of Beauty, Shadows of Power’
and Classical Allusion in
Joshua Pickersgill’s The Three Brothers and Byron’s
The Deformed Transformed
In the preface to his dramatic fragment The Deformed
Transformed (1822), Byron acknowledges it to be
partly based on The Three Brothers (1803),
a Gothic romance by Joshua Pickersgill. 
Most studies on The Deformed Transformed have
stated that Pickersgill's impact on Byron's drama was
only superficial, and that the novel was not interesting
for its own sake. 
However, The Three Brothers is an original and
complex novel which is more important to Byron's oeuvre
than is usually acknowledged. In the first part of my
essay, I introduce Pickersgill's novel and briefly show
how his main character foreshadows the Byronic Hero.
The remaining part of the essay discusses Byron's creative
adaptation of Pickersgill's use of classical characters
to reinforce his play with a complex set of intertextual
classical allusions both in order to elaborate on the
question of the extent to which personal identity and
freedom are dependent on outward appearance, and to
question the concept of heroism and war as a 'heroic'
Written in 1803, Pickersgill's romance shares elements
both with the Gothic novel and historical fiction. Pickersgill
remained an almost unknown writer during his lifetime;
when The Three Brothers was reviewed in The
Gentleman's Magazine in 1804, the reviewer knew
him 'only by name'. 
According to a personal comment on his authorship in
the last chapter of his novel, he was a very young author-he
commenced the novel at the age of nineteen and worked
on it for two-and-a-half years (IV,
459f.). Although the book shows him as a promising novelist,
he apparently wrote nothing else. 
The name might even have been a pseudonym-one of the
reviewers of The Deformed Transformed who mentioned
The Three Brothers as Byron's source, attributed
it to Matthew Gregory Lewis ('for though published under
another name, it is his'). 
Like many Gothic romances,
The Three Brothers has a complex structure with
several stories-within-the-story. In its entirety, the
time dimension of the story spans about twenty years
(I, 147) and is set in France
and Italy during the first half of the sixteenth century.
Like many historical novelists, Pickersgill focuses
upon a 'transitional time in history', a period of wars
and changes. 
The Renaissance setting is used largely as a colourful
background, although the particular violence of the
period is emphasised. Still, the writer is aware he
is writing about an epoch which in beliefs and customs
is different from his own. Occasionally, he includes
footnotes with background information, and informs his
'historical reader' (III, 332)
about liberties taken with dates (II,
177; III, 332). The Three
Brothers has comparatively few supernatural elements-it
belongs to a sub-genre of the Gothic novel which could
be termed 'historical fantasy'. 
As the title suggests,
this is a story about family relationships, with sins
and secrets of the past returning to haunt the present.
The reader does not know at first that the three main
characters Henri, Claudio, and Julian are in fact brothers.
Their relationship and true identities are only revealed
in Julian's long confession towards the end of the fourth
volume (IV, 228-368), which is
the most interesting and dense part of the novel, and
the part I will focus on in this paper.
In his first-person narrative,
the severely wounded Julian reveals his origins and
background. He was born as Arnaud, the illegitimate
eldest son of the Marquis de Souvricourt and his lover,
a nun who has left her order. Arnaud is initially witty
and charming (II, 68f.), a child
'extraordinary in Beauty and Intellect' (iv, 229). 
As a boy, he is unaware of his illegitimacy, and is
spoilt by both his parents and everyone around him.
The narrator describes his education as unsystematic
and superficial (IV, 229-33).
His arrogance and his reliance on charm are blamed on
his aristocratic upbringing, which fosters manners and
wit, rather than inner values such as the capacity for
deep feelings (IV, 237).
At the age of eight,
however, Arnaud is robbed by a group of banditti, who
injure his shoulder and his spine (IV,
240-44), leaving him crippled, or as his father puts
it, a 'mass of Deformity' (IV,
246). With his beauty, he also loses the affection of
his parents and his cherished position in the polite
circles of his family (II, 68f.).
His deformity makes him look sublime rather than beautiful,
and consequently the change in his looks also causes
him to lose the 'effeminate' quality with which 'beauty'
was associated in the eighteenth century, as well as
the capacity to be loved. Pickersgill was probably informed
by Edmund Burke's influential essay on the Sublime and
the Beautiful of 1757. 
In Burke's conceptual model, the effects of the Sublime
and the Beautiful are opposed and not reconcilable (Burke,
II, 1, 2; III,
13). Interestingly Arnaud's confessor later tells him
that '[t]here is oftentimes a sublimity in deformity'
(Three Brothers, IV, 372),
and that deformity can therefore be associated with
Thus, as Arnaud ceases
to look sweet and effeminate, he is no longer treated
as a brilliant and exceptional child, and his parents
start to favour his younger brother Lewis over him (IV,
He becomes embittered and jealous, and his wit is transformed
into sarcasm. His extreme feeling of insufficiency makes
him project his hate onto his younger brother, who resembles
his own former self, as Arnaud himself recognises. When
the family is eventually transferred to Italy because
of the Marquis's involvement in the wars, Arnaud attempts
to kill his brother out of envy (IV,
When he is older, he
develops an intense self-hatred but nevertheless retains
the arrogance and feeling of superiority from his childhood,
as well as his high ambitions (IV,
261-74). He is further humiliated when he learns of
his illeg-itimacy and of his legitimate younger half-brother
Henri, who is heir to the Marquis (IV,
286-90). In the circles in which Arnaud has grown up,
illegitimacy is at least as great a social 'disability'
as actual physical deformity, so in a sense, he is now
doubly deformed. 
Arnaud and his mother are sent into exile to a small
village where he is insulted and avoided by the superstitious
peasants. His banishment from aristocratic society and
domesticity to the obscurity of a remote village, a
wild, 'unformed' place, corresponds with Arnaud's bodily
change from beauty to sublimity. 
Following the death of
his wife, the Marquis returns to Arnaud's mother, but
when Arnaud forces him to propose marriage to her, his
father has him arrested as an impostor (IV,
318-23). Arnaud manages to escape and finds shelter
in the house of a young woman he has fallen in love
with, only to find out that she is his father's mistress
(IV, 327-33). In horror and desperation,
he flees into the woods where (in contrast to Byron's
Arnold) he deliberately seeks the aid of the Devil to
obtain a new body (IV, 344-48).
Pickersgill's Satan shows him the images of several
heroes from classical Greek history; Arnaud opts for
the form of Demetrius Poliorcetes (IV,
Like the diabolical Stranger in Byron's fragment, the
Devil does not make any conditions (iv, 364), probably
convinced that Arnaud's own disposition will lead him
into damnation. However, it is implied that he forfeits
his soul (and indeed, his life) through the transformation:
in order to assume the new body, he has to kill himself
(IV, 359), and thus commits the
deadly sin of suicide. Thus, the transformation implies
Arnaud's death, and his future career, is that of a
ghost in a body not his own. He adopts the name of Julian
(IV, 348); through marriage,
he manages to obtain a noble title (I,
112-31; IV, 355), turns a bandit
captain (II, 196-200; IV,
359), and takes revenge on his family. 
Yet despite his beauty and power, he is incapable of
love and happiness (IV, 355),
and suffers from the knowledge of his guilt (IV,
After he is persecuted for his deeds, he seeks a second
transformation, for which the Devil demands a human
sacrifice (IV, 364f.). Arnaud
comes close to killing his enemy Claudio, but hesitates
when he recognises him as his lost brother Lewis (IV,
198–200, 204). He even saves Lewis from his persecutor
Henri, whom he gives a deadly fatal wound, but is himself
wounded (IV, 219f.). He is handed
over to the secular authorities, and sentenced to death
(IV, 386). However, before the
execution, he is freed from his false body, which in
a haunting scene is executed as a mobile, but empty
and soulless form (IV, 394-97).
