Chapter Fourteen, Oxen of the Sun
Narrative Focus: Stephen, Bloom
Characters: Bloom, Stephen, Lynch (see Portrait), Mulligan, Madden, Punch, Costello.
Setting: Maternity Hospital, 10 PM.
Though forewarned by Circe not to molest the Oxen of Helius (the Sun), Odysseus’ men were driven by hunger to feast on the sacred cattle while Odysseus slept. Helius complained to Zeus, who struck their ship with a thunderbolt so that all but Odysseus drowned (Book XII). The Oxen of the Sun are fertility symbols—thus the aptness of the maternity hospital setting. Also, the drinking-feast takes place at the expense of Stephen, for whom it will be another misadventure in the return home.
Stephen stands Mulligan and the medical students to the “glorious drunk” promised that morning while Bloom arrives to attend on Mina Purefoy’s delivery of a ninth child.
The narrative voice of the chapter is modulated to reproduce a radically telescoped history and parody of English prose styles. Ulysses thus expands to encompass and make comic mileage out of the tradition of which it is a part.