cover first edition of The Unquiet Grave, 1944







(1) Story

Palinurus, a skilful pilot of the ship of Aeneas fell into the sea in his sleep, was three days exposed to the tempests and waves of the sea and at last came safe to the seashore near Velia, where the cruel inhabitants of the place murdered him to obtain his clothes: his body was left unburried on the seashore.

LEMPRIÈRE, Classical dictionary of proper names mentioned in ancient authors (1788)


(2) Speculation

The account is full of difficulties, ‘Te Palinure petens,tibi somnia tristia portans insonti'— ‘Looking for you, Palinurus, bringing you sad visions, guiltless though you are.’ But was Palinurus guiltless ?

CYRIL CONNOLLY, The Unquiet Grave,  p 132 (1944)


(3) Interpretation

Not far from Naples lies the Cape of Palinuro. There, sometimes, the ele­ments can be rough, even if the Tyrrheni­an Sea is tranquil. Whi­le the lightbeacon on the coast cuts into the darkness regularly for a split se­cond, helmsman Palinurus keeps watch on the bridge of a scour­ing galley. Behind him lies Carthago, where departure had lead to trea­chery and death of the so­vereign. In front lies Lati­um, where soon the model of all usurp­tion that history would know would be built. Treachery in Africa for the sake of the holy mission in Europe, divinely presented to admiral Aeneas. Fire was im­minent. But now, on the waters, there was still time to reflect. On the bridge, the bows, by the mast, in the hold and at the stern by the helm, wherever on the ship he might be, he brooded and found in the cor­ridors of his mind the inevitabili­ty of his desertion. Palinu­rus left ship...

Ole Bouman, ‘De Groene Amsterdammer’ vol.113 no 50, Amsterdam (1989)



> go to the description of the work

> go to Palinuro remix on Vimeo (mp4)



> table of content - > home