Lamia - a trivial story of no real significance?

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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Postby Saturn » Thu Sep 06, 2007 2:30 pm

It's a good thread yes Apollonius but "Alsun" if that is her/his name is just taking the Michael :roll:
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Apollonius » Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:50 pm

I'm sure you are right. All the same, glad to be back in conversation, so even the mindless have their uses!

I would like to know more, fleshyniteshade. What are you thinking?

What is a Lamia?
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Lamia

Postby Apollonius » Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:31 pm

At the risk of having one of those mad conversations with myself, I will continue!

I checked up on the Lamia thing and found some interesting conections with the Lilith idea. For those who are not so well up on their Bronze Age myths, she was Adam's first wife who was eliminated because of her independant thinking and wilful sexuality. Eve was the more acceptable as being made from Adam, was thus subservient to him. I find hints of the Gnostics in that. (in the mythic portrayal of those tensions.)

It will certainly add a new dimension to my teaching of the poem.
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Postby Saturn » Wed Oct 10, 2007 9:08 pm

Wow this one is going to run and run.

I've already forgotten what all the arguments were about :lol:
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Interesting

Postby Apollonius » Wed Nov 07, 2007 6:48 pm

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Re: Lamia - a trivial story of no real significance?

Postby HooKnoo » Mon Nov 03, 2008 7:37 am

Okay here goes. Opinions:

I think that Lamia may very well be the primary character of the work. The poem surely begins with her and ends with her.

I think that IF Lamia is the main character of the work, then Apollonius takes on the role of bad guy. I haven't read all of Keats but this would seem to fit with much of what I've read "What use is philosophy when all it does is ruin my dreams", or "Damn you, philosophy, for waking me up just when it was getting good" (Neither of those quotes are from Keats of course).

It seems to me that Lamia and Lycius could have lived happily-after-Keatsian-after if he had only listened to her and not invited the old philosipher to the wedding (actually, now that I think of it, Apollonius wasn't invited, was he? He came of his own accord. Even more so the bad guy.) Apollonius' presence didn't save Lycius, it killed him.

And where the "heavy body wound" came from is never discussed. And here I have nothing more than my hunch: but,it may be that Lamia didn't cause the wound, It could be Lamia's sudden absence that caused the wound (Keatsian anyone?) In which case it would be Apollonius' party crashing that upset the happy love.

Also in lines 117-118 ('I was a woman, let me have once more / A woman's shape, and charming as before.') Lamia argues that she used to be a woman. Is she lying? Maybe, but I think not. It muddles the story if she is. And in some other lines (forgive me for not looking them up right now) we learn that she has dug Lycius in her dreams for quite some time. The love seems to be real; and also not across species lines.

Is not the poem "Lamia" a tragic little tale of true love brought to its end by a philisophical viewpoint that will not allow true love to exist?

Then again, I could be wrong. I'm new at this sharing-my-thoughts thing.

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Re: Lamia - a trivial story of no real significance?

Postby Giuliator » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:52 pm

Apollonius wrote:Man marries snake! It all goes horribly wrong. Just an everyday story of wriggly folk?

How about this for a reading? Lycius's dream/fantasy in which he loves Lamia is a delusion destroyed by the power of fact and logic which the Romantics found so limiting. You could argue that Keats's sympathies are with Lycius and that nasty old Apollonius is just the wrecker of beauty and the sense world and thus an enemy.

On the other hand you can see Apollonius as a friend of beauty and truth. Lamia may be beautiful, but she isn't true. She is a snake!

The immortal products of the imagination will stand the Apollonius test. Lamia won't. She is nothing but a self indulgent dream, and there is evidence in the poem that she will not withstand the trial of reality - I am thinking of the bit where Lycius hears the sound of horns from outside the window and thinks for a moment. Lamia cannot stand this.

Just to get you all going......



I found this post interesting, however the idea that Apollonius is a friend of truth AND beauty confuses me a bit, as Keats did say "beauty is truth, and truth beauty"; this is quite conflicting with the aforementioned point as if Lamia is beautiful but not true, then surely truth cannot be beauty and vice versa, even though keats himself said this...
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Re: Lamia - a trivial story of no real significance?

Postby Raphael » Tue Nov 10, 2009 5:40 pm

How about this for a reading? Lycius's dream/fantasy in which he loves Lamia is a delusion destroyed by the power of fact and logic which the Romantics found so limiting. You could argue that Keats's sympathies are with Lycius and that nasty old Apollonius is just the wrecker of beauty and the sense world and thus an enemy.

On the other hand you can see Apollonius as a friend of beauty and truth. Lamia may be beautiful, but she isn't true. She is a snake!


Both readings can be presented- the different views make it so interesting. After all, there are always two sides to a story and different ways to view things. However my sympathies lie with Lamia; the poem does say she was originally a woman not a snake ( but even so would this have made her bad?). I feel the tone of the poem sets the sympathy with the lovers.


The immortal products of the imagination will stand the Apollonius test. Lamia won't. She is nothing but a self indulgent dream, and there is evidence in the poem that she will not withstand the trial of reality - I am thinking of the bit where Lycius hears the sound of horns from outside the window and thinks for a moment. Lamia cannot stand this.



