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Dabbler

Lovecraftian Latin -- The Tomb

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Dabbler

Some thoughts on the dedication to the  lesser-known but to my mind very fine Lovecraft story:

 

 

''Sedibus ut saltem in morte placidis quiescam'' – so that in death at least I might find a place of rest, (Aeneid, Virgil, line 371). This is the last plea of Palinurus to Aeneas when they meet before the banks of the river Acheron in the Underworld. The unburied, like Palinurus, were not suffered to pass by Charon the ferryman and must ''roam and flit'' on its banks. Palinurus hoped that the semi-divine Aeneas might either bury him in the upper-world or take him across the river. He is met with stern refusal from the Sibyl, Aeneas' companion, but is consoled by having Cape Palinurus in Italy named after him.

 

A thorough understanding of the myth of Palinurus is necessary to understand this story – the central idea being that the unburied do not find the peace of oblivion – that Jervas Hyde, burnt to ashes and scattered, may have remained in some measure alive until he ''would claim his heritage of death, even though my soul go seeking through the ages for another corporeal tenement to represent it on that vacant slab in the alcove of the vault.''. His coffin is prepared, and he fastens on to the young Jervas Dudley as a double (and he is, by his own admission, exceptionally perceptive and aware that to talk of ''reality'' is a nonsense, all that we perceive is the result of imperfectly evolved but roughly adequate sense-apparatuses that merely outperformed all otherss existing. As a fastened-double, cf Asenath Waite – both have fine minds, extremely acute perceptions and weak wills, tho' I could never attribute to Hyde the malignity of Ephraim) or is Jervas Dudley, as a sort of latent double awakened by his ''change'' on the first night of voices, or by his coffin-sleeps and strange dealings with the dead (or dreams, or delusions), so that when the latter dies he (too) will be laid to rest in a body.

 

A direct allusion is later made to Palinurus.

 

I hope all of this is in the forum font -- I tried my best to get it out of my own Times Roman.

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