Sandro Botticelli. La Primavera. 1482. Florence, Uffizi Gallery.
ONLINE COMPANION TO THREE CANTOS III
Annotations in the List of Works Cited:
Contributor name. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.gloss number. The Cantos Project. Web. Date of access.
Example: Preda, Roxana. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.13. The Cantos Project. Web. 5 September 2016.
([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 for the first time, references to cantos already glossed will be by canto number and line(s), as standard with classical works. Example: III: 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.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
DSL – Dictionary of the Scots Language
G-B – A Memoir of Gaudier Brzeska
L/DS - Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear: Their Letters 1909-14
LE – Literary Essays
LSJ - The Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek-English Lexicon Online
GK – Guide to Kulchur
OCCEP - Online Companion to the Cantos of Ezra Pound
SEP – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
SR – Spirit of Romance
TTSC – The Troubadours, Their Sorts and Conditions
Peter Liebregts (PL)
Orla Polten (OP)
- John Heydon – John Heydon (1629-1667). English astrologer, Rosicrucian and mystic, author of The Holy Guide (1662). As a writer, H had a bad reputation, being accused of charlatanry and plagiarism. He called himself “A Servant of God and a Secretary of Nature,” and as a Rosicrucian he understood himself primarily as a natural physician. Yeats and Pound read H’s Holy Guide at Stone Cottage in the winter of 1914-15. H had come to Yeats’s attention through A. E. Waite’s The Real History of the Rosicrucians (1887) which devoted a whole chapter to him (Liebregts 116). Pound mentions H here for the first time in his poem, implicitly comparing him to Ficino, to whom he juxtaposes H in the lines below. H. has “pretty visions” and is “full of a plaintive charm” – Ficino is a “naïf” (OCCEP Three Cantos, I: n.49). Holy Guide.
- In thoughts about pure form – Pound connects H’s thoughts about form to his own awareness acquired as a result of his artistic education in London and his interactions with Lewis, Gaudier Brzeska and Oriental art. H’s belief that natural beauty manifests itself in geometric forms rhymes with the Vorticists’ lessons for life: “These men have made me see form, have made me more conscious of the appearance of the sky where it juts down between houses, of the bright pattern of sunlight which the bath water throws up on the ceiling, of the great “V’s” of light that dart through the chinks over the curtain rings, all these are new chords, new keys of design.” (G-B 126) and “John Heydon, long before our present day theorists, had written of the joys of pure form…inorganic, geometrical form, in his ‘Holy Guide.’ All these thoughts gather around one, in one’s thought of this new painting and sculpture…” (G-B 127).
Walter Baumann included the passages from the Holy Guide Pound may be referring to: “And it is observable, that if Nature shape any thing near this Geometrical accuracy, that we take notice of it with much more content and pleasure” (Holy Guide Bk. 3: 88-89, quoted in Baumann 56). Heydon on Form.
- secretary of nature – H was a believer in the so-called “doctrine of signatures” which held that plants bore the signs (signatures) of their curative powers in their resemblace to various parts of the human body. H gives the example of quinces, whose hairy rind is used for the regeneration of hair; walnuts, which resemble the brain, heal illnesses and wounds of the head; speckled plants similar to serpents are antidotes to poison. H conceives these resemblances as hieroglyphics which divine providence has offered and which is the duty of man to decipher, record and use. (Holy Guide Bk 3: 94-97)
- Bulverton – hamlet on the outskirts of Sidmouth, in East Devon, which H mentions in his Holy Guide as a site for his visions.
- Decked all in green – Heydon’s vision of his muse, Euterpe, whom he sees as the patron of the Rosicrucians. Pound versifies elements of H’s prose description and relates it to Botticelli’s painting La Primavera: the “sleeves of yellow silk/Slit to the elbow”, “her eyes were green as glass” details that are not in H’s text, suggest the comparison. Heydon's muse.
- “Pretty green bank” – The beginning of a little poem by Heydon dedicated to his muse, Euterpe (Holy Guide Bk. 6: 35-36). Heydon - Pretty Green bank.
