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.



13:25 maia 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. 
13:25 Torrey Philemon: Like the psychological interpretation is that the crew represented different facets of himself.
13:26 maia Nestor: As we said last week, his is a canvas to place our perceptions on, but we still have to tread warily, imo.
13:26 Petronilla Livius: Was Homer's promary intent then to entertain?
13:26 Petronilla Livius: primary
13:26 maia 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.
13:27 Petra 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.
13:27 Torrey 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. 
13:27 maia Nestor: Sure, it was to entertain. 
13:28 Theseus Artistides: I think yes, Petronilla, but then I have already said so.
13:29 maia 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 really was.
13:29 Petra Stuyvesant: I think this discussion is very entertaining to, in a deep way :^)  (Not trying to be silly)
13:29 Torrey 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.
13:30 maia 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)
13:30 Torrey 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!!
13:31 Petra 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...
13:31 maia 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. Fascinating.
13:31 maia Nestor: LOL Torrey!
13:32 maia Nestor: Yes, Petra...we humans have a need to really take things apart, don't we?
13:32 Theseus Artistides: You don't think that heroic code is applicable today, Maia?
13:33 Torrey Philemon: Welcome, Callista.
13:33 Petra Stuyvesant: Hello Callista
13:33 maia Nestor: Sure I do, Theseus. Just not one that simplistic. Hi, Callista.
13:34 Callista Solon: Thanks-I hate coming in in the middle!
13:34 Theseus Artistides: Hello Callista, and anyone else who I might have failed to greet!  *grin*
13:34 Torrey 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.
13:35 maia 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.
13:35 Torrey Philemon: We're just glad you got here, Callista. The more voices, the merrier.
13:36 Theseus 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!
13:36 Torrey 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.
13:37 maia 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.
13:37 Torrey Philemon: I honor both approaches.
13:37 maia Nestor: Bye, hon! We'll talk soon...
13:37 Petra Stuyvesant: Bye Theseus!  Thanks for being here, your input was valuable.
13:37 Torrey Philemon: Sorry you have to leave Theseus. And now I want to know more about YOUR epic.
13:37 Torrey Philemon: Theseus, I think you should create another personality here called Homer!
13:38 Theseus Artistides: Thank you! *smile*
13:38 Petronilla Livius: Bye Theseus
13:38 Theseus Artistides exits...
13:38 maia 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...
13:39 Petra Stuyvesant: I'm lost suddenly, what are the geras?
13:39 maia Nestor: What does everyone else think? Come on, I'll be quiet for a minute! *grin*
13:39 Torrey 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.
13:39 maia Nestor: Oh, the geras was Briseis, Petra. the war prize of Achilles.
13:40 maia Nestor: Well, as I said before, Torrey, Homer is a canvas. Enjoy the view. 
13:41 maia Nestor: I just have trouble when I hear phrases (not from you, I don't mean you) like, well Homer intended to....
13:41 Torrey Philemon: Do you all want to move on, back to the story? Like more about Hades, or Scylla and Charybdis and the Sirens?
13:41 Petra 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.
13:42 maia Nestor: Oooh, can we do Scylla and Charybdis?
13:42 Torrey Philemon: What does Odysseus seem to learn from his experience in Hades?
13:42 Petra Stuyvesant: I want to talk about all three of those topics
13:43 Torrey Philemon: Ok Maia,  give us the Greek viewpoint on Scylla and Charybdis (grin!)
13:45 Petra 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.
13:45 Petra Stuyvesant: NOT trails, Trials
13:46 Torrey Philemon: Say more, Petra. 
13:46 maia 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. 
13:47 Petra Stuyvesant: One is in the water (the subconcious if you will) and one is above, clearly seen and both are to be avoided
13:47 maia 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. 
13:48 Petra Stuyvesant: He knows FOR SURE he is about to lose at least six men, one to each of the mouths of Skylla
13:48 Torrey Philemon: Yet he has to go through Charybdis later, doesn't he? After he loses his men. Is that a conscious choice or necessity?
