Greek lit Journal Week 9 (The wanderings of Odysseus)

Day 1(10/20/15 2:00pm-3:30pm): Today we talked about the books of the Odyssey that we read over the weekend. It was interesting to hear the class’s take on whether or not Odysseus wants to come home or not. Most of the class agreed that he does want to go home as the poet describes him as moping around the beach every day and very excited when he finally does get off the island of calypso. The other part of the class, however, thought that the moping was him knowing that he had to go home soon and he enjoyed it on the island and that he was not happy while he was on the island. We also talked about Telemachos’ visit with Meneloas. The class agreed that his visit to the king of Sparta was also part of the maturation process for Telemachos. We also learned that the first four books of the Odyssey are referred to by historians as the Telemachia. This is because they believe that these books are part of an entirely different epic focused entirely on Telemachos. This is interesting to me as I am curious to what that epic could be about. Were there some heroic deeds that Telemachos had to complete when he was younger? We know that he is about 21 in the start of the Odyssey, so there is defiantly potential for him to encounter some growth in his earlier years. For the most of the beginning 4 books, Telemachos still has some growing up to do. I wonder if this is also do in part because his father is not there and he does not have that male role model to help show him how to be, well, manly. He still has a lot of growing to do and I wonder if we will see more of him before the epic is over and if he does get to bring that honor that Agamemnon’s son had to his own house. We also learned the word Outis and nepenthe. Outis means nobody and nepenthe is the drug of forgetfulness.

TL:DR Summary: Penelope gives people roofies, Telemachos begins to enter his own, Odysseus is on his way home.

Day 2(10/21/15 2:00pm-3:09pm): Today I read book 6 of the Odyssey. This was an interesting book as the reader was able to delve deeper into the travelings of Odysseus. As the book begins, it picks up from where the last book left off, with Odysseus crash landing onto unknown land. It is here where we meet the character Nausikaa for the first time. Nausikaa is the princess of Phaeacia, the island where Odysseus crash landed. This is in line with the beginning of the epic where Zeus predicted Odysseus’s arrival on the island. Once there, Nausikaa meets a naked Odysseus who then asks her for help and she obliges. Odysseus cleans himself up and using his polytropos, is able to secure a place to sleep and fresh new threads to wear. On their way to the castle, Odysseus learns from Nausikaa that although her people are bad archers, they are quite the shipbuilders. This information excites Odysseus as he kinda needs a ship to go home to Ithaca. Now, Nausikaa informs him that it is not her place to offer him shelter and that it resides with the Queen. So Nausikaa lays out a plan for Odysseus to meet the Queen and to beg her for a place to stay. Nausikaa is an intriguing character in the work. She does not exactly match one of the other previous female stereotypes already created in the book by way of Calypso and Penelope. Where Calypso more more of a go getter and did what she wanted, when she wanted and Penelope was more of a trickster and had to hide and be sly with her actions, Nausikaa is more in the middle. She plays a much more neutral role than the women that come before her, not having a clear motive as to why she is helping Odysseus. The reader knows that she thinks that he is handsome and wants a husband that looks like him, but that is it. She is not keeping him as prisoner or waiting for him to return after 20 years, she is simply a roadside attraction on the way to the destination. We have yet to really discover many Phaeacians besides Nausikka. The reader does not really know their intentions either. As Odysseus makes his way into town he is greeted by unwarranted comments from some Phaeacian seamen. Still, the Phaeacians could be considered heroic depending on whether or not they help Odysseus in his return journey home.

TL;DR Summary: Odysseus tests his luck with a princess.

Day 3(10/22/15 2:00pm-3:30pm): Today we discussed the motivations of the characters and why they had them and also talked collections and what makes us have them. We learned about the collections of the class and why we had them. For some, they collected cards of some sort, others collected videogames, stamps and others. It was intriguing to hear about what others in the class collected and to hear if they were still collecting or if they had stopped, why did they. We talked about how some people collect for social means by means of attending swap meets and exchanging information with like-minded souls. Others collect to preserve the past, and keep a part of their history alive. For some people collecting is simply the quest, in some cases a life-long pursuit that is never complete. For some, the satisfaction comes from experimenting with arranging, re-arranging, and classifying parts of a-big-world-out-there, which can serve as a means of control to elicit a comfort zone in one’s life, for instance, calming fears, erasing insecurity. The motives are not mutually exclusive, however, as certainly many motives can combine to create a collector. The other part of class we debriefed on book 6 of the Odyssey. We talked about how Nausikka relates to the other women in the book. The class had many different perspectives on her motives and why she is helping Odysseus and also her overall role in the book.

TL;DR Summary: We learned about collections and the science behind it.

