"Tithonus" is a poem by the Victorian poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–92), originally written in 1833 as "Tithon" and completed in 1859. It first appeared in the February edition of the Cornhill Magazine in 1860. Faced with old age, Tithonus, weary of his immortality, yearns for death. The poem is a dramatic monologue with Tithonus addressing his consort Eos, the goddess of the dawn.
In Greek mythology, Tithonus was a Trojan by birth, the son of King Laomedon of Troy by a water nymph named Strymo ("harsh"). Eos, [ citation needed ] When Zeus stole Ganymede from her to be his cup-bearer, as a repayment, Eos asked for Tithonus to be made immortal, but forgot to ask for eternal youth.[ citation needed ] Tithonus indeed lived forever but grew ever older. In later tellings, Eos eventually turned him into a cricket to relieve him of such an existence. In the poem however, it is Eos, and not Zeus, who grants Tithonus immortality.the Greek goddess of the dawn, abducted Ganymede and Tithonus from the royal house of Troy to be her consorts.
In the poem, Tithonus asks Eos for the gift of immortality, which she readily grants him, but forgets to ask for eternal youth along with it. As time wears on, age catches up with him. Wasted and withered, Tithonus is reduced to a mere shadow of himself. But since he is immortal, he cannot die and is destined to live forever, growing older and older with each passing day.
The main classical source that Tennyson draws upon is from the story of Aphrodite's relationship with Anchises in the ancient Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite.In this Aphrodite briefly tells of Eos's foolishness in neglecting to ask Zeus for immortal youth for Tithonus along with his immortality.
The original version of the poem, named "Tithon", was written in 1833 shortly after Tennyson's friend Arthur Henry Hallam's death but was not published.When William Makepeace Thackeray asked him for a submission to the Cornhill Magazine to be issued in January 1860 which he was editing, Tennyson made some substantial revisions to the text of the poem and submitted it under the title "Tithonus". It was published in the February edition. It was finally published by Tennyson in an anthology in the Enoch Arden volume in 1864.
The poem begins with Tithonus speaking to Eos "at the quiet limit of the world" (line 7) where he lives with her. Confronted with old age and its attendant pains, he meditates upon death and mortality, and mourns the fact that death cannot release him from his misery. He recounts how Eos, choosing him to be her lover, had filled him with so much pride that he had seemed "To his great heart none other than a God!" (14). Though she carelessly granted him immortality at his asking, he could not escape the ravages of time. The Hours aged him and his youth and beauty faded away−-"But thy strong Hours indignant work'd their wills / And beat me down and marr'd and wasted me" (18–19). He asks Eos to set him free−-"Let me go; take back thy gift" (27)−-and questions why anyone should desire that which is unattainable.
Eos departs at dawn without replying to his wish that she take back the boon of immortality. As she leaves, her tears fall on his cheek. This fills him with the foreboding that the saying he had learnt on earth, that even "The Gods themselves cannot recall their gifts"(49), might be true. He remembers his youth when he would feel his whole body come alive at dawn as Eos kissed him and whispered to him words "wild and sweet" (61), which seemed like the song Apollo sang as Ilion (Troy) was being built. In the final section, weary of life and immortality, he yearns for death to take him. He feels that "men that have the power to die" (70) are happy and fortunate. Since his "immortal age" (22) can no longer be reconciled with Eos' "immortal youth" (22), he once more begs her:
Release me, and restore me to the ground;
Thou seest all things, thou wilt see my grave:
Thou wilt renew thy beauty morn by morn;
I earth in earth forget these empty courts,
And thee returning on thy silver wheels. (72–76)
The first version of "Tithonus" was one of four poems ("Morte d'Arthur", "Ulysses", and "Tiresias") which were written by Tennyson following the death of his friend, Arthur Henry Hallam. His death greatly influenced much of Tennyson's later poetry. According to critic Mary Donahue, "It is not that anything so obvious and simple as the identification of Eos with Hallam is possible or that the emotional relationship between Tennyson and Hallam is wholly clarified by 'Tithonus', but it is clear that, in choosing the mask of Tithonus, Tennyson reached out to two of the most basic symbols, those of love between man and woman and the frustration of love by age, to express the peculiar nature of his own emotional injury."Victorian scholar Matthew Reynolds wrote, "Grieving for Arthur Hallam, Tennyson wrote poems which describe what they themselves possess: a life unusually, but not eternally, prolonged through time."
Tithonus's suffering is a reminder of the futility of attempting to "pass beyond the goal of ordinance" (30). It is a poignant expression of the inevitability of death and of the necessity of accepting it as such. Tithonus has to bear the consequences of varying from "the kindly race of men" (29). Though he succeeds in defying death, his youth and beauty desert him in his old age. He can only ask for release. But death does not come to him later even when he begs for it. He is destined to live forever as a "white-haired shadow" (8) and forever roam "the ever-silent spaces of the East" (9). In being immortal, Tithonus ceases to be himself, sacrifices his mortal identity.
