Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses/Telemachus/007

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Annotations[edit | edit source]

007.30 Matthew Arnold       Matthew_Arnold was a poet who lived from 1822 to 1888 and wrote mostly on contemporary social issues.[1] The significance of a deaf gardener masked with Arnold's face is that the social critic is totally focused on what he can see--"watching narrowly the dancing motes of grasshalms"—rather than anything he can perceive with other senses.

007.32 omphalos     (Homeric Greek) navel, centre.[2] In the Odyssey, the island of Ogygia, on which Odysseus is being detained by the nymph Calypso at the beginning of the epic, is described thus:

Odyssey 1:48-50[3]

ἀλλά μοι ἀμφ᾽ Ὀδυσῆι δαΐφρονι δαίεται ἦτορ,
δυσμόρῳ, ὃς δὴ δηθὰ φίλων ἄπο πήματα πάσχει
νήσῳ ἐν ἀμφιρύτῃ, ὅθι τ᾽ ὀμφαλός ἐστι θαλάσσης.

But my heart is torn for wise Odysseus,
Hapless man, who far from his friends has long been suffering woes
In a sea-girt isle, where is the navel of the sea

Several locations have been identified with Ogygia, including Ireland. See also 017.31, 038.14 and 383.32.

The term omphalos has a number of meanings which resonate throughout Ulysses:[4]

Navel     symbolical of birth and the interconnectedness of all life; the seat of the soul and the point at which mystics stare while meditating. Stephen may be suggesting that contemporary Irish nationalism was little more than self-centred navel-gazing. See 038.11 ff.
Centre of the world     The Oracle of Delphi was believed to be located at the centre of the world, which was represented by a stone known as the omphalos.

In some editions of Ulysses, the word omphalos is italicized. See 017.31.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia's page on Matthew Arnold
  2. Gifford (1988) 17.
    Thornton (1968) 15.
  3. Odyssey 1:48-50.
  4. Gilbert, Stuart (1930). James Joyce's Ulysses: A Study.
Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses
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