The Daily Dick: Musings on the Greatest Novel Ever


"Round and round, then, and ever contracting towards the button-like black bubble at the axis of that slowly wheeling circle, like another Ixion I did revolve, till gaining that vital center, the black bubble upward burst"

Musing: Here is a puzzling part for the book for me. Melville has Ishmael align himself to Ixion - an odd reference. I can so clearly picture Ishmael spinning toward the middle of the vortex. A wheel metaphor seems appropriate here, but Ixion? Ixion is a character from Greek mythology who has some shady characteristics. He throws his father-in-law into a fiery pit to avoid paying for his bride. Zeus saves Ixion only to have Ixion hit on Zeus's lady. Zeus decides the punishment for Ixion will be staying chained to a fiery wheel in hell for eternity. So why the Ixion reference? Is it the wheel analogy, or is Ishmael being given one more chance, like Ixion, with a (hopefully) better outcome? Or does Ishmael, when he retells this tale for money in the Town-Ho chapter, squander this opportunity like Ixion? Puzzling, indeed?

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