l ISSUE 29 (1/2022)
IIN N LLIITTEER RA ATTU UR REE
l EDITURA UNIVERSITĂȚII „ALEXANDRU IOAN CUZA” IAȘI
Cuprins/Con te nts/Con tenuNicolae BOBARU
Sea Monsters. Theoretical Perspectives
Sophie Emilia SEIDLER
Bitches and Witches: Grotesque Sexuality in Ovid’s Scylla (Metamorphoses13.730-14.74)
Andrei Victor COJOCARU
Ego-ul ca monstru lăuntric în poemele lui Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī şi Mahmūd Shabestarī
Mădălina Elena MANDICI
The Two-Headed Monster in Jane Eyre: Anomalous Female Readership and Uncanny Intertextuality 37
Ana María ALONSO FERNÁNDEZ Lo monstruoso en cuatro novelas del siglo XIX
The Distribution of the Sensible in Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Mădălina Elena MANDICI
Când lectura naşte monştri – creaturile livreşti ale Angliei victoriene
The Vampiric Mother in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire
Le monstre dans Thérèse Raquin d’Emile Zola : Représentations et esthétique
Itinerarium mentis in Monstrum.Saggio su Juan Rodolfo Wilcock
Dos pequeños “monstruos” en las novelas contemporáneas de Benito Pérez Galdós
123 Daniela DOBOŞ
Newspeak, the Linguistic Monster in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four
Caliban as a Postmodern Puzzle
Le désir monstrueux dans l’œuvre dramatique de Marie NDyaie
Hunger, Monstrosity, and Race in Helen Oyeyemi’s White Is for Witching
Unseen Monsters: The Horla by Guy de Maupassant
Annick Morard (2020). Ourod, Autopsie culturelle des monstres en Russie. Chêne-Bourg : La Baconnière, 302 p.
Marginalii la Fragil, cuvântul întrupatde Irina Bădescu
Ileana Oana Macari & Iulia Andreea Milică (Eds.) (2021). Romanian Culture – A Crash Course.
Iaşi: Editura Universităţii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza” din Iaşi, 205 p.
Acta Iassyensia Comparationis
MONSTERS IN LITERATURE
LES MONSTRES DANS LA LITTÉRATURE MONŞTRII ÎN LITERATURĂ
29 (1/2022) http://literaturacomparata.ro/Site_Acta/index.html
In his well-renowned collection of essays Sulle spalle dei giganti(2017) – On the Shoulders of Giants(2019, for the edition in English) – Umberto Eco interestingly points out that, unlike beauty, whose aesthetic judgment implies detachment, ugliness, on the other hand, sparks a passionate reaction of disgust or repulsion. Moreover, he emphasizes that language itself represents a means of conveying this kind of attitude as there are far more synonyms for uglythan for beautiful. Among them, the word monstrousstands out. It designates a concept that, irrespective of the cultural traditions it has been related to, carries an important feature:
its duality − from antiquity to the present, humans have constantly felt and expressed both horror and fascination, lure and repugnance towards monsters, were they real or imaginary embodiments of terror, and the monstrous. Furthermore, the literal and the symbolic dimen- sions also speak for their dual nature. They transcend their mythical and folk origins to be- come a multiuse cultural category employed in domains as diverse as biology, psychology, religion, literature, cinematography, art, and even politics.
MONSTERS IN LITERATURE, the theme we proposed for the 29thissue of AIC, has particularly drawn the attention of specialists in humanities from various European, South American and African academic institutions, precisely due to its compelling cultural versatility.
Putting the concepts of monster and monstrosity into dialogue with a variety of literary works standing for different traditions and epochs, the sixteen articles gathered in this volume bring upfront substantial analyses that contemplate literature in its connections to fields such as cultural / postcolonial / ethnic and racial or gender studies, as well as to mythology, phi- losophy, psychology, politics, or performing arts. The topics addressed are various: while some of the contributors are engaged in tracing back the theme to traditional Persian poetry or Ovid’s Metamorphoses, others share an interest in accommodating narratives of the Gothic genre to postmodern interpretive approaches. Thus, demons, vampires, sea creatures, disabled or inhuman beings, along with phobias, fears and abnormal desires, all are running through the texts of the present issue, proving yet again that monsters not only can take the shape of terrifying fictional characters or physically hideous persons, but also that of nightmarish forces constantly living within us.
Dans son célèbre recueil d’essais Sulle spalle dei giganti(2017) – Sur les épaules des géants(2018, pour l’édition en langue française) – Umberto Eco souligne, de manière intéressante, qu’à la différence de la beauté, dont le jugement esthétique implique le détachement, la laideur suscite une réaction passionnée de dégoût ou de répulsion. De plus, il souligne que le langage lui- même représente un véhicule pour ce genre d’attitude car il y a beaucoup plus de synonymes de laidque de beau. Parmi eux, le mot monstrueuxse démarque. Il désigne un concept qui, quelles que soient les traditions culturelles auxquelles il est rattaché, porte une caractéristique importante : sa dualité – de l’Antiquité à nos jours, l’homme n’a cessé d’éprouver et d’exprimer à la fois horreur et fascination, appât et répugnance envers les monstres (fussent-ils les incar- nations réelles ou imaginaires de la terreur) et le monstrueux. De plus, les dimensions littérale et symbolique des monstres parlent également de leur double nature. Les monstres transcen-
les arts visuels et même la politique.
LES MONSTRES DANS LA LITTÉRATURE, le thème que nous avons proposé pour le 29enuméro de la revue AIC, a retenu l’attention des spécialistes des sciences humaines de diverses institutions académiques d’Europe, d’Amérique du Sud et d’Afrique, précisément en raison de sa polyvalence culturelle convaincante. Faisant dialoguer les concepts de monstre et de monstruosité avec une variété d’œuvres littéraires représentant des traditions et des épo- ques différentes, les dix-six articles réunis dans ce volume proposent des analyses substantielles qui envisagent la littérature dans ses liens avec des domaines tels que les études culturelles, les études postcoloniales, les études ethniques et raciales et les études de genre, et aussi avec la mythologie, la philosophie, la psychologie, la politique et les arts de la scène. Les sujets abordés sont, à leur tour, variés : alors que certains des contributeurs s’attachent à faire re- monter le thème donné à la poésie persane traditionnelle ou aux Métamorphosesd’Ovide, d’autres partagent un intérêt à accommoder les récits du genre gothique aux approches inter- prétatives postmodernes. Par conséquent, démons, vampires, créatures marines, êtres infirmes ou entités inhumaines, ainsi que phobies, peurs et désirs anormaux sont évoqués dans les ar- ticles qui composent ce nouveau numéro de la revue, prouvant une fois de plus que les mon- stres peuvent prendre non seulement la forme de personnages fictifs terrifiants ou des êtres physiquement hideux, mais aussi celle des forces cauchemardesques qui vivent constamment en nous.
