But his pride in his name foreshadows Odysseus' questionable judgment in identifying himself during the escape from Polyphemus. | The original Greek version of this poem does not have alliteration. The next four books (Books 9-12) deal with the hero's wanderings and are the most widely known in the epic. Having feasted on goat meat on an offshore island, Odysseus and his men could move on. Much comment has been made on the complex, perhaps even convoluted, structure of the poem, but it allows for the juxtaposition of characters and situations that in turn augment some of the pervasive themes of the story. The Cyclops, whom the wanderers visit next, contrast most vividly with the Phaeacians. More important, the variation of 158-161 ~ 300-306 in Book 9 of the Iliad is essential to the master plot of the whole composition. The cold and wild is dispelled by the warm and gentle, just as Odysseus’ homecoming will drive out the wildness of the Suitors and the frozen, sorrowful state of his wife. Throughout the Odyssey the past interpolates the present, as is the case in Book 9, where, in the comfort of the Phaecian palace, Odysseus tells of his misfortunes following the Greeks’ triumph at Troy. Retrospection is continually accompanied by exhibitions of grief, as Odysseus acknowledges at the start of Book 9: But you have a mind to draw out of meMy pains and sorrow, and make me feel it again. Or, if the Fates have already determined that he must, then may he arrive late, broken, and alone, finding great troubles in his household (9.590-95). Reece argues that the scene follows the pattern of hospitality shown earlier by the Phaeacians (as well as Nestor and Menelaus), but that the conventions are continually reversed.4 Thus, the revelation of the guest’s real name occurs on departure rather than arrival; the guest is interrogated before, rather than after the meal, as was tradition; the gifts exchanged (Odysseus’ wine and Polyphemus’ sardonic promise) are intent on destruction; and the host issues a curse rather than a blessing as his guest leaves. 77-89, 172-185 Steve Reece, The Stranger’s Welcome: Oral Theory and the Aesthetics of the Homeric Hospitality Scene, University of Michegan Press 1993, Ch. fathom a unit of length equal to six feet, used to measure the depth of water. Self-preservation through self-suppression is one of the poem’s pervasive ironies. As he is drinking, the Cyclops demands to know Odysseus' name. Nor are his words hollow, and time and again in the Odyssey he proves himself to be a warrior of the sharpest intelligence, as the meticulously prepared death of the Suitors demonstrates (Bk.22). (9.454-55). We are being offered an opposing testimony to that in Book 2, one that places the ‘fault’ at the feet of the Suitors rather than Penelope. Homer offers the perspective of firstly, the divine; secondly, the human; and thirdly, the dead.The Odyssey is a poem of perspectival shifts, but equally temporal shifts. The Lotus-eaters have no interest in killing the Greeks; the danger is the lotus and the forgetfulness it causes. Beth Cohen, Oxford University Press 1995 Peter Jones, Homer’s Odyssey: A Companion to the English Translation of Richard Lattimore, Bristol Classical Press 1988, pp. On occasions, the poet uses this narrative technique in collusion with another irony. If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. Both these characters are alienated from […], Survival in Auschwitz is a memoir written by Primo Levi, an Italian Jewish survivor of the Holocaust who was sent to and worked in the Auschwitz-Monowitz labor camp during the […], In Canto XIII of Dante’s Inferno, one of the most pitiful souls that Dante comes in contact with is Piero delle Vigne. Odysseus loses six men from each of his ships and is lucky to get away by sea. Homer didn't use alliteration in this poem, and there aren't that many examples of it in ancient Greek texts. (19.168-170) Here, the language is that of coercion, incarceration, even violence. See in text (Book I). Note the use of alliteration here in the repetition of the "s" at the beginning of each word. Importantly, Polyphemus’ bastardisation of guest-friendship resonates with the later transgressions of the Suitors, who devour the wealth of their host’s household and react with aggression towards anyone they consider to be a beggar. Note the use of alliteration here in the repetition of the "s" at the beginning of each word. Even when she breaks down in front of him, her grief a sure sign of her love, he still maintains his disguise. It is therefore not surprising that, at times, there is only an oblique distinction between ‘characteristic’ and ‘theme’, as is the case with mêtis (intelligence / cunning). Even if Penelope does recognise Odysseus, this actually increases rather than decreases the irony of the scene. With apparent ease, they sack the city, kill the men, enslave the women, and enjoy a rich haul of plunder. Perhaps even more disturbing, though, is the hero’s conduct earlier in Book 9, at Ismaros: ‘I pillaged the town and killed the men.The women and treasure that we took outI divided as fairly as I could […]’ (9.42-44) The actions of Odysseus here seem all the more ruthless because firstly, the attack was unprovoked (unlike the blinding of Polyphemus or the death of the Suitors), and secondly, because he shows no remorse. ‘What could be finer than listening to a singer of tales?’Book 9 opens with what might be termed an apologia on the part of the poet: ‘what could be finer / Than listening to a singer of tales’ (9.2-3)1. Homer has touched on a universal theme, the lure