COMPANION TO CANTO XXIII
Annotations in the List of Works Cited:
Author’s last name, first name. “Title of the Article or Individual Page.” Title of the Website, Name of the Publisher [if different from website name], Date of Publication in Day Month Year format, URL. [MLA 8 format].
Example: Preda, Roxana. “Companion to Canto IV.” The Cantos Project, 5 August 2016.
OCCEP – The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound
(Contributor name, OCCEP IV: n.no).
Example: (Bressan, OCCEP IV: n.3). If no name is indicated, the gloss was written by Roxana Preda. In this case, the citation will have this format: (OCCEP IV: n.13).
References to The Cantos
As The Cantos Project is numbering the lines of The Cantos, references to cantos already glossed will be by canto number and line number(s), as standard with classical works. Example: III: ll.7–17.
For cantos that are not yet glossed within the project, the references will be by canto number slash page number, as standard in the research on the poem. Example: III/12. The page number refers to the American edition of The Cantos by Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1998.
© Roxana Preda. Companion to Canto XXIII, 13 March 2018.
Updated 6 May 2020.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
|ABCR||Ezra Pound. The ABC of Reading. New York: New Directions, 1987.|
|C||Carroll F. Terrell. A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993.|
|GK||Ezra Pound. Guide to Kulchur. London: Peter Owen, 1958.|
|L/HP||Ezra Pound to His Parents – Letters 1895-1929. Eds. Mary de Rachewiltz, A. David Moody and Joanna Moody. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011.|
|L&S||A Lexicon Abridged from Liddell & Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon. 18th ed. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1880.|
|Metam||Ovid. Metamorphoses. Ed. Hugo Magnus. Gotha: 1892. Perseus.|
|OCCEP||The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. The Cantos Project.|
|Od||Homer. The Odyssey. Tr. by A. T. Murray. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard UP; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919. Perseus.|
|SR||Ezra Pound. Spirit of Romance. New York: New Directions, 2005.|
|TC||Ezra Pound. Three Cantos [also called Ur-Cantos]. Poetry June-July-August 1917. In Personae. The Shorter Poems. Eds. Lea Baechler and A. Walton Litz. New York: New Directions, 1990. 229-245.|
et omniformis …. est – Omniformis/Omnis intellectus est – “Omnis intellectus est omniformis” (Ficino 289). Pound translates the formula as “every intellect is omniform.” The quote is from Ficino’s own title for section thirteen of Porphyry’s De Occasionibus (On Chances). Pound thought that Ficino’s Latin translation of the Neoplatonists was the open conduit through which Hellenic culture flowed into the European thought and made manifest a pagan inheritance which had been obscure in the Middle Ages.
Ficino’s career as a philosopher as well as scholar and translator of Greek was made possible through the impact of Gemistos Plethon on Cosimo de Medici, his patron, at the Council of Florence in 1438. See also OCCEP TC III: n.10.
Pound here attributes the origin of the quote to Psellos.
Psellus – Michael Psellos (c. 1017-1078) Byzantine political adviser, monk, historian and philosopher, who caused a Byzantine revival of the study of Neoplatonism during the 11th century (Liebregts 2004: 117). See also OCCEP TC III: n.12.
God’s fire – In his drafts, Pound quoted Iamblichus’, tou ton theon pyros, “the fire of the gods.” He also implicitly contrasted the Neoplatonic tradition of Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus and Psellos, which was abstract in philosophy and mystical in religion, with Gemisto’s practical and realistic turn, designed to restore Greek culture to its former (pagan) glory.