- the old way – the visionary method, whereby a reconstruction of the past is made by revisiting significant places and re-imagining the persons connected to it. Pound used the method before, in his poems “Provincia Deserta,” “Near Perigord,” and in Three Cantos II. Longenbach calls this visionary empathy “existential historicism” (Modernist Poetics; 119; see also Liebregts 116). The vision as poetic strategy is indeed old; Dante used it in the Vita Nuova and Chaucer in poems like The House of Fame.
- swevyn – though the phrase “plunged deep in swevyn” is in inverted commas, Pound is not quoting, but rather rephrasing. An earlier draft written in the summer of 1915 says: “Now I will fall asleep, will hear in swevyn,/ Move in the past, take note, glue ear to key holes” (Longenbach Stone Cottage 234). “Swevyn” (sleep, dream) is a word of A-S origin established in Middle Scots, a word Gavin Douglas used in his translation of the Aeneid. According to the DSL, Layamon used “swe(o)uen” and Chaucer “sweuen.” (See also the variants sweuin, sweving, swenyng, from the A-S swef-en).
- Layamon – poet and priest of the late 12th century who lived at Areley, a parish ten miles away from Worcester, on the banks of the river Severn. L is the author of the epic poem Brut, recounting the foundation of Britain by Aeneas’s grandson, Brutus, and the subsequent history of the land up to and including King Arthur. The use of the past tense in referring to Eleanor d'Aquitaine, wife of Henry II, suggests that the poem was finished after 1204. L’s poem is based on the work of a French cleric, Wace’s Roman de Brut, a verse chronicle completed in 1155 and presented to Queen Eleanor. Wace’s Roman is a vernacular version, considerably expanded, of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (1138), dedicated to King Stephen. Layamon's Brut.
- Omniformis/Omnis intellectus est – “Omnis intellectus est omniformis” (Ficino 289). Pound translates the formula below as “every intellect is omniform.” The quote is from Ficino’s own title for section thirteen of Porphyry’s De Occasionibus (On Chances). (Note that as Latin is an inflected language, the changed word order of Pound’s quote from Ficino makes no difference to the meaning of the phrase. PL.)
Longenbach notes: “every intellect is omniform, capable of assuming every shape. Three Cantos are based upon this principle – Pound’s ability, as inheritor of “the old way,” to visualize a ‘phantastikon’ of ghosts and goddesses. […] Heydon also had a great deal to say about the protean capabilities of the mind. […] ‘A hero,’ he writes, ‘is a daemon, or good genius, and a genius a partaker of divine things and a companion of the holy company of unbodied souls and immortal angels who live according to their vehicles a versatile life, turning themselves proteus-like into any shape’” (Holy Guide Book. 6: 4 quoted in Longenbach Stone Cottage 243).
- thus he begins – “he” is not Heydon, as we would be led to expect, but Marsilio Ficino (OCCEP Three Cantos I: n. 49, 51), who translates Porphyry’s Chances for his anthology of Neoplatonic writing. Pound thus emphasizes the relation between Heydon and Ficino, established via the Neoplatonic and Hermetic traditions.
- Psellus - Michael Psellos (c. 1017-1078) Byzantine political adviser, monk, historian and philosopher, who caused a Byzantine revival of the study of neoplanism during the 11th century (Liebregts 117). P is the author of the Neoplatonic dialogue De Operatione Daemonum [On the Operation of Dæmons]. P’s text analyses various spirits, angels and devils through history in order to understand God himself as a præternatural principle. It is important to note that the word dæmon in these late classical texts (from Ancient Greek δαίμων, daimon) means a being in the category of divine or semi-divine spirits, not necessarily the specific evil of the English word “demon.” The Greek δαίμωνmeans a god or goddess, a divine power, a departed soul, or especially a divine or semi-divine spirit of inferior rank to the Gods (LSJ). OP.
- Porphyry – Porphyry of Tyre (c. 234-305) Neoplatonic philosopher, student and later editor and biographer of Plotinus, whose writings he organized into six sets of nine treatises called The Enneads (Gr. Ἐννεάδες – nines) and followed by a Life (Liebregts 20). In his anthology, Ficino includes Porphyry's work Sententia ad intelligibilia ducentes (Sentences Leading to the Intelligible World) which deals with the differences between the intelligible and sensible realities and their effects on man. The Sententiae adapt the Enneads by quotation and paraphrase and consist in 44 aphorisms on metaphysical topics. De occasionibus (On Chances) is Ficino's title for his re-arrangement of the Sententiae, which includes various texts on vegetarianism, daemons, sacrifice, and the soul. "Omnis intellectus est omniformis" is Ficino's caption to what in his anthology is chapter 13 (P's Sententia xxii) (Liebregts 117-18).
