We, as the audience or reader, are aware of what Penelope is not that the man she is questioning is, in fact, her own husband.6 And this in turn leads on to another major theme in the Odyssey, that of deception and identity. Bibliography Line numbers refer to the verse translation of Homer Odyssey by Stanley Lombardo (introduced by Sheila Murnaghan, Hackett 2000) and not to the original Greek text. Storms blow the ships off course, but they finally arrive at the land of the Lotus-eaters. The narrative then jumps back an entire decade as he proceeds to tell of his encounters with the Cicones, the Lotus-Eaters, and Polyphemus. The alliteration that exists in this poem is the result of translation. When the Cyclops leaves, Odysseus devises a plan. And this tension between the civilised and the savage, the hospitable and the inhospitable can be seen again in Book 19, as the tenderness of Eurycleia is set against the roughness of Melantho, who threatens to strike the disguised Odysseus with a torch (19.72-75). Get tips and ideas in OUTLINE. But his pride in his name foreshadows Odysseus' questionable judgment in identifying himself during the escape from Polyphemus. Reece points to a further inversion here, as the torch has associations with fire, warmth and shelter. It is for this reason that, as a king, he is prepared to suffer a pauper’s existence, and, as a hero, to accept anonymity. Odysseus eulogises Demodocus, the blind bard, and at the same time Homer eulogises his own art of storytelling an art that I will examine in the course of this essay, through two books that hold particular thematic prominence in the Odyssey. Yet perhaps the most striking image of sorrow in Book 19 is brought out by means of a simile: Snow deposited high in the mountains by the wild West WindSlowly melts under the East Wind’s breath,And as it melts the rivers rise in their channels. Read expert analysis on allusion in The Odyssey. bellwether a ram, usually castrated, that wears a bell around its neck and is followed by the other sheep. 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’. However, the translator used this poetic device not only to make the translation sound more poetic to the English reader. 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. If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. 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. 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. 9.1 Odysseus, the great teller of tales. 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. 47-57, 79-108 1 Homer, Odyssey, trans. Cookie information is stored in your browser and performs functions such as recognising you when you return to our website and helping our team to understand which sections of the website you find most interesting and useful. 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. 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. Penelope’s description of events matches that told in Book 2 (lines 101-120), by Antinous, word-for-word, but for the necessary move from third to first person. Throughout the poem the reader sees the protagonist grow the Odyssey is a journey towards self-discovery, as much as it is a journey home. 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). Yet, Odysseus’ self-label here also reflects the functional use of epithets within the narrative. Narrative techniques such as irony, viewpoints, epithets and similes serve to augment a whole spectrum of issues from hospitality and identity, to morality and loyalty. Stanley Lombardo, Hackett 2000 (see bibliography)2 Introduction to Lombardo, pp xviii3 References to Odysseus’ ‘teeming mind’ in Bk. 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. Readers should not confuse Odysseus' pride in identifying himself to the Phaeacian hosts with vanity. It is the lair of Polyphemus, a Cyclops. Homer does not want the audience to feel sorry for the Cyclops’s death because he is not a respectable creature. 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). dam the female parent of any four-legged animal. Homer also employs the repetition of certain syntactic units. Even when he is not occupying the foreground of the narrative, as in the Telemachy, Odysseus provides a centre for the actions and words of those on whom Homer does choose to focus. The Phaeacians once lived near the Cyclops but moved to Scheria to avoid the lawless brutes. The original Greek version of this poem does not have alliteration. The scar left by a boar’s tusk is a constant reminder to Odysseus of the dangers of rash behaviour. 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. However, this shift in perspective is important. Following the victory at Troy, he and his men sail to Ismarus, the stronghold of the Cicones. The Cicones gather reinforcements, counterattack, and eventually rout the Greeks. Find full texts with expert analysis in our extensive library. In Book 9, where Polyphemus is ‘like a mountain lion’ (9.285) and Odysseus’ men ‘like puppies’ (9.282), similes are employed in order to enhance the contrast between savage and gentle, might and weakness. The world of the Odyssey is a world of antitheses such as justice and injustice, and, like the weeping woman of Book 8, the divide between two contraries is sometimes only oblique. The next four books (Books 9-12) deal with the hero's wanderings and are the most widely known in the epic. Sentence on info. The wily hero says that it is "Nobody" (outis in the Greek). When Cyclops returns that night, he downs two more men for supper, and Odysseus offers him the skin's contents. Removing #book# The first of these, Book 9, involves Odysseus’ encounter with Polyphemus, the man-eating Cyclops, while in the second, Book 19, the hero, now in the guise of an old beggar, meets with his wife, Penelope. Browse Library, Teacher Memberships Certainly piracy and marauding were legitimate professions for Ithacans. Homer alludes multiple times to characters and events from his other epic, The Iliad. (19.221-223) Penelope’s tears are likened to the melting of snow on the mountain tops, in what is a supremely positive image. Join for Free Taking a dozen of his best men, as well as a skin of extremely strong wine that he received from a priest of Apollo, Odysseus sets out to investigate a cavern near the mainland shore. As the protagonist of course, Odysseus is himself a galvanising force within the poem. The Laestrygonians in Book 10 are the giant type cannibals that eat the crew, but the Cyclops in Book 9 also eats people, as well as the monster Scylla in Book 12. Thus, the simile transforms the grief of Penelope into an act that portends the triumph of the hero. Polyphemus (the Cyclops) and King Alcinous. At question is not the raid but Odysseus' men's foolish disregard for his advice. 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. Phemius, the renowned Ithacan bard, outlines the tale early in The Odyssey (1.375-76) when he performs "The Achaeans' Journey Home from Troy." M. I. Finley argues that such acts are justifiable when seen within the context of a warrior culture, and to a certain extent I believe this to be true.8 Nevertheless, Odysseus is a complex character, and perhaps his chameleon nature extends to morality.