Summary

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Last Updated October 2, 2023.

"Hyperion" by John Keats is an incomplete epic poem comprising three distinct sections, referred to as books.

Book I opens with a poignant portrayal of desolation and sorrow. In this scene, Saturn, who once wielded immense power as the ruler of the Titans, now lies in a deep and shadowy valley. He listens intently to his mother's voice, Tellus (Earth), and is filled with a profound sense of grief. Saturn mourns the loss of his power and the fading glory of the entire Titan race—a decline instigated by the Olympians, notably his own son, Jupiter (also referred to as Jove).

Amidst this melancholic scene, Thea, the consort of Hyperion, comes upon Saturn's forlorn form. She collapses and cries at his feet, and together, they remain in a state of stillness for what seems like an eternity—a duration spanning "four seasons." Eventually, Saturn, overwhelmed by anguish and bewilderment, breaks the silence and begins to express his distress and despair, wondering how he has fallen so low.

In response to Saturn's sorrowful inquiries, Thea believes that there might still be hope for the Titans and takes him to a place where they are in misery. Among the fallen Titans, there is one who still retains his sovereignty: Hyperion. Hyperion is described as sitting on his throne, and he can still sense the incense rising from the world of humanity.

While Saturn and Thea are en route to where the Titans lie defeated, Hyperion is determined to raise a "terrible right arm" and challenge Jove, aiming to scare "the infant thunderer" and restore Saturn to his rightful throne. Hyperion contemplates initiating the day six hours before the usual dawn, defying the natural order of things. He yearns to take back control but realizes that even a powerful Titan like him cannot disrupt the cosmic balance without consequences.

Coelus, his father and the embodiment of the skies advises Hyperion not to succumb to the whims of fate but to anticipate and shape events before they grow beyond control. Coelus encourages his son to harness his formidable powers in the service of the Titans.

Book II of "Hyperion" opens with a vivid depiction of the Titans' agony who have come together to hold a council to discuss their dire situation in the wake of their defeat by the Olympian gods. Saturn implores his fellow Titans to advise him on how they can wage a war against the new gods and regain their lost dominion.

Oceanus is the first to speak, urging acceptance. He sees the Olympians' ascendancy as a natural part of the cosmic order, emphasizing that the Titans should acknowledge and accept this change as an eternal cycle of creation and destruction.

Clymene, daughter of Oceanus and the Titan goddess of fame and renown illustrates the inevitability of change. She remembers how she tried to create music with a seashell but was captivated by an enchanting melody she attributes to Apollo. She interprets this as a clear indication that the Olympians have completely replaced them in every aspect of existence.

Enceladus, the giant, rejects Oceanus' counsel. He passionately offers to lead a rebellion against the Olympians, believing that the Titans should resist their conquerors and reclaim their supremacy. Enceladus represents the faction of Titans who refuse to accept defeat and are eager to challenge the Olympians.

Amidst the conflicting advice and emotions, Hyperion makes a grand entrance. His radiant presence illuminates the dark den where the Titans have gathered. However, it becomes apparent that even Hyperion remains undefeated for now and is unsure about the appropriate course of action. This uncertainty disheartens some of...

(This entire section contains 797 words.)

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the Titans.

The book concludes as Enceladus, Iapetus, Creus, Phorcus, and the resolute Hyperion unite in a resounding chorus, calling out the name of Saturn, symbolizing the Titans' yearning for leadership and their desire for a decisive response to the Olympians' ascendancy.

Book III marks the transition from the Titans to the emergence of the young Apollo, who is poised to take on his divine mission as the successor to Hyperion. Apollo is introduced as experiencing a state of dejection and unfamiliar sensations, characterized by a strange forgetfulness.

A goddess approaches Apollo, revealing that she has been observing him for some time. Her appearance bewilders Apollo, who senses a deep familiarity with her as if she has appeared in his dreams. Apollo realizes it's Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory and the mother of the nine Muses.

He inquires about the cosmos, seeking her guidance in comprehending life, "creations and destroyings," and all their intricacies. Mnemosyne imparts to him a deep understanding of pain and sorrow, initiating a profound change that affects him emotionally and physically. The poem suddenly concludes with a piercing cry of pain, suggesting the culmination of his divine transformation.

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