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The Internet Oxen of the Sun (Ulysses ch14)

edited by Jorn Barger June 2002

this page      1b          1c        2a        2b         2c, 3
Arvals       Mandeville   Pepys    Goldsmith  Lamb       Dickens
Sallust      Malory       Defoe    Burke      DeQuincey  Newman
Malmesbury   Elizabethan  Swift    Sheridan   Landor     Pater
Anglo-Saxon  Milton       Addison  Junius     Macaulay   Ruskin
Everyman     Bunyan       Sterne   Gibbon     Huxley     Carlyle
                                   gothic                slangs

"Am working hard at Oxen of the Sun, the idea being the crime committed against fecundity by sterilizing the act of coition. Scene, lying-in hospital. Technique: a nineparted episode without divisions introduced by a Sallustian-Tacitean prelude (the unfertilized ovum), then by way of earliest English alliterative and monosyllabic and Anglo-Saxon ('Before born the babe had bliss. Within the womb he won worship.' 'Bloom dull dreamy heard: in held hat stony staring')

then by way of Mandeville ('there came forth a scholar of medicine that men clepen &c;') then Malory's Morte d'Arthur ('but that franklin Lenehan was prompt ever to pour them so that at the least way mirth should not lack') then the Elizabethan 'chronicle style' ('about that present time young Stephen filled all cups'), then a passage solemn, as of Milton, Taylor, Hooker, followed by a choppy Latin-gossipy bit, style of Burton-Browne,

then a passage Bunyanesque ('the reason was that in the way he fell in with a certain whore whose name she said is Bird in the hand') after a diarystyle bit Pepys-Evelyn ('Bloom sitting snug with a party of wags, among them Dixon jun., Ja. Lynch, Doc. Madden and Stephen D. for a languor he had before and was now better, he having dreamed tonight a strange fancy and Mistress Purefoy there to be delivered, poor body, two days past her time and the midwives hard put to it, God send her quick issue')

and so on through Defoe-Swift and Steele-Addison-Sterne and Landor-Pater-Newman until it ends in a frightful jumble of Pidgin English, nigger English, Cockney, Irish, Bowery slang and broken doggerel.

This progression is also linked back at each part subtly with some foregoing episode of the day and, besides this, with the natural stages of development in the embryo and the periods of faunal evolution in general. The double-thudding Anglo-Saxon motive recurs from time to time ('Loth to move from Horne's house') to give the sense of the hoofs of oxen. Bloom is the spermatozoon, the hospital the womb, the nurse the ovum, Stephen the embryo. ...How's that for high?" --Joyce to Frank Budgen, 20Mar 1920

"Do you mean that the Oxen of the Sun episode resembles Hades because the nine circles of development (enclosed between the headpiece and tailpiece of opposite chaos) seem to you to be peopled by extinct beings?" --Joyce to Harriet Weaver, 16Aug 1920

cribs: Blamires, Gilbert, Sultan, Shechner, Barger, Kennesaw, Paul Tang, Schwaber, WLV, Williams, Cam

Joyce's main sources were George Saintsbury's 1912 "A History of English Prose Rhythm" and William Peacock's 1903 "English Prose From Mandeville to Ruskin" plus the Oxford English Dictionary. [cite]

While these are not available online, Bartleby.com does offer the 18-volume (1907-1921) Cambridge History of English and American Literature [ch], which explores a hundred times more authors than Joyce uses, so I'll try to keep one eye on this resource. Having recently become convinced of the hidden importance of the historical dimension in Joyce's literary designs, I'll also try to put each phase in historical perspective.

A shorter online history of English prose: [Tinkler]

Arval Brethren

"enos Lases iuvate
enos Lases iuvate
enos Lases iuvate
neve lue rue Marmar sins incurrere in pleoris
neve lue rue Marmar sins incurrere in pleoris
neve lue rue Marmar sins incurrere in pleoris..."

First come three incantations, each repeated three times (equalling the nine months of human gestation), based on a fertility-prayer to Ceres chanted (along with a complex dance) by the Arval Brotherhood of Rome, so ancient that its Latin is impossible to translate with certainty: [etext] [info] [more]

Stephen thinks of AE as an Arval in Scylla: [etext] (This illustrates Joyce's policy of making everything richly interconnected.)

