Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

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Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Aug 09, 2019 7:56 am

Welcome to the Odyssey Reading Group! Anyone is welcome to join in at any time, regardless of their Greek ability. If you’re itching to explore Homer’s epic tale of survival, adventure, love, lust, kinship, betrayal and spooky dead people, hop on in, you’ll be very welcome. People who have some Greek but have never tried reading Homer before are doubly welcome.

Check the introductory thread for a description of how the group works.

We’re working from Geoffrey Steadman’s Odyssey Books 6-8, a freely-available pdf
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An introduction to Book 6 and a list of resources for deeper study are available in the group dropbox folder
Next week (Friday 16th August) we’ll be reading Book 6 Lines 239-261
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Aug 09, 2019 8:03 am

211 ὣς ἔφαθ᾽, αἱ δ᾽ ἔσταν τε καὶ ἀλλήλῃσι κέλευσαν, 212 κὰδ δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ Ὀδυσσῆ᾽ εἷσαν ἐπὶ σκέπας, ὡς ἐκέλευσεν 213 Ναυσικάα θυγάτηρ μεγαλήτορος Ἀλκινόοιο· 214 πὰρ δ᾽ ἄρα οἱ φᾶρός τε χιτῶνά τε εἵματ᾽ ἔθηκαν, 215 δῶκαν δὲ χρυσέῃ ἐν ληκύθῳ ὑγρὸν ἔλαιον, 216 ἤνωγον δ᾽ ἄρα μιν λοῦσθαι ποταμοῖο ῥοῇσιν. 217 δή ῥα τότ᾽ ἀμφιπόλοισι μετηύδα δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς· 218 “ἀμφίπολοι, στῆθ᾽ οὕτω ἀπόπροθεν, ὄφρ᾽ ἐγὼ αὐτὸς 219 ἅλμην ὤμοιιν ἀπολούσομαι, ἀμφὶ δ᾽ ἐλαίῳ 220 χρίσομαι· ἦ γὰρ δηρὸν ἀπὸ χροός ἐστιν ἀλοιφή. 221 ἄντην δ᾽ οὐκ ἂν ἐγώ γε λοέσσομαι· αἰδέομαι γὰρ 222 γυμνοῦσθαι κούρῃσιν ἐυπλοκάμοισι μετελθών.” 223 ὣς ἔφαθ᾽, αἱ δ᾽ ἀπάνευθεν ἴσαν, εἶπον δ᾽ ἄρα κούρῃ. 224 αὐτὰρ ὁ ἐκ ποταμοῦ χρόα νίζετο δῖος Ὀδυσσεὺς 225 ἅλμην, ἥ οἱ νῶτα καὶ εὐρέας ἄμπεχεν ὤμους, 226 ἐκ κεφαλῆς δ᾽ ἔσμηχεν ἁλὸς χνόον ἀτρυγέτοιο. 227 αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δὴ πάντα λοέσσατο καὶ λίπ᾽ ἄλειψεν, 228 ἀμφὶ δὲ εἵματα ἕσσαθ᾽ ἅ οἱ πόρε παρθένος ἀδμής, 229 τὸν μὲν Ἀθηναίη θῆκεν Διὸς ἐκγεγαυῖα 230 μείζονά τ᾽ εἰσιδέειν καὶ πάσσονα, κὰδ δὲ κάρητος 231 οὔλας ἧκε κόμας, ὑακινθίνῳ ἄνθει ὁμοίας. 232 ὡς δ᾽ ὅτε τις χρυσὸν περιχεύεται ἀργύρῳ ἀνὴρ 233 ἴδρις, ὃν Ἥφαιστος δέδαεν καὶ Παλλὰς Ἀθήνη 234 τέχνην παντοίην, χαρίεντα δὲ ἔργα τελείει, 235 ὣς ἄρα τῷ κατέχευε χάριν κεφαλῇ τε καὶ ὤμοις. 236 ἕζετ᾽ ἔπειτ᾽ ἀπάνευθε κιὼν ἐπὶ θῖνα θαλάσσης, 237 κάλλεϊ καὶ χάρισι στίλβων· θηεῖτο δὲ κούρη. 238 δή ῥα τότ᾽ ἀμφιπόλοισιν ἐυπλοκάμοισι μετηύδα·
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Aug 09, 2019 9:16 am

The unusual nature of Odysseus’ bath in this passage raises lots of questions and will, I think, lead to various conclusions for people who read these threads. It is, by my count, one of thirteen bathing episodes in the Odyssey compared with five in the Iliad (two of which are the washing of corpses). Seneca introduced liminal spaces to the discussion last week - the bath in Homer is often a moment of transformation and rebirth which seems to mark the passage between states.

