Castor and Pollux: Two Roses in Versailles

Heavy spoilers for Rose of Versailles up to and including Volume VIII of the manga!

Oscar’s troops receive a dispatch order for Paris.  The night before, she invites Andre to her room.  There’s a lot of saccharine dialogue in here, and one page in particular (472 in the second volume of the aizohan edition I’m reading) got so fantastically ethereal I had to go the dictionary several times!

Andre and Oscar gaze into each other’s eyes, and one of them, or both, or each of them alternating (it’s not clear and that’s the whole point!!!) say, as I would translate it:

Do you remember

that fleeting instant (=tamayura) in Spring

when you were with me?

And the dazzling (=mekurumeki) Summer days

(you were right there)

and the figures (=tatazumai) of

countless Autumns

and the censures (=soshiri) of Winter?

Oh oh…just like Castor and Pollux

you were there…

you were there…

This word “tamayura” for example, literally stands for “jewel echo”.  It first appeared in the Manyoshu, and it seems to refer to the fact that two lovers wearing jewel necklaces would hear the crisp sounds of the jewels clinking against each other when they came together.  Wow.

I imagine the censures of winter refer to the growing opposition (mostly from Oscar’s father) to the lovers’ union.

The image of Castor and Pollux resonates very deeply here.  Andre and Oscar have been like a brother and sister, and taking into account Oscar’s “male” upbringing, it’s not far off the mark to look at them as brothers.  I’m struck immediately by the fact that the song Angelic Androgynous in Revolutionary Girl Utena mentions Castor and Pollux too.

The Dioscuri brothers might also connect into the class issue in Rose of Versailles.  Most accounts of the brothers make Pollux be immortal and Castor mortal.  As such, Pollux could stand for Oscar (aristocrat) and Castor could stand for Andre (commoner).  The story goes that Zeus eventually granted immortality to Castor so he could be in the heavens with his brother.  Hopefully Andre and Oscar can derive some comfort from this happy ending 🙂

~ by Haloed Bane on June 8, 2011.

19 Responses to “Castor and Pollux: Two Roses in Versailles”

  1. To be honest, I never understood Oscar and Andre as lovers. Somehow, I found Oscar the most striking when she dressed up like a woman to dance with the man she loved, and always interpreted her relationship with Andre as brotherly friendship. Then again, I was very young when I saw the anime and still young when I read the manga. Today I would say that the comparison to Castor and Pollux is indeed a very beautiful one.

    • I think the revolution kinda precipitates this relationship, at least from Oscar’s perspective. Ultimately, the point of Castor and Pollux is that they are brothers, right? So there is something odd about them being lovers indeed…

      • Indeed – they are even supposed to be twins (which is strange enough), yet the mythology itself never references anything like there is a love story between them. As for me, I always thought that the reference to Castor and Pollux comes from the fact that Oscar practically made herself a ‘commoner’ to be equal to Andre.

        Anyways, I don’t even remember what my point was anymore. 😀

        • Yes, Oscar renounces her title, which in a sense is the opposite solution to the mythical one (Castor is granted immortality)…Unless we get into the French revolutionary spirit and argue that by becoming a commoner and storming the Bastille it is Oscar that rises to Andre’s “immortal commoner” status.

          Whatever 😀

  2. Normally I could care less about romantic relationships in anime/manga (they always come off as forced to me.) However, I generally felt for these two. It’s funny, me and my cousin (also male) were watching the anime together and we were both cheering Oscar and Andre on. It was like we found our inner fangirls – It was a surreal experience indeed (I think I had a similar experience when I was watching Utena and Kare Kano – Can’t remember for sure.)
    Figures the only Shoujo’s I actually “get” is one about war & politics, the other about female adolescent metaphors, and the last one about the psychology of the character’s. (I’m going by the anime obviously – Is the manga like that too?)

    • Your description of these anime pretty much fits the manga (I haven’t seen the Versailles or the Kare Kano anime, but I think they’re similar). Then again, if you “get” Utena, Versailles and Kare Kano, then you’re getting a lot of shojo!! I mean, psychology of the characters and adolescence covers a lot of shojo series I think…

      I was actually cheering for Marie Antoinette x Oscar early on, but that kinda didn’t work out at all huh 😀

      • Marie Antoinette x Oscar would make beautiful yuri indeed, I have always liked their relationship too! But, too bad. (I also always liked Rosalie, if there is a woman fit to be Oscar’s wife, it’d be her. :D)

        • Rosalie’s nice. I’m guessing she gets to live in the end. Don’t tell me though!!

          • Okay, not telling 😀 Well, Rosalie is actually one of the few main characters besides Marie-Antoinette who really existed. When you finished the manga, you will see what she is ‘famous’ for. 🙂

  3. Oh… Well I guess I do get shoujo then! Though I do think Versailles becomes a little more seinen in the second half. OscarxMarie, eh? I was always more of a MariexDu Barry kinda guy. 😆

    Speaking of Utena, R.I.P. Tomoko Kawakami. 😦

    • Yes, I didn’t even know Kawakami had cancer. R.I.P.

      Marie x Du Barry would have been great!! Though Jeanne x Du Barry makes more sense…

      Yeah, Versailles gets very mature toward the end…Dear Brother is super mature all the way through…so I think even what’s considered classic shojo is hard to circumscribe.. I don’t think I’ve ever read a really childish shojo series, but that’s probably because I avoid them…

  4. Jeanne x Du Barry would have been deliciously evil. 😈

    I guess I should give shoujo more of a chance then. (The problem is I keep finding the bad ones.)

    Oh, I noticed you have a MAL! (You don’t like Gurren Lagann either? Nice.)
    I’ll send you a friend invite.

  5. I’m sure you already know, but the tone of the manga and even the character focus varied greatly due to editor and reader demand. I think Ikeda had intended it to be an illustrated biography of Marie Anoinette but everyone wanted to see Oscar. And then everyone wanted to see Oscar in a real relationship rather than the typical older girl- younger girl relationship typical of shoujo at the time. And Andre just happened to be there, so he got the role.

    • No, I didn’t know any of this. That’s sad…Kinda makes sense that I’m in volume 9 now and it seems like it will concentrate on Marie again at the very end.

  6. That did indeed help – Thanks! 🙂

  7. Castor n pollux because their relationship was viewed as equal. There’s no woman/man in their relationship, some defined it as homogender relationship (not to be mistaken with homosexual). The author was inspired greatly by japanese culture and second wave feminism, afterall.

    This was also the reason why they had to die in the end: to preserve the equal relationship. Castor (oscar) would follow pollux (andre) to immortal after-life where they’re free from any normative gender traits.

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