Welcome to The Odyssey Readalong Check-in the Third (Books 13-18).
Well, as of 7:15 on Sunday evening–when I’m writing this post–I have only finished reading books 13-14 for this week. I won’t give you my list of lame excuses, but hopefully I’ll be able to edit this post with my update as soon as possible (Tuesday?) and then hop around to each of your posts. Sorry for the #trishfail and hopefully you all fared better than I did! UPDATE: FINISHED
Synopsis of Books XIII-XVIII
Odysseus finally makes his way back to his home island of Ithaca. At first he doesn’t recognize his homeland and feels betrayed and tricked. Athena, however, greets him and assures him she has a plan. She disguises him as an old beggar and she goes to fetch Telemachus (Telemakhos) (XIII). Odysseus, disguised as an old man, finds one of his faithful servents Eumaeus (Eumaios). Eumaeus doesn’t believe that Odysseus is alive, but Ody tries to convince the servant that he has heard word and that Odysseus will come home soon. Odysseus tells Eumaeus a story of his enslavement in Egypt bahdada ladida (XIV).
Athena brings Telemachus home and Ody tells Eumaeus more tales of his capture and exile (XV). Upon his return, Telemachus goes to visit Eumaeus and meets the old beggar. After Athena’s nudging, Odysseus reveals himself to Tele and they come up with a plan to overthrow the suitors (XVI). Dressed as a beggar again, Odysseus makes his way to the great hall of his own palace and eases his way in with the suitors. He’s assaulted but also shows his strength and Penelope asks to see the beggar in private (XVII-XVIII).
Well, I miss the action from the last six books. The familiar stories and adventure were much more exciting to read–even if they were a bit sensational and contrived. I realize that most of what happens in these books helps set up the ending of The Odyssey, but the chapters seem overly drawn out. Last week a couple of the readalong folks noticed the change in tone between the first six books and the second six, and while I’m not sure where exactly the third six fall in terms of tone, they seemed so much choppier to me than any of the others. The focus is constantly switching from character to character within the same book rather than focusing on one overarching theme, and some of the details like Odysseus’s capture in Egypt seem to come entirely out of the blue. Or maybe it was just my distracted state of mind.
Athena was absent during last week’s reading but she’s back again and working her powers on all those around her. I had to laugh when Telemachus is trying to convince his father of his strength and will power because it still seems evident to me that he is a rather weak young adult. The reasons why Athena sends Telemachus away seem contradictory–on one hand to make a name for himself but on the other to keep him out of danger. Because of the timing in which she brings him back, it seems even more evident that Athena sends Telemachus away not to become a man or to instill personal growth but to save his ass!
I’ll be most interested in the last section of reading to see the interaction between Penelope and Odysseus. In the last book she makes a speech against the suitors and how they take from her instead of shower her with gifts. Of course prior to the speech Athena refreshes her: “With ambrosia/she bathed her cheeks and throat and smoothed her brow–/ambrosia, used by flower-crowned Kythereia/when she would join the rose-lipped Graces dancing”. Does Athena have to fix everything? Are we mortals completely helpless to determine our own fate?
If you have written a post (not required) about Books 13-18, please link to it in the Mr. Linky below.
Happy journeys! See you next week for the last check-in for Books XIX-XXIV (19-24).