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Homer, Odyssey revisited > Books 23 & 24 and Book as a Whole

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message 1: by David (new)

David | 2737 comments Book 23
Eurycleia wakes Penelope to tell her that Odysseus is home and all the suitors have been killed.Warning: Do not try that at home! Try flowers instead.
It would have warmed your heart to see him,
[23.50] Spattered with blood and filth like a lion.
Eurycleia finally resolves the question of, "is it justice or is it revenge", when she tells Penelope:
[23.60] As for the suitors, who did him wrong,
He’s taken his revenge on every last man.”
Despite all of this news from Eurycleia, Penelope remains wary. Is Penelope's slow acceptance similar to the doubts Telemachus and Odysseus expressed about the gods and to Athena? Are there enough instances of doubt to call it a theme in the book, if so, what can we say about doubt as it relates to Odyssey as a whole?

Penelope sits and watches Odysseus until Telemachus can't take it anymore and chides his mother for not being more welcoming and curious. What was Telemachus expecting; is this a sign he still has some growing up to do? Odysseus tells Telemachus to give his mother time and reminds him that they still have a lot of work to do and are not out of it yet.

Penelope's final test concerns their bed; she orders the it to be brought out from the master bedroom. Odysseus complains that the trunk of a tree that he built the house around serves as a bedpost making it impossible for all but a god to move, finally proving his identity to Penelope.

Athena extends their reunion by prolonging the night. Odysseus tells her about the trip Tiressias said he still had to make. Then they go to bed and afterwards swap stories before falling asleep.

In the morning Odysseus reminds Penelope that they are still not out of it, announces he will visit his father, and heads out with Telemachus and the herders, all in arms, while Athena conceals their trip in darkness.


message 2: by David (last edited Jun 19, 2018 06:30PM) (new)

David | 2737 comments Book 24
In Hades, while Agamemnon and Achilles discuss their deaths and we are provided a description of Achilles glorious wartime funeral, Hermes ushers in the newly dead suitors. Agamemnon recognizes one of the suitors, Amphimedon, who then tells the story of their deaths, still bitter over Penelope and Odysseus' tricks and their treacherous treatment of them. Not surprisingly, Agamemnon approves of the reunited couple's tactics.
“Well done, Odysseus, Laertes’ wily son!
[24.200} You won a wife of great character. . .
Odysseus visits his father and is moved by his ragged appearance. However, Odysseus, true to his nature, fabricates another story in order to see if his father will recognize him? Odysseus tells his father he is Eperitus from Alybas, that he is here to collect on a promise of gifts in exchange for hosting Odysseus five years ago in his home. Also true to Odysseus' nature, the story pains Laertes so much that Odysseus ends his ruse and admits who he really is. Then it is Laertes' turn to doubt and he asks for a sign that he can trust. Odysseus shows him the scar from the boar and provides a count of the orchard trees and vines Laertes gave him when he was a boy. They go to the cottage to bathe before eating the meal Telemachus and the herders were sent ahead to prepare. Athena makes Laertes impressively taller and more muscular. Laertes, now looking and feeling like a renewed man, wishes he could have stood with Odysseus in killing the suitors.

The families of the suitors begin to get word of their deaths and gather for revenge. Medon and Hilitherses persuade half of the mob to quit, but Antinuous' father, Epeithes leads the rest in arms against Odysseus. Athena asks Zeus what he will do. Zeus reminds Athena that it was her idea for Odysseus to kill the suitors, but then suggests the opposing sides should simply agree that Odysseus will be the king of Ithaca all his days, and the gods will make the families forget the murdered suitors allowing them to live in friendship, peace and prosperity.

The angry mob gathers outside the cottage and Athena breathes strength to Laertes allowing him to cast a spear that pierces Eupeithes helmet killing him. Odysseus and Telemachus charge the mob, but Athena commands them to stop causing the mob to drop their weapons and run. When Odysseus yells and begins to take after them, Zeus hurls a flaming thunderbolt at his feet and Athena commands him to stop. We are told both sides swear binding oaths to each other per Zeus' suggestion. . .the end.