(71/3203; 71/3204 in XXIII: Sources)
Gemisto – Gr. Γεώργιος Γεμιστός Georgios Gemistos, called Plethon (ca. 1355–1452). Byzantine philosopher, politician and theologian who, towards the end of his life, took the name Plethon in homage to his model philosopher, Plato. Gemisto wanted a Greek renaissance in a decadent culture and a dying empire – Pound suggests the right way to achieve this was to turn from the idea of man “drunk with god” and “inebriated with infinity” to practical organisation, religious reform and moral revitalisation, as Gemisto proposed, inspired by Plato’s ideas on philosophy and politics (GK 222-3; Schultze 40; Tryphonopoulos 139; Liebregts 2004: 156-61). See also OCCEP VIII: nn.36-40.
this religion – Christianity. Plethon disagreed with the Christian dogma on the immortality of the soul and created his own religious system inspired by Greek mythology and Neoplatonism. Plethon set up a philosophical cosmology with Zeus as first principle and Poseidon as generator of the concrete natural world. Gemisto’s own religious ideas were presented in his work ἡ τῶν νόμων συγγραφή (“Treatise on Laws.” Short title: Nomoi, “Laws”) (Plethon, 1858; see also Schultze 53; Tryphonopoulos 139). However, this pagan philosophy was an intellectual dissidence from the Orthodox Christianity he had to adopt in public life.
wall – The Hexamilion (six-mile wall) was a fortified wall built across the isthmus of Corinth to protect the Peloponnese (Morea) from invasion. It had been built in the 5th century, fortified and destroyed several times. Gemisto, who lived in Mistra, the capital, recommended the fortification of the wall in two letters addressed to Theodore, the despot of Morea (1415-18) and to Manuel II, the Emperor of Byzantium (1418) (Schultze 41; see texts in Plethon 1575).
Works began in 1415 but the wall was no match for the strength of the Ottoman cavalry, which sweeping from the North, breached it in 1423, the year emperor Manuel died (Schultze 46). After the Ottoman conquest of the Peloponnese in 1461, it was abandoned and the ruins can still be seen today. Peter Liebregts argued that Pound had read the letters (2004: 409 n.65) and the dramatic “you” of this passage suggests that the poet indeed had, or at the very least knew of them and their contents.
Eyetalian barbarians – Pound seems here to dramatize both Plethon’s letters of 1415-18 and a discussion that he had with Emperor Johannes Paleologus in 1428 concerning the emperor’s intention to organise a theological conference in Italy, to reconcile the two Christian churches. The projected Council of Ferrara, which took place ten years later, was a desperate attempt on the part of the Emperor to get military aid against the Turks. When Johannes asked for his opinion on the projected conference, Gemisto responded that he did not think a religious treaty with Italy will do any good (Schultze 59-60; see text of conversation in Syropulos 155).
The Byzantine Empire in Gemisto’s time.
Apart from Plethon’s personal neopagan view that a consolidation of the Christian church was undesirable, in the eyes of a Greek philosopher living in the 15th century, Italy was politically, theologically and ethically indeed barbarian, an equal danger to the Byzantine empire as the Ottomans. Italian Christians had produced the religious schism of 1054; they had sacked Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1204, when Christians had killed and defiled other Christians. As a result of the massacre, Latins had broken up the Byzantine empire and divided it among themselves by setting up separate regional empires. Though the Byzantines had recovered to a certain extent by 1270, these historical wounds could not be closed or ignored. Apart from that, the Venetians held great parts of Morea, which after the continuous shrinking of the empire, had become the centre of the Byzantine empire in Gemisto’s time.
Nevertheless, the Emperor was keen to try this religious reconciliation: the Council of Ferrara took place in 1438 and Gemisto was part of the delegation. His treatise on the differences between Plato and Aristotle, translated into Latin under the title De differentiis was an essential cultural infusion into the budding Italian Renaissance (Liebregts 2004: 156; Lagarde 1973). Pound refers more specifically to the Council in cantos VIII and XXVI.
