In book 10, Odysseus and his men keep on traveling, and they land at Aeolus’ home, where they stayed for a long time. Aeolus, who we know as the master of the winds, gives Odysseus a pouch with all of the winds that would have driven their ship off course. The ones he didn’t give Odysseus and his men are the ones that would’ve guided them back home to Ithaca. After they leave, they get on their way home to Ithaca. They get so close that they can see the island and the people on it, but then the stupidest thing happened. Odysseus throughout all of this sailing took it upon himself to never, not once share the steering with any of his men , so consequently as they are this close to the island he falls asleep and his men get into the bag of winds that Aeolus have him. And yeah, you guessed it: they open it, and it sends them all the way back, and off course. So they had to row by to a different island where they meet Circe. She feeds Odysseus’s men a potion that turned them into pigs and made them forget everything. So Odysseus, being the great and smart leader that he is (sarcasm) , asks Hermes for help. Hermes tells Odysseus that there’s a plant/drug that will make him immune to the potion that Circe gave his men and then he also tells him how to strategically outsmart Circe when she attacks. Anyway, Odysseus and his men stay on Circe’s island for a long time and one of the men (Elpenor) dies from falling off of Circe’s roof. Next, they go to the world of the dead (I’m going to refer to it as the underworld).
So, there’s a lot to unpack in this chapter. I think this chapter shows how not so smart Odysseus is; and even how human he is. His lack of trust in his men and lack of judgment again results in his downfall. Look at how close he was to his home, his family, and everything that was his, and he lets it slip between his fingers. Another example: when they’re at Laestrygonians, his lack of judgment results in his men being killed, and even after receiving advice on how to disarm Circe, he stays with her for so long before finally leaving. At the same time though, I can’t put all of the blame on him because his men aren’t 5 years old. They’re supposed to be grown men who reason well, and instead they seem to succumb to temptation (much like their leader Odysseus) at every turn, further suspending their return to home. And another thing, in class we talked about how maybe Odysseus doesn’t want to go home to his wife and son. He wants to go home, sure, but not to his wife and son. And I say this because he constantly cheats on his wife, and barely (if ever) mentions his son. Lastly, I wonder if what Circe gave Odysseus men is similar to the locusts they eat “later on” on in the book.
In book 11, Odysseus is in the underworld, and he sees a bunch of people. He sees Elpenor -the guy died by jumping off the roof. Apparently he wants an actual burial from Odysseus. Odysseus then saw his mother which I realized had to hurt him a lot because he probably didn’t know she had died. Later he sees Tiresias who tells him all about his journey home, the troubles he would face, and other advice. Odysseus then goes on to tell them about his meetings with other people he fought with Ajax, Hercules, and Achilles. He explains his meeting with Agamemnon and how she cheated on him and betrayed him. Ok, so Achilles has a son? Who is he? Are there any books/stories about him? Who’s his mom? Did Achilles settle down before he died? AHHHHH!! How old is he? I have so many other questions…. I felt that this chapter was really a lot of foreshadowing. Because when Tiresias was talking to Odysseus about all of what he had to face, we already know what's going to happen. We know his men are going to kill the cattle, and we know that he’s going to be alone. But again, like I said about the previous chapter, Odysseus repeatedly shows his poor judgement skills because even though Tiresias warns him of what’s to come, and ways to prevent/outsmart them, he still lets them happen. Lastly, I have a small bone to pick with Agamemnon. I say small because I don’t blame him for how he thinks. So he told Odysseus to be wary of women and his wife because of what happened to him. That’s very fair. But I wonder if he would have said the same thing if he knew how many times Odysseus has cheated on his wife, and how Penelope hasn’t cheated on him (even though she has 50 gazillion men offering her their services) and how much longer she’s been patiently waiting for Odysseus to come home than in his situation with Clytemnestra.
In book 12, Odysseus is still telling the Phaeacians his story. He tells them how he went back to keep the promise he gave Elpenor. And then (my favorite part) before he left for home, Circe warns him about the Sirens and how to avoid them. First of all when i was reading this I immediately thought of the Pirate of The Caribbean movies and then the tv show Sirens. I really think sirens are so cool but I’ve always wondered what the difference between them and mermaids are. Anyway, knowing me I would have done what Odysseus did: instead of covering his ears like his men did, he tied himself to his ship and told his men to not until him no matter how much he begged, all so he could hear what the sirens sound like. After passing the Sirens they had to avoid: Scylla, a six-headed beast, and Charybdis, a monster in the form of a whirlpool that swallows ships. Scylla devoured six of the men (which is a better sacrifice), but then they reached the island of the sun god Helios, home of the sacred cattle of Helios (where we know already what happens)
Again, like I’ve been saying all through this whole journal, Odysseus has a poor lack of judgement. He was warned twice about what was to happen at the island of Helios but his men still did it, while he was asleep. Also, what is with his men waiting until he’s asleep to do stuff? What kind of weak men are they? But, in addition to what I was saying, I think the reason this keeps on happening to him is because in each of these instances where he’s tempted and fails he lets his pride convince him that he can do it, and he ends up not being able to do it. Anyway, I know I dragged him a lot in this journal but I will say that he did a good job of doing what he was told for the most part, and for going back and keeping his promise to his friend. At least we know he’s loyal. Oh, and last thing I have a question about is how can different gods have dominion over similar things? For example, I could’ve sworn that Apollo was the sun god, so where did Helios come from? And is he related to Apollo, do they share their “sun time” or what? Why didn’t he get mad and help answer old dude’s prayer in the Iliad?
In book 13, Odysseus is home yayyyyy!! That and Poseidon is petty. Like petty petty. I thought he stopped being mad a long time ago, but apparently not because he turns a ship to stone and is still pretty pissed at Odysseus. But despite all that Odysseus is home. Also, it clicked why Athena has been helping him out so much in this book. Why she orchestrated his coming home, begged Zeus to let him come home, helped his son, etc. etc. It’s because she’s a lot like her, lol. Think about it: he’s described as cunning and smart, both of are what Athena is know for. So maybe she’s helping him because he’s a lot like she is.
Below are the discussion questions and my responses to them.
What does it mean to you to be “civilized”?
To me, being civilized means being cordial. It means being accepting of other people, their cultures and traditions. It means not being an animal (in every sense of the word).
How can we tell whether the people Odysseus encounters on his homeward journey are “civilized”?
Well, the civilized ones didn’t eat people for one. For two, they’re hospitable, meaning they treat Odysseus and his crew with kindness, and provide them with what they can for their journey home. In contrast, the people who are not civilized behave in beastly ways. Like I said in my definition of “civilized” above: “It means not being an animal (in every sense of the word).” So this rules out anyone who eats human beings, or turns them into pigs, or makes them forget everything.
How do the Phaiacians compare to the other people that Odysseus meets on his homecoming? Is there land a place Odysseus could call home? Why or why not?
In my personal opinion, the Phaeacians are cool people. They’re far off and separated from everybody else which is the first thing I would’ve been looking at if I was Odysseus. Then, they’re nice people. They take good care of him the best they can and they invite him to eat and play games with them. And lastly, they promise to take him home, which is the best thing Odysseus could ask for. So, with all of that in mind, yeah, I would say their land is a place he could call home. Shoot, if he doesn’t call it home I will.