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...
15:19 Torrey Philemon: Maia, welcome. We're probably near to closing...but join in.
15:19 Asterix Flavius: Yo, maia!  Jump right in and unload on me!
15:19 maia Nestor: Hello all...sorry I'm late.
15:20 Petra Stuyvesant: Do you really feel dumped on Asterix?
15:20 Torrey Philemon: We've been going on for 2 1/4 much longer do you all want to continue? Perhaps Maia wants to bring up a topic...
15:20 maia Nestor: Torrey, I just read that bit about Penelope having some responsibility for encouraging the you really believe that?
15:21 Asterix Flavius: No, of course not.  Well, except by the Yankees.  I took that personally.
15:21 Petra Stuyvesant: I can go to at least 4pm
15:21 maia Nestor: Asterix, how could you think I'd unload on you? LOL! Unless you've been very bad...
15:21 Aurora Inca: Asterix, we're NOT equating you with the suitors, unless you yourself identify with them......*grin*
15:21 maia Nestor: Oh, now the Yankees...yes, that would be cause enough for me. LOL!
15:22 Asterix Flavius: Apparently all men are bad [except for Petra's]
15:22 maia Nestor: I don't think Penelope had any choice at all viz a viz the suitors. 
15:22 Torrey Philemon: Maia, I'm not sure about Penelope's role in it. 
15:22 Aurora Inca: Please, not a geder war! I LIKE men! (nice ones)
15:23 Petra Stuyvesant: There are a FEW more I think *smile*  you sound like one - if you are a man that is :^)
15:23 Asterix Flavius: >maia - please expand on that thought.
15:23 Aurora Inca: geder = gender
15:24 maia 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...
15:24 Torrey 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...
15:25 maia 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...
15:26 maia 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.
15:27 Torrey 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.
15:27 Petra 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.
15:27 Aurora 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
15:28 maia 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. 
15:28 Torrey Philemon: Aurora, before you go, can we clarify the next chat. Asterix, I was wondering if we could do just books 9-12.
15:28 Petra Stuyvesant: Bye Aurora
15:28 Petronilla Livius: Bye Aurora
15:28 Asterix Flavius: Bye Aurora
15:29 Torrey Philemon: Would you all like to do four chats, rather than three?
15:29 maia 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. 
15:29 Aurora Inca: Yes. Such rich food should be eaten in small nibbles!
15:29 maia Nestor: Bye Aurora...
15:29 Petra 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 frowned upon.
15:30 Petra Stuyvesant: Yes, 4
15:30 Petra Stuyvesant: I meant "warmly"
15:31 maia 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. 
15:31 Asterix 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 Clytemnestra,
15:32 Petra Stuyvesant exits...
15:32 Aurora Inca exits...
15:33 Torrey 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!)
15:33 Asterix Flavius: Who all is left?
15:33 Torrey Philemon: WHoops. I was trying to cut and paste.
15:33 maia 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.
15:34 Asterix Flavius: >Torrey - when I read that I thought is was more Telemachus grousing about what was happening than necessarily an objective report.
15:34 Petronilla Livius: Torrey - is that T's frustration speaking?
15:34 Petra Stuyvesant enters...
15:35 maia Nestor: And Torrey, different translations differ quite wildly as to specific 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...
15:35 Torrey Philemon: Ok who's here now? Asterix, Maia, Petronilla. Anyone else? I don't think Petra was intending to leave...
15:35 Asterix Flavius: Yea, verily, Petronilla!
15:36 Torrey Philemon: Gee folks, I'm feeling very guilty about questioning Penelope!
15:36 Petra Stuyvesant: I'm back got frozen out for a minute -Torrey where is that quote about P what book aprox what paragraph?
15:36 maia Nestor: Oh, I forgive you, Torrey! *grin*
15:37 OscarWilde Witssen exits...
15:37 Torrey Philemon: Not sure, Petra. I copied it down somewhere. It's book one though.
15:37 maia Nestor: That's part of the beauty of Homer...he provides us a canvas for us to interpret, like any exceptional artist...
15:38 maia Nestor: Which translation do you have, Torrey?
15:38 Petronilla Livius: Petra -  Book 1 line 290 in my translation - Fagles
15:38 Torrey Philemon: I have Fagles but I took that quote out of an interpretation I was reading, so I'm not sure it's Fagles.