13:48 maia Nestor: That's right, Petra!
13:48 Petra Stuyvesant: He also knows only one ship has been allowed to pass and that was because the captain was loved by a Goddess
13:49 Torrey Philemon: So he chooses to lose six men instead of risk all....
13:49 Petra Stuyvesant: I personally would be petrafied at this point (no pun intended)
13:50 Torrey Philemon: LOL Petra!
13:50 maia Nestor: He can't help the return to Charybdis, torrey. The currents bear him there.
13:51 Petra Stuyvesant: Both of these monsters are considered female and God-like in their power, they cannot be "battled with"
13:51 Petra Stuyvesant: just endured as best you can
13:51 Torrey Philemon: And he is saved by Charybdis by hanging onto a fig tree....
13:52 Torrey Philemon: I read somewhere that the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden was supposed to have been a fig tree.
13:53 Petra Stuyvesant: Houston describes these two monsters as the power of attraction and repulsion in their most destructive forms.
13:53 Petronilla 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 
13:53 Torrey Philemon: One devours and the other sucks in.
13:54 Torrey Philemon: Actually, they're both devouring in different ways.
13:54 Torrey Philemon: I think Petronilla that the symbolism of Scylla and Charybdis really speaks to us. Some of our lives are like that!
13:55 Petra 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.
13:57 Petra 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!
13:57 Torrey Philemon: Wasn't there something about Clashing Rocks too? That was the path he didn't take at all, as advised by Circe?
13:59 Petra 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 to duty
14:00 Petra Stuyvesant: prowling rocks or drifters they are called in my version and there is no passing
14:01 Torrey Philemon: He has to learn from the "mothers" without being at their mercy. 
14:01 Torrey 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?
14:02 Callista Solon: A symbol of the Great Goddess & female knowledge?
14:02 Petronilla Livius: Clashing Rocks in mine - says Argo was the only ship to pass witht he help of Hera
14:02 Petra 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.
14:03 maia Nestor: Yes, Jason.
14:03 Torrey Philemon: What do you see as such a symbol, Callista?
14:04 Torrey Philemon: Ah Jason. The Clashing Rocks are in the Jason story!
14:04 Callista Solon: Having To refer to "mother"
14:05 Torrey 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.
14:07 maia 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...
14:07 Petra Stuyvesant: I think she loves him, but not in a romantic way, like the deepest admiration.
14:08 Petra Stuyvesant: She guides him and yet she allows him to make his own decisions
14:08 Torrey Philemon: Interesting, Maia? Does that book draw on myth in regard to Athena's "annoyance"?
14:08 Callista Solon: Athena is supposed to love Penelope equally, too.  Penelope is supposed to b crafty and wise.
14:11 Petra Stuyvesant: Brings up that Adam and Eve metaphor again, except in this case the intellectual first couple
14:11 Callista Solon: Homer makes reference that they were the perfect couple
14:12 maia 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.
14:12 Torrey 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)
14:15 Petra Stuyvesant: A question - how come O did not have as much difficulty passing Skylla and Charybdis a second time?
14:15 Torrey Philemon: We start here with the man and female apart, coming together (in Jungian terms, that's the integration of anima and animus)
14:15 Petronilla Livius: Clashing Rocks in mine - says Argo was the only ship to pass witht he help of Hera
14:16 Petra Stuyvesant: I mean he rows past this whirlpool with his *bare hands*? 
14:16 Torrey Philemon: I don't get the impression that Odysseus is trusting in Athena's help however.
14:17 Petra Stuyvesant: Well, Athena leaves him alone for years!  I would not count on her either if that happened to me.
14:18 Torrey Philemon: Gee, I'm remembering in Hades - it kind of irked me. Agamemnon warns Odysseus not to ever trust women.
14:18 Petra Stuyvesant: can you find the line number on that Torrey?
14:19 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...
