This is the final article from the Bob Dylan and More Mythology series. Other articles in the series are…
- Bob Dylan And More Mythology (Part I)
- Bob Dylan And More Mythology (Part II)
- Bob Dylan And More Mythology (Part III)
- Bob Dylan And More Mythology (Part IV)
- Bob Dylan And More Mythology (Part V)
- Bob Dylan And More Mythology (Part VI)
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)
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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.
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