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 Three
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15:19 maia Nestor enters...
Philemon: Maia, welcome. We're probably near to closing...but join
Flavius: Yo, maia! Jump right in and unload on me!
Nestor: Hello all...sorry I'm late.
Stuyvesant: Do you really feel dumped on Asterix?
Philemon: We've been going on for 2 1/4 hours...how much longer do
you all want to continue? Perhaps Maia wants to bring up a topic...
Nestor: Torrey, I just read that bit about Penelope having some responsibility
for encouraging the suitors...do you really believe that?
Flavius: No, of course not. Well, except by the Yankees.
I took that personally.
Stuyvesant: I can go to at least 4pm
Nestor: Asterix, how could you think I'd unload on you? LOL! Unless
you've been very bad...
Inca: Asterix, we're NOT equating you with the suitors, unless you
yourself identify with them......*grin*
Nestor: Oh, now the Yankees...yes, that would be cause enough for me.
Flavius: Apparently all men are bad [except for Petra's]
Nestor: I don't think Penelope had any choice at all viz a viz the
Philemon: Maia, I'm not sure about Penelope's role in it.
Inca: Please, not a geder war! I LIKE men! (nice ones)
Stuyvesant: There are a FEW more I think *smile* you sound like
one - if you are a man that is :^)
Flavius: >maia - please expand on that thought.
Inca: geder = gender
Nestor: She asked them to go, they wouldn't. What was she to do? She
had to do whatever she could to preserve the kingdom and the life of her
son. If she had capitulated, as many lesser women would have done, Telemachos
would NOT have achieved manhood. And you have to understand, that in both
the Bronze Age and Homeric Greece...
15:24 Caenus Didius enters...
15:24 Caenus Didius exits...
Philemon: Ok, I'm thinking of a relationship I ended once. I was too
nice about it. The guy didn't get that I REALLY MEANT IT. I wonder if some
part of Penelope did like the attention, even though she hated their behavior.
Maybe she needed to have been nastier with them...
Nestor: that guest friendship was a sacred issue...these men were considered
evil by all listeners to Homer, because they were in direct violation of
the tenets of the time...a direct slap at Zeus himself under his guise
as Zeus Horkios, I believe it was...
15:25 Asterix Flavius enters...
Nestor: No, Torrey, you're putting a modern spin on things...when we
read Homer, we have to sort of BE Homeric! LOL! We have to embrace the
tenets and customs of the time. It's sort of like revisionist history,
you know? Like slamming Columbus, by putting twentieth century values on
a 15th century explorer.
Philemon: It's hard Maia when you don't know enough about women's rights
at that time. Was there really nothing she could do? Was she totally powerless?
That's where I'm unclear.
Stuyvesant: They seem like heartless creatures - like vultures feasting
on living flesh - undisturbed by the obvious distress of Penelope.
Anyone can see she loves only O and is not ready for a new man in her life.
Inca: I need to get going everyone. I'll try to make it to the next
chat. Don't forget my b-day party on Thurs. Here's the invitation if you
haven't seen it http://www.ancientsites.com/~Aurora_Inca/bdayinvite.jpg
Nestor: While it might have been flattering to have been wanted, how
many women consider such a thing when they are fighting for their place?
Their young? No, there was really nothing...Telemachos called an assembly
and no one could help...or would help. Everyone feared civil war, and she
had no recourse. So she did what she could.
Philemon: Aurora, before you go, can we clarify the next chat. Asterix,
I was wondering if we could do just books 9-12.
Stuyvesant: Bye Aurora
Livius: Bye Aurora
Flavius: Bye Aurora
Philemon: Would you all like to do four chats, rather than three?
Nestor: IMO, Homer shows us that she is indeed a worthy consort of
O's...he is the man of the the many twists, and she matches him.
Inca: Yes. Such rich food should be eaten in small nibbles!
Nestor: Bye Aurora...
Stuyvesant: The guest rules: Look how WARMY Athena is greeted
as the guest Mentes. Telemakos is overjoyed and seeks to do everything
for him. It seems that only the guests abusing the priviledge are
Stuyvesant: Yes, 4
Stuyvesant: I meant "warmly"
Nestor: Yes, Petra. That's it. Guest friendship has no modern counterpart
with us. You have to remember how they adhered to a code; simple but effective.
