“Hyperion” — Sources of the Poem

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      The war between the Titans and Olympians being the basic theme of the poem Hyperion, classical mythology was the first source of Keats providing him the story of war. But a study of various other books also went to the final writing of this poem as we see that Keats confuses quite a few Greek and Latin names in the poem.

Lemprier’s 'Classical Dictionary: This book is believed to be the chief source of Keats’s classical inspiration.

Hesiod’s ‘Theogony’: It is believed that Keats had also read one of the translations of Hesiod’s 'Theogony'.

Tooke’s ‘Pantheon’: This is another book to which Keats drew as this book also contained the story of Hyperion.

Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’: Keats was influenced by a reading of Sandy’s translation of ‘Metamorphoses’.

Chapman: Chapman’s own ‘Iliad’ and his transaction of Hesiod’s ‘Works and Days’ had a tremendous influence on Keats, leading to the writing of ‘Hyperion’.

Dante’s ‘Inferno’: On a tour of Scotland, Keats had done a study of Cary’s translation of Dante’s ‘Inferno’ and the opening lines of Keats’s poem show how much they owe to the ninth to the fifteenth cantos of ‘Inferno’. Keats owes a lot to Dante for his clarity and definiteness of the pictures.

Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’: Milton’s description of the council of fallen angels in hell gave Keats a very clear idea of how to describe the council of the fallen gods in ‘Hyperion’. Let us see how Mil ton describes it:

“Titan Heav’ns first born ,
With his enormous brood, and birthright seis’d
By younger Saturn, he from mightier Jove,
His own and Rhea’s son like measure found;
So Jove usurping reign’d”.

Keats’s Enceladus advises the Titans to raise war against the new gods very much in the style of Milton’s Moloch asking the fallen angels to be ready for taking revenge. Oceanus’s advocacy for moderate measures reminds us of Betial’s lenient attitude in ‘Paradise Lost’.

Ronsard’s ‘A Michel de Hospital’: Woodhouse suggests that Keats was influenced to a great degree by Ronsard’s A Michel de Hospital’.

Davies’s Celtic Researches: Davies shows quite painfully the relations of the Greek Titans with the heroes of Druid worship. That Keats was influenced by Davies becomes clear from Keats’s comparison of the Titans to a Druid circle and his reference to Saturn’s Druid locks.

Beckford’s Vathek: Keats’s imagery used in the description of Hyperion’s palace and the den of the fallen Titans have a lot to owe to the closing portion of Beckford’s ‘Vathek’.

Annals of the Fine Arts: The Egyption element of Hyperion has its origin in the three articles in the Annals of the Fine Arts. Keats’s visit to the British museum and his having seen there, the hew acquisitions froth Egypt greatly influenced him in introducing the Egyptian element in his poem.

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