Novvy – Domenico Malatesta, also called Malatesta Novello, Sigismondo Malatesta’s younger brother and lord of Cesena. After Domenico became lame at 29, he dedicated his life to building civil works for his city. The most important of these was the Biblioteca Malatestiana, erected at the same time his brother Sigismondo was building his Tempio in Rimini. Domenico opened the library in 1454 and spent a lot of funds, time and energy finding manuscripts for it. He also established a scriptorium to copy manuscripts from other libraries. The Biblioteca still exists today: during his research trip to Cesena, Pound became friends with its librarian, Manlio Dazzi; he also took care to submit a copy of the folio edition of A Draft of XVI Cantos to the library. See letter to W. Bird, 24 August 1925, in Calendar to A Draft of XVI Cantos.
chucked the books overboard – Pound found this information in his main source on Malatesta, Charles Yriarte. The detail has symbolic value both for Gemisto’s opinion on the barbarity of the Italians and for the loss of Greek patrimony to the Italian Renaissance and further, to European modernity.
“Si un naufrage ne lui avait perdre le prix d’une expédition spéciale dirigée en Grèce pour en rapporter des manuscrits inédits, la bibliothéque de Novello à Cesena eût été plus riche encore (Yriarte 316).
[“If a shipwreck had not made him lose the prize of a special expedition to Greece to bring new manuscripts, Novello’s library would have been even richer.”]
Irol – Pound may have read a short article in the Popular Science Monthly of June 1925, which reported that a 15-year old girl, Irène Laurent, suggested to her father that Irol, a heavy and unstable fuel, could be optimized by a sugar solution. She conducted the necessary experiments herself and managed to obtain a stable compound. The Cantos Project XXIII: Sources.
Huile blanche – F. “white coal.” Name given by Aristide Bergès in 1887 to the power of falling water. The term pointed out the clean quality of hydroelectricity compared to carbon (black coal). Pound may have come across information on the “Exposition internationale de l’houille blanche” in Grenoble, May - October 1925. The exhibition presented the palette of benefits of hydroelectricity in several industries.
auto-chenille – F. “half-track.” A vehicle with wheels at the front and caterpillar track at the back, invented by Adolphe Kégresse in 1910.
destroy – Pound is listing recent technological advances and might be referring to experiments in what would in future be called “antibiotics.” At the time he was writing the poem (1925), penicillin was not yet invented and the word “antibiotic” did not yet exist. However, medical experiments on the destruction of bacteria which were at the root of a variety of illnesses were being made – pioneer experiments by Ernest Duchesne indicated that a fungus called penicillum glaucum was effective in destroying E. coli, a bacterium causing kidney infections. Duchesne published his results in his doctoral dissertation of 1897, but these were not noticed. It is only in 1949, long after Duchesne’s death in 1912 that his work was acknowledged as a forerunner of Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928.
Invention… consister – F. “‘Science does not consist in inventing a number of more or less abstract entities corresponding to the number of things you wish to find out,’ says a French commentator on Einstein” (translation by Ezra Pound in ABCR 18; Hatlen 173).
Pound embedded the above phrase into his own commentary on the redefinition of knowledge he introduced in ABCR. By adding it to his anecdote on Agassiz and the fish, Pound pointed out that from the Middle Ages to the modern era, the idea of knowledge changed: from a verbal definition of abstract entities, as practised by medieval philosophers, to an inference made on the basis of a detailed description of what is actually seen, as understood by scientists. Pound also added that the method of poetry, that of isolating and presenting concrete samples, was the method of science. He proceeded to explain the workings of his Cantos poetics that he called the ideogrammic method, which he assimilated to the scientific comparison of one slide with another (ABCR 17-20).
j’ai obtenu… guerison – F. “I obtained a burn … which cost me six months’ healing.” Pound dramatized Marie Curie’s narration of her husband’s experiment with an unknown form of energy that the two scientists were able to isolate and call radium. It is interesting to note that Pound does not name it.
“Dans le but de contrôler ces effets qui venaient d’être annoncés par F. Giesel, Pierre Curie a exposé volontairement son bras à l’action du radium pendant quelques heures. Il en est résulté une lésion semblable à une brûlure, qui se développa progressivement et mit plusieurs mois à guérir” (Pierre Curie).
