Eric Graf

Eric Graf
Assistant Professor of Spanish
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The Pomegranate of Don Quijote I.9

Building 260 (Pigott Hall), Room 216,
Stanford University

Wednesday, February 9, 2005, 4 pm-5 pm

Edited by Peter Y. Chou

Preface: Passing by Pigott Hall, I saw a flyer showing Dante Gabriel Rossetti's painting Proserpine (1874). Upon closer inspection, it was an announcement for a lecture on "The Pomegranate of Don Quijote I.9" by Professor Eric Graf from the University of Illinois. A quote from Cervantes' Don Quijote I.9 accompanied the flyer in Spanish & English: "In the first part of this history we left the valiant Basque and the famous Don Quijote with naked swords aloft, about to deliver two furious downward strokes such that, had they struck true, at the very least they would have split each other open top down just as one cuts open a pomegranate; and at that most doubtful point the delicious history stopped short and was left truncated, without any indication by its author as to where one might find the missing part." Since I've not yet read Don Quixote, this passage intrigued me as well as the symbolism of the pomegranate in mythology and literature. It was 3 pm and the lecture was just an hour away— how lucky I am to have seen this flyer! After some of my usual research at the Green Library, I got to this lecture about 5 minutes late. The room was filled with around two dozen faculty and students. Luckily, there was an empty chair near the front where Eric Graf was lecturing and showing slides. I didn't pick up the two pages handouts with quotes and captions of the slides until later. When I asked Prof. Graf what journal will his lecture be published in, he told me that it's already published in a book edited by Frederick A. de Armas, Writing for the Eyes in the Spanish Golden Age, Bucknell University Press (2004). Stanford Library has a copy of this book (PQ6064.W75.2004), but a faculty member had already checked it out. I put a reserve on the book, but didn't get it until ten weeks later. Figures 5, 6, 7, and 9 are Eric Graf's photographs scanned from the book as well as Figures 3, 4 and 8. The black & white photos scanned from the book were brightened and color tinted in Adobe Photoshop. The other colored Figures were downloaded from the web with links to their sources. Using my notes, Prof. Graf's handouts, and his essay in the book, I've tried to reconstruct his illuminating lecture for lovers of Don Quixote and the pomegranate.

Fig. 1. Contemporary Spanish
Coat of Arms (since 1981)

The granada [pomegranate] in the beginning of Chapter 9 of Don Quixote has two meanings— geopolitical and moral. The pomegranate is a symbol of the kingdom of Granada. It can be seen today as a logo in the Spanish Coat of Arms (Fig. 1) found at the center of the national flag. Just before the conquest of Granada in 1492, Ferdinand of Aragon said, "I will tear out one by one the seeds of that pomegranate"— after which a pomegranate was added to the base of the shield on the royal standard of the Catholic Kings. This geopolitical symbolism of the pomegranate as the kingdom of Granada is repeated well into the 16th and 17th centuries. The Holy Roman Emperor, Maxmilian I (1459-1519) also adopted the pomegranate as one of his personal emblems. In the Portrait of Emperor Maximilian I (1519) by Albrecht Dürer, the Emperor holds a pomegranate in his left hand (Fig. 2).
During the time of Cervantes, the Royal banner of Kings Philip II and III continued to display this symbol at its center (Fig. 3). Perhaps most interesting for a decentered reading of the significance of the pomegranate in Don Quixote is the pomegranate's appearance on the Estandarte de Caballeria [Banner of the Cavalry] of 1580 (Fig. 4), a flag with which we might imagine the novel's peerless knight-errant would have been intimately familiar. Given the fact that Toledo is the place where the second narrator of the 1605 Quixote ultimately finds the Arabic continuation of the adumbrated text as well as the mysterious bilingual agent who agrees to execute its translation, we must take the mention of the pomegranate at the beginning of Chapter 9 as a reference to the type of symbolism that abounds in this town.
Fig. 2. Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)
Emperor Maximilain I (1519)
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Fig. 3. Royal banner of Kings
Philip II, III, and IV (1580-1700)

Fig. 4. Estandarte de Caballeria
[Banner of the Cavalry] (1580)

