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

Bryson, Michael E michael.bryson at csun.edu
Tue Apr 19 15:35:54 EDT 2016


Interesting, especially the observation about Aeneas and Creusa, because that raises the idea of neglect and/or betrayal. Aeneas, as he is escaping Troy, famously takes rather less care of Creusa than he does of Anchises and Iulus, leaving her to follow behind as they flee for safety:


ergo age, care pater, cervici imponere nostrae;
ipse subibo umeris nec me labor iste gravabit;
quo res cumque cadent, unum et commune periclum,
una salus ambobus erit. mihi parvus Iulus
sit comes, et longe servet vestigia coniunx. (2.707-11)

Predictably enough, while Aeneas, Anchises, and Iulus reach safety, Creusa does not, and Aeneas admits he hadn't even given her a first thought, much less a second one, along the way:

heu misero coniunx fatone erepta Creusa
substitit, erravitne via seu lapsa resedit,
incertum; nec post oculis est reddita nostris.
nec prius amissam respexi animumue reflexi
quam tumulum antiquae Cereris sedemque sacratam
venimus: hic demum collectis omnibus una
defuit, et comites natumque virumque fefellit. (2.738-44)

And I have always tended toward what might be called the Ovidian reading of this scene, at least as it is rendered in Heroides 7, in which Dido is given her voice:

omnia mentiris; neque enim tua fallere lingua
incipit a nobis, primaque plector ego:
si quaeras ubi sit formosi mater Iuli-
occidit a duro sola relicta viro! (ll.77-86)

Ovid's Dido essentially accuses Aeneas of lying about everything, and is especially pointed in her accusation that Creusa died because her cruel husband left her behind.

Is there any element of this in Milton's sonnet? Fascinating, if so.

Michael Bryson




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From: milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu <milton-l-bounces at richmond.edu> on behalf of John K Leonard <jleonard at uwo.ca>
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2016 12:01 PM
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] Eurydice, yes, but also Creusa

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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