Tennyson described "Tithonus" in a letter as "a pendent to the "Ulysses" in my former volumes."Tithonus's character offers a strong contrast to that of Ulysses. The two poems are matched and opposed as the utterances of Greek and Trojan, victor and vanquished, hero and victim. According to critic William E. Cain, "Tithonus has discovered the curse of fulfillment, of having his carelessly worded wish come true. He lives where no man ought to live, on the other side of the horizon, the other side of the border that Ulysses could only plan to cross.
According to Victorian scholar A. A. Markley, "Tithonus" offers a viewpoint opposite to that of "Ulysses" on the theme of the acceptance of death.He writes that "while 'Ulysses' explores the human spirit that refuses to accept death, 'Tithonus' explores the human acceptance of the inevitability, and even the appropriateness, of death as the end of the life cycle. The two poems offer two extreme views of facing death, each one which balances the other when they are read together− clearly one of Tennyson's original intentions when he first drafted them in 1833. Nevertheless, reading 'Tithonus' purely as a pendant to 'Ulysses' has led to unnecessarily reductive readings of both poems."
The title of After Many a Summer , a novel by Aldous Huxley originally published in 1939 and retitled After Many a Summer Dies the Swan when published in the USA, is taken from the fourth line of the poem. It tells the story of a Hollywood millionaire who, fearing his impending death, employs a scientist to help him achieve immortality.
A season 6 episode of The X-Files entitled "Tithonus" tells the story of a man cursed with immortality who works as a photographer taking photos of individuals whom he can sense are close to death. He snaps these photos hoping to see the Grim Reaper and to die, finally, after having spent decades trapped in the land of the living.
Aphrodite is an ancient Greek goddess associated with love, lust, beauty, pleasure, passion, procreation, and as her syncretized Roman goddess counterpart Venus, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity, and victory. Aphrodite's major symbols include seashells, myrtles, roses, doves, sparrows, and swans. The cult of Aphrodite was largely derived from that of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, a cognate of the East Semitic goddess Ishtar, whose cult was based on the Sumerian cult of Inanna. Aphrodite's main cult centers were Cythera, Cyprus, Corinth, and Athens. Her main festival was the Aphrodisia, which was celebrated annually in midsummer. In Laconia, Aphrodite was worshipped as a warrior goddess. She was also the patron goddess of prostitutes, an association which led early scholars to propose the concept of "sacred prostitution" in Greco-Roman culture, an idea which is now generally seen as erroneous.
In ancient Greek mythology and religion, Eos is the goddess and personification of the dawn, who rose each morning from her home at the edge of the river Oceanus to deliver light and disperse the night. In Greek tradition and poetry she is characterized as a goddess with a great sexual appetite, who took numerous lovers for her own satisfaction and bore them several children. Like her Roman counterpart Aurora and Rigvedic Ushas, Eos continues the name of an earlier Indo-European dawn goddess, Hausos. Eos, or her earlier Proto-Indo-European (PIE) ancestor, also shares several elements with the love goddess Aphrodite, perhaps signifying Eos's influence on her or otherwise a common origin for the two goddesses. In surviving tradition, Aphrodite is the culprit behind Eos' numerous love affairs, having cursed the goddess with insatiable lust for mortal men.
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson was an English poet. He was the Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria's reign. In 1829, Tennyson was awarded the Chancellor's Gold Medal at Cambridge for one of his first pieces, "Timbuktu". He published his first solo collection of poems, Poems, Chiefly Lyrical, in 1830. "Claribel" and "Mariana", which remain some of Tennyson's most celebrated poems, were included in this volume. Although described by some critics as overly sentimental, his verse soon proved popular and brought Tennyson to the attention of well-known writers of the day, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Tennyson's early poetry, with its medievalism and powerful visual imagery, was a major influence on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
In Greek mythology, Tithonus was the lover of Eos, Goddess of the Dawn. He was a prince of Troy, the son of King Laomedon by the Naiad Strymo (Στρυμώ). The mythology reflected by the fifth-century vase-painters of Athens envisaged Tithonus as a rhapsode, as attested by the lyre in his hand, on an oinochoe of the Achilles Painter, circa 470–460 BC.
In Greek mythology, Tros was the founder of the kingdom of Troy, of which the city of Ilios, founded by his son Ilus took the same name, and the son of Erichthonius by Astyoche or of Ilus I, from whom he inherited the throne. Tros was the father of three sons: Ilus, Assaracus and Ganymede and two daughters, Cleopatra and Cleomestra. He is the eponym of Troy, also named Ilion for his son Ilus. Tros's wife was said to be Callirrhoe, daughter of the river god Scamander, or Acallaris, daughter of Eumedes.
Anchises was a member of the royal family of Troy in Greek and Roman legend. He was said to have been the son of King Capys of Dardania and Themiste, daughter of Ilus, who was son of Tros. He is most famous as the father of Aeneas and for his treatment in Virgil's Aeneid. Anchises' brother was Acoetes, father of the priest Laocoön.
Arthur Henry Hallam was an English poet, best known as the subject of a major work, In Memoriam, by his close friend and fellow poet Alfred Tennyson. Hallam has been described as the jeune homme fatal of his generation.