Fig. 5. Column Decoration (c. 1506)
Monastery of San Juan, Toledo
An excellent example is found on the columns, arches, and ceilings of the cloister of the Monastery of San Juan in Toledo (Figs. 5, 6, and 7). Ferdinand and Isabella had this church erected in the middle of the Jewish quarter of Toledo, and they had even planned on being buried there. The ceilings of the church's upper cloister display all of the symbols of their reign: the motto "Tanto monta monta tanto" [same difference], the Lion of León, the castle of Castile, the striped flags of Aragon and Sicily (the latter with eagles), the arrows (flechas for Fernando), the yoke (yugo for Ysabel), the initials "F" and "Y", and finally, the numerous and prominent pomegranates that allude to the one kingdom still to be conquered in order to achieve the reunification of the peninsula. Cervantes probably had this exact cloister in mind when he wrote the passage in question, for he is quite specific about where the intercultural negotiation for the recovered manuscript's translation takes place:
"Then I went off with the Morisco into the cloister of the main church, and I begged him to render for me into the Castilian tongue everything in all those notebooks that dealt with Don Quixote, adding nothing and omitting nothing; and I offered him whatever payment he should want." Moreover, the author has already been careful to add yet another dimension of cultural hybridity to this encounter between a Castilian and a Morisco in a church cloister in Toledo by way of an allusion to the city's famed Jewish population, perhaps recalling the Monastery of San Juan situated in the old Jewish quarter. When the second narrator find the Arabic continuation of the text, he makes an odd qualification of his search for a Morisco translator through a reference to Hebrew:
Fig. 6. Archway Decoration (c. 1506)
Monastery of San Juan, Toledo

