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 
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14:03 Torrey Philemon: Next topic, anyone?
14:03 Petra Stuyvesant: Thanks.  I know we are not ending, just wanted to make sure I got the info now before I forget to ask :^)
14:04 Aurora Inca: Saturday's out for me, unless it's evening.
14:04 Asterix Flavius: Let me guess.  I was wrong that this started at 2.
14:04 Torrey Philemon: Yes, Asterix, we started an hour ago...
14:04 Petra Stuyvesant: Sorry Asterix, ONE
14:05 Aurora 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.
14:05 Torrey 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.
14:06 Asterix Flavius: The Sat chat is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. AS time.
14:06 Torrey Philemon: A.S. time is edt?
14:06 Petra Stuyvesant: How about Odyseus and Nausicaa
14:06 Asterix Flavius: >Torrey - exactly
14:07 Torrey Philemon: Yes...I'm fascinated with the Nausicaa. What do you all think of that story?
14:07 Aurora Inca: She had the hots for him too, didn't she? (sorry about the vernacular, it's the best way I can describe it!)
14:08 Petra Stuyvesant: Yes, but she was very young, probably the best guy she had ever seen.  And, she was very polite about her desire.
14:09 Petra Stuyvesant: What does that name mean though Nausikaa?  Not a very nice word now-a-days Nausea and all that
14:09 Petra Stuyvesant: or was it connected to Nautical
14:09 Torrey 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...
14:09 Aurora Inca: Such a change from Calypso, but yet, not a Penelope!
14:09 Petra Stuyvesant: There seem to be a lot of rules for the proper conduct of a woman.
14:10 Torrey Philemon: Odysseus was reborn...naked...and encountered a young virgin...
14:10 Asterix 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 her feelings.
14:11 Torrey Philemon: Didn't Athena put the desire into her? Like suddenly she wanted to wash her clothes, and look pretty.
14:11 Torrey Philemon: Usually that's the role of Aphrodite!
14:11 Petra 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
14:12 Petra Stuyvesant: That once she approached O, he became "her charge"
14:12 Aurora 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.
14:12 Torrey Philemon: Maybe she was scared. Imagine how you felt when you were 14, and met a handsome guy. If you were shy that want to be close, yet you keep a distance.
14:13 Petra Stuyvesant: I think Athena wanted to make sure she was doing laundry because that is where she knew O would wash up.
14:13 Aurora Inca: Still like that, and I'm 34, Torrey!
14:13 Torrey Philemon: They're both washing up....
14:14 Petra Stuyvesant: This section might represent a cleansing then for *both* of them
14:14 Asterix Flavius: NAYS - a ship;  NAYSIA - seasickness
14:15 Torrey Philemon: Seasickness!

      Nausicaa means seasickness!

14:15 Aurora Inca enters...
14:15 Theseus Artistides: Sorry gang, but I have to go.  If I can, I'll join you next Saturday evening.
14:16 Asterix Flavius: Bye
14:16 Torrey Philemon: I was just going to ask if you were still with us, Theseus. Do post on the discussion board...
14:16 Aurora Inca: Poor girl, with a name like that!
14:16 Theseus Artistides exits...
14:16 Petra Stuyvesant: Bye thesus, take care
14:17 Torrey Philemon: Well Odysseus is sure sick of the sea when he encounters her.
14:17 Torrey Philemon: (At least she wasn't named Vomit!)
14:18 Petra 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)
14:18 Asterix Flavius: >Torrey - thanx for that perspective.  Maybe her nickname was "Retch"
14:19 Petra Stuyvesant: You guys are killing me *LOL*
14:19 Torrey Philemon: :-)
14:19 Petra Stuyvesant: BRB
14:20 Aurora Inca: Looks like Petra got laughing too hard and had to leave to catch her breath!
14:20 Torrey 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 in sensuality.
14:22 Petra Stuyvesant: Yup, that's what it was (actually ran out of water)
14:22 Torrey Philemon: Maybe the blinking screen was making you seasick, Petra!
14:23 Aurora Inca: Emerging from water - frequently a symbol of emergence from the subconscious
14:23 Petra Stuyvesant: That's probably true, but the Gods are not here to help me deal with it :)
14:23 Aurora Inca: or rebirth
14:24 Petra Stuyvesant: Yes, he emerges and then after a time reveals his true identity - his NAME
14:24 Torrey Philemon: Yes, this giving of names is significant isn't it? It's like giving power to the other when you give your name.
