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Allusion in Cyrano de Bergerac

Allusion Examples in Cyrano de Bergerac:

Act I - Scene IV

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"Thalia..."   (Act I - Scene IV)

According to Greek mythology, Thalia was one of the the three Graces and one of the nine muses. She was the goddess of festivity, music, song, and dance.

"jawbone..."   (Act I - Scene IV)

The phrase "Will you lend me your jawbone?" is an allusion to the biblical story of Samson. According to the Old Testament, Samson used a donkey's jawbone to kill an army of Philistines.

"Triton..."   (Act I - Scene IV)

According to ancient Greek mythology, Triton was the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite, the god and goddess of the sea respectively. As messenger of the sea, Triton carried a conch shell and used it as a trumpet. Here, Cyrano compares his nose to Triton's conch shell.

"the traitor..."   (Act I - Scene IV)

Here, Cyrano references Théophile de Viau's 17th century play Pyrame et Thisbé, which deals with the ancient Roman myth of Pyramus who committed suicide after mistakenly believing Thisbe, his love, had been killed. Cyrano mocks the following line from the play: “Here is the dagger that basely sullied itself with its master's blood. It is red with shame, the traitor!”

"Phoebus..."   (Act I - Scene IV)

In Greek and Roman mythology, Phoebus (or Apollo) is the god of the sun.

"Or a Tito to win Berenice..."   (Act I - Scene V)

Tito is another name for the Roman Emperor Titus (39–81 AD), while Berenice was a Jewish princess born around 28 AD. Although Tito and Berenice were in love, Romans opposed and prohibited their marriage. Cyrano's two questions referencing these famous couples ask whether he will ever find love with such a large nose.

"just as the Bacchantes tore apart Orpheus! ..."   (Act II - Scene I)

According to ancient Roman mythology, maenads or bacchantes were female followers of Dionysus, the god of wine. These women, whose names literally translate to the "raving ones," tore Orpheus apart and killed him.

"“Ulysses thus, on leaving fair Penelope..."   (Act II - Scene II)

Written in the eighth century BCE, Homer's epic poem the Odyssey, follow Ulysses, also known as Odysseus. Here, Ragueneau's line refers to the moment Ulysses had to leave his wife Penelope to fight in the Trojan War.

"Apollo..."   (Act II - Scene IV)

According to ancient Greek mythology, Apollo was god of the sun.

"one of d'Urfe's heroes..."   (Act II - Scene VI)

The phrase "d'Urfe's heroes" refers to the novels of French author Honoré d'Urfé (1567–1625). Heroes in d'Urfé’s stories were considered ideal models of knights.

"the arms of windmills may catch you and sweep you down into the mud..."   (Act II - Scene VII)

In another allusion to Don Quixote, de Guiche touches on the romantic notion of the story—how Quixote was willing to die and fight for a cause many found foolish.

"Don Quixote..."   (Act II - Scene VII)

In 1695, Miguel de Cervantes (1547–1616) wrote Don Quixote. Here, de Guiche refers to the moment in the novel where the hero, Don Quixote, fights windmills because he believes they are giants.

"I'll pay no tribute to Caesar..."   (Act II - Scene VIII)

Cyrano claims he will not pay anyone in power. He compounds this claims by comparing it to the tributes paid to Julius Caesar during his reign.

"queen..."   (Act III - Scene IX)

With this phrase, Cyrano alludes again to Dumas novel, The Three Musketeers. In the novel, Dumas envisions the romance between Duke of Buckingham George Villiers (1592-1629) and Queen Anne of Austria (1601-1666).

"Lazarus at the feast..."   (Act III - Scene IX)

In a biblical parable from the New Testament, Lazarus begs for food during a feast and a rich man refuses to give him food. Ironically, he is later rewarded in Heaven when the rich man begs him for water.

"in a book..."   (Act III - Scene XI)

Rostand incorporates a real fact from Cyrano de Bergerac's life. De Bergerac wrote several stories about voyaging to the moon, which Rostand touches on frequently in the play with mentions of space travel.

"Achilles..."   (Act IV - Scene II)

Here, the cadet alludes to Homer's 8th century BCE epic poem The Iliad. Achilles, the hero of the story, withdraws his troops from fighting in the Trojan War and retires to his tent because he is upset with the leader, Agamemnon.

"The Iliad..."   (Act IV - Scene III)

Notice how Cyrano seems to be making a point by throwing The Iliad at the cadet. Although Achilles initially refuses to fight for the Greeks, he returns to the war in order to avenge his friend's death. Perhaps, Cyrano wants the cadet to think about what valor truly means.

"Helen..."   (Act IV - Scene VIII)

According to ancient Greek mythology, Helen of Troy was married to King Menelaus of Sparta and was the most beautiful woman in the world. The Trojan War erupted when Paris kidnapped her,

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