Row me o'er the ferry

As the funeral carriages pass over the Royal Canal, Bloom watches a boatman standing on his barge as it drops down into the draining lock. Since Hades is studded with references to the underworlds of classical epics, this detail tempts one to hear an echo of Charon, the boatman who ferries souls across the river Styx in Virgil's Aeneid and the river Acheron in Dante's Inferno. The inference is justified several sentences later as Bloom combines his memory of a local boatman who recently died with his memory of a poem about a boatman's deadly water crossing: "James M'Cann's hobby to row me o'er the ferry."

JH 2019

Cropped image of Gustave Doré's 1880 engraving of Dante's Charon (Inferno, plate 9). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Oil on canvas portrait of Thomas Campbell by Sir Thomas Lawrence, held in the National Portrait Gallery, London. Source: Wikimedia Commons.