"Ulysses" is a poem in blank verse by the Victorian poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), written in 1833 and published in 1842 in his well-received second volume of poetry. An oft-quoted poem, it is a popular example of the dramatic monologue. Facing old age, mythical hero Ulysses describes his discontent and restlessness upon returning to his kingdom, Ithaca, after his far-ranging travels. Despite his reunion with his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus, Ulysses yearns to explore again.
Aurōra is the Latin word for dawn, and the goddess of dawn in Roman mythology and Latin poetry. Like Greek Eos and Rigvedic Ushas, Aurōra continues the name of an earlier Indo-European dawn goddess, Hausos.
The poem "In Memoriam A.H.H." (1850) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, is an elegy for his Cambridge friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who died of cerebral haemorrhage at the age of twenty-two years, in Vienna in 1833. As a sustained exercise in tetrametric lyrical verse, Tennyson's poetical reflections extend beyond the meaning of the death of Hallam, thus, "In Memoriam" also explores the random cruelty of Nature seen from the conflicting perspectives of materialist science and declining Christian faith in the Victorian Era (1837–1901), the poem thus is an elegy, a requiem, and a dirge for a friend, a time, and a place.
The Aethiopis, also spelled Aithiopis, is a lost epic of ancient Greek literature. It was one of the Epic Cycle, that is, the Trojan cycle, which told the entire history of the Trojan War in epic verse. The story of the Aethiopis comes chronologically immediately after that of the Homeric Iliad, and is followed by that of the Little Iliad. The Aethiopis was sometimes attributed by ancient writers to Arctinus of Miletus. The poem comprised five books of verse in dactylic hexameter.
The Cypria is a lost epic poem of ancient Greek literature, which has been attributed to Stasinus and was quite well known in classical antiquity and fixed in a received text, but which subsequently was lost to view. It was part of the Epic Cycle, which told the entire history of the Trojan War in epic hexameter verse. The story of the Cypria comes chronologically at the beginning of the Epic Cycle, and is followed by that of the Iliad; the composition of the two was apparently in the reverse order. The poem comprised eleven books of verse in epic dactylic hexameters.
In Greek mythology, Memnon was a king of Aethiopia and son of Tithonus and Eos. As a warrior he was considered to be almost Achilles' equal in skill. During the Trojan War, he brought an army to Troy's defense and killed Antilochus, Nestor's son, during a fierce battle. Nestor challenged Memnon to a fight, but Memnon refused, being there was little honor in killing the aged man. Nestor then pleaded with Achilles to avenge his son's death. Despite warnings that soon after Memnon fell so too would Achilles, the two men fought. Memnon drew blood from Achilles, but Achilles drove his spear through Memnon's chest, sending the Aethiopian army running. The death of Memnon echoes that of Hector, another defender of Troy whom Achilles also killed out of revenge for a fallen comrade, Patroclus.
"Tithonus" is the tenth episode of the sixth season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on January 24, 1999. The episode was written by Vince Gilligan, and directed by Michael W. Watkins. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-Week" story, unconnected to the series' wider mythology. "Tithonus" earned a Nielsen household rating of 9.2, being watched by 15.90 million people in its initial broadcast. The episode received positive reviews.
Tithonus is a figure in Greek mythology known for being granted immortality without eternal youth.
"St Simeon Stylites" is a poem written by Alfred Tennyson in 1833 and published in his 1842 collection of poetry. The poem describes the actions of St. Simeon Stylites, a Christian ascetic saint who recounts his various physical acts in hopes that he has earned his place in heaven. It captures Tennyson's feelings following the death of a close friend, Arthur Hallam, and contains feelings of self-loathing and regret. The work has ironic overtones that give it the appearance of a satirical work.
"Break, Break, Break" is a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson written during early 1835 and published in 1842. The poem is an elegy that describes Tennyson's feelings of loss after Arthur Henry Hallam died and his feelings of isolation while at Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire.
The Goddess Girls is a series of children's books written by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams, published by Simon & Schuster under the Aladdin imprint. The books are based on Greek mythology and depict the younger generation of the Olympian pantheon as privileged tween students attending Mount Olympus Academy (MOA) to develop their divine skills.
The Tithonus poem, also known as the old age poem or the New Sappho, is a poem by the archaic Greek poet Sappho. It is part of fragment 58 in Eva-Maria Voigt's edition of Sappho. The poem is from Book IV of the Alexandrian edition of Sappho's poetry. It was first published in 1922, after a fragment of papyrus on which it was partially preserved was discovered at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt; further papyrus fragments published in 2004 almost completed the poem, drawing international media attention. One of very few substantially complete works by Sappho, it deals with the effects of ageing. There is scholarly debate about where the poem ends, as four lines previously thought to have been part of the poem are not found on the 2004 papyrus.
Poems, by Alfred Tennyson, was a two-volume 1842 collection in which new poems and reworked older ones were printed in separate volumes. It includes some of Tennyson's finest and best-loved poems, such as Mariana, The Lady of Shalott, The Palace of Art, The Lotos Eaters, Ulysses, Locksley Hall, The Two Voices, Sir Galahad, and Break, Break, Break. It helped to establish his reputation as one of the greatest poets of his time.