Episode 7

A brief guide to “Aeolus”

Prepared by Danis Rose

2021 edition Ulysses pages 131-167
2017 edition Ulysses pages 105-134
1922 edition Ulysses pages [112]-143

Thursday 16 June, 1904: 12.00 noon to 1.00 p.m., Offices of the Freeman's Journal and Evening Telegraph, 4-8 Prince's street north.


TITLE and SENSE: Aeolus. The Mockery of Victory.
SCENE: The Newspaper
HOUR: 12 noon
ORGAN: Lungs
ART: Rhetoric
SYMBOL: Editor
TECHNIC: Enthymemicg1

Bloom, now returned to the city from the doleful cemetery, collects £1–7–6 in commission outstanding from the land tries with limited success to secure an advertisement on behalf of the wine merchant Alexander Keyes.

Keyes wants certain concessions that the editor (Myles Crawford) is unwilling to provide. Bloom, seeking to appease the warring parties, tries to telephone Keyes. He learns that he is down at Dillon's Auction Rooms on William's Row (now Bachelor's Walk), and hurries down there to promote his business. He returns to the newspaper office and from there heads off for the National Library to seek out a copy of the Kilkenny People carrying the particular ad for Keyes he wants repeated.

Various persons congregate in or about the editor's office: Stephen and Simon Dedalus, O'Madden Burke (a writer of notices), Joseph Hynes (a reporter), Ned Lambert (a seeds and grain agent, something of a human failure ‘half smothered in writs and garnishee orders’), Lenehan (a ravaged-faced reporter for Sport: a squat, ruddy leech of a man with cunning eyes and a wheezing laugh: a disseminator of low gossip), self-styled Professor McHugh (a semi-withered, unshaven, shabby chap who is no more a professor than Bloom is), J. J. O'Molloy (a solicitor in decline, constantly in pursuit of money), and various other dubious Dublin men. Bloom is treated derisively, and the merry group head off, inflated with unjustifiable self-importance as is their wont, for a mid-morning drink: Dedalus père and Ned Lambert to the Oval in Abbey Street, and, in a second echelon, Dedalus fille and entourage to Mooney's (now the Abbey Mooney) at the lower end of the street.

In one version of his “schema” Joyce specifies the technique of the episode as simbouleutike, dikanike and epideictic.g2 These are classical divisions of oratory into deliberative, forensic, and public, respectively. Samples of each appear in the addresses of John F. Taylor, Seymour Bushe, and Doughy Dan Dawson, respectively.

The visually-disruptive disjointing of the text into blocks with newspaper-like captions was a late interpolation in the development of the episode, and seems to be primarily mimetic.

Joyce's father at one time worked as a canvasser of ads for the Freeman's Journal. Crawford, who is avian in appearance with a scarlet beaked face surmounted by a crested comb of feathery hair and jowled with turkey-wattle-like loose folds of fat, is based not on the then (1904) actual editor of the Evening Telegraph, one Morris Cosgrave, but rather on the red-haired, red-faced, alcoholic, short-tempered weasel-like widower Patrick Mead, the sub-editor there. Lenehan, the sponger, is modelled on Michael Hart, a reporter and author of a minor epistolary masterpiece, On the Loan of a Tenner.


Myles Crawford = Arolus
Incest = Journalism
Floating Island = Press
Bloom = Odysseus
Nelson's Pillar = Lipara

The interrelationship between the Joycean and Homeric versions are for this episode very direct. Wind connects to air and thus to breath, breath to speech and rhetoric and this (in a debased manner) to journalism: hence the setting in the printing-rooms of a newspaper. Bloom arrives, leaves, re-arrives and leaves again. (This mirrors Odysseus' coming and going to the isle of Aeolus.) In this framework, the editor Myles Crawford stands in for Aeolus.

The theme of incest (for the family of Aeolus is nothing if not incestuous, he having married off his siblings each to each) can be found in the narrowness and introspection of the world of journalism. Rhetoric (wind) is the “art” of the episode, and Joyce went to great lengths to enumerate common and rare literary tropes (metaphor, parison, and so on) to shape his episode, and, by including classic examples of past oratory, he gives more substance to this stratum.g3 In fairness, it seems that sentimental old Joyce was deeply impressed by oratory, with its grandeur, spontaneity and forthrightness and perhaps also with its stark boldness when contrasted with his own backroom, somewhat sneaky scissors-and-paste way of writing.

The striking and intrusive interposition of newspaper-like headlines, disrupting the otherwise even flow of the text and breaking it up into an archipelago of “floating” elements, was a late idea intercalated on the placards. It is intended, I imagine, to put one in mind of the nature of the high, conical, floating Aeolian Isles (otherwise, the Stromboli) near Sicily, surrounded in rising smoke fumes: volcanic formations of as yet unfixed rigidity. The stacks of smoke would, of course, act for keen-eyed mariners as an index of the winds.

Joyce further notes (in his preparatory note-taking) an (admittedly weak) association between these pillars of fumes and the pillar of cloud by day of the Israelites. Nelson's Pillar on O'Connell Street is used as a locus for high Lipara, chief of the Aeolian isles, computed to be about eighteen miles in circumference.g4

Aeolus, in the context of the nostos, was said by some to be the god of the winds because of his skill in astronomy: he could say what times and how long such and such a wind would persist. Others say that the clouds and mists that periodically rise about the islands portend gales.g5

THE ODYSSEY, 11 (Aeolus)

Aiolos (keeper of the winds)
Setting: The Aiolian Isles

Coming then to the seven Aiolian Islands, the Achaeans make their way to the fortress of Aiolos, keeper of the winds, an island home protected by sheer cliffs and circumvallated with unbroken bronze.g6 There the king lives with his wife and six sons, these intermarried to their own sisters and all feast all day and sleep all night.

The Greeks remain with these their genial hosts for a period of a month, while Odysseus relates his melancholy fate, until they decide it is high time to depart. Aiolos, who has denied them nothing, to help Odysseus in his return gives him a leather bag made of ox-hide, tightly tied with a silver wire, and in this he secures all the winds save the favourable west wind and Odysseus has this bag fixed to the side of his ship.

For nine days and nights they sail in untroubled waters until they come within sight of Ithaca, and see men tending fires on its hillsides. Odysseus, wearied by his time at the rudder, chooses to sleep. While he does so, the others, curious and desirous, wanting to know what manner of treasure Aiolos has hidden in the bag, open it; and the winds rush out in great confusion and blow the Achaeans' ships seaward and back to Aiolia.

Odysseus with one man and one herald return shamefacedly to the palace and relate their carelessness to Aiolos; but he is unimpressed and banishes them from his island. So they take to the sea in their curved boats, but no wind now blows and the men work the oars hard for six days and nights.

On the seventh day, far off, they see Telepylus, the citadel of King Lamos of the Laestrygonians, a land rich in cattle and sheep, where one man toils all day and his fellow all night, coming and going one with the other, ceaselessly.g7