Jan 24: The Misadventure With The Kine

The Odyssey today – or, as they could have, but did not, say, the Classic’s classic. Why is it Volume 22? Do they feel we’re not ready for it until then? And why after the Aeneid? It’s not Homer’s birthday, is it?

And why read it anyway, if the DRG is going to give away the plot – “When his ship approached the siren's rock, Odysseus stuffed the ears of his crew with wax and had himself bound to the mast that he might hear the alluring voice of the siren and yet not wreck his ship on the enchanted rock.”

Well, now that it’s ruined for us, let’s read it anyway.

-- Awesome, a “these” and “thous” translation. There’s even a reference to “kine”. And “barque,” a favorite archaic word of mine.

It’s interesting that they went for the verse translation of the Aeneid (admittedly, a public domain verse translation – Harvard didn’t get that endowment by being fools), but here it’s this super-stuffy prose. It sounds like a classic, because it's practically unreadable, and I suppose it saves wear and tear on the volumes as people put them back, but still.

Well, for all the buildup in the DRG, it only takes a paragraph to get by the Sirens. A little crosscutting would help here, Homer – take note for next time.

-- Now they’re going into Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla just scoops up men, while Charybdis likes to belch sea-water at them. Scylla then eats a half-dozen. All in another paragraph. Homer moves fast.

-- Odysseus’s men then convince him to camp out for the night on the island of the sun. Okay, says Odysseus, but don’t kill any of the sheep or cows. Of course not, they say. Perhaps this is one of the first examples of a “nothing can go wrong” type plan in literature.

-- In paragraph 30 Odysseus “laved” his hands. That’s pushing it. Again, one can see why Modernism had to happen.

-- Also, while the crew is killing the Sun’s cattle, Odysseus falls asleep, and he blames it on the gods. This seems a little transparent, no?

-- And eventually all the crew is killed (which they knew was coming, they just preferred it to starving), and Odysseus has to go back through Scylla and Charybdis (nice structure), and winds up with Calypso, and there we leave him.

0 comments: