Amor matris: subjective and objective genitive.See Important Quotations Explained
Stephen is teaching a history class on Pyrrhus’s victory—the class is not very disciplined. He drills the students, and a boy named Armstrong phonetically guesses that Pyrrhus was “a pier.” Stephen indulges him and expands on Armstrong’s answer, calling a pier “a disappointed bridge.” He imagines himself subserviently dropping this witticism later for Haines’s amusement. Thinking of Phyrrus’s and Caesar’s murders, Stephen wonders about the philosophical inevitability of certain historical events—is history the fulfillment of the only possible course of events, or one of many?
Stephen takes the class through Milton’s Lycidas as he continues to ponder his own questions about history, questions he thought about while reading Aristotle in a Paris library. An image from Milton’s poem makes Stephen think of God’s effect on all men. Stephen thinks of the lines of a common riddle then decides to tell the students his own riddle as they gather their things and prepare to leave to play field hockey. Stephen alone laughs at his impenetrable riddle about a fox burying his grandmother under a bush.
The students leave, except for Sargent, who needs help with his arithmatic. Stephen looks at the ugly Sargent and imagines Sargent’s mother’s love for him. Stephen shows Sargent the sums, thinking briefly of Buck’s joke that Stephen’s Hamlet theory is proven by algebra. Thinking again of amor matris, or mother’s love, Stephen is reminded of himself as a child, clumsy like Sargent. Sargent heads outside to join the hockey game. Stephen walks outside, then goes to wait in Deasy’s office while Deasy, the schoolmaster, settles a hockey dispute.
Mr. Deasy pays Stephen his wages and shows off his savings box. Deasy lectures Stephen on the satisfaction of money earned and the importance of keeping money carefully and of saving it. Deasy remarks that an Englishman’s greatest pride is the ability to claim he has paid his own way and owes nothing. Stephen mentally tallies up his own abundant debts.
Deasy imagines that Stephen, whom he assumes is Fenian, or an Irish Catholic nationalist, disrespects Deasy as a Tory—a Protestant loyal to the English. Deasy argues his Irish credentials—he has witnessed much Irish history. Deasy then asks Stephen to use his influence to get a letter of Deasy’s printed in the newspaper. While he finishes typing it, Stephen looks around his office at the portraits of racehorses and remembers a trip to the racetrack with his old friend Cranly.
Stephen hears shouts welcoming a goal scored on the hockey field. Deasy hands Stephen his completed letter and Stephen skims it. The letter warns of the dangers of foot-and-mouth cattle disease and suggests that it can be cured. It seems that Deasy resents the influence of those people who currently have power over the situation. He also seems to blame Jews for similar corruption and destruction of national economies. Stephen argues that greedy merchants can be Jewish or gentile, but Deasy insists that the Jews have sinned against “the light.”