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.
ODYSSEY CHAT THREE continued:
Nestor: If we wish to talk about Homer, let's just look at his literary
devices. In media res, flashbacks...true enough, Torrey. But we must be
careful not to pervert intent.
Philemon: Like the psychological interpretation is that the crew represented
different facets of himself.
Nestor: As we said last week, his is a canvas to place our perceptions
on, but we still have to tread warily, imo.
Livius: Was Homer's promary intent then to entertain?
Nestor: That's an interesting interpretation, but it could never have
any place in either the audience or the author. They didn't HAVE that concept.
Stuyvesant: Yes, I think he is probably now more connected to Athene
than before. I don't think you were in the chat room when I commented
on how O was told by Circe that some things were the work of the Gods and
couldn't be fought, just endured. He was still trying to figure out
ways to get around the Gods at that point.
Philemon: Maia, I think we need to make clear that we may have different
approaches. Trying to read Homer through the eyes of his own time is the
classical approach. But reading him through our eyes also has value. Like
Jean Houston, who tries to find lessons in Homer that we can use in our
personal development today.
Nestor: Sure, it was to entertain.
Artistides: I think yes, Petronilla, but then I have already said so.
Nestor: Well Homer is subjective, like any true art...and I hear what
you say, Torrey..however, there is danger in that. If we try to find lessons
that's one thing, but then we must be very careful not to slide down that
slippery slope and make it what Homer Intended...or who was the character
Stuyvesant: I think this discussion is very entertaining to, in a deep
way :^) (Not trying to be silly)
Philemon: I think part of a great work of art is that it speaks to
many generations. And some of the meanings we get from it are meanings
that might not have pertained to the times in which it was written. It
speaks to mankind/humankind beyond one's times.
Nestor: For example, the heroic code, as outlined in Homer is simply
thus: a good man dies bravely, an evil man is a coward. That's it. No more.
Now that has no analogy for us. Nor does Achilles' geras, his war prize.
To understand it, we must try to see how it was intended. But then if we
took those paradigms and applied them to our own life...well, we'd be living
in the Dark Ages. (no pun intended)
Philemon: Like for example, what I most get out of the Sirens, Homer
didn't intend. What I most get out of it is that someone needs to tie me
to a mast to keep me from being seduced by Ancient Sites and spending all
my time online!!
Stuyvesant: I really think that it was entertaining on one level for
the audience it was intended for, and as each subsequent generation becomes
more like Odysseus and then *more* intellectual than him, the story reveals
deeper levels of "entertainment" and meaning.
13:31 Callista Solon enters...
Nestor: Yes, and what you talk about has been addressed somewhat in
Stanford's book about O, the Ulysses Theme. How he is perceived differently
in subsequent generations. There's a book about Cleopatra like that too.
Nestor: LOL Torrey!
Nestor: Yes, Petra...we humans have a need to really take things apart,
Artistides: You don't think that heroic code is applicable today, Maia?
Philemon: Welcome, Callista.
Stuyvesant: Hello Callista
Nestor: Sure I do, Theseus. Just not one that simplistic. Hi, Callista.
Solon: Thanks-I hate coming in in the middle!
Artistides: Hello Callista, and anyone else who I might have failed
to greet! *grin*
Philemon: Unfortunately, I think the heroic code today translates a
lot into making money. And like Achilles' war prize; it was in some ways
like the modern day paycheck. Someone else cashed his paycheck, and he
wasn't paid for a year of hard work.
Nestor: Not one within that extremely narrow framework, Theseus. Let's
remember when Homer recited...contemporaneous with lots of the Old Testament.
Different times. People might not change that radically, but cultural impositions
are tremendously hard to circumvent.
Philemon: We're just glad you got here, Callista. The more voices,
Artistides: Actually, I'm going to have to get going. Maia, you
and I will have to talk about heroism again soon. Have fun everyone!
Philemon: Maia, maybe we need to differentiate when we're interpreting
Homer or trying too through the eyes of his times...and when we're consciously
interpreting him through the eyes of our times, in order to find personal
meaning in the Odyssey.
