Stephen imagines the milkwoman as being a humble avatar, "the lowly form of an immortal." His phrase "poor old woman" recalls the Shan Van Vocht of Irish mythology. But the thought that she is "maybe a messenger" invokes Homeric divinity, likening the old woman to Athena, who twice appears to Telemachus in the form of an old man to tell him what to do.

JH 2011

Frontispiece and title page of The Adventures of Telemachus, the Son of Ulysses, by the Archbishop of Cambray (1715). Source: