This is a sticky post that will be constantly updated until I finish reading The Odyssey as part of a read-along hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey,from 01 July 2013 – 31 August 2013.
I have just finished the third book of Homer's The Odyssey, and I am a bit surprised. Why? So far Odysseus, while the reason for all that is taking place, had not made an appearance with his crew. We are introduced to Telemachus, Odysseus' son, in Book I, and we learn of the state of things Ithaca while this clever Greek is away.
Penelope, Odysseus' wife, is being besieged by a hoard of suitors. For years, while her young son has been growing up, she has tried to keep them away from her by a trick. Now, her son must be in his early twenties, and he is visited by Athena who is very fond of Odysseus. She encourages Telemachus to get rid of the suitors and to set out for word of his father.
In Book II Telemachus calls for a meeting of the elders of Ithaca to complain of the suitors' injustice. He warns the latter to leave his halls or death awaits them soon. He is scorned and the suitors' refuse to listen to him. Acting on Athena's advice, Telemachus then prepares a ship secretly and sets sail for Pylos, where, in Book II, Telemachus meets with Nestor who had fought along side of Odysseus during the Trojan war. Nestor welcomes him, and after hearing of the younger man's personal problem and how he is trying to hear of any definite word about his father, he relates to him the events of the war, and how, quite early on in their journey back, Odysseus parted from him, and so Nestor knows nothing of him. He, however, suggests that Menelaus (folk would know him as the husband of the beautiful Helen, who was the cause of the war in the first place) might have word of Odysseus, since he himself had only just returned after being blown off course some eight years ago. He advices Telemachus to remain bold and tells him of the treachery of Agamemnon's wife and her lover that killed him on his return, and of how it was Agamemnon's son who returned when he was old enough to avenge his father's death.
Book III ends with Telemachus speeding on his way to meet up with Menelaus.
- I was struck by the amount of detail given about the two sets of sacrifice on Pylos. One to Zeus, and later the other Athena before Telemachus leaves to meet Menelaus. I figured, if there is so much detail, this would have been to the liking of the Greeks. Am I wrong in the assumption that the Ancient Greeks were forever feasting and sacrificing to the gods?
- Right from Book I we are constantly told of Telemachus' wise speeches. It was only in Book III that it occurred to me that Athena being the goddess of wisdom was no doubt favouring young Telemachus with such a gift, just as she did (according to Nestor) his father Odysseus.
- I'm reading a verse translation by Allen Mandelbaum. For the most part, the verses are in rhyming couplets. However, I stopped trying to read it like poetry quite early on in the book. I find that reading it as though it were prose helps me to grasp things better. I wonder, had this been more poetic if I would have approached it differently?…However, I have no problems with it.
- Question: If any of you are reading or have read The Odyssey have your copies also accented names? Almost every name in my book as an accent. For some reason I find that annoying, especially as I have seen many of these names before and have never seen them accented until now!!