- Magnifico Lorenzo – Lorenzo de Medici called The Magnificent (1449-1492), ruler of Florence from 1469 to his death in 1492. He was Ficino’s patron after the death of his grandfather, Cosimo, in 1464 and his father, Piero, in 1469. L was also the patron to Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, and young Michelangelo. L wrote poetry and discussed philosophy with Ficino and Pico della Mirandola and naturally belongs to the circle of neoplatonist thinkers delineated in Pound’s canto. Lines 29-34 refer to Lorenzo's poem L'Altercazione ("The Supreme Good") written in 1474.
Lorenzo, together with Valla’s patron, Pope Nicholas V mentioned in the lines below, belongs to the circle of enlightened patrons who by feeding artists and scholars partake of new creation and bring it into being. This is what Pound tells John Quinn, when they start corresponding at the time Pound is writing Three Cantos in spring 1915: “If a patron buys from an artist who needs money (needs money to buy tools, time and food) the patron then makes himself equal to the artist, he is building art into the world. He creates” (Pound to John Quinn, 9 March 1915, Materer 23).
- daemon - In his 1497 anthology of Neoplatonic writing (see Three Cantos I n. 51), pages 179-274, Ficino translated parts of Proclus’ Commentary on Alcibiades I under the heading De Anima et Daemone, and added his own subheadings, which is the reason why Pound presents Ficino as “breaking” into Proclus’s text. The phrase between quotation marks is Pound’s translation of Ficino’s Latin subheading on p. 206: “Daemon non est particularis intellectus, sed substantia differens ab intellectu, posita in latitudine animarum.” This statement is part of a long discussion about the position of the daimon, generally regarded as an intermediary between the gods and human beings, in relation to the human soul (for an extended discussion of the daemon, see Liebregts, Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism 119-23). Proclus rejected Plotinus’ notion that the daimon is actually the active-intellectual element in the soul. Pound, however, sided with Plotinus by believing that man has no need for intermediaries as we are able to attain (a vision of) true reality within ourselves. PL.
- Proclus – Proclus (412-485), “the most authoritative philosopher of late antiquity.” P was head of the Platonic Academy in Athens for more than 50 years and played a crucial role in the transmission of Platonic philosophy from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. P’s writings include several commentaries on Plato’s Dialogues, such as the First Alcibiades, a text on self-knowledge, which in antiquity was regarded as the best introduction to Platonic philosophy, although the authenticity of this text has been a source of scholarly discussion since the middle of the 19th century. (SEP) PL.
- Valla – Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457). Italian humanist, philologist and translator. V found employment as a professor of rhetoric at the University of Pavia in 1431 but had to flee the city two years later. From 1435, V spent time at the court of Alfonso of Aragon (1396–1458), who was trying to capture Naples. In 1441, he finished his Elegantiae linguae Latinae, a manual for the correct use of Latin syntax and vocabulary which became a very influential book and manual of Latin. As a humanist in the court of a king who was fighting against the pope, V demonstrated that the Donation of Constantine, which had served the papacy to claim not only religious but secular power, was a forgery. Donation. V's talent for disputation and willingsness to engage in polemics made him enemies at court. After his patron Alfonso had made peace with the pope in 1443, V's role became hard to sustain. He wanted to return to Rome and sought a reconciliation with the papacy. In 1447, Nicholas V employed V as apostolic scriptor (scribe), and later, in 1455, as papal secretary. In these years, he translated Thucydides and Herodotus into Latin at the time Ficino in Florence was educated to translate Plato (SEP).
