The Odyssey Chats at Ancient Sites
Odyssey Chat Transcripts
Greek and Roman Mythology Pages from Ancient Sites by Tracy Marks
NOTE: Many Community members of "Athens" at Ancient Sites (which folded in 1999) participated in biweekly chats on the classics, including the Iliad and the Odyssey by Homer. Later, several of us continued with the chats, studying The Metamorphoses by Ovid and other texts related to ancient Greek and Roman history. Many of these chats have been posted online by Tracy Marks (alias Torrey Philemon from Ancient Sites). Each participant maintains his/her own copyright; this material may not be reproduced.
CHAT ONE: page two
Back to Page One
Philemon: Next topic, anyone?
Stuyvesant: Thanks. I know we are not ending, just wanted to
make sure I got the info now before I forget to ask :^)
Inca: Saturday's out for me, unless it's evening.
Flavius: Let me guess. I was wrong that this started at 2.
Philemon: Yes, Asterix, we started an hour ago...
Stuyvesant: Sorry Asterix, ONE
Inca: So I know where we're at, what is going on at the end of book
8? So I don't jump ahead and discuss stuff that's for later.
Philemon: You can read the transcript. We're just changing topics though.
Talked awhile about Calypso, then gods appearing in disguise, and Athena
appearing to Telemachus.
Flavius: The Sat chat is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. AS time.
Philemon: A.S. time is edt?
Stuyvesant: How about Odyseus and Nausicaa
Flavius: >Torrey - exactly
Philemon: Yes...I'm fascinated with the Nausicaa. What do you all think
of that story?
Inca: She had the hots for him too, didn't she? (sorry about the vernacular,
it's the best way I can describe it!)
Stuyvesant: Yes, but she was very young, probably the best guy she
had ever seen. And, she was very polite about her desire.
Stuyvesant: What does that name mean though Nausikaa? Not a very
nice word now-a-days Nausea and all that
Stuyvesant: or was it connected to Nautical
Philemon: Do you think she's overly cautious in not entering town with
him...or that she was just being wise, in those conservative times...
Inca: Such a change from Calypso, but yet, not a Penelope!
Stuyvesant: There seem to be a lot of rules for the proper conduct
of a woman.
Philemon: Odysseus was reborn...naked...and encountered a young virgin...
Flavius: Nausicaa was alreadt talking about getting married, although
it doesn't relate that she had anyone special in mind, then well-muscled,
naked Odysseus stops by. I think "the hots" pretty well describes
Philemon: Didn't Athena put the desire into her? Like suddenly she
wanted to wash her clothes, and look pretty.
Philemon: Usually that's the role of Aphrodite!
Stuyvesant: I think it's interesting that N's father says later that
she failed in her judgement, that she should have brought him right home
Stuyvesant: That once she approached O, he became "her charge"
Inca: I kind of think Nausicaa as being like maybe Penelope was when
younger. She has the potential to be quite a woman when she matures. But
the point is that she is NOT YET mature enough for someone like O.
Philemon: Maybe she was scared. Imagine how you felt when you were
14, and met a handsome guy. If you were shy that is...you want to be close,
yet you keep a distance.
Stuyvesant: I think Athena wanted to make sure she was doing laundry
because that is where she knew O would wash up.
Inca: Still like that, and I'm 34, Torrey!
Philemon: They're both washing up....
Stuyvesant: This section might represent a cleansing then for *both*
Flavius: NAYS - a ship; NAYSIA - seasickness
Nausicaa means seasickness!
14:15 Aurora Inca enters...
Artistides: Sorry gang, but I have to go. If I can, I'll join
you next Saturday evening.
Philemon: I was just going to ask if you were still with us, Theseus.
Do post on the discussion board...
Inca: Poor girl, with a name like that!
14:16 Theseus Artistides exits...
Stuyvesant: Bye thesus, take care
Philemon: Well Odysseus is sure sick of the sea when he encounters
Philemon: (At least she wasn't named Vomit!)
Stuyvesant: That is very true, Torrey. Here he washes the brine
from his skin and he is not immersed in the sea after this point in the
story (as I understand it)
Flavius: >Torrey - thanx for that perspective. Maybe her nickname
Stuyvesant: You guys are killing me *LOL*
Inca: Looks like Petra got laughing too hard and had to leave to catch
Philemon: Yes, it was like he underwater in his 7 years with Calypso.
Lulled by the pleasures of the flesh, nothing else, nothing to do but drown
Stuyvesant: Yup, that's what it was (actually ran out of water)
Philemon: Maybe the blinking screen was making you seasick, Petra!