Fig. 7. Ceiling Decoration (c. 1506)
Monastery of San Juan, Toledo
"Even though I recognized them, I still could not understand them, and so I walked around to see if there might be some Spanish-speaking Morisco about, who would be able to read them; and it was not very difficult to find such an interpreter, for even if I had wanted one for another better and much older language, I would have found one." Given its clear and common geopolitical significance, when Cervantes evokes the pomegranate at the precise moment in which he freezes the action of the battle between the Castilian knight and his Basque adversary, only to then introduce us to it again by way of a text discovered in a town famous for its ancient Jewish population, a text written in Arabic by Cide Hamete and then translated into Spanish by a Morisco, he has created a linguistic, cultural, and geopolitical emblem of the entire history of Spain.
Surely the famous windmill at the beginning of Chapter 8 anticipates this dizzying indeterminacy of familiar ethnic and religious subject positions. Nevertheless, for Cervantes, although peninsular history is primeval and includes the histories of the Celtic, Roman, Jewish, Visigothic, and Arabic civilizations, in the final analysis it has come down to a conflict between Basques and Castilians in the north and, subsequent to that, a conflict between Castilians and Moriscos in the south. Tanto monta monta tanto it would seem, or, as one might say in English, "what goes around comes around." But the sequence of thes two north-south encounters, which revolve around the axis of the geopolitically symbolic "granada" and the sudden shifting of perspectives at the transition between Chapters 8 and 9, does indeed follow the course of history: they are part of the novel's general trajectory toward ultimate encounters, or "limit experiences," with the Arabic Other. I offer three key examples. First, when Don Quixote comes across the Basque at the end of Chapter 8, he is on the royal road that leads south from Madrid and Toledo toward Andalucia, and earlier in the same chapter he has already expressed his intention to imitate a certain Diego Pérez de Vargas y Machuca, so called because he once pounded so many Moors, that he was given the surname of the Pounder. Second, the convoluted Sierra Morena episodes that form the main body of the rest of the novel take place precisely on the mountainous frontier between Castilla and La Mancha and Granada. Third, if the endpoint of the entire novel is, as Luis Andrés Murillo has observed, the "Captive's Tale" of Chapters 39-41, then surely the central character that awaits us there is the Christianized Moor— technically speaking, now a Morisca— the enigmatic Zoraida-Mary figure who has followed the Captive in his journey back from Algiers. If the "Captive's Tale" is the endpoint of the 1605 novel, then the Monastery of San Juan in Toledo gains further momentum as a material source for its symbolism.
Fig. 8.1. Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510)
Madonna con bambino
[Virgin & Child]
Harvard Fogg Art Museum,
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Fig. 9. Chains of the Christian slaves
freed by the reconquest of Granada (c. 1492)
Monastery of San Juan, Toledo
In addition to the prominent use of the pomegranate in the structure's cloister (Figs. 5-7), the monastery is most famously known for its display on its exterior walls of the chains of the Christian captives freed by the reconquests of Málaga and Almerí (Fig. 9). In this light, this Monastery suggests one of those archetypal architectural structures upon which Don Quixote as an "art of memory" might have depended for its ultimate shape (Frances A. Yates, The Art of Memory, 1966). "Captive's Tale" as a dyad— the chains represent the exterior world, the pomegranate, the interior world. The way to be free of the endless cycles of ethnico-religious reciprocal violence is to affirm the Other (Zoraida) as the bearer of religious meaning (Mary), to learn to apply the antidote of a new and more ethnically diverse and tolerant philosophy at the sites of cultural conflict.
In short, the geopolitical pomegranate at the beginning of Chapter 9 is but one of a cluster of details that converge to indicate that Cervantes' principal concern while writing Don Quixote was the Morisco question. While the novel certainly evinces a technical attempt to come to terms with Aristotelian precepts, it is more properly understood as both a spirited response to the bloody Alpujarras War of 1568-70 and a grim anticipation of the Morisco expulsions of 1609-11. Perhaps the crowning detail here is the ironic fact that Toboso, the toponym of Don Quixote's ultimate love object, was inhabited by a large number of Moriscos from the kingdom of Granada. Prof. Graf showed 9 slides of paintings with the pomegranate motif (Figs. 8.1-8.7 & Figs. 10.1-10.2). I've found 7 of them on the web, but can't find Fig. 8.3: Hans Holbein the Elder (1460-1524), "Saint Mary Hands a Pomegranate to the Child" [Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum] and Fig. 8.5: Francesco Segala (active 1557-97), Allegorical Scene, [Museo del Settecento Veneziano, Ca' Rezzonico, Venice].
Fig. 8.2. Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510)
Madonna of the Pomegranate (1487)
Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Fig. 8.4. Raphael (1483-1520)
Study: Madonna of the Pomegranate (1505)
Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna
In conjunction with its geopolitical significance, the "granada" also has a moral symbolism dating from medieval times. According to J. E. Cirlot, "the pomegranate is a perfect illustration of multiplicity because it is internally subdivided into a multitude of cells", and it therfore manifests "the symbolic doctrine that the totality of the individual has no value until it has become transmuted— that is, until the individual has destroyed in himself the desire for dispersal in space (corresponding to multiplicity) and in time (corresponding to transitoriness) so that ultimately he may be transformed into an image of the One and so be assimilated into the eternal principle." The pomegranate also corresponds to the womb: its biblical name rimmon derives from rim, "to bear a child", and its association with the Virgin Mary and the Christ child is common in medieval art. Its blood-red color and its many seeds make the fruit an emblem of the Christian community, a kind of sacrificial figuration of the paradoxical motto "E Pluribus Unum" [from the many— One]. Cervantes has injected a geopolitical signifier into a key moment of his narrative, a signifier tat should orient the reader toward the contemporary social tension in southern Spain, but he has also supplied a Christian symbol of peaceful harmony as a kind of transcultural antidote to the whole bewildering history of violence between Basques, Castilians, Jews, Christians, Arabs, Moors, Moriscos, and Muslims.
A contemporary parallel to Cervantes' use of the pomegranate can be found in Lope de Vega's play Juan de Dios y Antón Martín (1608-1611) written during the Morisco expulsions of 1609-1611. About halfway through the first act of this play, Juan de Dios, a former pastor, but now a soldier, ponders on his decision to take up the sword: "I am exhausted; I want here / to sit and ponder what to do: / Oh, my God, where am I to go? / What is my purpose in this life? / Which way shall I direct my steps / so as to find you, my good God? / How or where shall I go to you, / for I do not know...?" At this point a divine voice is heard, and Juan has a vision of the Christ child who directs him to go to Granada and become a Hospitaler. According to the play's stage directions: "Enter a pilgrim-child, with an orb-like pomegranate". Further on, as Juan gazes at the pomegranate, "It opens in four parts, and in the middle is found a cross", at which point the child explains the symbol: "Let us divide it, but behold: / this divided pomegranate / constitutes the fruit of your life / by way of the seeds of my death, / which are but drops of human blood. / Go to Granada: you will find / the poor for whom you are to have / my grace and my benediction." [Eric Graf translation] These verses manifest a political theology that disallows the easy self-righteousness of military conquest, insisting instead on unconditional Christian love of the Other as the only means of healing a divided kingdom.
Fig. 8.6. Badge of Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536)
Weidenfeld & Nicolson Archive, London

