Annotations in the List of Works Cited:

Author’s last name, first name. “Title of the Article or Individual Page.” Title of the Website, Name of the Publisher [if different from website name], Date of Publication in Day Month Year format, URL. [MLA 8 format].

Example: Preda, Roxana. “Companion to Canto IV.” The Cantos Project, 5 August 2016.

In–text references


OCCEP – The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound

(Contributor name, OCCEP IV: n.no).

Example: (Bressan, OCCEP IV: n.3). If no name is indicated, the gloss was written by Roxana Preda. In this case, the citation will have this format: (OCCEP IV: n.13). 

References to The Cantos

As The Cantos Project is numbering the lines of The Cantos, references to cantos already glossed will be by canto number and line number(s), as standard with classical works. Example: III: ll.7–17.

For cantos that are not yet glossed within the project, the references will be by canto number slash page number, as standard in the research on the poem. Example: III/12. The page number refers to the American edition of The Cantos by Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1998.

© Roxana Preda. Companion to Canto II, 29 April 2016.




Carroll F. Terrell. A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993.


Miyake, A., S. Kodama and N. Teele. A Guide to Pound and Fenollosa’s Classic Noh Theatre of JapanOrono: National Poetry Foundation, 1991. 


A. David Moody. Ezra Pound Poet. Vol. II. The Epic Years, 1921-1939. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014.


Ezra Pound. Literary Essays. New York: New Directions, 1968.


The Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek-English Lexicon Online.


Naso Publius Ovidius. Metamorphoses. Trans. Brookes More. Boston: Cornhill Publ. Co., 1922.


Ezra Pound’s Poetry and Prose. Contributions to Periodicals. 11 vols. Eds. Lea Baechler, A. Walton Litz and James Longenbach. New York: Garland, 1991.


Posthumous Cantos. Ed. Massimo Bacigalupo. Manchester: Carcanet, 2015.



Eloisa Bressan (EB)

Peter Liebregts (PL)


  1. rsz browning

    Robert Browning – Pound takes up again the question he had posed to himself in his dramatic monologue of Three Cantos I: how he should begin his long poem.
    Having debated with himself on modelling it on Browning’s Sordello, he decides not to be imitative, but produce his own form.

    Pound’s invocation of Browning recalls the proximity he felt between the English poet and Ovid: writing to Viola Baxter Jordan in 1907, Pound states: “Try the ‘Men & Women’ in which Cleon, Karshish (The Epistle of), One Word More, Pictor Ignotus – there are several very nice ones. Ovid began that particular sort of subjective personality analysis in his ‘Heroides’ & Browning is after 2000 years about the first person to do anything more with it. I follow – humbly of course? doing by far the best job of any of them? Not quite” (Paideuma 1.1 (1972): 107).
    Again in 1910: “The mood, the play is everything; the facts are nothing. Ovid, before Browning, raises the dead and dissects their mental processes; he walks with the people of myth (SR 16).

  2. Sordello – See Companion to Three Cantos I: n.1.

  3. Lo Sordels… Mantovana – Sordello came from Mantua: the beginning of Chabaneau’s vida of Sordello (Les Biographies des troubadours 106). (C II: n.3). Source.

  4. So-Shu – Pound told his daughter that So-Shu was a “Chinese mythological figure” (De Rachewiltz 156). The name could thus point to the short Noh play Shojo, which rsz 1280px shōjōsake cupladleandseadetailPound published as early as 18 May 1915 in his article “Classical Stage of Japan” and republished in Noh or Accomplishment (79-82). Shojo means “monkey” and appears to the mortal eye as a man, but he is really the god of rice wine whose cup never runs dry. As an analogy to the meeting between Dionysus and Acoetes, which Pound details in this canto, Shojo has an encounter with a pious man, reverent towards his ancestors and advises him that if he sells saké in the street of Yosu, he will become rich. The man follows Shojo’s advice and does become rich. In the play, Shojo is waiting for a friend on the bank of the Yangtze river: “The moonlight fills the tilted saké cup, waiting” (Guide 66).         
    Pound seems to have been aware of the iconography of the shojo, which shows him floating on the sea in a saké cup and rowing or churning with a ladle.

