The Anathemata

Middle-sea and Lear-sea (continued)

One thousand two hundred years

since the Dorian jarlsa

rolled up the map of Arcadyb and the transmontane storm-groups fractured the archaic pattern.

Within the hoop

of the iron years

the age is obscure—

and is the age dark?

The makers of anathemata can, at a pinch, beat out utile spares for the mobile columns or amulets for the raiding captains and the captains themselves bring certain specifications and new god-fears.

The adaptations, the fusions

the transmogrifications

but always

the inward continuities

of the site

of place.

David Jones notes

additional notes

a DJ is here thinking of the collapse of the Bronze Age Mycenean culture in Greece in about 1100 BCE. For a long time it was thought that this was due to an invasion of a less civilised Iron Age people from another part of Greece (or, alternatively, a mysterious ‘sea people’) in a so-called ‘Dorian invasion’, which was followed by a few hundred years of a Greek ‘dark age’. After 1100 BCE there was indeed an Iron Age culture in Greece about which very little in known, but the Dorian invasion is now regarded as but one unproven hypothesis amongst others to explain the collapse of the Bronze Age culture at this time which occured not only in Greece but also in the whole of the eastern end of Meditteranean including Anatolia, Syria and part of Egypt. See this article about the Bronze Age collapse and this one about the Dorian invasion.

‘jarl’ is a Scandinavian word mening ‘chieftain’ but DJ is here using it to denote any invader who conquers through the use of brute force alone. He is perhaps thinking of the Viking invasions of Britain.

Despite nearly 200 years of investigation, the actuality of the Dorian invasion has never been established. From the point of view of the poem, that does not matter. See the General Note to Section 1.

b A mountainous region of ancient Greece in the central Peloponnesus. Its relatively isolated inhabitants proverbially lived a simple, pastoral life.


From the beginnings of Roman civilisation we now turn to the Mediterranean civilisation of Classical Greece. Twelve hundred years from the Dorian invasion brings us again to the first century CE, the same time as previously, though less precisely.

semantic structures