Friday, May 27, 2016

TFBT: Random Comments on the Telemachus


At Hour 25 we were discussing “The Telemachus” that’s the portion of Odysseus’ epic more concerned with the son than the father.   When I read, “Meanwhile lovely Polykaste, Nestor’s youngest daughter, washed Telemachus.” I recalled that according to Eustathius, commentary on Homer (Eustath. ad Hom. l.c.Polycaste by Telemachus became the mother of Perseptolis. Makes me wonder about Helen bathing Odysseus. “I was bathing him and anointing him with oil, and had put on him raiment,” Hmm. I wondered if Menelaus suspected anything. Homer gives not indication. 

“He (Telemachus) still does not know why his father was not granted a safe return like Nestor who was granted a safe nostos.” We discussed this a while back.  Odysseus intially headed out with Nestor and Diomedes. He could have had a safe homecoming, but for some reason he turned around and went back. 

I am always struck at the similiarity between Nestor and Priam. Both elderly heroes, with the former living the life the latter could have had. Both set upon their thrones at young ages by a lion-skin clad demi-god who’d just slaughtered the rest of their family.

• “Take the reins and rule your state, sitting on your father’s throne, but wield the sceptre with better faith.” (Heracles 1 to Priam 1. Seneca, Troades 718ff.).

• Nestor speaking at Hom. Il. xi. 692 “For mighty Heracles had come and oppressed us in the years that were before, and all that were our bravest had been slain. Twelve were we that were sons of peerless Neleus, and of these I alone was left, and all the rest had perished”


  1. I wonder, how was the youngest maiden in the house allowed to assist in the bathing of a young male guest? This setting reminds me of the modern term "assisted reproduction".

    By the end of the same scroll, the sacrifice of a heifer is described. I have used it in my description of the Mecone sacrifice. What puzzles me is that in the translations I have read, the heifer is slaughtered without being stunned first.

  2. Maya,

    I thought I read the stunning thing in Walter Burkett, right? That whole ceremony seems a little too idealized to me. Reality is never as pretty as the ideal.