Homer's Women | Sexual Fables
to Nausicaa (Od. ), and have been much cited by critics a a reflection . the relationship of Odysseus and Penelope even more unique. An image of cause in the human world men constitute the highest class of being as the use of . and find homework help for other The Odyssey questions at eNotes. such as when the Cyclops Polyphemus ate many of his men and tried to trap them all in Alcinous's hospitable actions even extend to offering his daughter Nausicaa in. The The Odyssey characters covered include: Odysseus, Telemachus, Penelope, Athena Polyphemus imprisons Odysseus and his crew and tries to eat them, but Arete - Queen of the Phaeacians, wife of Alcinous, and mother of Nausicaa.
Not only can this be seen in the story of The Odyssey, but it can be seen in other ancient Greek stories as well. The Unwanted There are many things in life that come unwanted, and there are also things in life that we must do unwillingly.
In The Odyssey, providing hospitality often fell into these unwanted areas. The fact that Odysseus wanted to get home to his wife, Penelope, and his son, Telemachus, is undisputable. Calypso, a fair goddess, had wanted to keep Odysseus in her cavern as her husband, but he refused. Although both of these women had fine homes and fine things to offer him, their hospitality was too much for Odysseus.
He instead left each with the goal of returning to Ithaca and reclaiming his family and his home. Another case where hospitality came in an unwanted abundance was when Telemachus encountered Nestor.
It was here that Telemachus found himself more welcome than he wanted. Throughout his journey, Odysseus also begins to reject hospitality when he finds himself encountering troubles at each place he comes to. Eventually he is the only man left alive. What mortals must I meet in this new land that I now touch?
He starts to wonder if they are actually kind or if they are only trying to please the gods with their hospitality. On the opposite side, back at home, Telemachus and Penelope found themselves feeling obligated to provide hospitality when they did not necessarily want to. The suitors came to their home and expected proper hospitality to be offered to them.
Because of the importance of hospitality back in those times, most people assumed it. In the case of the suitors, however, there was a larger assumption made on their part. When the suitors first showed up at the doors of the palace, Penelope and Telemachus intended for them to stay for a feast or two.
The suitors more or less intruded and welcomed themselves far more than Penelope and Telemachus had wanted them to. There are no universal rules for the conduct of the host or the guest; much less a threat of violence if a person does not behave in a certain manner.
The Odyssey, takes its reader to a very different world of rules and manners. In the story, the importance of hospitality goes beyond being a gracious host; there is a threat of violence if the host or guest does not fulfill their responsibilities.
On his way to met with her Hermes advises him on how to deal with the witch. One very important reason is that the goddess was violating the code of conduct between host and guest and not even a goddess can violate the rules. When the Cyclops decides to eat rather than welcome Odysseus and his crew, the men poke his eye out. This event does not bother the gods at all.
The father of the Cyclops, Poseidon, is only upset by the event because it was his son who was hurt. This statement proves that violence was an acceptable answer when a host was not gracious. The most violent reaction to the disregard of the responsibilities between a host and his guests occurs when the suitors are killed.
In the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorra three angels search in the city for someone who will welcome them into their home. When they do not find anyone inside the city, they travel to the home of Abraham. According to the story, Abraham was recovering from a circumcision and in a great deal of pain when he saw the strangers.
Even with his pain he welcomed the strangers and was saved from the destruction of the city. In both the Bible and The Odyssey violent penalties are given as a threat to anyone who is not hospitable and accommodating to their guest.
Because of this, it is not difficult to see that hospitality was one of the most important aspects to both societies. Was she the perfect mate? Does a wise man really seek the perfect woman and if he does, is he wise to? Do only fools believe in perfect soul-mates? In the ancient Greek world such decisions required consensus.
Zeus and the gods agreed that something must be done and Hermes was dispatched to inform Calypso that she must release Odysseus. Perhaps only a goddess could say such things to a god; a human woman would not have dared.
But the decision of the gods is final. Calypso sits in her garden at the edge of the cave she calls home. The air is thick with the scent of flowers and a natural spring trickles past her feet. The birds are singing, she has a great fire blazing. She moves to her loom, weaving and singing, in the hope he will decide to stay of his own choice.