14:25 Petra 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
14:25 Torrey Philemon: But actually no, he doesn't give his name to Nausicaa's people at first. He hides his identity.
14:25 Aurora Inca: And (later in the book though earlier in the story) he identifies himself as "no man"
14:26 Petra Stuyvesant: And ALL that his name represents, after all he is not unknown, he is a superstar in that world
14:26 Petra Stuyvesant: Oops I think he gives his name in the first paragraph of book 9
14:27 Torrey 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.
14:28 Petronilla Livius: Did he know he was a hero?
14:28 Aurora Inca: Maybe he didn't quite feel "himself" right away?
14:28 Petra 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
14:29 Torrey Philemon: What do you think he is weeping about?
14:29 Aurora 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.
14:30 Torrey Philemon: He does keep them in suspense...
14:30 Aurora Inca: Emotional realease?
14:30 Torrey Philemon: He never was the direct sort, after all. It was his idea to hide in the Trojan horse...
14:31 Petra 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 painful.
14:32 Asterix 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.
14:32 Torrey 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.
14:32 Aurora Inca: He has trouble not being wily, even when it's not the appropriate thing to do.
14:32 Petra 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.
14:33 Aurora Inca: True, Torrey. Up until the he was busy surviving, emotionally if not physically. No time to FEEL until then.
14:33 Torrey Philemon: Was that common, Petra? To introduce oneself first by one's parents name, at that time?
14:33 Petra Stuyvesant: Yes, Post-traumatic stress disorder!  I agree
14:35 Aurora Inca: Now we are diagnosing O.! Too funny!
14:35 Petra 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
14:35 Asterix 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.
14:35 Torrey Philemon: What do you all think of Nausicaa's parting words to him. Something like, remember I'm the one who saved your life.
14:36 Petronilla Livius: When Athena comes to Telemachus as Mentes, she identifies herself  with "Anchialus  was my father - my ownname is Mentes"
14:36 Petra 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.
14:36 Aurora Inca: It took until the 20th century to find out what O. had way back then!
14:37 Torrey 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.
14:38 Aurora 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 for everyone.
14:39 Petra Stuyvesant: Well, to be honest, this struck me because I personally went through a similar thing.
14:39 Torrey Philemon: Say more, Petra. What similar thing...
14:40 Petra 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.
14:41 Torrey Philemon: Yes, and maybe Telemachus knew all about Odysseus reputation, and didn't identify with his heroic qualities.
14:41 Petra 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 go on.
14:42 Torrey Philemon: All he had was a myth...
14:43 Petra Stuyvesant: (P.S. He doesn't deny it now, didn't want to spend the money on the DNA test I think :^)
14:43 Petra Stuyvesant: Yes, Torrey, how do you stand up to a myth?  Tough thing
14:43 Asterix 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.
14:44 Torrey Philemon: So you understand what it's like growing up without a father, Petra. So maybe you can identify with Telemachus.
14:44 Aurora 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.
14:45 Torrey Philemon: Maybe we could all share what part of the Odyssey so far most speaks to us directly, touches our personal lives...
14:45 Aurora Inca: That would make me feel a little bitter....might make me want to deny him in an indirect way
14:46 Petra 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.
14:46 Torrey Philemon: Right...Aurora, that makes sense. Telemachus would be angry at being abandoned...
14:46 Aurora Inca: Being lost! Not being able to get where I want to go in life....
14:48 Torrey Philemon: I feel like I'm escaping from my real life on the Internet, like Odysseus engulfed on Calypso's isle...
14:48 Petra 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.
14:49 Torrey 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?)
14:50 Petra 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 :^)
14:51 Petronilla Livius: I thought Penelope's reaction to T's leaving was interesting - anger to fear to acceptance
14:51 Petra 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 money
14:51 Torrey Philemon: Who else is here? Asterix, Petronilla? What part of the Odyssey most touches you personally?
14:52 Aurora Inca: It's hard to let your only son grow up, especially if he's the only family you've got around.
14:52 Torrey 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)
14:53 Petronilla 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
14:53 Torrey Philemon: Interesting, Aurora. That makes me think that maybe another theme of the Odyssey has to do with letting go.
14:54 Petra 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 own identity.
14:54 Aurora Inca: How do you accept that your "little boy" is starting to do "manly" things? Does he still need you as much?
