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
Nestor: Hello. I heard the discussion on the Odyssey was supposed
to be here at 7:00.
Cornelius: Sory gang at two other meetings and have five grams
Flavius: Yes this is the Odyssey discussion page.
Cornelius: Asterix is in charge!!!
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.
Callias: I have a friend just so you know Diotima , Ariadne Cleisthenes
is here with me
Inca: I hadn't even thought of that one! Now that you mention it.......
Theocritos: Great! You should have some rousing discussions off-line
Callias: Yup If you only knew
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.
Callias: Have you all ever thought homer might have been a woman?
Inca: I haven't seen Torrey's, but I'm VERY familiar with the psych
20:07 Ricardex Cornelius enters...
Flavius: One of the things I have been struck by this time through
the Odyssey is the prominence of female characters. Any thoughts
20:08 MANANNAN Cormac enters...
Cornelius: Sorry wil watch and shut up.
Livius: Torrey's 'swine as men' cartoons are great fun!
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?
Flavius: .Petronilla - that's it. Let's get that out of our systems
first. It is out of your system, right?
Nestor: I think the women play a major role in developing the character
Callias: Homer is so caught up in femininity either he was a woman
or he lived by Freuds principle
Theocritos: I think he probably was getting older and realized that
women are more imorptant than he did when he wrote the Iliad
Livius: Reminded me of my ex-husband - now it's out of my system
Callias: I love Torrey's pictures and weblinks they're kewl
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
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.
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.
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.
Flavius: Very good, MANANNAN. It seems that it is a product of
a more mature writer. BTW, was Homer a blind rhapsodist?
Nestor: My last response was a little slow. Sorry Manannan.
Callias: Maybe but why did he portray woman during wartime as whores(Helen)
and as peacetime as perfect wives?
Theocritos: Maybe the women are symbolic of ideas that Homer wanted
Cornelius: Hector's wife is well treated in Illiad.
Callias: What ideas do you think he was trying to express Diotima asks
Theocritos: The need for civilizing agents if man is to achieve peace?
What a good marriage might look like?
Livius: Reminded me of my ex-husband - now it's out of my system
Callias: Andromeche didn't show strength but submission how well treated
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...
Callias: Is Homer trying to say that until men get older women are
only status symbols asks Ariadne?
Livius: Sorry - my system is acting screwy - didn't intend duplicate
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
Flavius: I especially liked the contrast of Penelope and Clytemnestra.
Flavius: Is Pallas the heroine?
Cormac: Sorry to detract from discussion, but does anyone have a good
refresh rate? mINE IS JUMPING AROUND FURIOUSLY.
Theocritos: Well, Penelope and Clytemnestra mirror their husbands perfectly.
Is Pallas the heroine of what? Mananan try 3 to 5 seconds
Livius: Re: Mom - It is interesting that the second persons O talked
with in the halls of the dead was his mother
Flavius: It always jumps around. I don't think it's the refresh
rate. Has anyone heard from the cyberdeities on this point?
Callias: A good thing is for a woman to wait around why a man sows
his oats and then is supposed take him back?
Callias: Some heroine
Theocritos: Hey, it's war things happen at home as well as at the battle
Flavius: Another question I have. Is the Odyssey in any way an
Callias: GOOd question
Callias: It's someones historical document
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.
Inca: I don't know about historical. But I have heard it called geographical.
Theocritos: Great question! Several archeologists have tried
to discover Troy. Schleman (sp) being the most famous, although many have
questioned his methodologies recently.
Callias: Maybe it just made for good reading states Ariadne.
Nestor: I agree, Manannan. Odysseus can't be judged by today's
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...
Callias: Who sets the standards?
Cormac: The Hero With A Thousand Faces. J. Campbell knew what
Callias: I think that people all over the world have similar circumstances
Nestor: I have to get out of here. I can't keep up.
Theocritos: Well, an epic is suppose to reflect the standards of the
culture that produces it.
20:32 diopan Nestor enters...
Theocritos: Manannan, I'm impressed! have you read Campbell, or just
seen the specials on tv?
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.
Cormac: Diotima-Have read some Campbell, and used to be married to
an English major. Get grilled often over liking any characters except Hector.
Nestor: Some cultures today still share these standards.
Inca: I've read quite a bit of Campbell. Working my way through The
Masks of God right now.
20:37 Theodora Nestor exits...
Theocritos: Ok, students, lets chat about Odysseus. What does
he learn from his voyage?