(Lindsey Davis pokes well-researched fun at the antiquated Arval ceremony, as still carried on c70AD, in her mystery-novel 'One Virgin Too Many': info)

We should imagine Joyce intoning this slowly and majestically, like a priest casting a hypnotic spell (but with tongue firmly in cheek):

Deshil Holles Eamus. Deshil Holles Eamus. Deshil Holles Eamus.
The corresponding Arval formula here is "enos Lases iuvate" hypothetically translated as "O help us, ye Household Gods" [cite]

Deshil = 'sun-wise', clockwise, to the right (Irish, more often spelled 'deasil'), pronounced DEEzul (or 'jeSHIL'? cite) [dancing] [WScott] opposite of widdershins (or tuathal)

Joyce is surely pointing out how close was the shared Indo-European ancestry of ancient Rome and ancient Ireland.

Holles = Holles Street Maternity Hospital [pic] [website] The street was named for the family of John Holles, Earl of Clare [cite] (who bought his peerage in 1616 for 15,000 pounds: cite) but specifically perhaps for Denzil Holles, antagonist of Oliver Cromwell [eb11]

(Byron was born on Holles Street in London.)

It was not uncommon for Dublin hospitals to be named after their streets, rather than honoring celebrities.

If Bloom is coming by tram from Sandymount [routes-map], he might turn right onto Holles from Mount street (but the entrance looks to me to be on Mount?).

Having spilled his seed 90 minutes earlier, he's now doing a solemn and benevolent fertility dance around the maternity hospital.

Eamus = Let us go (Latin) 'us' seems to include the reader as one of the dancers.

Send us, bright one, light one, Horhorn, quickening and wombfruit. Send us, bright one, light one, Horhorn, quickening and wombfruit. Send us, bright one, light one, Horhorn, quickening and wombfruit.

The corresponding Arval formula here is "neve luerve [lue rue?] Marmar sins incurrere in pleoris" hypothetically translated as "And let not bane and bale, O Marmar, assail more folk." [cite]

Horhorn: Dr Andrew J Horne, one of the two masters of the hospital; but also the sacred horned oxen of the sun-god Helios, which must be symbolically violated in this episode. (The doubling may suggest the stuttering of 'barbarians'.)

wombfruit: Psalm 127 mentions 'fruit of the womb' (adding an Israelite branch to the Roman and Irish). [KJV] The phrase "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb" became part of the Rosary in the 12th century. [cite]

Hoopsa, boyaboy, hoopsa! Hoopsa, boyaboy, hoopsa! Hoopsa, boyaboy, hoopsa!

The corresponding Arval formula here is "triumpe triumpe triumpe" hypothetically translated as "Bound, bound, and bound again." [cite]

Maybe also a midwife announcing a newborn male, or 'how midwives used to encourage newborns to breathe deep and let out a lusty cry' [cite]

Sallust, Tacitus

"It becomes all men, who desire to excel other animals, to strive, to the utmost of their power, not to pass through life in obscurity, like the beasts of the field, which nature has formed grovelling and subservient to appetite." (Sallust)

"At Rome, meanwhile, when the result of affairs in Illyrium was not yet known, and men had heard of the commotion among the German legions, the citizens in alarm reproached Tiberius for the hypocritical irresolution with which he was befooling the senate and the people, feeble and disarmed as they were, while the soldiery were all the time in revolt, and could not be quelled by the yet imperfectly-matured authority of two striplings." (Tacitus)

The next section jumps forward to classical Rome, personified by the style of Sallust c50BC: [etext] [more] and his stylistic disciple Tacitus, c100AD: [links]

Sallust's style can be described as "strong and abrupt, at times startling in its sudden changes, often almost volcanic in action. In many particulars Sallust resembles Carlyle..." [cite] He started the movement of 'poeticising' Latin prose style. [eb11] Tacitus's style can be described as "notoriously difficult... devious... knotty... anxiously strained, tautly contradictory..." [cite] But Thomas Jefferson considered them both models of logic. taste, and brevity. [cite] Stuart Gilbert thought they were a bizarre pairing. [cite]

I've broken the lines for easier reading:

Universally that person's acumen is esteemed very little perceptive
concerning whatsoever matters are being held as most profitably
by mortals with sapience endowed
to be studied

paraphrase: "Nobody will respect your opinion about anything worth bothering with..."

who is ignorant of that
which the most in doctrine erudite
and certainly
by reason of that
in them
high mind's ornament
deserving of veneration
constantly maintain

paraphrase: "...if you aren't hip to what the admirably-brainy folk say..."

when by general consent they affirm that
other circumstances being equal
by no exterior splendour is the prosperity of a nation
more efficaciously asserted
than by the measure of how far forward may have progressed

"...namely, you know a country's doing well if it's advanced in..."

the tribute of its solicitude
for that proliferent continuance
which of evils the original
if it be absent
when fortunately present
constitutes the certain sign
of omnipollent nature's incorrupted benefaction.