În bine-cunoscuta sa colecţie de eseuri Sulle spalle dei giganti(2017) – Pe umerii giganţilor (2018, pentru ediţia în limba română) – Umberto Eco observă în mod interesant că, spre de- osebire de frumuseţe, a cărei judecată estetică presupune detaşare, urâţenia provoacă o reacţie pasională de dezgust sau repulsie. Mai mult, esteticianul subliniază că limbajul în sine reprezintă un mijloc de transmitere a acestui tip de atitudine, căci există mult mai multe sinonime pentru urâtdecât pentru frumos. Printre ele se remarcă termenul monstruos. Acesta desemnează un concept care, indiferent de tradiţiile culturale cărora li se asociază, prezintă o trăsătură importantă: dualitatea sa – din Antichitate şi până în zilele noastre, oamenii au simţit şi au ex- primat constant atât groază, cât şi fascinaţie, atracţie, cât şi aversiune faţă de monştri (fie ei întruchipări reale ori imaginare ale terorii) şi faţă de monstruos. În plus, dimensiunile literală şi simbolică ale acestora sunt o mărturie a naturii lor duale. Ei reuşesc să-şi depăşească originile mitice şi populare pentru a deveni o categorie culturală multifuncţională, operantă în arii foarte diverse, precum biologia, psihologia, religia, literatura, artele vizuale şi chiar politica.
MONŞTRII ÎN LITERATURĂ, tema propusă pentru numărul 29 al AIC, a atras în mod deosebit atenţia specialiştilor în ştiinţe umaniste din diverse instituţii academice europene, sud-americane şi africane, tocmai datorită deosebitei sale versatilităţi culturale. Punând în dia - log conceptele de monstru şi monstruozitate cu o varietate de opere literare care reprezintă tradiţii şi epoci diferite, cele şaisprezece articole din volumul de faţă aduc în prim-plan analize consistente care surprind literatura în conexiunile sale cu domenii precum studiile culturale, studiile postcoloniale, cele etnico-rasiale sau de gen, precum şi cu mitologia, filozofia, psi- hologia, politica sau artele spectacolului. Subiectele tratate sunt felurite: în vreme ce unii autori îşi manifestă interesul pentru explorarea temei din perspectiva poeziei tradiţionale persane sau a Metamorfozelorlui Ovidiu, alţii caută să concilieze literatura gotică şi abordările interpre- tative postmoderne. Astfel, demoni, vampiri, creaturi marine, fiinţe diforme sau entităţi inu- mane, alături de fobii, frici şi dorinţe perverse populează articolele care compun prezentul număr al revistei, demonstrând o dată în plus că monştrii pot îmbrăca nu doar forma unor personaje ficţionale terifiante sau a unor fiinţe cu aspect hidos, ci şi pe aceea a forţelor coşmareşti care sălăşluiesc în adâncul nostru.
NICOLAE BOBARU Independent Researcher [email protected]
Fictional works that are centered on elements pertaining to the maritime imaginary are established around individual figures as those of the sea monsters. They express terror and instinctive repulsion.
By associating the sea monsters with the waves, one can argue that, for instance, the malignant representations of the mermaid – wave is the animation of the sea water, same as the waving of mermaid’s hair represents an animation of her seductive power – evoke sea- farers’ phantasmas connected to the image of a fatal woman.
Saint Augustin defined the monster as a deviation from the norm. Therefore, monster can be seen as the Other, as the alterity of the human condition. In the medieval period, man was terrified by the immensity of the maritime spaces, and this feeling was re- flected in stories about sea monsters, but the development of the maritime field made that terror be transformed in curiosity.
In the present essay we’ll focus on the development of the theories related to sea monsters and we’ll argue that these mon- sters are nothing but ways in which we perceive the world around us and demand us to reassess our cultural assumptions towards differences and force us to tolerate any forms of expression.
nr. 29AIC 1/2022
©2022 AIC DOI: 10.47743/aic-2022-1-0001
From the Old TestamentLeviathan to the 19thcentury kraken, sea monsters mark maritime spaces with their terrifying presences. They often get dangerous, even evil; and on the other hand, under many aspects, they inspire fear and predict misfortunes. From ancient times, the sea inspired the greatest fears to human beings, causing a sense of reluctance among people.
In Antiquity, the sea was regarded as the edge of the known world, where the divine, the human and the animal mix one with each other, where myth and reality were inextricably blending together. So, the ancient man downgraded the ocean to the outskirts of his universe, and inside these maritime borders there could be found the ends of the earth. And so, where humans could not reach up with their sight, the imagination found a prosperous land to give birth to monsters, for they are literally the product of the environment that hosts them.
In the Middle Ages, for Christian Europe, the Atlantic Ocean constituted a terrifying bor- dering area. Isidore of Seville described it as “incommensurable and underestimated”1(Ran- dles, 1989: 6), and in this sense, Pillars of Hercules, located in today’s Gibraltar Strait, symbolized these limits. It can be noticed that in the Middle Ages, the Atlantic Ocean repre- sented a border in people’s imagination (Del Castillo, 1991: 15-25). And if it represented the borders of the known world, imagination would enrich it with different creatures, some of those being more frightening than others. Sometimes the oceanic space was seen as a vestige of the flood, as a relic of a catastrophe, a liquid space without landmarks, a picture of the in- finite, disorder, chaos, and consequently a landmark for monsters (Corbin, 1988: 12). Other times, the sea was seen as a demonic space, being presented as the chaotic part of the world, favourable to the proliferation of monstrous creatures.
1“de l’incommensurable et de l’infrancissable” (our translation).
As it is well known, their presences are closely related to the unknown character of these geographical spaces. Monsters actually define a spatial reality that escapes human knowledge and materialize themselves thanks to human imagination. Miraculousness unfolds beyond the limits of the oceans, facing the void. If the waves of the ocean are often considered dangerous, they can paradoxically shelter a heavenly refuge, too. Thus, in the 6th century AD, abbot Brendan of Clonfert initiated a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in search of the Islands of Happiness and Fortune. The story of his voyage – Navigatio Sanci Brendani Abbatis – contributed to the spread of the mythical image of the Atlantic Ocean in the Middle Ages. So, the maritime space represents the birth place of limitless imagination. Escaping from the domination of man, this unknown space hosts both monstrous and diabolical creatures and paradisiac places.