Homer also shows how O, with his great twisty intellect, was perceived
as something as an outsider, because he was so different.
Flavius: 9-12 is fine by me. Especially since I imagine that
we will be talking a lot about 1-8. They aren't discrete sections
but part of one story. I imagine there will still be things to say
about Odysseus, Penelope, and Telemachus. Also compare Penelope with
15:32 Petra Stuyvesant exits...
15:32 Aurora Inca exits...
Philemon: What do you think of Telemachus' line about Penelope: "Telemachus
also says of Penelope in book one: "She neither rejects a marriage she
despises nor can she bear to bring the courting to an end." ?? (Gee folks,
I'm really not into blaming the victim, really!)
Flavius: Who all is left?
Philemon: WHoops. I was trying to cut and paste.
Nestor: That would be interesting, Torrey...of course I have differing
feelings about Clytemnestra, but the contrast is very great in Homer, especially
in light of the fact that she and Penelope were first cousins.
Flavius: >Torrey - when I read that I thought is was more Telemachus
grousing about what was happening than necessarily an objective report.
Livius: Torrey - is that T's frustration speaking?
15:34 Petra Stuyvesant enters...
Nestor: And Torrey, different translations differ quite wildly as to
specific lines...in most scholiast views, I believe, that line is going
directly towards Telemachos' confusion as to issues...Penelope does not
take him into her confidence, nor he hers...
15:35 OscarWilde Witssen enters...
Philemon: Ok who's here now? Asterix, Maia, Petronilla. Anyone else?
I don't think Petra was intending to leave...
Flavius: Yea, verily, Petronilla!
Philemon: Gee folks, I'm feeling very guilty about questioning Penelope!
Stuyvesant: I'm back got frozen out for a minute -Torrey where is that
quote about P what book aprox what paragraph?
Nestor: Oh, I forgive you, Torrey! *grin*
15:37 OscarWilde Witssen exits...
Philemon: Not sure, Petra. I copied it down somewhere. It's book one
Nestor: That's part of the beauty of Homer...he provides us a canvas
for us to interpret, like any exceptional artist...
Nestor: Which translation do you have, Torrey?
Livius: Petra - Book 1 line 290 in my translation - Fagles
Philemon: I have Fagles but I took that quote out of an interpretation
I was reading, so I'm not sure it's Fagles.
Nestor: The current school of thought is that Lattimore is the best
for adherence to the Greek, and Lombardo is the best with translation of
the spirit of Homer...translating it into modern terms. Having said that,
I love Fagles. And also Fitzgerald...
Stuyvesant: Okay, mine says: Spurn them she dare not, though
she hates that marriage, nor can she bring herself to choose among them...."
Philemon: Yes, just checked. That was Fagles.
Philemon: And right, we're hearing those words through the eyes of
a disgruntled, powerless adolescent who wants something to be done...
Stuyvesant: mine Fitzgerald
Flavius: "And mother.../she neither rejects a marriage she despises/nor
can she bear to bring the courting to an end--/while they continue to bleed
my household white." He is talking to SAthena at the time.
Philemon: Spurn them she dare not....BECAUSE? They might kill her son?
They might take revenge?
Philemon: Yes, the translations make a difference. "She dare not" has
a different meaning entirely from "nor can she bear to bring the courting
to an end"!
Stuyvesant: Sounds like she was afraid of something, if only the fear
of breaking the courtesy laws
Philemon: Petra, which translation did you say you are reading?
Philemon: Oh, you said it. Fitzgerald.
15:45 Pomponia Tullius enters...
Stuyvesant: In the Lawrence it says: "It seems that she can neither
reject the horrible offers, out and out, nor accept any one of them.""
Tullius: Salvete omnes.
Stuyvesant: Which adds the fact that T thinks the offers are horrible
- so it seems that these "guesses" at what is mother is up to are simply
T's own ideas
Philemon: Welcome, Pomponia. We've been going for 2 3/4 hours here
and are just winding down (I think).
Stuyvesant: ditto, Pomponia
Tullius: I just got in the door (at home as well as here). Always
too little, too late.
Philemon: Telemachus is not likely to really understand his mother's
situation. What teenage boy really understands his mother's choices?
