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Moneta’s significance is that she is a figure of wisdom, a priestess or prophetess who enlightens the poet about many things. She cuts a sombrely impressive figure as she tends the shrine of the long-fallen god, Saturn: she is ‘the tall shade in drooping linens veil’d’, alone, mysterious, full of ancient learning and valuable advice which she imparts to the questing, doubtful poet in the midst of his vision. For instance, she explains to him the proper role of the poet as opposed to mere dreamers who shun the world; she gives him to understand that the true poet, like the true prophet, must engage with the world, share in its sorrows, and seek to heal.
Moneta’s name underlines her role, as the name is derived from the Latin monere, which means to warn, to instruct. Furthermore Moneta was the Roman counterpart of the Greek goddess of memory, Mnemosyne, who was also, by Zeus, the mother of the nine Muses. The Muse is an important figure for many poets, symbolic of creative inspiration. Moneta, then, is also important as the Muse-figure in this poem; she functions additionally as the protector of memory, the keeper of knowledge from ancient times.
The sorrowing, solitary figure of Moneta also does much to enhance the whole dream-like feel of the poem. The Fall of Hyperion consciously follows the model of Dante’s Divine Comedy, which has the same visionary feel and also features a muse-figure (Beatrice) to guide the poet. In this way the poem differs from its predecessor, titled simply Hyperion, which Keats composed more in the vein of Milton’s great epic Paradise Lost.
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