Welcome to The Odyssey Readalong Check-in the Second (Books 7-12).
I’m so thrilled after last week to see that so many of you are enjoying the Odyssey journey so far! I’m having a blast and this second was even better than the first.
Synopsis of Books VII-XII (spoilers below)
We were left last time when Odysseus comes to the land of the Phaeacians. Here, Ody meets Alcinous, the king of the Phaeacians and he welcomes Ody and even offers his daughter’s hand in marriage (7). After a night’s rest, the Phaeacians assemble and hold a Pentathlon in Ody’s honor–every time Ody hears of Troy he weeps and a strapping fellow, Seareach, challenges Odysseus to competition in the games. Prideful Odysseus shows his strength and the folks later celebrate over food and music (8).
Odysseus openly grieves at dinner–especially after the Harper’s tales of Troy–and King Alcinous asks to know who Ody is. Finally begins what we’ve all been waiting for–Odysseus’s account of his journey from Troy to the land of the Phaeacians. Along his journey, Odysseus and his men run into the following unsavory characters:
Lotus Eaters–those who eat from the lotus have no desire to ever leave (9)
Cyclops - a terrifying and savage cannibal who traps Odysseus’s men and even eats a few! “Caught two in his hands like squirming puppies/ to beat their brains out, spattering the floor./ Then he dismembered them and made his meal,/ gaping and crunching like a mountain lion–/ everything: innards, flesh, and marrow bones (9, 313-18).
Aeolus – Warden of the winds. Gives Odysseus a gift of wind, but Ody’s jealous men open the bag and blow the ship back to Aeolia. Aeolus, understandably is annoyed and refuses to help. Ha! (10)
Circe – The beautiful witch who turns Odysseus’s men into swine. After tricking Circe, Odysseus and his men stay a year. Circe provides valuable help to Ody upon his departure. (10)
Shades of the Underworld – Too many dead people to mention! Ody’s mom, soldiers from Trojan war, other heroes, and most important to the story – Teiresias who tells Odysseus his fate and how to get home. (11)
|Tiresias in Underworld|
Sirens – sea nymphs who draw sailors in with their beautiful songs (12)
Scylla and Charybdis – An ancient “Rock and a Hard Place.” Think about the worst possible situation, and this is it.
|Scylla and Charybdis|
Finally, Odysseus and his men go against ALL forewarning and eat the “beeves” on Helios’s island. Well, Odysseus claims he was asleep—suuuuure. All his men perish and Odysseus lands on Calypso’s island bringing us full circle. (12)
Well Odysseus sure makes himself out to be faultless, doesn’t he? Even after he has suffered so much on his journey he is still quite boastful to the Phaeacians. I couldn’t help but smile when Shelley (Book Clutter) last week mentioned all the crying. Now I see it everywhere! A bunch of whining men–when they’re not acting prideful that is! Regardless, I absolutely loved these chapters. If I hadn’t worn out my “honey, listen to this” with Les Miserables earlier this year, I’d be telling every detail to poor Scott. I did tell him the “Nobody” bit but hardly got a smile. Ha! My mom told us the story of Odysseus when she was taking a literature class when we were little, so it was neat to revisit these stories again.
The women! Sylvia (Classical Bookworm) made a joke that perhaps Homer was a woman, but after reading this week’s section I’m not sure I can agree. These women–or creatures–or witches–or whatever they may be are terrible! Or maybe female Homer just really hated men and wanted to torture them? Ha! I did get a good laugh, though, when Odysseus bedded Circe! That poor crying Penelope–she should treat herself to a little action as well instead of moping over her weaving! But even in the Underworld we see one woman after another who has done some misdeed. That Clytemnestra who brutally murders Agamemnon–sheesh!
All in all I was glad to see Athena mostly out of this section. Though, it was still repeatedly apparent how heavy a hand the gods have in nearly every point of the story. I can’t help but be reminded of the scene in The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett when the gods all gather to play a board game with the mortals as their pawns. Despite the manipulations, it does have me itching to read more Greek mythology to hear the stories of the gods who are briefly alluded to in this tale.
How goes it for you guys? Can’t wait to read all your thoughts.
If you have written a post (not required) about Books 7-12, please link to it in the Mr. Linky below.
And please make sure your comments are working–I don’t want to call anyone out, but someone’s comment form was not allowing me to make comments last week. :(
Make sure to visit The Odyssey Check-in the First if you missed it last week!
Happy journeys! See you next Monday for Books XIII-XVIII (13-18).
*all images in this post from various searches on Wikipedia.org