Callisto Myth from Ovid to Atwood

Callisto Myth from Ovid to Atwood: Initiation and Rape in Literature

Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 240
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    Callisto Myth from Ovid to Atwood
    Book Description:

    Kathleen Wall traces the myth through fifteen works of English, American, and Canadian literature, providing a fresh, feminist reading of these narratives. Among the works analysed are selections by Margaret Atwood, Charlotte Bronte, Thomas Hardy, and George Elliot. The resulting text reveals many facets of the realities of women's experience from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. And ultimately, Wall shows rape to be an expression of dominance rather than lust, giving increased support to the definition suggested by feminists.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6156-4
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-9)

    Defining the mythic patterns which accurately reflect the forms and realities of woman’s experience is a major concern of feminist literary criticism. Mythic analyses of literature by and about women have revealed the inadequacies of the paradigms describing the masculine experience that have been posited by Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and Northrop Frye. The social restrictions traditionally placed upon women, and hence upon the heroine, result in a radical difference between the nature of her existence and that of her male counterpart, the hero. From this straightforward observation, it is but a very simple step to conclude that the myths...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Classical Versions and Their Implications
    (pp. 10-25)

    The myth of Callisto is variously related in five extant classical works. Hesiod’sAstronomy,written in the eighth century,, BC is the oldest source of information, but his account is quite sketchy, concerned as it is with the origin of the Great Bear constellation and not with the story itself.¹ Apollodorus, to whom The Library is somewhat uneasily attributed (and which is dated equally uneasily at 140 BC), dismisses the whole incident in a paragraph;²Hyginus (64 BC to AD 17),in thePoetica Astronomica,devotes only a page,³ but both he and Apollodorus offer some of the significant variations which have...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Callisto in the Medieval and Renaissance Traditions
    (pp. 26-46)

    The story Ovid tells of Callisto received several different kinds of treatment during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in England. Three translations of theMetamorphosesmade the work even more popular and well known than it had been in the Latin original. William Caxton made the first full translation into colourful Middle English in 1480. Arthur Golding made the first important Renaissance translation in 1567; it went through eight editions in fifty years and wastheEnglish Ovid during that time. At some point it even became known as “Shakespeare’s Ovid,” allegedly being the translation to which Shakespeare referred....

  7. CHAPTER THREE A Mask Presented At Ludlow Castle: The Armour of Logos
    (pp. 47-61)

    Translations, or works intentionally derived from a previous source, generally deviate from the original text only to the extent that the writer can insert his or her opinions without full consciousness that these insertions might distort the intention of the original. Consequently, with respect to the Callisto myth, the three translations of theMetamorphoses,the two “histories” based on the “matter of Rome,” Thomas Heywood’s “historical” play, andThe Barley-Breakedeviate relatively little from the plot structure of the classical sources. With the exception of Jove’s proposal to Callisto and the secularized settings, these seven works reveal signatures largely through...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Mysteries of Udolpho: Mysteries of the Forest
    (pp. 62-75)

    When Milton wrote A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, he explored the possibility of psychological virginity in the context of Renaissance mores. His shaping of the myth, aside from all its complexities, essentially constitutes a response to a social and cultural imperative: rape victims and unchaste girls can hardly be employed as heroines. Milton had to find a way of allowing his heroine to achieve some modicum of psychological virginity without actually losing its physical counterpart. The result is a work that essentially defines psychological virginity in Renaissance terms and that ignores the spiritual and psychological gains hypothesized by Harding...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Jane Eyre: Even Plain Jane Can Be a Nymph
    (pp. 76-93)

    Jane Eyre is one of the nineteenth century’s literary oddities, for it is a novel of considerable power written by a relatively inexperienced young woman. In attempting to account for this paradox, critics have generally resorted to source studies, the ingenuity of which has largely been limited to combing the obscure works of the Gothic era in hopes of finding a precursor for Jane Eyre. Oddly enough, none of these studies has suggested Mysteries of Udolpho as a possible source, although there are great similarities in plot: Jane and Emily are both orphans; both display an almost heroic effort to...