Did anyone feel cheated by the simple abruptness of this divine fairytale ending of both the feud and the story? Why or why not is this an appropriate ending? What other ways to end the story would be both appropriate and satisfying?


message 3: by David (new)

David | 2737 comments Cphe wrote: "Have to wonder if Odysseus and Penelope would have continued to feel as strongly about each other if they hadn't have had such a long separation."

Are you suggesting familiarity breeds contempt? Is Odysseus likable? Is Penelope likeable? Do they seem compatible in certain ways?


message 4: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 337 comments David wrote: "Did anyone feel cheated by the simple abruptness of this divine fairytale ending of both the feud and the story? Why or why not is this an appropriate ending? What other ways to end the story would be both appropriate and satisfying? "

My edition says that is believed that the original Odysseys finishes in Book XXIII, line 301. It would be a better ending, for me.


message 5: by Marieke (new)

Marieke | 98 comments First of all, I agree the ending is a little abrupt and I too thought the last bit, after the climax of killing all the suitors and the reunion with Penelope, seems a bitt weird or of. Then again, this is how I look at it with my modern eyes, used to the happy ending fairytales where good prevails over evil.
I can imagine ancient greeks having somewhat different thoughts about that. In their world it might've been a very unrealistic suggestion to leave it at that, because you would have the problem with grieving kin, as the villains in the book aren't isolated, pure evil creatures, but (at least in the setting of the story) real people wiht loved once that will grieve them and seek revenge, as keeping honour was very important (as is also proved time and time again in the Odyssey).
I can relate to the last bit being added later on to give an explanation about why Ithaka wasn't ruined by some blood feud.

Apart from that, what I noticed is that Athene has a habit of making people taller and more muscular (younger looking) than they were just before. This happens to Odysseus a couple of times, and here to Laertes. I couldn't help but think it might not have been Athena who has to be credited for that. Imagine thinking your son has died for years now, but still not knowing what happened exactly and then realising he stands in front of you? I can imgagine this does wonders for your health/posture etc.


message 6: by David (last edited Jun 20, 2018 08:16PM) (new)

David | 2737 comments Rafael wrote: "My edition says that is believed that the original Odysseys finishes in Book XXIII, line 301. It would be a better ending, for me."

But if you stop there, does it leave too much unfinished business?


message 7: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 337 comments It says that after that point is a later addition.

I don't know. Finishing after the slaughter would be a great ending. I don't know if the lines is the same in different editions, but the supposed original ending is when Odysseus lies with Penelope.


message 8: by Ian (new)

Ian Slater (yohanan) | 619 comments Rafael wrote: "It says that after that point is a later addition.

I don't know. Finishing after the slaughter would be a great ending. ..."


The theories that the present conclusion is not original rely in part on arguments from language, which I can't judge, and in part on alleged inconsistencies with the rest of the poem, which I find trivial.

For example, the afterlife the dead suitors encounter in Book 24 doesn't match with what Odysseus tells the Phaeacians that he saw there, all those years before: but that description is internally inconsistent in itself, anyway. (Assertions that these differences are due to interpolations used to be common: I don't think that they are in so much favor any more.)

I don't know if any analytic critic ever suggested that the present ending comes from *another* "Odyssey," a rival version, otherwise lost -- the nineteenth century saw a lot of lost sources postulated, on much less evidence. Or, on the other hand, that the present ending was once part of the beginning of the sequel in which Odysseus once again departs, this time with the oar that is to be taken to be a winnowing fan, in order to appease Poseidon.


message 9: by John (new)

John Seymour | 53 comments David wrote: "Cphe wrote: "Have to wonder if Odysseus and Penelope would have continued to feel as strongly about each other if they hadn't have had such a long separation."