Although the novel can
be aptly called uneven in quality, its particular strength
lies in the description of its protagonist and the way
he is employed for Pickersgill's criticism of aristocratic
rule and lifestyle. 
His reviewer in The Gentleman's Magazine was
fascinated by the character of Julian, and the reviewer
of The Deformed Transformed in the New European
Magazine calls Pickersgill's main character 'a bold-faced,
interesting villain; one that […] is at once mysterious,
as well as ardent'. 
Julian may well have been a direct influence on the
Byronic Hero, whom he prefigures in several aspects:
Hastily turning round, they beheld a Cavalier
of a thrice noble and stately mien: his figure grand
and august seemed fashioned in the vast capacity of
an Herculean mould; and as they surveyed his supple
limbs of peerless symmetry, they secretly acknowledged
'twas wrong to fancy humanity could not reach perfection.
He looked attentively to the Chevalier, slightly inclining
a head nature wisely might make her boast. His full
dark eyes humbled the gaze of beholders, and his proud
lip, thickened with disdain, projected conscious superiority
to men, and self independence of aught earthly. His
high forehead was crowned with hair black as jet, which
in waving curls wantoned about his temples, and crescent
eyebrows of a fellow hue, strikingly contrasted with
the polished whiteness of an unblemished skin. His attire
was becomingly simple, for a king's parade could not
have added grace to what was altogether majesty […]
They might have judged him even as young as themselves,
but the significance of his eye-beam, the expressiveness
of his motion, proved him far ripened beyond the greenness
of immaturity; and with superstitious fancy they even
doubted if that aspect could ever have known the vacant
smile of babyhood. The heedlessness of his bow Henri
in another would have treated resentfully, but before
him his spirits sunk for an interval awestruck […]
It has long been recognised
that the Gothic villain was one of the many influences
on the Byronic Hero, with whom he shares his mysterious,
guilty past, giving him tormenting memories, a dark,
arrogant look, and a sense of superiority. Indeed, the
descriptions of Radcliffe's villains resemble those
of Byron as much as the description of Arnaud does.
However, the complex character of Arnaud, particularly
those elements that Byron used for his conception of
The Deformed Transformed, not only resembles
several of Byron's protagonists, there are also specific
parallels in the summary of their characterisation:
his was a stupendous soul in a diminutive body.
He was so Proud of Himself, that disdain was his usual
feeling towards others […] He esteemed himself
born to confer, not to receive favours. In him pride
was downcast and solitary: because it could not look
up to superiority, it restrained him aloof from other
men: it was truly satanic, and would have lost him divinity
in the idea, That better it be to reign in hell, than
to serve in heaven. Yet it was a pride not dis-natured
to magnanimity, being generous and courageous. But as
with a detestation of what is knavish and abject, it
joined a contempt for that which is meek and humble,
it was entirely unchristian; though, nevertheless, it
was grand. (IV,
Arnaud's pride is a typical character-trait of Gothic
villains, but it is also shared by several of Byron's
heroes, most prominently Manfred and the protagonists
of the Oriental tales, where its anti-Christian aspect
is equally stressed. It puts them at odds with the social
order and makes them vulnerable to satanic temptations
because they are not able to accept an ordinary position
in life. 
In him were of all the germs that is heroically
good [sic], all that is heroically wicked, but
none of what is ignoble or knavish. No virtue but of
which he bore some vestige; no vice of which he had
not some taint; but passion was his bane; passion mingled
with virtues and vices beyond the discrimination of
an ordinary analysis. (IV,
Arnaud's change from
extraordinary beauty to deformity and ugliness (and
later vice versa) equally emphasises that, no matter
what he looks like, he is an exceptional character,
his appearance always extraordinary and larger than
life. According to Burke, the opposite of beauty is
not deformity, but 'the common form'. As Burke puts
it, 'the beautiful strikes as much by its novelty as
the deformed itself' (III, 6).
Even after his injury, Arnaud shows an extremity that
is an expression of his superiority. The description
of Arnaud's portrait as an adolescent, before his career
as Julian, strongly resembles Byron's presentation of
the contradictory, but grand character of the protagonist,
particularly in Lara:
In him inexplicably mix'd appeared
Much to be loved and hated, sought and feared; […]
There was in him a vital scorn of all:
As if the worst had fall'n which would befall,
He stood a stranger in this breathing world,
An erring spirit from another hurl'd; […]
Too high for common selfishness, he could
At times resign his own for others' good,
But not in pity, not because he ought,
But in some strange perversity of thought,
That swayed him onward with a secret pride
To do what few or none would do beside;
And this same impulse would in tempting time
Mislead his spirit equally to crime;
So much he soared beyond, or sunk beneath
The men with whom he felt condemned to breathe,
And longed for good or ill to separate
Himself from all who shared his mortal state […]
(Lara, ll. 289-348)
In fact, Byron's own protagonist Arnold in The Deformed
Transformed seems to be much less 'Byronic' than
Pickersgill's Arnaud. In contrast to aristocratic Arnaud,
Arnold is born deformed and of obscure origin. His mother
addresses him with words like 'hedgehog' (I.
1. 20) or 'incubus' (I. 1. 2),
which put him on a sub-human level.
From Arnold's point of
view, the tragedy of his situation is not so much his
deformity itself, but the fact that he is convinced
he is unable to be loved. Arnold sees his status as
an outcast as a direct result of his multiple disabilities.
When he sees his mirror-image in a spring, he 'starts
back' (stage direction after I.
1. 46) and admits that 'They are right' (I.
1. 46) to despise him. He does not question a society
which excludes him from any community with other people
because he accepts the notion of being 'Other' and therefore
necessarily excluded. In connection to Burke's concept
of the Beautiful and the Sublime, it is interesting
to see that Arnold, in his own body, is convinced he
could be admired and feared, but not loved. Thus, people
would react to him as to a sublime presence, and the
qualities that make a person lovable are outside him.
The Three Brothers inspired
Byron's complex use of allusions from classical history
and mythology which are such an important element in
The Deformed Transformed. When Arnaud in The
Three Brothers calls for the Devil to give him another
body, the Devil gives him the choice of the shapes of
several heroes from classical antiquity:
The satanic gaze turned on the side of the
cavern heat so powerful, that the clay in the interstices
was absumed to an ash, and the flinty rock vitrified into
glass pervious to the sight of Arnaud, who saw thereon visions
admirable and amazing. There past in liveliest portraiture
the various men distinguished for that beauty and grace, which
Arnaud so much desired, that he was ambitious to purchase
them with his soul. He felt that it was his part to chuse
whom he would resemble, yet he remained unresolved, though
the spectator of an hundred shades of renown, among which
glided by Achilles and Alexander, Alcebiades and Hephestian:
at length appeared the supernatural effigy of a man, whose
perfections human artist never could depict or insculp-Demetrius
the son of Antigonus. Arnaud's heart heaved quick with preference
[…] (IV, 347f.)