- Pope Nicholas – Tomasso Parentucelli (1397-1455) took the name Nicholas V in 1447 when he became pope. A man of culture himself, N saw the potential of humanist culture for the papacy, employing Valla as translator of Greek histories, much like Cosimo was employing young Ficino to translate Plato’s works. This act of patronage was particularly significant since Valla had undermined the foundation of the Church by exposing the Donation of Constantine as a forgery (1440). After the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, the Greek heritage became particularly vulnerable. Valla’s lifelong mission to educate his contemporaries as to the value of Latin as bearer of imperial power and preserver of the ancient cultural heritage appeared vindicated. Valla’s dedication of the Elegantiae to Nicholas may suggest that the pope had silenced a powerful opponent. It might also prove Pound’s point that “when the vortices of power and the vortices of culture coincide, you have an era of brilliance.” (GK 266).
- Elegantiae - De linguæ Latinæ Elegantia (The Elegance of the Latin Language, 1471; in later editions titled Elegantiæ linguæ Latinæ, pluralising ‘elegance’) by Lorenzo Valla, is a seminal early modern textbook Latin. It became very popular in early modern grammar schools and set the foundations for the modern textbook of classical languages (Henderson 253-54). OP.
In the so-called Epistola nuncupatoria which opens the work, Valla praises Pope Nicholas V, but Pound’s quotation cannot be found exactly. The two lines "A man of parts, skilled in the subtlest sciences;/ A patron of the arts, of poetry; and of a fine discernment" are Pound’s own summary of Valla’s description of the man, which includes Nicholas’ range of knowledge and eloquence (summed up by Pound as “Then comes a catalogue, his jewels of conversation”). For Pound, the six prefaces were especially significant and he refers to them in the lines below. Ezra Pound on Lorenzo Valla. Elegantiae.
- the Roman speech, a sacrament … liberal arts - Pound quotes from the first “Preface” of the Elegantiae to emphasize the central role of Rome and Latin as vehicles and monuments of culture. Pound considered the “Roman vortex” as a precedent to the London one he was trying to create.
“Pound thought himself as a humanist for his own time. (As early as 1912 he remarked that ‘I shall end as a sort of Pietro Bembo to this saeclum inane, i.e. ‘this rotten age’ [L/DS 147].) Like Valla, he is ‘sustaining speech’ and building the London Vortex as Valla built the Renaissance in Rome. And while Valla maintained that civilization flourished where the Latin language flourished, Pound was creating a common language in Three Cantos, reaching back to Homer and out to France and Italy and even Japan. Where this language flourished, provincialism would be subsumed by an international civilization, a second Renaissance” (Longenbach Modernist Poetics 126).
- Sir Blancatz – Sir Blacatz’s heart is the subject of Sordello’s sirvente "Planher vuelh en Blacatz en aquest leugier so," which Pound translates in The Spirit of Romance (SR 58-60). Sordello imagines he would give a piece of the heart to a number of princes in Europe, starting with the “Emperor of Rome,” the “English king,” the “King of Aragon,” etc. Sir Blacatz.
- Nec bonus Christianus ac bonus Tullianus – Lat. "neither a good Christian nor a good Ciceronian." In his preface to the 4th book of the Elegantiae, Valla argues against those that trust themselves to be holy and religious (like St. Jerome) who say that a good Christian should not read secular books. In his text, Valla makes a virulent polemic against Jerome and for the study of the classics arguing that he can follow Cicero, (be a good Tullian) and be a good Christian at the same time. Pound does not quote here - rather, he rephrases and interprets in Latin the gist of the first paragraph of Valla's preface, which runs:
"Well I know that some, particularly among those who believe themselves to be more saintly and religious, will dare represent my purpose and my work as unworthy of a Christian, because I resort to reading secular books. Jerome, because he had loved them too much, confessed to have been beaten at God’s tribunal and accused of being Ciceronian and not Christian, as if it were impossible to be a true believer and a tullian. He promised therefore, among tremendous imprecations, that he would never read secular books." (Valla Prosatori latini 612-613).
- Marius – The main character of Marius the Epicurean: his sensations and ideas, by Walter Pater’s (1885). Pound may refer to one scene in the novel where M writes a new poem under the dictation of his dying friend, Flavian. This poem is Pervigilium Veneris: M feels that a new language was a “foretaste of an entirely novel world of poetic beauty to come,” the “sonorous organ-music of the medieval Latin.” Pater makes M freely associate this new sense of language with the
city of Rome: It was “as if he detected there the process of actual change to a wholly undreamed-of and renewed condition of human body and soul. It was as if he saw the heavy, yet decrepit old Roman architecture about him, rebuilding on an intrinsically better pattern” (Pater Marius I: 115). Marius the Epicurean.