"...troubling to carry on nature's own generosity."

omnipollent = all-powerful

Joyce explained these paragraphs as representing "the unfertilised ovum". I picture the complexities of a DNA strand-- but what Joyce meant no one knows. (He simultaneously claimed Bloom was the sperm cell, the hospital the womb, the nurse the ovum, and Stephen the embryo.)

For who is there
who anything of some significance has apprehended
but is conscious that that exterior splendour
may be the surface of a downwardtending lutulent reality

"After all, if you have anything on the ball you know looks can be deceiving..."

lutulent = muddy, turbid, thick; or despicable

or on the contrary anyone so is there unilluminated
as not to perceive that
as no nature's boon can contend against the bounty of increase
so it behoves every most just citizen
to become the exhortator and admonisher of his semblables
and to tremble
lest what had in the past been
by the nation excellently commenced
might be in the future
not with similar excellence accomplished

"...and you know that since growth is good you should resist its decline..."

if an inverecund habit shall have gradually traduced
the honourable
by ancestors transmitted
to that thither of profundity

"...if immodest habits are threatening growth..."

inverecund = immodest

that that one was audacious excessively
who would have the hardihood to rise
affirming that no more odious offence can for anyone

"...who'd be bold enough to condemn..."

than to
neglect to consign
that evangel
simultaneously command and promise

"...someone's not obeying God's commandments..."

which on all mortals
with prophecy of abundance
or with diminution's menace
that exalted of reiteratedly procreating function
ever irrevocably enjoined?

"...about procreation?"

I imagine that Joyce is contrasting the rude beginnings and the hypercivilised peak of Latin style, as a cyclic Viconian anticipation of the subsequent history of English-- starting with near-inarticulacy and racing toward overarticulacy. But this next section, generally considered a parody of 12thC England's Latin chronicles, makes an uneasy fit with this scheme.

William of Malmesbury

"In order, also, that he might teach his subjects, who were too much given to sensual indulgence, to accustom themselves to temperance, he enjoined the solemn fast of Lent to be observed throughout his dominions. This was an extraordinary act for the king to attempt in those times: but he was a man whome no blandishments of luxury could enervate; no anxiety for power seduce from the worship of God. Wherefore he was protected by the favor of the Almighty; every thing, at home and abroad, succeeded to his wishes, and he grew old in uninterrupted tranquillity."

William of Malmesbury (d1143) was one of the the greatest stylists among the dozens of Latin chroniclers who flourished between 1100 and 1260. crit, extract author of "Chronicle of the Kings of England": extracts, multipage

Other chroniclers: Simeon of Durham (d1130?), Florence of Worcester (d1117), Eadmer (d1122?), Ordericus Vitalis (1075-1141?), Henry of Huntingdon, Gesta Stephani, Geoffrey of Monmouth (1100-1154), William of Newburgh (d1198?), Benedict of Peterborough, Richard Fitz-Neale (d1198), Roger of Hoveden, Ralph of Diceto, Richard of Devizes, Jocelin of Brakelond, Giraldus Cambrensis (1146-1220?), Walter Map (c1200), Matthew Paris (d1259) [ch] [extracts] [bibliog] English historians tracing their lineage from Venerable Bede (673-735)

Secondbest stylist was perhaps William of Newburgh (d1198?), expert on the reign of Henry II (1154-1189). [ch], extract

Best known: Geoffrey Of Monmouth, 'inventor' of King Arthur [extracts] [pdf]

Secondbestknown: Giraldus Cambrensis; "The Itinerary of Archibishop Baldwin through Wales" PGut

1184: Gerald of Wales visits Ireland

"Do you know what Giraldus Cambrensis says about your family?" [PoA5]

Norman renaissance, birth of chivalry/romance, English writers (usually somewhat-worldly monks) familiar with Latin classics [ch]

1100-1300 (Crusades)

It is not why therefore we shall wonder if,
as the best historians relate,
among the Celts,
who nothing that was not in its nature admirable admired,
the art of medicine shall have been highly honoured.

"No wonder, then, the Irish take good care delivering babies...."

Not to speak of hostels, leperyards, sweating chambers, plaguegraves,
their greatest doctors,
the O'Shiels, the O'Hickeys, the O'Lees,
have sedulously set down the divers methods
by which the sick and the relapsed found again health
whether the malady had been the trembling withering
or loose boyconnell flux.

"...and have written up their successful techniques."

Certainly in every public work
which in it anything of gravity contains
preparation should be with importance commensurate
and therefore a plan was by them adopted

"So they decided..."

