A donkey brayed

When the gravediggers have laid Paddy Dignam to rest Bloom thinks, "If we were all suddenly somebody else." Immediately the narrative adds, "Far away a donkey brayed." It is a strange moment: the finality of death prompts an odd metaphysical fancy, and then an animal cries out as if in response. The cry makes Bloom recall some popular lore about donkeys, but they may also play a symbolic role here. In a chapter stuffed with allusions to the underworlds of the Odyssey, the Aeneid, and the Inferno, the donkey's bray recalls the moment in Homer's Iliad when the horses of Achilles shed tears at the death of Patroclus.

John Hunt 2020

Irish donkey looking for company. Source: www.pinterest.com.

Automedon Tames the Horses of Achilles, 1868 oil on canvas painting by Henri Regnault held in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The Greeks and the Trojans Fighting over the Body of Patroclus, one of several similar oil paintings by Antoine Wiertz starting in 1836, this one held in the Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp. Source: Wikimedia Commons.