“In order to test the results announced by F. Giesel, Pierre Curie voluntarily exposed his arm to the action of radium during several hours. This resulted in a lesion resembling a burn, that developed progressively and required several months to heal” (C XXIII: n.10).
M. Curie – deliberate ambiguity between Pierre (Monsieur) Curie, who exposed his arm to radium, and Marie Curie, who tells the story of this experiment.
Tropismes – Fr. Obscure force that pushes a group or a phenomenon to take a certain orientation (Larousse online). When using the term in English, Pound seems to use it as “clusters of metaphors.” See his use of “set of tropisms” in GK 224.
sun in a golden cup – Reference to a fragment of the poem Geryoneis, by Stesichorus of Himera, Sicily (ca. 630-555), from which Pound proceeds to quote in the following lines. According to Stesichorus, Helios, the sun god, traverses the sky from east to west in a chariot, but crosses the ocean during the night from west to east in a golden cup. The Geryoneis tells of Heracles’ tenth labour, that of acquiring the cattle of the monster Geryon, living on an island called Erytheia.
It is interesting to note that Pound mentions Odysseus’ name in the following lines, but not that of Heracles. This indicates that, apart from a poetic presentation of the sun’s journey into night, his primary interest is the strong analogy it poses to the beginning of Book XI of Homer’s Odyssey, which he had used as basis for his own Canto I.
The Stesichorus fragment is preserved by the late first-century AD writer Athenaeus in his Deipnosophistae (“Scholars at Dinner”, Book XI/XXXVIII). Pound derived his classical text from an 1802 Greek and Latin edition of the book by Johannes Schweighäuser. Pound thus made use of Schweighäuser’s edition and Latin translation as he had used Divus’ edition of the Odyssey in canto I. (Reprinted in Tryphonopoulos 190-91, see XXIII: Sources.)
low fords of ocean – Pound makes a synthesis of Stesichorus’ ὄφρα δἰ ὠκεανοĩο περάσας (Gr. “so as to traverse the ocean”) and Schweighäuser’s Latin translation of another line (L. “Ima vada noctis obscurae” – “low fords of dark night”). A continuous, direct translation of the Greek lines would be: “cross over the ocean/ and reach the depths of holy, dark, night” (Liebregts 2017: 62). See XXIII: Sources.
Pound conflates these elements in Stesichorus’ text to create a parallelism to the Book XI of the Odyssey. See Pound’s Canto I, where the hero arrives to the mouth of the underworld at low tide (Liebregts 2017: 65-6).
Thus with stretched sail, we went over sea till day’s end.
Sun to his slumber, shadows o’er all the ocean
The ocean flowing backward, came we then to the place
Aforesaid by Circe. (I/3)
Ἃλιος δ Ὑπεριονίδας δέπας ἑσκατέβαινε χρύσεον/ ὄφρα δἰ ὠκεανοĩο περάσας – Gr. Halios d’ Hyperionidas depas eskatebaine chruseon/ ophra di okeanoio perasas (“The sun, [son] of Hyperion went down into the cup of gold, / so that he might cross over the ocean.”) Pound replaced the god’s name in Stesichorus ( Ἀέλιος) by a variant pointed out by Schweighäuser in his footnote 3: (Ἃλιος). He does this to connect with his own discovery in the L&S which he presents in his line ἥλιος ἅλιος, ἅλιος μάταιος below (Liebregts 2017: 65).
The current transcription in the New Directions edition has two accents wrong: Ἃλιος should be Ἅλιος and ἑσκατέβαινε should be ἐσκατέβαινε (Liebregts 2017: 63). In his drafts, Pound did not mark the accents on these words, possibly because the print was unclear (71/3204). XXIII: Sources.
ima vada noctis obscurae – L. “low fords of the dark night.” (C XXIII: n.13). Quotation from Schweighäuser’s footnote, which translated into Latin ποτì òς ἐρεμνᾶς (poti benthea nuktos eremnaas) “to the depths of the dark night” (Liebregts 2017: 62).
