Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Further Reading Further
"There is one passage in the Odyssey where it speaks of two gates, one of horn and one of ivory. Through the ivory gate false dreams pass to men, and through the gate of horn go the true and prophetic dreams. And there is a passage in the Aeneid, in the sixth book, which has provoked innumerable commentaries. Aeneas descends to the Elysian Fields, beyond the Pillars of Hercules. He speaks with the shades of Achilles and Tiresias; he sees the shade of his mother, he wants to embrace her but cannot because she is made of shadow; and he sees, moreover, the future greatness of the city he will found. He sees Romulus and Remus, a field, and then in that field the future Roman Forum, the future grandeur of Rome, the greatness of Augustus; he sees the whole imperial grandeur. And after having seen all of this, after having talked to its contemporaries (who, for Aeneas, are future people), he returns to the world of the living. What then occurs is quite curious and has never been well explained, except by one anonymous commentator who I believe offered the truth. Aeneas returns through the gate of ivory and not through the gate of horn. Why? The anonymous commentator tells us: because we are not in reality. For Virgil, the real world was possibly the Platonic world, the world of the archetypes. Aeneas passes through the gates of ivory because he enters the world of dreams--that is to say, what we call waking."
--from the "Nightmares" of Seven Nights
Jorge Luis Borges
--painting: Claude Monet. Charing Cross Bridge,
Indianapolis Museum of Art,