So my first non-school related" experience with Homers classic tale, and my most powerful impression, beyond the overall splendor of the story, was Case in point Want more violence you say? How about slaughtering over house guests for over-indulging in your hospitality?

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It has been divided, like the Iliad and probably at the same time, into twenty-four books. Book number and line number are the standard terms of reference. The contents can be, very broadly, divided as follows: The Telemachy or Adventures of Telemachos, i-iv The Homecoming of Odysseus, v-viii and xiii. We can also distinguish a Proem, Book i.

This division is for convenience; it is arbitrary and not water-tight, but gives us terms to work with. Odysseus spent ten years fighting at Troy, and another ten years getting home.

During this time, none of his family knew what had happened to him, and he lost all his ships, all his men, and the spoils from Troy. After ten years, or in the tenth year, he was set down in his own country, alone and secretly, though with a new set of possessions, by the Phaiakians of Scheria, who were the last people he visited on his wanderings. When he took ship for Troy, Odysseus left behind his wife, Penelope, and his infant son, Telemachos.

She was accomplished and clever, still beautiful, an heiress and presumably a widow; but she clung to the hope that Odysseus might come back, and held them off, without ever saying positively that she would never marry again.

The suitors made themselves at home as uninvited guests in the palace of Odysseus. Shortly before the return of Odysseus, Telemachos visited the mainland in search of news about his father. He heard from Menelaos that Odysseus was alive but detained without means of return on the island of Kalypso iv. Telemachos returned to Ithaka. The suitors set an ambush, meaning to murder him, but he eluded them and reached Ithaka just after his father arrived. The voyage of Telemachos, the arrival of Odysseus, and the recognition and reunion of father and son, were all supervised by Athene.

Father and son plotted the destruction of the suitors. Odysseus entered his own house unrecognized, mingled with the suitors and talked with Penelope.

He and Telemachos contrived to catch them unarmed and with the help of two loyal serving men and of course Athene they slaughtered all suitors. Penelope knew nothing of the plot; Odysseus revealed himself to her after the fighting was over. The relatives of the dead suitors attacked the heroes on the farm of Laertes, father of Odysseus, and a battle began, but it was ended by Zeus and Athene, who patched up a hasty reconciliation.

It is only after Telemachos has begun his visit in Sparta, and heard from Menelaos that his father is alive, and after the suitors have set their trap, that we return directly to Odysseus himself. We then follow Odysseus for the rest of the Odyssey. They then convey him to Ithaka, and with his homecoming the tale of the wanderings of Odysseus joins on to the tale of Odysseus on Ithaka.

Thus in two respects the narrative order of the poem disagrees with the chronological order of the story. The early and chief wanderings of Odysseus are told by throwback narrative toward the middle of the poem; and the wanderings of Telemachos come first.

The joins or transitions from theme to theme are noteworthy. After the poet has located Odysseus in time and space, the gods consider the question. Athene urges the homecoming of Odysseus. Zeus proclaims that Athene shall have her way; Odysseus may now start for home.

Athene answers i. This excellently motivates the Telemachy but it does perforce leave Odysseus stranded, and after the major part of the Telemachy, at the opening of Book v, the return to Odysseus shows more strain than the departure from him did. Athene has been to Ithaka, and to Pylos with Telemachos. She left the court of Nestor, presumably for Olympos iii. Now she has to start all over again, almost as if the case of Odysseus had never come up, to complain of his sorrows; but ends with the perils of Telemachos; and Zeus seems to have to remind her that she herself planned everything that has just been happening v.

Hermes, who has been waiting for this for four books and five days, can at last get off i. The obviousness of the joins and the bulk of material not specifically related to Odysseus in Books iii-iv, his absence from Books i-ii, have suggested that the Telemachy was an independent poem which was, at some stage, incorporated more or less whole in the Odyssey. Why so? Let us consider the effects gained for the total poem from having the Telemachy with its present contents in its present place.

Odysseus in the Iliad was a great man, but his magnitude is increased by the flattering mentions of him by Nestor iii. It is increased still more by the evident need for him felt by his family and friends, concisely stated by Athene i.

The general character of the Nostoi is succinctly stated by Nestor iii. The sufferings of two great heroes, by long wandering away from home Menelaos and by treachery and disaster on arrival Agamemnon , both well point up the case of Odysseus in two of its different aspects.

For an audience well versed in the tale of Troy, or the Iliad, interest is added in a second viewing of some old favorites: Nestor, Helen, Menelaos, all very like themselves in the Iliad. Without planning some such excursus as the Telemachy, the poet could not have worked them in without a great deal more awkwardness than it has, in fact, cost him.

Another point gained through the Telemachy is the instigation to murder. So, it appears, the story demanded. Further, the story demanded, or the poet firmly intended, that Telemachos should assist his father in this business. In any case, there are numerous passages in the Telemachy which look as if they might be designed, which do in any case serve, to shore up the consciences of the avenging heroes and of their sympathizers in the story or in the audience.

