Noon slumbers

In Brief

"Noon slumbers": Stephen's thoughts turn from Paris in the morning to Paris at mid-day, and the scene changes from various unknown Parisian love-makers to a particular remembered meeting with Kevin and Patrice Egan. But noon is also approaching in the present moment, on the Sandymount strand, and the narrative will link Stephen with several different literary representations of gods and demigods napping in the mid-day. One of these, implicitly at least, is Homer's Proteus.

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In Book 4 of the Odyssey Eidothea tells Menelaus that her father, "immortal Proteus of Egypt," leaves the sea each day "When the sun hangs at high noon in heaven." He comes ashore in some "caverns hollowed by the sea," joined by a crowd of seals whom he counts each day before "he lies down like a shepherd with his flock." Following her advice, Menelaus and three of his men lie down on the sand, covered with newly flayed sealskins, waiting for the god to show up so they can wrest his secrets from him.

Later in Proteus, Stephen lies down on the rocks bordering the sand and thinks of Kevin Egan "nodding for his nap, sabbath sleep. Et vidit Deus. Et erant valde bona." Egan taking a snooze on Sunday recalls the Judeo-Christian God resting after his labors. Stephen then thinks of "Pan's hour, the faunal noon." The Greek fertility god Pan too was said to rest at noon, and the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé's composed a famous work about a faun who awoke from an erotic dream in the "après-midi," after-noon.

JH 2017
Lithograph on paper by Dame Elisabeth Frink (1973-74), held in the Tate Britain's prints and drawings rooms. Source: www.tate.org.uk.