Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Odyssey, Bk 7: Phaeacia's Halls and Gardens

The Odyssey So he prayed there, the much-enduring goodly Odysseus

Not only does the princess tell Odysseus how to approach, so does Athena. He must approach the queen.

The queen is the first you'll light on in the halls.
Arete, she is called, and earns the name. (61-62)
Ah. A Virtuous one.

These people are rich, very very rich, as seafarers can be when things go as planned.
Walls plated in bronze, crowned with a circling frieze
glazed as blue as lapis, ran to left and right
from outer gates to the deepest court recess,
and solid gold doors enclosed the palace. (100-103)
Etc. Etc. Much gold, finely woven brocade, and "some fifty serving-women."
Just as Phaeacian men excel the world at sailing,
driving their swift ships on the open seas,
so the women excel at all the arts of weaving.
That is Athena's gift to them beyond all others--
a genius for lovely work, and a fine mind too. (124-128)
Athena wraps a fog around Odysseus all the way until he reaches the queen's knees. I don't get that. Wouldn't she be unnerved to find a man suddenly in front of her grabbing her knees? Everybody simply marveled.

Like Odysseus, I have found humble deprecation helps to win people over.
"Your majesty," diplomatic Odysseus answered,
"don't find fault with a flawless daughter now,
not for my sake, please.
She urged me herself to follow with her maids.
I chose not to, fearing embarrassment in fact--
what if you took offense, seeing us both together?
Suspicious we are, we men who walk the earth." (346-352)
A couple times now "a corded bed" is mentioned as though it is luxurious. To me that so would not be luxurious. I suppose it is as opposed to a cold hard floor, or in the straw with the horses.

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