/ The Odyssey Chat Transcript - The Odyssey by Homer  

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.

Fabularum Bibliotheca Odyssey
Chat Transcript #2
Oct. 24, 1998

20:03 Theodora Nestor: Hello.  I heard the discussion on the Odyssey was supposed to be here at 7:00.
20:04 Ricardex Cornelius: Sory gang at two other meetings and have five  grams going
20:04 Asterix Flavius: Yes this is the Odyssey discussion page.
20:04 Ricardex Cornelius: Asterix is in charge!!!
20:05 Asterix Flavius: My ISP was slow.  I've been trying to logon since 7:25.  One ground rule.  Get all the "Circe did nothing special, all men are swine" jokes out of the way first.
20:05 Catra Callias: I have a friend just so you know Diotima , Ariadne Cleisthenes is here with me
20:05 Aurora Inca: I hadn't even thought of that one! Now that you mention it.......
20:06 Diotima Theocritos: Great! You should have some rousing discussions off-line also
20:06 Catra Callias: Yup If you only knew
20:06 Asterix Flavius: Have a number of you seen Torrey's Odyssey Journal?  Personally I don't favor the psych approach for very many authors, but it is certainly a valid one.  Besides, she has fun graphics.
20:07 Catra Callias: Have you all ever thought homer might have been a woman?
20:07 Aurora Inca: I haven't seen Torrey's, but I'm VERY familiar with the psych approach.
20:07 Ricardex Cornelius enters...
20:08 Asterix Flavius: One of the things I have been struck by this time through the Odyssey is the prominence of female characters.  Any thoughts out there?
20:08 MANANNAN Cormac enters...
20:08 Ricardex Cornelius: Sorry wil watch and shut up.
20:08 Petronilla Livius: Torrey's 'swine as men' cartoons are great fun!
20:09 Diotima Theocritos: I think that Torrey brings up some interesting ideas. Homer certainly included  a lot of interesting women in this epic, and they were mostly missing from the Iliad.  Why do you think that is guys?
20:09 Asterix Flavius: .Petronilla - that's it.  Let's get that out of our systems first.  It is out of your system, right?
20:10 Theodora Nestor: I think the women play a major role in developing the character of Odysseus.
20:10 Catra Callias: Homer is so caught up in femininity either he was a woman or he lived by Freuds principle
20:10 Lillake Theocritos: I think he probably was getting older and realized that women are more imorptant than he did when he wrote the Iliad
20:11 Petronilla Livius: Reminded me of my ex-husband - now it's out of my system  :)
20:12 Catra Callias: I love Torrey's pictures and weblinks they're kewl
20:12 Asterix Flavius: OTH,,"But she--/the Queen hell-bent on outrage--bathes in shame/not only on herself but the whole breed of womankind,/even the honest ones to come, forever down the years!"  - Fagles Book 11, lines 489-492
20:12 MANANNAN Cormac: It doesn't seem like the Illiad had a lot of room for women in it. It was a war story. The Odyssey is about Odysseus' maturing and re-entering a world he left ten years ago. It's kind of like he is being raised all over again. Hence, the need for lots of important women.
20:12 Theodora Nestor: Possibly.  But the Iliad was about war and the Odyssey  was about times of peace.  Maybe, Homer thought that women seem to play a bigger role in the lives of men in times of peace.
20:14 Aurora Inca: Women were the supposed "causes" of the conflicts in the Iliad - Helen, and Achilles' woman, etc. In The Odyssey, it seems like they are more to be dealt with than fought over.
20:14 Asterix Flavius: Very good, MANANNAN.  It seems that it is a product of a more mature writer.  BTW, was Homer a blind rhapsodist?
20:14 Theodora Nestor: My last response was a little slow.  Sorry Manannan.
20:14 Catra Callias: Maybe but why did he portray woman during wartime as whores(Helen) and as peacetime as perfect wives?
20:14 Diotima Theocritos: Maybe the women are symbolic of ideas that Homer wanted to express.
20:15 Ricardex Cornelius: Hector's wife is well treated in  Illiad.
20:15 Catra Callias: What ideas do you think he was trying to express Diotima asks Ariadne?
