Odyssey Passage: Book V lines 224-233
"My lady goddess, here is no cause for anger.
My quiet Penélopê --- how well I know ---
would seem a shade before your majesty,
death and old age being unknown to you,
while she must die. Yet, it is true, each day
I long for home, long for the sight of home.
If any god has marked me out again
for shipwreck, my tough heart can undergo it.
What hardship have I not long since endured
at sea, in battle! Let the trial come."
(Book V lines 224-233)
Odysseus, being a thoughtful and effective orator, understands the goddess' hidden threat. He is being very careful at answering her questions. First, sensing the goddess is feeling jealous, he asks her no to be angry and assures her that for Penélopê is mortal, her beauty and form is no match compares her. Second, in his reply he omits his desire to see his wife instead he said "
I long for home, long for the sight of home" (line 229).
Odysseus expresses his words in such a way that he gives away absolutely nothing of his own thought; instead he simply gives back the sweet nymph her own initial premise. In other words, when Kalypso asks "Can I be less desirable than she is? Less interesting? Less beautiful? Can mortals compare with goddesses in grace and form?" (lines 220-222) Odysseus, instead of proving her point, he just repeats it: "'My quiet Penélopê
would seem a shade before you majesty' (lines 225-226) because she is mortal while you are immortal and unaging therefore she must seem less beautiful." This is not just a clever parody on Odysseus' part for he is a hero who recognizes and accepts his mortality, but he also realizes that mortal is mortal, immortal is immortal, while two may occasionally meet --- his years on an island with goddess, Kalypso, for example --- they never mix for they cannot be compare.
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