Nestor: No, torrey...yes, I agree about the perversion of the heroic
code. But the geras? We have no equivalent. I don't want to make this an
Iliad chat, but it was an honour that once taken away, made the most excellent
warrior on the planet come unglued. It was *all that and a bag of chips*.
Not even the Nobel prizes compare today.
Philemon: I honor both approaches.
Nestor: Bye, hon! We'll talk soon...
Stuyvesant: Bye Theseus! Thanks for being here, your input was
Philemon: Sorry you have to leave Theseus. And now I want to know more
about YOUR epic.
Philemon: Theseus, I think you should create another personality here
Artistides: Thank you! *smile*
Livius: Bye Theseus
13:38 Theseus Artistides exits...
Nestor: Yeah, Torrey, I agree. If we learn lessons from it, that's
fine. But let's not say it was *intended* for a modern viewpoint. It occurs
to me that you and I just might be having trouble with semantics...
Stuyvesant: I'm lost suddenly, what are the geras?
Nestor: What does everyone else think? Come on, I'll be quiet for a
Philemon: That's why I'm saying we need to clarify OUR intent, Maia.
My purpose in reading Homer is to apply his writing to today. That's how
I use him in my work.
Nestor: Oh, the geras was Briseis, Petra. the war prize of Achilles.
Nestor: Well, as I said before, Torrey, Homer is a canvas. Enjoy the
Nestor: I just have trouble when I hear phrases (not from you, I don't
mean you) like, well Homer intended to....
Philemon: Do you all want to move on, back to the story? Like more
about Hades, or Scylla and Charybdis and the Sirens?
Stuyvesant: Oh, okay she was a girl that belonged as a priestess to
a God? Something like that? I haven't read the Illiad, saw
some notes on the book though.
Nestor: Oooh, can we do Scylla and Charybdis?
Philemon: What does Odysseus seem to learn from his experience in Hades?
Stuyvesant: I want to talk about all three of those topics
Philemon: Ok Maia, give us the Greek viewpoint on Scylla and
Stuyvesant: Okay, I'm not Maia, but to start, as I visualize this it
is a passageway between two cliffs, right, with these two trails to pass.
Stuyvesant: NOT trails, Trials
Philemon: Say more, Petra.
Nestor: I just found that one fascinating. Either way, he's gonna lose.
It's a strait, with one on one side, one on the other. Those who have attempted
to approximate the voyage point out that a whirlpool (identified with Charybdis)
would have been deadly to the boats of that time. Now he might survive
intact if he goes through Charybdis, or he might not. Scylla, he will lose
some men. So he chooses that one. Calculated risk.
Stuyvesant: One is in the water (the subconcious if you will) and one
is above, clearly seen and both are to be avoided
Nestor: I DO think that one thing that Homer has shown us, and intended
to show us, is that O was rather arrogant. and the journey humbled him.
He had these men in his care, and had to steer against the cliffs of Scylla
all the while heavy with the knowledge that some would die.
Stuyvesant: He knows FOR SURE he is about to lose at least six men,
one to each of the mouths of Skylla
Philemon: Yet he has to go through Charybdis later, doesn't he? After
he loses his men. Is that a conscious choice or necessity?
Nestor: That's right, Petra!
Stuyvesant: He also knows only one ship has been allowed to pass and
that was because the captain was loved by a Goddess
Philemon: So he chooses to lose six men instead of risk all....
Stuyvesant: I personally would be petrafied at this point (no pun intended)
Philemon: LOL Petra!
Nestor: He can't help the return to Charybdis, torrey. The currents
bear him there.
Stuyvesant: Both of these monsters are considered female and God-like
in their power, they cannot be "battled with"
Stuyvesant: just endured as best you can
Philemon: And he is saved by Charybdis by hanging onto a fig tree....
Philemon: I read somewhere that the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden
of Eden was supposed to have been a fig tree.
Stuyvesant: Houston describes these two monsters as the power of attraction
and repulsion in their most destructive forms.
Livius: I was surprised at how short a section this was, for such a
graphic picture - one I had remembered for years. I guess I had supposed
it would be pages and pages
Philemon: One devours and the other sucks in.
Philemon: Actually, they're both devouring in different ways.
Philemon: I think Petronilla that the symbolism of Scylla and Charybdis
really speaks to us. Some of our lives are like that!
Stuyvesant: They are the ultimate risks we take in trying to get where
we want to go. O could have said, forget it, home is not worth going
through these trials, but he didn't he pressed on and fought the urge to
stop and fight these demons along the way.
Stuyvesant: And, we are told that if Skylla got a second chance she
would take 6 more men, so he is wise in rowing as fast as he can, not stopping
to ponder his dillema, just GOING!
Philemon: Wasn't there something about Clashing Rocks too? That was
the path he didn't take at all, as advised by Circe?
Stuyvesant: Oh, yesh, Circe tells Odyseeus to call on Skylla's mother
in order not to lose the second set of 6 men. Another mother called
Stuyvesant: prowling rocks or drifters they are called in my version
and there is no passing
Philemon: He has to learn from the "mothers" without being at their
Philemon: I seem to remember an old movie or interpretation of the
Odyssey with the Clashing Rocks in it...but I don't think they do appear
in the original, do they?
Solon: A symbol of the Great Goddess & female knowledge?
Livius: Clashing Rocks in mine - says Argo was the only ship to pass
witht he help of Hera
Stuyvesant: Ooops I was wrong before, the one ship that made it through
*those* rocks was the one whose captain was loved by a Goddess, that's
probably why O chose the S-C route.
Nestor: Yes, Jason.
Philemon: What do you see as such a symbol, Callista?
Philemon: Ah Jason. The Clashing Rocks are in the Jason story!
Solon: Having To refer to "mother"
Philemon: Hey, Petra, Odysseus is supposedly loved by a goddess, Athena.
But she appears to abandon him for a long time, doesn't she? Because
she fears the wrath of her brother Poseidon.
Nestor: There is a book about that, the Wrath of Athena, by Jenny Strauss
Clay, I believe. Clay posits that Athena, though she loves O, is also annoyed
because he possesses so many of her gifts...
Stuyvesant: I think she loves him, but not in a romantic way, like
the deepest admiration.
Stuyvesant: She guides him and yet she allows him to make his own decisions
Philemon: Interesting, Maia? Does that book draw on myth in regard
to Athena's "annoyance"?
Solon: Athena is supposed to love Penelope equally, too. Penelope
is supposed to b crafty and wise.
Stuyvesant: Brings up that Adam and Eve metaphor again, except in this
case the intellectual first couple
Solon: Homer makes reference that they were the perfect couple
Nestor: Strauss Clay is a pretty well known classicist, I think...but
I can't remember much of it. I don't think Athena loves Penelope equally...she
is good to her as befits O's wife, but O is clearly her thing.
Philemon: Yes, Petra. If we talk about the history of man, Odysseus
and Penelope are sort of an archetypal couple in regard to knowledge and
wisdom (I'm remembering another famous couple too, Solomon and Sheba)
Stuyvesant: A question - how come O did not have as much difficulty
passing Skylla and Charybdis a second time?
Philemon: We start here with the man and female apart, coming together
(in Jungian terms, that's the integration of anima and animus)
Livius: Clashing Rocks in mine - says Argo was the only ship to pass
witht he help of Hera
Stuyvesant: I mean he rows past this whirlpool with his *bare hands*?
Philemon: I don't get the impression that Odysseus is trusting in Athena's
Stuyvesant: Well, Athena leaves him alone for years! I would
not count on her either if that happened to me.
Philemon: Gee, I'm remembering in Hades - it kind of irked me. Agamemnon
warns Odysseus not to ever trust women.
Stuyvesant: can you find the line number on that Torrey?
Philemon: There's sort of an issue here...can he or can he not even
trust Penelope (will have to find my book, Petra. It's not next to me).
14:19 diopan Nestor enters...
