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Chapter 21

Notes for Chapter 21

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James Lynd

- Homer inherited a story about how odysseus ran into trouble trying to get home: - After 20 years he rturned home to find his son’s life threatened, his dad living like a pauper and his wife besieged in her own house by greedy politically ambitious men - He disguised himself as a suitor and killed them all on a feast day of apollo - Homer makes parable of the human journey from life to death and return to life again - In ancient times lIliad considered tragedy because of it’s somber themes and deep personal conflict - Odyssey considered comedy because of happy ending in which fam is reunited and promise of future is affirmed - Odyssey one of most influential works ever Odysseus Journey fro Troy The cicones and the Lotus Eater - In the odysseus recounts his adventures at a banquet on the island of phaeacia in the court of King Alcinous where he came ashore after a shipwreck - 20 years way from home: - > ten in troy - > thre lost at sea - > Seven on island of the mysterious nymph calypso ‘concealer’ - Odysseus’ first person narrative of his travels occupies one-sixth of Homer’s 12,000 line poem - When Odysseus and his twelve ships leave troy they stop as isomers in hTrace, land of the Cicones and sack the city - Against advice of commander, they pause to devour stolen sheep, cattle wine - Next morn the neighboring cicones attack, killing is men from every ship (each had about 50) - The remaining greeks escaped by sea, but soon caught in storm off southern coast of peloponnesus - Winds blew them out of the everyday world to relm of the Lotus Eaters - Local inhabitants consume a drug that makes men forgetful of their home and purpose Polyphemus - at sea again - Come to land of the cyclopes ‘round eyes’ - Come to cave of Polyphemus ‘much renowned’ - This story most likely existed before homer wrote it down in the form of the Odyssey - Crew suggest taking Polyphemus’ goods as there is much, Odysseus says let’s meet the guy first - Polyphemus comes home and devours two of Odysseus men after he tells him the fear the gods and show xenia - ‘I don’t need to fear the gods, I’m bigger than them’ - He eats six in total - Finally Odysseus gets idea of getting him drunk and poking his eye making him blind - They hide underneath bellies of three rams, odysseus just taking the last ram and make their escape - In anger breaks off top of mountain and throws it at ship, landed beyond - Odysseus jeers at him and tells him who is responsible for his blindness - Polyphemus prays to his father poseidon that Odysseus never return home, become a beggar and lose the loyalty of his comrades and that his household is in chaos - Wish granted - Odysseus gave zeus on offering, which was ignored as the god was now plotting against him Aeolus, the Laestrygonians and Circe - Odysseus next tells how he cam to the island of Aeolus, the wind king (unconnected with Jason’s ancestor) who spends his days dining with his six sons and six daughters - Odysseus and his men feast with them and gives him a special gift (xenia): a sealed cowhide bad that contained dangerous winds, which he warns not to untie under any conditions (folktale motif of prohibition) - Odysseus sets off to Ithaca - He falls asleep and his men speculate whats in the bag - gold? - They open the bag and the dangerous winds escape, a storm catches the fleet - Greeks back at Aeolus - Aeolus says they must be hated by gods and send them away - nex they come to land of Laestrygonians ‘gnashers?’ - Met by kings daughter who leads the advance party to king, who eats them! - Also cannibals! - Other laestrygonians smash ships, harpoon men, eat them alive - Everyone is killed and every ship destroyed except Odysseus and his crew (all but one motif) who moored their ship outside the entrance harbor - On they sail to Aeaea (earth?) land of Circe, daughter of Helius and sister of Aeetes (Medea’s dad) - Island heavily forested, surrounded by mist that prevents from seeing when sun sets or rises - A wisp of smoke rises from the center of the island. - > half crew go ti investigate, while Odysseus remains with ship - Soon a crewmember, Eurylochus, returns in panic - > they came to house of beautiful women, who sand beautiful song while she wove. He explains. He hung back while other sat and drank a potion the woman had prepared. She touched them with her wand and they turned to pigs - Odysseus says he’ll take care of it and goes forth alone - In middle of forest, Hermes appears and gives Odysseus a magical herb called moly with a black root and brilliant white flower (mandrake root?) - She odysseus reaches hue the pigs fawn upon him - He hears circe singing and enters her house, sitting at her table - Sh e offer him a drink but nothing happens when she touched him with her wand - moly protects him - You ust be odysseus - she observes - > prophecy told that a man would one day defy her magic (just as prophecy had warned polyphemus) - She offers sex but Odysseus remembering adive given by Hermes draws his sword and forces her to swear a great oath: to do him no harm - If he did not do this she would have cut off his penis - They have sex - poor penelope! - Circe then releases Odysseus men from enchantment - They remaind on island for a year, feasting and taking plasur - Men remind odysseus of their purpose to return home - Circe agrees they may go but first must cross the river Ocean to gather info from ghost of Tiresias - They need to survive the Sirens and Scylla ‘dog’? And charybdis too and under no cir- cumstances should they eat the cattle of Helius Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis, the Cattle of Helius, and Calypso - as they cross river Ocean, Odysseus speaks with loads of ghosts including tiresias - They embark and approach island of Sirens whose song no man can resist - Odysseus, on Circe’s advice stops up the ears of his men, but not his own, with wax and orders himself bound to the mast - > if he cries when he hears it, bind him tighter - in art Sirens have head and breasts of women, birds wings and bodies of birds (like harpies, image taken from egyptian ba-bird) - At feet lie rotting corpses of many sailors who had heeded their sweet song - > draws all who hear it to their death - at hearing the song Odysseus begs to be released, gets tightened instead - next they come to a double evil, the origin of the proverbial saying for an impossible sit- uation to be ‘between Scylla and Charybdis’ - On one side of straight is Charybdis, an enormous whirlpool that sucks down and spits up a torrent of water three times a day - On the other side, beneath a cliff as sheer
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