In fact, it can be argued that during the Middle Ages, man ambiguously glanced at the seas and oceans which were disputed by the forces of good and evil. It is equally considered as an empire of evil and misfortune, but also a source of happiness and riches (Villain-Gandossi, 2004: 75). In the light of this antagonism, we must place the perception of maritime space at the end of the 15th century, when the first transatlantic voyages took place, when the first sea monsters came to life, reflecting a mythical, biblical, but also eschatological perception of the ocean.
Sea monsters – embodiments of danger in the Middle Ages – represented truly these spaces due to the mixture between knowledge inherited from Antiquity as well as from their Christian interpretations. Consequently, all creatures that dwell at the ends of the world, as the Atlantic Ocean was considered to be, remind us of the mermaids from Antiquity, but described in a devilish vision. Isidore of Sevilla, in his Etymologiae (or Originum sive etymologiarum libri viginti) devotes forty-four articles to aquatic fauna. He refers to the whale as “this huge beast”2 (Voisenet, 2000: 110-111), and he speaks even about sea dragons and mermaids (Cazenave, 2007: 162). Whether they are the image of sin or danger, their symbolism perfectly reflects the analogy between the sea and death.
When Christopher Columbus started his voyage over the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, his imaginary was invaded by more or less fantastic travel stories in which reality and magic homogeneously blended. The stories about mermaids couldn’t be missing, because, as it is mentioned by C.-C. Kappler: “Who did not see monsters, did not navigate”3 (Kappler, 1999:
115). Thus, on January 9, 1493, Columbus saw three mermaids near the coasts of Hispaniola Island, but he expressed his deception about them: “they were not so beautiful as they are described, for in a way, their faces resembled a man’s face”4 (Sánchez, 1996: 112). Columbus, however, a pretty pragmatic man, was not very interested in the subject, his writings focusing on much more technical issues of navigation. Of course, the maritime imaginary is imbued with fabulous stories, and of course, the perception of the maritime space is determined by the biblical tradition and the ancient myths. And yet, the space dedicated to sea monsters is not too vast. It is true that Christopher Columbus reported in his journal another episode in which he claimed to have fished a large sea pig, whose body was covered with fish scales. The animal was described as follows: “A fish (...) that seemed to be a pig covered with fish scales”5 (Kappler, 1999: 196), becomes the representation of a frightening creature. Bernard Huevelmans and Gilbert Lascaut claim that language is decisive in the construction of sea
2 “cette bête d’immense taille”.
3 “qui n’a pas vu de monstres n’a pas voyagé”.
4 “no eran tan hermosas como las pintan, que en alguna manera tenían forma de hombre la cara”.
5 “un pez [...] que parecía proprio puerco […] que era toda concha tiesta …”.
monsters. The poverty of vocabulary and the unceasing need for analogies with the known world determines the authors of voyage logs to describe an unknown animal by dismembering it piece by piece to be able to compare it to a being already known, and this determines the reader to imagine a composite creature that hardly resembles with what the traveller would have seen. Therefore, the hybridity of the monster results in this case from the inappropriate use of the vocabulary.
Despite the progress of the real world, fiction manages to survive by mixing the reported deeds with authentic stories. Sea monsters portrayed without any doubt the dangers that were undergone by the seamen and they were marking by their presence the limits of that space, which had been unknown up to that moment. Sea monsters and their continuous occurrences have been functioning for a long time as a warning for the man who wanted to venture into the unknown. Their presence continues to signal the high degree of danger of the seas and oceans, indicating their almost bestial character, but also the importance of the wonderful result of the medieval imagination, which really refuses to vanish. Finally, their presence is part of a well- defined iconographic system of representations at that time. The reason for decorating of these empty spaces with monsters is not the simple ornamentation, but rather is the reflection of persistent fantasies or anxiety resulting from the mix of unknown with danger.
The fear of the unknown that is materialized in the occurrence of sea monsters is definitively a reflection of many inner fears at that time: the fear of loss of physical integrity or the fear of punishment for various behaviours. The seafarer of the 16th and 17th centuries was actually confronting those ancestral terrors strictly related to the representations of the world and therefore those of the seas and oceans. Because the sea conceals a demonic and diluvian character, seafarers who ventured at sea, exposed themselves to various dangers. Sea monsters, true incarnations of those fears, materialized these torments. These representations of social disorder and cosmic chaos actually offer a projection of the forces that threaten human being both from the outside and inside (Cazenave, 1979: 235). It is also important to notice that in the actual travel accounts based on maritime experiences, monsters originating in biblical or antique imaginary are not mentioned. However, other monsters, real monsters this time, are successfully making their appearance. These are creatures from the animal kingdom whose surprising nature places them in the category of monsters – sharks, whales or octopuses.
The observations of many religious missionaries and seafarers who have crossed the oceans, reveal their fear, but at the same time the morbid curiosity triggered by these marine animals. Thus, they were characterized as phantasmagorical and cruel, so these marine species are presented as emblematic creatures, acknowledged due to their savageness.
The cruel, even bestial, character of the sea, is perfectly reflected by the images of these aquatic creatures. The sea is equally defined as monstrous, as, for example, it swallowed its victims in the same way a monster swallowed its prey. And, in fact, men fear the great devouring sea, which is directly associated with death. Therefore, the liquid element is assimilated with a force capable of swallowing beings. The sea, with its cruelty, appears as a representation of a destructive will, and is also the image of a personified monster.
In conclusion, if the sea monsters appear on navigation charts or in travel accounts, it is mainly due to their meanings. They reveal the wonderful and unknown character of maritime spaces, materializing man's fears, which are closely related to it. But over the centuries, maritime experience has strengthened, and the oceanic crossings became a reality. In the 16th century, then in the 17th century, the expansion of the great European powers, the christening
of the New World and, lastly, good seamanship slowly changed human perception of maritime spaces.
If the sea still assumes a terrifying character, the Christian church undertakes an evangelization of maritime limits, giving them a sacred and much more soothing dimension (Cabantous, 2002: 172). Now, before the oceanic crossings, the ships are baptized and there are organized religious masses before each sea expedition. If in old days the spilled blood of a sacrificed ram on the ship’s deck was meant to protect it during the voyage, the holly water is now used the same way for its magical functions (Le Pohon, 1981: 56).
The evangelization of the limits of maritime spaces and, later, naturalistic theology offers a vision of the deep which is lacking sea monsters (Cazenave, 1979: 250). Now the oceans are under the protection of the heavenly characters. The ocean seems, therefore, inhabited by their celestial figures, and the dominant Christianity offers all its comforting protection. Not only charted navigation routes are marked with saints and holy figures, opening and protecting those routes, but they are also encircling the monsters who are meant to disappear.