of oblivion through drugs. With nothing but oceans between him and Ithaca and the god of the sea as his new enemy, Odysseus has paid a hefty price for his pride. On the one hand, Antinous addresses Telemachus as follows: It’s not the suitorsWho are at fault, but your own mother, (2.94-95) But, on the other hand, Penelope’s response to the situation is markedly different: The men barged in and caught me at it,And a howl went up. Both challenge and stretch the protagonist, be it emotionally, physically or mentally, and in the process of doing so the episodes emphasise and augment many of the pervasive thematic and narrative features of the epic. Having gained victory and considerable plunder, Odysseus wants to be on his way. This is not to say that Odysseus and his men are free of blame they enter the cave uninvited, quite happily feast on his stocks, then blind their host and make off with his flock. It is during this episode that Odysseus' judgment comes into question. Are you sure you want to remove #bookConfirmation# This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again. All rights reserved. Reputation is of paramount importance in this culture. Students familiar with some of the legends of The Odyssey but new to the epic itself might be surprised to see that the section on the Lotus-eaters is only about twenty-five lines long (9.92-107). Nine days later, he reaches the land of the Lotus-eaters. Some scholars suggest that Odysseus raids Ismarus because the Cicones are allies of the Trojans. This time, Odysseus' judgment prevails, and he manages to get his men back to sea before too many are seduced by the honey-sweet fruit that wipes out ambition and memory. When the giant passes out, the Greeks immediately seize their opportunity and grind the lance into the Cyclops' single eye, blinding him. The blood smeared hero’s refusal to ‘gloat over the slain’ in Book 22 (l.436) is indicative of him having learnt the lessons taught by his encounter with Polyphemus, where his departing gibes and boasts arouse Poseidon’s wrath. Many critics see Odysseus' wanderings as a series of trials or tests through which the hero attains a certain wisdom and prepares to be a great king as well as a great warrior. Homer has touched on a universal theme, the lure of oblivion through drugs. While the Phaeacians are civilized and peace loving, the Cyclops have no laws, no councils, and no interest in civility or hospitality. From an olivewood that the giant uses as a club, the Greeks fashion a pointed lance about a fathom (six feet) long and char the point to hardness. One of them, Polyphemus, traps Odysseus and a scouting party in his cave. His men, on the other hand, drink and feast as the Cicones gather reinforcements, skilled warriors who eventually rout the Greeks. [Odysseus] 9.497 powerful Polyphemus [Odysseus] (Homeric geography is suspect, but some scholars place this at or near Libya.). The retelling of the story in Book 19 is more than simply narrative repetition. Penelope relates these ‘wiles’ to her disguised husband in Book 19 (lines 154-177), and it is of significance that this is the second account of the episode in the Odyssey. It is the lair of Polyphemus, a Cyclops. Antinous cites Penelope as one ‘Who knows more tricks than any woman alive’ (2.96). As he rounds Cape Malea (near Cythera, north and slightly west of Crete), he needs only to swing north by northwest 300 miles or so to be home. For instance, Book 9 explores the conventions of hospitality and civility through a contrast between the Phaeacians and the Cyclopes. He thinks the Cyclops ‘a savage with no sense of right and wrong’ (9.206), but the paradox here is that right and wrong are themselves equivocal. 47-57, 79-108 1 Homer, Odyssey, trans. CliffsNotes study guides are written by real teachers and professors, so no matter what you're studying, CliffsNotes can ease your homework headaches and help you score high on exams. bookmarked pages associated with this title. If Odysseus is to survive, he must ultimately become wise as well as courageous and shrewd. Almost like layers of paint on a canvas, a portrait of the multifarious Odysseus is built up, and the same technique is used to portray other characters; Athene, for instance, is continually referred to as ‘grey-eyed’. Browse Library, Teacher Memberships As the protagonist of course, Odysseus is himself a galvanising force within the poem. Owl Eyes is an improved reading and annotating experience for classrooms, book clubs, and literature lovers. Students familiar with some of the legends of The Odyssey but new to the epic itself might be surprised to see that the section on the Lotus-eaters is only about twenty-five lines long (9.92-107). See in text (Book IX). 19: line 43, 76, 115, 178, 237, 285, 368, 416, 5464 Steve Reece, A Stranger’s Welcome: Oral Theory and the Aesthetics of the Homeric Hospitality Scene, University of Michigan Press 1993, pp.126-1435 Agathe Thornton, People and Themes in Homer’s Odyssey, Methuen 1970, p.566 This is, of course, fiercely debated. Odysseus barely gets them back to sea. Yet, there is a second key contrast in Book 19, between Odysseus the boy and Odysseus the man, and as in Book 9, it is achieved by means of a temporal shift in the narrative. At question is not the raid but Odysseus' men's foolish disregard for his advice. As Odysseus and his men sail away, however, Odysseus again employs questionable judgment, shouting taunts at the wounded monster. Odysseus escapes, but storms and a strong north wind drive his ships off course.
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