Friday, July 31, 2015

Dante 33

Dante Inferno XXVIII 101-135 Then did he lay his hand upon the jaw Of one of his companions, and his mouth Oped, crying: "This is he, and he speaks not. This one, being banished, every doubt submerged In Caesar by affirming the forearmed Always with detriment allowed delay." O how bewildered unto me appeared, With tongue asunder in his windpipe slit, Curio, who in speaking was so bold! And one, who both his hands dissevered had, The stumps uplifting through the murky air, So that the blood made horrible his face, Cried out: "Thou shalt remember Mosca also, Who said, alas! 'A thing done has an end!' Which was an ill seed for the Tuscan people." "And death unto thy race," thereto I added; Whence he, accumulating woe on woe, Departed, like a person sad and crazed. But I remained to look upon the crowd; And saw a thing which I should be afraid, Without some further proof, even to recount, If it were not that conscience reassures me, That good companion which emboldens man Beneath the hauberk of its feeling pure. I truly saw, and still I seem to see it, A trunk without a head walk in like manner As walked the others of the mournful herd. And by the hair it held the head dissevered, Hung from the hand in fashion of a lantern, And that upon us gazed and said: "O me!" It of itself made to itself a lamp, And they were two in one, and one in two; How that can be, He knows who so ordains it. When it was come close to the bridge's foot, It lifted high its arm with all the head, To bring more closely unto us its words, Which were: "Behold now the sore penalty, Thou, who dost breathing go the dead beholding; Behold if any be as great as this. And so that thou may carry news of me, Know that Bertram de Born am I, the same Who gave to the Young King the evil comfort. I made the father and the son rebellious; Achitophel not more with Absalom And David did with his accursed goadings. Because I parted persons so united, Parted do I now bear my brain, alas! From its beginning, which is in this trunk. Thus is observed in me the counterpoise."

The Schismatics and Sowers of Discord: Mosca de' Lamberti and Bertrand de Born 1824-27
pen, ink and watercolour over pencil (NGV 24)
Felton Bequest, 1920
National Gallery of Victoria

This from Digital Dante:
The souls of this bolgia include disseminators of civil as well as religious discord: the contemporary Christian heretic Fra Dolcino is here, the classical Roman Curio, as well as the contemporaries Pier da Medicina, Bertran de Born, and Mosca de’ Lamberti. Mosca, who is on the list of famous Florentines citizens of the previous generation about whom Dante quizzes Ciacco back in Inferno 6, claims responsibility for having created the discord that plagues Florence (and that ruined Dante’s own life, to the extent that it was ruined by his exile).
The human shapes of these sinners are mutilated in ways that indicate their mutilation of the body politic: again, we find here the principle of the literalized metaphor discussed in the Introduction to Inferno 3. Here the metaphor is the rending of that which should be whole.
As the schismatics tore asunder the fabric of the body politic (and consider the Old Man of Crete in Inferno 14 as another literalizing of the “body politic”), so they are now themselves torn asunder. Never does Dante demonstrate more clearly—almost pedagogically—the way in which “the punishment fits the crime” (to use Gilbert and Sullivan’s expression). Hence it is perhaps not surprising that Bertran de Born, the Occitan troubadour holding his head at the end of the canto, enunciates the word “contrapasso” in Inferno 28.142, the last verse of the canto.
Bertran, a poet famous for his martial verse, whose poetry is echoed in the long and bloody similes that open the canto, fostered the division between the son Prince Henry (known by contemporaries as “the young king” or “re giovane” as Dante calls him in Inf. 28.135) and King Henry II of England, his father. Bertran explains that the sundering of son from father is reflected in the sundering of his head from his torso:

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Four Zoas, Night V
Page 66
Los elevates the sun, the symbol of the imagination. This is the spiritual sun which is associated with the Divine Vision and the Divine Family. There is another material sun which Luvah's bulls each morning drag out of the Deep. Since the dimmer light of reason is associated with the material sun, it is Urizen whom we see in the "Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea". Blake said of the natural sun, "that is the Greek Apollo. He is Satan" - a name he applied to the fallen Urizen.

At the sides of Los are four figures in different positions and conditions. Upper right is a falling figure; it could be any one of the Zoas as he lost the ability to perceive the Divine Vision and began his descent into the deeps. Below this figure is is a bowed figure appearing to lament the condition that has resulted from the division and fall from the Unity of Eden. To the lower left is a figure attempting to rise in the way that becomes possible when the Selfhood is annihilated through embracing Brotherhood. The rising figure above is returning to Eden having traversed the road of experience and mastered the consciousness of individuated wholeness.

This image may have been inserted between Night V and Night VI to indicate that one cycle in the process of redemption had been completed and another was to begin. Attention shifted to Urizen whose exploration of the Dens of Urthona would reveal the depths of the fall, and intimate modifications which were needed.

