Page 226. " It leads to eugenics rather than to esthetics. "

Stephen takes into account other theories in which it was said that beauty was connected to the function of woman in the propagation of species.

Eugenics is the study and practice of selective breeding applied to humans, with the aim of improving the species. In a historical and broader sense, eugenics can also be a study of "improving human genetic qualities". It has now come to be associated with the policies of the Nazi party in twentieth century Europe.

Page 226. " with one hand on The Origin of Species and the other on the new testament "

 On the Origin of Species (1859) is an important scientific work by Charles Darwin, which sets out his theory of evolution by natural selection. This theory challenged the Catholic Church's doctrine that God created all life on earth. Having one hand on Darwin's book and the other on the New Testament of the Bible was therefore a rather contradictory position to be in.

Darwin, together with Freud, fundamentally altered society in the 19th century.



Page 227. " It begins with the words Pange Lingua Gloriosi "

This is a hymn written by Thomas Aquinas.

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Page 227. " can be put beside that mournful and majestic processional song, the Vexilla Regis of Venantius Fortunatus. "

A Latin hymn by the Christian poet Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers. It takes its title from the opening line:

Vexilla regis prodeunt,
fulget crucis mysterium,
quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.
"The standards of the King are raised,
the mystery of the Cross shines,
on which the creator of flesh was hung
in the flesh upon the gibbet."

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Page 228. " Last Saturday we went out to Glenmalure "

Glenmalure is a valley in the Wicklow Mountains in eastern Ireland, scene of a famous battle in 1580 between Irish clans and the English army.

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Page 229. " Laocoon interested me very much when I read it. "

 Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) was a German writer and philosopher best known for his work Laocoon: An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry. In this work, he argues against  Horace's idea that one should write poetry using the same devices as in the art of painting. Both have individual characters.

Page 232. " Is a chair finely made or tragic or comic? "

Stephen's questions shows that we cannot apply any concept to any object. For example, a chair in itself is neither tragic nor comic. It could become so only if the artist changed it, in order to stand for a tragic or comic representation.

The second of Stephen's questions relates to the juxtaposition of the terms beauty and good. Good could imply here "finely made", therefore beautiful. But he adds the term "desire", which could mean "esthetic desire", an oxymoron in his view: esthetic being a static emotion, desire being a kinetic one.

The third of Stephen's questions regards the way in which a work of art is produced. Can a work of art be produced by accident? I think yes, as long as the "author" realizes that wanting to do something else, he came across something that can be regarded as a work of art.

The image of the cow is not randomly chosen: for Joyce, the cow is the symbol of Ireland.

Page 233. " that old English ballad Turpin Hero which begins in the first person and ends in the third person. "


Page 235. " In a dream or vision he had known the ecstasy of seraphic life. "

 Seraphims are the spirit guardians of God's throne, usually pictured with six wings and flames. They constantly sing God's praise and regulate heaven. They are colored a flaming red and gold to symbolize fire. God's grace flows through the seraphim to the Angels below, dispelling darkness and purifying the universe. It was from this order that Satan emerged. Before his fall from Grace, he was considered the Angel who outshone all others. Seraphims are the highest order of Angels. 

Page 236. " he felt the rhythmic movement of a villanelle pass through them. "

A villanelle is a complex poetic form with only two rhyming sounds and two refrains (repeated lines). It consists of nineteen lines broken into six stanzas: five of three lines and one, at the end, of four. The first and third lines of the first stanza form the refrains which reappear, alternately, as the last lines of the middle stanzas, and as the penultimate and ultimate lines of the last stanza. The rest of the lines must rhyme with the words at the end of the first and second lines. Villanelles are therefore extremely difficult to write successfully, especially in the English language.

An example of a successful villanelle is Dylan Thomas's Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night:


Do not go gentle into that good night, (Refrain 1; rhyme A)

Old age should burn and rage at close of day; (Rhyme B)

Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Refrain 2; rhyme A)


Though wise men at their end know dark is right, (A)

Because their words had forked no lightning they (B)

Do not go gentle into that good night. (1)


Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright  (A)

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, (B)

Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (2)


Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, (A)

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, (B)

Do not go gentle into that good night. (1)


Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight (A)

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, (B)

Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (2)


And you, my father, there on the sad height, (A)

Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. (B)

Do not go gentle into that good night. (1)

Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (2)

Page 238. " a dainty song of the Elizabethans, a sad and sweet loth to depart, the victory chant of Agincourt, the happy air of Greensleeves. "

The Battle of Agincourt (1415) was an English victory against a larger French army during the Hundred Years' War. It is the scene of Shakespeare's St Crispin's Day speech in his play Henry V.  

Greensleeves is a traditional English folk song originally thought to have been composed by King Henry VIII of England for Anne Boleyn, his second wife. However, he is not responsible for inflicting this song on the world. It was very popular in Elizabethan times.

Listen on Spotify:    Greensleeves

Page 238. " willing and willing not to serve, spinning like Gherardino da Borgo San Donnino, a little web of sophistry and whispering in her ear. "

Gerard of Borgo San Donnino was a thirteenth century Franciscan friar from Sicily who published a book which was judged to be heresy by the Catholic Church. He was arrested and sentenced to life inprisonment, but refused to recant his beliefs.

Page 240. " a potboy in Moycullen "

Moycullen is a village in County Galway. It is one of the few remaining Irish speaking communities in the republic.

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Page 244. " the curved stick of an augur "

An augur was a type of Ancient Roman or Etrurian priest who would interpret signs from the natural world as omens and predictions of the future.


Page 244. " of Thoth, the god of writers "

Thoth was the Egyptian god of wisdom, the arts of magic, writing, development of science and the judgement of the dead.

GNU Free Documentation LicenseThoth - Credit: Jeff Dahl
Page 245. " they must be swallows who had come back from the south. "

Swallows are a common type of bird, which travel in flocks and can feed whilst flying. They migrate south during the winter and north during the summer months, so their arrival is seen as a sign of oncoming summer. Their peripatetic lifestyle is similar to that which Stephen will experience after his self-imposed exile.