There has to be friction. So, like the mistress who watches her lover go home to his wife, Calypso watched him go on the morning tide. She would not have helped him build the raft. He did not say goodbye and she did not seek him out to make him say it. Seven years together is a long time and some things are better left unsaid.
Odysseus knew that he must move on. This was just an interlude in the natural progression from birth to death, where we are all alone to pursue our fates. He chose to leave, and that is why the gods helped him, and why Calypso gave in.
Although a goddess, she did not do it without experiencing a deep anger. The cycle of life should not be interrupted for too long or the poem itself is threatened. If Odysseus had stayed with Calypso there would be no poem.
Perhaps for this reason Calypso has never won the hearts of the male translators who over the years have had quite definite ideas about getting Odysseus back home to Penelope. Some have played up the psychoanalytical implications: Certainly Odysseus complains of the pains of rebirth that were deferred constantly while he lived with her.
Or was it that the thread she wove -- the myth of the perfect relationship, the perfect woman — would mean that he would lose everything else that made him a man? There is a fundamental sadness associated with Calypso. She has never been invited back into other myths and legends.
Goddesses who defy time and space are rare in western literature. They just pop into stories occasionally and then disappear again, which is totally unfair of course. The critics would have us believe that her dangerous appeal lies in her timelessness, the oblivion, the denial of self, and these can be a powerful siren call in the 21st century when many western men no longer know what they want.
However, one could equally argue that second marriages are just fine, thanks, and Odysseus would have been happy with her if only the storyteller had given him a choice in the matter. Odysseus sent an advance party inland to scout out the island and they soon found Circe, the sea witch, who entertained the bullies hospitably.
She fed them, sang to them, flirted with them, all the while encouraging these distant travelers to forget their homes and their wives. But it can be assuaged with alcohol and sex and drugs, and Circe knew her drugs. When she waved her long magic wand, presto, she turned them all into grunting swine, the archetypical image of men in the thrall of sexual heat.
Could Circe ever find a real man? Eventually Odysseus came looking for his crew and he seemed to know how to overpower her sexually.
This was only because Hermes, sneakiest of the gods, gave him an antidote to her drugs and no doubt some precise instructions on a seduction sequence that would appeal to her. The antidote turned out to be moly, a small herb black at the root but with a milky flower garlic, speculate the scholars. Circe liked a natural man, an earthy man, a man who was a match for a fertility goddess. She lived in an open plan house of well polished stone and shiny doors surrounded by forest and she could charm wild animals -- the wolves, the lions who lived on her island -- and so too she charmed Odysseus.
Into her arms came this rugged handsome fellow, his hairy chest guarded by those piercing eyes.
The Value of Hospitality
He was wiry and weather-beaten, like a hunter, hard, tangible, scented. Her erotica must have a touch of the perverse and she made love that way. In her terrific bed he learned of the future frights he would encounter with similarly dangerous feminine figures: Men must learn to hate themselves before they can love women.
Odysseus went along with it for a whole year and it was only when his crew became impatient that he agreed to leave. But it was modernist writers such as James Joyce and Ezra Pound who fully embraced her.
Circe puts in an appearance as Bella Cohen, mistress of the local whorehouse, helping Bloom get in touch with his feminine side and satisfying his longing for punishment by turning him first into a woman and then into a pig!
Only through ritual humiliation and castration can Bloom emerge out the other side purified and ready to go back to his wife. Why he needed to go through all this and why he needed to be Jewish, we will never know, but it seems to have been important to Joyce.
Ironically, Ulysses was published originally by two women the American Sylvia Beach and her partner Adrienne Monnierwho launched it in France, in the English language no less, in They succeeded where another woman in England and two women in the United States had already tried and failed.
Beach got no satisfaction for her pains; Joyce took the money and ran. But why should she have been surprised? The lessons were there in the novel. She was his compromise halfway between those flirtatious bitches the Sirens and the unattainable goddesses Aphrodite and Athena.
Circe represented the sensual world, she was seduction, she was the sexual act itself. So again Odysseus takes center stage: Feminist writers eventually came to rescue Circe, and if Penelope is their choice today, Circe was their favorite in the early fifties, particularly for Southern women writers.
