[Milton-L] Eurydice, yes, but also Creusa

John K Leonard jleonard at uwo.ca
Tue Apr 19 15:01:13 EDT 2016

Orpheus, yes, but also all those moments in classical epic where a hero tries in vain to embrace the shade of a loved one. Some memorable instances: Achilles and the shade of Patroclus, who appears to him in a dream (Il. 23.99-107), Odysseus and the shade of his mother (Od. 11.204-9) and Aeneas and the shade of his father (Aen. 6.700-2). Closest to Milton's sonnet is Aeneas and the shade of Creusa (Aen. 2.789-95). Closest both because it is a husband and the shade of his wife, and because Aeneas tries to embrace her three times ("Love, sweetness, goodness") only to be triply disappointed ("I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night") as she slips from his hands "like light winds or most like a winged dream":

ter conatus ibi collo dare bracchia circum;
ter frustra comprensa manus effugit imago,
par levibus ventis volucrique simillima somno. (2.792-4)

On 04/19/16, Michael Gillum  <mgillum at unca.edu> wrote:
> Is Orpheus in sonnet 23, line 14? For me, he wasn't until I read a suggestion that he is, so now for me he is in there, vaguely, in an implied comparison. 
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