Inca: Emerging from water - frequently a symbol of emergence from the
Stuyvesant: That's probably true, but the Gods are not here to help
me deal with it :)
Inca: or rebirth
Stuyvesant: Yes, he emerges and then after a time reveals his true
identity - his NAME
Philemon: Yes, this giving of names is significant isn't it? It's like
giving power to the other when you give your name.
Stuyvesant: Up until that point he probably did not feel much like
the true person he knew he could be. After he is freshened up and
knows that he is truly on his way home, back in mortal civilization, he
can identify with the name Odysseus again
Philemon: But actually no, he doesn't give his name to Nausicaa's people
at first. He hides his identity.
Inca: And (later in the book though earlier in the story) he identifies
himself as "no man"
Stuyvesant: And ALL that his name represents, after all he is not unknown,
he is a superstar in that world
Stuyvesant: Oops I think he gives his name in the first paragraph of
Philemon: So why doesn't he give his name right away? I don't understand
that. Since he was a hero, I would think that giving his name would have
meant he'd be favorably received.
Livius: Did he know he was a hero?
Inca: Maybe he didn't quite feel "himself" right away?
Stuyvesant: Yes, I know he hides his identity at first, but he seems
to be "shut down" emotionally after his journey. It is after he weeps
a second time upon hearing of his own heroism that he begins to reveal
who he is
Philemon: What do you think he is weeping about?
Inca: and he didn't know what had been going on in the world while
he was away. Maybe he wanted to check things about before he revealed himself.
Philemon: He does keep them in suspense...
Inca: Emotional realease?
Philemon: He never was the direct sort, after all. It was his idea
to hide in the Trojan horse...
Stuyvesant: I think he cries for the man that he was and perhaps because
I know that sometimes when you look back on something you realize how lucky
you were about things that you took for granted. He is now unsure
about what is going on at his home - has his wife been true to him, etc.
Looking back to a time when he was sure of many things might have been
Flavius: I think part of the name giving was involved in the idea of
hospitality. You were supposed to be hospitable no matter who the
guest was. There was time enough to hear his story later.
Philemon: Maybe he couldn't feel the pain and anguish of the war fully
when he was in it. Isn't that a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder?
The feelings emerge later.
Inca: He has trouble not being wily, even when it's not the appropriate
thing to do.
Stuyvesant: An aside - when he does reveal himself in my translation
he says he is the son of Laertes first, then his name Odyseus. There
is a strong FATHER seen in the SON theme in this book so far.
Inca: True, Torrey. Up until the he was busy surviving, emotionally
if not physically. No time to FEEL until then.
Philemon: Was that common, Petra? To introduce oneself first by one's
parents name, at that time?
Stuyvesant: Yes, Post-traumatic stress disorder! I agree
Inca: Now we are diagnosing O.! Too funny!
Stuyvesant: I don't know Torrey, but earlier it struck me when telemakos
says that he only knows O is his father because his mother said so, that
one can never be sure of one's paternity
Flavius: >Torrey - I don't know how common, but have noticed in both
Iliad and Odyssey that a person is often addressed in relationship to parent.
Philemon: What do you all think of Nausicaa's parting words to him.
Something like, remember I'm the one who saved your life.
Livius: When Athena comes to Telemachus as Mentes, she identifies herself
with "Anchialus was my father - my ownname is Mentes"
Stuyvesant: Later T. is recognized by the king Sparta I think by his
bearing and that he resembles his father. It seems to be an important
thing - your line of family.
Inca: It took until the 20th century to find out what O. had way back
Philemon: That line about not being sure of his father struck me as
odd, Petra, because Penelope wasn't the type to be screwing around. But
I've been reading an interpretation that says basically what T meant was
he didn't experience himself as the son of a great hero.
Inca: He might have been emphasizing that he himself didn't know his
father. It makes it easier if he can say that that is true in some sense
Stuyvesant: Well, to be honest, this struck me because I personally
went through a similar thing.
Philemon: Say more, Petra. What similar thing...
Stuyvesant: And, I thought, how would I know who my father was?
What would I look for if he denied being him, denied that I resembled him
physically. What standard is there (before DNA tests of course) to
determine who one's parents are. You must look for personality and
other characteristics that are similar.
Philemon: Yes, and maybe Telemachus knew all about Odysseus reputation,
and didn't identify with his heroic qualities.
