast lightning, and everything is threatening the instant death of men …

Even as he cried out thus, a howling gust from Boreas (the North) hit the front of the sail, and a wave climbed the sky. Oars snapped; then the ship yawed, wallowing broadside on to the seas: and then, piled up there, a precipice of sea hung. One vessel was poised on a wave crest; for another the waters, collapsing, showed sea-bottom in the trough: the tide-race boiled with sand. Three times did Notos (the South wind) spin them towards an ambush of rocks (those sea-girt rocks which Italians call by the name of The Altars), rocks like a giant spine on the sea: three times did Euros (the East wind) drive them in to the Syrtes shoal, a piteous spectacle - hammering them on the shallows and hemming them round with sandbanks …

Meanwhile Neptune [Poseidon] has felt how greatly the sea is in turmoil, felt the unbridled storm disturbing the water even down to the sea-bed, and sorely troubled has broken surface; he gazes forth on the seep with a pacific mien. He sees the fleet of Aeneas all over the main, dismembered, the Trojans crushed by waves and the sky in ribbons about them: Juno’s [Hera's] vindictive stratagems do not escape her brother.

He summons the East and the West Winds, and then proceeds to say:- `Does family pride tempt you to such impertinence? Do you really dare, you Winds, without my divine assent to confound earth and sky, and raise this riot of water? You, whom I - ! [Quos ego] Well, you have made the storm, I must lay it. Next time, I shall not let you so lightly redeem your sins. Now leave, and quickly leave, and tell your overlord this - not to him but me was allotted the stern trident dominion over the seas. His domain is the mountain of rock, your domicile, O East Wind. Let Aeolus be king of that castle and let him keep the Winds locked up in its dungeon.’

He spoke; and before he had finished, the insurgent sea was calmed." - Virgil, Aeneid 1.50

Virgil in part is imitating a scene from a post-Homeric follow-up to the Iliad:

"To Aiolia came she [Iris], isle of caves, of echoing dungeons of mad-raging winds with rugged ribs of mountain overarched, whereby the mansion stands of Aiolos Hippotas' son. Him found she therewithin with wife and twelve children; and she told to him Athena's purpose toward the homeward-bound Akhaians. He denied her not, but passed forth of his halls, and in resistless hands upswung his trident, smiting the mountain-side within whose chasm-cell the wild Anemoi (Winds) dwelt tempestuously shrieking. Ever pealed weird roarings of their voices round its vaults. Cleft by his might was the hill-side; forth they poured. He bade them on their wings bear blackest storm to upheave the sea, and shroud Kaphereus' heights.

Swiftly upsprang they, ere their king's command was fully spoken. Mightily moaned the sea as they rushed o'er it; waves like mountain-cliffs from all sides were uprolled." - Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 14.467

All quotes from here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An older online edition of Lycidas

Here's an online edition of Lycidas with more copious notes than the Dartmouth.

Next up

Our next meeting will be Oct. 7 where we'll pick up The Waste Land where we left off. Here's an audiolink to T.S. reading the poem.

Theocritus Idyll 1

Theocritus's first Idyll is relevant in certain ways to Lycidas. See below. Also serving as background for allusion are Virgil's Eclogues 4, 6, and 10, and Georgics IV.

The Death of Daphnis
by: Theocritus (3rd century B.C.)
translated by C. S. Calverley


Sweet are the whispers of yon pine that makes
Low music o'er the spring, and, Goatherd, sweet
Thy piping; second thou to Pan alone.
Is his the horned ram? then thine the goat.
Is his the goat? to thee shall fall the kid;
And toothsome is the flesh of unmilked kids.

Shepherd, thy lay is as the noise of streams
Falling and falling aye from yon tall crag.
If for their meed the Muses claim the ewe,
Be thine the stall-fed lamb; or if they choose
The lamb, take thou the scarce less-valued ewe.

Pray, by the Nymphs, pray, Goatherd, seat thee here
Against this hill-slope in the tamarisk shade,
And pipe me somewhat, while I guard thy goats.