- Du Bellay – Joachim du Bellay (1525-1560), French poet of the Pléiade. In his youth, he composed La Défense et l’illustration de la langue française, an important poetic manifesto advocating the use of the vernacular French in literature (1549). Between 1553 and 1558, he was cardinal secretary in Rome. He composed a series of poems called Les Antiquités de Rome deploring the ruins of the imperial city which he sees as a corpse, a dead painting, a wandering idol (ex. V: Qui voudra voir tout ce qu'ont pu nature). In his book, The Renaissance, Pater has a final chapter on Du Bellay, whom he considers to be the end of the Renaissance and whose vision of Rome he weaves into Marius. Les Antiquités.
- Castiglione – Count Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529), courtier, diplomat and author of Il corteggiano (1528) (The Book of the Courtier) an elegiaic portrait of the court of Urbino as he had known it in his youth. C was friends with Raphael Sanzio, who painted his portrait. When Raphael died in 1520 at 37, C composed a sonnet in Latin, reproduced by Vasari in his Life of Raphael (Vasari Lives IV: 250). Pound refers to the sonnet below. Castiglione - Sonnet to Raphael Sanzio.
Thinking back on the conversations that he had with Gaudier Brzeska in his studio while the sculptor was working on his bust, Pound recalls his own friendship with Gaudier as a parallel to the one between the older Castiglione and the younger, brilliant Raphael. He wrote: “He [Gaudier] was, of course, indescribably like some one whom one had met in the pages of Castiglione or Valla, or perhaps in a painting forgotten. […] sculpture and the tone of past erudition… set me thinking of renaissance life, of Leonardo, of the Gonzaga, or Valla’s praise of Nicholas V. I knew that if I had lived in the Quattrocento I should have had no finer moment, and no better craftsman to fill it. And it is no common thing to know that one is drinking the cream of the ages” (G-B 48).
- Raphael – Raphael Sanzio of Urbino (1483-1520), one of the most celebrated painters of the Renaissance. Pound mentions him here as a reviver of the Roman classicism, the way Castiglione had presented him in his sonnet. R’s most ambitious work, the frescoes in the four Vatican Rooms that bear his name, were made for Pope Julius II and Leo X. In this sense, R did for painting what Valla did for scholarship: working for the papacy, R saved and enhanced the grandeur of Rome for a new era.
Raphael Sanzio and his atelier. Stanza della Segnatura and School of Athens, 1509-11. Rome, Vatican.
- Corpore laniato – (It.) mangled body [of Rome]. The phrase “laniatam corpore Romam,” which Pound translates into Italian, appears in Castiglione’s sonnet on Raphael. There is a profound agreement between the vision of Rome in Castiglione’s sonnet and that of Du Bellay in his Antiquités. Castiglione - Sonnet to Raphael Sanzio.
- “Broken in middle life” – Pound was familiar with Villari’s book Niccolò Macchiavelli and His Times.Villari showed that Valla, who had fought so long against the Papacy, was keen to return to Rome. In 1445, he wrote to cardinals and to the pope Eugene IV, retracting what he had written against the Donation of Constantine and apologizing to the Holy See. It was not until Nicholas V succeeded Eugene in 1447 that Valla was sent for and could take up a position of papal scribe and then secretary, doing translations from Greek “of which he had no great knowledge” (Villari Macchiavelli 108-19). Life of Macchiavelli.
- Villari – Pasquale Villari (1827-1917). Italian historian, politician and educator, author of several works on the Italian Renaissance: Life and Times of Savonarola (1859, 1861); Latin and English Civilization (1862); The Life and Times of Niccolò Macchiavelli (1877, 1882); The Two First Centuries of Florentine History. The Republic and Parties at the Time of Dante (1901); The Barbaric Invasions of Italy (1902); Mediæval History from Charlemagne to Henry VII (1910); L’Italia e la civiltà (1916). Most of V’s books were translated into English by his wife, Linda Villari, and were thus widely available.
