The Odyssey The Odyssey discussion


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From Troy to Ithaca

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message 1: by Osvaldo (new) - added it

Osvaldo Ortega I decided to casually read the Odyssey, would anyone care to discuss the work and join me in the journey?


message 2: by Osvaldo (new) - added it

Osvaldo Ortega I found the goat sacrifice scene in Book 3 to be particularly interesting, considering the very goddess was present to witness it. The notes on the ritual were particularly fascinating.


Old-Barbarossa Which translation you reading?
Recently picked up a verse one by Simon Armitage.
Next to Tam O'Shanter it is the best excuse for getting home late after a night out with your mates.


message 4: by Osvaldo (new) - added it

Osvaldo Ortega I have the Robert Fagles edition by Penguin Classics. It is rather good, though sometimes the language appears a bit too modern for me.


Old-Barbarossa Enjoyed the Fagles myself. He did versions of Iliad and Aeneid too. Recently picked up a version of the Iliad by Robert Graves (of I, Claudius fame) which looks promising: Anger of Achilles Homers


message 6: by Osvaldo (new) - added it

Osvaldo Ortega I find it interesting how the gods do not mandate. Mortals appear to have free will and weigh the options when gods tell them to do something.

The Mortal's suspicion of the gods is rather interesting. How Odysseus doubts at every turn, thinking that the gods (Poseidon particularly) may be out to get him yet again.

Lastly, the prevalence of sacrifice, of appeasing the gods is very curious. Every venture, every endeavor is accompanied with its appropriate libation- whether animal or wine.

Truly the gods are nothing but archetypal mortals.


Old-Barbarossa And the mortals know that the gods are fickle, even after sacrifices.
Best to make the sacrifice anyway though...it just might work.


message 8: by Osvaldo (new) - added it

Osvaldo Ortega Quite frankly, I am enjoying this too much. The work suspends my reality beautifully. In poetic form I imagine it spoken or sung by an ancient bard. Wonderful, not surprisingly, stuff.


message 9: by Osvaldo (new) - added it

Osvaldo Ortega I am enjoying the daylights out of this book, Odesseus is in the hall of the Phaecians, wondrous games being played about him. He is no doubt an Olympian bard. I stopped and read passages to my class. Truly the work was made to be read or spoken to a crowd of many.


Alford Wayman What was moving for me was when Odysseus weeps when he hears the bard sing.- "He [Odysseus] wept as a woman weeps when she throws herself on the body of her husband who has fallen before his own city and people, fighting bravely in defense of his home and children. She screams aloud and flings her arms about him as he lies gasping for breath and dying, but her enemies beat her from behind about the back and shoulders, and carry her off into slavery, to a life of labor and sorrow, and the beauty fades from her cheeks--even so piteously did Odysseus weep.- Odyssey 8.521


Alford Wayman Osvaldo wrote: "I found the goat sacrifice scene in Book 3 to be particularly interesting, considering the very goddess was present to witness it. The notes on the ritual were particularly fascinating. "

Another ritual that I found interesting was here:

"Here Perimedes and Eurylochus held the victims, while I drew my sword and dug the trench a cubit each way. I made a drink-offering to all the dead, first with honey and milk, then with wine, and thirdly with water, and I sprinkled white barley meal over the whole, praying earnestly to the poor feckless ghosts, and promising them that when I got back to Ithaca I would sacrifice a barren heifer for them, the best I had, and would load the pyre with good things. I also particularly promised that Teiresias should have a black sheep to himself, the best in all my flocks. When I had prayed sufficiently to the dead, I cut the throats of the two sheep and let the blood run into the trench, whereon the ghosts came trooping up from Erebus- brides, young bachelors, old men worn out with toil, maids who had been crossed in love, and brave men who had been killed in battle, with their armour still smirched with blood; they came from every quarter and flitted round the trench with a strange kind of screaming sound that made me turn pale with fear. When I saw them coming I told the men to be quick and flay the carcasses of the two dead sheep and make burnt offerings of them, and at the same time to repeat prayers to Hades and to Proserpine; but I sat where I was with my sword drawn and would not let the poor feckless ghosts come near the blood till Teiresias should have answered my questions."- Book 10 The Odyssey By Homer Translated by Samuel Butler


message 12: by Shayla (new) - added it

Shayla Barker That is interesting. I love this story and how it leaves you wanting to read more and more, I believe that Odysseus is a very noble man.