The choice of the Greek heroes at Arnaud's
disposal is significant-although they otherwise differ in their
image and career, all of them were famous for their extraordinary
beauty (see, for instance, Plutarch, Demetrius, II;
Alexander, IV; Alcibiades,
I). Pickersgill's immediate source for
this list was probably Plutarch's Lives, 
whose biographies of famous Greeks and Romans were very popular
in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. 
choice of the body of 'Demetrius the son of Antigonus' is also
an evident allusion. In Plutarch's biography of Demetrius, the
Macedonian king and conqueror (336-283 BC),
who spent his last years as a prisoner, is described as 'flawed',
somebody to be viewed as a negative example rather than a positive
one (Demetrius, I). Like Pickersgill's
Arnaud/Julian, he is a 'mixed' character whose nature 'exhibit[s]
great vices also, as well as great virtues' (Demetrius,
I). This is echoed in Pickersgill's characterisation
of Arnaud as one both 'heroically great' and 'heroically wicked'
(IV, 274). In addition, Demetrius' epithet
poliorcetes ('besieger of cities'; Demetrius,
XLII) suggests a destructive quality,
which is also a characteristic of Arnaud in his later career
as a bandit. The name Julian, which he adopts after his transformation,
is also an example of Pickersgill's use of classical allusions,
for it suggests Julian the Apostate (AD
331-363, Emperor AD 361-363), the Roman
Emperor in late Antiquity who renounced the Christian faith
(Apostata means 'the renegade'), and attempted to restore
the traditional polytheistic Romano-Greek religion. 
Byron takes up
Pickersgill's use of classical characters, but he develops it
into a complex set of intertextual allusions. In The Deformed
Transformed, the Stranger gives Arnold a choice similar
to Arnaud's: he conjures up the shades of Julius Caesar, Alcibiades,
Socrates, Mark Anthony, Demetrius Poliorcetes, and Achilles.
But while Pickersgill simply gives the reader a list of the
bodies his protagonist is to choose from, the Stranger elaborates
on the various characters he shows Arnold, who himself comments
on their looks. The Stranger introduces them, in most cases
not calling them by their names, but describing their character
and destiny so that they are easily recognisable for a classically
educated reader. 
Thus, he says of Caesar that 'Rome became / His, and all their's
who heired his very name' (I. 1. 189f.),
and Anthony is described as 'the man who lost / The ancient
world for love' (I. 1. 236f.). For most
characters, except for Socrates (whose description is probably
taken from Plato's Symposium) 
and Achilles, Byron's main source was evidently Plutarch, from
whom he took several details such as Anthony's likeness both
to Hercules and Bacchus (Antonius, IV,
The choice of
shapes shown to Arnold differs from the one given in The
Three Brothers in a significant way. Not only does Byron
add Roman characters to Pickersgill's Greek ones, but, although
the Stranger invokes the shapes as 'shadows of beauty' and 'shadows
of 'power' (I. 1. 157f.), not all of
them are marked by extraordinary bodily perfection, and in fact
most are actually flawed. Caesar's baldness (I.
1. 190) and Socrates' ugliness (I. 1.
217-20) are commented on in the play. Alcibiades spoke with
a lisp (Plutarch, Alcibiades, i), and, according to legend,
Achilles had, of course, his eponymous weak heel, his only vulnerable
part, which became the cause of his death. Antonius and Demetrius
did not have a bodily ailment, but are both said to have been
addicted to alcohol (Plutarch, Antonius, IV;
Demetrius, I). 
The Stranger uses the shapes to show Arnold that 'greatness'
does not depend on bodily perfection, that freedom and achievement
are a matter of strength and independence of mind. Arnold himself
is aware that the outward appearance does not necessarily correspond
to the inner values. In his famous monologue on deformity, Arnold
himself recognises the masculine, 'overtaking' effect a deformed
body may have. In his view, a bodily disadvantage may even be
a spur for major achievements (I. 1.
I ask not
For Valour, since Deformity is daring.
It is its essence to overtake mankind
By heart and soul, and make itself the equal-
Aye, the superior to the rest. There is
A spur in its halt movements, to become
All that the others cannot, in such things
As still are free to both, to compensate
For stepdame Nature's avarice at first.
They woo with fearless deeds the smiles of fortune,
And oft, like Timour the lame Tartar, win them.
the psychological effect a deformity might have as a spur,
his remark suggests that, in contrast to beauty, deformity
has an awe-inspiring effect on the viewer. Bodily 'otherness'
must not necessarily mean weakness, but can be associated
with strength, masculinity (in contrast to 'feminine'
beauty), and heroism. 
This connection is already suggested in the description
of Arnaud in The Three Brothers, which is probably
why Byron as a teenager was attracted to the story. 
In 1805, as a pupil in Harrow, he made a list of famous
men, marking all those who had a disability. 
Byron was evidently fascinated by the combination of bodily
deformity, beauty, and fame. Attractive yet flawed bodies
like those of Alcibiades or Achilles seem to suggest that
beauty and sublimity do not necessarily exclude each other,
but can appear in one individual. Consequently, considering
the gendered connotations these qualities both have to
feminine and masculine traits, the contrast between each
adds to their quality of being larger than life. As the
Stranger comments, 'The greatest / Deformity should only
barter with / The extremest beauty, if the proverb's true
/ Of mortals, that extremes meet' (I.
1. 284-87). The fragment's concept of heroism is thus
a combination of the sublime and the beautiful, of masculinity
and effeminacy, transcending gender boundaries, and a
product of hybridity. However, in the Stranger's 'shadows',
the contrast between their opposed qualities makes these
attributes even more prominent. Byron contests the Burkean
notion that the blending of beautiful and sublime qualities
in one object or individual weakens the power of both
(see Burke, III, 13 and 27). While
many of Byron's characters transcend gendered categories,
in the experimental, over-the-top fragment the idea of
the 'hybrid' hero is taken to grotesque extremes, when
the Stranger describes Arnold's deformities as misplaced
Were I to taunt a buffalo with
Cloven foot of thine, or the swift dromedary
With thy sublime of humps, the animals
Would revel in the compliment. [.]
Thy form is natural: 'twas only
Nature's mistaken largess to bestow
The gifts which are of others upon man.
The Stranger rejects the concept of the
superiority of Man over Animal, and of the beautiful over
the deformed body, claiming instead that 'unto spirit
/ All clay is of equal merit' (I.
1. 456f). Despite its obvious absurdity, the statement,
rejects the derogatory concept of 'deformity' as 'unnatural'
and reflects Byron's fascination for the idiosyncratic
body and his defiance of the notion of purity. 
comments about the characters he conjures up subvert a
tradition which glorifies war as an heroic enterprise
and conquerors as heroes and role models. His emphasis
is instead on their destructive quality. Thus, in his
incantation he summons 'the shape of each Victor / From
Macedon's boy / To each high Roman's picture, / Who
breathed to destroy' (I. 1.
177-80; my italics). He stresses that military glory is
only achieved through destruction: when Arnold wonders
that the disappearing shadow of Julius Caesar, 'the man
who shook the earth', 'is gone / And left no footstep'
(I. 1. 203f.), the Stranger also
describes Caesar as a destroyer: 'His substance / Left
graves enough, and woes enough, and fame / More than enough
to track his memory' (I. 1. 204-06).
In this, the play rejects an idealised image of classical
heroism and warfare. In the context of the play's preoccupation
with war and violence, it is also significant that all
characters shown to Arnold had a violent death of unnatural
causes, except for Demetrius who, however, died a prisoner
in a foreign country (Plutarch, Demetrius, LII,
LIII). Pickersgill's Alexander
and Hephaistion, who, although young, both died of natural
causes are notably absent in The Deformed Transformed
(see Plutarch, Alexander, LXXII,
LXXVI). Thus, the choice illustrates
the point the play makes about the violence inherent in
Western culture, and also gives a hint that the Stranger's
offer will ultimately bring Arnold to a violent end.