So far, we’ve had Telemachus’ bath in Pylos, given by Polycaste, from which he emerges looking godlike (δέμας ἀθανάτοισιν ὁμοῖος 3.468), marking his coming of age. Tellingly, this is quickly followed by his bath in Sparta (Book 4) where no further transformation occurs. Also in Book 4, we’ve had a description of Helen bathing Odysseus at Troy when he was in disguise as a beggar (giving us a glimpse of later events), and Calypso gives Odysseus a bath before he leaves Ogygia. Nausicaa’s bath is, I think, the only example of a female character bathing apart from Aphrodite in Book 8, and doesn’t seem to have any special significance attached to it - make of this what you will.

Odysseus’ bath here in Book 6 is the only example in Homer of a character refusing to be bathed by someone else. Sending the ἀμφίπολοι away has the advantage for the plot that Odysseus can be ‘beautified’ without them seeing, leading to his big reveal. His own reason, feeling ashamed of his nakedness, doesn’t seem to make sense as there are lots of other examples of men being bathed by young women. As we learn later, his journey from Ogygia to Scheria really seems to have taken it out of him and he’s completely filthy, so maybe it’s more shame over his physical appearance. Others have suggested that he has bad memories of being bathed by Circe and Calypso, so he’s being extra careful with these unknown women.

My take on this scene is that it’s important that he bathes himself here and that it has huge significance within the Odyssey as a whole. Like the warriors who return from battle in the Iliad and wash away blood and gore, Odysseus doesn’t just bathe here (λούω) but washes himself (νίζω), a word normally used in the Odyssey to refer to the washing of hands (and never in bathing scenes, I don’t think). It is tellingly used again in another pivotal cleansing (but not bathing) scene when he is washed and recognised by Eurycleia. I risk over-reading here perhaps, but it seems to me that Odysseus is ritually and literally washing away the gore (i.e. ἅλμη) of his battle with the sea using fresh water (he doesn’t sail again himself after this point and the Phaeacians' ships are more like teleportation than sailing) and preparing himself for his old life. The baths that others have given him (Circe, Calypso) have failed to renew him, so he has to do it himself - although, as usual, with Athena sprinkling the magic dust.

I also think there is much to be said about the significance of his bathing where clothes have just been washed and Nausicaa's role as launderer, but this post is already too long.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Fri Aug 09, 2019 12:42 pm

My conclusion: remind my daughters to take an extra pair of men's clothes and bathing supplies, in case you meet a naked man at the shore who needs a bath. :shock:
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by mwh » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:25 am

As I think I suggested before, it’s worth paying attention to how aidws operates. At the beginning fo bk.3 Telemachus says that aidws inhibits young men from questioning their elders, and accordingly he has to overcome his aidws in order to address Nestor. (We can say that Athene emboldens him, but that is to say the same thing in different words—I think I mentioned double motivation earlier too.) Nausikaa would similarly be restrained by aidws from personally bathing Odysseus (just as she was restrained from mentioning marriage). She's no Calypso, nor Circe.
Polykaste could bathe Telemachus without any such inhibition, but as Nestor’s daughter she is a much older (best not to ask how old!) and more experienced woman; and it’s standard practice for a woman to pour the water when someone takes a bath. It’s quite different with Nausikaa—a young aristocratic girl whom we may think of as barely having reached puberty. For Nausikaa to personally bathe and oil Odysseus is unthinkable—both for her and for him, who out of aidws sends even her maids away (which does not mean he feels ashamed of his nakedness—that would be aisxunh, not aidws; the fact that he’s ended up filthy and naked after his marine experiences may well be a bit embarrassing for him among all these nubile innocents but it’s nothing to be ashamed of, nothing dishonourable—he’s done nothing shameful).