Livius: But consider Agamemnon's experience with women His wife
was not exactly a shining example of trustworthiness
Philemon: Hello diopan. We're getting near ending but feel free to
Stuyvesant: Okay, found it, (after a long list of reasons why Aggie
was right to say something like that) "Let it be a warning, even unto you.
Indulge a woman never, and never tell her all you know...."
Livius: Petra - Book 11 Line518
Stuyvesant: He goes on to say "Not that I see a risk for you, Odysseus,
of death at your wife's hands. She is too wise, too clear-eyed, sees
alternatives too well, Penelope...."
Philemon: Just found it Petronilla. In Fagles it says, ""Bear in mind....never
out inthe open...the time for trusting women's gone forever!
Stuyvesant: thanks petronilla, I've got a great edition, easy to find
things thank goodness
Nestor: sorry I'm late, I'll read the transscripts later
Stuyvesant: Hello diopan :^)
Philemon: And before that Agamemnon says: So even your own wife - never
indulge her too far. Never reveal the whole truth, whatever you may know;
just tell her a part of it; be sure to hide the rest.
Stuyvesant: My other translation is similar to my first post, nothing
about not trusting them, only advice to hide part of what you know.
Stuyvesant: Maybe Fagles had a problem trusting women :^)
Livius: Certainly O's trip to Hades should give him comfort about Penelope
- Ag & O's mother giving good reports
Stuyvesant: Yes, I guess Hades was a 2-edged swaord for O, good news
about his wife from his own dead mother.
Nestor: Well, O was a survivor. He took NOTHING for granted.
Philemon: Folks, we probably need to be out of here in about 15 minutes,
when the next FB arrives. Just wondering if there's anything else you want
to bring up (I have one question left myself!)
Stuyvesant: Testing testing 1,2 3 (sorry)
Livius: Only one Torrey?
Stuyvesant: What is it Torrey?
Philemon: This is what most puzzles me. The interpretations I read
say that what Odysseus learned in Hades is that after death, life is meaningess
and empty. So as a result, he's not likely to be tempted by Calypso's offer
Philemon: But is immortality supposed to be life in Hades, like Achilles
and Agamemnon are experiencing. What about other myths of immortality,
like life on Olympus or in the Elysian Fields? Homer doesn't refer to either
Nestor: But if he took her offer, he would not die, Torrey! I don't
understand, am I missing something?
Livius: I saw that on your Odyssey page Torrey. Didnt quite understand
Philemon: I don't understand either, Maia. I'm questioning the interpretations
Iread that imply that immortality is life in Hades.
Stuyvesant: I have to think about it, I am a bit confused
Philemon: Or existence in Hades. Shouldn't use the word life here.
Nestor: No, Calypso's offer is not the same as living in Hades. It
implies living with her, never dying.
Philemon: That's what I thought, Maia. So it's not Homer that's confusing,
it's the interpreters who are off base!
Livius: It says he saw Heracles' ghost - the man himself delights in
the grand feasts of teh deathless gods on high. Two levels there
Stuyvesant: That's how I understood Calypso'd offer, staying with her.
Nestor: And there are divisions in Hades, Torrey. Like Heracles is
immortal...but he's not in Hades proper. Elysian Fields.
Philemon: Yes, is Heracles in two places at once? Olympus or the Elysian
Fields and the part of Hades where the Shades live?
Philemon: Or maybe he moves back and forth...
Stuyvesant: hades - shade reflexive, hmmmm
Nestor: I think, remember reading once, that there are two shades of
Heracles...the monster who killed his wife and kids is in Hades, the other
in the EF...
Philemon: Gee, not only people have A.S. have dual personalities!
Stuyvesant: Anyone have a line number for this? (still confused)
Nestor: And maybe a third in Olympos! With myth, we're dealing with
so many contributory factors, aren't we? Conflicting viewpoints...
Philemon: at A.S.!
14:38 maia Nestor enters...
Philemon: I'm not sure it's all in the book, Petra. I think there are
other myths about Heracles after death that differ from Homer's interpretation.
Stuyvesant: maia enters again (without leaving) thereby proving that
you can have two online at the same time
Stuyvesant: Oh, okay Torrey.