It is mentioned with approval by Zeus i. It is not only through her praise of Orestes that Athene shows, at the very outset of the Odyssey, that she favors, one might even say insists on, the slaughter of the suitors. She definitely tells Telemachos to do it i. And in order that they may be the more guilty, she has apparently put the plot of ambushing Telemachos into their minds, while at the same time making sure that it must fail v.

The whole later action of the Odyssey is approved, authorized, encouraged by Athene. She is carefully established in this role at the outset of the epic as we have it. This, I believe, is the chief reason why we start with the Telemachy. Here she can be cast as the fairy godmother, or guardian spirit. If the poet had begun at the beginning of the wanderings of Odysseus, he could not have cast her in this role, because the tradition was that at this time Athene was angry with all the Achaians, including even Odysseus.

So, for instance, Phemios sang of i. Nestor agrees, adding the wrath of Zeus iii. The wrath of Athene deserves special consideration, and I shall return to it when I discuss the wanderings of Odysseus. Here it may be sufficient to say that the poet has established the position of Athene, as guardian spirit of the family, by beginning with the Telemachy. Last of all, and most obvious of all, the Telemachy gives us Telemachos.

Once Odysseus is on the scene, our attention is mainly fixed on him, but his young helper quietly maintains the character that has been built up for him, without strain or hurry, in the first four books. I think, then, that it can be said, as objectively as is possible in such cases, that the Odyssey gains much from its Telemachy.

The cost is the delay in bringing us, first-hand, to Odysseus and his wanderings. But did Homer count such delay as cost? In the Odyssey, the poet gives us a few indications of his views about storytelling. One should not be repetitive, xii. It is hateful to me to tell a story over again, when it has been well told. And well has Odysseus Homer, that is told his story.

It is storytelling they like, and they are not impatient, xi. It is not time yet to sleep in the palace. But go on telling your wonderful story. I myself could hold out until the bright dawn, if only you could bear to tell me, here in the palace, of your sufferings.

If you could only hear him, says Eumaios to Penelope. I had him for three nights, and he enchanted me xvii. Delay, excursus, elaboration—whether by creative expansion or incorporation of by-material—is part of the technique of the epic, as opposed to chronicle.

In the Iliad, the wrath of Achilleus is not hastened to its fulfillment; nor, in the Odyssey, the vengeance of Odysseus. All he has to do is appear, armed, and the suitors will scatter in panic. So too Athene, i. I wish that such an Odysseus would come now among the suitors.

They all would find death was quick, and marriage a painful matter. How different is the actual return and slow-plotted slaying, directed by Athene herself. Delaying matter, if worthy, was, I think, welcome.

The Wanderings of Odysseus The wanderings themselves can be considered under four headings, as follows. The Wanderings as part of the Nostoi, or general homecoming of the Achaians.

This is told by the poet as narrator, not by Odysseus, and occupies Books v-viii, and xiii. The lying stories told by Odysseus when he is disguised as a tramp pretending to be a fallen noble; together with some information which Odysseus as tramp claims to have heard about the true Odysseus. The Wanderings of Odysseus are placed among the general homecomings, or Nostoi the subject of a later epic at the very outset, i.

This one alone, longing for his wife and his homecoming, was detained by the queenly nymph Kalypso, bright among goddesses. Elsewhere in the first four books we have scattered allusions to the homecomings.

Yet there is sometimes an odd note of inconsistency. Nestor reports that he and Diomedes came home without mishap, and that he has heard that Neoptolemos, Philoktetes, and Idomeneus did the same. From the Kikonians he is driven south, off the map, and his last certainly identifiable landmark is Kythera ix. After that, except for a brief sight of Ithaka x. Through these adventures, partly perhaps because Odysseus is telling them in his own person, the major gods appear very little.

Athene does not appear at all. Responsibility for the troubled wanderings is pinned on Poseidon through the prayer of Polyphemos, his son, after his blinding ix.


Richmond Lattimore

People who bought this also bought Shipwrecked numerous times, faced with apparently insurmountable obstacles, offered the temptations of ease, comfort, and even immortality, Odysseus remains steadfast and determined. Themes of courage and perseverance, fidelity and fortitude. Recording quality-lacking. Murray - translator Narrated by: Charlton Griffin Length: 16 hrs and 57 mins Unabridged 5 out of 5 stars 2 Performance 5 out of 5 stars 2 Story 5 out of 5 stars 2 The Odyssey is the greatest adventure story ever written, and one of the great epic masterpieces of Western literature For almost 3, years, it has been a storehouse of ancient Greek folklore and myth. It is also our very first novel, if we think of it in terms of romantic plot development, realistic characterizations, frequent change of scene, and heroic dramatic devices.


The Odyssey Of Homer


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