- Burckhardt – Jacob Burkhart (1818-1897). Swiss historian, author of The Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy (1860). B’s point of view was that Nicholas V was an enlightened Pope who chose scholars in his entourage in spite of class, politics, or national prejudice: “No importance was attached to a man’s home or origin” (Burkhardt 117). Valla’s appointment was proof of the fact that the papacy employed the ablest men of letters, even in spite of former anti-papal activities. Renaissance.
- Doughty – Charles Montagu Doughty (1843-1926), poet, traveller, and man of letters, author of Travels to Arabia Deserta (1888) and the epic poem Dawn of Britain (six volumes, 1906). Pound read both to Yeats at Stone Cottage, the former in the winter of 1914-15 and the latter in the following year.
“In addition to Morris and Wordworth, Pound was also reading Charles Doughty’s Travels in Arabia Deserta (1888) to Yeats, and the book provided Pound with a method to organize his memories of his 1912 walking tour into a poem. His ‘Provincia Deserta’ (first published in the March 1915 issue of Poetry) borrows not only from the title of Doughty’s work but from Doughty’s concern with spiritual presences lurking in the Arabian landscape” (Longenbach Stone Cottage 143).
- “Divine Homeros” – Doughty used the term “immortal Homeros” in the afterword to his epic Dawn of Britain, calling him the father of European art and “an eternal mirror and undying begetter of the sister arts of picture and sculpture” (Dawn of Britain 7: 241). Doughty himself had been compared to Homer in the TLS, as quoted on the frontispiece of volume 3. Pound recalled the end of his Stone Cottage retreats (March 1916) in The Pisan Cantos: “Did we ever get to the end of Doughty:/The Dawn in Britain?/perhaps not” (LXXXIII/554). The Dawn in Britain.
- Justinopolitan/ uncatalogued Andreas Divus – Andreas Divus (the Divine) - Renaissance scholar from Capodistria. His translation of the Odyssey into Latin (1538) is the natural heir to Ficino’s and Valla’s translations of Greek philosophical and historical patrimony into Latin. Pound uses Divus’ text as the basis of his own translation of Odyssey XI in this canto and emphasizes D’s mediation by consistently referring to names of gods and locations by their Latin denomination, such as he finds them in D’s text. Andreas Divus - Odiseea Canto XI.
“the classic culture of the Renaissance was grafted on to medieval culture, a process which is excellently illustrated by Andreas Divus Iustinopolitanus’s translation of the Odyssey into Latin. It is true that each century after the Renaissance has tried in its own way to come nearer the classic, but, if we are to understand that part of our civilization which is the art of verse, we must begin at the root, and that root is medieval.” (TTSC in LE 101-102).
- Circe - Witch goddess living on the island of Aeaea. In Canto X of the Odyssey, Homer tells us that Circe was a wonderful musician and Odysseus's scouting group of sailors under Eurylochus's command were attracted to her song and sought her house. She received them well at first, giving them honey-sweetened wine, but then, by a move of her magic wand, she turned them into pigs and shut them in the pigsty. Eurylochus, who had prudently stayed away, went back to the ship to give the news. Odysseus decided to save his men and go to see the witch himself. He could resist her magic with the help of a herb called “molü” that Hermes gave him on the way. Seeing that she had no power over him, Circe took Odysseus as a lover, restored his sailors back to human form and advised him to look for Tiresias's advice before returning home to Ithaca. She gave him detailed instructions on how to reach the underworld, fitted a ship, and gave him a black ram and ewe for sacrifice. Circe - Odyssey Canto X.
- trim coifed goddess – Divus’ “benecomata dea” – the goddess with beautiful hair.
- Perimedes - sailor in Odysseus's crew.
- Eurylochus - Odysseus's second in command.
- Pitkin – little pit. Odysseus is following Circe's instructions to the letter. She had told him that the pit should be a forearm square.
- As set in Ithaca - Circe told Odysseus to promise the dead that when he arrives home in Ithaca, he would sacrifice his best heifer to them.
- Tiresias - Tiresias was a blind prophet from the city of Thebes. At the time Odysseus seeks him out, T is dead, yet he can still think as if he were alive, a privilege he had received from Persephone. Odysseus had been advised by Circe to seek out T and to hear out his prophecy before going back to Ithaca. She also tells him about T’s powers and instructs him in questions of appropriate ritual (Odyssey X: 546-550). Pound will revisit the scene of Circe’s advice at the beginning of Canto XLVII.