Are you suggesting familiarity breeds contempt? Is Odysseus likable? Is Penelope likeable? Do they seem compatible in certain ways?"


Well, Eurycleia does seem to think Penelope would be gratified to have seen Odysseus slaughter the suitors "Spattered with blood and filth like a lion."


message 10: by John (new)

John Seymour | 53 comments David wrote: "Book 24
In Hades, while Agamemnon and Achilles discuss their deaths and we are provided a description of Achilles glorious wartime funeral, Hermes ushers in the newly dead suitors. Agamemnon recogn..."


I loved this scene. Amphimedon tells an extremely one-sided story leaving out the suitors abuse of hospitality and their scheming to murder Telemachus, completely clueless to the fact that they are lamenting their poor treatment to a man who was murdered by his wife's lover who she took while he was away fighting the Trojans. Of course, Agamemnon is delighted at Penelope and Odysseus' conduct.


message 11: by John (new)

John Seymour | 53 comments When Telemachus assures Odysseus of his courage in battle, Laertes responds "Dear gods, how great a day you've given me! Indeed I'm happy now: a who sees his son and grandson vie in bravery" which reminded me of Psalm 127: 4-5.

4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
KJV


message 12: by Susan (last edited Jun 21, 2018 05:03AM) (new)

Susan | 528 comments John wrote: "When Telemachus assures Odysseus of his courage in battle, Laertes responds "Dear gods, how great a day you've given me! Indeed I'm happy now: a who sees his son and grandson vie in bravery" which ..."

Laertes is a puzzling character, at least to me. Why is he off in the country tending to crops while Penelope and Telemachus are besieged by the suitors? And what happened to the guy Odysseus left in charge instead, who is mentioned briefly early on, but never reappears...It makes me wonder if the suitors could have been nipped in the bud, when they started showing up. But of course, that wouldn’t make much of a story


message 13: by Ignacio (new)

Ignacio | 139 comments A couple of things I've been wondering as I finish the book ... I noticed several times night comes, people go to sleep, then rise at dawn. Do we know how many days the Odyssey is supposed to take? I'm sure some scholar somewhere has figured it out. I mean, counting from when Odysseus is discovered by Nausicaa and begins to tell his adventures to the Phaecians (which I admit is an arbitrary starting point). Just curious but I don't feel like going back and doing the math myself, haha

Also in terms of timing: when do the suitors begin to pester Penelope to marry? I don't know if I'm understanding it correctly, but they say she kept them at bay for 3 years supposedly weaving the shroud; then when she was found out, it seems now she has run out of options, so it hasn't been that long. What happened before that? If Odysseus has been gone for 10 years since the end of the war, was there a period of 7 years that people waited before they decided he must be dead, and thus Penelope should be compelled to marry?


message 14: by Ignacio (new)

Ignacio | 139 comments I just love how Penelope "tests" Odysseus. She says "we have our ways to recognize each other, / through secret signs known only to us two" (Wilson 23.108-109). Telemachus scolds her for not immediately embracing her husband, but I get the sense Odysseus is proud of her cautious approach, which perhaps reassures him she has been cautious all these years. This is one of the scenes that makes me think they are two of a kind, and love and admire each other.

I also love how Athena "held night back, / restraining golden Dawn beside the Ocean" so Odysseus and Penelope can have all the time they want that night.


message 15: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 537 comments On the topic of Laertes' retirement, I get this sense that this was the archetype of prudent withdrawal from political affairs. He is holed up in his country farm, "po' boying" it (shabby clothes) until things improve, or until he dies.

There is not a contradiction between Laertes living on one farm, and Euamaeus tending another. That is supposed to show how rich Odysseus really is.

Book as a whole: Loved it. Perhaps not as much as when I read it in high school, but it is a ripping yarn.


message 16: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 337 comments John wrote: "David wrote: "Book 24
In Hades, while Agamemnon and Achilles discuss their deaths and we are provided a description of Achilles glorious wartime funeral, Hermes ushers in the newly dead suitors. Ag..."


