At the end of Book 8's "dreadfull speech," in which Zeus threatens to cast his fellow gods down to the depths of Barathrum
, he smiles at Athena and tells her to "[b]e confident," since "I speake not this with serious thoughts, but will be kind to thee" (167).
The depth of her passion is compared to the barathrum (draining well) which Hercules dug near Pheneus (lines 109-118).
Tuplin continues to note that the love symbolised by a barathrum cannot be escaped.
But by the end of the barathrum simile (line 117), Laodamia's love is said to be deeper still: sed tuus altus amor barathro fuit altior illo ...
For example, when Lucius initially ignores Byrrhena's warning, instead rushing back to Milo's house in his desire to subject himself to Pamphile's magic arts, MM claims that the characterisation of Lucius as rushing headlong in ipsum barathrum
Along the way, they observed the seven 'wonders of the peak', named in the title: 'Aedes, Mons, Barathrum
binus Fons, Antraque bina' ('House, mountain, chasm, double fountain, and twin caves').(3)
Tuplin has suggestive comment on the negative implications of the barathrum
lines as an image of love (pp.
26 The comparison would also seem to suggest that Laodamia, like Hercules, will achieve a kind of immortality because she has fallen into a metaphorical barathrum that recalls the one through which Hercules in part made it to Olympus.
While the barathrum excavated by Hercules is huge, as befits the greatest of Greek heroes, the story itself is rare and the language rarified (cf.
(of Laodamia) tanto te absorbens vertice amoris / aestus in abruptum detulerat barathrum
the Charybdis / whirlpool image is given a new application (to somebody deeply in love: cf.