“We have our fingers in the dike” Captain Beatty pg 62. Refers to a Dutch myth of a boy who saved his city in holding back the sea by keeping his finger in a hole in a dike. Beatty believes the Firemen are saving the city by burning the books-that it is a public service instead of believing it is depraving the people. It shows the psychology that those in power have adopted to seem like they care about the people.
“Do you know the legend of Hercules and Antaeus, the giant wrestler, whose strength was incredible so long as he stood firmly on the earth?” Faber pg 83. Faber refers to the Greek Myth of how Antaeus was defeated by being held away from the ground, and represents how the people are held away from the ground of reason and quality of information rich like the soil. That the people cannot grow off of the lies they are told, but only from the truth.
Sophocles (496-406 B.C.) was a well known Greek writer of Tragedies and
Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.) was a well-known Greek tragedian.
Aristophanes (445-385 BC) was a Greek writer of comedies.
“Drink deep, or taste not the Pieran spring; There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again” Captain Beatty pg 106.
Piera is a place in Greece which is the dwelling of the muses, who inspire poets and musicians. Beatty shows that he knows Montag is “drunk” on a little bit of reading and warns that he is out of his reasoning for doing so and while Beatty is serious because he is well read and understands his place and the world. This shows hypocrisy in that commanders and politically high ranked people are allowed to be learned, but all others are kept in the dark, so that the government has the intelligence to keep people in line while others are guided.
“Old Montag wanted to fly near the Sun and now that he’s burnt his damn wings, he wonders why” Captain Beatty pg 113. Refers to Greek myth of Icarus, whose father made him wings to fly, but flew too high until the wings melted and he fell to his death. Beatty says that Montag wanted too much to defy the law and keep a library and that his downfall is his own doing, when Montag’s desire to understand is reasonable.
Plato’s Republic- A political dialogue about Utopian society-Foils the society shown in the novel, which is one of control instead of a republic.
“Phoenix…every time he burnt himself up he sprang out of the ashes, he got himself born all over again. And it looks like we’re doing the same thing” Granger pg 163. The Phoenix is a famous myth and symbol of immortality. The parallel is drawn between the Phoenix and man in that they are both hurting themselves periodically, but man has the capabilities to do better because he can learn from his mistakes and puts a hopeful spin on the novel to keep hope for a better future.
Why use Mythological and Greek Allusions?
Using mythology is important in the story to show how the past can be forgotten, but it is important to remember and learn even from the ancient stories about man, the famous playwriters of the time, and the Greek philosophers who helped build mans view of himself.
It helps emphasize the hypocrisy in 451, since learning was allowed only for those in power to help keep Montag subordinate.