See the whole Latin version by Schweighäuser in XXIII: Sources.
ἥλιος, ἅλιος, ἅλιος = μάταιος – Gr. Helios, hαlios, hαlios=mataios (“sun, marine, fruitless”). The line is made of three dictionary entries to the word ἅλιος (Hαlios – “sun”) in the Scott-Liddell Greek Lexicon. The first one explains ἅλιος to be the Doric form of the Attic word ἥλιος (Helios, sun). The second entry to ἅλιος translates it as “marine,” “of the sea.” The third entry to ἅλιος translates the term as “fruitless, unprofitable, idle, erring” and gives as a synonym the word μάταιος (mataios). The collocation of the words “sea” and “in vain” may have reminded Pound of Odysseus’ futile attempt to elude the Trojan war by a fruitless labour, that of ploughing the sand and sowing salt. (L&S 33. See XXIII: Sources.)
This is the first time in The Cantos that Pound introduces a reading of words as they appear in the dictionary; it is a strategy he would use later, most notably in canto XCVII. His listing of the three entries makes clear the proximity of the words for sun and sea, which he would use at the end of the canto, where Anchises has the vision of the sea as glittering crystal. XXIII: Sources.
Derivation uncertain – Pound is quoting an editorial gloss to the entry on “halios=mataios” from the abridged version of the L&Sthat he is using. As F. Peachy remarked, the editorial remark is not to be found in the full L&S (Edwards & Vasse 263; C XXIII: n.14; Hatlen 178). XXIII: Sources.
Odysseus furrowed the sand – When Agamemnon’s envoys came to summon him to go to the Trojan war, Odysseus pretended to be mad. He yoked an ox and an ass and pretended to be ploughing sand. Palamedes, one of the envoys, put Odysseus’ baby son Telemachus in the path of the plough, and when Odysseus turned out to be sane enough to avoid him, his pretence was uncovered (Hyginus Fabulae 95 128). PL.
The analogy to this story may have been brought by the ἅλιος μάταιος ((h)alios = mataios) relationship which Pound found in L&S – Pound thought that the derivation was uncertain and thought of Odysseus. Looking further down at the dictionary entries, Pound may have also seen the compounds of the word for ἁλί “salt” above the entries for ἅλιος and also noticed άλί πεδον (a plain by the sea) below. XXIII: Sources.
alixantos – Gr. ἁλί-ξαντος, halixantos (“worn by the sea”). Term to be found in the L&S 33, just above the ἅλιος. XXIII: Sources.
aliotrephès – Gr. ἁλιο-τρεφής, aliotrephes (“sea-nurtured”). Another word occurring on the same page of (L&S 33) just under ἅλιος. XXIII: Sources.
eiskatebaine – The modified form of the word shows that Pound, confronted with the difficulties of Stesichorus’ text (see note 20), consulted his Greek lexicon again. The Abridged L&S that Pound was using included the entry ἐσκαταβαίνω (“eskatabainoo”) showing that it was a variant of εἰσκαταβαίνω (“eiskatabainoo”). Eiskatabainoo is a compound, as it combines the verb katabainoo “to go down” [in itself already a compound verb, made of the verb bainoo, “to go” and the preposition kata, “down”] with the preposition eis, “into.” PL.
The noun “katabasis,” (“descent”) derived from this verb, is an important key for understanding The Cantos. PL. (L&S 274, 201. See entry).
ποτì βένθεα – Gr. poti benthea (“to the depths”).
νυκτòς ἐρεμνᾶς – Gr. nuktos eremnaas (“of the dark night”).
ποτì ματέρα κουριδίαν τ’ ἂλοχον – Gr. poti matera kouridian t’ alochon (“to [his] mother, wedded wife”).
