5.07.2011

Notes for May (p II 387-88)

But before all this I had drawn back my own curtains, impatient to know what Sea it was that was playing that morning by the shore, like a Nereid. (387)

THE NEREIDES (or Nereids) were 50 Haliad Nymphs or goddesses of the sea; patrons of sailors & fishermen, who assisted men in distress; goddesses who had the sea's bounty in their care. Individually they also represented facets of the sea, i.e, salty brine, foam, sand, rocky shores, waves and currents, as well as the skills possessed by seamen. The Nereides dwelt with their elderly father Nereus in a silvery cavern at the bottom of the Aegean Sea. Thetis was their unofficial leader, and Amphitrite was the queen of the sea. Together with the Tritones they formed the retinue of Poseidon.  In ancient art, they were depicted as beautiful young maidens, sometimes running with small dolphins or fish in their hands, or riding on the back of dolphins, hippokampoi (fish-tailed horses) and other sea creatures.
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"...disclose to my wondering eyes the nymph Glauconome, whose lazy beauty, gently breathing, had the transparence of a vaporous emerald beneath whose surface I could see teeming the ponderable elements that coloured it? She made the sun join in her play, with a smile rendered languorous by an invisible haze which was nought but a space kept vacant about her translucent surface, which, thus curtailed, became more appealing, like those goddesses whom the sculptor carves in relief upon a block of marble, the rest of which he leaves unchiselled..."   
 GLAUKONOME was the Nereid of the "mastering the grey" sea. (cf. Hesiod, Apollodorus)
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"...seated beside Mme. de Villeparisis in her barouche..."  (A 4-wheel fancy carriage with a fold-up hood at the back and with two inside seats facing each other.)
Saint-Mars le Vêtu ... or Quetteholme (387): fictional towns near Balbec;   FÉTERNE. The Cambremer estate near Balbec (388).