Old-Barbarossa Just finished re-reading the Fagels trans...
It’s kind of like the book of Job, but Job turns out to be Keyser Söze.
By that I mean the gods (to be fair it is mainly Poseidon) give old Odysseus a fair hammering on his way home until Athena steps in to help. By this point though Odysseus is being so sleekit that he is never truthful...last time he told someone who he really was (Polyphēmos the Cyclops) it just pissed of the earth shaker himself, so I can see why his twisty turny nature kicks in big stylee. Anyway, when he meets anyone from that point on he turns into Verbal Kint when Agent Kujan is interviewing him...lies, lies, lies.
The whole series of fantastic episodes are related to the Phaeacians in this way: Cyclops; Scylla and Charybdis; Laestrygonians; Circe; Sirens etc.
Then once he gets back to Ithica it’s all psy-ops stylee lies again, though more believable and with less cannibals and witches.


message 14: by Tim (last edited Oct 18, 2011 04:45AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tim The Greeks regarded Odyssues as a hero and renowned for his guile, resourcefulness and cunning i.e. he is a liar. The Romans on the other hand, claiming descent from the Trojan refugees under Aeneas, think he is cunning, deceitful and villainous i.e. he is a liar. I loved the story when I first heard it at school, but over the years I have had a sneaking feeling that it might just be one of those elaborate explanations that you give to your wife for being late back from the pub.

'I would have been home sooner darling but I had a problem with this bouncer with one eye in the middle of his forehead. Then this big storm blew up..


Old-Barbarossa Tim wrote: "...over the years I have had a sneaking feeling that it might just be one of those elaborate explanations that you give to your wife for being late back from the pub..."

Agree sir...


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Would it be fair to say that the Odessy was the world's first "novel" in the true sense of the word?


Alford Wayman Andries wrote: "Would it be fair to say that the Odessy was the world's first "novel" in the true sense of the word?"

It's old for sure but the Epic of Gilgamesh is much older not sure compared to other epics of the ancient near east.


Old-Barbarossa Alford wrote: "Andries wrote: "Would it be fair to say that the Odessy was the world's first "novel" in the true sense of the word?"

It's old for sure but the Epic of Gilgamesh is much older not sure compared to..."


I think the Odyssey is more like a novel in structure, even when compared to the Illiad.
Gilgamesh certainly the older written story though.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

True, Gilgamesh is the oldest known fictional writing, but a lot of experts say that the Odessy is the ancestor of the modern novel. I tend to agree with them. I'm reading the Illiad at the moment and I'm noticing some major differences in structure between them, where the Illiad appears more like a lyrical narrative.


Old-Barbarossa You have the fact that Odysseus is an "unreliable narrator" as well. The Illiad is almost reportage by comparison.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

The massive "Ship's Register" makes it seem like that. Also, is it just me is the Illiad much more violent than the Odessy?