παĩ δάς τε φίλους … ἔβα δἀφναισι κατάσκιον – Gr. paidas te philous. … eba daphnaisi kataskion (“And [to his] dear children … walked [into the grove] shaded by laurels”). While the source says clearly that “the son of Zeus,” Heracles, walked into the laurel grove, Pound elides the hero’s name and thus makes Helios, the sun, descend into the darkness.
The spelling of παĩδάς in the New Directions edition should be παĩδας; δἀφναισι should read δάφναισι (CS).
The word δάφναισι (daphnaisi – “laurel”) is not in Pound’s drafts, it must be a later interpolation. See both 71/3204 and 71/3205. The word was not in included in the first edition of A Draft of the Cantos 17-27 published in 1928. However, including it made sense if Pound wanted to preserve the word κατάσκιον (“shaded”).
selv’oscura – I. “the dark forest.” Pound was reminded of the beginning of Dante’s Inferno: “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita/ mi ritrovai per una selva oscura/ ché la diritta via era smarrita.” (“Midway in the journey of our life I found myself in a dark wood, for the straight way was lost.”) (Inf. I.1-3).
Phrygian head-sack – From his terrace in Rapallo, Pound could see “the heavy boats with lateen sails (called leudi) that brought over sand from Sardinia.” The sailors’ head coverings were burlap sacks or paper bags that looked to Pound like Phrygian caps (Bagicalupo 380).
‘Yperionides! – Gr. Ὑπεριονίδας (“Hyperionidas”) Hyperion’s son, Helios, the sun god. Hyperion was one of the twelve titans. From his marriage with his sister Theia he had Helios, Selene and Eos (the sun, the moon and the dawn). Stesichorus invokes Helios in his first line as ’Aέλιος δ’ ‘υπεριονίδας (Helios d’ Yperionidas, “Helios, son of Hyperion”). Pound leaves the name hidden in the Greek text and reveals it “in the morning” as the sun goes up again.
While I slept – Pound takes up again the motif of long sleep and waking up to a Greek natural paradise, which he had introduced in canto IV (Peck 64) and taken up again in cantos XVII and XXI.Dawn, to our waking, drifts in the green cool light;
Dew-haze blurs, in the grass, pale ankles moving.
Beat, beat, whirr, thud, in the soft turf
under the apple trees,
Choros nympharum, goat-foot, with the pale foot alternate; (IV/6-10)
capriped – animal with goat’s feet.
arras – heavy curtain, manufactured in the French town Arras. Echoes of the use of the word in canto VIII in connection to Paolo and Francesca (“and the sword, Paolo il Bello's, caught in the arras/ And, in Este’s house, Parisina/Paid/For this tribe paid always” VIII/32); and canto XX, in connection to Ugo and Parisina: (“‘Este, go’ damn you.’ between the walls, arras, /Painted to look like arras.” XX/91) (Peck 64).
Oar up – reverberation of Od XI: 77 where the shade of Elpenor asks Odysseus to commemorate him by putting his oar up on his return to Circe’s island. Pound included Elpenor’s request in his translation of the passage in his Canto I and reminds of it here. Davenport suggests that the “oar up” is a sign that the sailors are resting (220).
My brother de Maensac – The story of Peire de Maensac, which Pound had already told in canto V, is here taken up again from the perspective of his brother, Austors. He recounts how his brother Peire had charmed the wife of Bernart de Tierci by his song, how they eloped together and hid in one of the castles of the Dauphin d’Auvergne. In the war that ensued, the Dauphin did not lift his protection of Peire and the husband was forced to withdraw.
In canto V, Pound had compared Peire de Maensac’s story with the myth of Paris and Helen, the wife of the Greek king Menelaus. Helen allowed herself to be carried off to Troy: her husband raised an alliance of Greek kings who followed and demanded her of the Trojans, who did not give her up. In his epic The Iliad, Homer recounts how, after a 10-year siege, Troy was destroyed.