Fig. 8.7. Coronation of Catherine of Aragon
and King Henry VIII
(June 24, 1509)
Cambridge University Library, UK
Pomegranate Quotes from Prof. Graf's handout:

"Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil." — Song of Solomon 4.3

"The pomegranate can be a symbol for a republic whose
inhabitants are very much in agreement and united."
— Sebastián de Covarrubias
    Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española 656

"It is He who sends down water from the sky with which We bring forth the buds of every plant. From these We bring forth green foliage and close-growing grain, palm-trees laden with cluster of dates, vineyards and olive groves, and pomegranates alike and different. Behold their fruits when they ripen. Surely in these there are signs for true believers."
The Koran 6.99

A comparison between Cervantes' broken episode between Chapters 8 and 9 of the 1605 Don Quixote and Salvador Dali's Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around a Pomegranate One Second Before Waking (1944) (Fig. 10) clarifies the dynamics of the geopolitical and moral symbolism in both compositions. The postmodern surrealism of Dali and the iconographic Renaissance Christian humanism of Cervantes are strikingly similar in technique in three principal respects. First, both artists use the deploy a telescopic combination of ancient and contemporary history. Dali frames his surreal event with the elephant invasion of Hannibal and the rifle of the Spanish Civil War. Cervantes moves between the Castilian / Basque fusion of the medieval period and the tensions in southern Spain during the Renaissance. Third, both render social conflict on the peninsula as a mimetic masculine rivalry and female in jeopardy. The threatened female figure is positioned at the endpoint of an historical & geopolitical trajectory. Dali's Gala-Venus-Humanitas is Proserpine with the pomegranate offering salvation to a Spain that has just suffered a civil war. Cervantes' Zoraida-Mary-Humanitas offers a peaceful resolution to the Spanish labyrinth of the 16th century. In each case, a mythologically and morally coded cosmos not only indicates the ultimate "textuality of history" but perhaps also expresses the hope that if we can imagine a better world, then we can also make one.

Fig. 10.1. Salvador Dali (1904-1989),
Sueño causado por el vuelo de una abeja alrededor
de una granada un segundo antes del despertar

[Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee around
a Pomegranate One Second Before Waking
(1944), Museo Thyssen, Madrid