Shipwrecked and thrown up naked on shore: for comparison there’s that splendidly vituperative curse by Archllochus or Hipponax (experts disagree which)—Hippon. *115 West.. Similar situation, different ethos.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:27 am

I agree with what mwh says here, except perhaps about Polykaste. Logically thinking, she should be at least 20 years old, if she was born before the Trojan war. In her culture that was probably a bit old for an unmarried woman, though not excessively so (she might also be a child of 10 years max, if born after the war, but let's not think about that). But I don't think Homer intends us to make exact calculations about her age. I think we're just supposed to assume that she's a young girl (Νέστορος ὁπλοτάτη θυγάτηρ 3.465) in the same age group as Telemachus and her brother Peisistratus.

(Speaking about chronological problems – Telemachus is described as someone who has only just reached maturity and hasn't even noticed what the suitors were up to until very recently. He would be more credible if his age were 15 or 16 instead of 20, but in that case Odysseus' 10 year wanderings would need to be abridged. My point being that we shouldn't be too obsessive about how old each character must be.)

It's not impossible that Polykaste at 20 or so is already considered a "more experienced woman", but I think that the more likely the reason for her lack of inhibition is that Telemachus' bath takes place in the megaron, right in everyone's sight, where nothing improper can happen; considering that it happens in the middle of a sacrificial feast, it seems to be a ritual that has more significance than just cleanliness. It would have been altogether different if Nausicaa had personally bathed Odysseus in the wilderness, where anything could have happened.

Helen bathing Odysseus the beggar is altogether different, apparently a rather private event, but notoriously Helen didn't exactly have a reputation to protect.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:13 am

Perhaps it worthwhile to note that different cultures have different attitudes to nakedness. Nudity is of course a taboo everywhere, but to what degree varies a lot. The Ancient Greeks apparently didn't think it was a big deal, at least as far as men were concerned. Take for example these bath scenes in Homer, or the fact that they competed in athletics naked, or Herodotus 1.10.3 παρὰ γὰρ τοῖσι Λυδοῖσι, σχεδὸν δὲ καὶ παρὰ τοῖσι ἄλλοισι βαρβάροισι καὶ ἄνδρα ὀφθῆναι γυμνὸν ἐς αἰσχύνην μεγάλην φέρει "since among the Lydians and most barbarians it is felt as a great shame that even a man be seen naked."

Let me digress a bit... Going to sauna is an important part of Finnish culture, so here nakedness isn't a big deal. Foreign visitors usually find this a bit strange, but most of the time they get over their initial suspicions and enjoy sauna a lot – the exception being in my and other people's experience some Italians and Americans, many of whom are too shy to try it. Anyway, there's often a sauna in student parties as well. The typical scenario is that the girls' turn to go to sauna is first and the boys' turn comes after. Boys aren't supposed to go during the girls' turn, but it's perfectly ok for girls to go during the boys' turn; the typical result is that the sauna is almost empty during the girls' turn, because many girls find the their own turn boring and wait for the boys' turn when the party really begins. Students like student pranks everywhere, and what they do here after a few beers and warming up in the sauna is going out for a naked run – mostly boys of course, but I've seen girls do it as well. Different student organizations even attribute humorous degrees for different achievements – when I was a med student, it was something like approbatur for running around the block, cum laude approbatur for running to a nearby European country's embassy (the Italian one was situated maybe 200 m away) and laudatur for a superpower's embassy (the American and Russian were much farther - 1 or 2 km). To become a doctor you had to ride the tram without the driver expelling you when you told him that your ticket is in your trousers' pockets, or something (I don't think anyone ever really did that). Anyway, I wanted to raise the question of cultural differences... Not long ago, I was discussing this student naked run tradition with a Finnish friend who has lived in the States. He suggested that if anyone went running around naked at an American student party, he (or she?) would be arrested as a sexual offender and suspended from their college/university and would have to forget all dreams of ever working as a respectable doctor, lawyer or whatever.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seneca2008 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:35 pm

I think we have lost sight of the text in our discussion about bathing. Does she ever actually offer to bathe Odysseus?

