The Arcadian king, Lycaon, doubting that it is Jove who has come to visit, does a stomach-churning test. Note Hughes’ horrifying use of domestic cookery language, including that simple alliterative ‘the rest to roast’, rendering the whole scene all the more sickening.
And then Jove’s reaction. One just doesn’t diss Jove, as he is liberal in lobbing thunderbolts about.
Hughes’ poetic genius is further demonstrated in the reverse-resonance of ‘collapsed his palazzo’.
Among his prisoners, as a hostage,
Was a Molossian. Lycaon picked this man,
Cut his throat, bled him, butchered him
And while the joints still twitched
Put some to bob in a stew, the rest to roast.
He set this mess in front of me on the table
With a single thunderbolt
I collapsed his palazzo.
One bang, and the whole pile came down
Onto the household idols and jujus
That this monster favoured.
The lightening had gone clean through Lycaon.
His hair was in spikes.
Somehow he staggered
Half-lifted by the whumping blast
Out of the explosion…’
Source: Ted Hughes, ‘Creation; Four Ages; Flood; Lycaon’, Tales from Ovid (London: Faber and Faber, 1997), p. 17
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