15:39 maia 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...
15:39 Petra Stuyvesant: Okay, mine says:  Spurn them she dare not, though she hates that marriage, nor can she bring herself to choose among them...."
15:39 Torrey Philemon: Yes, just checked. That was Fagles.
15:40 Torrey Philemon: And right, we're hearing those words through the eyes of a disgruntled, powerless adolescent who wants something to be done...
15:40 Petra Stuyvesant: mine Fitzgerald
15:41 Asterix 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.
15:41 Torrey Philemon: Spurn them she dare not....BECAUSE? They might kill her son? They might take revenge?
15:42 Torrey 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"!
15:42 Petra Stuyvesant: Sounds like she was afraid of something, if only the fear of breaking the courtesy laws
15:43 Torrey Philemon: Petra, which translation did you say you are reading?
15:44 Torrey Philemon: Oh, you said it. Fitzgerald. 
15:45 Pomponia Tullius enters...
15:45 Petra 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.""
15:46 Pomponia Tullius: Salvete omnes.
15:46 Petra 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
15:47 Torrey Philemon: Welcome, Pomponia. We've been going for 2 3/4 hours here and are just winding down (I think).
15:47 Asterix Flavius: Salve!
15:47 Petra Stuyvesant: ditto, Pomponia
15:47 Pomponia Tullius: I just got in the door (at home as well as here).  Always too little, too late.
15:47 Torrey Philemon: Telemachus is not likely to really understand his mother's situation. What teenage boy really understands his mother's choices?
15:48 Petra Stuyvesant: I agree Torrey
15:48 Asterix Flavius: >Pomponia - would the latin be "I te, puella!"[as opposed to "Ite, puellae!]?
15:48 maia Nestor enters...
15:48 Pomponia Tullius: No subject would be expressed, Asterix.
15:49 maia Nestor: So sorry, I froze...
15:49 Asterix Flavius: But the wordplay needed it.
15:49 Petra Stuyvesant: Happens to the best of us, Maia :^)
15:50 maia Nestor: Pomponia would be the one to know about the subtle variations of translations...
15:50 Pomponia Tullius: But grammar *always8 takes precedence over play.
15:50 Pomponia Tullius: And I don't have a Greek text of the Odyssey handy here. Sorry, maia.
15:51 Torrey 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, different interpretations.
15:51 maia 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?
15:51 Pomponia Tullius: Oddly enough, a discussion about misleading translations is taking place right now on Classics Lists.
15:52 Pomponia Tullius: Let me see what I can find at Perseus, though.  Which line is that (in the original)?
15:52 Torrey Philemon: And come to think of it, it is indeed a male historical tradition to blame the female!
15:52 maia Nestor: I saw that...very enlightening. I even emailed Torrey one of the posts...
15:53 Asterix Flavius: Book One, line approx 240-250
15:53 Torrey Philemon: I have book one, approx 288...
15:54 Asterix Flavius: >Torrey - 288 in the trans, not original
15:55 Pomponia Tullius: Ah, that's the problem--misleading lines as well.
15:55 Torrey Philemon: Gee, I didn't know they numbered the lines differently between the two.
15:55 Asterix Flavius: The original lines are in small numbers at the top of the page
15:55 maia Nestor: It's the line where Telemachos is complainig to Athena (in disguise) that Penelope can't reject the suitors or accept them...
15:56 Pomponia Tullius: Andig to take a long time--Perseus has it transliterated instead of in Greek script.
15:57 Pomponia Tullius: I was cut off in the middle somehow. I meant to say it's going to take a long time.
15:57 Torrey 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.
15:57 Asterix Flavius: Sorry
15:58 Pomponia Tullius: I hate trying to figure out what letter is standing in for which.
15:58 Torrey Philemon: Pomponia, maybe you can post a message on the FB Calliope message board later...if you don't mind?
15:59 Pomponia 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.
15:59 maia 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'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.
16:00 Pomponia Tullius: In the Iliad, for instance, we see the dispute between Achilles and Agamemnon from several vantage points.
16:00 Torrey 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.
16:01 Torrey 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.
16:01 maia 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.
16:02 Petra 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.
16:03 Pomponia Tullius: Oh, no that's the richness of Homer, maia.