Stuyvesant: I agree Torrey
Flavius: >Pomponia - would the latin be "I te, puella!"[as opposed
to "Ite, puellae!]?
15:48 maia Nestor enters...
Tullius: No subject would be expressed, Asterix.
Nestor: So sorry, I froze...
Flavius: But the wordplay needed it.
Stuyvesant: Happens to the best of us, Maia :^)
Nestor: Pomponia would be the one to know about the subtle variations
Tullius: But grammar *always8 takes precedence over play.
Tullius: And I don't have a Greek text of the Odyssey handy here. Sorry,
Philemon: Pomponia, we're looking at Telemachus' line in which he says
his mother doesn't say no to/or dare reject the suitors. Different words,
Nestor: Oh, that's all right, Pomp....but we were talking about the
various translations, and how the message might differ slightly. Of course,
every translator probably brings a bias to it, unconcsiously, no?
Tullius: Oddly enough, a discussion about misleading translations is
taking place right now on Classics Lists.
Tullius: Let me see what I can find at Perseus, though. Which
line is that (in the original)?
Philemon: And come to think of it, it is indeed a male historical tradition
to blame the female!
Nestor: I saw that...very enlightening. I even emailed Torrey one of
Flavius: Book One, line approx 240-250
Philemon: I have book one, approx 288...
Flavius: >Torrey - 288 in the trans, not original
Tullius: Ah, that's the problem--misleading lines as well.
Philemon: Gee, I didn't know they numbered the lines differently between
Flavius: The original lines are in small numbers at the top of the
Nestor: It's the line where Telemachos is complainig to Athena (in
disguise) that Penelope can't reject the suitors or accept them...
Tullius: Andig to take a long time--Perseus has it transliterated instead
of in Greek script.
Tullius: I was cut off in the middle somehow. I meant to say it's going
to take a long time.
Philemon: And of course we're dealing with...that this is Telemachus'
INTERPRETATION of Penelope's behavior. That's all we know because we never
directly see Penelope relating to the suitors here.
Tullius: I hate trying to figure out what letter is standing in for
Philemon: Pomponia, maybe you can post a message on the FB Calliope
message board later...if you don't mind?
Tullius: Sure, Torrey. But you know, if Homer wanted to present that
as merely Telemachus's interpretation, hw could indicate that, as opposed
to presenting only that.
Nestor: I've read every bit of critical interpretation I could get
my hands in for years...and it's amazing how people's perceptions differ...was
Penelope manipulative? Was she not? Did she know that the beggar was Odysseus.
Did she not....it's very revealing, in a way, just to see how wide apart
the perceptions may be. And most of these from people who have studied
for years and years, it is their life's work.
Tullius: In the Iliad, for instance, we see the dispute between Achilles
and Agamemnon from several vantage points.
Philemon: Well maybe she was scared of the suitors too. She didn't
know what they would do...and she was used to being gracious.
Philemon: It would be interesting to post that same line in about six
or more translations, and also get opinions from more people who can read
the original Greek.
Nestor: Good point, Pomponia...but you know, I don't think we will
ever have anything approaching empiric truth with Homer...too much has
been lost. And imo, nor should we. Art shouldn't be limited.
Stuyvesant: It's also hearc to make decisions as an individual when
you are accustomed to consulting on things as a couple. These two
O and P seem to be a notch up over the other people of their time - more
thoughtful - and they seem to be equals with (in terms of the imprtance
of) each other.
Tullius: Oh, no that's the richness of Homer, maia.
Philemon: Do you all want to wind down now? It's after 4. Is there
anything else anyone wants to bring up?
Stuyvesant: I know I typed "hard" not hearc
Flavius: >Torrey - are you talking about Nausicaa again?
Philemon: It's so great to have such a stimulating discussion, folks.
To be part of a chat that is INTELLIGENT conversation, and respectful of
Nestor: Oh Petra, I think they are a wondrous couple, but that isn't
the point. They are both individuals, very well-realized, in their own
Philemon: Ohh Asterix!
Flavius: >Petra - she has had 20 years to make some decisions on her
Nestor: I can see I'll have to go to the transcripts...LOL!
Stuyvesant: I agree, I meant that perhaps it was difficult for Penelope
to decide what to do about the suitors on her own, especially after the
assembly offered her no support.