(whether by having preconsidered
or as the maturation of experience
it is difficult in being said
which the discrepant opinions of subsequent inquirers are not
up to the present
congrued to render manifest)

"...(either by deduction or induction)..."

whereby maternity was so far from all accident possibility removed
that whatever care the patient
in that allhardest of woman hour
chiefly required
and not solely for the copiously opulent
but also for her who
not being sufficiently moneyed
scarcely and often not even scarcely
could subsist valiantly
and for an inconsiderable emolument
was provided.

"...to found a charitable maternity hospital."

So far:

"Nobody will respect your opinion about anything worth bothering with, if you aren't hip to what the admirably-brainy folk say: namely, you know a country's doing well if it's advanced in troubling to carry on nature's own generosity. After all, if you have anything on the ball you know looks can be deceiving and you know that since growth is good you should resist its decline, if immodest habits are threatening growth-- who'd be bold enough to condemn someone's not obeying God's commandments about procreation? No wonder, then, the Irish take good care delivering babies and have written up their successful techniques. So they decided (either by deduction or induction) to found a charitable maternity hospital."

To her nothing already then and thenceforward was anyway able to be molestful for this chiefly felt all citizens except with proliferent mothers prosperity at all not to can be and as they had received eternity gods mortals generation to befit them her beholding, when the case was so hoving itself, parturient in vehicle thereward carrying desire immense among all one another was impelling on of her to be received into that domicile. O thing of prudent nation not merely in being seen but also even in being related worthy of being praised that they her by anticipation went seeing mother, that she by them suddenly to be about to be cherished had been begun she felt!


Old English (875-1100AD, aka Anglo-Saxon): faq, wav, tutorial, course

language of Germanic tribes (Angles and Saxons) that displaced the Celts in south England, closest to Old Frisian, Flemish, Old Low German, and (modern) Icelandic

archives: Brit, Calgary, Georgetown, UVa, more



Aelfric (south-English monk, c955-1020): [Cath] Homilies w/pdf (controversially described Eucharist as spiritual, not physical, presence)

Anglo-Saxon alliterative prose.

"alliterative and monosyllabic and Anglo-Saxon"

alliteration was really more a feature of verse than prose [Saintsbury]

the next forty paragraphs supposedly correspond to the forty weeks of pregnancy

Before born babe bliss had. Within womb won he worship.

exaggerated version of verse style

Whatever in that one case done commodiously done was. A couch by midwives attended with wholesome food reposeful, cleanest swaddles as though forthbringing were now done and by wise foresight set: but to this no less of what drugs there is need and surgical implements which are pertaining to her case not omitting aspect of all very distracting spectacles in various latitudes by our terrestrial orb offered together with images, divine and human, the cogitation of which by sejunct females is to tumescence conducive or eases issue in the high sunbright wellbuilt fair home of mothers when, ostensibly far gone and reproductitive, it is come by her thereto to lie in, her term up.

week two of pregnancy:

Some man that wayfaring was stood by housedoor at night's oncoming. Of Israel's folk was that man that on earth wandering far had fared. Stark ruth of man his errand that him lone led till that house.

'housedoor': according to Joyce's schemata, the hospital corresponds to Helios's island Trinacria [schemata]
Of that house A. Horne is lord. Seventy beds keeps he there teeming mothers are wont that they lie for to thole and bring forth bairns hale so God's angel to Mary quoth. Watchers twey there walk, white sisters in ward sleepless. Smarts they still, sickness soothing: in twelve moons thrice an hundred. Truest bedthanes they twain are, for Horne holding wariest ward.

'Watchers': according to Joyce's schemata [qv] the nurses correspond to the daughters of Helios, Lampetie (sheep, silver crook) and Phaethusa (cattle, copper staff) [info] [Homer]

week four of pregnancy:

In ward wary the watcher hearing come that man mildhearted eft rising with swire ywimpled to him her gate wide undid. Lo, levin leaping lightens in eyeblink Ireland's westward welkin. Full she dread that God the Wreaker all mankind would fordo with water for his evil sins. Christ's rood made she on breastbone and him drew that he would rathe infare under her thatch. That man her will wotting worthful went in Horne's house.

week five of pregnancy:

Loth to irk in Horne's hall hat holding the seeker stood. On her stow he ere was living with dear wife and lovesome daughter that then over land and seafloor nine year had long outwandered. Once her in townhithe meeting he to her bow had not doffed. Her to forgive now he craved with good ground of her allowed that that of him swiftseen face, hers, so young then had looked. Light swift her eyes kindled, bloom of blushes his word winning.