- Erebus – Gr. Ἐρέβους, a place of nether darkness forming a passage from earth to Hades (LSJ).
- Pluto - The Latin name of Hades, the Greek god of the underworld.
- Proserpine – the Latin name of the Greek goddess Persephone, wife of Hades. She is the daughter of Demeter, (Lat. Ceres), the goddess of vegetation and agriculture. P is the queen of the underworld but remains only half the year in the world of the dead; the other half she spends with her mother on earth.
- Elpenor – sailor in Odysseus’ crew who after sleeping off his drunkenness on Circe’s roof, takes a fall and breaks his neck while Odysseus was preparing the expedition to the underworld. Odysseus returns to Circe’s island to bury him.
- ingle - Scots: "hearth, fire." In Homer's text, Elpenor falls from the roof. Pound also adds the idea of a domestic fire or hearth, possibly a chimney, deriving the term "ingle" from the Scots "ingill" (fire), used by Gavin Douglas in his translation of the Aeneid. See examples of "ingill" in DSL.
- Avernus – Gr. ῎Αορνος, from Gr.άορνος(without birds). Lake situated in a volcanic crater near Cumae, in the region of Campania. As it emitted poisonous fumes, it was thought to be the entrance to the underworld. Pound mentions the name here as an echo to Aeneas’ trip to the world of the dead in Book VI of Virgil’s Aeneid. Divus’ translation only states “anima autem in infernum descendit” (the soul went down into the underworld).
“There was a deep stony cave, huge and gaping wide,/ sheltered by a dark lake and shadowy woods,/ over which nothing could extend its wings in safe flight,/ since such a breath flowed from those black jaws,/ and was carried to the over-arching sky, that the Greeks/ called it by the name Aornos, that is Avernus, or the Bird-less” (Virgil Aeneid VI: 237-42).
- Anticlea - Odysseus's mother, who had died in his absence. Though he is pained to see her among the dead, he keeps her from the blood reserved for Tiresias. In Homer’s text, Odysseus makes much of his remorse at having pushed his own mother from the blood that makes her remember and speak. After the prophet utters his warning, Odysseus lets Anticlea drink so that she can tell him about his family at home in Ithaca. Like Anchises with Aeneas, and Casella with Dante, Anticlea fades three times from her son’s embrace.
- his golden wand – translation of Divus’ “aureum sceptrum tenens.” Pound’s choice to translate “sceptrum” as wand, not scepter, echoes with Aphrodite’s golden bough, invoked at the end of the canto.
- a second time - Pound's translation of Divus' “cur iterum” (why again).
When Andreas Divus wrote "cur iterum," he was making a close translation of the standard Homeric text, which has "tipte aute" (τίπτ᾽ αὖτ᾽) in the corresponding position (Odyssey XI.93). The adverb “aute” has the literal meaning “again;” in addition, it may also mean “on the other hand,” “however.” In the latter sense it is used “esp. in question of impatient tone” (Autenrieth, A Homeric Dictionary). By offering “cur iterum” ("why again") for Homer's "tipte aute", it is possible that Divus was merely using it as a synonym for the more common "cur autem" ("but why"); in later Latin, "iterum" can be used, like "autem," with adversative force. However, in classical Latin "iterum" means "again,” “a second time." It therefore seems more likely that Divus wrote "iterum" in order to emphasize the literal sense of repetition within "aute". If so, Divus has understood Tiresias to imply that this descent of Odysseus to the underworld constitutes a repetition of the descent that he will make at his death. Virgil in Aeneid VI.134–5 likewise emphasizes the repetition of going twice to the underworld ("bis Stygios innare lacus, bis nigra videre | Tartar"). KH.