One thing that I thought interesting was that he reveals that they mistreated Odysseus as a beggar

Now the swineherd brought his master, clad in mean raiment, in the likeness of a woeful and aged beggar, leaning on a staff, and miserable was the raiment that he wore about his body; and not one of us could know that it was he, [160] when he appeared so suddenly, no, not even those that were older men, but we assailed him with evil words and with missiles.

Here he shows that he thought that the contest was Odysseus' suggestion

Then in his great cunning he bade his wife set before the wooers his bow and the grey iron to be a contest for us ill-fated men and the beginning of death.

Well, if it was I forget this part. Showing that here he is not some kind of an omniscient narrator.


message 17: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 337 comments I really liked this reading. The Odyssey is one of the best books ever written.

I watched a movie that is said to be a retelling of The Odyssey, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Do you watched it? I don't remember well about the movie so I cannot compare them. A series that belongs to my childhood is The Odyssey. I rewatched so many times when I was a kid. I remember that some scenes are pretty faithful to the book.


message 18: by David (last edited Jun 21, 2018 02:27PM) (new)

David | 2737 comments Rafael wrote: "One thing that I thought interesting was that he reveals that they mistreated Odysseus as a beggar."

Yes, even dead and in Hades, the suitors still don't seem to get it and paint an ugly picture of themselves.

I wonder of the death of the suitors swings the cosmic balance back in balance for Agamemnon?


message 19: by David (new)

David | 2737 comments Christopher wrote: "On the topic of Laertes' retirement, I get this sense that this was the archetype of prudent withdrawal from political affairs. He is holed up in his country farm, "po' boying" it (shabby clothes) ..."

He seemed to me to a father completely destroyed by his son's absence and the probability that he suffered some undignified death somewhere that he prematurely withdrew from life because he no longer had the stomach to be so engaged. I think this is demonstrated by Laertes renewal and transformation upon Odysseus' return and his re-engagement with Ithaca and politics by wishing to do battle with his son against their enemies. I think Marieke is also right, we don't need a god to explain Laertes' renewal.


message 20: by Susan (new)

Susan | 528 comments Ignacio wrote: I also love how Athena "held night back, / restraining golden Dawn beside the Ocean" so Odysseus and Penelope can have all the time they want that night. “

****

Yes, Penelope and Odysseus seem to be two of a kind. And their conversation with its sense of timelessness while Athena holds night back reminds me of the wonderful line in Paradise Lost “With thee conversing, I forget all time.”



message 21: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1724 comments Rafael wrote: "I really liked this reading. The Odyssey is one of the best books ever written.

I watched a movie that is said to be a retelling of The Odyssey, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Do you watched it? I do..."


Yes, I saw the movie when it first came out. I thought it was great. I loved how it took different episodes from the Odyssey and modified them.


message 22: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1724 comments For those of you interested in re-imaginings/re-interpretations of the Odyssey and Iliad, I can recommend a couple of great books:

Omeros by Derek Walcott

An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn

War Music: An Account of Homer's Iliad by Christopher Logue


message 23: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 537 comments Cphe wrote: "Question:

On the cover of the Penguin Edition what scene is depicted ?

Is it meant to be from The Odyssey?"


Cphe: this cover?



Seems to be Odysseus tied to the mast to hear the sirens' song.


message 24: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 537 comments This, if I had to guess, is Menelaus wrestling with Proteus.




message 25: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1724 comments Some thoughts:

I’ve read the Odyssey several times, but this time around I found myself increasingly critical of Odysseus. Maybe the older I get, the less tolerance I have for his behavior. It might help to think of him as Thomas suggested in one of his messages—as a soldier returning from war who faces challenges abandoning his “warrior” mode and integrating into civilian life. Maybe then I’ll approach him with more compassion.

