Shadow of Memory

`Much of the Fall of Hyperion has to do with the usurpation of Hyperion and the Titans by the Olympians. I interpret this as a historical reference to the French Revolution and other seemingly apocalyptic events that were occurring at the time. However, the role of Moneta was considerably more obscure, and so my understanding of her prophecy and her symbolism was deficient. I was frustrated about this until I visited the Parthenon and saw the statue of Athena gilded with gold, beautiful, and ingrained with apocalyptic imagery. In my subsequent close readings of the poem I noticed a portion describing Moneta which was eerily similar to the statue of Athena. Keats describes Moneta. He made a note of, “Her planetary eyes, and touch her voice/With such a sorrow. ‘Shade of Memory!”/Cried I, with act adorant at her feet,/By all the gloom hung round thy fallen house,” (lines 281-285). When I read this passage I felt that Keats was somehow drawing a comparison between this statue of Athena and Moneta.

During the tour I recalled that when Keats saw the Parthenon in Greece it was in ruins. I believe that this is what he was thinking of when he mentions the gloom around the fallen house. Also, I noticed a footnote that states “Shade of Memory” refers to the fact that Moneta means memory. However, the word “shade” here is critical. It implies a memory that isn’t clear or one that resides in shadow. Similarly the memory of the greatness of the Parthenon lived in shadow because the temple was in ruins. This implies that Moneta’s apocalyptic vision stems from her memory. Her memory of the past is one that regulates her prophecy of the future referring to the fall of Hyperion. As I stood at the feet of Athena’s statue, I recalled the line where Keats said he Cried..adorant at her feet and I knew that we had both seen the same vision of Athena. She was a memory of the past and re-envisioned in Moneta whose prophecies are based in the shadowy ruins of the temple, tempered with patches of the sublime because it is incomplete and obscured in shadow.

~ by bobcat101 on October 23, 2012.

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