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                         The Annotated Sandman

               Edited by Ralf Hildebrandt and largely written by Greg Morrow

               Sandman Special #1: "The Song of Orpheus"
             Neil Gaiman, Bryan Talbot, and Mark Buckingham

                 Not part of any anthology or storyline
                    Not reprinted in any other form

Disclaimer:  Sandman and all related characters are copyrights and trademarks
of DC Comics Inc.  Sandman and this annotation are intended for mature
audiences only.

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Note:  This issue was published between _Sandman_ ##31 and 32; it is
unassociated with either the _Distant Mirrors_ anthology or the _A Game of You_
	This issue was published with a glow-in-the-dark cover.  The
non-glowing portion of the cover was done by Dave McKean, the usual cover
artist, and is repeated, left-right reversed, in grey, on the first page of the
issue.  The glow-in-the-dark overlay shows the outline of a face, presumably
Dream's, and the words "in dreams i walk with u".  The lettering is undoubtedly
McKean's, making it probable that the face is his work as well, although it is
in some ways reminiscent of Talbot's work.

Sources:  The legend of Orpheus is taken directly from classical Greek
mythology, and may be found in forms closer to the original in any number of
reference works.  Recommended ones include the _Larousse Encyclopedia of
Mythology_ and Robert Graves' translations of _The Greek Myths_, two volumes.
Gaiman's version differs from the originals where he has the Endless interact
with Orpheus, and conforms in most other instances.  I shan't waste space
explicating the details of the myth insofar as they are given.

Page 1 panel 5:  Orpheus is traditionally the son of either Apollo or the
Thracian king Oeagrus, and a muse, usually Calliope, sometimes Polyhymnia.  As
previously established in _Sandman_, Orpheus is the son of Dream and
Calliope (Muse of epic poetry).
"Hedge wizard":  A "hedge priest/parson" is a vagabond or illiterate clergyman.
_Brewer's Phrase and Fable_ identifies hedge wizards as "persons of low origin,
vagabonds who ply their trade in the open, under--or between--the hedges, etc."
A hedge wizard is therefore a poor wizard.

Page 2 panel 2:  Aristaeus is not traditionally a satyr (half-man, half-goat;
note that those are horns, not a peculiar receding hairline), but is usually
represented as a young man dressed like a shepherd, sometimes carrying a sheep.
He was worshipped in ancient Greece, but his myths are now obscure.  His name
derives from "aristos" [transliterated], meaning "best".  He is generally
accepted as the son of the nymph Cyrene, who was carried off to Libya by Apollo.
	Aristaeus was indeed married to Autonoe, who is probably the daughter
of Cadmus; their son was Actaeon, a mighty hunter, who accidentally saw Artemis
bathing one day.  She changed him into a stag and his own dogs hunted him down
and slew him.
	[From the Encyclopedia Britannica, although mine only goes back to
1944, not to the 19th century like Gaiman's :-]

Page 4 panel 1:  Eurydice's hair looks too much like a negative of Abby
Holland's for my taste; Abby is a character in _Swamp Thing_ with blond hair
with black streaks.  Her hair may be a family characteristic, though, and
Eurydice might be a distant relative.  Oneiros is the Greek name for Dream,
and is a literal translation of "dream".
	Panel 4:  The letter column extends thanks to "Talamah Gamah and
Ieiesh, who designed Death's posh frock".  It is unclear whether the frock is
this one or the one on page 22ff.
	Panel 5:  This is the first appearance of the Prodigal, the missing
Endless, whose name is mentioned on the next page.  He is on the far right,
dressed in period Greek armor.

Page 5 panels 2-6; page 6 panel 1:  Neil Gaiman has said that the names of the
Endless in Greek are nouns that describe them, rather than names borrowed from
myth.  Teleute means "last", or "termination", but is also used in euphemisms
for death like English's "come to an end"; Mania means "madness", and Olethros
"destruction".  Aponoia means "desperation", Epithumia "desire" or "passion",
and Potmos, "Destiny, Fate"; Homerically, Potmos was always evil and usually
meant death.
	Panel 4:  It is perhaps jarring to see Delirium, and not Delight.
Evidently the transformation occured prior to Greece's Heroic Age.  The only
evidence we have to the contrary is Destiny's portrait of Delight as a young
girl wearing relatively modern clothes; that, perhaps, might be an
automatically updating portrait.  Delirium has said the "Delight was a long
time ago", and that may be quite ancient on the time scale of the Endless.
	Panel 5:  Desire's expression here may be less than sincere, and
he/she may have been involved in Orpheus' fate.  Desire has shown interest in
all of Dream's love affairs.  And Passion is known for having ignited the
Trojan War.

Page 6 panel 1: Destiny bears a striking resemblance to Jorge Luis Borges!

       panel 4-5:  Hymenaeus:  originally the refrain of a marriage song, but
eventually personified into a hero whose marriage was legendarily happy.  The
marriage songs eventually became invocations to him.  The actual words of the
ceremony sound perhaps too much like modern Christian ceremony; no refs for
actual Greek ceremonies.
       panel 4:  The statue's head, with that circle and the
cross-like shapes, is reminiscent of byzantine representations of
angels, with the halo surrounding the head. 