This line is a good example of one of the great difficulties in translating Greek, namely, to find a solution for the manner in which Greek particles, which often in themselves have no definitive meaning, add colour to the sentence by indicating how nuance or perspective inform the way the sentence is spoken or written. Although the particle "aute" can thus variously come to mean "again" as well as "on the other hand, however," here in combination with "tipte," (why), it indicates that the "why" is asked in a rather peevish way. Thus "aute" more or less functions as a cue for an actor were he to perform the part of Teiresias: "Why on earth!", "Why for God's sake!", etc. Divus, however, rendered this "aute" literally as iterum, “again.” The great crux of this passage, and indeed of Canto I, is that Pound made Odysseus descend into the Underworld "a second time," although the Greek hero has never been here before. It is possible that Pound used this particular phrase to cast himself into the part of a second Odysseus, descending into the world of the dead (the past) to gain information on how to find his way in the world of the living and present it in the form of an epic poem. Yet one should not devise ingenious explanations and interpretations to account for this "second time": the simple fact is that Pound followed Divus too closely. PL.
- Tyro – Tyro, Alcmena and Chloris are ghosts of noble ladies of ancient times with whom Odysseus is privileged to talk. He lets them taste of the blood and they tell him who they are and the histories of their loves and families. Tyro is the daughter of Salmoneus. Delighting in Enipeus, a river flowing into the sea, she is raped by Poseidon and has two sons by the god, Pelias and Neleus (Odyssey XI: 267-95). Pound would evoke Tyro again in Canto II and VII. Source.
- Alcmena – wife of Amphitrion and mother of Heracles whom she conceives by Zeus (Odyssey XI: 305-7).
- Chloris – the daughter of Amphion and wife to Neleus, Tyro’s son (Odyssey XI: 322-43).
- In Officina Wecheli - "In the workshop of Wechelus," Divus's printer in Paris. Source.
“In the year of grace 1906, '08, or '10 I picked from the Paris quais a Latin version of the Odyssey by Andreas Divus Justinopolitanus (Parisiis, In officina Christiani Wecheli, M, D, XXXVIII), the volume containing also the Batrachomyomachia, by Aldus Manutius, and the "Hymni Deorum" rendered by Georgius Dartona Cretensis. I lost a Latin Iliads for the economy of four francs, these coins being at that time scarcer with me than they ever should be with any man of my tastes and abilities” (Pound. “Translators of Greek.” Instigations 334-5). Divus text in Instigations.
- Hymni Deorum – Hymns to the Gods, a collection of 33 poems of varying length on various gods and heroes. The Latin translations of the Cretan Giorgios Dartona were printed at the back of Divus’ volume.
- Venerandam… sortita est - ML "Revered/beautiful, with a golden crown/who was granted the strongholds of Cyprus." Beginning of Georgius Dartona Cretensis's Latin translation of the second Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite. Hymn to Aphrodite.
- Oricalci - ML "of copper."The goddess received gifts of gold and copper C. F. Terrell remarked that the Latin word for copper is cyprium, (the metal from Cyprus), Aphrodite's island and major site of her cult (C I: n. 29).
- dark eyelids – “nigras palpebras,” an attribute of Aphrodite in the Homeric Hymn Pound is quoting.
- Argicida – Formula of address for Hermes. "Argicida" is the Latin translation of the epithet Ἀργειφόντης (“Argeiphontes” - slayer of Argus) which is always applied to him, whereas the golden bough is Hermes’ caduceus, or wand. PL.
Hermes has an appearance in the other Hymn to Aphrodite (no. V) printed in the Divus volume. In this Hymn, Aphrodite relates how Hermes, “Slayer of Argus with his golden wand,” took her away from the carefree circle of Artemis and carried her over long distances to Anchises. In invoking Aphrodite and giving her the attributes and insignia of Hermes, Pound suggests that she will be his oracle and companion in his travels among the dead. He does this by replacing the well-established term “golden wand” by “golden bough.” In Book VI of the Aeneid, Virgil recounts Aeneas’ visit to the underworld and recapitulates a few elements of Odysseus’s tale: the arrival by sea, the sudden death of a companion, the seeking of the Sybil for prophecy, the ritual, and finally the visit to the underworld in search of his father, Anchises, who will in his turn show him the future glory of Rome and its domination over Greece. Aeneas is the son of Aphrodite: she gives him decisive help, as Circe had helped Odysseus. In order to open the gates of Elysium, Aeneas needs a golden bough growing on a tree in the forest near Avernus. Aphrodite’s doves alight on the tree so that Aeneas can take the bough as a gift for Proserpine.