Naussica says:

" ἀλλὰ δότ᾿, ἀμφίπολοι, ξείνῳ βρῶσίν τε πόσιν τε,
210 λούσατέ τ᾿ ἐν ποταμῷ, ὅθ᾿ ἐπὶ σκέπας ἔστ᾿ ἀνέμοιο.”

which means she instructs her slaves to bathe Odysseus in the river.

Then in 211-216 we have:

ὣς ἔφαθ᾿, αἱ δ᾿ ἔσταν τε καὶ ἀλλήλῃσι κέλευσαν,
κὰδ δ᾿ ἄρ᾿ Ὀδυσσῆ᾿ εἷσαν ἐπὶ σκέπας, ὡς ἐκέλευσεν
Ναυσικάα θυγάτηρ μεγαλήτορος Ἀλκινόοιο·
πὰρ δ᾿ ἄρα οἱ φᾶρός τε χιτῶνά τε εἵματ᾿ ἔθηκαν,
215 δῶκαν δὲ χρυσέῃ ἐν ληκύθῳ ὑγρὸν ἔλαιον,
ἤνωγον δ᾿ ἄρα μιν λοῦσθαι ποταμοῖο ῥοῇσιν."

The slaves here seem to tell Odysseus to wash himself thus not obeying the instructions given by Nausicaa. There then follows a totally unnecessary and to my mind disingenuous speech by Odysseus about his shame at being seen naked by the slaves. He is already naked apart from a "leafy branch" covering his genitals. Perhaps he is concerned about exposing his genitals but its not clear why that should be. Whatever the status of the "handmaidens" or "slaves" it seems a bit odd to be concerned about the degree of nudity. In any event there doesn't seem to me any question of Nausicaa offering to bathe Odysseus herself. She does, however, offer a bath and that is part of Xenia as we have agreed, although our interpretation of the meaning of this act differs somewhat.

Since beginning this I have discovered "Odyssey 6.209-223: The Instructions To Bathe", P.V.Jones Mnemosyne, Vol. XLII, Fase. 3-4 (1989). So before continuing I will read it but post my thoughts as they stand now.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by Paul Derouda » Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:53 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:35 pm
The slaves here seem to tell Odysseus to wash himself thus not obeying the instructions given by Nausicaa. There then follows a totally unnecessary and to my mind disingenuous speech by Odysseus about his shame at being seen naked by the slaves.
The text says αἰδέομαι γὰρ / γυμνοῦσθαι κούρῃσιν ἐυπλοκάμοισι μετελθών "I'm emberassed of being naked in the presence of fair-tressed young girls". As mwh pointed out, Odysseus is not really feeling shame about "being seen naked" by the girls, but he's embarrassed in an awkward situation. Furthermore, although he claims to be embarrassed, I think he is conscious that the situation is even more embarrassing to the slave girls, and he just wants to be tactful and show that he also is embarrassed and represents no threat at all.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seneca2008 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:25 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:The text says αἰδέομαι γὰρ / γυμνοῦσθαι κούρῃσιν ἐυπλοκάμοισι μετελθών "I'm emberassed of being naked in the presence of fair-tressed young girls". As mwh pointed out, Odysseus is not really feeling shame about "being seen naked" by the girls, but he's embarrassed in an awkward situation.
I don't agree with this. I think both you and MWH are importing your own sensibility into the text. Its not clear to me why here "αἰδέομαι" should mean "embarrassment" rather than "shame" which its more usual dictionary definition. Nor is it clear to me exactly the distinction that is being drawn between the two English words. Surely embarrassment and shame are implicated in each other so I am not sure what point is being made. "I am ashamed to stand naked in front of you" and "I am embarrassed to stand naked in front of you" have the same meaning to me. The reason for embarrassment is the shame involved.