Three Brothers, Joshua Pickersgill presents a society
of cruelty and violence on different levels. The book
opens with the description of a village emptied of its
young men because of a current military expedition (I,
4-6). The story is filled with military campaigns that
give the reader the impression that this is a world permanently
and senselessly at war. It is a similar world of chaos
and violence that Byron's Arnold enters after his transformation.
As his main wish is to experience life in its fullness,
he tells Caesar that he wants to go 'Where the world /
Is thickest, that I may behold it in / Its workings' (I.
1. 493-95). Caesar's answer shows that Byron adapts Pickersgill's
dark concept of human culture:
That's to say, where there is
And Woman in activity. Let's see!
Spain-Italy-the new Atlantic world-
Afric with all its Moors. In very truth,
There is small choice: the whole race are just now
Tugging as usual at each other's hearts.
(I. 1. 495-500)
Thus, when Arnold chooses to go to Rome,
it is not surprising he finds it at a moment when it is
under siege. At this point, relatively late, the story
which started out in a remote forest moves into a concrete
historical situation: the Sacco di Roma, the conquest
and plundering of Rome, which took place on 5 May 1527.
Even though Demetrius, 'Taker of cities' (I.
1. 259), would have been an equally appropriate choice
in the context of the Sacco di Roma, Byron's hero
opts instead for Achilles. So fixed is Arnold on physical
beauty as the only means to happiness that he can only
be content with the ideal, superhuman beauty of a mythological
rather than historical character.
Pickersgill's hero, Arnold claims not to have any grand,
overreaching aspirations or a lust for power. Although
he knows that even in his own body he could 'be feared,
admired, respected, loved' (I.
1. 359), he is convinced he could not be loved by 'those
next to me, of whom I / Would be beloved'. 
As he says, he wishes primarily to be loved by those close
to him (I. 1. 358-61),
to be part of the community and belong with and be accepted
by the others. However, his later choice to assume the
form of the mythological war hero Achilles (which Byron's
character opts for instead of the body of Demetrius),
suggests that he also desires superiority and greatness.
His true desire is to be free from the limits of his existence;
in this aspiration, Arnold resembles other Byronic overreachers
such as Manfred, Cain or Lucifer, from whom he otherwise
seems to be different in his wish for private, domestic
happiness. Appropriately, like Byron's Manfred (II.
2. 150-62) and Cain (I. 1. 301-18)
and unlike Pickersgill's character, who deliberately calls
for Satan, he refuses a Faustian pact with a supernatural
being. He agrees to the Stranger's unconditional offer
of a bodily exchange only when he is assured that he 'shall
have no bond / But [his] own will' (I.
1. 150f.). Thus, he does not realise that with a change
of body he essentially gives up his individuality and
his bodily transformation, Pickersgill's Arnaud is not
able to free himself from his past and the memories of
his rejection, or even from his original body. It does
not decompose (IV, 195f.), and
when he later seeks a second change of shape, the Devil
tells him that he cannot seal a new pact, as the blood
in his veins is not his own (IV,
365), so that his new shape is ultimately an illusion.
In Arnold's case, the impossibility of escaping the material
reality of the body is even more poignant. As he finds
out, he cannot leave his old body behind. 
The Stranger, assuming the name of Caesar, assumes Arnold's
rejected original form and follows him 'as his shadow',
thereby showing that his process of transformation and
self-reinvention cannot be complete and leads to a split
Stranger: In a
will be as you were, and you shall see
forever by you, as your shadow.
I would be spared this.
it cannot be.
(I. 1. 446-49)
After his metamorphosis, Arnold exists
as a fragmented being, alienated from his past. 
There are hints that he no longer remembers his former
life, having forgotten 'all things in the new joy / Of
this immortal change' (I. 1. 445f.).
Thus, despite of his refusal of a conventional pact, he
has lost his individual identity and implicitly his 'soul'
at the very moment of his transformation.
Pickersgill's protagonist, who changes his name to Julian,
Byron's character decides to stay 'plain Arnold still'
(I. 1. 543), convinced that he
can essentially remain the same person. However, he has
to discover that he cannot completely maintain his original
self. Quite early on in his career as 'a conqueror [and]
chosen knight' (I. 2. 4) Arnold
longs to be 'in peace-at peace' (I.
2. 21); he has no desire to be a war-hero, but as a new
Achilles, he is trapped in that role. The Achilles reference
is also of particular importance, in that it underlines
the fragility of the life of the hero-figure. The presence
of an immortal stresses the vulnerability of human life,
and Caesar expressively reminds Arnold of his mortality:
though I gave the form of Thetis' son,
I dipt thee
not in Styx; and 'gainst a foe
not warrant thy chivalric heart
Pelides' heel; why then, be cautious,
thyself a mortal still.
There is a certain irony in this passage,
for Achilles' famous invulnerability which he has in various
versions of the legend (although not in the Iliad)
is always invariably connected with his equally famous
heel, his one weakness that causes his early death. One
of his key characteristics in the Iliad, as well
as in later versions of the story, is that he is 'short-lived',
doomed to a violent death at an early age (for example,
I, 352; I,
416; XVIII, 95). The Iliad
repeatedly emphasises both Achilles' many gifts which
make him superior to others and the awareness of his near
death, thereby illustrating the destructive force of war
and the sadness of the loss of young life. According to
legend, Achilles had to choose between a short and glorious
life and a long one spent in obscurity (Iliad,
IX, 412-16). Both in the Iliad
and the Odyssey the Achilles-figure is employed
to question the heroic ideal and the view that glory is
worthy and desirable reward for an early death. His imminent
end is repeatedly mentioned, but the epic closes before
his death, which is narrated in the Odyssey, where
the shadow of dead Achilles would 'rather slave on earth
for another man- / Some dirt poor tenant farmer who scrapes
to keep alive- / Than rule down here over all the breathless
dead', thereby implicitly correcting the choice he made
in life. 
In addition, the Iliad questions the glorification
of war in another way: Achilles, as its main character
and greatest warrior, is not an entirely positive character.
The best fighter and the most beautiful and gifted of
all Greeks, he can also be a cruel and brutal killer,
an over-emotional and vindictive character who does not
always act according to the epic's concept of honour.
In The Deformed Transformed, the Achilles connection
is thus a hint at Arnold's probable early and violent
death, and also supports the play's subversive comment
on the heroic ideal and the illustration of its brutality.
reviewer in The New European Magazine noticed that
Caesar's role as cynical commentator also recalls Thersites,
a minor character in the Iliad, and a more prominent
figure in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. 
The lame and deformed Thersites, in the Iliad 'the
ugliest man who came beneath Ilion' (II,
216) questions the sense of the campaign, and after several
lost battles suggests that the Greeks give up the siege
(II, 25-242). His protest is effectively
suppressed by Odysseus, who beats him down (II,
265-69), but although Homer has the crowd cheer and agree
with Odysseus (II, 270-77), his
arguments are not contradicted, and (at least for the
modern reader) they leave an uneasy feeling. In Troilus
and Cressida, Thersites' role is of greater importance.
Like The Deformed Transformed, Shakespeare's play
presents a very unheroic, brutal war: its Achilles is
a very negative character who kills the Trojan prince
Hector not in a fight, but while he is taking off his
armor (V. 8. 1-22). Thersites mocks
and ridicules the Greek warlords very much as Byron's
Caesar mocks Bourbon (e.g. II.
1; II. 3; III.