Vision of Last Judgment, (E 565)
"What it
will be Questiond When the Sun rises  do  you  not  see  a  round 
Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea O no no I see an Innumerable
company of the Heavenly host crying Holy Holy Holy is the Lord
God Almighty I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any
more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight I look
thro it & not with it." 

Milton, Plate 21 [23], (E 116)
"But all the Family Divine collected as Four Suns
In the Four Points of heaven East, West & North & South
Enlarging and enlarging till their Disks approachd each other;
And when they touch'd closed together Southward in One Sun       
Over Ololon: and as One Man, who weeps over his brother,
In a dark tomb, so all the Family Divine. wept over Ololon."

Four Zoas, Nigh IX, Page 138, (E 406)
"The Sun has left his blackness & has found a fresher morning     
And the mild moon rejoices in the clear & cloudless night 
And Man walks forth from midst of the fires the evil is all consumd
His eyes behold the Angelic spheres arising night & day
The stars consumd like a lamp blown out & in their stead behold
The Expanding Eyes of Man behold the depths of wondrous worlds 
One Earth one sea beneath nor Erring Globes wander but Stars
Of fire rise up nightly from the Ocean & one Sun
Each morning like a New born Man issues with songs & Joy" 

Milton, Plate 22 [24], (E 116)
"While Los heard indistinct in fear, what time I bound my sandals
On; to walk forward thro' Eternity, Los descended to me:         
And Los behind me stood; a terrible flaming Sun: just close
Behind my back; I turned round in terror, and behold.
Los stood in that fierce glowing fire; & he also  stoop'd down
And bound my sandals on in Udan-Adan; trembling I stood
Exceedingly with fear & terror, standing in the Vale             
Of Lambeth: but he kissed me and wishd me health." 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dante 32

Dante and Virgil Meet Muhammad and His Son-in-law, Ali in Hell
 Dante and Virgil Meet Muhammad and His Son-in-law, Ali in Hell
See Works
See also Description of the picture
It's about Muhammed and his son, Ali.

Can anyone describe this scene?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 65

Four Zoas, Night V, PAGE 65, (E 317) 
"Thy pure feet stepd on the steps divine. too pure for other feet
And thy fair locks shadowd thine eyes from the divine effulgence
Then thou didst keep with Strong Urthona the living gates of heaven
But now thou art bound down with him even to the gates of hell

Because thou gavest Urizen the wine of the Almighty             
For steeds of Light that they might run in thy golden chariot of pride
I gave to thee the Steeds   I pourd the stolen wine
And drunken with the immortal draught fell from my throne sublime

I will arise Explore these dens & find that deep pulsation
That shakes my caverns with strong shudders. perhaps this is the night
Of Prophecy & Luvah hath burst his way from Enitharmon
When Thought is closd in Caves. Then love shall shew its root in deepest Hell

                   End of the Fifth Night"    

The plight of Urizen resembles the plight of Luvah. Both participated in the rebellion in heaven both suffer the loss of their freedom to remain part of the Divine Brotherhood in Eternity. The diminishment of their conditions manifests in reduction of the environs which the inhabit. Caves and caverns enclose them.

 "perhaps this is the night
Of Prophecy & Luvah hath burst his way from Enitharmon
When Thought is closd in Caves. Then love shall shew its root in deepest Hell"

The final lines of Night V tantalize us with the possibility that the dark bondage is coming to an end: that the night of Enitharmon's Joy will cease, that Reason will escape the bonds of Newton's sense-based law.

Blake is showing us that the errors of reason and the errors of love are two sides of one coin. Reason and Love had both been trapped in their basic assumptions about the contributions which they should make to the psyche. The Imagination could flower if Love were not distorted into repression and aggression. Thought could exit the cave of doubt and fear if it broke the bounds of false assumptions about love and death and the other contraries.

The image Blake associates with the text on this final page of Night V indicates that the dilemmas are unsolved. An angry reaction will follow the rebelliousness of Urizen and Luvah.

We may be reminded of a passage in Milton which expresses the threat of facing Los' anger over the difficulty of extracting Albion from his impasse. In this situation also Imagination will keep searching for a solution with the resources at his command.    

Milton, PLATE 23 [25], (E 118)
"let us descend & bring him [Albion] chained
To Bowlahoola O father most beloved! O mild Parent!
Cruel in thy mildness, pitying and permitting evil
Tho strong and mighty to destroy, O Los our beloved Father!      

Like the black storm, coming out of Chaos, beyond the stars:
It issues thro the dark & intricate caves of the Mundane Shell
Passing the planetary visions, & the well adorned Firmament
The Sun rolls into Chaos & the Stars into the Desarts;
And then the storms become visible, audible & terrible,          
Covering the light of day, & rolling down upon the mountains,
Deluge all the country round. Such is a vision of Los;
When Rintrah & Palamabron spake; and such his stormy face
Appeard, as does the face of heaven, when coverd with thick storms
Pitying and loving tho in frowns of terrible perturbation   

But Los dispersd the clouds even as the strong winds of Jehovah, 

And Los thus spoke. O noble Sons, be patient yet a little
I have embracd the falling Death, he is become One with me
O Sons we live not by wrath. by mercy alone we live!"