If you are claiming that Odysseus means not what he says but "you would be embarrassed if I stood naked in front of you" I can accept that's how you read it although it seems stretching the text which I would not expect you to do. Odysseus shows tact and cunning when he is trying to get something but these women are slaves and it is Nausicaa that calls the shots.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by Aetos » Sat Aug 10, 2019 4:43 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 1:35 pm
Since beginning this I have discovered "Odyssey 6.209-223: The Instructions To Bathe", P.V.Jones Mnemosyne, Vol. XLII, Fase. 3-4 (1989). So before continuing I will read it but post my thoughts as they stand now.
Have you had a chance to finish reading the article? From what I gather, Jones rejects the modesty argument and proposes that Odysseus says the lines 221-2 to rescue Nausicaa from the potentially embarrassing situation of her slaves not obeying her orders by giving him what he needs to bathe himself and then leaving him to it, rather than actually bathing him, as ordered. So he claims he's embarrassed in their presence and tells them to stay where they are and that he will wash himself, thus preventing loss of face for Nausicaa.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seneca2008 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:19 pm

Aetos wrote:So he claims he's embarrassed in their presence and tells them to stay where they are and that he will wash himself, thus preventing loss of face for Nausicaa.
Just a quick reply. Jones does argue that Odysseus is motivated by trying to ensure that Nausicaa doesn't lose face but he doesn't think Odysseus is in any way embarrassed.

I found his argument persuasive that Nausicaa is trying, ineptly, to initiate the ritual of Xenia, but fails because her youth and lack of experience means she gets part of it wrong. The slaves are confused and don't know what to do so they tell Odysseus to wash himself. He has seen Nausicaa instruct the slaves to wash him and their failure to comply so he attempts to prevent the loss of face for Nausicaa by sending them off.

I will try to post something on the article later this evening if I can find the energy, unless anyone else does.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by mwh » Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:40 pm

Seneca, you’re evidently not acquainted with scholarship on aidos. I’m surprised at you relying on an English “dictionary definition.” You must be aware that some Greek words don't translate well. Far from importing our own sensibility into the text Paul and I are respecting the sensibilities inherent in the text and in ancient Greek culture more generally.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seanjonesbw » Sat Aug 10, 2019 6:43 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 5:19 pm
The slaves are confused and don't know what to do so they tell Odysseus to wash himself.
I haven't read the article, but I don't think the reflexive reading of the middle here is right. I think they're inviting him to bathe (possibly/probably with them helping), not to wash himself .

I ended up going through all the instances of λούω after the discussion in last week's thread, and the middle is used in this sense even when there is a 'bath attendant' doing the bathing later on in the scene (the scope of the English word bathe makes it difficult to be clear discussing this).

For instance, in Book 8 Alkinoos discusses Odysseus' imminent bath with the middle (ὄφρα λοεσσάμενός 427), and Arete invites him/commands him to bathe using the middle infinitive (αὐτόδιον δ᾽ ἄρα μιν ταμίη λούσασθαι ἀνώγει / ἔς ῥ᾽ ἀσάμινθον βάνθ᾽ 449-50), but his actual bathing by the δμῳαὶ is active transitive (τὸν δ᾽ ἐπεὶ οὖν δμῳαὶ λοῦσαν 454).

The same sequence of middle intransitive (referring to the person having the bath) and active transitive (referring to the person attending the bath) can also be seen in Book 4, with Telemachus and Peisistratus going to bathe in the middle (ἔς ῥ᾽ ἀσαμίνθους βάντες ἐυξέστας λούσαντο 48) but being bathed active transitive in the next line (τοὺς δ᾽ ἐπεὶ οὖν δμῳαὶ λοῦσαν 49). This pattern is repeated in 17.87/88. In Book 23, there is a command to bathe in the middle (λούσασθε 131) which is answered in the action itself (οὖν λούσαντο 142), but given the two examples above I suspect this too means 'have a bath, be bathed, get clean' rather than 'wash yourselves', especially as in the same passage Odysseus gets bathed by Eurynome (154).
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seneca2008 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 6:49 pm