    In the same article, Pound commented on the homology between the Greek drama based on Dionysian rites and Japanese Noh, whose center of interest resides in the revelation of the divine world and the god dance. Canto II is thus close to the Noh, as its central part is the revelation of Dionysos as a god P&P II: 73-74.
    See C II: n.4 for alternative gloss to this name.

  5. daughter of Lir – Fionnuala, daughter of the legendary Irish king Lir. His children (three boys and a girl) were turned into swans by the magic spells of Lir's second wife, jealous of the love they shared. Fionnuala is the only one able to sing of their fate and protect her brothers from the cold of the sea by warming them under her wings. Pound may have read the legend in Lady Gregory’s Gods and Fighting Men (1904, with a preface by W.B. Yeats). In other variants of the legend, Ler (Genitive: Lir) is the lord of the sea and his children had gills even when they had their human form.  The Legend of LirGregory.

  6. Eyes of Picasso – The intensity of Picasso’s eyes was legendary in the Paris art world and its effect on people has often been described. The strangeness and Picassomodernity of his paintings was attributed to his powers of vision, enabling him to see what no one else could.          
    Pound associated Picasso’s eyes with the seal, as he told his daughter: “Eyes of Picasso means that Picasso has eyes like a seal” (De Rachewiltz 156) which suggests that Pound was aware of the metamorphic quality of Picasso’s cubist creations:          
    “In Picasso’s collage the image is constantly being read as something else: the ‘urnal’ of ‘journal’ suggests ‘urinal,’ the violin shape looks as a female torso, the wine glass embedded in the newsprint is also a man reading a newspaper. Transformation is central to the process” (Perloff 35).

  7. Eleanor – Eleanor of Aquitaine (1124-1204) who, like Helen of Troy, left her husband to marry a foreigner, lesser in rank than her husband and a potential enemy. Eleanor was married to the King of France, Louis VII, whom she divorced in 1152. She soon married Henry, the Duke of Normandy and the future King of England. Her marriage transferred the duchy of Aquitaine to the English crown succession, thereby supporting its claim to the crown of France and contributing to the constant territorial disputes for fifty years, until her son, King John, lost the lands in France in her death year, 1204.
    By replacing Aeschylus’s ‘έλανδρος, [helandros] with her name, Pound suggests Eleanor is a destroyer of men, as Helen had been. She is mentioned again in Canto VII where Pound declares that “she spoiled in a British climate.”

  8. Έλέναυς and ‘έλέπτολις – [helenaus and heleptolis, destroyer of ships and destroyer of cities] – Aeschylus’s puns on the name of Helen of Troy in his play Agamemnon: 689-90: “‘Έλέναυς, ‘έλανδρος, ‘έλέπτολις” (helenaus, helandros, heleptolis). The quote showcases the view of Helen from the Greek side, which, unlike the Trojan, is trenchantly accusatory, as she was blamed for the 10-year war at Troy. Agamemnon.          

    Pound’s essay “Aeschylus,” published in 1919 in The Egoist shows his absorbing interest in Agamemnon, particularly in its expression of the whole emotional gamut from murderous coldness to hysteria. Using the cadence of the passage, Pound stated: “a search for Aeschylus in English is deadly, accursed, mind-rending” (LE 267). Pound’s criticism is particularly directed against Browning’s earlier translation of Agamemnon. This untranslatability may be the reason he preferred to leave Aeschylus’ words in the original Greek.

  9. Homer blind - For Pound, Homer’s blindness was the reason for his particular power: in this canto, as well as in canto II, he emphasizes Homer’s imagination and musical sensibility.
    In “I Gather the Limbs of Osiris,” (1911), Pound remarked:
    “Homer of the Odyssey, man conscious of the world outside him: and if we accept the tradition of Homer's blindness, we may find in that blindness the significant cause of his power; for him, the outer world would have been a place of mystery, of uncertainty, of things severed from their attendant trivialities, of acts, each one cloaked in some glamour of the inexperienced; his work, therefore, a work of imagination and not of observation” (SP 31).