And Pieire won the singing, Pieire de Maensac,
Song or land on the throw, and was dreitz hom
And had De Tierci’s wife and with the war they made:
Troy in Auvergnat
While Menelaus piled up the church at port
He kept Tyndarida. Dauphin stood with de Maensac. (V/18).
Austors – Peire de Maensac’s brother, who tells the story. Though Pound takes de Maensac’s vida from Miquel de la Tour, he seems to have also consulted Chabaneau’s text and notes, which date an offering of half the castle of Maensac to King Louis around 1238 (Chabaneau 58 n.2). This allows Pound to connect the troubadour brothers to the Albigensian Crusade and the Montségur siege.
Tierci – In a note to his vida of de Maensac, Chabaneau assumes Tierci to be the city of Thiers, in Auvergne.
jongleur – During the Middle Ages, the jongleur was an itinerant minstrel, comedian, and acrobat. Unlike troubadours, who were both composers and performers of songs, jongleurs were primarily performers, who could hope that by talent and inventiveness could rise to the condition of troubadour and enjoy the favour of an aristocratic patron. LS.
Dauphin d’Auvergne – Robert IV Dauphin d’Auvergne (1150-1234), Count of Clermont who received the name “Dauphin” in honour of his grandfather. Robert turned the name into a title and called his lands “Dauphiné d’Auvergne” with the capital at Vodable. As the map shows, the Dauphiné did not include all the regions in the Auvergne and did not have jurisdiction over Tierci (Thiers) which is to the east of Clermont. But Robert did have jurisdiction over Maensac (today’s village of Manzat): in addition to protecting the happiness of a poet he valued, the defence of a vassal and a knight may have been a strong argument for Robert to resist Bernart de Tierci’s military intervention.
Auvergnat – Auvergnat is a dialect of langue d’oc, spoken in regions around the Massif Central, including Auvergne. Pound used the term as a toponymic and a synonym for the Dauphiné (see also n.43). In his draft 71/3204, he has the following line, later discarded, which shows very clearly the sense that he attributed to the term: “And they went to the Dauphin, in Auvergnat.”
Chaise Dieu – La Chaise Dieu (The House of God) is a Benedictine abbey founded in 1043.
Mount Segur – Montségur (F. “The safe mountain”) was a Cathar citadel besieged and destroyed by the papal forces at the end of the Albigensian Crusade, in March 1244.
Simone – Simone IV de Montfort, also known as Simon de Montfort the Elder (1175-1218) was a prominent leader of the papal forces fighting against the Cathar sect during the Albigensian crusade. He died during a siege of Toulouse in 1218.
Manicheans – adepts of the Iranian prophet Mani (L. Manes) (216-274). Manicheism was a gnostic religion relying on the opposition of two principles, good and evil, light and darkness. Manicheans had been persecuted by the Catholic Church since the 5th century and was extinct by the time of the Albigensian Crusade (1209-44). However, the Pope, wanting to suppress the Cathar heresy, declared the Cathars to be Manicheans.
Austors does not believe in the fake accusation. Nor does Pound, who suggests here that troubadours were neither Cathars nor Manicheans; their amour courtois was the avatar of a Greek belief that love and sex cannot be separated, nor adulterated by guilt and shame, but rather acknowledged as forces and rhythms of nature and celebrated by religious ritual, like that of the Eleusis mysteries.
In “Terra Italica,” written around 1930, Pound affirmed:
“It is equally discernible upon study that some non-Christian and inextinguishable source of beauty persisted throughout the Middle Ages maintaining song in Provence, maintaining the grace of Kalenda Maya.
And this force was the strongest force to the cult of Atys and asceticism. […] The usual accusation against the Albigeois is that they were Manicheans. This I believe to be pure bunkumb. The slanderers feared the truth. […]
The best scholars do not believe there were any Manicheans left in Europe at the time of the Albigensian Crusade. If there were any in Provence, they have at any rate left no trace in troubadour art.
