Saturday, April 25, 2015

TFBT; Homeric Moments, Part II

TFBT; Homeric Moments, Part II

I am still enjoying Eva Brann's book, but it is inter-library loan and must be returned today. 


I really enjoyed her rather poetic observation on the effect of wearing Achilles armor on those who did it.   “Hector stripped and donned Patroclus’ armor… (so) Achilles sees before him Patroclus as he looked when Achilles last bade him goodbye! But there is something more eerie; He is confronting himself, as he looked before his friends’ death - Achilles, son of Peleus, dressed in his father’s armor…As he spear finds it way into Hector’s collarbone, it is not the hated other alone whom he transfixes, but two intimate beings besides; his dead friend and his old self.”


Famously the Cypria informs us that Zeus and Themis conspired to ignite the wars at Thebes and Troy to relieve the earth of the burden of the tribes of men.  Specifically the demi-gods.   Their plot is the much discussed "Will of Zeus" in the Iliad.  What was the Will of Zeus in the Odyssey.   Brann says “the odyssey is a foregone conclusion. Polyphemus remembers an old Cyclopean seer’s prophecy that Odysseus would come to blind him, only he didn’t expect so puny a creature. Circe has been told of his coming by Hermes and the Phaeacians have an old prophecy about him"  Admittedly just because something is foretold doesn't mean it is pre-ordained.  But later she says, "…Aelous angrily refuses (to) help; he cannot aid a man who was come, "as you have,hated by the gods.”  Aelous is a bit of a god himself and not talking about Poseidon, but rather which ever of the gods put the idea into the heads of Odysseus' foolish men to open the bag of contrary winds.  So is there more to the story of the Odyssey?    


Odysseus himself, as he tells his tale, never calls on the Muses…Homer sings though Odysseus only tells - lyreless.”  Which explains the beginning of the Odyssey where Homer asks the “Muse to tell” the story rather than asking the “Goddess to sing” as he did in the Iliad.  Recall too that 80% of the Odyssey is told by Odysseus rather than Homer.


Other interesting notions;

  • Nestor’s name means “returner” from nostos 
  • Helen is never more beautiful than when she give this boy the recognition that make him Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, a young man. “  
  • Helen seduced Odysseus at Troy! “by bathing and oiling him and his telling her all the Greeks plans. 
  • Every skipper has a problem with sleep, but (Odysseus) sleeping is perfectly timed for disaster  
  • With the deftness of a minstrel he strings his great ancestral bow, with the easy smooth motion of a skilled singer who inspects his lyre, trying the tuning of the instrument, and “its sang easily under his fingers, like a swallow in voice. “  
  • “Achilles is fully conscious of exchanging worldly time for underworldly fame.”  
  • Indeed, Odysseus, who is in fact called “hero” only once in the Odyssey.”
  • “The report of her courage has reached Nestor’s palace and so it only makes us smile to notice that she is never mentioned in Helen’s house.”  
  • “Someone might say that these lost men, including finally the crew of Odysseus’ flagship itself, are only the mostly faceless and nameless extras of the voyage.”  
  • “Grain- or bread-eaters is what the Greeks call mortals.”  
  •  “Zeus is nothing to this son of Poseidon(Polyphemus)” 
  • “Heracles’ phantom has gone down to Hades forever, but “he himself is with the immortal gods

1 comment:

  1. I'm still reading the Odyssey, and got to this:

    "I think more than one of those Suitors who swallow your possessions will stain the wide earth with his blood and brains." (14:395-396)

    I cannot say why, but while the "blood" bit sounds almost innocent to me, the "brains" bit makes me imagine Athena as a double of Artemis, some Bronze Age (or maybe even Stone Age) cannibal idol demanding human sacrifices.