Harold Bloom in Blake's Apocalypse concludes his comments on Night V by stating:
"Overcome by a consciousness of his loss Urizen resolves to explore the dens of the world in which he has awakened. He seeks to 'find that pulsation that shakes my caverns with strong shutters,' for the pulsation of Orc's energy is a threat to the bounded mind. With this unholy resolution to a sinister quest, Night V uneasily ends." (Page 235)

Engraved colored image from Young's Night Thoughts.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Dante 31

Inferno: Canto XXV: 1-15:

Rejoice, O Florence, since thou art so great,
  That over sea and land thou beatest thy wings,
  And throughout Hell thy name is spread abroad!

Among the thieves five citizens of thine
  Like these I found, whence shame comes unto me,
  And thou thereby to no great honour risest.

But if when morn is near our dreams are true,
  Feel shalt thou in a little time from now
  What Prato, if none other, craves for thee.

And if it now were, it were not too soon;
  Would that it were, seeing it needs must be,
  For 'twill aggrieve me more the more I age.

We went our way, and up along the stairs
  The bourns had made us to descend before,
  Remounted my Conductor and drew me.

And following the solitary path
  Among the rocks and ridges of the crag,
  The foot without the hand sped not at all.

Then sorrowed I, and sorrow now again,
  When I direct my mind to what I saw,
  And more my genius curb than I am wont,

That it may run not unless virtue guide it;
  So that if some good star, or better thing,
  Have given me good, I may myself not grudge it.

As many as the hind (who on the hill
  Rests at the time when he who lights the world
  His countenance keeps least concealed from us,

While as the fly gives place unto the gnat)
  Seeth the glow-worms down along the valley,
  Perchance there where he ploughs and makes his vintage;

With flames as manifold resplendent all
  Was the eighth Bolgia, as I grew aware
  As soon as I was where the depth appeared.

And such as he who with the bears avenged him
  Beheld Elijah's chariot at departing,
  What time the steeds to heaven erect uprose,

For with his eye he could not follow it
  So as to see aught else than flame alone,
  Even as a little cloud ascending upward,
Dante's Inferno Canto XXV
Vanni Fucci 'Making Figs' Against God   1824-27pen, ink and watercolour (NGV 20) Felton Bequest, 1920 National Gallery of Victoria
Inferno XXV, 1-15. 
Vanni Fucci had been bitten by a serpent, instantly transformed into ashes, and then, 
like the phoenix, reconstituted into his former shape. This was his punishment for 
robbing the treasury of San Jacopo in the Church of San Zeno, Pistoia, in 1293. Here 
Vanni Fucci blasphemes against God with an obscene gesture. The flames rain down 
on him from the dark cloud above and serpents renew their attacks on him.
Vanni Fucci di Pistoia is a minor character in Inferno, the first part of Dante Alighieri's epic poem the Divine Comedy, appearing in Cantos 24 and 25. He was a thief who lived in 
Pistoia, as his name ("di Pistoia" meaning "of Pistoia") indicates; when he died, he was sent to the eighth circle of Hell in the seventh bolgia (round; in Italian, "ditch" or "pouch"), where 
thieves are punished. In that bolgia his punishment was to be stung by a serpent, reduced 
to ashes, and then restored to his former shape for more torturing. Dante and Virgil meet 
him and ask him why he was there. He replied that he stole a treasure from the Church of St. James in his hometown; he had accused an innocent man, Vanni della Nona, with the 
crime, for which della Nona was executed. Fucci says he was not caught but he still went to Hell. He then predicts the overthrow of the Florentine Whites to spite Dante and then insults God by making obscene gestures at him, and is attacked by numerous nearby serpents and by the monster Cacus, who was put in the bolgia for stealing Hercules' cattle.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

 Four Zoas, Night V, PAGE 64, (E 343)
Once how I walked from my palace in gardens of delight
The sons of wisdom stood around the harpers followd with harps
Nine virgins clothd in light composd the song to their immortal voices
And at my banquets of new wine my head was crownd with joy

Then in my ivory pavilions I slumberd in the noon         
And walked in the silent night among sweet smelling flowers
Till on my silver bed I slept & sweet dreams round me hoverd
But now my land is darkend & my wise men are departed

My songs are turned to cries of Lamentation       
Heard on my Mountains & deep sighs under my palace roofs         
Because the Steeds of Urizen once swifter than the light
Were kept back from my Lord & from his chariot of mercies

O did I keep the horses of the day in silver pastures
O I refusd the Lord of day the horses of his prince
O did I close my treasuries with roofs of solid stone            
And darken all my Palace walls with envyings & hate

O Fool to think that I could hide from his all piercing eyes
The gold & silver & costly stones his holy workmanship
O Fool could I forget the light that filled my bright spheres
Was a reflection of his face who calld me from the deep          