The wild world of the deep, its bestiality and its diabolical spirit are thus minimized under the influence of Christianity, which conquers and dominates the ocean spaces that otherwise were consecrated to the tenebrous monsters. Finally, if monsters tend to disappear, it is mainly due to scientific, technical and cartographic progress. Indeed, ocean explorations end up revealing their non-existence, and those marine monsters join the other mythical creatures in the pantheon of legends and myths. Thus, the magic and the unreal are gradually detached from the real, and knowledge based on nature observation dissociates monstrosity from other demonic features (Cazenave, 1979: 250). However, even if navigation further pushes the geographic limits of the known world, the presence of sea monsters is less and less brought into discussion. As it could be seen, they embody the dangers of the oceans, but all these problems do not disappear, and that is why the church invested in these hostile marine landscapes, marking these spaces with its presence meant to inspire peace and confidence for all who were at sea.
It should be clarified, however, that sea monsters continue to exist in the folklore of the 18th and the 19th centuries. Their presences, such as the occurrences of krakens or mermaids over time, demonstrate in fact to what extent the marine universe remains fundamentally hostile to man (Geistdoerfer, 2002: 53). Despite the technical and maritime progress, the sea world inspires even today the biggest human fears. Undoubtedly, monsters reflect this eschatological concern that is inseparable from the analogy established between death and sea.
Indeed, they embody the anxiety caused by the fear of disappearance of the physical body in the oceans, problematizing another more important issue – the human nature.
Sea serpents have made their way in literature through a work written in the style of The Arabian Nights – Pacha of Many Tales (1835) by Frederick Marryat. In The Fourth Voyage of Huckaback, the storyteller is aboard a ship hit by a hurricane which is drifting in the Caribbean area under the influence of ocean currents. Its crew is attacked by a thirty-meter-long sea serpent, who swallows a crew member at a time. But the beast is finally driven away by using a broom soaked in tar.
But, perhaps the most famous and genuine sea monster dating from the times when Marryat wrote his novels, remains Mocha Dick, a huge white whale from the Cape Horn, which is supposed to have successfully escaped from a hundred attempts to be caught or killed.
Jeremiah Reynolds reported the defeat of Mocha Dick in Knickerbocker Magazine in May 1839, and this story inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick in 1851. Thus, the whale becomes
the emblem of a symbolical adventure for life and death, a picture often evoked by the vastness of the maritime space.
Victor Hugo brilliantly describes the meeting with a kraken called a devilfish in Toilers of the Sea (Les Travailleurs de la Mer, 1866), which appears near the islands in the English Channel. But the work that has encouraged the interest in the monsters of the deep was Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Seas (Vingt mille lieues sous les mers, 1869-1870) by Jules Verne. He uses the fear of sea monsters at the beginning of the novel, when Captain Nemo’s submarine, Nautilus, attacks other ships like a creature of the deep. He says: “The human mind enjoys grandiose conceptions of supernatural beings. Now the sea is their best vehicle, for it is the only environment which can produce and develop such giants: beside them the land animals, the elephants or rhinoceroses, are mere dwarfs” (Verne, 1998: 14). When the explorers approached what is proven to be the ruins of Atlantis, the narrator remarks “the eyes of huge crustaceans lurking in their dens, of gigantic lobsters standing to attention like halberdiers and waving their legs with metallic clanks, of titanic crabs set like cannon on their mounts, and of awe-inspiring squid twisting their tentacles into a living brush of snakes” (Verne, 1998: 259).
Verne’s novel is full of such miracles, and, though, none of his creatures is supernatural, they are just as scary as any legendary monster, and both the giant squid, and the sea serpent, which he mentions, have become real features representative for his work. Authors had to be very creative to give life to stories with sea monsters. In The Water-Devil (1874), Frank R.
Stockton reveals that the underwater monster that seemed to attack ships in a particular location was actually a magnetic sea mountain. In The Rival Beauties (1895), W.W. Jacobs describes a sea serpent that gets scared by the fog signals issued by a ship’s horn system.
Subsequently, Ray Bradbury transformed this idea into The Fog Horn (1951), where a large sea serpent is attracted by the sounds emitted by a lighthouse. In The Sea Raiders (1896), H.G. Wells described an episode where some tourists on the South Devon coast are suddenly threatened by a sudden attack initiated by a group of huge octopuses, Haplotenthis Ferox, as he calls them, which disappear as mysteriously as they appeared.
Sea serpents and krakens will continue to show up in fiction for many years, so John Wyndham uses their images for an alien being in the ocean waters in The Kraken Wakes (1953), his novel being representative for a new wave of monsters coming out of post-atomic waters, the most important being Gojira or Godzilla. This and other imitations from 1950-1960, presented mostly post-atomic mutations, and though they are clear evidences that the ocean is the habitat for many huge monsters, they are not the same as the mythical monsters. Two authors can be considered responsible for recovering the figure of the sea monster in two distinctive ways in the early 20th century and, by doing so, they refreshed and revived this concept for the generations to come. Those two authors were William Hope Hodgson and H.P. Lovecraft. Hodgson spent seven years on board commercial vessels (1891-1898), traveling several times around the world. His experiences served as a basis for numerous novellas and two of his novels. His writings are the real proof of a rich imagination that bypassed the traditional superstitions about sea monsters. Undoubtedly, the hours he had spent in the night during his bridge watches offered him the necessary time to speculate in relation to marine fauna. His first horror story – Tropical Horror (1905), although it does not have a very well- defined aesthetic form, can be seen as such nocturnal meditation. A ship is threatened by a giant sea serpent from whose mouth many tentacles came out. Obviously, it is not an ordinary sea serpent. It also has a huge claw, same as a lobster, by which it crushes whatever comes out in its way. In The Voice in The Night (1907), the crew of a ship that is heading towards an area
patched in fog, hears about the story of two shipwrecked passengers on an island infested with some species of mushrooms, and find out they have been contacted that same disease. In The Stone Ship (1914), an underwater volcanic eruption brings out an ancient ship that has been petrified, but it is also the shelter for several creatures of the deep, including huge sea cucumbers and giant eels.
More recent stories centred on sea monsters are rewritings of other texts, with just a few original touches. The Rig (1966) by Chris Boyce presents a gigantic sea plant that grows and invades an oil rig. In The Shark God (1940), A.E. Van Vogt describes a shark god who takes human form to intervene in the local shark massacre, but it discovers that its human form has its limitations. Sharks, particularly, the big white, were the cause of this big return, which is underlined by the success of Jaws (1974) by Peter Benchley. There is nothing supernatural in his novel, but the action and suspense offer the same thrills that any other mythical sea monster would have provided.