exaggerating the alliterative quality of Old English verse.

week six of pregnancy:

As her eyes then ongot his weeds swart therefor sorrow she feared. Glad after she was that ere adread was. Her he asked if O'Hare Doctor tidings sent from far coast and she with grameful sigh him answered that O'Hare Doctor in heaven was. Sad was the man that word to hear that him so heavied in bowels ruthful. All she there told him, ruing death for friend so young, algate sore unwilling God's rightwiseness to withsay. She said that he had a fair sweet death through God His goodness with masspriest to be shriven, holy housel and sick men's oil to his limbs. The man then right earnest asked the nun of which death the dead man was died and the nun answered him and said that he was died in Mona Island through bellycrab three year agone come Childermas and she prayed to God the Allruthful to have his dear soul in his undeathliness. He heard her sad words, in held hat sad staring. So stood they there both awhile in wanhope, sorrowing one with other.

withsay: to contradict, gainsay, deny, renounce

850-1050: high-status Old-Norse-speaking immigrants influence Old English
1050-1250: high-status Old-French-speaking immigrants influence Old English

English being low-status was rarely used for written documents

introducing new sounds, words, and ways of constructing sentences adopted hundreds of words from French and quite a few from Old Norse, and had undergone important simplifications in its system of inflections.

1155: Pope Adrian IV (aka Nicholas Breakspear)'s 'Laudabiliter' grants Ireland to Henry II

1175: Roderick O'Connor surrenders to Henry II


"None excuse may be there for euery man
Alas how shall he do than
For after dethe amendes may no man make
For than mercy and pyte doth hym forsake"

c1495: Everyman: Renas, UVa [ch]

morality plays [ch]

other titles: The Castle of Perseverance; Mankynd; Mind, Will and Understanding; Interlude of the Nature of the Four Elements

Middle English prose

archives: Georgetown

week seven of pregnancy:

Therefore, everyman, look to that last end that is thy death and the dust that gripeth on every man that is born of woman for as he came naked forth from his mother's womb so naked shall he wend him at the last for to go as he came.

week eight of pregnancy:

The man that was come in to the house then spoke to the nursingwoman and he asked her how it fared with the woman that lay there in childbed. The nursingwoman answered him and said that that woman was in throes now full three days and that it would be a hard birth unneth to bear but that now in a little it would be. She said thereto that she had seen many births of women but never was none so hard as was that woman's birth. Then she set it all forth to him for because she knew the man that time was had lived nigh that house. The man hearkened to her words for he felt with wonder women's woe in the travail that they have of motherhood and he wondered to look on her face that was a fair face for any man to see but yet was she left after long years a handmaid. Nine twelve bloodflows chiding her childless.



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chapters: summary : anchors : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12a 12b 13 14a 14b 15a 15b 15c 15d 16a 16b 17a 17b 18a 18b
notes: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
reference: Bloom : clocktime : prices : schemata : Tower : riddles : errors : Homeric parallels : [B-L Odyssey] : Eolus tropes : parable : Oxen : Circe : 1904 : Thom's : Gold Cup : Seaside Girls : M'appari : acatalectic : search
riddles: overview : Rudy : condom : Gerty : Hades : Strand : murder : Eccles
maps: Ulysses : WRocks : Strand : VR tour : aerial tour : Dublin : Leinster : Ireland : Europe
editing: etexts : lapses : Gabler : capitals : commas : compounds : deletes : punct : typists
drafts: prequel : Proteus : Cyclops : Circe
closereadings: notes : Oxen : Circe

Joyce: main : fast portal : portal
major: FW : Pomes : U : PoA : Ex : Dub : SH : CM : CM05 : CM04
minor: Burner : [Defoe] : [Office] : PoA04 : Epiph : Mang : Rab
bio: timeline : 1898-1904 : [Trieste] : eyesight : schools : Augusta
vocation: reading : tastes : publishers : craft : symmetry
people: 1898-1904 gossip : 1881 gossip : Nora : Lucia : Gogarty : Byrne : friends : siblings : Stannie
maps: Dublin : Leinster : Ireland : Europe : Paris : Ulysses
images: directory : [Ruch]
motifs: ontology : waves : lies : wanking : MonaLisa : murder
Irish lit: timeline : 100poems : Ireland : newspapers : gossip : Yeats : MaudG : AE : the Household : Theosophy : Eglinton : Ideals
classics: Shakespeare : Dante : Pre-Raphaelites : Homer : Patrick
industry: Bloomsday : [movies] : Ellmann : Rose : genetics : NewGame
website: account : theory : early : old links : slow-portal fast-portal

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