A fifties housewife, she has discovered feminism and is just waiting to take flight. Resentful at being tied to her island, she wishes she could be a wanderer like Odysseus: I believed that I lay in disgrace and my blood ran green, like the wand that breaks in two. My sights returned to me when I awoke in the pigsty, in the red and black aurora of flesh, and it was day. For this she was rightly dreaded and feared; her very name was a word of terror.
How dare he act cold and aloof in bed when she is tender and loving. How dare his men complain to him behind her back about how bored they are on her island.
They are lucky to get fed at all! If Circe enjoys superiority over the weakness of men, it is not in an arrogant or egocentric way; it is simply that she is smarter than they are. They stay with Aeolusthe master of the winds, who gives Odysseus a leather bag containing all the winds, except the west wind, a gift that should have ensured a safe return home.
However, the sailors foolishly open the bag while Odysseus sleeps, thinking that it contains gold. All of the winds fly out, and the resulting storm drives the ships back the way they had come, just as Ithaca comes into sight. After pleading in vain with Aeolus to help them again, they re-embark and encounter the cannibalistic Laestrygonians. Odysseus' ship is the only one to escape. He sails on and visits the witch-goddess Circe. She turns half of his men into swine after feeding them cheese and wine.
Hermes warns Odysseus about Circe and gives him a drug called molywhich resists Circe's magic. Circe, being attracted to Odysseus' resistance, falls in love with him and releases his men. Odysseus and his crew remain with her on the island for one year, while they feast and drink. Finally, Odysseus' men convince him to leave for Ithaca. Guided by Circe's instructions, Odysseus and his crew cross the ocean and reach a harbor at the western edge of the world, where Odysseus sacrifices to the dead and summons the spirit of the old prophet Tiresias for advice.
Next Odysseus meets the spirit of his own mother, who had died of grief during his long absence. From her, he learns for the first time news of his own household, threatened by the greed of Penelope 's suitors. Odysseus also talks to his fallen war comrades and the mortal shade of Heracles. Odysseus and the SirensUlixes mosaic at the Bardo National Museum in TunisTunisia, 2nd century AD Odysseus' ship passing between the six-headed monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdisfrom a fresco by Alessandro Allori — Returning to Circe's island, she advises them on the remaining stages of the journey.
They skirt the land of the Sirenspass between the six-headed monster Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdiswhere they row directly between the two. However, Scylla drags the boat towards her by grabbing the oars and eats six men. They land on the island of Thrinacia. There, Odysseus' men ignore the warnings of Tiresias and Circe and hunt down the sacred cattle of the sun god Helios. Helios tells Zeus what happened and demands Odysseus' men be punished or else he will take the sun and shine it in the Underworld.
Zeus fulfills Helios' demands by causing a shipwreck during a thunderstorm in which all but Odysseus drown. He washes ashore on the island of Ogygiawhere Calypso compels him to remain as her lover for seven years. He finally escapes when Hermes tells Calypso to release Odysseus.
Odysseus departs from the Land of the Phaeacianspainting by Claude Lorrain Odysseus is shipwrecked and befriended by the Phaeacians.
After telling them his story, the Phaeacians, led by King Alcinousagree to help Odysseus get home. They deliver him at night, while he is fast asleep, to a hidden harbor on Ithaca. He finds his way to the hut of one of his own former slaves, the swineherd Eumaeusand also meets up with Telemachus returning from Sparta.
Athena disguises Odysseus as a wandering beggar to learn how things stand in his household. The return of Ulysses, illustration by E. Synge from the Story of the World children's book series book 1: On the shores of Great Sea When the disguised Odysseus returns after 20 years, he is recognized only by his faithful dog, Argos. Penelope announces in her long interview with the disguised hero that whoever can string Odysseus' rigid bow and shoot an arrow through twelve axe shafts may have her hand.
According to Bernard Knox"For the plot of the Odyssey, of course, her decision is the turning point, the move that makes possible the long-predicted triumph of the returning hero". Odysseus swears her to secrecy, threatening to kill her if she tells anyone. When the contest of the bow begins, none of the suitors is able to string the bow of Apollo but then, after all the suitors have given up, the disguised Odysseus comes along, bends the bow, shoots the arrow, and wins the contest.
Having done so, he proceeds to slaughter the suitors beginning with Antinous whom he finds drinking from Odysseus' cup with help from Telemachus and two of Odysseus' servants, Eumaeus the swineherd and Philoetius the cowherd.