Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How Appropriate

So, for my Philosophy 201 class I am required to write about my experiences with the weekly reading assignment in my journal. I choose to fulfill that requirement here on blogspot. I apologize for any inconvenience this may subject you to.

I did come across a laughably appropriate bit in the reading this week, which comprised books 5-8 of Homer's Oddyssey:

Around line 220, Odysseus is having a conversation with the goddess Calypso, who has kept Odysseus captive on her island for seven years--her love for him being the cause. Odysseus does not love Calypso. He has a wife back in Greece and "...[pines] all [his] days" for her. Hermes is sent from Zeus to Calypso to argue for Odysseus' freedom and safe return home. Since Zeus is never to be disobeyed, Calypso agrees, but first extends Odysseus, the great grecian Warrior demigod, an invitation and a warning:

"But if you only knew, down deep, what pains
are fated to fill your cup before you reach that shore,
you'd stay right here, preside in our house with me
and be immortal.." (lines 228-231)

She goes on to ask if her beauty is any less than Odysseus' wife's--and in his cunning response replies:

"Ah great goddess,"
worldly Odysseus answered, "Don't be angry with me,
please. All that you say is true, how well I know.
Look at my wife Penelope. She falls short of you,
your beauty, stature. She is mortal after all
and you, you never age or die. . .
Nevertheless I long--I pine all my days--
to travel home and see the dawn of my return.
ANd if a god will wreck me yet again on the wine-dark sea,
I can bear that too, with a spirit tempered to endure.
Much have I suffered, labored lone and hard by now
in the waves and wars. And this to the total--
bring the trial on!" (lines 236-248)

What a great response. He compliments the goddess and declares his love for his wife, Penelope, not because her beauty and comparison exceeds that of the Gods, but because she is his wife! What more is there?

Our professor made a point before the end of class ended our discussions. He asked whether we think Odysseus meant what he said (about desiring only to return home to Penelope) or whether he used what he said merely as an excuse to get out of Calypso's imprisonment, thus embarking again on epic and awesome journeys. This is the point that I find appropriate and applicable. The search for the next adventure... how inebriating the adventure potion can be.

1 comment:

  1. This makes me want to read the Oddysey again. I love his response to Calypso, and I choose to believe that he wants to be with his wife, simply because he is a devoted husband. But very good point from your professor. Maybe he was just using it as an excuse to get out of her grip...I've never thought of that before.