- 奈良教育大学紀要 人文・社会科学 (ISSN:05472393)
- vol.27, no.1, pp.p41-58, 1978-11
With the publication of Atalanta in Calydon in 1865, Swinburne became famous and was welcomed "to an honourable place among younger poets of England". Aside from his juvenilia, The Queen Mother and Rosamond, issued in 1860, Atalanta was virtually his first important work, because we can find in it almost all Swinburnian traits that he was to develop further in his later works. From the legendary story of Meleager and the boar hunting which Homer, Euripides and Ovid had told, Swinburne created his own tragic version of the myth. Though Swinburne thought that Atalanta was "pure Greek", it was not necessarily so because of its Swinburnian antitheism and aestheticism. Throughout this drama, Heraclitean idea that "Παντα ρει" is repeatedly expressed. Althaea urges her son to serve the gods' law and social customs, while Meleager respects "great things done" that "endure". Chief Huntsman, Chorus and Althaea worship and implore Artemis, the goddess of moon, chastity, hunting and death, while Meleager wishes to be praised by Apollo, the god of sun and art. Artemis, Aphrodite and Atalanta are all represented as femmes fatales. Though Meleager dies a tragic death, he acquires an eternal fame for "what he did in his good time". Like Balen and Tristram, Meleager lives an everlasting life in the world of art, because his "great deeds" have been told by the artists who have immortal soul. Atalanta is a meta-poem and embodies "art for art's sake" like Swinburne's other excellent works.