It bothers me we never see Odysseus struggling with his conscience. Odysseus is self-assured; he doesn’t doubt himself. We see him weeping several times, but we are not told why. Does he weep because of the atrocities he committed? Because of his lost comrades? Because he feels sorry for himself and just wants to go home? We don’t know. People who don’t question themselves or their actions, especially when they cause so much death and destruction, freak me out.

The only time I really liked Odysseus is when he was with Circe. Yes, the Circe who turned his men into pigs and then turned them back again. The two had a healthy relationship based on mutual trust, treating each other as equals after cementing their union on Circe’s “flawless bed of love.” No lies, no deceit. And when he announces, “This has been great, honey, but I’ve got to be off,” Circe doesn’t mope and get all clingy on him. She doesn’t try to bribe him with immortality (à la Calypso); she doesn’t plead with him to have his baby (à la Dido and Aeneas). She just says, “Of course, you can go, dearie. I’ll help you. But you must make a small detour first . . .”

Circe is actually my favorite character in the Odyssey, which probably comes as no surprise :)


message 26: by David (new)

David | 2737 comments Tamara wrote: "Some thoughts:

I’ve read the Odyssey several times, but this time around I found myself increasingly critical of Odysseus. Maybe the older I get, the less tolerance I have for his behavior. It mig..."


Interesting answer to the question, Is Odysseus a likable character?

I want to like Odysseus but he scares me. He scares me because an English teacher once called me a survivor. Odysseus is clearly a survivor. I am no Odysseus, but we seem to share a flaw more than I would like to admit. To me, that flaw is that despite all of his wiles and cunning he is more reactive than proactive. He should know better. He does not think things through and the results are that the gods treat him like a tennis ball and hit him all over the court. He could have easily avoided many a backhand here and a many a lob there. What saves him from total disaster is that he is smart, talented, and opportunistic in bad situations so he survives but at the cost of causing pain to himself and those he is with depending upon him. What seems to bother Tamara is that Odysseus doesn't cry because he makes mistakes, he cries because things happen to him. The gods are both his scapegoats and his saviors.


message 27: by Tamara (last edited Jun 22, 2018 03:37AM) (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1724 comments David wrote: "What seems to bother Tamara is that Odysseus doesn't cry because he makes mistakes, he cries because things happen to him..."

It's not so much that I want him to cry because he made mistakes. It's just that I want him to acknowledge he made mistakes and express remorse.


message 28: by David (last edited Jun 21, 2018 08:19PM) (new)

David | 2737 comments Cphe wrote: "Question: On the cover of the Penguin Edition what scene is depicted ? Is it meant to be from The Odyssey?"

One would hope so, but it appears the scene is not from the Odyssey at all. I found a pic of the back of the book and the notes on the bottom read:
Cover art: (detail) Black figure kylix. Heracles struggling
with the sea god Triton, ca. 550 B.C., in the Museo
Nassonale Archeology. Tarquina, Italy
That lead me to the link below which seems to confirm it.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. (1894). Kylix depicting Hercules wrestling with Triton. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/it...
The people around the border are described as "a chorus of youths".

How about that: cover art as deceptive as Odysseus himself!
description


message 29: by David (new)

David | 2737 comments Tamara wrote: " It's just that I want him acknowledge he made mistakes and express remorse."

In his mind, he didn't do anything; instead things were done to him. Therefore I do not think Odysseus holds himself accountable for any of it. Why then would he express remorse over mistakes he does not think he made?


message 30: by Rafael (new)

Rafael da Silva (morfindel) | 337 comments This tale is at the same time a humility lesson: "my deeds were not mine, but divine-made." And at the same time a dangerous one: "no matter what I did, I was fulfilling the gods will" and "I should not be remorseful, I was only a tool in the gods hands".


message 31: by Tamara (last edited Jun 22, 2018 03:40AM) (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1724 comments Rafael wrote: "This tale is at the same time a humility lesson: "my deeds were not mine, but divine-made." And at the same time a dangerous one: "no matter what I did, I was fulfilling the gods will" and "I shoul..."