20:17 Diotima Theocritos: The need for civilizing agents if man is to achieve peace?  What a good marriage might look like?
20:18 Petronilla Livius: Reminded me of my ex-husband - now it's out of my system  :)
20:18 Catra Callias: Andromeche didn't show strength but submission how well treated is that?
20:19 MANANNAN Cormac: Helen reminds me of the prettiest girl in high school. She was the one all the guys were beating each other up to get to. We all know what becomes of those days and the mway we act when we are young and rash. The women of the Odyssey are more like people you meet in life when you are ready to grow upwards. You learn from them, and take in their wisdom. Women seem to be the perfect vehicles for Homer, given the nature of the heroes in his stories
20:19 Ricardex Cornelius enters...
20:21 Catra Callias: Is Homer trying to say that until men get older women are only status symbols asks Ariadne?
20:21 Petronilla Livius: Sorry - my system is acting screwy - didn't intend duplicate post
20:21 Diotima Theocritos: Well, I might argue that in times of war women really should shut up and keep their heads down.  Manannan has a point that after the warrior phase of the journey to maturity, men do seem to appriciate women's knowledge mor, but I guess they need to REALLY separate from Mom first.
20:21 Asterix Flavius: I especially liked the contrast of Penelope and Clytemnestra.
20:22 Asterix Flavius: Is Pallas the heroine?
20:23 MANANNAN Cormac: Sorry to detract from discussion, but does anyone have a good refresh rate? mINE IS JUMPING AROUND FURIOUSLY.
20:24 Diotima Theocritos: Well, Penelope and Clytemnestra mirror their husbands perfectly. Is Pallas the heroine of what?  Mananan try 3 to 5 seconds
20:24 Petronilla Livius: Re: Mom - It is interesting that the second persons O talked with in the halls of the dead was his mother
20:24 Asterix Flavius: It always jumps around.  I don't think it's the refresh rate.  Has anyone heard from the cyberdeities on this point?
20:24 Catra Callias: A good thing is for a woman to wait around why a man sows his oats and then is supposed take him back?
20:25 Catra Callias: Some heroine
20:26 Diotima Theocritos: Hey, it's war things happen at home as well as at the battle front.
20:26 Catra Callias: Yeah
20:26 Asterix Flavius: Another question I have.  Is the Odyssey in any way an historical document?
20:27 Catra Callias: GOOd question
20:27 Catra Callias: It's someones historical document
20:27 MANANNAN Cormac: Catra- Perhaps Odysseus does not live up to modern standards of fidelity, but was he consistent with his times? It may have been better for him to stay faithful, but his circumstances were pretty dire. Maybe he was so caught up in staying one step ahead of Posiedon and retaining his skin that he did not have time to be perfectly moral.
20:28 Aurora Inca: I don't know about historical. But I have heard it called geographical.
20:28 Diotima Theocritos: Great question!  Several archeologists have tried to discover Troy. Schleman (sp) being the most famous, although many have questioned his methodologies recently.
20:28 Catra Callias: Maybe it just made for good reading states Ariadne.
20:30 Theodora Nestor: I agree, Manannan.  Odysseus can't be judged by today's standards.
20:31 Diotima Theocritos: There is a very interesting connection between the actual voyage of Odysseus and the voyage of Sinbad the Sailor as it appears in the Thousand and One Nights' text.  They meet very similar monsters and have similar escapes.  We know for a fact that the two authors did not have access to each others' texts.  How do you explain that?
20:31 Kaliber Solon enters...
20:31 Catra Callias: Who sets the standards?
20:32 MANANNAN Cormac: The Hero With A Thousand Faces. J. Campbell knew what  was up.
20:32 Catra Callias: I think that people all over the world have similar circumstances
20:32 Theodora Nestor: I have to get out of here.  I can't keep up.
20:32 Diotima Theocritos: Well, an epic is suppose to reflect the standards of the culture that produces it.
20:32 diopan Nestor enters...
20:33 Diotima Theocritos: Manannan, I'm impressed! have you read Campbell, or just seen the specials on tv?
20:34 MANANNAN Cormac: Catra- In theory society sets the standards. Infidelity and mistresses seemed to be the order of the day in Homer's time. It was probably never a good standard, but it seems historical.