Stuyvesant: Specifically, I searched for my father for years and when
I found him he denied it, said my mother was wrong. Who do you believe
then? It's a tough thing, so I understood that Telemakos never having
"met" his father and seen the similarities bewteen them, had nothing to
Philemon: All he had was a myth...
Stuyvesant: (P.S. He doesn't deny it now, didn't want to spend the
money on the DNA test I think :^)
Stuyvesant: Yes, Torrey, how do you stand up to a myth? Tough
Flavius: >Petra - you've hit on the general notion of "classic."
In this case the work speaks to you directly, even though the writer didn't
know you. I was thinking hard and long about this as I was reading
both Odyssey and First Man in Rome. Of course, it was rather unfair
to First Man to match it against something that's stood the test of time
for 28 millenia, but I couldn't help it.
Philemon: So you understand what it's like growing up without a father,
Petra. So maybe you can identify with Telemachus.
Inca: And he knew of his father's repuation as a hero, but he wasn't
there to be a hero to has family when they needed him to be.
Philemon: Maybe we could all share what part of the Odyssey so far
most speaks to us directly, touches our personal lives...
Inca: That would make me feel a little bitter....might make me want
to deny him in an indirect way
Stuyvesant: Well, I do identify with Telemakos in the idea of his search.
As an adoptee I did have two parents (for a while) so I don't feel the
same way as he did about that. He is also a man, and there are just
some things about boyhood to manhood I just don't identlfy with (as a woman)
but the whole idea of searching for truth is a vital part of my essence.
Philemon: Right...Aurora, that makes sense. Telemachus would be angry
at being abandoned...
Inca: Being lost! Not being able to get where I want to go in life....
Philemon: I feel like I'm escaping from my real life on the Internet,
like Odysseus engulfed on Calypso's isle...
Stuyvesant: The thing I like about T. is he tries to take action, but
not having earned the respect of his neighbors he is pushed back - but
he keeps trying anyway and go's on the journey. A lesser man would
have backed down and watched hos home destroyed by the suitors.
Philemon: If Athena hadn't empowered him, what do you think he would
have done? (Or do we view the god's support as metaphorical, not real?)
Stuyvesant: I think that the reading of the Odyssey is the escape part
- the internet discussion and interactino is just another aspect of my
real life - if you choose to break up what your mind does into little parts
like that :^)
Livius: I thought Penelope's reaction to T's leaving was interesting
- anger to fear to acceptance
Stuyvesant: I think if Athena didn't help him he would have been murdered
by one or more of the suitors, he was a little to naive to realize what
they wanted to do to him. He would have blocked their access to O's
Philemon: Who else is here? Asterix, Petronilla? What part of the Odyssey
most touches you personally?
Inca: It's hard to let your only son grow up, especially if he's the
only family you've got around.
Philemon: When Telemachus starts to assert himself, one of the first
thing he does is speak down to his mother. Like being a man is taking control
of a woman (grr)
Livius: As the single mother of a son - letting go is hard, especially
when you know they don't know as much as they think they do
Philemon: Interesting, Aurora. That makes me think that maybe another
theme of the Odyssey has to do with letting go.
Stuyvesant: I have a teenage daughter and she does the same thing to
express her assertiveness. I think it's just part of the natural
separation process to speak to your parents that way - to establish your
Inca: How do you accept that your "little boy" is starting to do "manly"
things? Does he still need you as much?
Inca: I think more than letting go, it's all about the natural maturation
process, in all of the main characters
Flavius: Acually, he IS watching his home be destroyed by the suitors.
I had a lot of trouble with Telemachus, veering between wimp and hero-in-waiting.
E.g., in Book 3 Nestor says [Fagles' trans]: And the old charioteer replied,/
Now that you mention it, dear boy, I do recall a mob of suitors they say,
besets your mother/there in your own house, against your will/and plots
your ruin. Tell me though, do you/ let yourself be so abused, or
do people round about/ stirred up by the prompting of some god, despise
Inca: at different stages of life
Philemon: Maybe he hates himself for being so powerless...
Philemon: He wants to be the man of the house but isn't able to be.
Inca: He's just coming into his manhood, and hasn't yet learned to
assert it effectively, too strong with his mother, too weak with the suitors
at first. He is just learning to be a man, and makes mistakes. Poor boy!
Inca: Think about the teenage boys you know!
Flavius: Telemachus would only be in the way of suitors getting the
family wealth if one of them married Penelope. Was she pining for
Odysseus or protecting her son?
Philemon: Interesting too that he's devious in the way that he lives.
In secret. He IS his father's son.
