William Morris Archive

Annotations for Book XIII

XIII.3 Erginus: here, an Argonaut from Miletus and legendary son of Neptune

XIII.3 in that land: the north coast of Africa, home to nomadic tribes

XIII.13 lion-haunted land: the "lion-haunted land" with its nomadic tribes (XIII. 1-14) is also described by Herodotus (Book VII, chapters 128-29); see “The Voyage of the Argonauts,” Dr. Peter Wright (Supplementary Materials).

XIII.17 made land again: Circe’s home is Æaea, identified by Roman poets (see Virgil, Aeneid, trans. William Morris, Bk. VII, 10-20; Ovid, Metamorphoses XIV, 245 ff.) with Circei, a promontory on the western coast of central Italy.

XIII.107 Pontic Moly, the unchanging charm: An herb with protective powers against magic, from Pontus, on the Black Sea coast of eastern Turkey.

XIII.128 cloister fair: here, arbored walkway

XIII.149-50 the casket-bearer who beguiled/ The hapless one: Pandora, according to the poet Hesiod, was the first woman. She was made with clay by Vulcan at the request of Jupiter, who wished to punish the impiety and artifice of Prometheus. After the artist had completed his work of forming woman from clay, all the gods vied in making her presents. Venus gave her beauty and the art of pleasing; the Graces gave her the knowledge of singing; Mercury instructed her in eloquence; and Minerva gave her rich and splendid ornaments. From all these divine presents, the woman was called Pandora, which intimates that she had received every necessary gift. Jupiter after this gave her a beautiful box, which she was ordered to present to the man who married her; and by the commission of the god, Mercury conducted her to Prometheus's brother Epimetheus, who unwisely married her.

When he opened the box which she presented to him, it spewed out a multitude of evils and distempers, which dispersed all over the world and since then never ceased to afflict the human race. Hope was the only quality which remained at the bottom of the box, and it is she alone who has the wonderful power of easing human labours and of rendering troubles and sorrows less painful. This misogynist legend prallels the account of the effects of Eve’s transgression in the book of Genesis.

XIII.191 pard: leopard

XIII.226 roe-deer: A species of deer found in Europe, Asia Minor and the Caspian coastal regions. A relatively small deer, it has short, erect antlers, a reddish body with a grey face, lighter undersides and a short, barely visible tail. Its hide is golden red in summer, darkening to brown or even black in winter.

XIII.247 Phasis and the green-ridged sea: The Phasis River runs into the Black Sea near Aea, Medea’s home and scene of the theft of the Golden Fleece. See Map 5, L3.

XIII.251 my Sire: Circe’s father was Helios, the sun god.

XIII.254 Malea: Cape on the southeastern tip of Greece. See Map 2, I13.

XIII.268 Trinacrian cliffs: Sicily's three corners and capes (akroi) prompted the Greeks to call it Trinacria, after the legendary island where in the Odyssey, Book XII, the Sun god kept his cattle. See Map 5, AB6/7.

XIII.285 Aeson is at rest for evermore: In Greek mythology, Aeson (or Aison) was the son of Tyro and Cretheus, and brother of Pheres and Amythaon, and half-brother of Pelias and Neleus, his mother's sons by Poseidon. The rightful king of Iolchos, he was deposed by his step-brother Pelias. Aeson was the father of Jason and in some accounts, Promachus. In most accounts, Aeson was imprisoned and killed by Pelias before Jason could return with the Golden Fleece.

XIII.350-51 from the amorous bearer of the bow once Daphne ran: According to Greek mythology, Apollo, pierced by a dart from Eros, chased the wood nymph Daphne until she prayed to the river god Peneus for help. He transformed her into a laurel, henceforward a plant sacred to Apollo.

XIII.355-56 rose . . . of Damascus: The roses of Damascus were known for their fullness and fragrance.

XIII.366 Helicon: Mount Helicon, located in the region of Thespiai in Boeotia, Greece, near the gulf of Corinth, was the legendary site of two springs sacred to the Muses, Aganippe and Hippocrene. See Map 1, F5.

XIII.372 like a damsel of the lightfoot One: Artemis/Diana, goddess of the moon and hunting

XIII.382 arrow-loving man, the wise Arcadian: i.e., Arcas the hunter