14:20 Petronilla Livius: But consider Agamemnon's experience with women  His wife was not exactly a shining example of trustworthiness
14:21 Torrey Philemon: Hello diopan. We're getting near ending but feel free to join in...
14:22 Petra 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...."
14:22 Petronilla Livius: Petra - Book 11 Line518
14:23 Petra 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...."
14:23 Torrey Philemon: Just found it Petronilla. In Fagles it says, ""Bear in mind....never out inthe open...the time for trusting women's gone forever!
14:23 Petra Stuyvesant: thanks petronilla, I've got a great edition, easy to find things thank goodness
14:24 diopan Nestor: sorry I'm late, I'll read the transscripts later 
14:24 Petra Stuyvesant: Hello diopan :^)
14:25 Torrey 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.
14:26 Petra Stuyvesant: My other translation is similar to my first post, nothing about not trusting them, only advice to hide part of what you know.
14:27 Petra Stuyvesant: Maybe Fagles had a problem trusting women :^)
14:27 Petronilla Livius: Certainly O's trip to Hades should give him comfort about Penelope - Ag & O's mother giving good reports
14:27 Petra Stuyvesant: Yes, I guess Hades was a 2-edged swaord for O, good news about his wife from his own dead mother.
14:27 maia Nestor: Well, O was a survivor. He took NOTHING for granted.
14:29 Torrey 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!)
14:29 Petra Stuyvesant: Testing testing 1,2 3 (sorry)
14:29 Petronilla Livius: Only one Torrey?
14:29 Petra Stuyvesant: What is it Torrey?
14:30 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 of immortality.
14:31 Torrey 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 of those.
14:31 maia Nestor: But if he took her offer, he would not die, Torrey! I don't understand, am I missing something?
14:32 Petronilla Livius: I saw that on your Odyssey page Torrey.  Didnt quite understand it
14:32 Torrey Philemon: I don't understand either, Maia. I'm questioning the interpretations Iread that imply that immortality is life in Hades.
14:33 Petra Stuyvesant: I have to think about it, I am a bit confused
14:33 Torrey Philemon: Or existence in Hades. Shouldn't use the word life here. After death.
14:33 maia Nestor: No, Calypso's offer is not the same as living in Hades. It implies living with her, never dying. 
14:34 Torrey Philemon: That's what I thought, Maia. So it's not Homer that's confusing, it's the interpreters who are off base!
14:34 Petronilla Livius: It says he saw Heracles' ghost - the man himself delights in the grand feasts of teh deathless gods on high.  Two levels there
14:34 Petra Stuyvesant: That's how I understood Calypso'd offer, staying with her.
14:35 maia Nestor: And there are divisions in Hades, Torrey. Like Heracles is immortal...but he's not in Hades proper. Elysian Fields. 
14:35 Torrey Philemon: Yes, is Heracles in two places at once? Olympus or the Elysian Fields and the part of Hades where the Shades live?
14:35 Torrey Philemon: Or maybe he moves back and forth...
14:36 Petra Stuyvesant: hades - shade reflexive, hmmmm
14:36 maia 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...
14:37 Torrey Philemon: Gee, not only people have A.S. have dual personalities!
14:37 Petra Stuyvesant: Anyone have a line number for this? (still confused)
14:37 maia Nestor: And maybe a third in Olympos! With myth, we're dealing with so many contributory factors, aren't we? Conflicting viewpoints...
14:37 Torrey Philemon: at A.S.!
14:38 maia Nestor enters...
14:38 Torrey 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.
14:39 Petra Stuyvesant: maia enters again (without leaving) thereby proving that you can have two online at the same time
14:39 Petra Stuyvesant: Oh, okay Torrey. 
14:39 diopan Nestor: I think the place is book 11 line 600
14:39 maia Nestor: Yes, I am so multi-talented!
14:39 Torrey Philemon: LOL!
14:39 Petronilla Livius: Line 690  Book 11
14:39 maia Nestor: Tons of other myths, Torrey!