3; V. 1). At one point, he makes
his exit calling the Greek commanders 'the faction of
fools' (II. 1. 118). Like The
Deformed Transformed, Troilus and Cressida
is concerned with a criticism and subversion of the heroic
ideal and a presentation of the dirt and violence of war.
of the main heroes fighting on the Greek side, Achilles
is invariably connected with the Trojan War. In transporting
Arnold to a Rome under siege, Caesar therefore to a certain
degree makes him re-enact the role of the original Achilles
in a rewriting of the Iliad. Arnold has to discover
that he cannot completely maintain his original personality
and self in a new body. Quite early on in his career,
he longs to be 'in peace-at peace' (I.
2. 21); he has no desire to be a war-hero, but apparently,
in the body of Achilles, he cannot escape from this role.
In this context, it is also significant that the city
under siege is Rome. According to Roman legend (told,
most famously, in Virgil's Aeneid), Rome was founded
by the descendants of Aeneas, the only survivor among
the great Trojan heroes. 
The Romans saw their city as a second Troy, which makes
Arnold's position as Achilles even more poignant.
as an Achilles-figure is the enemy of Rome as a second
Troy, Caesar's name links him to the city. Not only has
he chosen the name of the famous dictator, and the title
of Roman emperors. Julius Caesar's family, the Patrician
Julii Caesares, claimed direct descent from the Trojan
hero Aeneas via his son Julus (Aeneid, I,
321-48). Thus, the Stranger's decision to call himself
Caesar already alludes to a future enmity between him
and Arnold. In this context, Caesar's name even gives
a subtle hint that he is in fact the Devil. Aeneas was
the son of the goddess Venus (Aeneid, I,
315): the planet Venus, both 'morning' and 'evening star',
is traditionally also identified with Lucifer, the 'bringer
of Light', or 'Son of the Morning', as Arnold addresses
him (III. 1. 21). 
Arnold's own suggestion that the Stranger, when he announces
his intent to change his own shape, might adopt 'that
of Paris' (I. 1. 367), who killed
Achilles, or that of 'The Poet's God' Apollo (I.
1. 368), the most powerful god to fight on the Trojan
side, also prepares for their future rivalry. In addition,
the allusion to Apollo as the god of poetry also refers
to the Stranger as an artist, a product and defender of
civilisation in contrast to Achilles as a destructive
war hero, and of course, as a 'creator' like the poet
himself. Throughout the drama, the Stranger/Caesar is
linked both to the Devil and the artist. Thus, his claim
to 'ape' (I. 1. 367) the actions
of the 'Being who made' (I. 1.
86) the original Achilles alludes to the traditional image
of the Devil as 'God's ape', but also to the artist 'aping'
the author of the original Iliad. Implicitly, the
play both rejects and mocks the Romantic idea of the artist
as a godlike original creator and instead hints at the
iconoclastic, or even derivative nature of all art.
Arnaud, who after his transformation finds himself incapable
of affection and love, Arnold falls in love with the Roman
girl Olimpia, whom he had rescued from a rape attempt.
Despite his deed, as well as status, valour, and physical
beauty, however, Olimpia remains indifferent to him (III.
1. 46-54). When he complains about this in the fragment
of Part III, Caesar implies that
once Arnold has chosen to reject his own body, he has
also lost the capacity to be loved for himself:
you would be loved-what you call loved-
for yourself-for neither health
youth-nor power-nor rank nor beauty-
For these you
may be stript of-but beloved
As an Abstraction-for-you
know not what-[…]
Though his greatest wish had been to
be loved, he has to find out that, in a body other than
his own, it is impossible to inspire true affection. Instead
of liberating him, his transformation has lead to alienation
and loss of self. In the 'sublime' shape of Achilles,
much like in his original body, he can find admiration,
but not the affection he claims to desire. Byron may also
be alluding to Burke's remark that 'Achilles, in spite
of the many qualities of beauty which Homer has bestowed
on his outward form, and the many great virtues with which
he has adorned his mind, can never make us love him' (IV,
24), as he is too far removed from ordinary human beings.
Thus his beauty and qualities make him sublime and 'Other'
in the same way as a disabled character (such as Pickersgill's
Arnaud), whereas a loveable character is familiar and
Burke also argues that the reader is meant to sympathise
with the domestic Trojans rather than the Greeks:
With regard to the Trojans, the passion
he chooses to raise is pity; pity is a passion founded on
love; and these lesser, and if I may say domestic
virtues, are certainly the most amiable. [.] Admiration
is the passion which Homer would excite in favour of the
Greeks, and he has done it by bestowing on them the virtues
which have little to do with love. (IV,
It has been
argued that Byron meant to have Arnold turn against Caesar after
he had won the love of Olimpia. Caesar's mention of Lucifer
and Venus (the goddess of love) when describing Olimpia might
be a hint at this outcome, and the allusions to the Iliad
and the Trojan War would support it. The leitmotif
, the 'anger of Peleus' son Achilleus' (Iliad
, 1; the epic opens with these words),
is initiated by his quarrel with Agamemnon, about his 'prize
of honour', the captive woman Briseis (Iliad
Byron left an interesting memorandum he wrote on the fragment
of the unfinished third part, according to which Arnold was
to become jealous of Caesar as 'of himself under his former
figure, owing to the Power of Intellect'. [45
Together with his note 'Olimpia at first
not liking Caesar'
(my italics), this makes it probable that he planned to let
Caesar win the love of Olimpia despite his deformity because
of his wit and charisma. Their doppelgänger
would have developed into an enmity which could well have ended
with a murder, which at the same time would have been a suicide.
By provoking Arnold's jealousy, Caesar would probably have shown
him that self-fulfilment and love are not dependent on strength
of Olimpia herself is also linked to other women from
classical mythology. Her readiness to kill herself instead
of being raped associates her with the Roman heroine Lucretia,
who killed herself after having been raped by Sextus Tarquinius,
son of king Tarquinius Superbus (Livius, Ab Urbe Condita,
I, 58). In ancient Rome, she was
seen as the epitome of female heroism and virtue; according
to legend, her fate gave the impulse for the expulsion
of the Tarquin kings, and the foundation of the Roman
Republic (Livius, Ab Urbe Condita, I,
Caesar explicitly compares Arnold's love for her with
Achilles' love for Penthesilea (II.
3. 144-46), queen of the Amazons, who-according to one
tradition (although she does not appear in the Iliad)-is
first killed by Achilles and then raped by him. 
When the Stranger first describes Achilles, he mentions
his betrothal to the Trojan princess Polyxena, how 'With
sanctioned and with softened love' he stood 'before /
The altar, gazing on his Trojan bride' (I.
1. 274f.). Like his mention of Penthesilea, however, the
invocation of Achilles' love for Polyxena points to a
tragic, violent ending, for, according to some versions
of the legend, Polyxena was sacrificed to the shadow of
dead Achilles after the Greeks had conquered Troy. Olimpia's
attempt to kill herself at the altar in St Peter's may
also be an allusion to Polyxena. 
