By Tracey L. Walters (auth.)
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Extra info for African American Literature and the Classicist Tradition: Black Women Writers from Wheatley to Morrison
According to Moira Ferguson, “Among her contemporaries she cites . . Phillis Wheatley. . Scott identifies the African poet specifically as one of the ‘Female Authors of late [who] have appeared with honor’” (128). The eighteenth-century poet Mary Deverell was also in awe of Wheatley. In her collection Miscellanies (1781), Deverell includes a panegyric to Wheatley: Though no high birth nor titles grace her line, Yet humble Phillis boasts a race divine; Like marble that in quaries lies concealed, Till all its veins, by polish, stand reveal’d; From whence such groups of images arise, We praise the artist, and the sculptured prize.
What madness is it unseen God (she says) Before the Celestials to prefer. Or, while I Altars want, to worship her? (110) Sandys’ Niobe is hysterical with rage. ” Although Croxall’s characterization of Niobe is less indicting than Sandys’, he also emphasizes Niobe’s impertinence: The royal Niobe in state appear’d; Attr’d in Robes embroiderd o’er with Gold, And mad with Rage, yet lovely to behold. Her comely tresses, trembling as she stood, Down her fine Neck with easy Motion flow’d; Then, darting round a proud disdainful Look, In hauty Tone her hasty Passion broke, And Thus began; What Madness to this Court A Goddess founded merely on Report?
Moreover, the infanticide itself is barely noted. At the end of the narrative Ovid remarks that after killing Glauce, Medea’s “wicked sword was drenched in her son’s blood; and thus winning a mother’s vile revenge” (Melville 156). Unlike Euripides, Ovid does not explain why Medea commits infanticide and readers are left with the impression that Medea is a ruthless killer who uses her powers to kill her enemies. But Ovid’s depiction of Medea in the Metamorphoses contrasts sharply with his portrayal of Medea in the Heroides.
African American Literature and the Classicist Tradition: Black Women Writers from Wheatley to Morrison by Tracey L. Walters (auth.)