mwh wrote: I’m surprised at you relying on an English “dictionary definition.”
I have looked at "Aidos: The Psychology and Ethics of Honour and Shame in Ancient Greek Literature" Douglas L Carins 1993. He is not very helpful on 6.221-2 (p 125-6) where he simply elides many of the issues teased out by Jones. Clearly there is a sexual element here but why would Odysseus be ashamed or even embarrassed to be naked in front of slaves? Cairns has no solution.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seneca2008 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 7:13 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:I haven't read the article, but I don't think the reflexive reading of the middle here is right. I think they're inviting him to bathe (possibly/probably with them helping), not to wash himself .
Jones accepts that "λοῦσθαι at 216 cannot be forced of itself to bear the meaning "wash himself". But λούομaι can (obviously) bear that meaning in Homer. At 23.131-2 Odysseus makes a clear distinction between what the men must do (λούσασθε) and what the slaves must do meanwhile (εἵμαθ᾿ ἑλέσθαι). Consequently, there can be no objection to translating 216 "they ordered him to wash himself" if there are other reasons for believing that this is what it must mean. I believe there are."

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by mwh » Sat Aug 10, 2019 7:32 pm

Seneca, The point was there’s a difference between aidos and aischunh. You showed no awareness of that in your post.

Just why Od feels aidos (or just claims to feel aidos, if you prefer) is something we can speculate about, if we care to. I gave my view.
And of course it’s not a question of how he feels about being naked in front of slaves, but of how he feels (or purports to feel, if you insist) about being naked in front of Nausicaa’s amphipoloi (a word that certainly doesn’t mean slaves—but we’ve have enough of that) in his present condition. It’s situational.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seneca2008 » Sat Aug 10, 2019 8:33 pm

@mwh

Forgive my ignorance αἰσχύνη is a word I am familiar with in Tragedy I didn't realise it occurred in Homer. I will investigate further.

We will just have to agree to differ on slaves. But many scholars do regard amphipoloi as slaves.

Jones says at the conclusion of his article that the "real problem is not in the text but in the classicist's nimia in minimis diligentia, and that the proposed solution is far too laboured for the context." I think this thought has wide applicability.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by mwh » Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:13 pm

A final word of clarification, and then I’m out.

αἰσχύνη the noun may not occur in Homer but the verb and plenty of cognates do (aischros and aischos among them), which should show you how the Homeric concept differs from aidos and cognates. I agree with the nimia in minimis diligentia dictum (as my own posts should show). Some things matter more than others.

Of course I agree that Homer’s amphipoloi would be slaves. I don’t know why you think I don’t. But I’d have expected you to respect what they’re called, and to distinguish their gender if nothing else.

Over to you and Sean.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by jeidsath » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:19 pm

ἦ γὰρ δηρὸν ἀπὸ χροός ἐστιν ἀλοιφή

It seemed to me that he was more ashamed by the built-up grime revealed by his nakedness than the nudity.

αἰδέομαι γὰρ γυμνοῦσθαι κούρῃσιν ἐυπλοκάμοισι μετελθών

It would be rather difficult to imagine Rhett Butler delivering this line to Scarlett's house-slaves.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seanjonesbw » Sun Aug 11, 2019 12:28 pm

Even though Michael's checked out of the thread, I'm just going to summarise here what I understand by what has been said so far. Rather than couching this in seems and appears, I'll just say what I think people are saying and if you disagree then let me know!

Michael's first post argues that Odysseus feels and is restrained by αιδώς, which in the contexts mentioned means something like 'a sense of propriety'. He may be embarrassed by the state he's in, but he would still feel this sense of αιδώς without being filthy and naked because of Nausicaa's age (and possibly also the age of the ἀμφίπολοι, this isn't clear).

Paul argues that Odysseus' αιδώς is due to their distance from the megaron and that the age of the girls isn't necessarily important. Paul also stresses that his nakedness is not a source of shame within Greek society. As such, αἰδέομαι means 'I am embarrassed'.

Seneca reads αἰδέομαι as 'I am ashamed' and points out that in English at least shame and embarrassment are implicated in each other. Odysseus is disingenuous rather than expressing real shame. This was also my reading at the top of the thread.

So the two competing readings seem to be:

1) 'I, on account of a sense of propriety (αιδώς), do not want to be naked among you young girls, because this would be improper, though I feel no shame' - i.e. 'I scruple to be naked'

2) 'I am ashamed/embarrassed to be naked, so please leave me to bathe alone' - which, in context, may be a lie.

