Sorry for the delay in posting, the last part of the week got overrun with life and while I kept up on my reading of The Odyssey blogging was not in the cards.
Book V opens with Athene making a plea to Zeus and the other gods on behalf of Odysseus. She tells of his being held hostage by Kalypso and how the suitors wish to kill his son, Telemachos.
My child, what sort of word has escaped your teeth's barrier?
Zeus answers by sending Hermes to Kalypso to tell her she must set Odysseus free. Zeus foretells that Odysseus is to ride a raft and endure hardship before the twentieth day when he shall make landfall at Scheria. Scheria is home to the Phaiakian people.
I found it interesting how the scenario played out with Athene rushing to the gods and reminding them of Odysseus plight. They all seemed to agree, with the exception of Poseidon, who was absent. She took advantage of his absence to start his trip home.
I noticed even the gods seem to obey by the xenia rule. When Hermes arrived to tell Kalypso she must set Odysseus free, she first offered him food and drink before she received his news. She attempts to persuade Odysseus to stay with her by promising to make him immortal. Here we first see Odysseus shine as a great orator in his diplomatic response (rejection) of Kalypso's offer.
'Goddess and queen, do not be angry with me. I myself know
Photograph by: Ricardo André Frantz (User: Tetraktys), 2006
Statue in Louvre Museum
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
One would have some assumption that the overseer of the sea would have known immediately when Odysseus set sail. Yet it wasn't until Poseidon was coming home across the seas that he looked down to see Odysseus on his raft, on the eighteenth day of his journey. Poseidon acknowledges that Odysseus is destined to live, but decides he needs to get in one last shot and unleashes the sea on the raft and sends it into splinters and Odysseus clinging for his life.
Artist: Pieter Lastman (1583–1633)
This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
If indeed you are one of the gods who hold wide heaven, then I must find in you the nearest likeness to Artemis the daughter of great Zeus, for beauty, figure, and stature. But if you are one among those mortals who live in this country, three times blessed are your father and the lady your mother,
There is no such man living nor can there ever be one who can come into the land of the Phaiakians bringing warlike attack; we are so very dear to the immortals,
'For shame, surely the gods have rashly changed their intentions
With some help from Athene, Odysseus finally is able to struggle his way to land after two days of battling the storm unleashed by Poseidon. He takes refuge in the leaves of the forest along the river bank of the Styx and falls fast asleep.
Book VI starts with Athene coming to Nausikaa, the King of Phaiakian's daughter, in a dream and tells her she needs to take better care of her rich clothing instead of having it strewn about like a teenager today, and do her laundry in the morning. Nausikaa is just reaching the marrying age and needs to present herself properly to be wed. She awakes in the morning and sets out with her handmaidens to the River Styx no less to do the laundry.
While the girls await the laundry to dry on the banks, they start playing ball. Athene can tell they are about ready to leave, but Odysseus has yet to have awakened. Athene jumps into action by sending a ball into the river, causing the girls to scream, and awakening Odysseus from his slumber. As he peers out he wonders if he has landed on a country with good xenia or not. How should he approach this young girl? He has lost every shred of clothing during his battle at sea and is now a crusty haggard naked man. He emerges, covering his manhood with a mere leaf. His appearance has sent the handmaidens in a panic and they go running, Athene has helped Nausikaa to stand strong and accept this man's plea. He tells her she is a fair maiden and compares her in the likeness of the forever virgin goddess Artemis to let her know he means her no harm.
She is certain that the gods love for the people of her country means no evil person can set foot on their land, therefore this stranger must have been sent by Zeus. Nausikaa shows proper xenia and offers Odysseus food, drink and her handmaidens to wash him. Odysseus breaks custom here and refuses to have the young ladies wash him, but cleanses himself in the river and accepts a scrap of cloth to cover his body. She agrees to show him to the city, but instructs him to wait outside the city until she has gone so as not to start rumors.
The gods work in mysterious ways. I still am amazed that it has been foretold that Odysseus' destiny is to return home. Yet this has been no easy task, Poseidon has kept him locked away with Kalypso on an island with no other inhabitants and no means to escape. She has basically taken him as her husband, even as he longs for his home, she has no intentions of letting her prize go. When the others decide it is now time to finally send him on his way he still doesn't have easy sailing. Barely escapes the latest wrath of Poseidon's and lands upon a foreign country without even the shirt on his back. How much must he sacrifice to get home? It has been twenty years when coupled with the war time away.
I think we need to start a new trend and bring back the phrase "what sort of word has escaped your teeth's barrier". It keeps popping up in the story and for some reason just makes me chuckle.
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Quotes from: The Odyssey of Homer, Translated and with an Introduction by Richmond Lattimore
ISBN: 978-0-06-124418-6; Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2007)
[Notice: Original posting 2014-03-03 at Plethora of Books Blog: http://bookchallenges.weebly.com]
Tags: Odyssey; Read-Alongs