The Loch (2005) by Steven Alten forms a connection between the Sargasso Sea, where the main character faces a huge squid, and Loch Ness, where he has to confront with an old enemy from his childhood. The monster of Loch Ness is one of the most famous aquatic monsters, but most often it appears in children’s stories such as The Water Horse (1990) by Dick King- Smith and The Boggart and The Monster (1997) by Susan Cooper.
The status of the monster in the postmodern literature and theory changes, as the monster as it is perceived in a traditional sense (i.e. as an Other feared by humans) is largely absent in postmodern literature. This is mostly happening due to the fact that the defining features of monstrosity – hybridity, excess and evasion of representation, otherwise perceived grotesque and scary – are celebrated in postmodernism as dissonant elements that may accordingly lead to “genuine heterogeneity” (Benjamin, 1991: 210), in the context of postmodernism, the idea of excess in representation defines the standard or the norm. Through postmodern theories, the concept of alterity and the Other are radically outsourced as an absolute Other.
Representation is possible, but only as re-presentation, in other words, work itself is always framed by a series of referents that always lose their value and block any sense of pure perception. This approach is supported by Lyotard and Baudrillard’s ideas who stressed the issue of real and image that define postmodern literary discourses. As such, monsters from postmodernist fiction are not the subject of fear or of any manifestations of sufferings at the psychological level, and they are the emblem of rejection of the great narratives and are related to the considerations of self-consciousness of self-presentation.
Highlighting the absence of those types of monsters that are causing fear in postmodern fictions does not equate their lack of relevance to postmodern theories. The concept of monster is widely discussed in poststructuralist theoretical discourse, in full compliance with the conditions of postmodern culture. Derrida proposes that, in the preparations for the future, we must encounter the monster and includes the idea of monstrosity in the ethics of hospitality (Derrida, 2000: 89). Foucault suggests that monsters are an inherent part of the “order of things” (2005: 169-171); that they aren’t hybrids or other kind of figures, but examples of
“metamorphoses of the prototype” (169), which are natural and essential for the evolutionary transition to adjacent forms (171).
In the latest evolutionary theories, the idea of evolutionary continuum is completed, at certain points, by the emergence of certain types of monsters – organic beings that do not match the natural order. This is postulated in Gould’s writings as well as in Foucault’s texts.
According to the latter, “the proliferation of monsters without a future is necessary to enable
us to work down again from the continuum” (2005: 170). He admits that “as we move in one direction, as a drama of the earth and waters must be construed, in the other direction, as an obvious observation of forms” (Foucault, 2005: 170) and so “the monster ensures the emergence of difference” (171).
Donna Haraway’s postmodern feminism is born of a similar position regarding alterity and monstrosity. Writing in a postmodern world that is comparable to the “the womb of a pregnant monster” (Haraway, 1992: 295), she claims that the Other is constantly determined, classified and frequently removed from society and culture. Those who are not apprehensible because of differences are considered obstacles to progress and as such are inadequate to support this progress. Same as Foucault, Haraway promotes an approach that has the ability to turn culture into the process of acceptance of alterity as a vehicle for change and adaptation. In her essay – The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others – she notes that scientific research defines culture and identity. The identified monster insists on fixed categories and the ethics of practice, as well as the construction of “structured inequality”
(Haraway, 1992: 232).
Based on such ideas, postmodernism, in literature and theory, promotes a world without categorizations and validations, insisting on border crossing points between categories and excess identity. Postmodern monsters are thus, at least to a certain extent, those “hopeful monsters” that Tony E. Jackson was mentioning in his work – Charles and the Hopeful Monster:
Postmodern Evolutionary Theory in “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”.
Monsters from postmodernist fiction reflect postmodern theoretical outlook on monsters and their relationships with the norm. Occasionally, in postmodern literature, it can be seen that monsters behave themselves as postmodern expressions of carnivalesque and grotesque, offering elements for socio-literary comments and criticism, as an excess against which the structures of society are founded. Often, these monsters deviate from the conventional notions of alterity and they don’t present themselves as fictional characters. They draw attention to their own textual status in the literary works. Such monsters are part of a literary effort that is conscious of the theoretical aspects and the self, and is meant to comment on the representation of alterity and difference and the potential to transgress the predictable limits of the narrative.
Directly connected to postmodern auto reflexiveness, the presence of the monster is obviously part of the narrative crisis. The case of the author in the context of postmodernity consists in the fact that there is an obligation with regards to the repletion of previous forms.
The presence of the monster is therefore a challenge for the idea that its representations are only possible at the level of the repetitions of older monsters. So, the presence of the monster can be considered as a self-conscious criticism of the representation of the monstrosity in a direct relationship with the postmodern crisis of reality, identity and representation.
The sea continues to be perceived as a chaotic and uncontrollable space in which there is no sense of order. It represents an equally chaotic and disordered past, as well as the uncontrollable functioning of memory. Such a construction of the maritime space is obvious in Iris Murdoch’s novel The Sea, The Sea (1978), where the dangers inherent to the oceans are represented by a sea monster.
The evolution of the novel prefigures itself from Charles’s initial meditations about the sea, as he was wondering about it and showing his ownership over it. His past will also prove to be firm and strong as the sea, showing him that past can still cause harm to someone, which is reflected in the character’s fight to get out of the water. There is a strong impact of a series
of events offered by the “horrible experience” (Murdoch, 1978: 24) that interrupts Charles’s story. He reveals that an extremely unusual presence has caused him suffering: “I was sitting, with the notebook beside me (...). I had been looking intently into a rock pool and watching a remarkably long, reddish faintly bristly sea-worm (…) I saw a monster rising from the waves” (23).
A snake-like monster that will appear later at a crucial moment of the narrative, was interpreted by critics in different ways: as a representation of Charles’s fear of female sexuality (Dipple, 1982: 278; Tucker, 1986: 382), his subconscious, his possessiveness and uncontrolled jealousy (Conradi, 1986: 245), as well as his failure to “signify the traumatic kernel at the heart of the real” (Nicol, 2004: 138).
Despite the accuracy of these interpretations, a further understanding is possible: the sea monster represents the unpleasant events of Charles’s past which he wishes to control and suppress from his autobiography, but which will eventually overwhelm him. His attempts to find a logical explanation for this presence – he attributes it to an LSD consumption or to an optical illusion – reflects his desire to find explanations for his past and to eliminate the unpleasant events from it. These attempts also highlight his failure as an author of an autobiography. But the sea, same as the past, has spots where it is deep and it hides monsters which he will later need to confront.
