I think I actually enjoyed this week’s reading. I learned a lot about people and how everything is susceptible to change. I know all that is kind of lame but I think Odysseus, Telemachus, and even Eumaeus all show elements of change and growth.
In book 14, with the help of the Phaeacians, Odysseus gets back to his home, Ithaca. Athena is still guiding him and protecting him. Later, she comes to him as a shepherd and tells him that he is home, but Odysseus the Clever One makes up a story about who he is. Athena loves this and praises him for how smart he is in not revealing his identity. So, they have a little heart to heart as he asks her where she’s been all this time and she explains all her attempts to help him while still being careful of Poseidon. And then they talk about Ithaca, Odysseus’ home, and all the suitors in his home. So he asks Athena for help, and she disguises him as a beggar and sends him off to meet his old loyal swineherd, Eumaeus.
So in this chapter, I feel that the interaction between Eumaeus and Odysseus (in disguise) shows and speaks to Eumaeus’s loyalty despite not knowing anything about Odysseus’s whereabouts for 10 years. This speaks to the concept of change and growth I was speaking of because even though there’s been an obvious separation (time and distance wise) in their relationship, their love/loyalty for one another has grown. All I know is that Odysseus better bless the heck out of Eumaeus after he kills the suitors, otherwise he’s dirty for that. Another thing I want to take a look at is the story that Odysseus tells Eumaeus. I noticed that the story he told is similar to the story of what actually happened to him. Which makes it clear to me that he’s feeling some sort of remorse about how he left his family. But also, Odysseus is kind of a psychopath. Who makes up that kind of elaborate ass story? And then presents it as truth? Like did he even need to lie? What does hiding his identity from a shepherd do for him? Would he have ran around telling everyone that Odysseus is back? Or would he have asked for such an in depth story? Is that a part of their culture- you have to go into detail about who you are to receive hospitality or after receiving hospitality? Because if so, then I’d understand why he came up with such a story. But if not, then it’s arguable that he has psychotic tendencies.
Later, we are back with Telemachus. Athena tells him to return home to Ithaca, and that the suitors are planning to murder him. So Big T leaves with Pisistratus to Ithaca. So not a whole bunch happened in this chapter but I wanted to mention a difference in Athena’s interactions with Telemachus versus her interactions with Odysseus. It seems to me that she’s more directly involved with Telemachus when she goes places with him disguised as other people or when she commands him to do stuff. In contrast, with Odysseus, she kind of just helps him out. She advises instead of instructs. I know the most obvious reason might be that Odysseus is older and smarter, but I wonder if there’s another reason behind that.
Now, we’re back in Ithaca with Odysseus who tells Eumaeus that he wants to head over to the palace and beg for help. Eumaeus tells him no. And then we learn a bit about Eumaeus. Eumaeus explains to Odysseus that basically, he had been born into royalty but was kidnapped and forced to become a servant. Some nurse woman had stolen him and eventually he was bought (yeah like literally bought; exchanged for dinero) by a man in Ithaca. I felt bad for Eumaeus, but I couldn’t help but notice how his story directly speaks to what I was talking about regarding change and growth. Eumaeus was born rich and into royalty and by chance or fate or whatever you could call it, a sudden change happened in his life when he was abducted which in turn caused him to be a servant. All of this goes to show how fate can affect anyone’s life, and that privilege can be taken away at any moment without reason or warning.
But he didn’t let that stop him. He still grew from that. Eumaeus went from being a servant to being a loyal swineherd to a rich man. So I just think it’s crazy how his circumstances just changed like that. Like imagine who he could have been or what he could have done. How come he never went back home or tried to figure out his background and why didn’t his parents look for him? But on a much bigger scale I think this lesson of change and growth is, and should be applied in people’s everyday lives. Sometimes I think people just like to get so stuck on negativity and the bad things that happened to them because that’s what they’re used to so they unconsciously stay in those negative mind frames and mindset but if we can just recognize that change is bound to happen at every turn in our lives then maybe we can stop hindering our own personal growth.
Anyway, Telemachus finally arrives home, avoids the suitors, sees his dad for the first time, and they start scheming’ on how to get rid of the suitors. I kind of expected for there to be waterworks during their reunitement but whatever. But the whole time, at the palace, the suitors are scheming’ too!! They’re planning on how to kill Telemachus. This part I still don’t get. For the suitors that want to kill Telemachus, why? Assuming that Odysseus had died and that Penelope had to remarry, what does Telemachus’ presence have to do with any suitor? Does he inherit the kingdom and they won’t have access to it or what? Also how do they think their “new wife” would react to losing her son? She barely is keeping it together after losing her husband for 10 years, and then the one thing that probably reminds her of him (oh and not to mention that he’s her son) dies. I don’t see how that would bode well for any suitor.
Lastly, in book 17, the whole gang is at the palace: Odysseus, Eumaeus, and Telemachus. At the palace, Odysseus, who is still disguised as a beggar, begs at the suitors’ table for scraps as to see who the worst-behaved suitors are. Most of the suitors are kind, but Antinous isn’t and talks down to Odysseus. I think it’s kind of interesting the kind of test Odysseus uses to scope the good from the bad. I don’t think it’s the best test, but it works.
Below are the discussion questions and my responses to them
- What further signs of maturity does Telemachus exhibit in his journey homeward? I don’t know if I can speak about Telemachus’ signs of maturity during his journey home but I definitely noticed how much more mature he was when Odysseus finally revealed himself. I was expecting Telemachus to kind of be upset or hurt or screaming at his father or at least badgering him after all these years of being apart. But instead Telemachus shows that he has matured by quickly accepting his father’s return, and not showing any anger about being fatherless for all of his life, but simply happy that Odysseus is back. And also, I guess that since Telemachus is willing to offer his father that’s disguised as a beggar food and shelter shows that he has learned how important hospitality is on his journey.
- What is special about his relationship with Pisistratus?
I really like their relationship, Pisistratus and Telemachus. Pisistratus and Telemachus are around the same age, but despite that, Pisistratus serves as a role model and friend for Telemachus. I feel like their relationship has gone past friendship and maybe even into a bromance. Not the kind that we discussed in class regarding Achilles and Patroclus per se, rather like brotherly love.
- How is the persona that Odysseus assumes as a beggar like, and unlike, his real self?
I never thought to compare Odysseus and his beggar persona to one another, but now that I think about it, I would say that Odysseus is like a beggar because he has lost everything and he has to receive help from other people and even gods. I also think he’s like a beggar because he learns as he goes; through his journey, his character is constantly changing.
In contrast, he is unlike a beggar because as a beggar he has to show more restraint then he ever has. Like I’ve mentioned in my previous journals, I feel that he has shown a lack of self-control and it’s not only negatively affected him, but those around him. That being said, as a beggar, he has to tolerate verbal and physical abuse from people he knows he is superior to.
- What other characters can you think of who use disguises in film and literature? Why do they do this?
Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman, Deadpool (I freaking love Deadpool). Pretty much any superhero in films and books usually disguise themselves, and it’s usually to protect themselves so people don’t know who they really are. Otherwise, if people knew who they were then that would affect the superheroes in a bad way because it would interfere in the private life of the superhero or even just ruin the way other people see the superhero.