Odysseus is a Wild Man
Class time 10/19/17 1.5 hours
We spent class today talking about Odysseus’s landing on the land of the Phaeacians. Dr. Sandridge gave us an idea of the Phaeacian people, saying that they are a very private people. I can relate to this as I tend to shelter myself from others a lot. It’s not really intentional, it’s just that some people have rubbed me the wrong way in my past experiences (girlfriends, ex-friends who took advantage of me, etc.) and it’s made me a lot more guarded. I find this to be true for the Phaeacians as well, being that they experienced trauma from the Cyclopses for so long before they were finally able to push them out and build a wall around their beloved city. I find that privacy and private people are very rare nowadays though, and many find it “odd” or “weird” when you don’t want to share your personal business with them, especially those who you may have just met. Is that confusing or and I just a weirdo? Can’t really say. But I, like the Phaeacians, am comfortable being “weird” and different. It seems to make people more interested in me.
The Phaeacians are also a heavily matriarchal society, another observation Dr. Sandridge and I shared. Throughout the Iliad and the Odyssey you see a lot of male-run households so it was a bit of a curveball to see a house where the queen must be impressed and not the king. It draws a parallel to how powerful women are today, with women all over the world in positions of power. The only country that seems to be behind on this is (wait for it…) America! Americans were so against having a woman as president they went and elected Orange Baby Supreme. It seems like we’re behind in the times or something…
We finished class off with a quiz that I think I did pretty well on, so hopefully my score reflects it.
Study time 10/20/17 3 hours
Woke up early today to pick my parents up from Reagan so I could squeeze as much money out of them as poss — I mean, so I can hang out with them for homecoming (whoops). Since I was up at the buttcrack of dawn, I read books 9–12 and also answered the question that was associated with them. I was pleasantly surprised at Book 9 because there was a story that I am very familiar with: the story of the Cyclops.
I attended LookingGlass Theater Camp in 2006 (still don’t know why I wasn’t in basketball camp but I guess) and I promise I didn’t want to be there. Every kid at that camp had issues. I’m not even exaggerating. It actually made me feel semi-normal. But anyway, 2 weeks into camp, we started practicing for our play. Our director, Dave, told us that we’d be doing a “modernized” version of the Odyssey. Admittedly, I had no idea what he was even talking about because I had a crush on a girl in my group and that’s all I could think about while he was running his mouth. So each group, A,B, and C, was each assigned a specific part. I was in Group B and we were assigned, you guessed it, the story of Odysseus and the Cyclops! Still, I had no idea what was going on so at the time it didn’t excite me. I got the part of Odysseus’s first mate, and looking back on it I’m glad I wasn’t one of the comrades that got eaten because I wouldn’t have been very appetizing at 98 pounds. Just saying. I really enjoyed learning about the poem at such a young age though. It made me even more excited looking at the syllabus at the beginning of the semester and seeing the Odyssey on the reading list.
The other parts of Odysseus’s story really raised some questions from me. Especially not controlling his clearly idiotic shipmates. He allowed them to screw up so many times and he had to pay the price for it. Not to be malicious, but they deserved to die to be honest. One part that got me is when Aeolus gave them the bag of winds and these idiots thought that it was gold and silver. It made the part where they got eaten by the Scylla monster a little less painful (good riddance). I’m convinced none of these fictional characters from ancient times learn their lesson about messing with immortals. Athena and Hermes really look out for them and then they completely reverse their fortunes by doing extremely stupid things. And then they want sympathy from others when they caused all of the grief they’re experiencing. Like what? You literally asked for it bro. For example, Odysseus screamed his name to POSEIDON’S SON. POSEIDON. THE ONE WHO RULES THE VERY WATER THAT YOU’RE SAILING YOUR SHIP ON. I know Dr. Sandridge said Odysseus is a trickster but come on man. I don’t even want to hear about him crying and groveling anymore because I’m just gonna treat him like a spoiled child.
In response to the question posed, it seems that Odysseus does not want to talk about his troubles at all and he is only telling the king because he insists on knowing. From Homer’s perspective, though, this is his way of giving a rundown of Odysseus’s adventures to date. It’s clever how he did it, I just wish it didn’t take up 3 books honestly. I guess it makes for a good story but it kept me waiting too long and I get impatient quickly.
Side note: I know I sound like a nerd studying before YardFest, and to that I say this. I need to graduate. Homecoming can wait.
Study time 10/24/17 3 hours
Finally, this man made it home! After almost getting eaten on multiple occasions, losing all of his (rather stupid) shipmates, and even becoming the lover to yet another immortal, Odysseus finally makes it to Ithaca. Poseidon Tha Hater promptly punishes the Phaeacians for helping him because what else do you do when you’re salty? SMH. Anyway it was sad to see the Phaeacians experience this because they mean so well to outsiders despite they’re awkwardness. And they definitely shouldn’t have had to experience this on the account of a troublemaker like Odysseus.
Speaking of Odysseus, I mentioned on Friday that he encountered many people. Most of them seemed uncivilized to be honest. Some meant well but really wanted to gain something, like the Lotus-eaters. They seemed friendly until you see that they were using their flowers to make the men forget about returning home, which to me is not only screwed up, but a little creepy. If the Odyssey wasn’t weird enough to begin with.
Others were uncivilized to begin with, like Circe and the Cyclops. The Cyclops was downright rude and abrasive, in sort of a humorous way. Odysseus asked for hospitality and not only did he say no, he grabbed two men and crushed and ate them right in his face. Nasty. And it wasn’t only one time either. He then granted Odysseus’s wish of a gift, telling him that he’d eat him last as his gift. Just disrespectful. Circe is just wild. Wild, wild, wild. She wasted no time at all and just started turning people into pigs. No warning or anything. This was also another story that was played out at my summer camp, with a hip-hop tune included (it was horrible. And I’m not singing it in class. Sorry Dr. Sandridge). She came around though after Odysseus rushed her and then somehow they became lovers (once again, WEIRD).
Some were civilized, but immediately regretted it. Aeolus is a great example. He gives Odysseus a bag of wind to assist him in returning home and the imbeciles he calls shipmates open the bag thinking it’s gold and silver. Actually, let me stop calling them dumb. They’re just greedy. And after all of the hardships they’ve experience because of greed, you’d think they learned their lesson. Guess not. And then when Odysseus asks for assistance again, he basically says
The most important thing Odysseus learns about himself is his fate. He learns from Teirisias that he will not get the “honey sweet” return home that he wants. He tells him the Poseidon will cause him great grief because he blinded his son, the Cyclops (and told him his name and where he lives like an idiot). He learns from his mother and his dead fellow soldiers how much personal decisions can affect people during the course of their life. The Odyssey shows a more introspective side of Agamemnon, who he learns to never be too gentle to anyone, even Penelope. This is a lesson he learned when his wife assisted Aegisthus in plotting on his demise. And Achilles, who confides in him that he regrets the life he chose. It seems that Odysseus is now realizing how good he has it and how fortunate he is to not be dead right now. It is similar to something that my dad used to tell me when I used to complain when I was younger: “Could be worse”. Of course, my 15-year-old mind couldn’t handle something so explicitly insensitive. But now at 22, I understand exactly what he meant, in that I’ve witnessed many people end up much worse off than I have. And though I still have hardships, I’ve learned to count my blessings, something that I think Odysseus is starting to realize.
I’m glad he’s home now, no matter ho much of a tool I think he is. He deserves to get back to his family and fight for his wife.