On the other hand, the cult of Eleusis will explain not only general phenomena but particular beauties in Arnaut Daniel or in Guido Cavalcanti” (SP 58-9). See also Surette 1979: 59; Makin 219.
Ilion – Gr. Ιλιον, name of the city of Troy.
On the traces that Hellenic paganism left in Europe, Pound declared in his essay “Psychology and the Troubadours” (1912):
“Consider the history of the time, the Albigensian Crusade, nominally against a sect tinged with the Manichean heresy, and remember how Provençal song is never wholly disjunct from pagan rites of May Day. Provence was less disturbed than the rest of Europe by invasion from the North in the darker ages; if paganism survived anywhere it would have been, unofficially, in the Langue d’Oc. That the spirit was, in Provence, Hellenic is seen readily enough by anyone who will compare the Greek Anthology with the work of the troubadours. They have, in some way, lost the names of the gods and remembered the names of lovers. Ovid and the Eclogues of Virgil would seem to have been their chief documents” (SR 90).
Anchises – member of the royal family of Troy. In one of the Homeric Hymnsto Aphrodite (V), it is told that the goddess fell in love with him while seeing him on Mount Ida with his cattle. She approaches him saying that she is the daughter of a Phrygian king, Otreus and that she had been brought to him by the god Hermes. Anchises did not want to touch her at first: his immediate impulse is to recognize her as a goddess and pray to her. But after Aphrodite’s reassurances that she is a no goddess, but just a girl from the neighbouring kingdom of Phrygia, he is overcome by desire and makes love to her. She then reveals herself to him and tells him they will have a son, Aeneas. Hymn 5 To Aphrodite.
In his epic, The Aeneid, Virgil tells us that Aeneas saved Anchises from the fires of Troy. Though Anchises died on the way to a new kingdom that his son aimed to establish in a new land (Italy), Aeneas would visit him in Elysium and hear from him his future destiny: that of founding a new city, Rome, which would defeat Greece and avenge the destroyed Troy.
Tethnéké – Gr. “is dead.”
Adonis – Young prince from Lebanon loved by Aphrodite. He was gored by a boar, during a hunt (Metam X: 503-559; 708-39). There is no statement in Ovid that Adonis was a virgin when he died, nor is there anything similar to be found in other possible sources, like Sappho’s Gentle Adonis or Bion’s Lament for Adonis.
This addition to the myth suggests that Pound wants to set up a contrast between Anchises, the Trojan, who has the divine revelation through love and sex, and Adonis, the Semite, who does not.
In the Spirit of Romance (1912), Pound called Adonis “victima paschalis” and quoted the sexually-tinged ecstasies of the nuns who believed themselves to be the brides of Christ (SR 98-99). This suggests that Pound thought of Adonis in terms of a pagan rite of spring analogous to the Christian one re-enacting the death of the virgin Christ. See also canto XLVII.
They – the Greeks.
that city – Troy.
King Otreus, of Phrygia – when Aphrodite seduced Anchises, she denied being a goddess, saying she was just a girl, the daughter of King Otreus of Phrygia.
Pound later modified the lines about King Otreus for the Lerici edition of 1961, refashioning them to “And she said: ‘Otreus of Phrygia/ That king is my father…’” (I primi trenta 236; Bacigalupo 1980: 31).
wave taking form – though Aphrodite was careful to tell Anchises a fib to take away his fear, he intuited the presence of the goddess by his sense of beauty and the desire he felt for her. The vision of crystal waves can only be had by someone who in the grip of emotion is able to transcend the natural world (in perpetual movement and change) into the divine realm, where unchanging ideas rule over visibility and transience. In canto II, Pound had described how the pious sailor Acoetes had been moved by compassion for a boy about to be sold into slavery into an intuition that the boy was a god. Dionysus rewards him with a theophany, a divine manifestation which allows Acoetes to glimpse the true, but hidden nature of things. Here, Anchises can see the glittering but opaque wave – this is the revelation of a transcendence which is only possible to him through his sacramental sexual act with Aphrodite.