Charles’s falling into the sea can be interpreted as a strong advice that he should eventually face his past mistakes, instead of passing them into a glossary of his memory, and it is not surprising that what he discovers in the cauldron is precisely the monster from his past: “The monstrous sea serpent had actually been in the cauldron with me” (Murdoch, 1978: 350). The sea serpent embodies Arrowby’s continuous frustration to wipe off his sins from his autobiography. But this past is equally unstable as the sea is, and his cleansing attempts of the past prove ineffective, for the past he wants to control draws him in the depths of memory, where the monsters are watching him.
As a whole, the anthropological approach is highlighted as a solid test to understand the cultural significance of monster’s alterity: the difference which, at certain times, separates the monster from man and which charges it with negativity. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen claims that monsters can allow us to find out about the cultures in which they were generated (Cohen, 1996: 3). He argues that “monsters are the embodiment of a cultural moment” (4). To some extent this can be true. Undoubtedly, monsters affect a certain culture in the responses it generates and also with regards to the way how they are built in the pre-existing systems of the respective culture.
However, not the monster itself, but the systematic characterization of the monster in a particular culture, reflects the fears and social anxieties and reveals a cultural moment. The monster itself runs away from our natural control, but a part of it is left behind to mirror the elementary fears and anxieties that appeared at the time of meeting monstrosity.
Following the idea that monsters are culturally and historically specific, J.J. Cohen also claims that, in spite of it “the monster itself turns immaterial and vanishes, to reappear somewhere else” (Cohen, 1996: 4). Through this statement, he claims the evasive nature of the monster, for it exceeds both the tangible form and its representation.
This cultural and historical specificity is significantly highlighted in J.M. Coetzee’s novel Foe, where Foe mentions the wreck of the ship carrying slaves in the same context with the image of a kraken:
Those great beds of seaweed are the home of a beast called by mariners the kraken […]
which has arms as thick as a man’s thigh and many yards long, and a beak like an eagle’s.
I picture the kraken lying on the floor of the sea, staring up through tangled fronds of weeds at the sky, its many arms furled about it, waiting. It is into the terrible orbit that Friday steers his fragile craft. (2010: 140)
Through this image, slavery could be understood, on the one hand, as a terrible thing, a monstrosity that is hiding deep under the surface of the water: “If the kraken lurks anywhere, it lurks here, watching out of its stony hooded undersea eyes” (Coetzee, 2010: 156). And since this kraken is a dangerous monster, which must be left untouched, the image could be understood, on the other hand, as Foe’s fear to face the terrible truth of colonial history, which could be put in direct connection with Susan’s fear of “monsters of the deep” (11). Foe and Susan feel compelled to save Friday’s past from the depths, considering it is their duty to jump into the sea and immerse into the past:
Friday rows his log of wood across the dark pupil – or the dead socket – of an eye staring up at him from the floor of the sea. He rows across it and is safe. To us he leaves the task of descending into that eye. Otherwise, like him, we sail across the surface and come ashore none the wiser, and resume our old lives, and sleep without dreaming, like babes.
However, neither Susan nor Foe are willing to plunge into the sea. Thus, Susan wonders:
But who will do it? […] It is easy enough to lie in bed and say what must be done, but who will dive into the wreck? On the island I told Cruso it should be Friday, with a rope about his middle for safety. But if Friday cannot tell us what to see, is Friday in my story any more than a figuring (or pre-figuring) of another diver? (142)
The kraken is part of the European mythological heritage and, therefore, it belongs to the Western literary tradition, same as Susan Barton and Foe in Coetzee’s novel. They translate Friday in accordance with Eurocentric thinking systems that are not familiar with his Afrocentric understanding. But alterity is well received, despite the fact that it proves itself unable to give it a symbolic sense. The dark alterity remains dark (the kraken, the place where the boat was shipwrecked, Friday), but the phobic undesirability transmitted by these signifiers has transformed itself into familiarity, their binary antagonism being reconciled.
Monsters represent illusions of the human mind. They can be pushed towards the farthest geographical limits and the boundaries of discourse, they can be hidden at the edge of the world and in the depths of our mind, but they always come back. And every time they do it, not only they bring a complete knowledge of our place in history, but they also carry a self- knowledge and a discourse that was born throughout alterity. These monsters are nothing but ways in which we perceive the world around us and demand us to reassess our cultural assumptions towards differences and force us to tolerate any forms of expression.
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Bitches and Witches:
Grotesque Sexuality in Ovid’s
Scylla (Metamorphoses 13.73014.74)
SOPHIE EMILIA SEIDLER
Graduate School of Languages and Literatures, LMU Munich [email protected]
As paradigmatic emblems of fantasy and imagination, creative freedom and poetic license, hybrid monsters in Ovid’s Metamor- phosespreside over the author’s playful engagement with traditional aesthetic, moral, and societal values, and gendered ideals. This ar- ticle aims at a subversive reading of one monstrous creature in the final pentad of Ovid’s epic: Scylla (Met. 13.730-14.74). As a mon- ster, Scylla incorporates several misogynistic stereotypes (“dog- gishness”, puella dura, self-laceration, vagina dentata), but she eventually escapes the objectifying male gaze and finds rest in a stable, permanent shape that is no longer the feminine-gendered battlefield for male heroism. Breaking away from the conventional epic plot structure “male hero wins over feminized beasts and/or beautiful girls”, Ovid considers the Roman national hero Aeneas with but a minimum of attention, while nymphs and women take center stage: Scylla’s transformation from a girl into a monster and, finally, into a geological rock formation, is intertwined with tales about female solidarity and intimacy and about women’s sex- ual desire, rage, and revenge. While Scylla’s canine bloodlust and Circe’s vengeful magic certainly reproduce typically patriarchal anxieties projected onto women, they are also traces of unruly, re- calcitrant femininity within the canonical, male-dominated world of heroic epic.
Ovid; Scylla; fic- tionality; subver- sion; sexuality;
monster; male gaze.
nr. 29AIC 1/2022
©2022 AIC DOI: 10.47743/aic-2022-1-0002
Fact or Fiction: Ovid’s Feminized Monsters and the Roman Canon
As the Metamorphosesapproach the onset of Roman history, Ovid, the enfant terribleof Au- gustan literature, enjoys privileging a monster, Scylla, over a legendary hero who happens to be considered very important in Rome: Aeneas. In his “little Aeneid”, as the passage in focus is commonly referred to, Ovid refuses to reprise what his grand predecessors have already told, but he demonstrates his predilection for poetic novelty. Aeneas is remarkably absent for over 300 lines although his voyage from Troy to Italy (Aen. 3-6) provides the framework for Ovid’s series of metamorphic entanglements, “grotesque love affairs and pathetic hero- ines” (Lowe 2011: 263).2The marvellous, amorous, and monstrous elements that do exist in Virgil, yet in a “fragmented, scattered, unresolved” form, become Ovid’s raw material:
1 Musgrove suggests that Ovid, by leaving Aeneas aside, emphasizes the detachment from the world that also characterizes the Virgilian hero (1998b: 102).