Day 4(10/23/15 5:00pm-6:02pm): Today I read book 7 of the Odyssey. This was another book that demonstrates the hospitality or xenia of the ancient Greek world. After being walked around by Athena in the form of a human child, Odysseus meets the Queen and King of Phaeacia. Athena reminds him that it is the queen who is in charge and tells him to appeal to her. He shows up to the palace and then Odysseus gets right on the ground and hugs the queens knees. After some uncofortable silence, the king throws a feast in honor of Odysseus and asks if he is a god. Odysseus replies no but the queen is not buying his act after she looks at his clothes and remembers making them for her daughter Nausikka. When she asks Odysseus about this, he tries to gloss over the fact of how he got the clothes and act like everything is still cool. That is not going to cut it, however, as the queen still persists. Interestingly, Odysseus tells the Phaeacians his story, beginning with Calypso and ending with meeting Nausikka. However, he does not reveal who his is and what his name is during the story. For why, who knows. Maybe the Phaeacians and the Ithacans are enemies. After telling his story, the king offers up Nausikka’s hand in marriage to Odysseus. But he already has a girl so he politely declines the kings offer but not after he has secured a ride out and asks for a ship to leave. For me, I believe that Odysseus told the Phaeacians his story because he did not have a way off the island. He really wants to go home but Athena can only do so much and he needs to pull some stings on his end and to put in some work. Odysseus is cunning. He most likely calculated that the best way for him to get home was to get a ship. The best way to get a ship was to befriend the Phaeacians. The best way to befriend the Phaeacians is to tell the truth on how he got there. Simple logic got Odysseus a ship and back on his way home.

TL;DR Summary: Odysseus is a master at logic.

Day 5(10/24/15 2:00pm-4:04pm): Today I read books 8 and 9 in the Odyssey. Book 8 of the Odyssey reminded me of book 23 of the Iliad as both books were simply about sporting competitions. It is during book 8 that the king decides to host some sporting games to honor his guest, Odysseus. Before the games occur, however, king Alkinoös calls his bard, Demodokos, to sing about Odysseus during the Trojan war. Hearing this, Odysseus starts to cry sad tears. He tries to hid but king Alkinoös still sees him crying. The games then begin and eventually the king’s son challenges Odysseus. Odysseus knows that he is the best in the business and shows off his skills and demolishes any previous record by throwing a discus super far. He then does his best Gladiator impression and asks if the crowd is not entertained but the king defuses the situation by telling his bard to come back and sing. The bard comes back and tells the story of how Ares and Aphrodite had an affair and Aphrodite’s husband created a trap to catch them in the act. Afterwards the prince offers Odysseus a gift. Later, after a bath, Odysseus runs into the king who finally asks him who he is and the book ends with Odysseus about to tell his full story. Book 9 is probably the most famous of the Odyssey as it contains the story of the cyclops. We learn what happened to Odysseus after he left Troy. First, Odysseus and company land at Kikonia where they rape, kill, pillage, and burn everything in their sight. Next, they head to the land of the Lotus Eaters where a couple of Odysseus’s entourage eat the lotus and they promptly loose their memories of home and their families. Odysseus says that is enough and gathers his men and leaves the island. They land on the shore of the Cyclops. In agreeance with hospitality rules, Odysseus and entourage enter a cave of a cyclops and light a fire in his honor. The cyclops returns and does not like the hospitality rules and eats two of the big O’s crew. He then goes to sleep, but not before trapping the squad in the cave. The next day, the team makes a sharp shank to blind the cyclops but not before he eats some more of the crew for breakfast and then leaves. When he gets back, Odysseus cleverly tells the cyclops that his name is nobody and then proceedes to stab him in the eye with the shank. The cyclops runs to the mouth of the cave and calls for his buddies but when they ask what happened they all leave after Polyphemos says that ‘nobody’ harmed him. So now to escape, Odysseus and crew tie themselves to the bottom of Polyphemos’s rams to escape when he takes his flock out for their morning walk. The men steal the rams and when they get back on the ship, Odysseus reveals his name to the cyclops and taunts him. Polyphemos throws a couple rocks at the ship but to no avail. He then runs home and tells his dad, Poseidon, to curse Odysseus and he does. The curse ensures that instead of Odysseus and entourage returning home, it will just be Odysseus.

TL;DR Summary: Odysseus is a sneaky guy.

Day 6(10/25/15 2:00pm-3:02pm): Today I read book 10 in the Odyssey. This book detailed more of Odysseus’s journey on his way home, this time beginning at Aiolia, ruled by Aiolos, the god of the winds. There Odysseus and crew get a magical bag of winds that will help them get home, but only Odysseus knows about it. After sailing for 9 days the men can see Ithaca, and Odysseus falls asleep. The men check the bag of winds for treasure, and end up releasing the winds undoing the 9 days of sailing. Odysseus takes the gang back to Aiolia and asks for help but Aiolos was not about it and says that he is cursed and can’t help. Next Odysseus and the squad roll to Lamos, the land of the Laistrygones, who are something between ogres and giants. Upon arrival, the king of the Laistrygones falls on the first man and then drinks his blood. The squad dips immediately. Now they sail until they hit the island of Aiaia, home of the goddess Circe. The big O’s fall in love with Circe when they see her and then dine with her. She then turns them into pigs and puts them in pens. Odysseus hears about this and then Hermes comes down and gives him some moly so that he won’t be turned into a pig. Then Odysseus has sex with Circe as a punishment for her transgressions and she turns the men back from pigs. Odysseus and the team stay there for one year and then Circe tells them that they need to head to the underworld and turns into sacrifices for them to use to get there, and with that, the book ends.

TL;DR Summary: Odysseus and team are on a real adventure.

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