14:40 Torrey Philemon: Maia, you unintentionally (or was it intentionally) enacted the issue we're talking about.
14:41 maia Nestor: I think the line Petra is referring to has to do with H being in Olympos...
14:41 Petra Stuyvesant: Yes, that's what I meant, glad you got that Torrey :^)
14:41 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....
14:42 Petra Stuyvesant: Yes, maia, where is that line number 600 and 690 weren't it
14:42 Torrey Philemon: Line 690 in Fagles....
14:43 Petra Stuyvesant: Okay it's 720 in mine
14:43 maia Nestor: Line 717...approx.
14:44 Torrey Philemon: There are two systems of numbering, right Maia? The original and the translation.
14:44 Petra Stuyvesant: well, yes, 717 you're right *smile*
14:44 diopan Nestor: H. being with Hebe among the gods is line 603 in greek 
14:45 Petra Stuyvesant: So he is destined to toil in the underworld as O toils in the "sunny world"
14:46 Callista Solon exits...
14:46 Torrey 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?)
14:46 Petra Stuyvesant: I like that question Torrey!
14:47 Torrey Philemon: (Petra, I sometimes think of the Internet as a glimpse of life after death. Connecting only in consciousness)
14:48 Petra 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.
14:48 Petra Stuyvesant: the not toe, sorry, think faster than I type
14:49 Torrey Philemon: We probably all needto get out of here in the next 5 minutes, folks, for the next FB chat group to arrive.
14:49 Petra Stuyvesant: And Gods by their very nature can exist simultaneously on different planes of existance.
14:50 Torrey Philemon: Anything else anyone wants to say, in closing?
14:50 Petra Stuyvesant: Okay, I can live with that :^)
14:50 diopan Nestor: this probably what makes it so interesting 
14:50 Petra Stuyvesant: Thanks Torrey, you're terriffic (but you know that already)
14:51 Petronilla Livius: Do we have a time for the next discussion?  Which books?  Will it be posted later?  Thanks all!
14:51 Petra Stuyvesant enters...
14:51 Torrey Philemon: You all are terrific. We've had a really stimulating discussion. (I get motivated by all you aware, intelligent people!)
14:51 maia Nestor: Next Sunday? Same time?
14:52 Torrey Philemon: I think Maia is leading the next discussion on Sunday? Maia, are you still here? Which books? Do you have a time?
14:52 Torrey Philemon: Sounds good. Books 13-16 or even more?
14:53 maia Nestor: How about the same time...and say, 13-19?
14:53 maia Nestor: Well that can be the structure...13-16 is probably more realistic. 
14:53 Torrey 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...
14:54 maia Nestor: Sure. Will do it today, if I can.
14:54 Torrey 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 make sense)
14:54 Domitilla Curtius enters...
14:54 Petronilla Livius: That works for me - I may be a bit late again.  I have really enjoyed this!
14:54 Torrey 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.
14:55 maia Nestor: 24 books, Torrey. Both Iliad and Odyssey.
14:55 Petra Stuyvesant: Thanks everyone!
14:55 Petra Stuyvesant exits...
14:55 maia Nestor: It's been fun...
14:55 Torrey Philemon: Yes, thanks everyone! This has been great.
14:55 maia Nestor exits...
14:55 Trajanus Ulpius: Don't run on my account. Any of you interested in non-fiction?
14:56 Torrey Philemon: The transcript will be here...and I'll post it at my site too (if the file manager works!)
14:56 Domitilla Curtius: Yes! non-fiction1 That's why I'm here...
14:56 diopan Nestor: bye everyone
14:56 Torrey Philemon: Ok the Odyssey group is leaving. To the next group: have a great chat!
14:56 Petronilla Livius: I am staying for non-fiction.
14:56 Torrey Philemon: Bye diopan. Thanks for joining in.
14:57 Torrey Philemon: Long chat time for you Petronilla. Take care...
14:59 Torrey Philemon exits...

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