On October 12 in class (11:10–12:30), we discussed the beginning of the Iliad. We started of the conversation with Dr. Sandridge saying “It gets real in the Whole Foods parking lot,” which I thought was hilarious, so I took note of it. A student questioned if this was a true story because of Homer’s reference to the Ethiopians. The truth is nobody really knows. We also broke down the question of whether or not Telemachus can be considered an hero. In the ancient world/ literature, a hero is someone who died a long time ago and they currently receive honor in the present because of their spirit. Achilles, Agamemnon, Odysseus, even Helen is considered a hero. The next task we took on in determining this was figuring out the description and experiences of a hero. We said that heroes usually fight, have good clapbacks, divine favor, paternal honor, travel, hospitality, married, brave, respected, high status, battles, and does speeches, saves others, revengeful, receives prizes, and thinks for themselves. I haven’t read enough to determine if Telemachus is a true hero, but he has a lot of these traits already. We also talked about how the suitors are nepios (clueless, disconnect). At the end of class, we took a quiz.
Later on this day, from about 6pm-11pm, I actually decided to read the poem because I decided that I couldn’t take an L on the next test like I did on the midterm. So I threw cliff notes to the side, and started reading from Book 1 to Book 6. In the beginning of the epic, the narrator calls upon the Muses once again for inspiration, much like in The Iliad. The Odyssey details the story of Odysseus who, after the Trojan War, is trapped on an island, Ogygia, by a goddess named Calypso who fell in love with him. All of the gods except Poseidon begin to pity Odysseus and conspire to help him. The gods seem to be much more benevolent in this story than they were in The Iliad. In The Iliad the gods were the main cause of violence and strife. It’s because of the gods the war is even started. Towards the end of the poem, the gods begin to pity the mortals, specifically when Achilles refuses to give Hector’s body back to his parents. Apollo comes down and tells Achilles to return Hector because it is dishonorable to the gods. In the beginning of The Odyssey, the gods are discussing Odysseus and the fact that he’s been away from his family for twenty years. The action from The Iliad begins with the gods much like the action in The Odyssey begins with them. Poseidon, in The Odyssey, is the only god who doesn’t care for Odysseus because Odysseus kills his son Polyphenes. Athena then goes to Ithaca to inspire Odysseus’s son, Telemachus, to confront his mother’s disrespectful suitors by dressing up as Mentes, a friend of Odysseus. Telemachus, who originally believed his father to be dead, is finally convinced that Odysseus is alive. Athena tells Telemachus to banish the suitors and go to Pylos, in search of Nestor, and Sparta, in search of Menelaus, to find information about Odysseus. A singer begins to sing of the Greeks’ suffering in Troy and Penelope is saddened, after which she is rebuked by Telemachus. Telemachus tells the suitors to leave the palace at once and Antinous an Eurymaches demand to know why Telemachus is suddenly acting different towards them. Their resistance proves to foreshadow their ultimate death and the death of Antinous’s father. They to demand to know who the stranger, Mentes, was and Telemachus, although he knows it was Athena, tells them it was an old friend of Odysseus. One of the questions I found myself asking was why Athena always has such a presence in the lives of mortals. She is a very mixxy goddess. While all of the immortals are invested in the lives of mortal beings, Athena seems to be at the forefront of many discussions involving the mortals, and she often goes to them in different disguises. This happens in both epic poems. Later, Menelaus welcomes Telemachus and Nestor’s son and speaks great tales of Odysseus. Telemachus begins to cry and Menelaus and Helen realize Telemachus is Odysseus’s son. Menelaus and Helen seem to be a bit dissatisfied in their relationship. Although they have two beautiful children who are getting married, they seem to banter a lot. They tell Telemachus tales of his father (both in a bragging and bitter manner), such as when Odysseus pretended to be a beggar and entered a Trojan city and then later killed everyone in it. Menelaus also tells the famous story of the Trojan Horse and of his journey back from Troy. On Menelaus’ journey from Troy, he has to capture Proteus, the old man of the sea. After he captures Proteus, he finds out what happened to his men: Ajax, Agamemnon, and Odysseus, the first two are killed, while Odysseus had been captured by Calypso. Back in Ithaca, the suitors plan to attack Telemachus when he returns. Medon overhears this and tells Penelope. Penelope, depressed by the fact that she may lose her son as well as her husband, is later comforted by Athena (once again) who comes down to Penelope in the form of Penelope’s sister Iphthime.
On 0ctober 17, 2017 in class, we evaluated the male/female relationships in Homer’s works. We talked about Menelaus and Helen, Hektor and Andromache, Achilles and Briseis, Paris and Hlen, Zeus and Hera, Agamemnon and chryseis, Agamemnon and Clyteinnestra, Calypso and Odysseus, Odysseus and Penelope, Nausicaa and Odysseus, Agamemnon and Cassandra, Nestor and his wife, and Ajax and Techmessa. Most of these relatipnships were contractual and lustful, and few like Hektor and Andromache and Odysseus and Penelope, were loving ones. Odysseus and Penelope had what you would call “homophrosune” which means likemindedness. Couples with likemindedness gets kleos.
On October 18, 2017 I read Book 9 of The Odyssey. It begins with Odysseus telling his tale. Calypso trapped him on the island. Odysseus sacks and destroys the Ciconians who then turn on them and attack. Odysseus loses six men per ship. Zeus sends storms and for nine days they’re in the middle of the ocean. They land in the Land of the Lotus Eaters who gave them honey sweet fruits that, when eaten, make the men forget about returning home. Eventually they end up at Cyclopes, an uncivilized land of one eyed giants. They feast on the wild animals and eventually enter a cave filled with vast amounts of sheep, goats, and cheese. Despite being advised to leave quickly, he lingers around the cave until Polyphemus, Poseidon’s son, enters the cave. Although Polyphemus is nice in the beginning, he proves to be a hostile creature, eating two of Odysseus’s men and imprisoning the rest. Odysseus shows great skill as a soldier when finding a way to combat the Cyclopes. He exemplifies his intelligence by first offering the Cyclopes much wine so that the monster becomes drunk. When Polyphemus asks Odysseus his name, Odysseus replies with “Nobody.” Later, while the giant is sleeping, Odysseus and his crew sharpen a wooden staff and heat it with fire. They then proceed to stab the stake in his eye. When Polyphumus’s neighbors come to check out the disturbances, the Cyclopes screams “Nobody is killing me!” The next day, Odysseus and his crew crawl under the bellies of the sheep and ram while they exit the cave. Odysseus proves why he is such a great warrior and strategist with this plan.