The Odyssey Books 1-4: Notes due Friday 1/10 (3/5) and Monday 1/13 (2/4) An Uncertain Identity
Prince Telemachus is the first human character whom the reader meets. He is the son of the long-missing Greek warrior Odysseus, King of Ithaca. Telemachus is too young, too untested, too unsure to have a firmly established sense of identity. Having grown up fatherless in a household full of insolent men who are besieging his mother and consuming his inheritance, he feels totally powerless. The goddess Athena appears to him in the form of a family friend, a captain named Mentes. Telemachus is naïve and ineffective! He is like the hero at the beginning of the epic cycle. Making Personal Connections
How would you feel and what would you do if you were in Telemachus’ position?
If I were in Telemachus’ position I would feel pretty furious. I would try to hinder the progress of the suitors and/or set off in search of Odysseus. Would you feel capable of taking the initiative to rid the house of the suitors? Or would you, like Telemachus, feel powerless and resort to fantasies about how you would fight the suitors if you could?
It’s hard to tell, with my current background I think I would feel capable of taking initiative, but if I had grown up fatherless I might not feel as prepared for something like that. Can you recall an incident or a situation in your life where you felt unable to act without some magical or superhuman force such as deities, fate, or superman?
Yes. When I was too short to reach the door handles I managed to get “locked” out many times and I thought that I would never be able to get in. Telemachus, at this point, is still a child who is waiting to be told what to do by the grownups, whoever they might be. Do you think of yourself more in terms of being a child or of being an adult?
I am at an in between area where I feel I am much like an adult, yet I am not ready to completely accept the responsibilities of being an adult. Has Telemachus asked himself the above questions? Have you yet, in your life?
Telemachus has not asked himself these questions, and this assignment is the first time for me to be asking myself most of the questions. Key Features of the Odyssey Books 1-4:
Stock Epithets: A descriptive word or phrase which an author uses to regularly describe a person or an object. Homer is known for his use of stock epithets in the Iliad and the Odyssey. Write one about yourself:
Greek Values and Beliefs:
Honoring the gods
Hubris was considered one of the gravest sins of the Greek world – believing oneself to be above the gods, or failing to properly honor the gods, brings punishment down upon the offender. In Books 1-4, list 3 examples(including quotations and line numbers) of people properly/appropriately/generously honoring the gods: 1. After setting sail “they set up bowls and brimmed them high with wine and poured libations out to the everlasting gods” (Homer 2.473-44). Telemachus’ crew honors the gods with a gift of wine. 2. Telemachus says to Mentes “stay longer, keen as you are to sail, so you can bathe and rest and lift your spirits, then go back to your ship, delighted with a gift” (Homer 1.355-58). When meeting Mentes he knew Mentes “was a god, he knew it well” (Homer 1.372). 3. Upon arrival at Pylos the crew sees “people lined [on] the beaches, sacrificing sleek black bulls to Poseidon” (Homer 3.5-6). This is how the people of Pylos honor the gods. List 2 examples of people who do NOT properly honor the gods, and the consequences of those actions: 1. When Eurymachus tells Halitherses “Go home and babble your omens to your children” (Homer 2.200), he is disrespecting a message sent from Zeus. Most likely hoping to be the successful suitor, the consequences of Eurymachus’ actions will probably keep him from ever having a chance. 2. “It was in Egypt, where the gods still marooned me, eager as I was to voyage home… I’d failed, you see, to render them full, flawless...
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