I well remember for I heard the mild & holy voice
Saying O light spring up & shine & I sprang up from the deep   
He gave to me a silver scepter & crownd me with a golden crown
& said Go forth & guide my Son who wanders on the ocean    

I went not forth. I hid myself in black clouds of my wrath       
I calld the stars around my feet in the night of councils dark
The stars threw down their spears & fled naked away
We fell. I siezd thee dark Urthona In my left hand falling

I siezd thee beauteous Luvah thou art faded like a flower
And like a lilly is thy wife Vala witherd by winds               
When thou didst bear the golden cup at the immortal tables
Thy children smote their fiery wings crownd with the gold of heaven"

One way of looking at this passage is as a confession. An idyllic condition is described in a past Golden Age. The speaker confesses that he refused to provide his 'steeds' to the Lord and as a consequence he fell taking with him Urthona and Luvah.
This account follows the awful situation among Los, Enitharmon and Orc which we have been following throughout Night V. Urizen has been released because of the stirring of Orc in the cavern in which he was chained. The role of Urizen in this situation is that of superego, the psychic function which is assigned to control behavior. Orc, the fallen Luvah, represents the id which is in need of restraint. Los in this scenario is the ego which has turned to the superego to cool the excess energy of Orc. By using the Oedipal situation as his metaphor, Blake has suggested that the behavior which requires suppression is of a sexual nature.
When the Zoas lose the balance which creates a personality which functions in a healthy way, they neglect functions they should perform and incorrectly perform their own assignments. We have been observing this in Tharmas, Los, Luvah and Urizen. Blake now begins a deeper exploration of the distortion in the performance of Urizen's responsibilities.
Blake indicates that Urizen, the control mechanism, confessed that he had refused his steeds to the Lord. Urizen seems to be confessing that his sexuality has not conformed to religious requirements. Further, Urizen confesses that he has not been obedient to the Lord's request that he provide guidance for his Son. The nature of Urizen's infractions seem to be of a religious nature.
Blake ties his account of the fall of Urizen to Milton's account in Paradise Lost of the fall of Satan. Both characters, through pride in their exalted position, refused to submit to the superior role of their Lord's Son. Jealousy once again proved to be a root cause in the destruction of a relationship which should have been preserved.
Paradise Lost by John Milton
Book V  

"He, of the first,
If not the first Archangel, great in power,   660
In favour, and preminence, yet fraught 
With envy against the Son of God, that day
Honoured by his great Father, and proclaimed
Messiah, King Anointed, could not bear,
Through pride, that sight, and thought himself impaired.  665
Deep malice thence conceiving and disdain,
Soon as midnight brought on the dusky hour
Friendliest to sleep and silence, he resolved
With all his legions to dislodge, and leave
Unworshiped, unobeyed, the Throne supreme."

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dante 30

From Inferno: Canto XXV:
Pistoia, ah, Pistoia! why resolve not
  To burn thyself to ashes and so perish,
  Since in ill-doing thou thy seed excellest?

Through all the sombre circles of this Hell,
  Spirit I saw not against God so proud,
  Not he who fell at Thebes down from the walls!

He fled away, and spake no further word;
  And I beheld a Centaur full of rage
  Come crying out: "Where is, where is the scoffer?"

I do not think Maremma has so many
  Serpents as he had all along his back,
  As far as where our countenance begins.

Upon the shoulders, just behind the nape,
  With wings wide open was a dragon lying,
  And he sets fire to all that he encounters.

My Master said: "That one is Cacus, who
  Beneath the rock upon Mount Aventine
  Created oftentimes a lake of blood.

He goes not on the same road with his brothers,
  By reason of the fraudulent theft he made
  Of the great herd, which he had near to him;

Whereat his tortuous actions ceased beneath
  The mace of Hercules, who peradventure
  Gave him a hundred, and he felt not ten."

While he was speaking thus, he had passed by,
  And spirits three had underneath us come,
  Of which nor I aware was, nor my Leader,

Until what time they shouted: "Who are you?"
  On which account our story made a halt,
  And then we were intent on them alone.

I did not know them; but it came to pass,
  As it is wont to happen by some chance,
  That one to name the other was compelled,

Exclaiming: "Where can Cianfa have remained?"
  Whence I, so that the Leader might attend,
  Upward from chin to nose my finger laid.

If thou art, Reader, slow now to believe
  What I shall say, it will no marvel be,
  For I who saw it hardly can admit it.

Based on Dante, Divina Comedia, Inferno, Canto XXV, 12-33. Vanni Fucci was the illegitimate son of Fuccio de' Lazzari. That the mythological monster Cacus was a centaur is Dantes invention.

From wikipedia:
  • Cacus is described as a deformed outcast from an Italian village, able only to say "Cacus".

