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Week 9 - Odyssey - Books 13-24

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University of Toronto St. George
Timothy Perry

Lecture #8 Page 1 Week Nine - Odyssey 13-24 Monday, March 01, 2010 Themes of Books 13-24: o Nostos Still a crucial theme, maybe even more so in the latter half of the poem o Xenia e.g.) How is Odysseus treated when he appears as a stranger in Ithaca? o Lies and Deceit Odysseus comes up with a lot of lying tales to tell of his presence in Ithaca o Testing Important part of Odysseus' reintegration Odysseus' tests people to make sure they are still loyal (some pass, some fail) o Recognition After testing someone, you reveal yourself to them Summary of Books 13-24: o Odysseus is brought to Ithaca by the Phaeacians o Meets the goddess Athena in disguise who warns him of the dangers he is going to face She disguises Odysseus as a beggar o Spends some time in the hut of his loyal swine-herder, Eumaeus where he meets his son Telemachus and reveals himself to him o Travels to his palace, finds the suitors still trying to win over Penelope Is given a very rude reception by the suitors Eventually reveals himself to the suitors Odysseus and Telemachus kill all the suitors, Penelope and Odysseus are reunited o Disguise is an important element of the latter half of the poem Odysseus is in disguise for most of the last half Book Thirteen: o Odysseus achieves his Nostos Phaeacians treat Odysseus properly according to xenia Odysseus is asleep when he arrives in Ithaca The Phaeacians don't wake him, leave him and gifts to him on the shore Unknown why the poet had Odysseus be asleep Way of marking transition? --> From the world of fantasy to the world of reality Why does Odysseus not recognize Ithaca? Author is pointing out that Odysseus has been gone for a long time The goddess Athena has been working behind the scenes to prevent him from recognizing his own land Athena surrounds him in a magical mist to prevent others from recognizing him Lecture #8 Page 2 Odysseus wonders again if he is a violent, savage land or in a civilized, god-fearing land Uses exactly the same language and lines when he arrived in the land of the Cyclopiads and of the Phaeacians Repetition is used to emphasize that Odysseus has been in this situation before "Man of misery whose land have I landed on now?" Curses the Phaeacians because he thinks they have left him on an unknown shore Disguise The land is not as it seems, Athena is not as she seems and Odysseus is not as he seems Homecoming and Lies o Odysseus does not initially recognize Ithaca o First 'person' he meets is Athena in disguise o Odysseus pretends to be an exile from Crete First of a string of lies Odysseus has learnt that revealing the truth is not the best option for him Knows that if he is actually in Ithaca he is in some danger (what he learnt from Tiresias) o Lies very skillfully Invented on the spot Number of the claims he makes seem to have a very specific purpose: Claim that he is an exile Good way of explaining himself Claims to be from Crete Because it's a long way away (cannot be caught in this lie) Unlikely especially that a Shepherd could catch him up 3. Claims he killed Idomeneus' son because his son was threatening his property Why he left Crete and why he is an exile Is surrounded by wealth, is vulnerable Saying that the last person who stole his wealth ended up dead therefore the Shepherd would think twice before trying to take his wealth 4. Claims he left children in Crete Tells the Shepherd that there are people left behind who would avenge Odysseus' death should he try to kill him o Waste of a lie because he's really talking to Athena (this is the only time his lies fail) Athena approves of his use of lying and his skill Athena says that as Odysseus is the most skilled of men in lying she is the most skilled of the gods at lying o Athena and Odysseus come up with a plan to make his nostos successful This is when Athena disguises him as a beggarLecture #8 Page 3 o Odysseus' Lies Just about every time Odysseus meets someone from his past, he tells a long and complicated lie e.g.) Lies to Eumaeus, to Antinous one of the suitors, to Penelope, to Laertes his father Odysseus shows himself to be very skilled at adapting each lie to the particular addressee and occasion To Eumaeus: claims he has spent some time in slavery from which he recently escaped; says this because Eumaeus himself is a slave To Penelope: says he met Odysseus and talks a lot about him; knows that Penelope wants to hear about him Lying and Heroism o Most lying NOT disapproved of in the Odyssey Lying not viewed as a moral flaw of Odysseus, is almost celebrated in the poem Only Odysseus' lie to Laertes is questionable in Book Twenty-Four Seems morally questionable --> a cruel lie? At this point, Odysseus had defeated the suitors and more- or-less reestablished himself as King of Ithaca Goes to visit his father in the country Does not tell Laertes that he is Odysseus, say he saw Odysseus before Laert
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