I durst not, Shepherd, O I durst not pipe
At noontide; fearing Pan, who at that hour
Rests from the toils of hunting. Harsh is he;
Wrath at his nostrils aye sits sentinel.
But, Thyrsis, thou canst sing of Daphnis' woes;
High is thy name for woodland minstrelsy:
Then rest we in the shadow of the elm
Fronting Priapus and the Fountain-nymphs.
There, where the oaks are and the Shepherd's seat,
Sing as thou sang'st erewhile, when matched with him
Of Libya, Chromis; and I'll give thee, first,
To milk, ay thrice, a goat--she suckles twins,
Yet ne'ertheless can fill two milkpails full;--
Next, a deep drinking-cup, with sweet wax scoured,
Two-handled, newly-carven, smacking yet
0' the chisel. Ivy reaches up and climbs
About its lip, gilt here and there with sprays
Of woodbine, that enwreathed about it flaunts
Her saffron fruitage. Framed therein appears
A damsel ('tis a miracle of art)
In robe and snood: and suitors at her side
With locks fair-flowing, on her right and left,
Battle with words, that fail to reach her heart.
She, laughing, glances now on this, flings now
Her chance regards on that: they, all for love
Wearied and eye-swoln, find their labour lost.
Carven elsewhere an ancient fisher stands
On the rough rocks: thereto the old man with pains
Drags his great casting-net, as one that toils
Full stoutly: every fibre of his frame
Seems fishing; so about the gray-beard's neck
(In might a youngster yet) the sinews swell.
Hard by that wave-beat sire a vineyard bends
Beneath its graceful load of burnished grapes;
A boy sits on the rude fence watching them.
Near him two foxes: down the rows of grapes
One ranging steals the ripest; one assails
With wiles the poor lad's scrip, to leave him soon
Stranded and supperless. He plaits meanwhile
With ears of corn a right fine cricket-trap,
And fits it on a rush: for vines, for scrip,
Little he cares, enamoured of his toy.
The cup is hung all round with lissom briar,
Triumph of Æolian art, a wondrous sight.
It was a ferryman's of Calydon:
A goat it cost me, and a great white cheese.
Ne'er yet my lips came near it, virgin still
It stands. And welcome to such boon art thou,
If for my sake thou'lt sing that lay of lays.
I jest not: up, lad, sing: no songs thou'lt own
In the dim land where all things are forgot.

THYSIS [sings].
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
The voice of Thyrsis. Ætna's Thyrsis I.
Where were ye, Nymphs, oh where, while Daphnis pined?
In fair Peneus' or in Pindus' glens?
For great Anapus' stream was not your haunt,
Nor Ætna's cliff, nor Acis' sacred rill.
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
O'er him the wolves, the jackals howled o'er him;
The lion in the oak-copse mourned his death.
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
The kine and oxen stood around his feet,
The heifers and the calves wailed all for him.
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
First from the mountain Hermes came, and said,
"Daphnis, who frets thee? Lad, whom lov'st thou so?"
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
Came herdsmen, shepherds came, and goatherds came;
All asked what ailed the lad. Priapus came
And said, "Why pine, poor Daphnis? while the maid
Foots it round every pool and every grove,
(Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song)
"O lack-love and perverse, in quest of thee;
Herdsman in name, but goatherd rightlier called.
With eyes that yearn the goatherd marks his kids
Run riot, for he fain would frisk as they:
(Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song):
"With eyes that yearn dost thou too mark the laugh
Of maidens, for thou may'st not share their glee."
Still naught the herdsman said: he drained alone
His bitter portion, till the fatal end.
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
Came Aphrodite, smiles on her sweet face,
False smiles, for heavy was her heart, and spake:
"So, Daphnis, thou must try a fall with Love!
But stalwart Love hath won the fall of thee."
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
Then "Ruthless Aphrodite," Daphnis said,
"Accursed Aphrodite, foe to man!
Say'st thou mine hour is come, my sun hath set?
Dead as alive, shall Daphnis work Love woe."
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
"Fly to Mount Ida, where the swain (men say)
And Aphrodite--to Anchises fly:
There are oak-forests; here but galingale,
And bees that make a music round the hives.
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
"Adonis owed his bloom to tending flocks
And smiting hares, and bringing wild beasts down.
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
"Face once more Diomed: tell him 'I have slain
The herdsman Daphnis; now I challenge thee.'
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
"Farewell, wolf, jackal, mountain-prisoned bear!
Ye'll see no more by grove or glade or glen
Your herdsman Daphnis! Arethuse, farewell,
And the bright streams that pour down Thymbris' side.
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
"I am that Daphnis, who lead here my kine,
Bring here to drink my oxen and my calves.
Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song.
"Pan, Pan, oh whether great Lyceum's crags
Thou haunt'st to-day, or mightier Maenalus,
Come to the Sicel isle! Abandon now
Rhium and Helice, and the mountain-cairn
(That e'en gods cherish) of Lycaon's son!
Forget, sweet Maids, forget your woodland song.
"Come, king of song, o'er this my pipe, compact
With wax and honey-breathing, arch thy lip:
For surely I am torn from life by Love.
Forget, sweet Maids, forget your woodland song.
"From thicket now and thorn let violets spring,
Now let white lilies drape the juniper,
And pines grow figs, and nature all go wrong:
For Daphnis dies. Let deer pursue the hounds,
And mountain-owls outsing the nightingale.
Forget, sweet Maids, forget your woodland song."

