“In the deep glade where dwells the brooding dove,
The painted valley, and the scented air,
She heard far echoes of the voice of Love,
And found his footsteps’ traces everywhere.But nevermore they met! since doubts and fears,
Those phantom shapes that haunt and blight the earth,
Had come ‘twixt her, a child of sin and tears,
And that bright spirit of immortal birth;
Until her pining soul and weeping eyes
Had learned to seek him only in the skies..”
“Sisyphus is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth… As for this myth, one sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to raise the huge stone, to roll it, and push it up a slope a hundred times over; … At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Sisyphus watches the stone rush down in a few moments toward that lower world whence he will have to push it up again toward the summit. He goes back down to the plain. It is during that return, that pause, that Sisyphus interests me…I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than his rock.”
– Albert Camus “Myth of Sisyphus”
Tithonus”Me only cruel immortality
Consumes; I wither slowly in thine arms,
Here at the quiet limit of the world,
A white-hair’d shadow roaming like a dream
The ever-silent spaces of the East,
Far-folded mists, and gleaming halls of morn.
Alas! for this gray shadow, once a man–
So glorious in his beauty and thy choice,
Who madest him thy chosen, that he seem’d
To his great heart none other than a God!
I ask’d thee, “Give me immortality.””
– Alfred Lord Tennyson “Tithonus”
Incidentally, Tithonus also reminds me of the Struldbrugs, in “Gullivers Travels” by Swift. The Struldbrugs are certain immortal people in the land of the Luggnaggians. Gulliver assumes that immortality should aid in the acquisition of riches and knowledge. However, he is told that after the age of thirty, most Struldbrugs grow sad and dejected, and by eighty, they grow to hate everyone and are envious of those who are able to die.
Atlas”By harsh necessity, Atlas supports the broad sky on his head and unwearying arms, at the earth’s limits, near the clear voiced Hesperides, for his is the doom decreed for him by Zeus the counselor.”
– Hesiod “Theogony”
“No change, no pause, no hope!
Yet I endure. I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun, Has it not seen?
The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven’s ever-changing shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever! ”
-Shelley “Prometheus Unbound
“I also saw the awful agonies that Tantalus has to bear. The old man was standing in a pool of water which nearly reached his chin, and his thirst drove him to unceasing efforts; but he could never get a drop to drink. For whenever he stooped in his eagerness to lap the water, it disappeared. .. and all he saw at his feet was the dark earth, which some mysterious power had parched. Trees spread their foliage high over the pool and dangle fruits above his head—pear-trees and pomegranates, apple-trees with their glossy burden, sweet figs and luxuriant olives. But whenever the old man tried to grasp them in his hands, the wind would toss them up towards the shadowy clouds.”
“They say that by the commands of the gods Ixion spins round and round on his feathered wheel, saying this to mortals: ‘Repay your benefactor frequently with gentle favors in return’.”
-Pindar “Pythian Odes”
“Through winter-time we call on spring,
And through the spring on summer call,
And when abounding hedges ring
Declare that winter’s best of all;
And after that there’s nothing good
Because the spring-time has not come —
Nor know that what disturbs our blood
Is but its longing for the tomb.”
– Yeats “The Wheel”
“This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”
-T.S.Eliot “The Hollow Men”technorati tags: Greek, Mythology, Absurdity, Existentialism, Freud, Projective-Identification, Psyche,