Pater

Pater:  Leopold the Epicurean

 

Near the end of “Oxen” Bloom reminisces once again about events from his past -  this time his first meeting with Stephen, which is recounted later in “Eumaeus”:

The first in the lilacgarden of Matthew Dillon's house, Medina Villa, Kimmage road, Roundtown, in 1887, in the company of Stephen's mother, Stephen being then of the age of 5 and reluctant to give his hand in salutation. [U 17.467-70 ]

The memory of the evening, now a romantic vision of Molly, has recurred often during his day. 

      In “Hades” [U 6.1013]: Molly and Floey Dillon linked under the lilactree, laughing.

    In “Sirens” [U 11.725-6]: First night when first I saw her at Mat Dillon's in Terenure. Yellow, black lace she wore. Musical chairs. We two the last. Fate. After her. Fate.

     In “Nausicaa” [U 13.1091-3]: Nightstock in Mat Dillon's garden where I kissed her shoulder. Wish I had a full length oilpainting of her then. June that was too I wooed. The year returns.  History repeats itself. Ye crags and peaks I'm with you once again. Also [U 13.1106-8]: At Dolphin's barn charades in Luke Doyle's house. Mat Dillon and his bevy of daughters: Tiny, Atty, Floey, Maimy, Louy, Hetty. Molly too.

      In “Circe” [U 15.3162-6]:

 I see her! It's she! The first night at Mat Dillon's! But that dress, the green! And her hair is dyed gold and he ....

                                    BELLO

(laughs mockingly) That's your daughter, you owl, with a Mullingar student.

     Molly, too, recalls the night [U 18.1310]: I suppose hes a man now by this time he was an innocent boy then and a darling little fellow in his lord Fauntleroy suit and curly hair like a prince on the stage when I saw him at Mat Dillons.

    In “Oxen” it is the voice of Walter Pater, specifically the Pater of Marius the Epicurean (a copy of which formed part of Joyce’s library in Trieste), in which the memory is narrated.1 Pater set his bildungsroman in the Rome of 161-177 CE. Marius seeks spiritual and philosophical fulfilment, exploring Epicureanism, Stoicism and Christianity.  Although he dies without formally committing to any creed, we are given the impression that he has found peace through his humanist quest.

   Two scenes in particular bear some likeness to Joyce’s text.  The first, narrating Marius’ visit to the household of Marcus Aurelius, centres on the empress Faustina  and, especially, her young son (my emphasis throughout):

The centre of a group of princely children, in the same apartment with Aurelius, amid all the refined intimacies of a modern home, sat the empress Faustina, warming her hands over a fire. With her long fingers lighted up red by the glowing coals of the brazier Marius

looked close upon the most beautiful woman in the world, who was also the great paradox of the age, among her boys and girls. As has been truly said of the numerous representations of her in art, so in life, she had the air of one curious, restless, to enter into conversation with the first comer. She had certainly the power of stimulating a very ambiguous sort of curiosity about herself. And Marius found this enigmatic point in her expression, that even after seeing her many times he could never precisely recall her features in absence. The lad of six years, looking older, who stood beside her, impatiently

plucking a rose to pieces over the hearth, was, in outward appearance, his father—the young Verissimus—over again; but with a certain feminine length of feature, and with all his mother's alertness, or license, of gaze. [Pater, ch. 13, p. 218]

   From here Joyce copied “alert” from “his mother’s alertness”.  The immediately following paragraph recounting Faustina’s infidelities does not seem to have influenced the language of “Oxen” but nonetheless may have interested Joyce in relation to Molly’s tryst with Boylan:

 Yet rumour knocked at every door and window of the imperial house regarding the adulterers who knocked at them, or quietly left their lovers' garlands there. Was not that likeness of the husband, in the boy beside her, really the effect of a shameful magic, in which the blood of the murdered gladiator, his true father, had been an ingredient? Were the tricks for deceiving husbands which the Roman poet describes, really hers, and her household an efficient school of all the arts of furtive love? Or, was the husband too aware, like every one beside? Were certain sudden deaths which happened there, really the work of apoplexy, or the plague? [Pater, ch. 13, pp. 218-9]

    In a second passage, in which Marius and his friend Flavian are reading from Apuleius’ Golden Ass, “The story of Cupid and Psyche”, Zephyrus has borne Psyche to her bridal bower:

Psyche, in those delicate grassy places, lying sweetly on her dewy bed, rested from the agitation of her soul and arose in peace. And lo! a grove of mighty trees, with a fount of water, clear as glass, in the midst; and hard by the water, a dwelling-place, built not by human hands but by some divine cunning. [Pater, ch. 5, pp. 65-6]

    Joyce copied only “grove of” from here, but no doubt modified the fount into the urn on which the young Stephen stands.

    An earlier passage describing Marius’ attraction to Apuleius may have influenced Bloom’s view of Stephen with “an unhealthiness, a flair, for the cruder things of life” [U 14.1358-9]:

 But the marvellous, delight in which is one of the really serious elements in most boys, passed at times, those young readers still feeling its fascination, into what French writers call the macabre—that species of almost insane pre-occupation with the materialities of our mouldering flesh, that luxury of disgust in gazing on corruption, which was connected, in this writer at least, with not a little obvious coarseness. [Pater, ch. 5, p. 60]

 

The following list gives the relevant Pater notesheet entries and sources.


U 14.1363 wellremembered

NS 20.73 wellremembered

Pater ch. 6, p. 107: The train of the procession consisted of the priests in long white vestments, close from head to foot, distributed into various groups, each bearing, exposed aloft, one of the sacred symbols of Isis—the corn-fan, the golden asp, the ivory hand of equity, and among them the votive ship itself, carved and gilt, and adorned bravely with flags flying. Last of all walked the high priest; the people kneeling as he passed to kiss his hand, in which were those well-remembered roses.

