Monday, November 10, 2008

The Odyssey, Bk 2: Telemachus Sets Sail

The Odyssey The true son of Odysseus sprang from bed and dressed.

Telemachus does as Athena bid...gathered the people, and named the suitors for the hooligans they were.

Suitors plague my mother--against her will--
sons of the very men who are your finest here! (54-55)
The people are speechless.
Pity seized the assembly.
All just sat there, silent...
no one had the heart to reply with harshness. (87-89)
Contrast this with the suitors. One Antinous (what did I tell ya?):
"So high and might, Telemachus--such unbridled rage!
It's not the suitors here who deserve the blame,
It's your own dear mother, the matchless queen of cunning...." (91, 94-95)
Yeeeaaaah. Riiight. She was asking for it. She shouldn't dress that way. She was leading us on. Wow, that excuse is as old as....Homer. There's no coercion here, no sir:
...we caught her in the act--unweaving her gorgeous web.
So she finished it off. Against her will. We forced her. (121-122)
Telemachus responds, and Zeus sends a sign. Halitherses interprets. Odysseus will return and oust the suitors. The usurpers think they know better. Eurymachus has a prophecy of his own. Isn't that the way of all bullies? Let me predict for you how I will beat you up...
The prince's wealth will be devoured as always,
mercilessly--no reparations, ever...not
while the queen drags out our hopes to wed her... (225-227)
Again with the 'she led us on.'

It's not enough for the usurpers to occupy the home of Odysseus, they must mock those with less power. Telemachus ignores them, but gathers supplies as Athena instructed. While he'd made a public declaration, he proceeded secretly. Note to self:it sure helps secret plans to have a goddess act as your double.
Then bright-eyed Pallus thought of one more step.
Disguised as the prince, the goddess roamed through town,
pausing beside each likely crewman, giving orders... (422-424)
Another note to self: it sure is a confidence-booster to have a goddess on your team.
And Pallus Athena sped away in the lead
as he followed in her footsteps, man and goddess.
Once they reached the ship at the water's edge
they found their long-haired shipmates on the beach.
The prince, inspired, gave his first commands... (446-450)

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