20:34 Catra Callias: touche
20:35 MANANNAN Cormac: Diotima-Have read some Campbell, and used to be married to an English major. Get grilled often over liking any characters except Hector.
20:35 Theodora Nestor: Some cultures today still share these standards.
20:36 Aurora Inca: I've read quite a bit of Campbell. Working my way through The Masks of God right now.
20:37 Theodora Nestor exits...
20:38 Diotima Theocritos: Ok, students, lets chat about Odysseus.  What does he learn from his voyage?
20:39 Kaliber Solon: to respect his family maybe
20:39 Catra Callias: That homelife is more important than war states Ariadne
20:40 MANANNAN Cormac: No man is so crafty and wily that he can overcome life's obstacles without help(gods, women, friends)
20:40 MANANNAN Cormac enters...
20:40 Lillake Theocritos: I believe he had respect for his family already.  If he didn't then he would have never wanted to go home in the first place.
20:40 Catra Callias: how rude
20:40 Catra Callias: Patience maybe?
20:41 Diotima Theocritos: Good response Kaliber since aidos is one of the major themes of the poems.  Homelife should be the reason for war.  But, Manannan, you are just being argumentative.  Odysseus had plenty of help! remember Athena? remember Nausica (of the white arms)?
20:41 Catra Callias: Ariadne says bye
20:41 Kaliber Solon: no so much respect then, but he learned to value his time with them after losing so much of it already.
20:42 Asterix Flavius: I've read some commentaries that Polyphemus' cave is the turning point for Odysseus.  He used the "NoName" name and then started on the road to a different sort of character.  Maybe one worthy of Penelope and his kingship.
20:42 Asterix Flavius: [Campbell, BTW, is one of the main proponents of the psych approach -"The Masks of God: Occidental Myths"
20:43 Diotima Theocritos: Cool idea Asterix, the cave might symbolize a womb, and thus a rebirth!  But he also causes himself lots of problems by claiming kudos when he should have been prudent.
20:43 MANANNAN Cormac: Doitima, Catra- Did not mean to be argumentative or offensive. Please allow me to re state. It is my personal interpretation that Odysseus learned the value of others in the Odyssey. No slander intention toward women or friends or even gods from me
20:44 Kaliber Solon: Although, Odysseus still retained his "lust" for claiming kudos
20:44 Asterix Flavius: Of course, I've also read commentary that the blinding in the cave is the symbol of man vs. nature.
20:44 Kaliber Solon: I couldn't get it to post...slow response
20:45 Catra Callias: Maybe it's the balance principle again
20:46 Diotima Theocritos: Try again Kaliber.  What else could that cave represent?  How about brains over brawn?
20:46 Catra Callias: Everyone needs Kudos put too much of a good thing can turn bad
20:46 Asterix Flavius: >Diotime - I don't like the idea of womb here, except in consciously allegorical sense.  The descent to Hades is more specifically death and rebirth theme.  Adonis/Osiris come to mind.
20:47 Catra Callias: Could the cave symbolize safety and security
20:47 Aurora Inca: Or emerging from the water just before he meets Nausicaa. Has to wash off salt water, like amniotic fluid, casts off wrap given him by a goddess, the amniotic membrane, etc.
20:48 Lillake Theocritos: Could the cave represent the importance of using your brain to overcome brawn?
20:48 Aurora Inca: I don't think so, THAT cave wasn't safe or secure.
20:48 MANANNAN Cormac: The Cyclops' cave is an early stop on the voyage home. Perhaps Odysseus is just starting his heroic transformation from warrior to family man. Maybe Polyphemus is his last warriorly "fling".
20:48 Catra Callias: Kewl thought Aurora
20:49 Kaliber Solon: Could it also represent the violation of hospitality?
20:49 Catra Callias: How about comfort?
20:49 Catra Callias: OR the love of luxurious things?
20:49 Diotima Theocritos: It is after the war and Homer might be trying to reinforce the idea that we need brains now not brawn.
20:49 Petronilla Livius: Why does the cave have to represent anything?
20:50 Aurora Inca: It struck me that O. made a big point of seeing Polyphemous and his kind as uncivilized - they didn't sow grain or cultivate the grapes. They were herders.
