in Three Clerks

Chapter 13 – A Communication of Importance

Bacchus and the Paphian goddess

Harry is devastated by Gertrude’s rejection of his marriage proposal. The narrator says that in such a depressed state, nothing can console a person unless he prefers “the worship of Bacchus” to “that of the Paphian goddess.” Bacchus is the Roman deity of wine, and the Paphian goddess is Venus, who is referred to as Paphian because she is said to have gone to the city of Paphos on Cyprus right after her birth and was worshipped very devoutly there. A substitution of Bacchus for Venus is the exchange of love, embodied by the failed marriage proposal between Harry and Gertrude, for the consumption of alcohol—but this would only happen if Harry were such a person who would substitute Venus for Bacchus, and he isn’t. [GZ 2016]


descent to the infernal gods

Mr. Neverbend’s failed expedition into the mine is again presented as a trip to the Classical underworld. See commentary for Chapter 10. [RR 2016]