[ilds] DG Justine -- Durrell, Borges, and Herodotus

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Thu Jun 7 13:42:15 PDT 2007

On 6/7/2007 5:41 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:

>I must say, following Charles's journey across Europe and getting his dispatches from the front, so to speak, are the most interesting thing on the ILDS these days.  I go along with Charles's confluence of allusions and will throw something else into the stew:  Herodotus's account of Cambyses's disastrous campaign in Ethiopia and the loss of another army in a sandstorm (3.25-26).  Those descriptions seem closer to Durrell's.
Just back from a delightful stew of young rabbit and greens down on the 
canal.  HET WATERHUIS AAN DE BIERKANT suits me these days.  Gavandum 
dry-hopping beer is the nice compliment to your rabbit and chips.  Take 
as necessary in generous measure.  Then take the walk back to the hotel 
just as the small rain begins, watching the ballerinas from the arts 
school look to the sky and scatter in their surprise.

> http://www.waterhuisaandebierkant.be/e2.htm

Bruce's cast of the planchette feels right.  Herodotus predates any 
Alexandrian armies on the move, but H's intuitive notion of apocrypha as 
communicating "true" history  gets at the vision here with Nessim's 
dreams.  (Let us not question the "Father of Lies" as a possible source 
for our Old D.)  Cambyses' campaign is indeed a nightmare. 

>         When they reported all this, Cambyses was angry, and marched
>         at once against the Ethiopians, neither giving directions for
>         any provision of food nor considering that he was about to
>         lead his army to the ends of the earth; [3.25.2] being not in
>         his right mind but mad, however, he marched at once on hearing
>         from the Fish-eaters, ordering the Greeks who were with him to
>         await him where they were, and taking with him all his land
>         army. [3.25.3] When he came in his march to Thebes, he
>         detached about fifty thousand men from his army, and directed
>         them to enslave the Ammonians and burn the oracle of Zeus; and
>         he himself went on towards Ethiopia with the rest of his host.
>         [3.25.4] But before his army had accomplished the fifth part
>         of their journey they had come to an end of all there was in
>         the way of provision, and after the food was gone, they ate
>         the beasts of burden until there was none of these left
>         either. [3.25.5] Now had Cambyses, when he perceived this,
>         changed his mind and led his army back again, he would have
>         been a wise man at last after his first fault; but as it was,
>         he went ever forward, taking account of nothing. [3.25.6]
>         While his soldiers could get anything from the earth, they
>         kept themselves alive by eating grass; but when they came to
>         the sandy desert, some did a terrible thing, taking by lot one
>         man out of ten and eating him. [3.25.7] Hearing this, Cambyses
>         feared their becoming cannibals, and so gave up his expedition
>         against the Ethiopians and marched back to Thebes, with the
>         loss of many of his army; from Thebes he came down to Memphis,
>         and sent the Greeks to sail away.

Now if we imagined Herodotus writing /after /Joseph Conrad, we might 
have the mix.  (I am thinking of the fever-talk of Kurtz to Marlow.)

Anne Zahlan has read a paper to us on Nessim's dreams that I hope will 
appear in some form in the future.


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

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