  10. CHAPTER SIX The Scarlet Letter: The Power of Society’s Sacred Sanctions
    (pp. 94-106)

    Nathaniel Hawthorne’s fascination with myth is obvious from his two books for young people, theWonder BookandTanglewood Tales. Both offer lovely, original versions of the Greek myths, each with a new tone imparted by their common narrator, Eustice Bright. In the introduction toTanglewood Tales, Hawthorne remarks that myths are “indestructible” and that “the inner life of the legends cannot be come at save by making them one’s own property.”¹ This is precisely what he has done with the Callisto myth inThe Scarlet Letter. By finding its “inner life,” Hawthorne has let the myth speak for itself;...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN Adam Bede: Woman Empowered
    (pp. 107-118)

    Nine years after Nathaniel Hawthorne wroteThe Scarlet LetterGeorge Eliot re-read the book; in the same year she wroteAdam Bede. Although Robert K. Wallace has argued that Hawthorne’s novel, which Eliot greatly admired, is a source forMiddlemarch,¹ the names of her characters in her earlier novel - Hetty Sorrel and Arthur Donnithorne - are quite likely derived from Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale. Both Hesters bring forth a child out of wedlock, and consequently suffer from public ostracism. If both women find their mythic ancestor in Callisto, however, Hetty Sorrel’s character differs quite drastically from that...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Tess of the D’Urbervilles: The Maid Who Went to the Merry Green Wood
    (pp. 119-136)

    Noting the popularity ofTess of the D’Urbervilles, Arnold Kettle observes that “in Great Britain at least, thousands of people who have never opened the book ‘know about’ Tess.” Irving Howe similarly draws attention to the almost inexplicable power of her character, while Virginia Hyman concludes: “No amount of explanation regarding Hardy’s intellectual or artistic development can fully account for the creative energy and mastery that has created Tess.”¹ When one recognizes the mythic dimensions of her character, however, the extraordinary response that she commands is not surprising, for one quality of mythic literature is it ability to evoke a...

  13. CHAPTER NINE Lady Chatterley’s Lover: Liberating the Myth
    (pp. 137-154)

    D.H. Lawrence’sStudy of Thomas Hardy, like so much of his literary criticism, is as much about his own predilections and his own work as it is about his predecessor. As such, it forges a link between Hardy’s fiction, especially the Wessex novels, and Lawrence’s own passionate observations on modern life and love. The heat of his prose in theStudybetrays, in particular, the great love he had forTessof the D’Urbervilles: “The whole book is true, in its conception” he remarks.¹ Yet while he loved Tess herself, he was almost indignant about Hardy’s treatment of her.


  14. CHAPTER TEN Surfacing: The Matriarchal Myth Re-surfaces
    (pp. 155-170)

    Critics concerned with the mythic dimensions of Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing have often observed that the patterns of male-oriented myth are in adequate as a basis for coming to terms with this novel. In “Nature as Nunnery,” her New York Times Book Review commentary, Francine du Plessex Gray points to this problem when she identifies the narrator of Atwood’s novel as a “heroine of a thousand faces.”¹ Although studies of Surfacing based on the patterns formulated in Northrop Frye’s Anatomy of Criticism and Joseph Campbell’s Hero of a Thousand Faces have provided perceptive observations on Atwood’s novel,² many critics object to...

  15. CHAPTER ELEVEN Beyond Rape
    (pp. 171-184)

    The myth of Callisto does not belong entirely to the past. Although it has not been noticed as a controlling myth in literature written after 1972, the date of Atwood’sSurfacing, and although significant changes have been made benefitting the status of women in Western society, the circumstances of modern women’s lives continue to reflect the patterns of the ancient myth. Attitudes about rape, about women’s right to independence and control of their own lives, attitudes that women have toward their fellow women, attitudes toward girls who “get themselves in trouble,” still remain elements of the patriarchal aspect of the...

  16. APPENDIX A The Callisto Story According to Hesiod.
    (pp. 185-185)
  17. APPENDICES B The Callisto Story According to Apollodorus.
    (pp. 185-186)
  18. APPENDICES C The Callisto Story According to Hyginus.
    (pp. 186-186)
  19. APPENDICES D The Callisto Story According to Ovid.
    (pp. 187-189)
  20. APPENDICES E The Callisto Story According to Pausanias.
    (pp. 190-190)
  21. APPENDICES F from Charles Anthon: A Classical Dictionary
    (pp. 190-192)
  22. Notes
    (pp. 193-206)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 207-222)
  24. Index
    (pp. 223-227)