Fig. 10.2. Dante Gabriele Rossetti (1828-1882)
Proserpine (1874)
Tate Gallery, London
The Madonna con bambino [Virgin and Child] painting (1490) by Sandro Botticelli (Fig. 8.1) is one of many medieval paintings that make explicit use of the common Christian significance of the pomegranate. The years Cervantes spent in Italy before the Battle of Lepanto mean that he could be making a direct allusion to Botticelli. George Camamis ["The Concept of Venus-Humanitas in Cervantes as the Key to the Enigma of Botticelli's Primavera." Cervantes 8, no. 2:183-223 (1988)] suggests a kind of painterly roman à clef— Cervantes' prose may very well operate according to a series of allusions to Renaissance masterpieces by the likes of El Greco, Raphael, and Botticelli. Camamis's argument that La Galatea and La gitanilla are structured according to some of the most subtle details of Botticelli's Primavera [Spring] is at times very compelling. If we allow his argument, even in part, then we might also want to consider the possiblity that Cervantes appropriated and relocated Botticelli's Madonna con bambino as one of the ultimate organizing principles of Don Quixote. The pomegranate at the beginning of Chapter 9, positioned precisely at the intersection of an emblematic battle between a Basque and a Castillian and precisely at a textual rupture that serves to frame this battle with the Morisco issue of southern Spain, may have been intended to function in combination with the moral implications of the Zoraida-Mary figure of the "Captive's Tale".
Conclusion (from book): Cervantes' writing anticipate contemporary literary theory in ways that we cannot and should not ignore, it routinely does so in dramatically ethical fashion and precisely at moments when the text is also in dialogue with very specific social formations and very specific social conflicts. The formal splintering between Chapters 8 and 9 of the 1605 Quixote is a self-conscious demonstration of both the textuality of history and the historicity of texts. On the one hand, Cervantes underscores that history is experienced differently by different peoples (Basques, Castillians, Jews, Christians, Arabs, Moors, Moriscos, and Muslims) and so there can be no inherently "true" version of its events, only different perspectives on, and different translations of, said events. Cervantes' radical textual experiment plays with the perpectives of his characters as well as with those of his readers, signaling his awareness of historical relativity. On the other hand, neither can texts every fully escape the history in which they are produced, and so, for better or for worse, they will always be at least partially conditioned by the events that surround them. Cervantes' rigorous attention to the violent realities of his world indicates a self-conscious attempt to historicize his own novel— that is, to make his text speak to the more important social issues of his day and represent his society as a continuous work in progress, a contingent mixture of various cultures as opposed to a static model that would privilege Castilian "purity". For Cervantes, I believe, an ethics based on "perspectivism" was an attempt to avoid violence in the 17th-century southern Spain, or more to the point, it was an attempt to disallow the kind of Castilian aggressivity embodied by the hidalgo class of the 15th century and still operative inthe expropriation of Morisco lands during the 16th and 17th centuries. Clearly, the degree of the success of Cervantes' self-assumed "cultural work" is debatable, but his intentions remain quite clear. Whether or not he succeeded in changing his readers, we do know that he considered this change to be the ultimate purpose of his texts. In his prologue to the Novelas ejemplares of 1613, Cervantes spells out his plan: "My purpose has been to place in the plaza of our republic a game table which everyone can approach to entertain themselves without fear of being harmed by the rods; by which I mean without harm to spirit or body, because honest and agreeable exercises are always more likely to do good than harm." Given Cervantes' vision of the novel as the performance of a kind of "cultural game" for the betterment of his society, we must attend to one final interpretation of the pomegranate at the beginning of Chapter 9. According to Sebastiaán de Covarrubias's 1611 edition of the Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española: "The pomegranate can be a symbol for a republic whose inhabitants are very much in agreement and united." It is a morally driven version of this political unity that Cervantes seeks as the fruit of his textual labors. His particular use of the pomegranate as potentially split open by the intercultural violence between Basques and Castilians short-circuits the easy symbolism associated with the imperial conquest of the kingdom of Granada, and substitutes a far more difficult one that seeks to achieve political harmony among the diverse citizens of a republic. Such details, along with the high degree of narrative attention given to intercultural love affairs, like those between the Captive and Zoraida in the 1605 Quixote and betwen Don Gregorio and Ana Félix in the 1615 continuation, are clear indications of the author's pro-Morisco agenda: political harmony in 17th-century Spain must not exclude the Arabic Other.


Q & A Session:

Q: What was Cervantes view toward the Moors & Christians?
A: In his early plays, Cervantes was more antipoetic
    towards the Moorish other. There was some
    rapprochement after his jail sentence [1597].
    Relative respect of the Christian population.

Q: The chains on the outside of the San Juan Monastery
    is quite a strong image. The extraordinary juncture
    in Chapters 8-9 is a further consequence in the novel.
    Toledo used as the transitional center.
    How is this text related as a whole?
A: Compare "Madonna of the Pomegranate" and the chains
    on the exterior of the Monastery to interpret
    the novel. Link Don Quixote and pomegranate
    reference as a madman and Christian pacificism.
    Don Quixote attacking people is seriously flawed.
    Don Quixote meets the captive
    Medieval model of aggression.
    Renaissance model of peace.
    Don Quixote is a negative exemplar.
    He hits the Basque so hard (1599)
    that blood runs— he's not a good exemplar.

Q: Question of ? technology
A: It was built in 1580— Dutch design
    Windmill is a symbol of Dutch technology & ethics.

Q: Are there pomegranate symbol in other works?
A: The only instance I've found is in Derrida.
    He has a 1996 essay on the pomegranate.
    It's provocative: 3 great monotheism—
    Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
    The second half of the two-part work
    deals with religion and reason.
    ["Foi et savoir: Les deux sources de la 'religion'
    aux limites de la simple raison" (Faith and Knowledge:
    The Two Sources of Religion within the Limits of Simple Reason)]
Q: Have you considered another dimension that
    of geography & the Hapsburg Empire?
    Shift to the 4th level— agriculture
    not in Christianity but in the Koran—
    would be extremely interesting.
A: The only reference in the Koran is 6.99
    A pop song in Afghanistan
    after the Taliban was "Pomegranate"
    "unity in multiplicity" (2001)
    Pomegranate is a favorite symbol in Caliphates
    The Moorish can't drop a pomegranate seed.