16:03 Torrey Philemon: Do you all want to wind down now? It's after 4. Is there anything else anyone wants to bring up?
16:03 Petra Stuyvesant: I know I typed "hard" not hearc
16:05 Asterix Flavius: >Torrey - are you talking about Nausicaa again?
16:05 Torrey 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 differences too.
16:05 maia 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 right.
16:05 Torrey Philemon: Ohh Asterix!
16:06 Asterix Flavius: >Petra - she has had 20 years to make some decisions on her own.
16:06 maia Nestor: I can see I'll have to go to the transcripts...LOL!
16:07 Petra 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.
16:07 Torrey Philemon: Maia, we were discussing earlier that Nausicaa means seasickness and I said at least she wasn't named Vomit!
16:07 Petra Stuyvesant: I mean these men were breaking the accepted laws and still she got no backing.
16:08 maia Nestor: Yes, it was a tight spot for her. And thanks Torrey, on second thought, I'll avoid those transcripts. *grin*
16:08 Petronilla 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.
16:08 Torrey 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...
16:08 maia Nestor: Bye, Petronilla. Nice meeting you!
16:08 Petra Stuyvesant: Farewell Petraonilla
16:08 Asterix Flavius: I'm sorry, did I say that out loud?
16:09 Torrey 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?
16:09 Asterix Flavius: Bye Petronilla!
16:09 maia 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...
16:10 Asterix Flavius: Spot on!  Saturday at 8-ish.
16:10 Torrey Philemon: Anything else, in closing?
16:10 Petra Stuyvesant: I agree with you Maia, I think she did the only things she could given her circumstances.
16:10 maia Nestor: Wow, this has been a blast!
16:11 maia Nestor: I had given up trying to get into AS, am glad I perservered.
16:11 Torrey Philemon: Do check out the transcript, maia. We had some interesting discussion earlier too.
16:11 maia Nestor: You know I will...
16:11 Torrey Philemon: The transcript will be available here, but I'll also post it on a web page later tonight or tomorrow night...
16:12 maia Nestor: Pomponia is still at Perseus...
16:12 Petra Stuyvesant: I want to thank you Torrey!  You have been great about everything!
16:12 Pomponia Tullius: The Greek says she is neither able to refuse the hateful marriage, or to make an end.
16:12 Petra Stuyvesant: I also appreciate all the work you've put into your pages here at AS - very helpful information
16:13 Torrey Philemon: Well thanks to all of you. Just knowing I have such intelligent and interested cohorts motivates me...
16:13 Torrey Philemon: Thanks, Pomponia...but of course it doesn't say WHY so that's what we wonder.
16:14 Petra 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
(NOTE: see corrected url below)
16:14 maia Nestor: Way to go, Pomponia! *clapping*
16:14 Asterix Flavius: Yes, thanx, Torrey.  You do a heckuvalotta work.
16:15 Pomponia Tullius: No, Homer often leaves you wondering. That's why he has absorbed audiences for 2,700 years.
16:15 maia Nestor: If any of you are interested in the varying ways O has been perceived throughout history, check out W.B. Sanford's books...
16:15 Torrey Philemon: Great! Your pages are just beautiful. And my new Calypso page is at but I'll also upload it to my A.S. site now that it's up again. (NOTE: now at
16:15 Petra Stuyvesant: Ooops add  before
16:15 Torrey Philemon: Any particular Sanford book, maia? (you're really knowledgable!)
16:16 maia Nestor: Yeah, next time we'll have to discuss's my feeling, Torrey, that she gave him up simply because she had no other choice. Zeus commanded it. 
16:17 maia 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. 
16:17 Torrey 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 on Calypso.
16:18 Petra Stuyvesant: This was great!  Thanks everyone.
16:18 Torrey Philemon: Bye to all of you. Hope to see you all again next Saturday night edt.
16:19 maia Nestor: Thanks, everyone. Glad to meet all of you...even the ones I already know!
16:19 Petra Stuyvesant: Bye :^)
16:19 Petra Stuyvesant exits...
16:19 Asterix 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: Bye!
16:20 maia Nestor exits...
16:21 Pomponia Tullius: Valete.
16:22 Torrey Philemon: Just trying to be the proper hostess and wait for the guests to leave before I depart...
16:23 Torrey Philemon exits...


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