Philemon: Do you all know...did Penelope HAVE to remarry? If Odysseus
returned, couldn't she have just passed on the family wealth to Telemachus?
Or did she fear for his life because of suitors.
Philemon: I meant earlier...in the way that he LEAVES...
Stuyvesant: Okay, just found it in my Lawrence trans. T says:
"So much too great that I grow afraid"
Philemon: AND I meant, if Odysseus didn't return!
Flavius: I think remarrying would have been like signing Telemachus'
death certificate. Of course part of that is because of the low quality
of the suitors. An interesting point: would Penelope have remarried
if a suitable suitor had come along, rather than the riff-raff that was
Inca: I think she is "expected" to remarry. Didn't only the courtesans
live their own lives in Greece? Or am I thinking of a different time period?
Livius: She was probably hoping to keep T's inheritance together .
I agree he would probably have been killed. But when was a boy considered
a man at that time? He (T) has to be 20 or thereabout
Philemon: Maybe marrying again was the only way to put a stop to the
rabblerousing and keep all the suitors from squandering her wealth.
Inca: I think she would have remarried only if there were absolute
proof that O. was dead. They BELONGED together.
Inca: Odysseus and Penelope truly loved each other, unlike some of
the political marriages.
Stuyvesant: I think she was expected to remarry as a point of protection.
Women seemed to be the property of men on some level. I think that
traditionally the suitors were supposed to go to Penelope's father to properly
request her hand. The overall assumption was that since O was "dead"
she and all she posessed as his widow was up for grabs.
Philemon: So why doesn't she say to the suitors, get the hell out.
Because they wouldn't listen? Or because she wants to keep her options
Stuyvesant: Maybe I'm wrong but I think they were asked to leave and
they refused. They think its their right as GUESTS to be there.
Inca: I don't think they would listen to a woman. I don't think it
was a matter of keeping options open. She could do better than the kind
of scum that were living off of her, and not paying proper suit.
Stuyvesant: But what woman in her right mind would choose ANY of these
Livius: How would she enforce their leaving?
Philemon: Yeah, she would have been better off marrying one of the
old guys. They were on her side.
Stuyvesant: They seem quite disgusting to me, none of them is offering
love or comfort to her as if all she wants is a new bed partner
Inca: I think we've all had suitors that don't get the idea that we're
not interested, no matter how strongly we try to let them know!
Philemon: I bet she was too polite though! She didn't hit them over
the head with her loom...
Philemon: And they're even wanting to murder her son. What a great
way to court a lady!
Stuyvesant: I believe the loom was too large :^)
Inca: Petra, there are plenty of men that think that's all a woman
Stuyvesant: to be used as a weapon that is
Stuyvesant: that's unfortunately true Aurora
Inca: Interesting, Penelope. I've had to deal with suitor's hostility
toward my son. Never thought of that before.
Philemon: Imagine spending all day weaving and all day unweaving. That's
a really desperate attempt to "pull the wool" over their eyes.
Flavius: Why am I feeling outnumbered?
Inca: except in terms of them being envious that they don't get ALL
Stuyvesant: Some men do not like to share their wife, with anyone,
not even the children.
Inca: Sorry Asterix!
Philemon: Asterix...as a male? (you are male, right? - grin!)
Livius: But Asterix - YOU aren't a greedy unscupulous suitor
Stuyvesant: About what Asterix?
Inca: Asterix - we're talking about SOME men, the ones typified by
the suitors. The Odysseus are rare, but we know they exist!
Stuyvesant: I got one at home!
Philemon: Lucky you, Petra-lope!
Flavius: >Torrey - that's what I like about the internet - the anonymity.
I may or may not be male, how would you know?
Stuyvesant: Yes, but there are all those Calypso's out there trying
to take him!
Stuyvesant: I believe the quote is "On the internet no one can tell
you're a dog" (with an image of a little pooch at the keyboard :^)
Inca: Right, Petra! and the Circes, and Nausicaas, etc.
Philemon: I think Odysseus bears some share of the responsibility for
staying with Calypso, and Penelope bears some responsibility for encouraging
Stuyvesant: Yeah! I wanna shout at them sometimes "Get a life!"
Stop trying to steal mine.
Philemon: Maybe one of us is a god in disguise, too. Who would know?
Maybe Athena is at Ancient Sites.
Inca: Hey! You found me out, Torrey! *grin*
Stuyvesant: I believe all of us are Gods in disguise <vbg>
continue to page three
CREDITS: Voyage of Odysseus animation from Webgrafx
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