In U Texas
Cacus (25) 

Cacus Cacus Cacus 

Cacus is the angry Centaur who seeks to punish Vanni Fucci in the pit of the thieves. Dante presents this horse-man as an elaborate monster, with snakes covering his equine back and a dragon--shooting fire at anyone in the way--astride Cacus' human shoulders (Inf. 25.16-24). Virgil explains that Cacus is not with the other Centaurspatrolling the river of blood in the circle of violence (Inferno 12) because he fraudulently stole from a herd of cattle belonging to Hercules, who brutally clubbed Cacus to death (28-33). In the Aeneid Virgil portrays Cacus as a half-human, fire-breathing monster who inhabits a cavern--under the Aventine hill (near the future site of Rome)--filled with gore and the corpses of Cacus' victims. Cacus steals Hercules' cattle--four bulls and four heifers--by dragging them backwards into his cavern (in order to conceal evidence of his crime). When Hercules hears the cries of one of his stolen cows, he tears the top off the hill and, to the delight of the native population, strangles Cacus to death (Aen. 8.193-267). The account of Hercules using his massive club to kill Cacus--instead of strangulation--appears in Livy's History of Rome (1.7.7) and Ovid's Fasti (1.575-8).

Pistoria (in Latin other possible spellings are Pistorium or Pistoriae) was a centre of GallicLigurian and Etruscan settlements before becoming a Roman colony in the 6th century BC, along the important road Via Cassia: in 62 BC the demagogue Catiline and his fellow conspirators were slain nearby. From the 5th century the city was a bishopric, and during the Lombardic kingdom it was a royal city and had several privileges. Pistoia's most splendid age began in 1177 when it proclaimed itself a free commune: in the following years it became an important political centre, erecting walls and several public and religious buildings.
In 1254 the taking of Ghibelline Pistoia by Guelph Florence, was among the origins of the division of the Florentine Guelphs into "Black" and "White" factions. Pistoia remained a Florentine holding except for a brief period in the 14th century, when Castruccio Castracani captured it for Lucca, and was officially annexed to Florence in 1530. During the 14th century Ormanno Tedici was one of the Lords of the city. Dante mentioned in his Divina Commedia the free town of Pistoia as the home town of Vanni Fucci, who is encountered in Inferno tangled up in a knot of snakes while cursing God.

Friday, July 24, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 63

Four Zoas, Night V, Page 63, (E 342) 
"Into the iron rock & grew a chain beneath the Earth
Even to the Center wrapping round the Center & the limbs
Of Orc entering with fibres. became one with him a living Chain
Sustained by the Demons life. Despair & Terror & Woe & Rage
Inwrap the Parents in cold clouds as they bend howling over      
The terrible boy till fainting by his side the Parents fell

Not long they lay Urthonas spectre found herbs of the pit
Rubbing their temples he reviv'd them. all their lamentations
I write not here but all their after life was lamentation

When satiated with grief they returnd back to Golgonooza 
Enitharmon on the road of Dranthon felt the inmost gate          
Of her bright heart burst open & again close with a deadly pain
Within her heart Vala began to reanimate in bursting sobs  
And when the Gate was open she beheld that dreary Deep  
Where bright Ahania wept. She also saw the infernal roots        

Of the chain of Jealousy & felt the rendings of fierce howling Orc

Rending the Caverns like a mighty wind pent in the Earth
Tho wide apart as furthest north is from the furthest south 
Urizen trembled where he lay to hear the howling terror
The rocks shook the Eternal bars tuggd to & fro were rifted      
Outstretchd upon the stones of ice the ruins of his throne
Urizen shuddring heard his trembling limbs shook the strong caves

The Woes of Urizen shut up in the deep dens of Urthona

Ah how shall Urizen the King submit to this dark mansion
Ah how is this! Once on the heights I stretchd my throne sublime 
The mountains of Urizen once of silver where the sons of wisdom dwelt
And on whose tops the Virgins sang are rocks of Desolation

My fountains once the haunt of Swans now breed the scaly tortoise
The houses of my harpers are become a haunt of crows
The gardens of wisdom are become a field of horrid graves        
And on the bones I drop my tears & water them in vain"

The Chain of Jealousy began to develop when Los saw his son Orc as a rival for Enitharmon's affection. Each link resulted as a development led to behaviors that sunk him deeper into destruction. 

For Los these were links of the Chain of Jealousy:
Los resented Orc,
Los became obsessed with Enitharmon's relationship to Orc,
Los chained Orc,
Los couldn't release Orc,
Orc stirred in the underground cavern,
Urizen was woken by Orc's stirring,
Urizen escaped from Urthona's dens.

Each link of the chain further enslaved Los. In the image Los measures the infant with the span of his hand knowing that it will grow and develop and become another link in the chain.

Blake's desire was to have the most complete use of his imagination that was possible. He saw that his emotional live had the power to interfere with his freedom to use his imagination. He tried to limit emotion in order to enjoy his visionary imagination. But when he chained desire, he couldn't access it's energy to apply it to the creative activities of his imagination. His desire was forced into the unconscious where its stirrings brought to life the reasoning mind which escaped from its constraints. By trying to release imagination from emotion he has enslaved it to reason.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dante 29

Blake Dante Hell XIV Capaneus

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

From U Texas
A huge and powerful warrior-king who virtually embodies defiance against his highest god, Capaneus is an exemplary blasphemer--with blasphemy understood as direct violence against God. Still, it is striking that Dante selects a pagan character to represent one of the few specifically religious sins punished in hell.