She is afraid of the world she has been drawn into and the finding out that she had been a snake I think. She seems to exist in some liminal kind of world and doesn’t fit into the mundane world. The subject of being an outsider is also indicated ( well to me it is). Apollonius represents cold rationality and is the enemy of magical love. Magical love I think can exist out of strict confines. If Lamia had not feared Lycius’s reaction to her earlier state of being would their love had stood a chance?


I found this post interesting, however the idea that Apollonius is a friend of truth AND beauty confuses me a bit, as Keats did say "beauty is truth, and truth beauty"; this is quite conflicting with the aforementioned point as if Lamia is beautiful but not true, then surely truth cannot be beauty and vice versa, even though keats himself said this...



Yes, I was mystified by this too- I must read Lamia again tonight!
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Re: Lamia - a trivial story of no real significance?

Postby Apollonius » Fri Nov 13, 2009 5:14 pm

Just rediscovered this site having re-discovered my password!

Pleased to see that these threads run on for years! I no longer teach Keats (shame) as the syllabus has changed, but this has some valid stuff, so it is worth getting involved again.

I would just like to say that Keats did NOT say "beauty is truth etc" - the urn did! (In the same way that Shakespeare did not say "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" - Polonius (a character, obviously) did.

We cannot discern any didactic statements from what a character says.

The characters in Lamia (like the urn) are constructs. We can only interpret them and their meaning. We do not seek their advice!

:D
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Re: Lamia - a trivial story of no real significance?

Postby Raphael » Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:51 pm

He said it in a letter to Benjamin Bailey in 1818:

"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart's affections and the truth of Imagination- What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth- whether it existed before or not- for I have the same Idea of all our Passions as of Love they are all in their sublime, creative of essential beauty.."
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Re: Lamia - a trivial story of no real significance?

Postby Apollonius » Thu Dec 03, 2009 3:26 pm

Acepted. All the same, I caution against reading any artistic work as a didactic statement.

There is a world of difference between what one might say in a letter to a friend and what one might say in a poem.

Who believes urns anyway?
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Re: Lamia - a trivial story of no real significance?

Postby Raphael » Thu Dec 03, 2009 4:37 pm

Apollonius wrote:Acepted. All the same, I caution against reading any artistic work as a didactic statement.

There is a world of difference between what one might say in a letter to a friend and what one might say in a poem.

Who believes urns anyway?


I follow you, but he mentioned it more than once, it seemed to be a philosophy he was taking deeply into his life. As for urns..well I would trust what John's Grecian Urn has to say more than I would what politicians have to say. :lol:
The Grecian Urn makes far more sense.
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Re: Lamia - a trivial story of no real significance?

Postby glindhot » Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:01 pm

Is Lamia all that removed from other tragic fairy-tales where wood-nymphs and water-sprites, whether good or bad, fall in love with humans and it ends up with everyone in a pickle? e.g. Undine, Melusine, Rusalka.

Standard fairy-tale - there is a frog - maiden kisses frog - frog turns into prince - maiden loves prince - prince loves maiden - they marry - they live happily ever after.

Tragic fairy-tale - there is a frog - maiden kisses frog - frog turns into prince - maiden loves prince - prince loves maiden - they are about to marry when ... - someone says prince is a frog - prince turn into frog - dies - heart-broken maiden dies.

Lamia fairy-tale: - there is a snake - Hermes touches snake - snake turns into Lamia - Lamia loves Lycius - Lycius loves Lamia - they are about to marry when ... - someone says Lamia is a snake - Lamia turn into snake - dies - heart-broken Lycius dies.

Everything in Lamia is standard fairy-tale up to the wedding with nothing unusual happening (fairy-tale-wise, that is!). Only in the last 14 lines is the evil exposed. It's all over in a flash!
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Re: Lamia - a trivial story of no real significance?

Postby Raphael » Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:22 pm

That was interesting thanks! I am very interested in folk tales/Faery tales/myths etc. What struck me is the similarity of some tales across various cultures who never had any contact. An example of this is the Frog Prince tales seen in European folk tales and I found almost identical folk tales in a collection of Tibetan ones I bought.
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Re: Lamia - a trivial story of no real significance?

Postby stonerboi » Tue May 10, 2011 11:02 am

In regards to Lamia really being a woman, yes thats right though according to the myth she was cursed by Zeus' wife and turned into a serpent woman still suggesting her as evil because she was cursed for having sex with Zeus thus one could see her as an adulterous woman who perhaps deserved the fate that was bestowed upon her. This is definitely not a trivial story because when this poem was written it was not socially accepted to speak or write about sex, Keats therefore addresses this issue in an ambiguous manner to provoke the public to come up with their own readings and understanding. For me however this poem's significance is that of invigorating the imagination, and Keats' aim when telling this story is that love and pure love perhaps does not exist in the real world and uses the mythology of Lamia do demonstrate this, but everyones reality is different. Love can be sexual as well but that is not pure love, or is it that Keats is saying that Love doesn't exist at all if we dont use our imagination and ability to live in a 'fantasy world'.
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