Orpheus Orpheus, son of the muse Calliope, is the archetypal singer, musician, and poet. He was said to play and sing so sweetly that wild beasts would follow him, the trees and plants would bow down to him, and the wildest of men would be calmed by him. His skill was so great that he was allowed to descend to the underworld to bring out his wife, Eurydice, who had been carried off by Hades. The only condition was that he not turn to look at her until they left the underworld. Seized by doubt just before emerging from below, he turned to look at her, and she was swept away. For Captain Vere, Orpheus represents the perfection of the measured forms of music. The reality of Orpheus' greatest failure, however, is not lost on Melville.
Paine, Thomas, Rights-of-Man Paine (1739-1807), an 18th century activist, was a famous political writer who heavily influenced the political thinking of the leaders of the American and French Revolutions. He first rose to prominence with his publication of the political pamphlets Common Sense, a defense of the Colonists stance toward England, and The Crisis, a series of pamphlets that served to further inspire the Revolutionary cause. In 1791, thoroughly involved in the tumult of the French Revolution, Paine published The Rights of Man, a reply to Burke's critique of the French Revolution. For many English, the reply earned Paine the label of “radical.”
parenthesize, parenthesis 1. Either or both of the upright curved lines--( )--used to mark off explanatory or qualifying remarks in writing or printing or enclose a sum, product, or other expression considered or treated as a collective entity in a mathematical operation. 2. a. A qualifying or amplifying word, phrase, or sentence inserted within written matter in such a way as to be independent of the surrounding grammatical structure (to parenthesize is to insert such a comment). b. A comment departing from the theme of discourse; a digression. 3. An interruption of continuity; an interval.
parley A discussion or conference, especially one between enemies over terms of truce or other matters. To have a discussion, especially with an enemy.
paroxysm 1. A sudden outburst of emotion or action: a paroxysm of laughter. 2. Medicine. a. A sudden attack, recurrence, or intensification of a disease. b. A spasm or fit; a convulsion.
passion 1. A powerful emotion, such as love, joy, hatred, or anger. 2. a. Ardent love. b. Strong sexual desire; lust. c. The object of such love or desire. 3. a. Boundless enthusiasm: His skills as a player don't quite match his passion for the game. b. The object of such enthusiasm: soccer is her passion. 4. A display of emotion, especially of anger: He's been known to fly into a passion without warning. 5. Passion a. The sufferings of Jesus in the period following the Last Supper and including the Crucifixion. b. A narrative, musical setting, or pictorial representation of Jesus's sufferings. 6. Archaic. Martyrdom.