Mythological references in "The Raven"

Apr 20, 2015
by: ynguyen

This is my research on the mythological references in the poem with the name "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe.
“ Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door-” (Poe, 7).
In this quote, Poe talks about Pallas, or Athena, the goddess of wisdom. According to my research, Athena was born through Zeus’s head when Gods' Smith Hephaestus opens Zeus’s head to comfort his pain. She was already an adult when she came out of Zeus’s head, and Zeus likes her a lot among his other children. Although Athena has the love of Zeus, she doesn't have any love from the mom. So, she grew up with more masculine influences on her than feminine. Athena has the wisdom of the whole world within herself. So as a god, Athena taught skill and gave advice to mankind to help them with their survival. This is significant because the raven landed right on the head of Pallas. This made Poe believes that the raven have thought and wisdom. Thus, Poe thinks the raven came as a representative of Athena to give him advice to get through his suffering of his lost love.

“Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!” (Poe, 8).
In this quote, Poe talks about Plutonian, which refers to Pluto, the god of the underworld. Pluto is one of Saturn and Rhea’s children that got swallow by Saturn because Saturn feared that his children will take over his position like the way he did to his father. However, when Rhea gave birth to Zeus, their sixth child, she hid him and tricked Saturn to swallow a stone, thought that it is Zeus. When Zeus was old enough, he trapped and kicked Saturn really hard to make him vomit the stone and Zeus’s other brothers and sisters. After that, each of the brother and sister took part of the world to rule over, and what left to Pluto, one of Zeus’s brother, is the underworld. Moreover, Pluto also represents the shadow or the memory or everything that you try to get rid of. Clearly, Poe brings in the picture and feeling of the dark or hell by using the god of the underworld, Pluto. Through my research, we learned that Pluto doesn’t just about the underworld, but also about the shadow of a person. Thus, by bring in Pluto, Poe alternative brings in his lost love or the memory of her.

“Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor” (Poe, 14).
In this quote, Poe talks about Seraphim or the highest rank of angel. From my research on this, I learned that Seraphim means “ burning ones” or “ ones of love” as the article describes. Seraphim have six wings, but only use two for flying and the other four for covering their body parts like face and legs. The duty of Seraphim are flying above God, hold a flame sword to praise him. In addition, since the name Seraphim mean “burning ones,” the color of them are red and they contained fire and in many religion, fire is believe to be a way of erase something. Clearly, in this poem, Poe thinks the Seraphim come to him to give him a drink to help him erase his memories for his lost love, Lenore. This means, the Seraphim play an important part in express Poe’s desire to forget his sad memories with Lenore.

“Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!” (Poe, 15).
In this quote, Poe asks for balm in Gilead or the sap of the Gilead, a tree. For the Gilead tree, the twigs, fruits and kernels are all useful, but the most powerful and useful of all is the balm or the sap. The balm of Gilead could heal or give comfort to pain because its ointment contain medicine that uses for healing. From this, balm of Gilead becomes a a treatment to heal the body in both physical and emotional ways. We can see that Poe use the balm of Gilead in his poem to show that there are no way for him to forget Lenore since there is no balm of Gilead for him like the raven response. Ultimately, the balm of Gilead contributed to the dark feeling of the poem because without it, the author may suffer from his pain forever or it may take a long time to get his pain in his heart to fade.

“Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn” (Poe, 16).
In this quote, by Aidenn, what Poe really mean is Eden or the garden of Eden. Garden of Eden is a paradise or a heaven of world. Garden of Eden is a perfect place with all the positive, and all the goods that will last for eternal or forever. Thus, when people talk about Eden, most of the time, people will think of it as a garden that God have created for Adam, the first man in the world, which located in the heaven. In the poem, Poe uses Eden to describe the distance between him and his Lenore, which is between heaven and Earth. The use of Eden to describe the distance between them supports the idea that Poe could never get to meet Lenore again in his lifetime. This, again, contributed to his suffering of the lost love.


Excellent research!!

jforbes's picture
Submitted by jforbes on Sun, 2015-04-26 19:05.

Y, this research is so thorough and informative! I learned so much about this poem from reading your post.

very good research

Submitted by athongkham on Sun, 2015-04-26 20:58.

I learned a lot more things after reading about the mythological references. I don't know if its true but in an article it says that Zeus's previous wife Metis was Athena mother but Zeus had eaten her while she was pregnant with Athena because a prophet said that the next child she has would take away his power, so Athena was born in he's stomach and her mother was gone. But like I said there were many stories about who her mother was. I would want to go to the garden of Eden, it sounds like a good place to just rest you mind.

Good Connections

Submitted by sborjabustamante on Mon, 2015-04-27 00:10.

All the information you put was very insightful and I like how you showed us how it connects the the poem "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe.


Submitted by msaelee on Mon, 2015-04-27 02:11.

You clearly put a lot of effort into this and I recognize you for that! I didn't know the meaning this poem was based on the beliefs in different gods. I honestly learned a lot and understand what the poet is trying to say because I didn't really understand what he was referring to when he uses words like Pallas, Gilead, Aidenn, etc. Now I know, thanks Y! GREAT WORK!

Oh that's interesting.

Submitted by ateoxon on Thu, 2015-04-30 23:34.

It's very interesting, because I love mythology and how you talked about it. It got me hooked, it was a really nice reading. Good Job Y!!