  10. Ear, ear for the sea surge – The poetic quality that Pound most admired in Homer was his ear for language and his ability to make Greek imitate natural sound.   
    In his article “Hugues Salel” (1918), Pound wrote: “Of Homer, two qualities remain untranslated: the magnificent onomatopoeia, as of the rush of the waves on the sea beach and their recession as in παρὰ θινα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης [para thina poluphloisboio thalassês] untranslated and untranslatable; and secondly, the authentic cadence of speech; the absolute conviction that the words used, […] are in the actual swing of words spoken (LE 250; P&P III: 140-142). Pound then proceeds to compare the existing translations of this particular passage into Latin, English and French, finding them all unsatisfactory (LE: 250-55).

    rsz leighton helen of troy
  11. yes she moves like a goddess – The discourse of the Trojan elders when they see Helen on the ramparts of the city (Iliad III: 139-160). This is one of Pound’s master examples from Homer, a passage which deeply preoccupied him. Unlike the Greek elders, who consider Helen just a woman “with war for dower,” the Trojan old men, in spite of their age, recognize Helen’s divinity and do not blame her (Iliad III: 139-165). 
    Virgil too used this motif of recognition in his line “vera incessu patuit dea” (“the walk revealed the true goddess”) concluding the apparition of Aphrodite to Aeneas and his recognition of his divine mother in Aeneid I: 405. Pound developed Virgil's idea in Canto VII: in his portrait of Henry James: “grave incessu/drinking the tone of things” (VII: l.28) and in his evocation of Ione: “Nicea moved before me/And the cold grey air troubled her not” (VII: ll.66-67).

  12. Schoeney’s daughters – Pound is here referring to Arthur Golding’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, rather than to the original text. In Golding’s version, Schoenyes has several daughters – in Ovid, he has a daughter and a son. Pound quotes the passage on Atalanta in “Elizabethan Classicists” (1917): “And from the Cities of Tegea there came the Paragone/ Of Lycey forrest, Atalant, a goodly Ladie, one/of Schoenyes daughters, then a Maide” (LE 236).

    Like Helen, Atalanta reveals her divinity by the way she moves. Atalanta runs for her right to stay a virgin (untouched, pure, therefore divine) – only the man who can defeat her in a race can marry her. Hippomenes defeats her by throwing in her way three golden apples Venus had given him. Atalanta slows down to pick them up, giving him a chance to outrun her. Ovid speculated that Hippomenes won the race because Atalanta herself took a chance to look at him and liked what she saw. Thus Atalanta makes a different choice than Daphne, who ran, never chancing a look at Apollo who was chasing her (Metam X: 566-707). Atalanta.

  13. Tyro – Pound first mentions Tyro in Three Cantos III where Odysseus is privileged to talk to beautiful women of old. Tyro tells him that she was ravished by Poseidon at the place where her beloved river Enipeus flowed into the sea and that she had two sons by him. Here, Pound sees Tyro differently, as a bride of the sea, a nymph who, unable to recognize what is happening to her, is unaware of the presence of the god and is buried under a welter of water. Pound reworked the Tyro passage a number of times in his drafts (PC 28-30) reformulating the beauty and glory of the god’s embrace. Tyro in Odyssey XI.

  14. Scios – Ancient Chios, a Greek island about 70 miles north of Naxos. Map.

  15. Naxos – island in the Aegean, famous for its vineyards and a central site for the Dionysus cult. It is here that the god is born a second time from the thigh of his father Zeus and here that he finds his bride, Ariadne. (‘To Naxos steer,’/ Quoth Bacchus, ‘for it is indeed my home, /and there the mariner finds welcome cheer.’ Metam III: 636-637).

  16. DionysusYoung boy – the young god Dionysus (also named Bacchus, Lyaeus, Liber, Iacchus, Zagreus). God of wine, frenzy and freedom.

    “To the Greeks of the classical age Dionysus was not solely, or even mainly, the god of wine. Plutarch tells us as much, confirming it with a quotation from Pindar, and the god’s cult titles confirm it also: he is Δενδριτης or Ενδενρος, the power in the tree; he is ‘Ανϑιος the blossom-bringer, Κάρπιος the fruit bringer, Φλέυς or Φλέως, the abundance of life. His domain is, in Plutarch’s words, the whole of the ὑγρὰ φύσις, not only the liquid fire in the grape, but the sap thrusting in a young tree, the blood pounding in the veins of a young animal, all the mysterious and uncontrollable tides that ebb and flow in the life of nature”  (E. R. Dodds quoted in Cookson 7).