 

U 14.1357  by habit

NS 20.74 habitmakers

Pater ch. 12, p. 211: The habit-makers made a great sale of the spoil of all such furry creatures as had escaped wolves and eagles, for presents at the Saturnalia; and at no time had the winter roses from Carthage seemed more lustrously yellow and red.

 

U 14.1375 perhaps

NS 20.75 perhaps

Pater ch. 1, p. 10: The urns of the dead in the family chapel received their due service. They also were now become something divine, a goodly company of friendly and protecting spirits, encamped about the place of their former abode—above all others, the father, dead ten years before, of whom, remembering but a tall, grave figure above him in early childhood, Marius habitually thought as a genius a little cold and severe.

 Candidas insuetum miratur limen Olympi,

Sub pedibusque videt nubes et sidera.—

 Perhaps!—but certainly needs his altar here below, and garlands to-day upon his urn.

 

U 14.1366:  And yonder

NS 20.77  yonder

Pater ch. 5, p. 79 Meanwhile Psyche, tost in soul, wandering hither and thither, rested not night or day in the pursuit of her husband, desiring, if she might not soothe his anger by the endearments of a wife, at the least to propitiate him with the prayers of a handmaid. And seeing a certain temple on the top of a high mountain, she said, "Who knows whether yonder place be not the abode of my lord?"

Pater, ch. 5, p. 90: And straightway he bade Mercury call the gods together; and, the council-chamber being filled, sitting upon a high throne, "Ye gods," he said, "all ye whose names are in the white book of the Muses, ye know yonder lad. It seems good to me that his youthful heats should by some means be restrained. And that all occasion may be taken from him, I would even confine him in the bonds of marriage. He has chosen and embraced a mortal maiden. Let him have fruit of his love, and possess her for ever."

 

U 14.1375 must needs

NS 20.78 must needs

Pater ch. 9, p. 148: On the other hand, the world of perfected sensation, intelligence, emotion, is so close to us, and so attractive, that the most visionary of spirits must needs represent the world unseen in colours, and under a form really borrowed from it.

Pater ch.10, p. 167: They were passing along the street of the goldsmiths; and Cornelius must needs enter one of the workshops for the repair of some button or link of his knightly trappings.

 

U 14.1367 you saw

NS 20.79 You saw

Pater, ch. 12, p. 190: You saw the brow of one who, amid the blindness or perplexity of the people about him, understood all things clearly

 

U 14.1369 comely

NS 20.79 comely

Pater, ch. 10, p. 169: For Cornelius, returning from the campaign, to take up his quarters on the Palatine, in the imperial guard, seemed to carry about with him, in that privileged world of comely usage to which he belonged, the atmosphere of some still more jealously exclusive circle.

 

U 14.1363 grove of

NS 20.80 a grove of

Pater, ch. 5, p. 65-6: Psyche, in those delicate grassy places, lying sweetly on her dewy bed, rested from the agitation of her soul and arose in peace. And lo! a grove of mighty trees, With a fount of water, clear as glass, in the midst; and hard by the water, a dwelling-place, built not by human hands but by some divine cunning.

 

U 14.1364 with much real

NS 20.82 with much real

Pater, ch. 11, p. 177: For indeed all Rome was ready to burst into gaiety again, as it awaited with much real affection, hopeful and animated, the return of its emperor, for whose ovation various adornments were preparing along the streets through which the imperial procession would pass.

 

U 14.1366 alert

NS 20.83 alert

Pater, ch. 13, p. 218: The lad of six years, looking older, who stood beside her, impatiently plucking a rose to pieces over the hearth, was, in outward appearance, his father—the young Verissimus—over again; but with a certain feminine length of feature, and with all his mother's alertness, or license, of gaze.

 

U 14.1359 disengages

NS 20.84 disengage

Pater, ch. 8, p. 139: And so the abstract apprehension that the little point of this present moment alone really is, between a past which has just ceased to be and a future which may never come, became practical with Marius, under the form of a resolve, as far as possible, to exclude regret and desire, and yield himself to the improvement of the present with an absolutely disengaged mind.

Pater, ch. 9, p. 157: Though with an air so disengaged, he seemed to be living so intently in the visible world! And now, in revolt against that pre-occupation with other persons, which had so often perturbed his spirit, his wistful speculations as to what the real, the greater, experience might be, determined in him, not as the longing for love—to be with Cynthia, or Aspasia—but as a thirst for existence in exquisite places.

 Robert Janusko



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1 Pater, Walter. Marius the Epicurean (London: Macmillan, 1911), vol. I. Michael Gillespie, in his Catalogue of James Joyce’s Trieste Library (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, 1986) lists seven passages from Marius that Joyce copied into a Trieste notebook. The book was first published in 1885; Joyce owned the 1911 Macmillan printing.

For studies of Pater’s presence in Portrait see:

Perlis, Alan D.  “Beyond Epiphany: Pater's Aesthetic Hero in the Works of Joyce”, in James Joyce Quarterly (Spring, 1980) Vol. 17, No. 3
Scholes, Robert and Kain, Richard M. (eds.), The workshop of Daedalus (Northwestern University Press, 1965) pp. 255-8 and passim.
Scotto, Robert M. "'Visions' and 'Epiphanies': Fictional Technique in Pater's 'Marius' and Joyce's 'Portrait' in James Joyce Quarterly (Fall, 1973) Vol. 11, No. 1