Bronze by gold

The overture of musical motifs in Sirens begins very strangely with an amalgamation of four metals: "Bronze by gold heard the hoofirons, steelyringing." The body of the chapter immediately reveals the referents: bronze is the color of "Miss Douce's head"; "Miss Kennedy's head" is golden; and iron and steel refer to the shoes of horses drawing the viceregal party down the quays, which the two women see going by "over the crossblind of the Ormond bar," where they work. Joyce clearly has a musical purpose in evoking the clatter of horses' hooves, and a visual one in his delineation of hair colors, but bronze and gold may also serve a conceptual purpose, drawing on the splendor of precious metals in Homer's Odyssey.

JH 2020

Bronze and Gold, Coco Berkman's reductive linoleum print (16 colors, oil-based inks), date unknown. Source: www.etysy.com.

Ulysses and the Sirens, ca. 1909 oil on canvas painting by Herbert James Draper held in the Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston upon Hull, England. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Eau de Nil curtain fabric. Source: www.lauraashley.ae.

Corinthian bronze battle helmet ca. 540 BCE, held in the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Source: collections.artsmia.org.

The ca. 1500 BCE gold death-mask known as the Mask of Agamemnon, found in Tomb V in Mycenae by Heinrich Schliemann in 1876, now held in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Source: Wikimedia Commons.