Dante's portrayal of Capaneus in Inferno 14.43-72--his large size and scornful account of Jove striking him down with thunderbolts--is based on the Thebaid, a late Roman epic (by Statius) treating a war waged by seven Greek heroes against the city of Thebes. Capaneus' arrogant defiance of the gods is a running theme in the Thebaid, though Statius' description of the warrior's courage in the scenes leading up to his death reveals elements of Capaneus' nobility as well as his contempt for the gods. For instance, Capaneus refuses to follow his comrades in a deceitful military operation against the Theban forces under the cover of darkness, insisting instead on fighting fair and square out in the open. Nevertheless, Capaneus' boundless contempt ultimately leads to his demise when he climbs atop the walls protecting the city and directly challenges the gods: "come now, Jupiter, and strive with all your flames against me! Or are you braver at frightening timid maidens with your 

From wiki:
"According to the legend, Capaneus had immense strength and body size and was an outstanding warrior. He was also notorious for his arrogance. He stood just at the wall of Thebes at the siege of Thebes and shouted that Zeus himself could not stop him from invading it. In Aeschylus, he bears a shield with a man without armour withstanding fire, a torch in hand, which reads 'I will burn the city,' in token of this. While he was mounting the ladder, Zeus struck and killed Capaneus with a thunderbolt, and Evadne threw herself on her husband's funeral pyre and died. His story was told by Aeschylusin his Seven against Thebes, by Euripides and by the Roman poet Statius.
  • In the fourteenth canto of his Inferno, Dante sees Capaneus in the seventh circle (third round) of Hell. Along with the other blasphemers, or those "violent against God", Capaneus is condemned to lie supine on a plain of burning sand while fire rains down on him. He continues to curse the deity (whom, being a pagan, he addresses as "Jove" a.k.a. Jupiter) despite the ever harsher pains he thus inflicts upon himself, so that God "thereby should not have glad vengeance."

From Blake's Milton Plate 9:
He created Seven deadly Sins drawing out his infernal scroll,
Of Moral laws and cruel punishments upon the clouds of Jehovah
To pervert the Divine voice in its entrance to the earth
With thunder of war & trumpets sound, with armies of disease
Punisbments & deaths musterd & number'd; Saying I am God alone
There is no other! let all obey my principles of moral individuality
I have brought them from the uppermost innermost recesses
Of my Eternal Mind, transgressors I will rend off for ever,

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


British Library
Four Zoas Manuscript
Page 62

Four Zoas, Night V, PAGE 62, (E 342)
"His loins inwove with silken fires are like a furnace fierce
As the strong Bull in summer time when bees sing round the heath
Where the herds low after the shadow & after the water spring
The numrous flocks cover the mountain & shine along the valley
His knees are rocks of adamant & rubie & emerald                 
Spirits of strength in Palaces rejoice in golden armour
Armed with spear & shield they drink & rejoice over the slain
Such is the Demon such his terror in the nether deep

But when returnd to Golgonooza Los & Enitharmon
Felt all the sorrow Parents feel. they wept toward one another   
And Los repented that he had chaind Orc upon the mountain
And Enitharmons tears prevaild   parental love returnd
Tho terrible his dread of that infernal chain   They rose
At midnight hasting to their much beloved care
Nine days they traveld thro the Gloom of Entuthon Benithon       
Los taking Enitharmon by the hand led her along
The dismal vales & up to the iron mountains top where Orc
Howld in the furious wind he thought to give to Enitharmon
Her son in tenfold joy & to compensate for her tears
Even if his own death resulted so much pity him paind            

But when they came to the dark rock & to the spectrous cave
Lo the young limbs had strucken root into the rock & strong
Fibres had from the Chain of Jealousy inwove themselves
In a swift vegetation round the rock & round the Cave
And over the immortal limbs of the terrible fiery boy            
In vain they strove now to unchain. In vain with bitter tears
To melt the chain of Jealousy. not Enitharmons death
Nor the Consummation of Los could ever melt the chain
Nor unroot the infernal fibres from their rocky bed
Nor all Urthonas strength nor all the power of Luvahs Bulls      
Tho they each morning drag the unwilling Sun out of the deep
Could uproot the infernal chain. for it had taken root"

Jealousy is rooted in the inability to be confident in one's own abilities and status. Los was unable to view Orc as other than threat to his own position. Even when he intended to release Orc - his emotions - he found that his resistance had been hardened to the extent that he was not capable of freely expressing his emotional nature which he had projected onto Orc .