Exactly. Which leads us back to a point David made in an earlier message--people who commit all sorts of heinous crimes but claim they are just doing God's will.


message 32: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1724 comments David wrote: "In his mind, he didn't do anything; instead things were done to him. Therefore I do not think Odysseus holds himself accountable for any of it..."

That is the problem I have with Odysseus. He doesn't hold himself accountable when he needs to because of some of the things he's done.

A related issue that emerged for me as a result of our discussion is the question of agency. Are the characters exercising agency when they say and/or behave the way they do? Or are they puppets being manipulated by a master puppeteer to bring about a pre-determined outcome?

It seems to me it’s a bit of both, but the lines between agency and manipulation blur quickly and bleed into each other. It’s hard to know where the one begins and the other ends. How does one determine the degree of human culpability when much of what happens is due to Athena’s choreography?


message 33: by David (new)

David | 2737 comments Cphe wrote: "hmmmmm........just thought I'd ask!!"

I suppose it is at least reminiscent of the feud between Odysseus' and Poseidon. Maybe they found the bowl on Crete?


message 34: by David (last edited Jun 22, 2018 08:21PM) (new)

David | 2737 comments Tamara wrote: "Are the characters exercising agency when they say and/or behave the way they do?"

Athena seems to think there are times.
[14.340] And Athena, her eyes glinting blue:
“Ah, that mind of yours! That’s why
I can’t leave you when you’re down and out:
Because you’re so intelligent and self-possessed.
Any other man come home from hard travels
[14.345] Would rush to his house to see his children and wife.



message 35: by Ignacio (new)

Ignacio | 139 comments Susan wrote: "Laertes is a puzzling character, at least to me. Why is he off in the country tending to crops while Penelope and Telemachus are besieged by the suitors?"

I always figured he was depressed and therefore unable/unwilling to manage any affairs, but I like Christopher's idea that it's a prudent withdrawal from public life. It looks as if the family "estates" are treated as completely separate ...

I find the recognition scenes in the final books of the Odyssey very moving, but for some reason the one with his father is the one I find most touching. Odysseus decides to "test" his old man the way he's done with the others, but he just can't keep it up. He begins to tell a false tale about himself, but he stops when Laertes breaks down sobbing at the mention of his son's name:

Odysseus felt heart-wrenched to see his own
beloved father in this state; sharp pain
pierced through his nostrils. He rushed up to him
and threw his arms around him, kissing him,
and saying, "Father! It is me! I have
been gone for twenty years, and now am home,
in my own father's country. Stop your tears.
[24.319-325]


message 36: by Ignacio (new)

Ignacio | 139 comments I have always felt, like others, that the ending is really abrupt. But I'm not convinced that means it's been interpolated. In the previous book they seem to be setting it up: Odysseus says: "We must not / allow the news about the suitors' murder / to spread too far until we reach the woods / of our estate" (23.135-38). There is some awareness that some sort of confrontation will take place (?).

I do feel that the ending with our hero and his wife in the olive tree bed is more satisfying, but I wonder if for a Greek audience, the ending with Athena's intervention is more satisfying (even if brief and abrupt) because it restores order and stops what could be an endless cycle of violence.


message 37: by David (new)

David | 2737 comments Is Odysseus is any wiser for all of his 20 years of war and wandering?


message 38: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 537 comments Do you mean, like, after spending twenty years trying to get home, how soon before he sets off on another adventure?


message 39: by David (new)

David | 2737 comments Christopher wrote: "Do you mean, like, after spending twenty years trying to get home, how soon before he sets off on another adventure?"