Philemon: Maia, we were discussing earlier that Nausicaa means seasickness
and I said at least she wasn't named Vomit!
Stuyvesant: I mean these men were breaking the accepted laws and still
she got no backing.
Nestor: Yes, it was a tight spot for her. And thanks Torrey, on second
thought, I'll avoid those transcripts. *grin*
Livius: I'm looking forward to the discussion on the next 4 books.
Have to leave now, but it's been really interesting! Bye all.
Philemon: I wonder how she's been portrayed in this regard in dramatic
interpretations of the Odyssey. All I know is the recent NBC version, and
I don't remember who P was with the suitors...
Nestor: Bye, Petronilla. Nice meeting you!
Stuyvesant: Farewell Petraonilla
Flavius: I'm sorry, did I say that out loud?
Philemon: Bye Petronilla. 8 pm next Saturday edt for books 9-12 and
whatever's left to cover in the earlier ones. With Asterix leading, right?
Flavius: Bye Petronilla!
Nestor: Greta Scacchi played her...and Petra, I think Pen handled it
beautifully, but that's my own bias.
16:09 Petronilla Livius enters...
16:09 Petronilla Livius exits...
Flavius: Spot on! Saturday at 8-ish.
Philemon: Anything else, in closing?
Stuyvesant: I agree with you Maia, I think she did the only things
she could given her circumstances.
Nestor: Wow, this has been a blast!
Nestor: I had given up trying to get into AS, am glad I perservered.
Philemon: Do check out the transcript, maia. We had some interesting
discussion earlier too.
Nestor: You know I will...
Philemon: The transcript will be available here, but I'll also post
it on a web page later tonight or tomorrow night...
Nestor: Pomponia is still at Perseus...
Stuyvesant: I want to thank you Torrey! You have been great about
Tullius: The Greek says she is neither able to refuse the hateful marriage,
or to make an end.
Stuyvesant: I also appreciate all the work you've put into your pages
here at AS - very helpful information
Philemon: Well thanks to all of you. Just knowing I have such intelligent
and interested cohorts motivates me...
Philemon: Thanks, Pomponia...but of course it doesn't say WHY so that's
what we wonder.
Stuyvesant: I will be posting links to some art based on The Odyssey
in the next few days - look for it if you are interested at http://www.ancientsites.com/~Petra_Stuyvesant/FB/odyart.html
(NOTE: see corrected url below)
Nestor: Way to go, Pomponia! *clapping*
Flavius: Yes, thanx, Torrey. You do a heckuvalotta work.
Tullius: No, Homer often leaves you wondering. That's why he has absorbed
audiences for 2,700 years.
Nestor: If any of you are interested in the varying ways O has been
perceived throughout history, check out W.B. Sanford's books...
Philemon: Great! Your pages are just beautiful. And my new Calypso
page is at http://www.webwinds.com/thalassa/calypso.htm
but I'll also upload it to my A.S. site now that it's up again. (NOTE:
now at http://www.ancientsites.com/~Torrey_Philemon/odyssey/calypso.htm)
Stuyvesant: Ooops add before http://www.ancientsites.com/~Petra_Stuyvesant/Main/FB/odyart.html
Philemon: Any particular Sanford book, maia? (you're really knowledgable!)
Nestor: Yeah, next time we'll have to discuss Calypso...it's my feeling,
Torrey, that she gave him up simply because she had no other choice. Zeus
Nestor: The Ulysses Theme and the Quest, or Search, for Ulysses. There's
a whole bunch of books out there, I have several, I'll look for titles.
Philemon: Check out the transcript, Maia. That was the first 45 minutes...and
post your thoughts on the discussion board, ok? Eager to hear your thoughts
Stuyvesant: This was great! Thanks everyone.
Philemon: Bye to all of you. Hope to see you all again next Saturday
Nestor: Thanks, everyone. Glad to meet all of you...even the ones I
Stuyvesant: Bye :^)
16:19 Petra Stuyvesant exits...
Flavius: Yes, thanx everyone. It has been a whirlwind and I wasn't
even here for the first hour! Bye all. Hugs and kisses.
16:19 Asterix Flavius exits...
16:20 maia Nestor exits...
Philemon: Just trying to be the proper hostess and wait for the guests
to leave before I depart...
16:23 Torrey Philemon exits...
END OF CHAT
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