William Morris Archive

Annotations for Book XVII

XVII.Title Corinth: In antiquity, a Greek city-state about 48 miles west of Athens, on the Isthmus of Corinth, a narrow stretch of land joining the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece, between the Gulf of Corinth on the west and the Saronic gulf on the east. See Map 3, FG, 3/4.

XVII.Title Glauce: Creusa or Glauce, daughter of Creon, king of Corinth; the name Glauce was applied to water divinities and a spring Glauce at Corinth was dedicated to a maiden who allegedly committed suicide there.

XVII.7 Kent: The narrators of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales undertake a pilgrimage through Kent to Canterbury.

XVII.11 O Master: Chaucer

XVII.12 Parnassus’ hill: Mount Parnassus, above Delphi in central Greece, was sacred to Apollo, the god of poetry and music, and to the Muses. See Map 4, G8.

XVII.14 Thames: Major river in southern England which flows through London. The Thames is a combination of four rivers, the Isis, the Churn, the Coin, and the Leach, and flows for 220 miles from Thames Head to the lighthouse at the Nore. Morris invokes its medieval state in the opening to “Prologue: The Wanderers” of The Earthly Paradise, “And dream of London, small, and white, and clean/ The clear Thames bordered by its gardens green.”

XVII.14 dace: a silver, swift-moving fish usually found in rapid streams or rivers

XVII.15 bastioned bridge: The first stone London bridge, built with many arches, shortly before 1200, which survived until the 1830s. Until the mid-18th century it was the only bridge over the tidal Thames.

XVII.20 Cressid: Heroine of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, who having been surrendered to the Greeks, deserts Troilus for the Greek prince Diomedes. Here it is seen as a tale of sincere but ultimately betrayed love, a parallel with the plot of Morris’s Life and Death of Jason.

XVII.21 when Troilus rode up the praising street: The incident where Cresside watches the Trojan prince Troilus riding back honored from battle is described in Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde, Bk. II, ll. 610-651. Troilus also appears in Morris’s “Scenes from the Fall of Troy.”

XVII.23 Poictou: Province of central western France and scene of the battle of Poitiers in 1356. Here the English, entrenched among hedges were attacked by the larger French army advancing mostly on foot, presenting a 'wood' of spears.

XVII.32 Creon: A name given to several legendary monarchs, including the would-be father-in-law of Jason.

XVII.46 Æa:  Medea's original home and the leading city of ancient Colchis, along the Rioni river; its current name is Kutaisi, in Georgia. See Map 5, L3.

XVII.57 Neptune: Neptune is the god of the sea in Roman mythology, analogous but not identical to the Greek Poseidon. Neptune was also associated with fresh water, as opposed to Oceanus, god of the world-ocean.

XVII.68 Symplegades: In mythology, these were "clashing rocks" at the Bosporus which smote together randomly. The Argonauts had to pass by these to enter the Black Sea, but after Jason and the Argonauts managed the pass, aided by advice from Phineus, the Symplegades stopped moving permanently. See Map 5, G5.

XVII.75 Cenchreæ: Also Kechries; a village near Corinth, about 6.5 miles southwest of the city, in ancient times a port which served eastern trade routes. See Map 2, H8.

XVII.87 the messenger/ Who bears the high Gods’ dreadful words with her: Iris, goddess of the rainbow, was styled a messenger of the gods.

XVII.203 Cleonæ: (now Archaies Kleones) was an ancient city on the borders of Argolis, now the village of Agios Vasileios, between Corinth and Nemea. According to legend, Hercules killed Moliones at Cleonae. See Map 3, G3/4.

XVII.208 harbingered: announced, preceded, presaged

XVII.230 swarded space: grassy area, greensward

XVII.267 ewer: vase-shaped pitcher or jug for carrying liquid

XVII.302 Mæonean wine: Maeonia was an alternate name for Lydia, a historic region of western Asia Minor, roughly east of modern Izmir and Manisa in Turkey, noted for its grapes. See Map 5, H6.

XVII.496 Citheræa: Aphrodite/Venus reportedly rose from the sea either near the island of Cithera, or Cyprus.

XVII.504 dark Indian maid: i.e. a slave purchased from a trader

XVII.574 the foot that on the tortoise stands: A statue of Venus in the Louvre depicts the goddess with her foot on a tortoise.

XVII.585 Cyprian: Venus’s birthplace was reportedly Cithera or Cyprus.

XVII.1026 dais: a raised platform or table in a hall, for the use of distinguished persons

XVII.1043 those ill words the harpies spoke of old: for their prophecy, see above, “Good speed, O traitor! . . . "

XVII.1160 centaur’s: of Chiron, Jason’s former tutor

XVII.1165 Pontus: A region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, with a series of mountain ranges with deep valleys, running parallel to the coast. Today it is located in Turkey. See Map 5, J4.

Pontus, whose coast was colonized by the Ionian Greeks about the end of the Greek Dark Ages (1150-750 B. C. E.) was occupied inland by a village population organized in territorial units, large temple territories with numerous sacred slaves ruled by priests, and a feudal nobility. Some mountainous regions in eastern Pontus long remained "uncivilized" tribal territories.

XVII.1190 fleeing, somehow: According to some accounts, Medea escaped Corinth in a chariot sent by her grandfather Helios, the sun god, to Athens, where she married King Aegeus and in due course was involved in other adventures. Jason’s letter to her hints at the possibility of such a subsequent marriage.

XVII.1243 Pelion: A mountain of more than 5,300 feet in Thessalian Magnesia, legendary home of the centaur Chiron, and site of Jason’s childhood. See Map 2, H3.

XVII.1280 Symplegades: In mythology, these were "clashing rocks" at the Bosporus which smote together randomly. The Argonauts had to pass by these to enter the Black Sea, but after Jason and the Argonauts managed the pass, aided by advice from Phineus, the Symplegades stopped moving permanently. See Map 5, G5.

XVII.1306 Theseus: One of the adventures of Theseus, legendary king of Athens, was the capture of an Amazon warrior, Antiope (and in other versions, the Amazon queen Hippolyta). The ensuing battle between the Athenians and the Amazons was a subject often commemorated in Greek art.

XVII.1363 the Deity/ Who shakes the hard earth: Neptune