The Burial-Places of Memory: Epic Underworlds in Vergil, Dante, and Milton

The Burial-Places of Memory: Epic Underworlds in Vergil, Dante, and Milton

The Burial-Places of Memory: Epic Underworlds in Vergil, Dante, and Milton

The Burial-Places of Memory: Epic Underworlds in Vergil, Dante, and Milton

Excerpt

There is a remarkable and triumphant moment late in the fourth act of Antony and Cleopatra when Antony, convinced that Cleopatra has killed herself, and inspired by what he takes to be her courage, determines forthwith to join her in the otherworld:

I will o'ertake thee, Cleopatra, and Weep for my pardon. So it must be, for now All length is torture; since the torch is out, Lie down and stray no farther. Now all labor Mars what it does; yea, very force entangles Itself with strength. Seal then, and all is done. Eros!--I come, my queen!--Eros!--Stay for me! Where souls do couch on flowers, we'll hand in hand, And with our sprightly port make the ghosts gaze. Dido and her Aeneas shall want troops, And all the haunt be ours. Come, Eros, Eros!

(4. 14.44-54)

It makes surprisingly little difference in the long run that Antony's vision is elicited by a report that isn't true: what we respond . . .

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