Q: The 16th century theologian Covarrubias said
    that the pomegranate is the fruit that
    Eve ate in the Garden instead of the apple (1611)
    Between 1492 and 1611, there was an appropriation
    of the pomegranate's symbol— a defeated kingdom
    & converted religion. The Hapsburg authority
    and royal iconography. The flip side—
    beginning of the fall of dissension.
    (Tesoro de la Lengua Castellano o Española)
A: I haven't found it. Artists and imperial politics
    Last ditch effort at the end of the 16th century
    for Morisco's claim of divine right to Spain.

Q: Your essay on the pomegranate (?)
A: The ethical symbolism of the pomegranate: Is Cervantes rejecting
    or amplifying Christianity? View the pomegranate as a
    positive multi-ethnicity symbol. Treatment of women
    as pro-Morisco. Cervantes uses the pomegranate as a
    pivot point as ethnic and feminist focus. He's saying:
    "Your blood and race don't concern me.
    Your ideas are what concern me."

The lecture and discussion ended at 5:05 pm.


Additional Notes & Web Links:

Pomegranate: The Greeks believed that the pomegranate sprang from the blood
of Dionysos. There are similar beliefs linking anemones with Adonis and violets
with Attis. But the predominating significance of the pomegranate, arising from
its shape and internal structure rather than from its colour, is the reconciliation
of the multiple and diverse within apparent unity. Hence, in the Bible, for example,
it appears as a symbol of the Oneness of the universe. It is also symbolic of fecundity.
— J. E. Cirlot, A Dictionary of Symbols,
    translated from the Spanish by Jack Sage,
    Philosophical Library, New York, 1962, p. 249

Pomegranate: Immortality; multiplicity in unity; perennial fertility; fecundity;
plenty. Buddhist: One of the Three Blessed Fruits, with the citrus and peach.
Chinese: Abundance; fertility; posterity; numerous and virtuous offspring;
a happy future. Christian: Eternal life; spiritual fecundity; the Church,
the seeds being the numerous members. Greco-Roman: Spring; rejuvenation;
immortality; fertility; emblem of Hera/Juno and of Ceres and Persephone as
the periodic return of Spring and fertility to the earth. It is also the plant
which grew from the blood of Dionysos. Hebrew: Regeneration; fertility.
The pomegranates with the bells on the priestly vestments represent
fecundating thunder and lightning.
— J. C. Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols,
    Thames and Hudson, London, 1978, p. 134

Pomegranate: (Old French pome grenate, "apple with many seeds")
Long cultivated in the eastern Mediterranean region and Near East, the pomegranate
tree is believed to have been propagated by the Phoenicians and became a popular
source of both fruit and herbal medicine throughout warmer regions. The many
seeds embedded in the pulp of the fruit came to symbolize fertility; the entire fruit,
goddesses like the Phoenician Astarte (or Ashtoreth), Demeter and Persephone
(Latin Ceres and Proserpina), Aphrodite (Venus), and Athena. Pomegranate trees
were planted on the graves of heroes, perhaps to ensure that they would have many
successors. In the mythology of the cult of Eleusis, Persephone would not have had
to stay on in Hades after her abduction had she not eaten a pomegranate there;
because she had, she could not dwell perpetually with the other gods but had to
spend one third of each year in Hades. The mother of Attys, the lover of the
"great mother" Cybele, was said to have become pregnant by touching a pomegranate
tree. Specific nymphs, the Rhoeae, were believed to inhabit the trees. In Rome,
Juno was represented holding a pomegranate as a symbol of marriage. The tree,
with its fragrant, fiery red blossoms, was also seen as a symbol of love and marriage,
followed by childbirth. Brides wore wreaths made from its twigs. In the Judeo-Christian
era, the symbolism was more spiritual, and the fruit came to refer to God's bountiful
love. The red juice of the pomegranate became a symbol of the blood of martyrs;
the seeds enclosed in a single fruit, teh individual Christians united in the Church
community. Since the rind of the fruit is tough but its juice sweet, the pomegranate
came to symbolize the priest: severe on the outside, indulgent on the inside. In baroque
symbolism, the image of a pomegranate, split open to reveal its wealth of seeds, stood
for generosity (charity, Hospitaler orders). In heraldry the pomegranate adorns the arms
of Granada and Colombia (formerly "New Granada"). (18th century print)
— Hans Biedermann, Dictionary of Symbolism,
    translated from German by James Hulbert,
    Facts On File, New York, 1992, pp. 271-272

