Altar's horns

Stephen's somber fantasy, in Proteus, of priests celebrating the Mass includes many odd details: Joachim as a celebrant, a choir answering his "basiliskeyed" stare with "menace and echo," and "jackpriests" (suggesting, Gifford notes, "priests in name only") who are "oiled and gelded." Perhaps the strangest is the image of servers "assisting about the altar's horns." Catholic altars do not have horns, but ancient Hebrew altars did. They seem to have been associated with the sacrifice of bulls and other animals, and Stephen seems to associate them with "the snorted Latin" of the priests. Later in the novel, Bloom thinks of the offerings burned on such altars.

JH 2016

Two drawings of ancient Jewish brazen altars in Cornelius Danckert's map De Stadt Ierusalem, ca. 1710. Source: