Ok, so I’ve been pretty busy lately with school, work, and home stuff. That being said, this is one of those times where I was not able to space out my readings to give me adequate time to process and digest what I was reading. Nevertheless, I did do my reading, so let’s start off with chapter 6. I can wholeheartedly say that this chapter made me not like this book. There was just a lot going on that didn’t sit right with me and we’re going to get into it. First off, Athena. She really wants Odysseus home. So much so that she orchestrates nearly everything that happened in this chapter. After Odysseus washes on shore to the home of the Phaeacians, he goes off somewhere. Meanwhile, Athena comes to Nausicaa in a dream and basically tells her that she’s lazy and that she needs to do more “womanly activities” to be eligible for marriage. So the next day, she gets up and goes to the lake/pond to wash clothes for herself and her family members. This was my first problem. Now, I understand that this is just a book, but I couldn’t help it when this hit home. LITERALLY today 10/28/20 I came back from work and found that my mother (who did not go to work) cooked and was in the process of cleaning up. On my way home, I had picked up some dinner and planned on doing my homework. So I saw her sweeping and she said to me “this is what makes a complete woman”, i.e. the cooking and cleaning. Now I get this from both my parents at least once a week but today especially, it made me mad because the circumstances were different and it didn’t make sense for her to say that randomly. Anyway, so I was able to really sympathize with Nausicaa when she was told that. Next, marriage was really stressed in this chapter. Odysseus brought it up, Athena brought it up, Nausicaa’s parents brought it up. And I personally feel that there was a lot of pressure on Nausicaa at this moment. Again relaying this back to me, there’s a lot of pressure for me to get married. For example, my parents (since i was 5) have always told me and my siblings that when we get married, it’ll have to be to a Nigerian man/woman from Onitsha (my hometown), and that’s one of the reasons they make us go back every other year. In addition to that, they also say that despite the many accolades I may have that marriage and kids are a must in my future; that without that I’m not really a woman. Yeahhh, not one of their finer moments. So I give this chapter a 3/10.
Later in the book, Odysseus meets Nausicaa’s parents, the king and queen and they share lovely stories. Again in this chapter the Phaeacians show hospitality by not only inviting Odysseus into their home but providing him with food, drink, clothes and whatever else he needed as a stranger in their country. I thought this chapter was interesting because Odysseus has been away from people for nearly a decade. All he has seen/been in the company of are gods. goddesses, nymphs, and other creatures etc so basically no human contact. That being said he now has to face an entire group of people who are notoriously known to be closed off. So I wonder why the Phaeacians still upheld the rules of hospitality when they’re closed off people or why Nausicaa wasn’t terrified of the fully grown naked man that stumbled upon her while she was fully naked as well.
The next chapter had a couple of solid tender moments which was cool. By the way, I like when the author is able to show a range of emotions from different characters throughout the text. Anyway so the one I’m talking about is when Odysseus is eating and celebrating with the Phaeacians and one of the boards I believe his name was Demodocus starts singing and storytelling like he usually does. But this time he was telling the story about the Trojan War and he’s talking about the battle between Odysseus, Achilles and Paris Etc. So Odysseus hears this and he starts crying but tries to hide it as well he doesn’t do a very good job at it. Later on, at the end of the book when the same bard recounts the same story, Odysseus has the same reaction. He can’t help but to cry about his past and experiences. I thought it was honorable and respectful for Odysseus to be that vulnerable in the face of others. Even though he was concealing his identity he shows respect for his friends and fellow soldiers that he lost during the war and just the fact that he’s crying is enough because not a lot of men cry in ancient Greek books that I know of. If they do it’s usually because of something immediate and tragic like when Achilles lost his best friend. He was so moved and so angry that he tore off his clothes, literally wailed, cried and didn’t eat until he avenged his death. Ironically, this “honor” is the same thing that leads him to compete in the games taking place at the Phaeacians athletic games. Also quick side note: why are the Greeks obsessed with athletic games? The gods and goddesses sometimes take part in it. The Trojans do, and so does everyone else in other Greek books. I understand it’s tradition and it’s very important, but why was it so important for them to show off strength? And furthermore, can we please, pretty please bring that back to modern times? Like I don’t these games should just be for the Olympics, I really think we should bring it back starting in like grade school and instead of recess, kids should compete in these athletic games. Just imagine how much more athletic we as a society would be. We wouldn’t have to worry about being ridiculed for being “fat Americans”, and the amount of exercise that we would be getting would probably be good for our brains so we probably do better in school. I don’t know, I just don’t see any downside to incorporating this into our school systems today. Anyway as I was saying, Laodamas invites Odysseus to play in the games but Odysseus says no because he’s tired and he’s come a long way etc., but then someone else makes fun of him for it and says that he’s not playing because he’s not good at the games and because of that Odysseus joins in and he’s better than nearly all of the other competitors. I just thought it was interesting that Odysseus doesn’t play about his honor. OOH, another side note: if there’s a play or a movie about this book, we should watch it in class. I would love that.
This last chapter must have been one of the funniest chapters I’ve read so far in the book. I just couldn’t take the whole thing seriously. So, Odysseus tells the Phaeacians who he is and his journey so far. He tells them about how they overthrew Ceconi and got sent down the wrong direction because of a storm sent by Zeus. Afterwards they reached a land where his crew ate the lotus and became very lazy and didn’t want to do anything in terms of going back home. I thought this was funny because it reminded me of the Percy Jackson movie where Percy Jackson and his two friends went to a casino and ate some lotus flowers and they were trapped there for a really really long time and they were unable to get out until Percy snapped them out of it by stopping eating the lotus flowers. Another part I thought was funny was when Odysseus told the Cyclops that his name was Nobody, so when the Cyclops friends came to help him they thought he was joking when he said “Nobody is killing me.” And you know what I don’t feel bad for the Cyclops because why would he eat people? And also it doesn’t make sense for Poseidon to be mad at Odysseus for protecting himself and his crew when it was his son that started this mess to begin with.
Below are the discussion questions and my responses to them.
What comparisons can you make between Penelope, Calypso, and Nausikaa? Do you recognize their character-type in other works of film and literature?
Well, all of these women want Odysseus. They are all really pretty, like above-average pretty women who have a high-status, and they’re all nice. And they’re all looking for a husband. It’s crazy because I had a hard time remembering current works of film or literature that have this “Homeric woman” character type. That being said I finally realized one. The Madea’s movie A Fall From Grace is about this woman who lost a husband but she was really kind and everybody loved her and she was successful because she worked in a bank and was doing very well for herself. But somehow she met this young man who swept her off her feet and they fell in love and got married.
To what extent does Odysseus exhibit the qualities of a good leader in his adventures coming home from Troy? He exhibits the qualities of a good leader every time he saved his men. He saved them from the city of Cicone, he saved them from the Lotus, and he saved them from the Cyclops. Through all these events he showed kindness, bravery and compassion. It might not seem like it because of the way he did it, but I feel that his intentions were in the right place.