2 Ellsworth (1986: 27) cites several judgments from the 1960s and 1970s that criticize Ovid’s insertion of frivolous elements into the sublime Aeneidplot, and shows subsequently that Ovid’s allusions and cre
ative reinterpretations, far from being indecent, represent a clever reworking of the standard motifs of the postTrojan war period.
“Rather than construct himself as an epigonal reader of the Aeneid, Ovid is constructing Virgil as a hesitant precursor of the Metamorphoses. There is a Metamorphoses latent in the Aeneid, Ovid’s treatment tells us: in Circe and in the biform Scylla…” (Hinds 1998: 106). Ovid exchanges well-known episodes for variants taken from other authors, traditions, and genres (Myers 1994:
99-102; Fantham 2004: 128-130). The hybrid monster Scylla is embedded in an extensive etiological digression with multiple internal narrators, self-referential vignettes, and etiological explanations. The episode’s structure has been compared to a set of nested “Chinese” boxes (Tissol 1997: 113; Hopman 2012: 241) and to the “brackets of an algebraic formula” (Griffin 1983: 191): a geographical remark about the Trojan fleet passing Sicily with its notorious local hazards, the narrow strait between Scylla and Charybdis (13.728-731), introduces Scylla’s story which in turn contains two inset tales and various reported speeches.
A skeptical insertion à la “if that’s not a lie” (13.733-734: si non omnia uates / ficta reliquerunt) pays tribute to poetic authorities on the subject matter while simultaneously questioning their reliability in a playful manner. Ovid “concedes that some or even a great deal of poetry is unquestionably ficta, while leaving open the possibility that at least some may not be” (Nagle 1988: 90). Yet this feigned “pretense of skepticism” (Galinsky 1975: 176) is not just a typically Ovidian sacrilegious introduction of “inappropriate wit into our memory of Vergil” (Tissol 1997: 112), but a reference to Scylla’s topical status as an emblem of fictionality and creative imagination in Augustan poetry. “By the time of the Metamorphoses she had become a touchstone for poetic fictiveness” (Hardie 2009: 63). Ovid himself contributed decisively to the consolidation of this semantic process: in his elegiac complaints about the “naïve credulitas of his readers who believe in the literal truth of what he has written about his puella” (2009: 61), Scylla is the first example of fantastic creations which only poets can create (Amores 3.12.21- 22). By presenting various hybrid monsters “comme fabriqués par les poètes” (Jouteur 2009:
47), the elegy is both a satire on gullibility and a case for poetic license (Am. 3.12.41: fecunda licentia uatum). In Trist. 4.7.11-20, Ovid uses the unbelievability of monsters in a rhetorical adynaton that “denotes the impossibility of an action or fact by comparing it to a natural absurdity” (Hopman 2012: 225): he would sooner believe in Medusa, Scylla (4.7.14), or other composite creatures than that his addressee had abandoned him. Hence, the hybrids
“exemplify the very idea of fiction” (2012: 226). In the Metamorphoses, the issue of believability (credulitas), is also staged within the metamorphic world itself: several text-internal characters reflect upon the probability of supernatural events (Hardie 2009: 62-63).
The monster Scylla had become “maidenized” (Lowe 2015: 70-72) in Hellenistic and Augustan poetry: the archaic Scylla was scarcely feminine, but either an abstract menace or a sea-monster with six heads, dogs’ protomai, and a fish- or snake-tail.3 Homer does not give any explanations for Scylla’s hostility towards men (Tissol 1997: 209). Rationalizing interpretations equate Scylla to a dangerous cliff that poetic imagination took for a petrified monster (Lowe 2015: 78-80). Etymologically, Scylla is connected to σκύλαξ, the Greek word for puppy, and to the verbs σκυλεύω/σκυλάω and σκύλλω, all signifying acts of rapacious spoliation (Michalopoulos 2001: 157-158). Scylla comprises symbolically the concepts sea, dog, and femininity – three seemingly calm, docile, and amicable forces which can unpredictably turn into doom and peril for men (Hopman 2012: 8-14).4 Successively understood as an
3 On iconographical representations of Scylla see Hopman 2012: 56-65 and 96-107 and Aguirre Castro 2002.
4 Lowe points out that marine and canine femininity were standardized metaphors for “feminine duplicity”
already by the 6th century BC: Semonides, in his misogynist iamb on unpleasant stereotypes of women, mentions both the dog-woman and the sea-woman as undesirable, aggressive females (2015: 76).
embodiment of misogynist cultural fantasies, Scylla has been associated with an immoderately voracious, oversexualized, untamed femme fatale. Heraclitus refers to Scylla as “polymorphous shamelessness” (Alleg. Hom. 70.11) and stresses her “rapacity, recklessness, and greediness”
(Hopman 2012: 186). Roman authors are first to attach the dogs’ body parts explicitly to her pelvic and inguinal area while preserving her erotically alluring face and torso. With a multi- jawed canine crotch, she becomes a personified vagina dentata, the cross-cultural and cross- epochal concept of a female genital equipped with sharp teeth that represents male anxieties about castration and deprivation of patriarchal power through female sexuality (2012: 131-141;
Lowe 2015: 74-75; Miller 2012: 316-319 and 326-328).
