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Ghosts of Optimism: Virgil's Parade of Heroes in Joyce's "Circe"

Randall J. Pogorzelski
International Journal of the Classical Tradition
Vol. 16, No. 3/4 (Sep. - Dec., 2009), pp. 443-466
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40388971
Page Count: 24
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Ghosts of Optimism: Virgil's Parade of Heroes in Joyce's
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Abstract

This article identifies and traces a systematic correspondence between the "Circe" episode of Joyce's Ulysses and the sixth book of Virgil's Aeneid. The allusion culminates in a parallel between the appearance of the ghost of Bloom's son Rudy at the end of "Circe" and the appearance of the ghost of Augustus' heir Marcellus at the end of Aeneid 6. Both Rudy and Marcellus, while alive, represented great hope for the future, but both tragically died young and their ghosts serve as reminders of disappointed optimism. The correspondence between Rudy and Marcellus politicizes the ghost of Bloom's son, aligning him with the dead heir to the Roman Empire. By making Rudy not only a dead son, but also a dead heir, "Circe" uses the politics of Roman imperial succession as represented in the Aeneid to address the problem of succession following the Irish war of independence. In the midst of the optimism of the anti-colonial revolution, the ghosts of Rudy and Marcellus haunt Ireland with the uncertainty of succession and the specter of future violence.

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