Page 7 panel 4:  Satyrs, along with centaurs, went mad when they got drunk.

Page 9 panel 1:  Why does Dream not dance?  Because he is a stick-in-the-mud,
too concerned with appearance and dignity to relax.

Page 13 panel 2-3:  Orpheus's legendary talent was his ability to make music
that could enchant any audience.

Page 14 panel 1:  Note the three columns on the right with carved images of
women.  Such carvings are known as "caryatids", and the three may be a
reference to the Triple Goddess.  The female warrior statue on the left appears
to have an owl's face on her shield, and is probably Athena; above the Triple
Goddess are two who may be Apollo and Artemis.  There are a number of other,
more generic figures; the fat figure on the round roof may be from any number
of pantheons, for example.
The middle one looks like the statuette of the Goddess with the
Snakes, only this is a weight lifter parody... 
	Panel 3:  North American sources seem to be united in the definition of
"hippogriff" as a creature with the head, front legs, and wings of an eagle,
and the rear of a horse; Gaiman has a reference which supports _his_ contention
that a winged horse may be called a hippogriff.

Page 16 panel 2:  Kore:  means "maiden"; used as an alternate name for
Persephone.  In fact, in the Homeric hymn to Demeter, there is some evidence
that Kore is the name used.  The evidence is questionable, as the Greeks did
not use any written method of distinguishing proper nouns from ordinary nouns,
so "kore" might simply mean maiden.  Kore is much shorter than Persephone, and
the scribe may simply have gotten tired of writing the full name.

Page 17 panel 2:  Below is presumably Eurydice's funeral pyre.
	Panel 5:  Note that Destruction's armor has changed.
	Panel 6:  The river Lethe is one of the rivers of the underworld; its
waters bring oblivion, or forgetfulness.

Page 19 panel 6:  I think Destruction is picking an anemone. Anemones
grew from Aphrodite's (Venus) tears when Adonis died, and so they're
of the flowers associated with Hades. 

Page 20 panel 2:  There should probably be knuckle-cracking-type sound effects
in this panel.

Page 21 panel 1:  Note the family portrait, with Delight, and the issue of
"Cosmopolitan" magazine.
	Panel 3:  It has been alleged that the goldfish are named Slim and
Wandsworth, although I'd like confirmation from a more authoritarian source.
	There is also the larger question of why Death has only human artifacts
in her flat.  The Endless are extremely anthropomorphic, and anthrocentric
(even Eurocentric, if you get right down to it).  The described nature of the
Endless, however, suggests a very much larger scope to their activities; we
expect that Death is present for alien deaths as well as for human ones, and
therefore should evince alien characteristics, at least on occasion.

Page 22 panel 1:  Death's new outfit seems to have enhanced her bustline.

Page 23 panel 1-2:  This is not supported by the original myths; in the heroic
tradition of Greece (and later, Rome), the hero almost always made a journey to
the land of the Dead, and didn't have to die to come back.  Further, Herakles
proved (at least in the original) that he had visited the underworld by
bringing back the great dog Cerberus...and then he took him _back_.  To be
true to the Greek originals, Cerberus should have been rendered "Kerberos".
        panel 4:  What Death says has nothing to do with the actual
myth (but it's splendid!) as far as I know. 

Page 24 panel 4:  Tainaro ("Taenarum"! Good heavens!) is indeed the
southern point of Europe, islands excluded

Page 25 panel 2:  Thessaly:  This is an antecedent for a character who appears
in an upcoming storyline. But Thessaly (Thessalia) is also a region of
Greece. In general, panel 2 has a correct geographical description of
mainland Greece from north to south, and Orpheus actually lived in
Delphi:  There was an oracle at Delphi devoted to Apollo; the Pythia
ran the place.  The gift will become apparent shortly.  The "darkness"
in Corinth is unknown. 

Page 28 panel 1:  Charon was the boatman who transported the souls of the dead
across the River Styx, the fare for which was a penny.  The banks of the Styx
are normally crowded by those dead who were not buried with a penny.
	Panel 4:  The bough of gold:  _The Golden Bough_ is the name of an
encyclopediac 12-volume work by Frazer cataloguing mythology and superstition.

Page 30 panel 3-6:  The gates of the underworld were guarded by the great
three-headed dog Cerberus; Orpheus charmed him with his music.
        panel 4:  The resonator of his lyre was made of a tortoise's

Page 32 panel 1:  Hades and Persephone were the rulers of the underworld.