So spake he, and he never spake again.
Fain Aphrodite would have raised his head;
But all his thread was spun. So down the stream
Went Daphnis: closed the waters o'er a head
Dear to the Nine, of nymphs not unbeloved.
Now give me goat and cup; that I may milk
The one, and pour the other to the Muse.
Fare ye well, Muses, o'er and o'er farewell!
I'll sing strains lovelier yet in days to be.

Thyrsis, let honey and the honeycomb
Fill thy sweet mouth, and figs of Ægilus:
For ne'er cicala trilled so sweet a song.
Here is the cup: mark, friend, how sweet it smells:
The Hours, thou'lt say, have washed it in their well.
Hither, Cissaetha! Thou, go milk her! Kids,
Be steady, or your pranks will rouse the ram.

More poems by Theocritus

Θύρσις ἢ ᾠδή


῾Αδύ τι τὸ ψιθύρισμα καὶ ἁ πίτυς αἰπόλε τήνα,
ἃ ποτὶ ταῖς παγαῖσι μελίσδεται, ἁδὺ δὲ καὶ τὺ
συρίσδες: μετὰ Πᾶνα τὸ δεύτερον ἆθλον ἀποισῇ.
αἴκα τῆνος ἕλῃ κεραὸν τράγον, αἶγα τὺ λαψῇ.
5αἴκα δ᾽ αἶγα λάβῃ τῆνος γέρας, ἐς τὲ καταρρεῖ
ἁ χίμαρος: χιμάρῳ δὲ καλὸν κρέας, ἕστέ κ᾽ ἀμέλξῃς.


῞Αδιον ὦ ποιμὴν τὸ τεὸν μέλος ἢ τὸ καταχὲς
τῆν᾽ ἀπὸ τᾶς πέτρας καταλείβεται ὑψόθεν ὕδωρ.
αἴκα ταὶ Μοῖσαι τὰν οἰίδα δῶρον ἄγωνται,
10ἄρνα τὺ σακίταν λαψῇ γέρας: αἰ δέ κ᾽ ἀρέσκῃ
τήναις ἄρνα λαβεῖν, τὺ δὲ τὰν ὄιν ὕστερον ἀξῇ.


Λῇς ποτὶ τᾶν Νυμφᾶν, λῇς αἰπόλε τεῖδε καθίξας,
ὡς τὸ κάταντες τοῦτο γεώλοφον αἵ τε μυρῖκαι,
συρίσδεν; τὰς δ᾽ αἶγας ἐγὼν ἐν τῷδε νομευσῶ.