Solon: to respect his family maybe
Callias: That homelife is more important than war states Ariadne
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...
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.
Callias: how rude
Callias: Patience maybe?
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)?
Callias: Ariadne says bye
Solon: no so much respect then, but he learned to value his time with
them after losing so much of it already.
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.
Flavius: [Campbell, BTW, is one of the main proponents of the psych
approach -"The Masks of God: Occidental Myths"
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.
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
Solon: Although, Odysseus still retained his "lust" for claiming kudos
Flavius: Of course, I've also read commentary that the blinding in
the cave is the symbol of man vs. nature.
Solon: I couldn't get it to post...slow response
Callias: Maybe it's the balance principle again
Theocritos: Try again Kaliber. What else could that cave represent?
How about brains over brawn?
Callias: Everyone needs Kudos put too much of a good thing can turn
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.
Callias: Could the cave symbolize safety and security
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.
Theocritos: Could the cave represent the importance of using your brain
to overcome brawn?
Inca: I don't think so, THAT cave wasn't safe or secure.
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".
Callias: Kewl thought Aurora
Solon: Could it also represent the violation of hospitality?
Callias: How about comfort?
Callias: OR the love of luxurious things?
Theocritos: It is after the war and Homer might be trying to reinforce
the idea that we need brains now not brawn.
Livius: Why does the cave have to represent anything?
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.
Callias: Petro because it's a myth
Callias: that's the nature of the beast
20:51 Carcinogenus Theognis enters...
Callias: no pun intended
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.
Theognis: Alas, I've finally located it...
Solon: The majority of Odysseus's journeys use logic and deductive
reasoning--instead of brute strength.
Callias: I'll try to keep that in mind Diotima
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
20:53 Ricardex Cornelius enters...
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
Inca: Sometimes caves represent the unconsciuos - the dark place we
Inca: (bad typing - sorry)
Callias: I will see you all again I'm sure :)
Solon: So what are you saying then, the cave was a starting point of
some kind of recognition?
Theocritos: Manannan, I think you have a good idea here. The
warrior life is like the world of shawdows and home is the light.
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.
Theocritos: Bye Catra!
Callias: Diotima I will see you Teusday
20:56 Catra Callias exits...
Theocritos: Kaliber, what would have been recognized in the cave?
Flavius: Bye Catra! Is giving his name while sailing away an
example of his hubris?
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
Inca: Definitely hubris! And without it, he might have gotten home
a lot earlier!
Nestor: Maybe the name things was just to show the flaw in Odyseeus's
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.
Solon: maybe that it was a time for a change from his warrior type
to a logical being?
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.
Theocritos: Yes, Kaliber..At least a more compassionate being? maybe
he needed the hardships that came after the cave to humanize him again.
Solon: Didn't we agree that he showed more humanism in this tale than
in the Iliad?
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.
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]
Nestor: It's hard to show a lot of humanism in war.
Flavius: >Kaliber - even tho showing more humanity, he is not static,
but increases in his understanding of self and others.
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.
Theocritos: Asterix, what do you think of Calypso? What "ritual"
would she represent?
Theocritos: Maby Calypso represent the sailor docking at a port and
having a little fling before sailing on :)
Solon: I think it could represent that people want to forget the past,
their worries and move on.
Cormac: Have to sail home now. It was very enjoyable chatting (my first
time ever). See you all around!
21:09 MANANNAN Cormac exits...
Solon: but Odysseus realizes he cant forget and grieves for his homecoming
Theocritos: Kaliber, maybe you are thinking about the lotus eaters.
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?
Theocritos: I'm going to go check out another chat be back in about
21:11 Diotima Theocritos exits...
Nestor: Why did they have so many physical contests?
Solon: I must be going...this was real fun! I will be back sometime
Theocritos: The Greeks valued individualist So I think both would apply
Flavius: Bye Kaliber!
Theocritos: I have to go see you around
Nestor: It's been fun, but I've got to go now also.
21:15 Theodora Nestor exits...
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...
Inca: I have to be moving on also. Good night, all.
21:17 Aurora Inca exits...
21:17 Diotima Theocritos enters...
Flavius: Hi Diotima.
Theocritos: Asterix, that sounds very Jungian to me!
Flavius: Well, my last name in RL is Young.
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...
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.
Theocritos: Hello Gloria!
21:25 Gloria Etana exits...
Flavius: Evening, Gloria.
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...
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
Flavius: Who all is left, by the way. Should we call it a night?
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
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...
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
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