It is important to remember that although Orc was portrayed as the son of Los, he was also the fallen form of Luvah. Blake was using the reaction that Los had to the entanglement of Enitharmon with her son, to explore the relationship of the Imagination and the Emotions as expressed in a fallen world. Another dimension of the relationship of Los and Orc was between each representing a different approach to change - either incremental or through revolution. But the point that is made most clearly in this passage is that many decisions are irrevocable.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dante 28

Dante 28

Blake Dante Hell XXIV Thieves.jpg
Female Figures Attacked by Serpents(See Klonski's Blake's Dante)

Inferno: Canto XXXIV

"'Vexilla Regis prodeunt Inferni'
  Towards us; therefore look in front of thee,"
  My Master said, "if thou discernest him."

As, when there breathes a heavy fog, or when
  Our hemisphere is darkening into night,
  Appears far off a mill the wind is turning,

Methought that such a building then I saw;
  And, for the wind, I drew myself behind
  My Guide, because there was no other shelter.

Now was I, and with fear in verse I put it,
  There where the shades were wholly covered up,
  And glimmered through like unto straws in glass.

Some prone are lying, others stand erect,
  This with the head, and that one with the soles;
  Another, bow-like, face to feet inverts.

When in advance so far we had proceeded,
  That it my Master pleased to show to me
  The creature who once had the beauteous semblance,

He from before me moved and made me stop,
  Saying: "Behold Dis, and behold the place
  Where thou with fortitude must arm thyself."

How frozen I became and powerless then,
  Ask it not, Reader, for I write it not,
  Because all language would be insufficient.

Inferno: Canto XXV

At the conclusion of his words, the thief
  Lifted his hands aloft with both the figs,
  Crying: "Take that, God, for at thee I aim them."

From that time forth the serpents were my friends;
  For one entwined itself about his neck
  As if it said: "I will not thou speak more;"

And round his arms another, and rebound him,
  Clinching itself together so in front,
  That with them he could not a motion make.
(cf Marriage of Heaven and Hell: "Now the sneaking serpent walksIn mild humility.And the just man rages in the wildsWhere lions roam.")

Monday, July 20, 2015


Four Zoas, Night V, Page 60, (E 340) 
"And brass & silver & gold fourfold in dark prophetic fear
For now he feard Eternal Death & uttermost Extinction  
He builded Golgonooza on the Lake of Udan Adan
Upon the Limit of Translucence then he builded Luban
Tharmas laid the Foundations & Los finishd it in howling woe     

But when fourteen summers & winters had revolved over
Their solemn habitation Los beheld the ruddy boy
Embracing his bright mother & beheld malignant fires
In his young eyes discerning plain that Orc plotted his death
Grief rose upon his ruddy brows. a tightening girdle grew        
Around his bosom like a bloody cord. in secret sobs
He burst it, but next morn another girdle succeeds

Around his bosom. Every day he viewd the fiery youth
With silent fear & his immortal cheeks grew deadly pale
Till many a morn & many a night passd over in dire woe          
Forming a girdle in the day & bursting it at night
The girdle was formd by day by night was burst in twain
Falling down on the rock an iron chain link by link lockd

Enitharmon beheld the bloody chain of nights & days
Depending from the bosom of Los & how with griding pain   
He went each morning to his labours. with the spectre dark
Calld it the chain of jealousy. Now Los began to speak      
His woes aloud to Enitharmon. since he could not hide
His uncouth plague. He siezd the boy in his immortal hands
While Enitharmon followd him weeping in dismal woe              
Up to the iron mountains top & there the Jealous chain
Fell from his bosom on the mountain. The Spectre dark
Held the fierce boy Los naild him down binding around his limbs
The accursed chain O how bright Enitharmon howld & cried    
Over her son. Obdurate Los bound down her loved joy"

In Blake's Poetry and Designs, Mary Lynn Johnson and Hugh Grant move to Night V of the Four Zoas without including any passages from Nights III and IV. On page 60 of the Four Zoas we learn that 'Tharmas laid the foundation.' Reviewing the role Tharmas has played thus far in Blake's narrative, we are forced to ask, "Foundation for what?" The answer will be revealed gradually as Albion sleeps and various portions of his psyche strive to evolve into forms which will meld into a cohesive whole.

If we are too caught up in this passage as a story of domestic violence occurring in our world, we may miss much of what Blake implies. The child of Enitharmon is Orc the fallen form of Luvah or the emotional life. His birth is an aspect of psychological development when the maturing individual begins to unleash emotions of sexual love and just wrath. Since Enitharmon had fallen to a greater degree than had Los, there is a greater affinity between mother and son. Los could see that rebellion could destroy his constructive work, so he pushed his son away and into the arms of Enitharmon and her distorted worldview.

Los became embroiled in an internal conflict that he couldn't win. If he rejected Orc he became enslaved to his own jealousy. If he bound Orc he was overcome by guilt. Los was the vehicular form of Urthona, the Zoa of intuition and imagination. So Orc (Luvah) had gained the power to emasculate the imagination. Blake, who knew this conundrum from experience, paid careful attention to Los' struggle against Orc or Luvah or Vala - three forms of the same Zoa - because he wanted to emphasize its importance.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dante 27

Dante's Inferno XXII:
From Inferno: Canto XXII:
Ever upon the pitch was my intent,
  To see the whole condition of that Bolgia,
  And of the people who therein were burned.
So upon every side the sinners stood;
  But ever as Barbariccia near them came,
  Thus underneath the boiling they withdrew.