Michael has mentioned "scholarship on aidos" - does this scholarship provide some kind of 'code of αιδώς' that we can make recourse to here or is it just an intuition that Odysseus being bathed would be 'improper' in the context of a broader attitude to propriety?
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seanjonesbw » Sun Aug 11, 2019 3:26 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Sat Aug 10, 2019 7:13 pm
Jones accepts that "λοῦσθαι at 216 cannot be forced of itself to bear the meaning "wash himself". But λούομaι can (obviously) bear that meaning in Homer. At 23.131-2 Odysseus makes a clear distinction between what the men must do (λούσασθε) and what the slaves must do meanwhile (εἵμαθ᾿ ἑλέσθαι). Consequently, there can be no objection to translating 216 "they ordered him to wash himself" if there are other reasons for believing that this is what it must mean. I believe there are."
I've read the whole article now so this makes more sense - Jones is effectively saying that it doesn't matter whether λοῦσθαι explicitly has the sense of 'to wash himself' vs 'to wash' because the ἀμφίπολοι make clear through their actions that they're not going to do it even before he tells them not to.

I like Jones's reading, which he openly admits is simply a justifiable way of interpreting the text rather than a definitive proof of its meaning because of the uniqueness of the situation. I think you could even further his argument about the refusal of the ἀμφίπολοι: thinking back to the lion simile (6.130) and their reaction when he first arrives (τρέσσαν 138), you could argue that they continue to treat him like a dangerous wild beast even though their mistress is supernaturally unafraid (ἐκ δέος εἵλετο γυίων), placing the necessary oil and clothes next to him and saying "go on then, have a wash" while keeping a safe distance. If you were really pushing the reading, you could even say that Odysseus' reaction isn't just to save Nausicaa's blushes but to save face for δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς himself after being refused a bath by slaves.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seneca2008 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 3:36 pm

seanjonesbw wrote: If you were really pushing the reading, you could even say that Odysseus' reaction isn't just to save Nausicaa's blushes but to save face for δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς himself after being refused a bath by slaves.
Thank you for your summary and for you additional ideas which I think show the richness of this episode and the variety of possibilities which it can inspire through close reading

I recommend reading Jones' article if you can. He is petty clear in his dismissal of the "modesty" theory: "This, emphatically, is not the world of Jane Austen"!

I continue to be perplexed by this distinction being made between "embarrassment" and " shame". Perhaps it is simply one of degree? I will continue to read about this and think further as clearly my understanding is wanting..

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by jeidsath » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:13 pm

The one is a feeling that makes your face red and lasts for a few minutes. (Ἀστεῖόν γε, ἦ δ᾿ ὅς, ὅτι ἐρυθριᾷς, ὦ Ἱππόθαλες, καὶ ὀκνεῖς εἰπεῖν Σωκράτει τοὔνομα) The other is a social injury which can last for a lifetime. (αἰδὼς ὦ Λύκιοι: πόσε φεύγετε). They can be caused by the same thing, but often not.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by Paul Derouda » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:25 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 3:36 pm
I continue to be perplexed by this distinction being made between "embarrassment" and " shame". Perhaps it is simply one of degree? I will continue to read about this and think further as clearly my understanding is wanting..
Shame has a connotation of wrongdoing or of not being up to a standard, which embarrassment does not. If someone sees you in the toilet, it's not shameful, just embarrassing; you did nothing wrong. If you get caught defecating on the carpet in your mother-in-law's living room, you are likely to be not only embarrassed but ashamed as well.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:51 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:25 pm
seneca2008 wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 3:36 pm
I continue to be perplexed by this distinction being made between "embarrassment" and " shame". Perhaps it is simply one of degree? I will continue to read about this and think further as clearly my understanding is wanting..
Shame has a connotation of wrongdoing or of not being up to a standard, which embarrassment does not. If someone sees you in the toilet, it's not shameful, just embarrassing; you did nothing wrong. If you get caught defecating on the carpet in your mother-in-law's living room, you are likely to be not only embarrassed but ashamed as well.
Thanks for that. More formally, in shame based cultures, shame is the result of offending the cultural mores of the group, whereas embarrassment is a personal inward reaction not necessarily so related.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seanjonesbw » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:27 pm

We seem to be having a lot of trouble not just with Greek but with English this week!

