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Moby Dick: Allusions

Perseus in Roman Mythology

Chris Dulhanty

on 15 November 2013

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Transcript of Moby Dick: Allusions

Moby Dick:

What is an Allusion?
What is an Allusion?
an implied or indirect reference especially in literature (Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary. 2009)

a brief or indirect reference (Cambridge University Dictionary. 2009)
What is a metaphor?
a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary. 2009)

an expression which describes a person or object in a literary way by referring to something that is considered to have similar characteristics to the person or object you are trying to describe (Cambridge University Dictionary. 2009)
What is an allegory?
the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence (Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary. 2009)

a story, play, poem, picture or other work in which the characters and events represent particular qualities or ideas, related to morals, religion or politics (Cambridge University Dictionary. 2009)
What is symbolism?
the art or practice of using symbols especially by investing things with a symbolic meaning or by expressing the invisible or intangible by means of visible or sensuous representations (Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary. 2009)

the use of symbols in art, literature, films, etc. to represent ideas (Cambridge University Dictionary. 2009)
Allusion from the novel
Chapter 82:
The Honor and Glory of Whaling
"The gallant Perseus, a son of Jupiter, was the first
whaleman; and to the eternal honor of our calling be it said, that the first whale attacked by our brotherhood was not killed with any sordid intent." p.348
Founded City of Argos
Fifth Generation Roman God;
King of Argos
Many generations
King of the Gods
An oracale prophesized that Danae's son would one day kill Acrisius, so Acrisius locked her in a tower.
Jupiter came to Danae in the form of golden rain through the window of her tower and impregnated her
Perseus was sent to kill Medusa by Polydectes, the king of Seriphos and the suitor for his mother Danae, because he had become angered at Perseus' attempts to keep his mother Danae from marrying him

Polydectes hoped Perseus would die on the journey

Perseus met Mercury and Minerva to receive gifts and then set off on his journey to defeat Medusa

Perseus was successful in killing the Goddess and when he beheaded her, a flying horse named Pegasus was born from her blood

Perseus rode Pegasus home but was blown off course by incredible winds and landed in Aethiopia
Perseus encountered Andromeda, the daughter of King Cephus of Aethiopia who was chained to a rock by the ocean, and fell in love with her
Perseus soon learned that the King's wife had angered the sea gods by saying she was more beautiful than they were, and Posiedon threatened to destroy the village by sending a great sea monster
King Cephus went to an oracle for guideance and learned that the villlage's destruction could be avoided if his daughter Andromeda was sacrificed
The sea monster, Ceto, approached
Roman Sea Goddess
Perseus married Andromeda

The two went back to the town of Seriphus, where Perseus' mother, Danae, was located

Danae was being forced to marry King Polydectes against her will, so Perseus killed him

All three returned to their hometown of Argos
Connections to Moby Dick
Symbolic Conniction
Allegorical Connection
Methaphoric Connection
Mythological aspects of whaling
Innate struggle to do good
Unifying aspects of whaling
Ceto is a Roman Goddess of the sea, but has much in common with Moby Dick
As Ceto, the Leviathan sea monster, was carrying Andromeda off, Perseus interceped them and harpooned Ceto, killing her and saving both Andromeda and the village from destruction
Ceto holds mythological powers that cannot be explained
This demonstrates that superstition among whalers as to the appearance and ferocity of Moby Dick is almost mythological, that the act of killing the White Whale would be god-like
Supreme Ordeal:
Remain a God safe in Mount Olympus,
or help humanity by slaying Medusa and Ceto
Supreme Ordeal:
Remain a timid, unexperienced man safe in the merchant trade,
or become a whaler and live dangerously for profit by hunting majestic whales
Supreme Ordeal:
Remain a broken man and live the remainder of life off of the wealth accumulated from forty years at sea,
or seek revenge for the whale that took so much physically and mentally from your life
Moby Dick is thought to be able to appear in two places simultaneously
Final Thoughts
All people have the innate desire for adventure
Whaling is legendary, an act that predates all modern exploits
To be a whaler is to be a hero
Full transcript