!! Sather Classical Guest Lecture - Every Thursday 5:30 at 270 Dwinelle - This one 8p in the
Maude Fife Room aka Wheeler 315 - François Lissarague !! -
PS. Penelope is not anti-marriage. She just is committed to Odysseus.
1897 theory – Samuel Butler – “The Way of All Flesh” – The Authoress of the Odyssey – He
argued that it was written by a woman that introduced herself into the poem in the figure
Beginnings and Endings
• The ending, in antiquity, the leading scholars of Homer shared the view that the end of
the poem (telos – end, final purpose, ritual, purification) is in book 23 line 296 “At this
time Telemachos and the oxherd and swineherd stopped the beat of their feet in the
dance, and stopped the women, and they themselves went to bed in the shadowy
o Why does Homer go on? What is gained?
o Book 23 line 115 onward.. “But let us make our plans how all will come out best
for us. For when one has killed only one man in a community, and then there are
not many avengers to follow, even 120 so, he flees into exile, leaving kinsmen
and country. But we have killed what held the city together, the finest young men
in Ithaka. It is what I would have you consider….”
o So one thing that happens in bk 24 is that the poem, by the settlement of Zeus
and Athena endorses their killing of one of the suitors – if you think that what
they’ve done is to protect their own property – Odysseus and Telemachos get
away with 108 murders.
o Another thing that gets settled in book 24 is the question of father and son –
Odysseus goes to see Laertes and they recognize each other
Also their entire lineage is a bunch of only sons
o Paternity and Son-ness? Is an important feature of the poem that gets settled in
o Also it ends the idea of revenge killing.
o Also trees… something about that they need to grow a generation before they
become fruitful. o Odysseus knows how to restrain his desires. He is faithful to Penelope (in terms
of mortal women.. Kalypso doesn’t count).
o Land of the dead
Dogs, especially bitches, are a big figure of shame in Greek mythology
o Penelope is one of the only women who is praised as good (kleos) in the same
way as men. Normally they’re not praised in greek mythology.
Use of traditional myth and story patterns
• Standard way of interpreting that menalaus’s journey to Egypt is a parallel to Odysseus
going to the land of the dead. (eg. Manelaus comes back with riches and odysseus
comes back with knowledge)
• Ithica was in suspended animation since Odysseus left.
• Catabatic from the greek katabainu meaning go down
• Most of the jouneys to the land of the dead are journeys into the earth but odysseus just
sails along like Gilgamesh
• Feasts and banqueting as expression of harmony but in the odyssey at the end theres a
• Bk 22 line 60 – “looking darkly at him resourceful Odysseus answered: ‘Eurymachos, if
you gave me all your father's possessions, all that you have now, and what you could
add from elsewhere, even so, I would not stay my hands from the slaughter, until I had
taken revenge for all the suitors' transgression.”
o Speaks to the way that heroes speak in the odyssey that they don’t usually.
o Here, (massacre) the poem alludes to a different kind of heroic poetry within the
overall epic tradition
Mentality of Odysseus
o “Many were they whose cities he