The Structure of Lesson 6
Part 1: Introduction of the Etruscans.
Part 2: The trip to Caere.
Part 3: The author‟s description of the place.
Part 4: The author‟s description of and his comment on the flowers.
Part 1: (Para.1—2) Introduction of the Etruscans
Para.1: D.H. Lawrence opens his travelogue with his humorous, satirical and exaggerated claim
regarding the Romans‟ relationship to the Etruscans.
Para.2: What can be known only comes from the tombs.
Part 2: (Para.3—10) The trip to Caere
Para.3: The destination to visit – the tombs
Para.4: Time and route
Para.5: The description of the Campagna
Para.6: Caere used to be a gay and gaudy city. But now there are tombs there. Para.7: From Palo to Cerveteri, it is about five miles. Para.8: Poor service and little help they got at Palo. Para.9: They began to go on foot.
Para.10: The description of the landscape along the trip
Part 3: (Para.11—19) The author’s description of the place
Para.11: They came to a small village near Caere, a shabby place. Para.12: They tried to find a restaurant.
Para.13: They dined in a deep cavern serving as a restaurant. Para.14: The food and drink there is not to their taste. Para.15: They got two local boys to lead the way.
Para.16--17: The description of the layout of the city of Cerveteri Para.18: The Etruscan women
Para.19: They passed by some small tombs for unimportant people.
Part 4: (Para.20—26) The author’s description of and his comment on the flowers
Para.20: They came out of the town and the scenery was similar to that of Mexico.
Para.21--22: The author liked the flower – asphodel, because it has a certain reckless glory. Para.23: Someone said the asphodel is yellow.
Para.24: The wild daffodil is also common in Greece, and the narcissus is pure Mediterranean and
Para.25: English people and Greek people differ in their attitudes to flowers, which shows their
Para.26: They are on their way to the tombs.
The main idea and the style of the text
Lawrence opens his first section “Cerveteri” with humorous exaggerated claims regarding the
Romans‟ relationship to the Etruscans. Lawrence draws the reader right in and gains their alliance by starting with “The Etruscans, as everyone knows, were the people who occupied the middle of Italy in early Roman days, and whom the Romans, in their usual neighborly fashion, wiped out entirely in order to make room for Rome with a very big R.”
He continues with his tirade as it builds, attacking the Romans‟ cold hearted destruction of the Etruscans.
However, those pure, clean-living, sweet-souled Romans, smashed nation after nation and crushed the free soul in people after people.
Lawrence‟s conversational tone makes the reader feel they are on his intellectual level which prepares them to accept his more scientific descriptions later on and then to be transported by his descriptions of the natural beauty of the Etruscan tomb area. His ability to win over the reader‟s alliance at the beginning is what allows Lawrence to carry the reader with him throughout his narrative.
In this essay “Cerveteri” Lawrence takes us down the broken pathways and rocky, sun-drenched cliffs of Italy to the tombs of the ancient Etruscans. His essay reads as a defensive plea to discover this noble and vanished tribe whose great structures once adorned the hillsides of Italy. Lawrence is quite animated in his language, condemning the Romans who destroyed and buried Etruscan society and tenderly praised the Etruscan character. But what is most peculiar about Lawrence‟s passion and his detailed descriptions of life in the Etruscan world, is that, as he himself points out, “we know nothing about the Etruscans except what we find in their tombs”; their tombs that we raided and emptied long ago. Yet despite much evidence about anything Etruscan, Lawrence himself acts as the last living voice of these long dead and long forgotten people.
His descriptions of the Etruscans have a magical tone, as he illustrates their architectural preferences which seem flow from Lawrence‟s imagination. “And on the parallel hill opposite [their homes] they liked to have their city of the dead, the necropolis. So they could stand on their ramparts and look over the hollow where the stream flowed among its bushes, across from the city of life, gay with its painted houses and temples, to the near-at-hand city of their dear dead, pleasant with its smooth walks and stone symbols, and painted fronts.”
Lawrence extracts the heart of the Etruscan character as well as the culture of their long crumbled towns from the gray and empty ruins of their tombs. The Etruscans did whatever in their natural and easy way as if breathing freely. That is the true Etruscan quality: ease, naturalness, and an abundance of life.
The power of D.H. Lawrence‟s prose is overwhelming. He describes the physical landscapes
in such a way as to truly bring the reader to those very places, making him an effective traveler.
When we read D.H. Lawrence‟s essay, we are insiders and outsiders, following Lawrence on his physical and spiritual journey through the places and through his mind as he attempts to uncover deeper truths about the world around him. His language is striking, his repetition relentless, his inward realizations thoughtful, and his panorama beautiful.
D.H. Lawrence uses specific colors and descriptions to explain vividly his scenes, “green,” “foam-white,” and “a tilted oxen wagon … like a huge snail with four horns.”
Lawrence blends the natural and physical earth with human beings throughout this essay and in this passage he describes: “Down here in the gull, the town – village, rather – has built its
wash-house, and the women are quietly washing the linen. They are good-looking women, of the
old world, …” Why does Lawrence combine the natural environment with his characters?
“Though the smell of the asphodel is not objectionable, to me: and I find the flower, now I know it well, very beautiful, with its way of opening some pale, big, starry pink flowers, and leaving many of its buds shut, with their dark reddish stripes.”
“Many people, however, are very disappointed with the Greeks, for having made so much of this flower. It is true, the word „asphodel‟ makes one expect some tall and mysterious lily, not this sparky, assertive flower with just a touch of the onion about it. But for me, I don‟t care of
mysterious lilies, not even for that weird shyness the mariposa lily has. And having stood on the rocks in Sicily, with the pink asphodel proudly sticking up like clouds of sea, taller than myself, letting off pink different flowerets with such sharp and vivid eclat, and saving up such a store of buds in ear, stripey, I confess I admire the flower. It has a certain reckless glory, such as the Greeks loved.”
Here Lawrence personifies the asphodel, giving it character and glory, creating for it a special place and purpose in the reader‟s mind. But what is his real intention? Was he hoping to convince only the English people that they were wrong in allowing the machine to destroy natural life? Or was he also attempting to possibly reach those in the countries that he travelled through in hopes that they could stave off the invasion of the machine?
As a travel writer, D.H. Lawrence depicts not only environments in vivid details, but captures characters in his beautiful prose. He uses a great deal of action verbs to move his characters through the scenes he creates with the clarity and color of a photograph. Lawrence‟s combination of a heavy use of rich adjectives and powerful verbs makes him an effective travel writer.
In the essay, he used the following colors: black, white, green, grey and pink, green to indicate the Campagna, wheat is green.... flowers white ...with road grey to indicate what he see forward (Cerveteri): grey village, buildings, street etc.
He used the color green and pink probably to indicate that in that place there is life and it isn‟t contaminated, while grey is a world contaminated and almost full of death.