15Οὐ θέμις ὦ ποιμὴν τὸ μεσαμβρινόν, οὐ θέμις ἄμμιν
συρίσδεν. τὸν Πᾶνα δεδοίκαμες: ἦ γὰρ ἀπ᾽ ἄγρας
τανίκα κεκμακὼς ἀμπαύεται: ἔστι δὲ πικρός,
καί οἱ ἀεὶ δριμεῖα χολὰ ποτὶ ῥινὶ κάθηται.
ἀλλὰ τὺ γὰρ δὴ Θύρσι τὰ Δάφνιδος ἄλγε᾽ ἀείδες
20καὶ τᾶς βουκολικᾶς ἐπὶ τὸ πλέον ἵκεο μοίσας,
δεῦρ᾽ ὑπὸ τὰν πτελέαν ἑσδώμεθα, τῶ τε Πριήπω
καὶ τᾶν Κραναιᾶν κατεναντίον, ᾇπερ ὁ θῶκος
τῆνος ὁ ποιμενικὸς καὶ ταὶ δρύες. αἰ δέ κ᾽ ἀείσῃς
ὡς ὅκα τὸν Λιβύαθε ποτὶ Χρόμιν ᾆσας ἐρίσδων,
25αἶγα δέ τοι δωσῶ διδυματόκον ἐς τρὶς ἀμέλξαι,
ἃ δύ᾽ ἔχοις᾽ ἐρίφως ποταμέλγεται ἐς δύο πέλλας,
καὶ βαθὺ κισσύβιον κεκλυσμένον ἁδέι κηρῷ,
ἀμφῶες, νεοτευχές, ἔτι γλυφάνοιο ποτόσδον.
τῶ περὶ μὲν χείλη μαρύεται ὑψόθι κισσός,
30κισσὸς ἑλιχρύσῳ κεκονιμένος: ἁ δὲ κατ᾽ αὐτὸν
καρπῷ ἕλιξ εἱλεῖται ἀγαλλομένα κροκόεντι.
ἔντοσθεν δὲ γυνά, τὶ θεῶν δαίδαλμα τέτυκται,
ἀσκητὰ πέπλῳ τε καὶ ἄμπυκι. πὰρ δέ οἱ ἄνδρες
34καλὸν ἐθειράζοντες ἀμοιβαδὶς ἄλλοθεν ἄλλος
νεικείους᾽ ἐπέεσσι. τὰ δ᾽ οὐ φρενὸς ἅπτεται αὐτᾶς:
ἀλλ᾽ ὁκὰ μὲν τῆνον ποτιδέρκεται ἄνδρα γελᾶσα,
ἄλλοκα δ᾽ αὖ ποτὶ τὸν ῥιπτεῖ νόον. οἱ δ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἔρωτος
δηθὰ κυλοιδιόωντες ἐτώσια μοχθίζοντι.
τοῖς δὲ μετὰ γριπεύς τε γέρων πέτρα τε τέτυκται
λεπράς, ἐφ᾽ ᾇ σπεύδων μέγα δίκτυον ἐς βόλον ἕλκει
41ὁ πρέσβυς, κάμνοντι τὸ καρτερὸν ἀνδρὶ ἐοικώς.
φαίης κεν γυίων νιν ὅσον σθένος ἐλλοπιεύειν:
ὧδέ οἱ ᾠδήκαντι κατ᾽ αὐχένα πάντοθεν ἶνες
καὶ πολιῷ περ ἐόντι, τὸ δὲ σθένος ἄξιον ἅβας.
45τυτθὸν δ᾽ ὅσσον ἄπωθεν ἁλιτρύτοιο γέροντος
πυρναίαις σταφυλαῖσι καλὸν βέβριθεν ἀλωά,
τὰν ὀλίγος τις κῶρος ἐφ᾽ αἱμασιαῖσι φυλάσσει
ἥμενος: ἀμφὶ δέ νιν δύ᾽ ἀλώπεκες ἁ μὲν ἀν᾽ ὄρχως
φοιτῇ σινομένα τὰν τρώξιμον, ἁ δ᾽ ἐπὶ πήρᾳ
50πάντα δόλον κεύθοισα τὸ παιδίον οὐ πρὶν ἀνησεῖν
φατὶ πρὶν ἢ ἀκράτιστον ἐπὶ ξηροῖσι καθίξῃ.
αὐτὰρ ὅγ᾽ ἀνθερίκοισι καλὰν πλέκει ἀκριδοθήραν
σχοίνῳ ἐφαρμόσδων: μέλεται δέ οἱ οὔτέ τι πήρας
οὔτε φυτῶν τοσσῆνον, ὅσον περὶ πλέγματι γαθεῖ.
παντᾷ δ᾽ ἀμφὶ δέπας περιπέπταται ὑγρὸς ἄκανθος:
56αἰολικόν τι θέαμα, τέρας κέ τυ θυμὸν ἀτύξαι.
τῶ μὲν ἐγὼ πορθμεῖ Καλυδωνίῳ αἶγά τ᾽ ἔδωκα
ὦνον καὶ τυρόεντα μέγαν λευκοῖο γάλακτος:
οὐδέ τί πω ποτὶ χεῖλος ἐμὸν θίγεν, ἀλλ᾽ ἔτι κεῖται
60ἄχραντον. τῷ καί τυ μάλα πρόφρων ἀρεσαίμαν,
αἴκά μοι τὺ φίλος τὸν ἐφίμερον ὕμνον ἀείσῃς.
κοὔτί τυ κερτομέω. πόταγ᾽ ὦγαθέ: τὰν γὰρ ἀοιδὰν
οὔτί πᾳ εἰς ᾿Αίδαν γε τὸν ἐκλελάθοντα φυλαξεῖς.


