A Legend of Truth

Notes on the text

[Libe 2] Truth, rising from the bottom of her well Referring to the proverb “Truth lies at the bottom of a well”, found already in Lactantius (4th century AD), and in English from the 16th century onwards (Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, 3rd edition, 1998).  [D.H.]

[Line 4]  Returned to her seclusion, horrified   Reminiscent of the ancient story of how Justice once dwelled among men on earth, in the Golden Age, but, as men became wicked, she withdrew to the heavens (where she is the constellation Virgo),. The story is told in Aratus’ Phainomena (ll. 96-136), and alluded to in Virgil, Eclogue 4.6, and Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.149-50.  [D.H.]

[Line 6] Pilate’s Question: See John, 18, 38: “Pilate saith unto him, ‘What is truth?’”

[Line 7] Galileo: Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), famous Italian scientist whose inventions helped to prove the theories of Copernicus that the earth revolved around the sun, not the sun around the earth. In 1632 he was compelled by the religious authorities to abjure his teachings on the subject, because they were contrary to the doctrines of the church. He is supposed to have said, after doing so: “Eppur si muove!” (But it [the earth] does move!).

[Line 18] semaphoring: A system of signalling in which the arms are held at different angles to the body. It could also be done by holding out flags for greater visibility, or by an apparatus with wooden arms.