Unformatted text preview: Homer’s Odyssey Odyssey
Tuesday, July 8 Introduction
• Odysseus wanders for ten years + the ten years he was away fighting in the Trojan War = 20 years absence from Ithaca • Leaves behind a baby boy, Telemachus, and comes home to find him a man • Athena = Odysseus’ protector • Poseidon and Apollo = his enemies • Odysseus’ major error – a preface to hamartia Opening of the Odyssey
• Invocation of the Muse: “Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy.” • “Sing for our time too.” (1.12) • Theme = man (andra) (Cf. menis of the Iliad) But where is the Man?
• Odysseus doesn’t appear until Book 5 • Also in the opening:
– Odysseus’ men – Their foolishness – Cattle of the Sun Book 1
• Odyssey, like the Iliad, begins in medias res • Calypso is holding Odysseus • Poseidon is away with the Ethiopians • Agamemnon’s story – what’s it doing here? • Zeus complaining • Athena visits Telemachus, son of Odysseus Achilles vs. Odysseus
• • • • • • • Achilles young Never met his son Great warrior Hero of might (bia) No homecoming Never distracted Dominates heroic space • Never reconsiders • • • • • • • • Odysseus mature Nuclear family King Hero of cunning (metis) Homecoming Easily distracted Creates heroic space Able to think twice Odysseus the Hero
• • • • What motivates him? Nostos: homecoming Kleos: glory What do his adventures mean? Structural Overview
• • • • • 1-4 Telemachy 5 Calypso 6-8 Odysseus and the Phaeacians 9-12 Odysseus’ Wanderings 12-24 Odysseus’ Homecoming Chronological Order of Adventures
• Cicones • Lotus-eaters • Polyphemus (the Cyclops) • Aeolus • Laestrygonians • Circe • • • • • • Underworld Sirens Scylla and Charybdis Cattle of the Sun-god Calypso Phaeacia Major Themes
• Nostos • Identity through memory • xenia • The webs we weave (and unweave) -storytelling Gods in Disguise Gods in Disguise Athena as Mentor (2.300, 2.442) Athena as Telemachus (2.421) Xenia in the Odyssey Xenia Xenia: guesthost bond Telemachus, Nestor, and Menelaus – Provides for needs – Involves exchanges of names, gifts, and stories display proper xenia The suitors and others to follow will be seen abusing xenia The Web of Stories The Web of Stories Bards Penelope and weaving Odysseus’ status as a hero is critically linked to his ability to tell stories Bards Bards Phemius (1.178 ff.) Demodocus – Homer inserting himself into the story? – Penelope and Phemius – Odysseus sends him meat Penelope’s Ruse (2.95 ff.) Penelope’s Penelope and Odysseus
• • • • • Well-matched Cunning Deception Weavers Kleos The Telemachy The Telemachy
• First four books of the Iliad • Telemachus’ journey to find news of Odysseus • Goes to see Nestor • Then Menelaus and Helen Coming of Age Coming of Age Athena/Mentes: “You must not cling to your boyhood any longer – it’s time you were a man.” (1.3412) Telemachus: “So, mother, go back to your quarters. Tend to your own tasks, the distaff and the loom, and keep the women working hard as well. As for giving orders, men will see to that, but I most of all: I hold the reins of power in this house.” (1.40914) Coming of Age continued Coming of Age continued “Now we have no man like Odysseus in command to drive this curse from the house. We ourselves? We’re hardly the ones to fight them off. All we’d do is parade our wretched weakness. A boy inept at battle. Oh, I’d swing to attack if I had the power in me.” (2.6367) Telemachus and Memory Telemachus and Memory “Who on hisown has really known who gave him life? (1.2501) Needs to build memory of his father through other people’s stories. The Telemachy Journeys to question Nestor at Pylos Then to Sparta to speak with Menelaus and Helen The Kleos of Telemachus The Changes in T. begin after Athena’s advises him in Book 1 Athena sends Telemachus away to give him purpose, confidence and courage. “Perhaps he will hear some news and make his name throughout the mortal world.” (1.1112) Another translation: “If he can hear something, so that among people he may win a good reputation.” Kleos Redefined/Refined Kleos Redefined/Refined Name, reputation = Gr. kleos Kleos = account of identity, social identity, what people say about you A man’s history = one version of himself, the one that survives his personal existence Recall Telemachus’ identity crisis in Book 1 No grave, no kleos expressed by both Telemachus and Odysseus Kleos continued Kleos Telemachus: “I would have never grieved so much about his death if he’d gone down with comrades off in Troy . . . then all Achaea would have raised his tomb and he’d have won his son great fame (kleos) for years to come.” (1.274 ff.) Od.: “Would to god I’d died there (at Troy) too . . . a hero’s funeral then, my glory (kleos) spread by comrades.” (5.344 ff.) Kleos continued Kleos Nestor also encourages Telemachus to gain kleos in Book 3. Athena/Mentes, Helen, and Menelaus all confirm Telemachus’ resemblance to Odysseus Athena urges Telemachus to think of Orestes’ example (son of Agamemnon) – a call to action Telemachus will later behave like Odysseus Material goods ...
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