20:50 Catra Callias: Petro because it's a myth
20:51 Catra Callias: that's the nature of the beast
20:51 Carcinogenus Theognis enters...
20:51 Catra Callias: no pun intended
20:51 Diotima Theocritos: Because it is an epic! everything represents something!! That's what makes it good literature!  If it was just a cave, then this poem would have ben popular fiction and died out long ago.  Aurora, I think you have a good point.
20:51 Carcinogenus Theognis: Alas, I've finally located it...
20:51 Kaliber Solon: The majority of Odysseus's journeys use logic and deductive reasoning--instead of brute strength.
20:52 Catra Callias: I'll try to keep that in mind Diotima
20:52 MANANNAN Cormac: A pretty bloody fight happens in the cave, but after he leaves the cave Odysseus seems to become the soldier going home. The rest of his fighting is to either get home or secure his home. Can we see the cave  like Plato's allegory? Man leaves the world of shadows and enters the world of light.
20:53 Ricardex Cornelius enters...
20:54 Catra Callias: Well all I gotta go the hubby calls and I need to spend some time with him before he goes to do his job as a soldier
20:54 Aurora Inca: Sometimes caves represent the unconsciuos - the dark place we can'e see.
20:54 Aurora Inca: (bad typing - sorry)
20:54 Catra Callias: I will see you all again I'm sure :)
20:54 Kaliber Solon: So what are you saying then, the cave was a starting point of some kind of recognition?
20:55 Lillake Theocritos: Manannan, I think you have a good idea here.  The warrior life is like the world of shawdows and home is the light.
20:55 Diotima Theocritos: Manannan, Maybe, but I'm still wondering about the name calling thing.  If he doesn't give his name he can leave safely.  But he just can't resist that last fling.  I like the idea of the cave and battle with Poly. as a transition from warrior to statesman.
20:55 Diotima Theocritos: Bye Catra!
20:55 Catra Callias: Diotima I will see you Teusday
20:56 Catra Callias exits...
20:56 Diotima Theocritos: Kaliber, what would have been recognized in the cave?
20:56 Asterix Flavius: Bye Catra!  Is giving his name while sailing away an example of his hubris?
20:56 Lillake Theocritos: Diotima, maby the stating of the name shows us that he still has some of that warrior still in him and he must overcome it to get home.
20:57 Aurora Inca: Definitely hubris! And without it, he might have gotten home a lot earlier!
20:57 Theodora Nestor: Maybe the name things was just to show the flaw in Odyseeus's character.
20:57 MANANNAN Cormac: Diotima- I think the "NoName" trick probably saved us from a very short story. If Odysseus would have given his true name, I think Posideon would have somehow had to hear him and would have had to respond with great violence. I think Odysseus knew just how far he could go with his wounding of Posideon's son.
20:58 Kaliber Solon: maybe that it was a time for a change from his warrior type to a logical being?
20:58 Diotima Theocritos: Lillake! Good thinking, but Perikles says that you actually never get over being a warrior, and Never Never Never get over being at war. but, I think you might be on to something, keep thinking.
21:00 Diotima Theocritos: Yes, Kaliber..At least a more compassionate being? maybe he needed the hardships that came after the cave to humanize him again.
21:00 Kaliber Solon: Didn't we agree that he showed more humanism in this tale than in the Iliad?
21:01 Lillake Theocritos: Per. was right about never getting over war.  Look at all the vets who have serious mental problems when they come home.  I think that Homer was trying to show us that you can leave the war, but the war will never leave you.
21:01 Asterix Flavius: Any thoughts on the folklorist approach to the Odyssey.  In that one, the various adventures are hardly understood remains of even more ancient religious rituals.  Possibly cannabilism was a form of communion in some societies?  [I love playing devil's advocate]
21:02 Theodora Nestor: It's hard to show a lot of humanism in war.
21:02 Asterix Flavius: >Kaliber - even tho showing more humanity, he is not static, but increases in his understanding of self and others.
21:03 Diotima Theocritos: Per says you are right on Lillake.  Astrix, there is actually quite a bit of scholarship on this point. Especially since there are so many parallels with other sailor stories.  The Odyssey might be just sailor lore.