I saw, and still my heart doth shudder at it,
  One waiting thus, even as it comes to pass
  One frog remains, and down another dives;

And Graffiacan, who most confronted him,
  Grappled him by his tresses smeared with pitch,
  And drew him up, so that he seemed an otter.

I knew, before, the names of all of them,
  So had I noted them when they were chosen,
  And when they called each other, listened how.

"O Rubicante, see that thou do lay
  Thy claws upon him, so that thou mayst flay him,"
  Cried all together the accursed ones.

And I: "My Master, see to it, if thou canst,
  That thou mayst know who is the luckless wight,
  Thus come into his adversaries' hands."

Near to the side of him my Leader drew,
  Asked of him whence he was; and he replied:
  "I in the kingdom of Navarre was born;

My mother placed me servant to a lord,
  For she had borne me to a ribald knave,
  Destroyer of himself and of his things.

Then I domestic was of good King Thibault;
  I set me there to practise barratry,
  For which I pay the reckoning in this heat."

Infuriate at the mockery, Calcabrina
  Flying behind him followed close, desirous
  The other should escape, to have a quarrel.

And when the barrator had disappeared,
  He turned his talons upon his companion,
  And grappled with him right above the moat.

But sooth the other was a doughty sparhawk
  To clapper-claw him well; and both of them
  Fell in the middle of the boiling pond.

A sudden intercessor was the heat;
  But ne'ertheless of rising there was naught,
  To such degree they had their wings belimed.

Lamenting with the others, Barbariccia
  Made four of them fly to the other side
  With all their gaffs, and very speedily

This side and that they to their posts descended;
  They stretched their hooks towards the pitch-ensnared,
  Who were already baked within the crust,

And in this manner busied did we leave them.

Blake's Illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy, object 44
The Baffled Devils Fighting

From page 147 of Klonski:
Ciampolo was talking with Dante and Virgil (he apparently thought they had some control over the horrible mess where he found himself). He proposed to put the devils on his politican adversaries if they would let him go, but he abandoned that artifice to dive into the pitch.
Alchino and Calcabrina turn their hawklike claws on one another until they fell into the pond.

(If Dante and Blake lived today, they might well refer to the two antagonists as Republicans and Democrats!!) Dante and Virgil make their escape along the rim.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Four Zoas, Night II, PAGE 36, (E 325) 
"To listen to the hungry ravens cry in wintry season
When the red blood is filld with wine & with the marrow of lambs

It is an easy thing to laugh at wrathful elements
To hear the dog howl at the wintry door, the ox in the slaughter house moan
To see a god on every wind & a blessing on every blast           
To hear sounds of love in the thunder storm that destroys our enemies house
To rejoice in the blight that covers his field, & the sickness that cuts off his children
While our olive & vine sing & laugh round our door & our children bring fruits & flowers

Then the groan & the dolor are quite forgotten & the slave grinding at the mill
And the captive in chains & the poor in the prison, & the soldier in the field
When the shatterd bone hath laid him groaning among the happier dead

It is an easy thing to rejoice in the tents of prosperity
Thus could I sing & thus rejoice, but it is not so with me!

Ahania heard the Lamentation & a swift Vibration
Spread thro her Golden frame. She rose up eer the dawn of day 

When Urizen slept on his couch. drawn thro unbounded space
Onto the margin of Non Entity the bright Female came
There she beheld the Spectrous form of Enion in the Void   
And never from that moment could she rest upon her pillow

          End of the Second Night"

The focus of Enion's lament turns to the suffering in the world among its creatures and in the destruction brought about by natural disasters. Next she turns to the suffering inflicted on humans by other humans.

Tharmas is the 'parent power' the originator of the proliferation of entities man perceives. Tharmas symbolically is represented by the father, his emanation Enion bears the characteristics of the mother. She is led to lament over the fallen world because it is her children who comprise it. The irony of Enion's position is that her inclination to grieve over the straits of her children created a vast distance between her and them. Her original function would have included rejoicing in the instinctual output of the psyche; her fallen appearance is the mourner blinded by her grief.

Her lamenting led to a further decline in the unity of Albion. Ahania, Urizen's emanation, responded to Enion's song by discarding her role as the pleasure enjoyed by the reasoning mind. Having
empathized with the suffering world, Enion could not 'rejoice in the tents of prosperity'. Ahania resonated to Enion's realization and had her consciousness simultaneously transformed.

We have seen Albion incrementally losing the ideal functioning of his psyche. He loses:
Tharmas - his instinct to live as a finely tuned body;
Enion - his ability to maintain an image of himself as healthy and happy;
Enitharmon - his impulse to create forms which could embody his thoughts;
Ahania - his delight in forms which his mind created.