Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Odyssey: Book 15

The Odyssey The Prince Sets Sail for Home

Athena speaks as Telemachus' conscience,

wrong to rove so far,
so long from home, leaving your own holdings
unprotected--crowds in your palace so brazen (11-13)
I try to imagine this, thinking of the gods as real elements that affect one's life, thinking of the voice in one's head as that of a god. What makes one's own thought different from a deity's? How does one tell the difference? I have felt a difference in what one could call shamanic experiences, yet at the same time I could recognize those experiences as coming from me, and I could recognize they were more vibrant experiences the more I allowed a suspension of disbelief. Anyway, how useful is that? Leave home to seek long-lost Daddy..."The goddess made me do it." Then, when you have second thoughts and think you better scurry on home, again, "The goddess made me do it."

It sure is useful when a goddess tells you there's an ambush ahead, as Athena tells of the scurrilous suitors waiting for T's return. Also useful when she tells him to go to the swineherd first, where Odysseus already has arrived. Snap!

How hard can it be to take your leave. Apparently quite a tactician's task. There's the feasts one must attend, the gifts one must accept, and the obligatory time one must put in to receive such. It is a delicate maneuver to try to leave Menelaus' home quickly. On his way back T avoids the same obligation to Nestor with the help of Nestor's son. He also picks up an exiled refugee, the seer Theoclymenus. He echoes the prophecy of several with yet another sighting of an eagle carrying prey...signifying Odysseus killing the usurpers in his home.

Meanwhile Odysseus plies the swineherd for news of his home, after the man insists he should wait for Telemachus, who would give him food and clothing. Eumaeus says...
But from Queen Penelope I never get a thing,
never a winning word, no friendly gesture--
not since this, this plague has hit the house--
these high and mighty suitors. (419-422)
Odysseus also asks for the story of Eumaeus. The man was stolen when a small child by his wet-nurse who herself had been enslaved. Human trafficking was rather common back then it seems.

Telemachus makes it past the ambush, and has Piraeus take in the gifts and the wandering seer while T stops off at the swineherd's hut.

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