Reflections in the Beauty Salon
Yet Ovid portrays Scylla in a sympathetic way that might have been inspired by the iambic poet Aeschrion of Samos and the poetess Hedyle of Attica who composed an elegiac poem Scylla in the 3rd century BC of which only one fragment remains (Lowe 2011: 261-263). Both these Greek sources for Scylla the nymph reflect the “Hellenistic taste for humanizing and sentimentalizing fearsome monsters” (2011: 263) that Ovid must have been fond of. While the heroic combat motif is central to Homer’s and Virgil’s accounts, Ovid departs from the epic pattern “in favor of a maiden story” (Hopman 2012: 234). He is the first to make Scylla a vulnerable “damsel in distress” (Lowe 2015: 81) by combining extreme emotional states and feminine beauty. Her actions become understandable and evoke “a glimmer of fellow-feeling with one of the worst monsters of traditional mythology” (Tissol 1997: 209; cf. Jouteur 2009:
51). Before she acquired her monstrous form – her “uncanny waist girt with ravening dogs”
(Met. 13.732), she was a coy and beautiful girl (733-734) at home in a world of female experience, care, and solidarity: annoyed by unwanted suitors (735), Scylla seeks refuge with her friends, the sea-nymphs; while combing each other’s hair, the girls talk about their experiences with men (737). The thematic shift from Aeneas’ heroic adventures to the gossiping girlfriends seems incoherent only prima facie: in fact, Ovid seizes the opportunity to elaborate on his favorite theme from the Aeneid – the disruptive forces of unrequited love and rejected advances, the core concern of Virgil’s Dido-books (Aen. 1 and 4). Carving out what has been labelled a “thematic affinity” (Galinsky 1975: 221), Ovid uses the episode “to anticipate and reflect the situation of Aeneas” (Ellsworth 1986: 31). In addition, the ensuing “trio of love- triangles”5 conjures not only the Virgilian triangle between Aeneas-Lavinia-Turnus (Nagle 1988: 93), but also two iconic episodes from Homer’s Odyssey – the intertextual model of Virgil’s Aen. 1-6 (Nagle 1988: 83).6 Relics of a Homeric past, the one-eyed giant Polyphemus (Od. 9) and the sorceress Circe (Od. 10) haunt Ovid’s “Aeneid” as they interfere in the Ovidian nymphs’ (love) lives and provide a contextual background for Scylla’s monstrous identity.
5 Such is the title of B. R. Nagle’s article on the intertwining love stories in Met. 13 and 14 (Galatea-Acis- Polyphemus; Glaucus-Scylla-Circe; and Circe-Picus-Canens). Underlying these intradiegetic triangles, Nagle sees a metaliterary triangle pattern: Ovid’s trio of erotic triangles in Met. 13 and 14 substitutes for Od. and Aen. In the competition for readers’ attention and approbation, Ovid thus positions his epic besides the already canonized giants (1988: 95). The placement of the three love-triangles at the point of arrival in Italy and the narrative shift from Greek to Roman materials is therefore very appropriately chosen: as the latest epicist who treats Polyphemus, Circe, and Scylla, Ovid makes a self-conscious statement about the emulatory nature of Roman poetry confronting the Greek tradition (96).
6 J. D. Ellsworth (1986; 1988) notes that Ovid also takes up elements directly from Homer’s Odyssey, not only from Virgil’s adaptation in his Odyssean books (Aen. 1-6), and that “Ovid’s Odyssey” would be an equally suitable label for Met. 13.623-14.608.
During an “intimate scene of a women’s toilette” (Tissol 1997: 113), Galatea, distressed and close to tears, envies Scylla for her human suitors (Met. 13.740-745) because she has been vexed by a monstrous lover, the hideous Cyclops Polyphemus who jealously killed her boyfriend Acis (750-896). The inset tale is “the story of an unsightly giant, terrifying and ugly but not nearly as abject as Ovid’s female monsters” (Pietropaolo 2018: 194). Whereas Galatea’s personal involvement renders her a biased party rather than a neutral narrator (Farrell 1992:
266), she demonstrates advanced narrative skills (Pietropaolo 2018: 198) in her creative adaptation of the “comic tradition of Cyclopean representation” that often ridicules a giant’s disharmonious affection for a slender nymph (Tissol 1990: 49). The gap between nymph and Cyclops already being large, the background story about Acis’ death pushes the inherent drop in height from bathos to pathos, from romance to violence, to extreme levels (Griffin 1983:
193-195). Grotesque aesthetics, with their predilection for monstrosity, giantism, “the violation of natural boundaries and the disruption of the logic of proportions” (Pietropaolo 2018: 194) are at work in Galatea’s tale: she visualizes Polyphemus in the least empathetic way and relentlessly mocks his clumsy wooing attempts until his emotional suffering becomes a
“spectacle” for her internal and Ovid’s external audience (Griffin 1983: 195-196). Although rejecting him with derision, the nymph “lingers on his effort to cross the boundary that separates them, simultaneously admitting him into her world and turning him away from it”
(Pietropaolo 2018: 195). In her narration, several poetic traditions communicate with each other in a polyphonic “dialogue of genres”, namely epic, elegy, and bucolic-pastoral poetry (Farrell 1992: 240-241). Polyphemus’ Homeric characteristics (Od. 9) – enormous size, physical strength, menacing appearance, disrespect for the gods, and inclination towards violence – merge with those of Hellenistic accounts about enamored cyclopes (Theocr. Id. 6 and 11; Virg.
Ecl. 2 and Geo. 1.404-409). Elegiac lovesickness smites the epic giant in a bucolic setting. The genres, topoi, and allusions, however, “do not retain their discrete, univocal identity, but work in dialogue to produce a generically innovative rendition of the story” (Farrell 1992: 245).
Although placed in a new, amatory context, we recognize the Homeric giant through numerous references which “retell a considerable part of the meeting of Odysseus with the Cyclops”
(Ellsworth 1986: 28). In love, Polyphemus seems to forget his Homeric role: he neglects his herds (Met. 13.736; 781) and is surprisingly indifferent towards sailors passing by (769).
Moreover, he suddenly cares for his appearance as if he had read Ovid’s eroto-didactic beauty recommendations. By expatiating on his unsuccessful attempts of cultus, consisting of combing his hair with a rake and shaving his beard with a scythe (764-767) while herself participating in a hair-styling session, Galatea brutally mocks his inhuman appearance: she derides him “for performing human actions that are discordant with his enormity and shagginess, and incongruous with the pieces of farming equipment that he uses as personal grooming tools”
(Pietropaolo 2018: 199). Addressing him directly (tibi), she conjures his presence in a rhetorically elaborate phantasia that calls her audience’s attention to the “aestheticism of visualization” (198). Nonetheless, Polyphemus is familiar with courteous rhetoric: the love- song he performs outside Galatea’s cave resembles a paraklausithyron (201; Farrell 1992: 247), praising his beloved’s beauty and mourning her rejection. It also displays characteristics of pastoral poetry. Only the hundred reeds of his panpipe (Met. 13.784) remind us that he is still an epic rhapsode, or at least, a rhapsode within a hexametric epic: for bucolic Kleinformen, seven or nine reeds would suffice, whereas his “Wurlitzer-scale” syrinx (Nagle 1988: 80) is closer to the “hundred mouths typically required for high epic” (Barchiesi 2007: 416).7 Referring to
7 Creese (2009) analyzes potential sexual double-entendres of Polyphemus’ enormous panpipe and