At the end of a Great Courses lecture audio, Science in the Twentieth Century: A Social-Intellectual Survey the author, Steven L Goldman, compared his lectures to an odyssey of sorts and hoped that we had become a little wiser after listening to them like Odysseus after his Odyssey and unlike Leopold Bloom was not after his. I am questioning the accuracy of that comparison between Bloom and Odysseus. I missed our read of Ulysses, but do you think Odysseus learned anything or understands more about himself or the world from his experiences?


message 40: by John (new)

John Seymour | 53 comments Ignacio wrote: "A couple of things I've been wondering as I finish the book ... I noticed several times night comes, people go to sleep, then rise at dawn. Do we know how many days the Odyssey is supposed to take?..."

Interesting - I hadn't noticed it before, but seven years is the common law rule for how long a person must be missing before being declared dead. Makes one wonder if there was a tie.


message 41: by John (new)

John Seymour | 53 comments Tamara wrote: "Rafael wrote: "I really liked this reading. The Odyssey is one of the best books ever written.

I watched a movie that is said to be a retelling of The Odyssey, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Do you w..."


I also saw that shortly after it came out. May be time for another sitting.


message 42: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4617 comments Tamara wrote: "It bothers me we never see Odysseus struggling with his conscience. Odysseus is self-assured; he doesn’t doubt himself. We see him weeping several times, but we are not told why. ."

Your observation makes me think about where conscience come from. What sort of conscience we should expect of a warrior? How do we arrive at standards of conduct? Who is the role model for Odysseus?

But these are questions that never occur to Odysseus, because as you say, he is entirely self assured, at least as a warrior. His moments of doubt concern the people he loves, because he can't take love by force. So there's doubt there, and he tests them. He doesn't test himself, it's true, but perhaps this is unnecessary when the journey home is itself an epic trial of his resolve.


message 43: by David (last edited Jun 25, 2018 03:34PM) (new)

David | 2737 comments Thomas wrote: "Tamara wrote: "It bothers me we never see Odysseus struggling with his conscience. Odysseus is self-assured; he doesn’t doubt himself. We see him weeping several times, but we are not told why. ."

At a slightly different angle, I was surprised by the amount of doubt expressed in the book. Telemachus and Odysseus both doubt Athena, to her face, which were fun bits of comedic blasphemy. Of course Athena chides them for it and reassures them. And of course things always play out in a way that makes the doubt nothing more than unnecessary suffering.


message 44: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 4617 comments David wrote: "At a slightly different angle, I was surprised by the amount of doubt expressed in the book. ."

Do you think the degree of his doubt changes in the course of the book? Does he learn anything? If he had to do it all over again, would he still make the same mistakes? It doesn't appear that he has any regrets or feels any guilt, but I wonder if he would taunt Polyphemus again, or lose control of his crew on Helios's island, or fail to tell his crew the truth about the winds of Aeolus.


message 45: by David (new)

David | 2737 comments Thomas wrote: "David wrote: "At a slightly different angle, I was surprised by the amount of doubt expressed in the book. ."

Do you think the degree of his doubt changes in the course of the book? Does he learn ..."


I do not think his doubting changed the course of the book, but it changed my perception of Odysseus. His doubts, when he had them, made him a little less of an infallible hero hero on autopilot and a little more human. It is also added another important nuance to his personality. He does doubt, he is apprehensive about some things, and he needs reassurance at times like the rest of us, and he carries on despite his reservations.


message 46: by Tamara (new)

Tamara Agha-Jaffar | 1724 comments I would like to pause for a second and express our collective gratitude to David now that we have concluded our discussion of the Odyssey.

Even though we knew Everyman’s condition was deteriorating, the news of his death came as a shock to all of us. We were stunned. We struggled to cope with his loss as well as to find the best way to announce the news of his death to the group. Meanwhile, David jumped in and picked up the discussion of the remaining books of the Odyssey to make sure there would be no interruption. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him to do so because Everyman’s loss is felt deeply by all of us.

So, thank you, David. Thank you for doing a great job under such difficult circumstances.


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