14:55 Aurora Inca: I think more than letting go, it's all about the natural maturation process, in all of the main characters
14:55 Asterix 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 you now?"
14:56 Aurora Inca: at different stages of life
14:56 Torrey Philemon: Maybe he hates himself for being so powerless...
14:56 Torrey Philemon: He wants to be the man of the house but isn't able to be.
14:58 Aurora 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!
14:58 Aurora Inca: Think about the teenage boys you know!
14:59 Asterix 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?
14:59 Torrey Philemon: Interesting too that he's devious in the way that he lives. In secret. He IS his father's son.
15:00 Torrey 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.
15:00 Torrey Philemon: I meant the way that he LEAVES...
15:01 Petra Stuyvesant: Okay, just found it in my Lawrence trans.  T says: "So much too great that I grow afraid"
15:01 Torrey Philemon: AND I meant, if Odysseus didn't return!
15:02 Asterix 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 there?
15:02 Aurora 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?
15:04 Petronilla 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 
15:04 Torrey Philemon: Maybe marrying again was the only way to put a stop to the rabblerousing and keep all the suitors from squandering her wealth.
15:04 Aurora Inca: I think she would have remarried only if there were absolute proof that O. was dead. They BELONGED together.
15:05 Aurora Inca: Odysseus and Penelope truly loved each other, unlike some of the political marriages. 
15:05 Petra 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.
15:06 Torrey 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 open?
15:07 Petra 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.
15:07 Aurora 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.
15:08 Petra Stuyvesant: But what woman in her right mind would choose ANY of these fools? 
15:08 Petronilla Livius: How would she enforce their leaving? 
15:08 Torrey Philemon: Yeah, she would have been better off marrying one of the old guys. They were on her side.
15:08 Petra 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
15:08 Aurora 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!
15:09 Torrey Philemon: I bet she was too polite though! She didn't hit them over the head with her loom...
15:09 Torrey Philemon: And they're even wanting to murder her son. What a great way to court a lady!
15:10 Petra Stuyvesant: I believe the loom was too large :^)
15:10 Aurora Inca: Petra, there are plenty of men that think that's all a woman wants.
15:10 Petra Stuyvesant: to be used as a weapon that is
15:10 Petra Stuyvesant: that's unfortunately true Aurora
15:11 Aurora Inca: Interesting, Penelope. I've had to deal with suitor's hostility toward my son. Never thought of that before.
15:11 Torrey Philemon: Imagine spending all day weaving and all day unweaving. That's a really desperate attempt to "pull the wool" over their eyes.
15:11 Asterix Flavius: Why am I feeling outnumbered?
15:11 Aurora Inca: except in terms of them being envious that they don't get ALL my attention
15:12 Petra Stuyvesant: Some men do not like to share their wife, with anyone, not even the children.
15:12 Aurora Inca: Sorry Asterix! 
15:12 Torrey Philemon: a male? (you are male, right? - grin!)
15:12 Petronilla Livius: But Asterix - YOU aren't a greedy unscupulous suitor
15:12 Petra Stuyvesant: About what Asterix?
15:14 Aurora Inca: Asterix - we're talking about SOME men, the ones typified by the suitors. The Odysseus are rare, but we know they exist!
15:14 Petra Stuyvesant: I got one at home!
15:15 Torrey Philemon: Lucky you, Petra-lope!
15:15 Asterix Flavius: >Torrey - that's what I like about the internet - the anonymity.  I may or may not be male, how would you know?
15:15 Petra Stuyvesant: Yes, but there are all those Calypso's out there trying to take him!
15:16 Petra 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 :^)
15:16 Aurora Inca: Right, Petra! and the Circes, and Nausicaas, etc.
15:16 Torrey Philemon: I think Odysseus bears some share of the responsibility for staying with Calypso, and Penelope bears some responsibility for encouraging the suitors. 
15:17 Petra Stuyvesant: Yeah!  I wanna shout at them sometimes "Get a life!" Stop trying to steal mine.
15:17 Torrey Philemon: Maybe one of us is a god in disguise, too. Who would know? Maybe Athena is at Ancient Sites.
15:17 Aurora Inca: Hey! You found me out, Torrey! *grin*
15:18 Petra Stuyvesant: I believe all of us are Gods in disguise <vbg>

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CREDITS: Voyage of Odysseus animation from Webgrafx

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