NABOKV-L post 0017342, Mon, 17 Nov 2008 16:03:23 -0500

Subject
THOUGHTS: One More Allusion--Browning's Skoramis
Date
Body
With apologies if this snooping for allusions is tedious--

1. PF: Book reviewers being mentioned, he said: "I have never acknowledged
printed praise though sometimes I longed to embrace the glowing image of
this or that paragon of discernment; and I have never bothered to lean out
of my window and empty my skoramis on some poor hack's pate. I regard both
the demolishment and the rave with like detachment." (n.172, 155)

2. Boyd's footnote in the LoA: skoramis] From the ancient Greek word for
"closet stool" found only in Aristophanes. Vera Nabokov wrote to Reuben Abel
(Jan 31, 1968). "says VN, was used for chamber pot by English dons in the
past."

3. In Browning's "Of Pachiarotto, and How He Worked in Distemper," the
speaker, a painter, casts his critics as chimney sweeps who have come to
clean his chimney (the neighbors were complaining). He addresses them
directly:

Long after the last of your number
Has ceased my front-court to encumber
While, treading down rose and ranunculus,
You Tommy-make-room-for-your-Uncle us!
Troop, all of you--man or homunculus,
Quick march! for Xanthippe, my housemaid,
If once on your pates she a souse made
With what, pan or pot, bowl or skoramis
First comes to her hand--things were more amiss!

Xanthippe, by the way, was the wife of Socrates. In a famous emblem from
Emblemata Horatiana (1607), the illustrator, Otho Vaenius, shows her
emptying a chamber pot over Socrates' head. See here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanthippe

Matt Roth

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