Sunday, November 3, 2013

Homer Vomiting

So we have seen squalls all day, in between moments of bright sunshine. I took some time off from the family to read a few paragraphs of Charon by Lucian. When I got to this passage a wild storm rose up. Hail banging on the roof, the windows shaking and rattling with the wind and rain. It was quite a tempest. An example of a recursive incantation? A Homeric recital that caused a storm in Dodges Ferry.

First a little background; Charon has come to Earth to see what it is that makes the shades weep so, when on his ferry. He comes across Hermes and Hermes agrees to show him about. But Charon can not see very well in the bright sunlight (he lives in Hades after all.) Hermes chants some lines of Homer over Charon and he can see! Marvellous he exclaims! Shall I tell you what I know of Homer? How do you, Hermes asks, now of Homer. Charon is insulted and says:

For I was ferrying his shade across the river,
He would not stop reciting - I listened
And I remembered. Even when a storm
That was not trivial overtook us.
When he began his chanting
Not everyone thought his song
To be of good omen for the journey.
He sang of Poseidon gathering the clouds
And troubling the waves. Like when
The cook uses a spoon to stir soup,
So did Poseidon's trident trouble the sea
Great gales he roused and much else besides.
Foaming the seas with his poetic words.
And for a moment I thought our ship
Would be overturned. Then the poet
Grew sea-sick and vomited up his
Recitations. All about was Scylla,
Charybdis, and Cyclops, and many more.
It was not hard for me to gobble up
Some lines from out of the mess.

Magic words that bring on the storm!

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