Page 33ff:  The song is unknown, possibly original (but I wouldn't bet on it

Page 34:  This scene is almost straight out of _Bulfinch's Mythology_.
Although Bulfinch's is a bowdlerized retelling for another age, it retains some
sense of authority even today; additionally, it might be rendering the
originals accurately in this particular instance.
        Panel 1:  In fact Hades had abducted Persephone, and in
	variations of the myth she somehow manages to return on earth
	during spring and summer; thus, "tales of rape" might be an
Panel 2:  Ixion:  Murdered his wife's father, was pardoned by Zeus and
admitted to Olympus, where he tried to seduce Hera and was tricked into
seducing a cloud, by which was born the race of centaurs.  He was bound onto a
flaming wheel in the underworld for his punishment.
	Panel 3:  Tityus:  His punishment is the same as Prometheus', the
Titan who gave man fire.  _Brewer's Phrase and Fable_:  "A gigantic son of
Zeus and Ge [Gaea]...whose body covered nine acres of land.  He tried to
defile Latona [aka Leda, Leto, Apollo and Artemis' mother], but Apollo cast
him into Tartarus, where a vulture fed on his liver, which grew again as fast
as it was devoured. He was the father of Europa."  From Graves:  "Tityus was
a giant who was a son of Zeus.  He tried to rape Leto, Apollo & Artemis'
mother, at Delphi.  Apollo & Artemis killed him with arrows before he could.
In Tartarus, Tityus was was stretch out, his arms & legs pegged to the ground,
and had his liver continually devoured by two vultures."

	Panel 4:  Tantalus:  Fed his son to the gods; his punishment was to
stand in a river, which would drain away if he tried to drink, and to have
boughs of fruit overhead, which would blow out of range if he reached for them.
From his plight comes the verb "to tantalize".
The pennies were placed there by the dead's relatives, as the fare to Charon.

Page 35 panel 3,5:  The Furies, also known as the Kindly Ones, are an aspect of
the Three-in-One Goddess.  The Furies extract terrible punishments from the

Page 37 panel 7-10:  Note that this is different than the "standard"
explanation. People usually attribute Orpheus' behavior to impatience,
lust, or curiosity. Lord, what fools these mortals be!

Page 39 panel 4:  Among the animals pictured here are wolves, rabbits, bears,
deer, sheep, goats, a leopard, one of the Carrion Kind, a badger, a fox, rats,
a peacock, and a unicorn.  A squirrel is noticeable on the next page.  The
leopard is unlikely but plausible, inasmuch as the European lion survived until
the Middle Ages; unicorns are entirely fictitious.

Page 42 panel 3:  The Bacchante:  worshippers of Bacchus (alias Dionysius),
the god of wine and madness; these were women who got drunk and went wilding.
At least one source suggests that ivy was used an intoxicant, and that the
Bacchae (also known as Maenads) used hallucinogenic toadstools.

Page 43: The ancient Greeks believed that songs made up entirely or mostly of
vowels had a remarkable power.
        panel 2:  "Euoi! Euan!" was a cheerful shout while drinking, a

Page 45 panel 7: Note the eating of the heart.  The Greeks believed that the
liver was the seat of emotion, not the heart; thus the punishments of
Prometheus and Tityus.

Page 46:  Traditionally, Orpheus died after being torn apart by the Bacchante.
His head floated down the river Hebrus to the island Lesbos. His lyre
was made (by Apollo) the constellation of Lyra. 

Page 47 panel 2-3:  Parallelism with the snake that slew Eurydice?

This issue also contains a family album of sorts, with full page illustrations
of the Endless and several denizens of the Dreaming.

Revision history:
Version 2.0 Released and Archived 27 Sept 92

Contributors include:
	Dave "Ed (the Anti-Dave)" Stobbe  forwarded a
message from Neil about the names of the Endless in Greek.
	glenn alan carnagey jr  helps identify "hedge
wizard", translates the names of the Endless, and IDs Kore.
	Robert Carlin (carlinra@vuse.vanderbilt.edu) helped identify "hedge
wizard" and recalled the legend of the coins for Charon.
	Jonathon Coxhead (jcoxhead@acorn.co.uk) took me to task for mentioned
Bullfinch, and recommends Graves or Larousse instead.
	Bill "And his boy" Sherman  identifies Gaiman's
inspiration for Orpheus' song in Hades, and wonders at Delirium's appearance.
	Jim W Lai  expanded the description of the
	Andrea "Ankh" Hosth (hoahosth@halls1.cc.monash.edu.au) definitively
IDed hedge wizards and Tityus.
	Michael Bowman (bvmi@odin.cc.pdx.edu) also identified Tityus.
	Tom Galloway (tyg@hq.ileaf.com) went to a modern fantasy to explain
	Mike Chary (charyma@wkuvx1.bitnet) also explained Kore, but by recourse
to Homeric hymns, and speculated on the furnishings of Death's apartment.
	Jim W Lai  wondered about Desire's
involvement in Orpheus' tragedy, helped support _my_ position on the hippogriff
controversy, identified the triple caryatid, spotted details of Death's flat,
watched Death's chest, identified the golden bough, reported Graves' Bacchae
hypothesis, talked about Greek tunes, the way to a man's liver, and complained
about the alleged alternation of Greek and Roman names.
	Carl Fink (carlf@panix.com) speculated about Eurydice's hair.

© by Ralf Hildebrandt
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This file was last modified 27. Jan 2007 by root