῎Αρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι φίλαι ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
65Θύρσις ὅδ᾽ ὡξ Αἴτνας, καὶ Θύρσιδος ἁδέα φωνά.
πᾷ ποκ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἦσθ᾽, ὅκα Δάφνις ἐτάκετο, πᾷ ποκα Νύμφαι;
ἢ κατὰ Πηνειῶ καλὰ τέμπεα; ἢ κατὰ Πίνδω;
οὐ γὰρ δὴ ποταμοῖο μέγαν ῥόον εἴχετ᾽ ᾿Ανάπω,
οὐδ᾽ Αἴτνας σκοπιάν, οὐδ᾽ ῎Ακιδος ἱερὸν ὕδωρ.

ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι φίλαι ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
71τῆνον μὰν θῶες, τῆνον λύκοι ὠρύσαντο,
τῆνον χὡκ δρυμοῖο λέων ἔκλαυσε θανόντα.

ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι φίλαι ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
πολλαί οἱ πὰρ ποσσὶ βόες, πολλοὶ δέ τε ταῦροι,
75πολλαὶ δ᾽ αὖ δαμάλαι καὶ πόρτιες ὠδύραντο.

ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι φίλαι ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
ἦνθ᾽ ῾Ερμῆς πράτιστος ἀπ᾽ ὤρεος, εἶπε δέ: "Δάφνι,
τίς τυ κατατρύχει; τίνος ὦγαθὲ τόσσον ἐρᾶσαι;"
ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι φίλαι ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
80ἦνθον τοὶ βοῦται, τοὶ ποιμένες, ᾡπόλοι ἦνθον:
πάντες ἀνηρώτευν, τί πάθοι κακόν. ἦνθ᾽ ὁ Πρίηπος
κἤφα: "Δάφνι τάλαν, τί τὺ τάκεαι, ἁ δέ τε κώρα
πάσας ἀνὰ κράνας, πάντ᾽ ἄλσεα ποσσὶ φορεῖται--

ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι φίλαι ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς--
85ζάτεις᾽; ἆ δύσερώς τις ἄγαν καὶ ἀμήχανος ἐσσί.
βούτας μὰν ἐλέγευ, νῦν δ᾽ αἰπόλῳ ἀνδρὶ ἔοικας.
ᾡπόλος ὅκκ᾽ ἐσορῇ τὰς μηκάδας οἷα βατεῦνται,
τάκεται ὀφθαλμώς, ὅτι οὐ τράγος αὐτὸς ἔγεντο.

ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι φίλαι ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
καὶ τὺ δ᾽ ἐπεί κ᾽ ἐσορῇς τὰς παρθένος οἶα γελᾶντι,
91τάκεαι ὀφθαλμώς, ὅτι οὐ μετὰ ταῖσι χορεύεις."
τὼς δ᾽ οὐδὲν ποτελέξαθ᾽ ὁ βουκόλος, ἀλλὰ τὸν αὐτῶ
ἄνυε πικρὸν ἔρωτα, καὶ ἐς τέλος ἄνυε μοίρας:

ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι πάλιν ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
95ἦνθέ γε μὰν ἁδεῖα καὶ ἁ Κύπρις γελάοισα,
λάθρια μὲν γελάοισα, βαρὺν δ᾽ ἀνὰ θυμὸν ἔχοισα,
κεἶπε: "τύ θην τὸν ῎Ερωτα κατεύχεο Δάφνι λυγιξεῖν:
ἦ ῥ᾽ οὐκ αὐτὸς ῎Ερωτος ὑπ᾽ ἀργαλέω ἐλυγίχθης;"

ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι πάλιν ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
τὰν δ᾽ ἄρα χὡ Δάφνις ποταμείβετο: "Κύπρι βαρεῖα,
101Κύπρι νεμεσσατά, Κύπρι θνατοῖσιν ἀπεχθής:
ἤδη γὰρ φράσδῃ πάνθ᾽ ἅλιον ἄμμι δεδύκειν:
Δάφνις κἠν ᾿Αίδα κακὸν ἔσσεται ἄλγος ῎Ερωτι.

ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι πάλιν ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
ὧ λέγεται τὰν Κύπριν ὁ βουκόλος--ἕρπε ποτ᾽ ῎Ιδαν,
106ἕρπε ποτ᾽ ᾿Αγχίσην. τηνεῖ δρύες, ἔνθα κύπειρος:
ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι φίλαι ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
ὡραῖος χὥδωνις, ἐπεὶ καὶ μᾶλα νομεύει.

110καὶ πτῶκας βάλλει καὶ θηρία πάντα διώκει.
ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι φίλαι ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
αὖθις ὅπως στασῇ Διομήδεος ἆσσον ἰοῖσα,

καὶ λέγε: τὸν βούταν νικῶ Δάφνιν, ἀλλὰ μάχευ μοι
." ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι πάλιν ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
115ὦ λύκοι, ὦ θῶες, ὦ ἀν᾽ ὤρεα φωλάδες ἄρκτοι,
χαίρεθ᾽. ὁ βουκόλος ὔμμιν ἐγὼ Δάφνις οὐκέτ᾽ ἀν᾽ ὕλαν,
οὐκέτ᾽ ἀνὰ δρυμώς, οὐκ ἄλσεα. χαῖρ᾽ ᾿Αρέθοισα,
καὶ ποταμοί, τοὶ χεῖτε καλὸν κατὰ Θύμβριδος ὕδωρ.

ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι πάλιν ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
120Δάφνις ἐγὼν ὅδε τῆνος ὁ τὰς βόας ὧδε νομεύων,
Δάφνις ὁ τὼς ταύρως καὶ πόρτιας ὧδε ποτίσδων.

ἄρχετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι πάλιν ἄρχετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
ὦ Πὰν Πάν, εἴτ᾽ ἐσσὶ κατ᾽ ὤρεα μακρὰ Λυκαίω,
εἴτε τύ γ᾽ ἀμφιπολεῖς μέγα Μαίναλον, ἔνθ᾽ ἐπὶ νᾶσον
125τὰν Σικελάν, ῾Ελίκας δὲ λίπ᾽ ἠρίον αἰπύ τε σᾶμα
τῆνο Λυκαονίδαο, τὸ καὶ μακάρεσσιν ἀγητόν.

λήγετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι ἴτε λήγετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
ἔνθ᾽ ὦναξ καὶ τάνδε φέρευ πακτοῖο μελίπνουν
ἐκ κηρῶ σύριγγα καλάν, περὶ χεῖλος ἑλικτάν.
130ἦ γὰρ ἐγὼν ὑπ᾽ ἔρωτος ἐς ῞Αιδαν ἕλκομαι ἤδη.
λήγετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι ἴτε λήγετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.

νῦν δ᾽ ἴα μὲν φορέοιτε βάτοι, φορέοιτε δ᾽ ἄκανθαι,
ἁ δὲ καλὰ νάρκισσος ἐπ᾽ ἀρκεύθοισι κομάσαι:
[πάντα δ᾽ ἔναλλα γένοιτο, καὶ ἁ πίτυς ὄχνας ἐνείκαι.]
Δάφνις ἐπεὶ θνάσκει: καὶ τὼς κύνας ὥλαφος ἕλκοι,
136κἠξ ὀρέων τοὶ σκῶπες ἀηδόσι γαρύσαιντο.

λήγετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι ἴτε λήγετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
χὡ μὲν τόσς᾽ εἰπὼν ἀπεπαύσατο: τὸν δ᾽ ᾿Αφροδίτα
ἤθελ᾽ ἀνορθῶσαι: τά γε μὰν λίνα πάντα λελοίπει
140ἐκ Μοιρᾶν, χὡ Δάφνις ἔβα ῥόον. ἔκλυσε δίνα
τὸν Μοίσαις φίλον ἄνδρα, τὸν οὐ Νύμφαισιν ἀπεχθῆ.

λήγετε βουκολικᾶς Μοῖσαι ἴτε λήγετ᾽ ἀοιδᾶς.
καὶ τὺ δίδου τὰν αἶγα τό τε σκύφος, ὥς κεν ἀμέλξας
σπείσω ταῖς Μοίσαις. ὦ χαίρετε πολλάκι Μοῖσαι,
145χαίρετ᾽: ἐγὼ δ᾽ ὔμμιν καὶ ἐς ὕστερον ἅδιον ᾀσῶ.


Πλῆρές τοι μέλιτος τὸ καλὸν στόμα Θύρσι γένοιτο,
πλῆρές τοι σχαδόνων, καὶ ἀπ᾽ Αἰγίλω ἰσχάδα τρώγοις
ἁδεῖαν, τέττιγος ἐπεὶ τύγα φέρτερον ᾁδεις.
ἠνίδε τοι τὸ δέπας: θᾶσαι φίλος, ὡς καλὸν ὄσδει:
150῾Ωρᾶν πεπλύσθαί νιν ἐπὶ κράναισι δοκησεῖς.
ὧδ᾽ ἴθι Κισσαίθα, τὺ δ᾽ ἄμελγέ νιν. αἱ δὲ χίμαιραι,
οὐ μὴ σκιρτασεῖτε, μὴ ὁ τράγος ὔμμιν ἀναστῇ.

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Virgilian Progression

A commonplace of Renaissance literary thought that is certainly relevant to Milton is the idea of the "Virgilian progression." Here's an allusion to it from a life of the poet Samuel Daniel:
Daniel continued to mount the ladder of literary achievement, charting a Virgilian progression from lyric poetry, tragic complaints, and drama to epic history in verse. link
The notion began with words that Virgil was believed to have used to introduce the

Ille ego, qui quondam gracili modulatus avena
carmen, et egressus silvis vicina coegi,
ut quamvis avido parerent arva colono,
gratum opus agricolis, at nunc horrentia Martis
arma virumque cano. (translation here)

In brief, the idea is that just as Virgil began with lowly pastorals in his Eclogues, then graduated to the more robust, learned Georgics (which end with the story of Orpheus and Eurydice) before ascending to the epic muse of War and the destiny of Rome in the Aeneid, so later poets who aspire to greatness could do worse than tread in his footsteps.

The three moments correspond to the three levels of style identified in classical rhetoric -- the plain, or low style, the middle, or "mixed" style, frequently used for didactic poetry, and the high, florid, or epic style. See, for example, Cicero's Orator. Other classic works that exemplify the middle style would be Lucretius's De Rerum Natura, a philosophical work that freely mixes high and low, and Hesiod's Works and Days.

Virgil's "progression" was also understood as a recapitulation within a single poetic career of the entire history of Greek literary development, bookending it in reverse:

Homer --> Hesiod --> Theocritus <--> Eclogues --> Georgics --> Aeneid

As such, Virgil was understood to have done singlehandedly for Rome what took centuries for Greek poets to create, and this is part of why in 1944, when T.S. Eliot asked "What is a Classic?," Virgil was his touchstone.

Edmund Spenser, one of Milton's significant English models, employed the progression as a conscious programme in his own career, and used it as a structuring device within the Fairie Queene.

Milton is clearly following in his predecessors' traces in beginning with L'Allegro and Il Penseroso and then, in Lycidas, raising the ante as he seeks augmented poetic inspiration:

Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well,
That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring,
Begin, and somwhat loudly sweep the string.

From there it's yet another leap to the muse of Paradise Lost (much as Dante, in each of the three canticles of his Comedy, invoked a distinct spirit):

[O]F Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal tast
Brought Death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing Heav'nly Muse, that on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen Seed,
In the Beginning how the Heav'ns and Earth
Rose out of Chaos. Or if Sion Hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa's Brook that flow'd
Fast by the Oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventrous Song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th' Aonian Mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in Prose or Rhime.