chapter  3
8 Pages

Lethe's Wharf: Wild Justice, the Purgatorial Supplement

Nothing satisfies like a pun, as in this case the anagram of Lethe in the name of Hamlet, especially in its original Nordic spelling Am-lethe: a weird coincidence that equals the strange invocation of the same Greek name by old Hamlet's ghost when "it" comes to deal with his learned son. It does not equal, but still resembles, the fundamental inscription of Lesmosyne, forgetting, in her sister Mnemosyne's name: the lessening of evil in the name of memory, the mother of the Muses. But while the hidden presence of Lethe in Hamlet seems to have her come out, against the grain of the father ghost's defense, in the son's notorious melancholy conduct, lesmosyne remains a rarely thematized implication of the Muses's manifold work, a well-established work of mourning on whose premises rhetorical memoria unfolds her mnemo-technique.