Bob Dylan And More Mythology (Part VII)

This is the final article from the Bob Dylan and More Mythology series.  Other articles in the series are…

By Larry Fyffe

Not noticed by other analyzers of Bob Dylan’s songs, the lyrics just below contain a snippet from ancient Roman mythology:

Well the future
For me is already a thing of the past
You were my first love
And you will be my last
(Bob Dylan: Bye And Bye)

According to Ovid, Vertumnus, God of Seasonal Change, cannot get close to Pomona, Hamadryad of Gardens and Orchards. So the god transforms himself into an old woman who advises the nymph that she ought not ignore an ardent admirer. She yields to him when the god turns himself back into his youthful male self.

Below is what the old woman says to the nymph:

"You are his first love, and will be his last
And he too cares for the orchard and the garden
He would work by your side"
(Edith Hamilton: Mythology)

In a somewhat reversed mythological tale to the one above, Aurora, the Goddess of the Dawn, asks Zeus to fulfil her dream that her human husband be immortal; she forgets to mention that the God of Thunder keeps him forever young, and her spouse just gets older and older and older though he wishes to die.

Whether gathered from Jungian coincidence or not, that mythology is apparently alluded to in the following double-edged song lyrics:

The foreign sun, it squints upon
A bed that is never mine
As friends and other strangers
From their fates try to resign
Leaving men wholly, totally free
To do anything they wish to do but die ...
At dawn my lover comes to me
And tells me of her dreams
With no attempts to shovel the glimpse
Into the ditch of what each one means
(Bob Dylan: Gates Of Eden)

In one version of a mythological story, the same fate as that of Aurora’s husband happens to the daughter of a fisherman; Glaucus, her father, becomes immortal after eating a magic herb although he takes on fish-like features. His daughter, however, reneges on her promise to give herself to Apollo (son of Zeus, and twin brother to Artemis, the Goddess of the Moon) if he grants her a long life. Alas, she’s forgotten to ask Apollo to not let her age, and the golden god of the sun has his revenge on Deiphobe for not keeping her side of the bargain.

Around the double-entendre song lyrics below swirl these mythological characters, the writer thereof seldom reluctant to compare his persona to the Sun God:

And then I turn my head, for you're approaching me
Moonlight on the water, fisherman's daughter floating into my room
With a golden loom ....
And then I kiss your lips as I lift your veil
But you're gone, and then all I seem to recall is the smell of perfume
And your golden loom
(Bob Dylan: Golden Loom)

The mortal Arachne challenges Minerva, the Goddess of Crafts, at the loom, but that’s another mythological tale that has a cosmological motif rather than one merely for entertainment.

Homer tells the tale of Odysseus, the Greek hero of the Trojan War:

As it came out, I struck it in the spine, the middle of its back
My bronze-tipped spear sliced right through
With a groan, the stag collapsed
(Homer: Odessey, Book X)

That myth referred to in the song lyrics below:

I'll be back home in a month or two
When the frost is on the vine
I'll punch my spear right straight through
Half-ways down your spine
(Bob Dylan:  Workingman's Blues #2)

What else is on the site?

We have a very lively discussion group “Untold Dylan” on Facebook with around 4000 active members.  (Try imagining a place where it is always safe and warm).  Just type the phrase “Untold Dylan” in, on your Facebook page or follow this link 

You’ll find some notes about our latest posts arranged by themes and subjects on the home page of this site.  You can also see details of our main sections on this site at the top of this page under the picture.

The index to all the 602 Dylan compositions and co-compositions that we have found on the A to Z page.

If you are interested in Dylan’s work from a particular year or era, your best place to start is Bob Dylan year by year.

On the other hand if you would like to write for this website, or indeed have an idea for a series of articles that the regular writers might want to have a go at, please do drop a line with details of your idea, or if you prefer, a whole article to

And please do note our friends at  The Bob Dylan Project, which lists every Dylan song in alphabetical order, and has links to licensed recordings and performances by Dylan and by other artists, plus links back to our reviews (which we do appreciate).



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