21:05 Diotima Theocritos: Asterix, what do you think of Calypso?  What "ritual" would she represent?
21:07 Lillake Theocritos: Maby Calypso represent the sailor docking at a port and having a little fling before sailing on :)
21:09 Kaliber Solon: I think it could represent that people want to forget the past, their worries and move on.
21:09 MANANNAN Cormac: Have to sail home now. It was very enjoyable chatting (my first time ever). See you all around!
21:09 MANANNAN Cormac exits...
21:09 Kaliber Solon: but Odysseus realizes he cant forget and grieves for his homecoming
21:09 Diotima Theocritos: Kaliber, maybe you are thinking about the lotus eaters.
21:10 Theodora Nestor: What about the beauty or braun vs. brains issue in Book 8?   Was it part of the Greek belief that brains were more important?
21:11 Diotima Theocritos: I'm going to go check out another chat be back in about 10.
21:11 Diotima Theocritos exits...
21:11 Theodora Nestor: Why did they have so many physical contests?
21:11 Kaliber Solon: I must be going...this was real fun!  I will be back sometime  bye
21:12 Lillake Theocritos: The Greeks valued individualist So I think both would apply
21:13 Asterix Flavius: Bye Kaliber!
21:14 Lillake Theocritos: I have to go see you around
21:14 Theodora Nestor: It's been fun, but I've got to go now also.
21:15 Theodora Nestor exits...
21:15 Asterix Flavius: >Lillake - love your idea on Calypso.  There's also a school of thought that the Odyssey represents distorted historical memories.  Of course all the various interpretations are not mutually exclusive. [most of this BTW from Bernard Knox intro to Fagles trans.]
21:15 Lillake Theocritos exits...
21:16 Carcinogenus Theognis exits...
21:17 Aurora Inca: I have to be moving on also. Good night, all.
21:17 Aurora Inca exits...
21:17 Diotima Theocritos enters...
21:18 Asterix Flavius: Hi Diotima.
21:19 Diotima Theocritos: Asterix, that sounds very Jungian to me!
21:19 Asterix Flavius: Well, my last name in RL is Young.
21:22 Diotima Theocritos: The idea of historical memory would also account for the similar stories from around the mediteranian.  Sorry for the delay, I had to answer a telegram.
21:23 Gloria Etana enters...
21:23 Asterix Flavius: Personally, I prefer the distorted memory approach.  Maybe it's the Schliemann in me.  But, as I wrote, they're not mutually exclusive.  Works of art can have several levels of meaning, of course.  Quite often not consciously intended by the author.
21:23 Diotima Theocritos: Hello Gloria!
21:25 Gloria Etana exits...
21:25 Asterix Flavius: Evening, Gloria.
21:25 Diotima Theocritos: I think that really good art of any genre has a universality about it that makes it "seem" familiar.  Although, recent scientific scholarship would imply we get quite a bit of memory from our DNA. is that what you mean by distorted memory?
21:28 diopan Nestor exits...
21:29 Asterix Flavius: No, more memory passed down from VERY early times orally, with quite a few changes thru that transmission.  Are you familiar with Star Trek [classic trek series] where Kirk had to say the beginning of US Constitution that was unintelligible to those who used it as religious tract?
21:30 Asterix Flavius: Who all is left, by the way.  Should we call it a night?
21:31 Diotima Theocritos: Yes, I see what you mean.  That it is distorted memory for those who created and used the text not those who are reading it centuries later.
21:32 Diotima Theocritos: I'm ready to call it a night.  Leave me a post at my house if you want to continue the discussion.  Bye.
21:32 diopan Nestor enters...
21:34 Asterix Flavius: Well, I think we're about done.  Any takers on leading next discussion [Books 13-16]?  Bye Diotima.  Leave posts on any other thoughts on the Odyssey or leading chat, or date/time that would be good.
21:36 Diotima Theocritos: Let me know and I will bring my students along.  They LOVE (and frequently need) extra credit.


GO TO: Odyssey Chat Transcripts
GO TO: Odyssey Chat Resource Pages
GO TO: Iliad chat transcripts