  17. Vine-must – new wine, not yet fully fermented.

  18. King Pentheus – king of Thebes, Cadmus’ grandson and adversary of the Dionysus cult. As retold in Euripides’s play Bacchae and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Pentheus considers Dionysus as an impostor and a political danger. Pentheus and Dionysus were cousins, Dionysus’ mortal mother, Semele, was Pentheus’ aunt. It is difficult for Pentheus to recognize an intruder claiming a miraculous birth in the royal family and professing a set of religious beliefs incompatible with the traditions of Thebes. Pentheus’ model of government is a military autocracy, based on the heroism of his grandfather’s killing of a dragon and sowing the ground with its teeth whereas the new cult emphasizes frenzy, play, liberation of social constraints, and irresponsible enjoyment. Pentheus abhors what Dionysus stands for and sends his men to catch and jail him. His guards bring Acoetes instead, who tells the king his story of revelation. Disregarding Acoetes’ warning, Pentheus goes to the Dionysian feast to stop it. He dies dismembered by a band of maenads who are celebrating the god in the hills outside the city. His own mother rips his head off. Source.

  19. Acoetes – Pentheus’ guards catch Acoetes, a steersman and captain of the ship whose sailors try to sell Dionysus into slavery. Acoetes is the only one who senses Dionysus’ divinity and the only one who thus keeps his humanity, his integrity and his life. Though Pentheus threatens him with jail and death, Acoetes is not afraid. Source.

  20. Lynx-purr – panthers, lynxes and wild cats in general are the emblem animals of Dionysus.

  21. Lyaeus – A surname for Dionysus, seen as the “relaxer, unbender, deliverer from care” (L&S).

  22. Fearing no bondage – Ovid calls Dionysus “Liber,” free.   
    “D was in fact held to be a force for every kind of liberation. Bringing forth new life was seen as a liberation; shape shifting and metamorphosis as in the transformation from flower to fruit or grub to butterfly, were seen as liberations; to be rapt in ecstasy, from honeyed wine or in a visionary trance, was to be liberated from one’s ordinary self and the common world. In this latter aspect, as liberator from normal behaviour and custom and convention, he could change minds and perceptions and values and so threaten the established order” (EPP II: 12).

  23. Olibanum – ML. olibanum (from L oleum libani) - frankincense (high quality incense): aromatic resin of the tree Boswellia sacra, growing in Africa and Arabia.

  24. Lycabs - sailor on Acoetes’ ship.

  25. Medon – sailors on Acoetes’ ship.

  26. Dory – fish of the genus Zeus faber, also called John Dory or Peter’s fish.

  27. Tiresias – Tiresias warns Pentheus of what would happen if he disregards Dionysus, but the king does not heed his advice, mocking his blindness and age. The mention of Tiresias in this canto shows Dionysus to be a pre-Homeric god: when Pentheus talks to him, Tiresias is still alive, which would put their dialogue before the time recounted in the Odyssey (see Canto I for Odysseus’ completely different attitude to the prophet).

  28. Cadmus – legendary hero who built the city of Thebes and Pentheus’s grandfather. Cadmus and Tiresias recognize the divinity of Dionysus and give him homage together (Euripides Bacchae 170-189).

  29. Ileuthyeria – Nymph imagined by Pound as a Daphne of the sea, who swimming away from sexual danger is transformed into coral.

  30. Dafne – nymph, daughter of the river Peneus. Chased by Apollo, who is in love with her, she never looks back to see him, or listen to what he has to say. Feeling that her pursuer is catching up with her, she implores her father to change her and take away her beauty. Peneus turns her into a laurel tree (Metam I: 546-52).

  31. Poseidon – the Greek god of the sea.

  32. Hesperus – The planet Venus, as it appears in the evening.

  33. Proteus – Sea god of changes and metamorphosis, father of the sea and shepherd of seals. Proteus makes an appearance in the Odyssey: Menelaus, stuck with his ships at Pharos seeks him out to force his advice as to how to get home. On the advice of Proteus’ daughter, Eidothea, he and his men cover themselves with seal furs and ambush Proteus to force his advice. Proteus tells Menelaus that he needs to go to Egypt and offer sacrifice to the gods if he wants his return wish to come true. Odyssey IV 351-481. 


Cantos in periodicals

Three Cantos (Ur-Cantos)

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A Draft of XXX Cantos

A Draft of the Cantos 17-27

Eleven New Cantos

rsz guido cavalcanti


The Fifth Decad

rsz toscana siena3 tango7174


confucius adams 2