All these women resemble Olimpia in that they are traditionally
represented as being very courageous, but all of them
share a tragic fate and are either abducted, raped, or
killed. Thus these allusions hint at a tragic outcome
of the love story between Olimpia and Arnold, which may
have to do with his rivalry with Caesar. At the same time,
they also point at a major consequence of war and pillage:
violence towards women.
representation of a chaotic world, the choice of Rome
and of the particular event of the Sacco di Roma
is highly significant. The political centre of the ancient
world and medieval capital of Western Christianity, Rome
is in more than one sense the centre of the Western World
and European culture. Interestingly, in Caesar's view
the city as a place is re-gendered and changes gender
as it develops from political to spiritual capital: it
'hath been Earth's lord / Under its Emperors, and-changing
sex, / Not sceptre, an hermaphrodite of empire- / Lady
of the Old World' (I. 2. 8-10).
early sixteenth century, when the story takes place, Rome
had long lost its political power and its spiritual leadership
of Christianity was threatened and questioned by the Protestant
Reformation (which features in The Deformed Transformed
in the person of the Lutheran soldiers who call the Pope
the 'Anti-Christ'; II. 3. 5), so
that the city in The Deformed Transformed symbolises
both power and its fragility. Several times, the play
emphasises that Rome itself had been the aggressor, an
expansive empire similar to the Holy Roman Empire by which
it is now attacked. Although, as Arnold points out, the
present Romans cannot be held responsible for the deeds
of their ancestors, the Holy Roman Empire, once itself
conquered and subdued by Rome, now sees itself as Rome's
heir. Both are located in a world and a culture in which
violence breeds violence. In this context, the intertextual
reference to the Trojan War is equally important: the
ancient Romans saw themselves as the descendants of the
Trojans. The allusion to Troy supports the notion that
a victim will in time become an aggressor. It shows present
conflicts as rooted in a distant, mythological past. In
addition, in the Iliad's version, the story of
the Trojan War was the oldest literary text in Western
culture known in Byron's time. Although legendary, in
ancient Greece and Rome it was largely seen as historical.
By alluding to the first great war in European cultural
memory in a play which subverts the heroic ideal, Byron
implicitly criticises and challenges a literary and historiographic
tradition which glorifies and idealises classical heroism
and which celebrates the wars of the past and the present.
* * * * *
In its unfinished state, The Deformed
Transformed is a genuinely sceptical work. Clearly,
in the play love and freedom are not achieved by the rejection
of one's own physical reality and individuality, but Byron
does not argue either that 'mental beauty' has precedence
over or transcends the physical state (which might have
been the case if Olimpia had indeed fallen in love with
Caesar in Arnold's body). In fact, in a finished version
the play might have easily lost some of its complexity.
As it is, the fragment explores the relationship between
body and soul without giving any definitive answers. Keeping
Caesar's identity ambiguous, it also maintains an interesting
tension between the presentation of a chaotic, amoral
universe and a world conforming to Christian theology.
It is therefore an interesting and tempting thought that
the fragmentary state of The Deformed Transformed
may have been deliberate. Although in a short preface
he wrote that 'the rest may appear, perhaps, hereafter',
he wrote to his publisher John Hunt 'I doubt I will go
on with it'. 
Byron's decision to publish this 'odd sort of drama' as
a fragment suggests that he might have intended it as
an experiment, a dramatic counterpart to Don Juan,
which was composed at the same time and shares its digressive
structure. Contemporary reviewers already pointed out
the similarities and supposed that his eventual decision
whether to continue it or not depended on the audience's
reaction that it elicited. 
who claimed to 'deny nothing, but doubt everything', had
a lifelong suspicion of truths represented as definitive
and orthodox. 
The fragmentary state of The Deformed Transformed
gives him the opportunity to use a Devil-figure and make
a point about human cruelty in a chaotic world, without
assuming any clear-cut theological position. His scepticism
and awareness of the impossibility of any absolute truths
is also connected to an awareness of the fragmentary character
of every state and statement. From the beginning of his
literary career, he experimented with fragmentary writing,and
he commented in one of his journals that his own 'mind
[was] a fragment'. 
The play also reflects the situation of the protagonist.
It recalls the structure of the Iliad itself, which
concludes before the imminent death of its main character
Achilles. On a deeper level, Arnold himself is a fragmented
being, who, through the transformation and the bond with
the Stranger, gives up his body and his real self. Henceforth,
he is divided in parts, his body severed from his soul
and mind, and all of them disconnected from his past,
so that he exists only in the present, split from his
Stranger and Byron's play argue, love and a fulfilling
existence are not achieved through a narcissistic pursuit
of perfection and a rejection of the imperfect. Rather,
a reinvention of the self should acknowledge and integrate
individual idiosyncrasies. As I have argued in this paper,
The Three Brothers is relevant for Byron's use
of intertextual classical allusions in The Deformed
Transformed, for his concept of heroism and the genesis
of the Byronic Hero, as well as for his defiance of the
Burkean concept of an opposition between the Sublime and
the Beautiful. It is this combination of contrasts, this
fluidity and paradox that constitute the fascination of
the Byronic Hero and the Byronic idea of a complex, fulfilling
life. In its present state, The Deformed Transformed
is a highly sophisticated work, with a complex use of
intertextuality. The classical allusions function on different
levels, to characterise Arnold and Caesar and their relationship,
to put in question the possibility of individual freedom
and the nature of heroism, and to subvert the 'classical'
Western heroic ideal and heroic historiography. The
Deformed Transformed deserves to be recognised as
one of Byron's important investigations of the human condition.
of Byron's works quoted in this paper are taken from Lord
Byron: The Complete Poetical Works, 7 vols, edd. Jerome
J. McGann, et al. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980-91), hereafter
referred to as BCPW. Joshua Pickersgill, Jr, The
Three Brothers. A Romance, 4 vols (London: John Stockdale,
1803); subsequent references are from this edn, and will be
given in the text.
E. Robinson's source study 'The Devil as Doppelgänger in The
Deformed Transformed: The Sources and Meaning of Byron's
Unfinished Drama', Bulletin of the New York Public Library
74 (1970), 177-202, emphasises the pride of Pickersgill's
protagonist and quotes from the novel's transformation scene
(p. 180f.), but does not further explore Pickersgill's impact
on Byron's fragment drama. Anne Barton's essay 'Don Juan
Transformed', Byron: Augustan and Romantic, ed. Andrew
Rutherford (London: Macmillan Press, 1990), pp. 199-220, acknowledges
Pickersgill's influence on Byron in a footnote (p. 219), however
without discussing it. The commentary on the play in BCPW,
VI, gives a brief summary of Arnaud's confessional narrative
(p. 728f.), emphasising the transformation scene, but
does not mention Arnaud's relation to the Byronic Hero.
Magazine 74 (1804), 1047 (hereafter referred to as GM).
collection of verse tales entitled Tales of the Harem,
by someone called 'Pickersgill' was published more than twenty
years later by Longmans in 1826, but there is no indication
that it is by the same person.
in New European Magazine 4 (March 1824), 255-60 (p.
256); quoted in The Romantics Reviewed. Contemporary Reviews
of British Romantic Writers. Part B: Byron and Regency Society
Poets, 5 vols, ed. Donald H. Reiman (London and New York:
Garland Publishing, 1972), V, 1879-84, hereafter referred
to as RR. In 1826, a biographer of Byron also suspected,
probably mistakenly, that Pickersgill was 'the late M. G.
Lewis'. The reason for their identification was probably that
Lewis adapted the main motif of The Three Brothers
for his play One o'Clock, or the Knight and the Wood Daemon,
and acknowledges his debt to Pickersgill in the preface-Matthew
Gregory Lewis, One o'Clock, or The Knight and the Wood
Daemon. A Grand Musical Romance in Three Acts (London:
Lowndes and Hobbes, 1811), p. 1.
