The Return of the Native | Study Guide

Thomas Hardy

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The Return of the Native | Classical Allusions


Throughout The Return of the Native, Hardy employs allusions to Greek and Roman mythology and history. Hardy would have assumed that most of his readers were the beneficiaries of a classical education and would have recognized the references. The allusions, presumably, added elegance and polish to the writing.

Aeneas|son of the goddess Venus and hero of Virgil's epic poem The Aeneid, who rescues his father and son from the city of Troy when it is destroyed by the invading Greeks

Artemis|Greek goddess of hunting and the moon

Athena|Greek goddess of wisdom and patron of the city of Athens

Atlas|demigod of Greek mythology said to support the world on his shoulders

Candaules|king of Lydia, who rashly invited the courtier Gyges to see his beautiful wife naked, whereupon Candaules's wife persuaded Gyges to assassinate the king and usurp the throne

Carpe diem|a maxim drawn from the odes of the Roman lyric poet Horace (65–8 BCE) meaning "Seize the day"

Chaldeans|residents of ancient Mesopotamia who practiced Babylonian astronomy and astrology

Echo|nymph in Greek mythology who fell in love with the handsome Narcissus, who spurned her until she wasted away and only her voice remained

Etna|volcano in eastern Sicily

Hades|in classical mythology, the underworld abode of the souls of the dead

Hera|Greek goddess of marriage and wife of Zeus

Maenades|female devotees of the Greek god Dionysus

Oedipus|ancient Greek tragic hero who unknowingly murdered his father and married his mother

Olympus|mountain that was the dwelling place of the gods in Greek mythology

Phaeacia|in Homer's Odyssey, a blessed region visited by Odysseus on his return home from the Trojan War to Ithaca

Pheidias|ancient Athenian sculptor, painter, and architect (c. 480–30 BCE)

Philip|also known as Philip II (382–36 BCE), general and king of Macedonia, north of Greece, and father of Alexander the Great (352–23 BCE)

Prometheus|in ancient Greek mythology, the deity who risked the other gods' displeasure by helping humankind, particularly with the gift of fire

Sappho|ancient Greek lyric poetess from the island of Lesbos who lived in the 6th century BCE

Scylla and Charybdis|in Greek mythology, two female monsters that posed perils to mariners on each side of the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily

Socrates|ancient Athenian philosopher (c. 469–399 BCE) famous for his rigorous pursuit of truth and ethical responsibility

Tantalus|a son of Zeus who disobeyed the gods by revealing their secrets and was punished in the underworld by perpetual hunger and thirst

Tartarus|a deep gulf or abyss in Greek mythology that is used as a place of torment for the wicked

Tempe|valley sacred to the god Apollo in the Greek region of Thessaly

Ulysses|the Greek Odysseus, hero of the Trojan War, and famous for his long wanderings in his effort to return home after that conflict, recounted in Homer's epic Odyssey

Zenobia|queen of the prosperous city of Palmyra in Syria, 267–72 CE

Zeus|in Greek mythology, king of the gods

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