The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Part 1 of Ixion in Heaven, published in Edward Bulwer Lytton’s New Monthly Magazine in 1832, so delighted Benjamin Disraeli’s contemporaries that a second part was brought out the following year. This political satire takes the form of a contemporary revision of the myth of Ixion found in Greek poet Pindar’s Pythian Odes and in Apollonius Rhodius. It includes, from myth, the elements of Ixion’s murder of kin, the temptation of Juno, Juno’s escape through a fog, and Jove’s binding of Ixion to a wheel and casting him out of heaven. Other elements are Disraeli’s own touch, such as Jove’s interest in his food surpassing his interest in Juno.

The novel opens with Ixion, king of Thessaly, self-described as “sometime a king, . . . now a scatterling, alone on a thunderstruck plain, addressed from the skies by Jove.” Ixion has married well but has run up debt, which his creditors soon decide to recall. Jove hears how Ixion’s father-in-law, Deioneus, fell into a pit Ixion dug; how Deioneus then died and Dia, Ixion’s wife, tried to have Ixion decapitated; and how no princes would help Ixion. Jove, exclaiming Ixion to be a “frank dog,” invites him to Heaven, which Ixion finds to be a lovely place, with perfume fountains, lapis lazuli steps, and a palace made of pearl, crystal, and ruby.

Ixion, though, is not content with merely being provided a respite from his problems on Earth. He soon begins...

(The entire section is 422 words.)