Lynn Stuchlik, 'The Origins of the Historical Romance' (unpublished
doctoral thesis, University of Rochester, NY, 1994; rptd Michigan:
UMI Ann Arbor, 1994), p. 63. Throughout the novel, Pickersgill
occasionally mentions historical events such as Charles the
Fifth's invasion of the south of France (IV, 308); at one
point, he specifies the date as 1541 (III, 332).
Mary Waldron, 'Historico-Gothic', in The Handbook to Gothic
Literature, ed. Marie Mulvey-Roberts (Basingstoke and
London: Macmillan, 1998), p. 274; Devendra P. Varma, The
Gothic Flame (1957; New York: Russell & Russell, 1966),
pp. 74-84; Stuchlik, pp. 28-107.
to the standards of the time, that would make him effeminate,
for 'beauty' was gendered as female. For the connection between
beauty and femininity and sublimity and masculinity, see e.g.
the third part Immanuel Kant's essay on the Sublime and the
Beautiful (1764): Beobachtungen über das Gefühl des Schönen
und Erhabenen (Frankfurt am Main: Anton Hain, 1993), pp.
37-57. See also Chloe Chard, 'Effeminacy, Pleasure and the
Classical Body', in Femininity and Masculinity in Eighteenth-Century
Art and Culture, edd. Gill Perry and Michael Rossington
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1994), pp. 142-61;
Robert Miles, Gothic Writing 1750-1820. A Genealogy
(London and New York: Routledge, 1993), p. 71f.
Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and the
Beautiful (1757). References are to Part (roman) and Section
progress from initial beauty in childhood to later deformity
mirrors the fate of the girl Eugenia in Fanny Burney's contemporaneous
novel Camilla (1796). See Fanny Burney, Camilla,
or a Picture of Youth, edd. Edward A. Bloom and Lilian
D. Bloom (1972; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), pp.
11 and 28f.
As is the case in many Gothic novels, part of the plot
in The Three Brothers is a threat to the aristocratic
principle of primogeniture-see Miles, p. 27. In criticising
this practice, which puts all sons but the eldest legitimate
one at a disadvantage, Pickersgill is in the tradition of
Thomas Paine's influential essay on the Rights of Man
(1794). See also Chris Baldick, In Frankenstein's Shadow.
Myth, Monstrosity and Nineteenth-Century Writing (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1987), pp. 19-21.
Burke, II, 7, 8.
Poliorcetes (336-283 BC) was king of Macedonia (294-287 BC)
and a famous conqueror and warrior. His life is narrated in
Plutarch's Lives. In his parallel biographies, the
Greek historian Plutarch (c. AD 50-120) compares famous
Greeks and Romans. All references to Plutarch are taken from
Plutarch's Lives, edd. E. H. Warmington, et al., trans.
Bernadotte Perrin, in The Loeb Classical Library, 11
vols (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, and London:
William Heinemann, 1914-26), hereafter referred to under the
name of the respective biographical subject.
tells his father the truth about himself (I, 149), and uses
his power and influence to terrorise him and make him live
in constant fear (II, 200-03). He keeps his half-brother Henri
prisoner, and then leads him into moral corruption (see esp.
III, 1-106), giving him his own wife as a lover (III, 104)
and persuading him to join his banditti (III, 105f.).
the characteristic unhappiness of the Gothic villain see also
Ingeborg Weber, ' "Gothic Villain" und "Byronic Hero" ',
in English Romanticism. The Paderborn Symposium, edd.
Rolf Breuer, Werner Huber, and Rainer Schöwerling (Essen:
Die Blaue Eule, 1985), pp. 153–79 (pp. 154–56);
Peter L. Thorslev, The Byronic Hero. Types and Prototypes
(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1962), pp.
reviewer in GM complained about the stylistic weaknesses
in an otherwise fascinating story-GM 74 (1804), 1047.
New European Magazine 4 (Mar 1824), 257 (RR,
For instance, compare the description of Schedoni in
Ann Radcliffe, The Italian, or the Confessional of the
Black Penitents. A Romance, ed. Frederick Garber (1797;
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 34f., or that of
Montoni in Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho. A Romance,
ed. Bonamy Dobrée (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998),
Paul A. Cantor, 'Mary Shelley and the Taming of the Byronic
Hero: "Transformation" and The Deformed Transformed',
in The Other Mary Shelley. Beyond Frankenstein, edd.
Audrey A. Fisch, Anne K. Mellor, and Esther H. Schor (New
York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 89-106
(p. 93). Cantor suggests that the fear of a conventional
existence is one of the main traits of the Byronic Hero, and
the origin of most of the conflicts he is involved in.
See Burke, II, 1, 2; III, 13. In his own essay on the Sublime
and the Beautiful, Kant also stated that the Sublime would
inspire admiration, whereas the Beautiful would inspire love
(Kant, p. 14).
statement that it was impossible to 'depict or insculp' the
beautiful Demetrius is taken directly from Plutarch (Demetrius,
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), Plutarch's Lives
are among the books from which the creature gets his essential
education about Western civilisation. They were one of the
most popular sources of classical history. Of the characters
mentioned only Achilles and Hephestian (probably Hephaistion,
the closest friend and lover of Alexander the Great) are not
portrayed in Plutarch, but the latter is mentioned frequently
in his Life of Alexander (e.g. XXVIII, XXIX, XLII,
LXXII), whereas Achilles is of course famously described as
the most beautiful Greek in Homer's Iliad. See Homer,
Iliad, trans. Richmond Lattimore (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1951, repr. 1961), e.g. II, 673f., XXI,
For Julian's life and career see Glen W. Bowersock,
Julian the Apostate (Cambridge, ma: Harvard University
Press, 1997). Pickersgill's reviewer in GM talks of
Julian's 'apostate career', no doubt in allusion to the historical
Julian-GM 74 (1804), 1047. After his transformation,
Julian is referred to as 'the Apostate' (iv, 351) and he talks
of his own 'apostacy' (IV, 364).
The only exception is 'Demetrius the Macedonian' (I.
1. 258). The names are added only in the stage directions
when the respective shapes Arnold has rejected disappear,
so that readers have the opportunity to look whether their
own guess had been correct.
See Plato, The Symposium, trans. Walter Hamilton
(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1999), 215a-215d.
Thus, Arnold remarks at the sight of the first shape,
Julius Caesar, that 'the Phantom's bald; my quest is beauty'
(I. 1. 190), wishing he could 'Inherit but his fame with his
defects' (I. 1. 191). The Stranger, however, emphasises that
he could but 'promise [Arnold] his form; his fame / Must be
long sought and fought for' (I. 1. 194f.), thereby implying
that form and character do not necessarily correspond. Later,
he mocks Arnold's 'quest for beauty' by proposing the form
of the 'low, swarthy, short-nosed, round-eyed' (I. 1. 217)
Socrates as 'the earth's perfection of all mental beauty'
(I. 1. 221).
Christine Kenyon-Jones argues that Byron here comments
and reclaims Francis Bacon's critical account of the supposed
effects of physical disability in his essay 'Of Deformity'
(1612)-see her Kindred Brutes. Animals in Romantic Period
Writing (Aldershot, Burlington, Singapore, Sydney: Ashgate,
2001), p. 195f (n. 59) and 'Deformity Transformed: Byron and
his Biographers on the Subject of his Lameness' (Paper given
to the Byron and Disability panel at the MLA conference, Chicago,
Dec 1999), p. 5f.
