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Pater's "Grudge against Apollo": Mythology and Pathology in "Apollo in Picardy" William F. Shuter Eastern Michigan University REVIEWING Pater's Miscellaneous Studies in 1896, Campbell Dodgson remarked of "Apollo in Picardy": "Pater seems to have a grudge against Apollo, 'that theatrical old Greek god,' as he calls him in 'Emerald Uthwart.'"1 Since Dodgson recognizes that in Picardy Apollo proves himself to be "wantonly cruel," he is presumably thinking of Pater's representation of him as a god who is other than he appears to be and in whose favor it is dangerous to trust. It does indeed seem that in "Apollo in Picardy" Pater has turned against a god he formerly admired intensely . In an effort to understand Pater's "second thoughts" about Apollo, I propose to read the story from two distinct but not unrelated perspectives: the mythological and the clinical or psychological. I That the brightest of the Greek gods had a darker side was hardly Pater's original invention. None of the sinister characteristics or actions that Pater ascribes to Apollo in the story is without precedent in the ancient sources cited by the nineteenth-century classical scholars Pater is known to have consulted. It was the Greeks themselves who derived the name Apollo from the Greek verb apolléin, meaning "to destroy."2 Under the titles Sötär kathários ("Deliverer") and ("Pure") he was resorted to by those (like Orestes) seeking to purify themselves from bloodguilt, not because Apollo was pure but because he had himself been polluted by bloodguilt.3 His bow and arrow signified that he was god of punishment and revenge.4 Homer describes him as coming "down along the mountains of Ida in the likeness of a rapid hawk, the dove's murderer and swiftest of all things flying."5 According to ancient tradition, Apollo's enigmatic title Lykeios (Lyceus) was derived from lykos, "wolf," and a wolf 181 ELT 44 : 2 2001 appears repeatedly in the stories and rites of Apollo.6 The small furry thing pierced by Apollo's arrow in Pater's story alludes to another of Apollo's titles, Smitheus, "Mouse-Killer."7 Under the title Loimios, "Pestilential ," Apollo was dreaded as the divine agent of pestilence and plague. He appears in this role both in the Iliad and in Oedipus Rex. Even the distinctive mode of inspiration he induced was not without its violent aspect. To mainesthai ("raging madness") is described by Preller as a state in which "future and remote events are present in vision to the spiritual eye, in such a way, moreover, that these revelations, gripping the bone and marrow with sudden force, come upon the chosen vessel like the burden of the Lord."8 Apollo's characteristic indifference to human suffering is illustrated for Preller in the passage of the Iliad in which Apollo coolly reminds the impassioned Diomedes of the difference between the immortal gods and men who walk upon the earth.9 Of course the brighter and more benevolent Apollo represented in classical art and literature continued to be studied by nineteenthcentury scholars and was often emphasized by them. Following scholars such as Preller, Pater supposed that the mythically contradictory conceptions of Apollo entertained by the Greek mind could be explained historically . In origin a nature god, Apollo became gradually humanized and assimilated to the cultural ideals of his worshipers. In Plato and Platonism, Pater speaks of an "assertion of the consciously human interest in a religion based originally on a preoccupation with the unconscious forces of nature."10 Elsewhere, speaking of Dionysus in language that could apply as well to Apollo, he describes "a certain darker side of the double god of nature, obscured . . . but never quite forgotten."11 Before "Apollo in Picardy," virtually every reference to Apollo in Pater 's writings is to the classical, not the primitive, god and it would be difficult to see these references as anything but admiring. In "The Marbles of Aegina," he wrote that Apollo "represents all those specially European ideas, of a reasonable personal freedom, as understood in Greece; of a reasonable polity; of the sanity of soul and body, through the cure of disease and of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 181-198
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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