Thursday, October 18, 2007

Salad Days

andrew seal
My birthday—my twenty-third—slouches into sight tomorrow, and its looming nearness made me think of the salad days line from Antony and Cleopatra (Act I):
My salad days,
When I was green in judgment: cold in blood,
To say as I said then! But, come, away;
Get me ink and paper:
He shall have every day a several greeting,
Or I'll unpeople Egypt.
Well, I only remembered the salad days and cold in blood bits, and something about greenness, so I googled the line and was surprised to remember that these are Cleopatra's lines, not Antony's. It's rather chauvinistic of me, I know, but I tend to associate the term with male youth—bumptious, eager, and fondly "remembered"—not female youth. Although I suppose current cultural connotations would align salad more closely with these very days of dalliance for young women, but I digress... (although wouldn't Salad Days make a great gynocentric sitcom title? no, it wouldn't, but it would be a good title for a comic strip in the "Cathy" vein...)

This discovery immediately led me to recall the line from Bellow's Herzog in which he describes his (ex-)wife as partaking in "the brutal nature of all women who eat green salad and drink human blood." I found this line disgustingly misogynistic when I read it (I still do), but now I see the clear allusion to Cleopatra, who delivers this line when referring to her erstwhile lover, Caesar. "Get me ink and paper" might as well be Moses Herzog's cry at this point in the novel (it's early still), and he will spend the rest of the novel writing a "several greeting" to many people, some of whom are, like Cleopatra's Caesar, former lovers, others present foes (again like Caesar). What a wickedly apt allusion!

1 comment:

Brendon said...

Happy Birthday, Seal!