See e.g. the description of the teenage Arnaud: 'Disdainful
haughtiness and ferocious cruelty had seat upon the brow,
which, by its lowering frowns, pursed the flesh above into
wrinkles misbecoming youthfulness: manly care was distinguishable
on boyish features; for the jaundness of melancholy and unsettled
mood had supplanted freshness from the cheeks, […] Still
was visible a gleam of nature, though faint, which warranted
that hers was not the blame of his early baseness: in her
vindication was hung about clear proof of the mighty faculty
she had gifted him wherewith; and so he was marked as the
more wilfully guilty in a vicious subjugation, as heaven,
in it bounty, had bestowed on him sense to distinguish good
from evil.' (II, 68-72)
See Lord Byron: The Complete Miscellaneous Prose,
ed. Andrew Nicholson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), p. 197f.
In addition, for Byron's use of animal features in The
Deformed Transformed see Kenyon-Jones, Kindred Brutes,
p. 197; Kenyon-Jones, "Deformity Transformed", p. 14f.
It was the culmination of what was to be known as the
War of the League of Cognac against the Holy Roman Empire.
In May 1527, Rome was under siege from the imperial troops
under the command of Charles, duc de Bourbon (1490-1527).
On 5 May 1527, his army of Spanish, German, and Italian mercenary
soldiers entered Rome (Bourbon himself died in the attack)
and sacked and plundered the city for several months. The
occupation only ended in December, because the army was then
dispersed by the plague. See James H. McGregor's introduction
to Luigi Guicciardini, The Sack of Rome (New York:
Italica Press, 1993), pp. xv-xxxix.
Like Pickersgill, Byron uses Burke's notion that the
Sublime can inspire fear and admiration, whereas the Beautiful
inspires love, which Arnold in his 'sublime' deformed body
cannot have (see Burke, II, 1, 2; III, 13).
When the Stranger suggests that Arnold should style
himself 'Count Arnold' (I. 1. 544), which will 'look well
upon a billet-doux' (I. 1. 545), Arnold's reply 'Or in an
order for a battle-field' (I. 1. 546) shows his wish for military
'What shall become of your abandoned garment, / Yon
hump, and lump, and clod of ugliness, / Which late you wore,
or were?' (I. 1. 421-24), the Stranger asks him. The word-play
in the last question already hints at the fact that the bond
between body and spirit cannot be as easily dissolved as Arnold
Comparing Arnold's limbs to those of animals, the Stranger
describes his deformity as a fragmentation of the human body,
so Arnold used to be a fragmented being even before his transformation.
His doppelgänger relationship with the Stranger shows
the impossibility of escaping fragmentation by a reinvention
of the self.
Homer, Odyssey, trans. Robert Fagles (Harmondsworth:
Penguin, 1997), XI, 556-58.
After having killed Hector, the killer of his close
friend Patroclos, he ties his corpse to his chariot and drags
it, instead of returning him and allowing the Trojans time
for decent burial (Iliad, XXII, 395-404).
In the siege of Ismael in Don Juan (Canto VIII),
the protagonist also becomes a sort of Achilles-figure, and
there are allusions to the Trojan War which equally function
to question the heroic ideal.
New European Magazine 4 (Mar 1824), 257. The
reviewer describes Caesar as 'a mere prating jester, the Thersites
of the camp as well as of the Council', alluding to the Iliad
in which a man is measured by his excellence in battle and
council (e.g. II, 201f.), and Odysseus taunts the mocking
Thersites, who is unimportant in both, saying there is 'no
worse man' than him (II, 249).
Quotations from William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida,
ed. D. Bevington (Walton-on-Thames: The Arden Shakespeare,
See Livius, Ab Urbe Condita Liber, I,
1-7; Virgil, Aeneid (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press, 1934, rptd 1998), I, 313-41.
Caesar himself makes the connection: when Arnold waits
for the unconscious Olimpia to open her eyes, he tells him
they will look 'Like stars, no doubt; for that's a metaphor/
For Lucifer and Venus' (II. 3. 189f; my italics). In
Cain, Lucifer also identifies with the star 'welcoming
the morn' (I. 1. 496) and asks Cain's wife Adah why she does
not 'adore' it (I. 1. 498).
Burke, III, 13; IV, 24. In The Deformed Transformed,
the Stranger persuades Arnold to accept a body smaller than
Achilles' original one, for, 'by being / A little less removed
from present men / In figure, thou canst sway them more' (I.
The Trojan War itself was of course also caused by the
quarrel over a woman, the Spartan queen Helen, who had been
abducted by the Trojan prince Paris.
Memorandum for the draft of Part III; quoted from BCPW,
Apparently Byron was already preparing for a rivalry
between Arnold and Caesar over the love of Olimpia:
Caesar: […] The beautiful
half-clay, and nearly spirit!
I am almost enamoured of her, as
Of old the Angels of her earliest sex.
Caesar: I. But fear not. I'll not be your rival.
Caesar: I could be one right formidable; […]
(II. 2. 174-80)
See Ian Donaldson, The Rapes of Lucretia. A Myth
and its Transformations (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982),
passim. For the representation of Lucretia as a hero
during the late eighteenth century, see Duncan Macmillan,
'Woman as Hero: Gavin Hamilton's Radical Alternative', in
Femininity and Masculinity, pp. 78-98.
See Katherine Callen King, Achilles. Paradigms of
the War Hero from Homer to the Middle Ages (Berkeley,
Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1987),
According to Ovid's account in the Metamorphoses,
Achilles' spirit demanded the sacrifice, and Polyxena went
to it willingly. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. David
R. Slavitt (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1994),
XIII, 441-500. See also Callen King, pp. 188-94.
BCPW, VI, 517.
to John Hunt on 21 May 1823; see Byron's Letters and Journals,
12 vols, ed. Leslie A. Marchand (London: John Murray, 1973-82),
negative review in the Scots Magazine commented that
'we are informed by Lord Byron, that, should the public
show any anxiety for their appearance, a few more Cantos
are forthcoming' (my italics), and suspected from the present
reception that they would 'be postponed to the Greek Kalends'
(Edinburgh Scots Magazine (Mar 1824), p. 356 (RR,
V, 2221). The review in the Literary Chronicle, one
of the few favourable ones, ended with the remark that 'we
shall be glad to follow the hero and his companion through
a few more adventures, which we doubt not will soon be supplied;
for the drama, like Don Juan, need not be confined
to any length'-Literary Chronicle (28 Feb 1824), 131
(RR, III, 1354).
Letter to Francis Hodgson, 4 Dec 1811, Byron's Letters
and Journals, II, 136.
Journal entry, 17 Nov 1813, Byron's Letters and
Journals, III, 237.
This article is copyright © 2004 Centre for
Editorial and Intertextual Research, and is the result of
the independent labour of the scholar or scholars credited
with authorship. The material contained in this
document may be freely distributed, as long as the origin
of information used has been properly credited in the appropriate
manner (e.g. through bibliographic citation, etc.).
Referring to this Article
I. HEUER. ' "Shadows of Beauty, Shadows of Power": Heroism,
Deformity, and Classical Allusion in Joshua Pickersgill's
The Three Brothers and Byron's The Deformed Transformed',
Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text 12 (Summer
2004). Online: Internet (date accessed): <http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/romtext/articles/cc12_n01.html>.
Imke Heuer studied English and History at the Universities
of Hamburg, Perugia, and York. The present article derives
from research originally done for her MA thesis in Romantic
Literature at the University of York, where she is currently
working on a PhD on 'English Theatre, German History and the
Politics of Adaptation'. Her research interests include English
interest in German theatre and culture in the Romantic Epoch;
Romantic drama (particularly Byron); the representation of
history in Romantic writing; the reception of classical history
and mythology in English Literature.
25 January, 2006
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