Old-Barbarossa Aye, most of the carnage in the Odyssey happens "off stage". The Illiad has you in the frontline with the unforgiving bronze hurling past.
It's thought that there was a 20 year gap in their composition.
A more mature author? (If it was the same person...)
Though both have asides and flashbacks, the Odyssey has the more complex structure I think.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

"A more mature author"... I see. It's historical fact that Troy did exist and that it was pretty much wiped off the face of the earch in about 900 B.C., so what is the posibility that the Illiad was written by someone who was there, or heard it from a father/grandfather, and just slapped on the poetic license? The Odessey might just have been a purely fictional creation, using the historical narrative as a fitting back story.


message 24: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Nov 28, 2011 11:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Old-Barbarossa By mature I don't mean all grown up and serious, just that they seem to have grown into their craft.
Textual analysis seems to point at the fact that they have the same author though.
Troy seems to have been destroyed a few times (archeology shows this), and the Hittite records hint at many Illiad related things, there is a treaty with an Alexander for instance (Paris' other name...mind you there were loads of James in Scot's Hx, and Henrys in English, so probably not the same chap).
There are illustrations on pottery pre-dating the composition of both showing scenes Homer later goes on to describe. Therefore there must have been an extensive tradition in place before the tales were written down...and that's the thing isn't it. They were written shortly after the development of writing in Greece. The oral transmition of the tales must have been going on for ages prior to this. Homer assumes a level of knowledge in the audience.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

When I said “mature” I meant experienced enough to evolve from historical narration in the case of The Illiad to a work of pure fiction in The Odessey. And since we are talking historical fact, could anybody be kind enough to “link” us with a plausible map of the journey in The Odessey?


Old-Barbarossa I have a book at home on my to read heap (actual rather than virtual) that looks at the route of the voyage. Can't remember the title off the top of my head, will post a link once I find it.
The Ulysses Voyage is meant to be very good on the subject...haven't managed to find a copy though.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm becomming a bit obsessive about bronze age Greece at the moment, just because I want to know how it all fits toghether...


Old-Barbarossa Andries wrote: "I'm becomming a bit obsessive about bronze age Greece at the moment, just because I want to know how it all fits toghether..."

Same page as you on that sir.
Any books you'd recommend.
Currently on: Rediscovering Homer: Inside the Origins of the Epic. Looks at whether the Illiad and Odyssey were written by a woman...not convinced by the arguements...don't know if the gender of the author matters.


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Have a look at this... I don't know to take it almost-seriously or not.

http://www.troy-in-england.co.uk/


Old-Barbarossa After a bief look I can only reply with the textspeak: WTF!


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

I've heard stranger stuff.


Old-Barbarossa Andries wrote: "When I said “mature” I meant experienced enough to evolve from historical narration in the case of The Illiad to a work of pure fiction in The Odessey. And since we are talking historical fact, co..."

Ulysses Found is the one I have in a pile of things due a read. Will let you know if it's any good.


Patrice Andries wrote: ""A more mature author"... I see. It's historical fact that Troy did exist and that it was pretty much wiped off the face of the earch in about 900 B.C., so what is the posibility that the Illiad w..."

They thinkTroy was destroyed in 1200 BC, 500 years before the illiad/Odyssey were written down.


Shelley Before coming across this thread, I was just thinking today about how wise it was of Homer to give us a hero who is so repeatedly humiliated and powerless.

Shelley, Rain: A Dust Bowl Story, http://dustbowlpoetry.wordpress.com


message 35: by Dimitris (new)

Dimitris Varsamis "As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean."

Ithaka, C.P. Cavafy


Guirguis simply,, Love for homeland,


message 37: by Alex (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alex Williams They Illiad and Odyssey are false accounts of a real event. Maybe the war was over a beautiful woman, but it certainly didn't have gods hurtling their spells over the battlefield. That's like saying during Rommel's North African campaign he got a speed boost from Hermes so his tanks moved faster and was able to win due to that. Maybe Odysseus screwed up big time with the direction of the ship and they landed in maybe Egypt. Then he created a grand 'ol cover up story. You have to understand, Homer wasn't present at these battles. He was just interpreting local folklore.


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Odyssey (other topics)
Tam O'shanter A Tale (other topics)
The Anger of Achilles (other topics)
The Ulysses Voyage (other topics)
Rediscovering Homer: Inside the Origins of the Epic (other topics)
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Authors mentioned in this topic

Simon Armitage (other topics)