Rossetti's Prosperpine (1874):
Persephone was a daughter of Zeus and Demeter. She was abducted by Hades or Pluto
to be his Queen of the Underworld. Her mother Demeter, the Goddess of Harvest, froze
the crops in an effort to win her back. Because Prosperpine had eaten Pluto's pomegranate,
she was allowed to return to her mother only half of the year during spring and summer.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Jane Morris, the wife of artist William Morris, was the model for this painting, done
while Rossetti stayed with the couple at Kelmscott. Symbols contained in the painting
include the pomegranate, which signifies captivity and marriage, and the incense-burner,
the attribute of a goddess. The decorative quality of the picture is accentuated by the
curve of the ivy spray, a symbol of clinging memory, which is echoed in Proserpine's arm
and the rich folds of drapery. The painting is inscribed with the artist's signature and
date on a scroll at lower left: 'Dante Gabriele Rossetti Ritrasse Nel Capodanno Del 1874'
('Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted this at the beginning of 1874'). Rossetti, who was also
a poet, wrote a sonnet for the painting, inscribing it in Italian on the picture and
in English on the frame:
Afar away the light that brings cold cheer
Unto this wall, - one instant and no more
Admitted at my distant palace-door.
Afar the flowers of Enna from this drear
Dire fruit, which, tasted once, must thrall me here.
Afar those skies from this Tartarean grey
That chills me: and afar, how far away,
The nights that shall be from the days that were.
Afar from mine own self I seem, and wing
Strange ways in thought, and listen for a sign:
And still some heart unto some soul doth pine,
(Whose sounds mine inner sense in fain to bring,
Continually together murmuring,)—
"Woe's me for thee, unhappy Proserpine!"

The frame, designed by Rossetti, is decorated with roundels
which resemble a section through a pomegranate.

3 Citations of Pomegranate in Shakespeare:
"Italy for picking a kernel out of a pomegranate"
All's Well That Ends Well, II.3.259
"Nightly she singts on yond pomegranate tree
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale"

Romeo and Juliet, III.5.4
"Look down into the pomgarnet, Ralph"
I King Henry IV, II.4.38
William Shakespeare (1564-1616),
Maurice Spevack, Harvard Concordance to Shakespeare,
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1973, p. 992

7 Citations of Pomegranate & 23 Citations of Pomegranates
in the King James Version Bible (selected quotes):

A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and
a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.

Exodus, 28.34
A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate,
round about the hem of the robe to minister in;
as the Lord commanded Moses.

Exodus, 39.26
And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah
under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and
the people that were with him were about 600 men;

I Samuel, 14.2
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely:
thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.

Songs of Solomon, 4.3
As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks.
Songs of Solomon, 6.7
I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house,
who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced
wine of the juice of my pomegranate.

Songs of Solomon, 8.2
The grapevine is dried up, and the fig tree is withered;
the pomegranate, the date palm, and the apple— all the trees
of the orchard-have withered. Indeed, human joy has dried up.

Joel, 1.12
Is there still seed left in the granary? The vine, the fig, the pomegranate,
and the olive tree have not yet produced. But from this day on I will bless you.

Haggai, 2.19
A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees,
and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;

Deuteronomy 8.8
And 400 pomegranates for the two networks, even two rows of pomegranates for
one network, to cover the two bowls of the chapiters that were upon the pillars;

I Kings 7.42
And he made chains, as in the oracle, and put them on the heads of
the pillars; and made an hundred pomegranates, and put them on the chains.

II Chronicles, 3.16
And four hundred pomegranates on the two wreaths; two rows of pomegranates
on each wreath, to cover the two pommels of the chapiters which were upon the pillars.

II Chronicles, 4.13
Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,
Songs of Solomon, 4.13
I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley,
and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.

Songs of Solomon, 6.11
Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish,
whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth:
there will I give thee my loves.

Songs of Solomon, 7.12
And there were 96 pomegranates on a side; and all the
pomegranates upon the network were an hundred round about.

Jeremiah, 52.23
Nelson's Complete Concordance of the Revised Standard Version Bible (2nd Ed.)
John W. Ellison (Ed.), Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 1984, p. 789

Passion and Discipline: Don Quixote's Lessons for Leadership
A film by James March & Steven Schecter (Feb. 12, 2003)

Don Quixote Postage Stamps

Don Quixote: Spain 1998 Stamps

Don Quixote I.9

| Top of Page | Stanford Lectures | Enlightenment News | A-Z Portals | Home |

© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (5-19-2005)