Nestor: I think the place is book 11 line 600
Nestor: Yes, I am so multi-talented!
Livius: Line 690 Book 11
Nestor: Tons of other myths, Torrey!
Philemon: Maia, you unintentionally (or was it intentionally) enacted
the issue we're talking about.
Nestor: I think the line Petra is referring to has to do with H being
Stuyvesant: Yes, that's what I meant, glad you got that Torrey :^)
Philemon: In Fagles: And next I caught a glimpse of powerful Heracles
- his ghost, I mean: the man himself delights in the grand feasts of the
deathless gods on high....
Stuyvesant: Yes, maia, where is that line number 600 and 690 weren't
Philemon: Line 690 in Fagles....
Stuyvesant: Okay it's 720 in mine
Nestor: Line 717...approx.
Philemon: There are two systems of numbering, right Maia? The original
and the translation.
Stuyvesant: well, yes, 717 you're right *smile*
Nestor: H. being with Hebe among the gods is line 603 in greek
Stuyvesant: So he is destined to toil in the underworld as O toils
in the "sunny world"
14:46 Callista Solon exits...
Philemon: Interesting that one can live on Olympus and be a shade in
Hades at the same time (Are we all shades online? Just living in consiousness,
without our bodies?)
Stuyvesant: I like that question Torrey!
Philemon: (Petra, I sometimes think of the Internet as a glimpse of
life after death. Connecting only in consciousness)
Stuyvesant: There are definitely representations of all the worlds
in this work, the underworld, the physical world, toe world of the Gods,
the realm of the mind and the spiritual world.
Stuyvesant: the not toe, sorry, think faster than I type
Philemon: We probably all needto get out of here in the next 5 minutes,
folks, for the next FB chat group to arrive.
Stuyvesant: And Gods by their very nature can exist simultaneously
on different planes of existance.
Philemon: Anything else anyone wants to say, in closing?
Stuyvesant: Okay, I can live with that :^)
Nestor: this probably what makes it so interesting
Stuyvesant: Thanks Torrey, you're terriffic (but you know that already)
Livius: Do we have a time for the next discussion? Which books?
Will it be posted later? Thanks all!
14:51 Petra Stuyvesant enters...
Philemon: You all are terrific. We've had a really stimulating discussion.
(I get motivated by all you aware, intelligent people!)
Nestor: Next Sunday? Same time?
Philemon: I think Maia is leading the next discussion on Sunday? Maia,
are you still here? Which books? Do you have a time?
Philemon: Sounds good. Books 13-16 or even more?
Nestor: How about the same time...and say, 13-19?
Nestor: Well that can be the structure...13-16 is probably more realistic.
Philemon: That ok with everyone here? (Maia, will you announce that
on the FB board?)
14:53 Trajanus Ulpius enters...
14:54 Petra Stuyvesant enters...
Nestor: Sure. Will do it today, if I can.
Philemon: You decide, then post....(I read somewhere that the Odyssey
is written in series of 4 books, so if that's true, 13-16 or 13-20 would
14:54 Domitilla Curtius enters...
Livius: That works for me - I may be a bit late again. I have
really enjoyed this!
Philemon: Trajanus, if you're here for the next chat, we're just ending
the Odyssey one and will be out in about 2 minutes.
Nestor: 24 books, Torrey. Both Iliad and Odyssey.
Stuyvesant: Thanks everyone!
14:55 Petra Stuyvesant exits...
Nestor: It's been fun...
Philemon: Yes, thanks everyone! This has been great.
14:55 maia Nestor exits...
Ulpius: Don't run on my account. Any of you interested in non-fiction?
Philemon: The transcript will be here...and I'll post it at my site
too (if the file manager works!)
Curtius: Yes! non-fiction1 That's why I'm here...
Nestor: bye everyone
Philemon: Ok the Odyssey group is leaving. To the next group: have
a great chat!
Livius: I am staying for non-fiction.
Philemon: Bye diopan. Thanks for joining in.
Philemon: Long chat time for you Petronilla. Take care...
14:59 Torrey Philemon exits...
continue to next Odyssey chat
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