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Friday, February 17, 2017

[GBM] Myrrha Case reopened


Apollo has been asked to join a coalition against Venus, who dared spank her omnipotent son Love. For a starter, the solar god tells Love he better stop crying like a little, silly baby. Then (1.28, line 3) gives him a 'good' piece of advice, again in a Freudian-like key: volgere il duolo in ira, "to channel pain/sorrow into wrath." How, concretely? Look. . .

1.29

"Over there in the rich, happy land     the Sun watches the whole Earth
of beautiful Arabia, the young Adonis,
almost a competitor of the phoenix,     competitor in the original text too
unmatched in beauty, lives alone---
Adonis, born of her who was joined     of her: Myrrha
by the maid in one bed with her own dad;     Cinyras
her who, turning into a tree, still distills    the myrrh (both spelled mirra in Italian)
her sorrows into tear-shaped scents."

The tragic story of Myrrha, a symbol of scandal and sin (see Dante, Inferno 30.37-41), makes one of the most interesting subplots in the poem, from the condition of outcast to moral and social redemption. The importance of mentioning here Myrrha's wet nurse, then maid and procuress, will become clear in the final section of the poem.