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Who would want

October 29, 2009

The Rape of Proserpine painted on their ceiling? You know the myth — Pluto, god of the underworld sees a beautiful maiden, snatches her away from her mother, Demeter, to have her as his wife. I know there’s that famous sculpture by Bernini. I know it’s a famous mythological moment, but it seems an uncomfortable one to live with. Persephone weeping, Pluto raping. Still, if you were a rich lord and lady of the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland at the end of the 18th century this is precisely the image you would hire painters to paint for you in your castle. At least, that is what Lord and Lady Kingsborough had gilded onto their ceiling in their castle. Any notion that this myth might pertain to English behavior in Ireland was lost on them. What interests me, though, is that this image was one of the first things that their new governess (who was named Mary Wollstonecraft) saw when she entered the great hall. What a collision of tastes. I am also wondering if I have to re-tell the myth for my reader. I don’t think so —

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 29, 2009 6:29 pm

    But it might be fun to retell it, to weave it into your consideration of MW’s reactions to her new “home.”

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