First of all, it’s important to say that I think Seneca is completely right that in British English at least (I can’t speak for American and other usage) “she felt ashamed” and “she felt embarrassed” are often used interchangeably not to refer to two distinct feelings experienced at the same time but to a single feeling. “He was ashamed to have wet himself in front of his classmates” and “He was embarrassed to have wet himself in front of his classmates” refer to the same feeling of shame/embarrassment (hot behind the ears, desperate to be somewhere else). To use one or the other is not to make some kind of meaningful distinction about the boy's personal experience (in English).

But when I say “When he saw the faces of the parents of the boy he killed, he felt deeply ashamed”, this doesn’t seem to be the same thing as “When he saw the faces of the parents of the boy he killed, he felt deeply embarrassed”. The former suggests regret, the latter a kind of social awkwardness, although there is still some ambiguity.

It seems clear to me that the English ‘shame’ and ‘embarrassment’ are not two separate Kantian things-in-themselves, but two words with quite wide semantic scope and a lot of crossover in their usage. ‘Shame’ has different scope in the phrases/collocations ‘be ashamed’, ‘be ashamed of someone else’, ‘to feel shame’, ‘to shame someone’, ‘to make someone feel ashamed’, ‘to do something shameful’, ‘to act shamefully’, ‘to bring shame to’. We can feel ashamed without doing something shameful, and we can shame someone without them feeling ashamed. We can bring shame to our family without them being ashamed of us. We can’t, however, impress someone without them being impressed. We can’t please someone without being pleasing, or without them being pleased.

Throw into this mix Guilt, Regret, Shyness, Awkwardness, Unease, Sheepishness, Humiliation… there’s a soup of English words which aren’t so easily distinguished from one another as is suggested above, and all of which have shifting meanings with different collocations.

So I don't think we can talk about the Greek say 'this is not shame' or 'this is embarrassment' without expanding significantly on the particular use of those English words that we think is represented by the Greek in each case, because the distinction doesn't clearly exist in English in the first place.

I'm currently wading through the first 100 pages of Cairn's (1987) The concept of Aidos in Greek literature from Homer to 404 BC - I'll report back if there are any epiphanies.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by Paul Derouda » Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:15 pm

seanjonesbw wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:27 pm
First of all, it’s important to say that I think Seneca is completely right that in British English at least (I can’t speak for American and other usage) “she felt ashamed” and “she felt embarrassed” are often used interchangeably not to refer to two distinct feelings experienced at the same time but to a single feeling. “He was ashamed to have wet himself in front of his classmates” and “He was embarrassed to have wet himself in front of his classmates” refer to the same feeling of shame/embarrassment (hot behind the ears, desperate to be somewhere else). To use one or the other is not to make some kind of meaningful distinction about the boy's personal experience (in English).
Are you sure about this? English is not my native language, but I think there is a difference of emphasis: it seems to me that "he was ashamed", like I said earlier, puts more emphasis on the idea of not being up to a standard, while on the other hand, I feel that "he was embarrassed" is a more situational thing. But I agree that there is a lot of overlap.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by jeidsath » Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:03 pm

Paul is correct about the two words. (I really think that Scandinavians only pretend that English is not their native language. Does a language like Finnish really exist, and can anyone really understand it? I have doubts.)

A person would be ashamed of his family's slave-holding past, unless he thought slavery wasn't really so bad of a thing, in which case he might simply be embarrassed about it.

A person would be embarrassed that his mother had sent him a care package during his Freshman year at college, but not ashamed of it.

In Sean's example, the boy would be both ashamed and embarrassed at the time of the deed. However, later in the day, after he cleans up and the hot feeling of embarrassment begins to fade, the feeling of shame only grows as he thinks about it.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seanjonesbw » Tue Aug 13, 2019 7:49 am

jeidsath wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:03 pm
In Sean's example, the boy would be both ashamed and embarrassed at the time of the deed. However, later in the day, after he cleans up and the hot feeling of embarrassment begins to fade, the feeling of shame only grows as he thinks about it.
Like I say, I can't speak for American usage here, but if an editor saw “He was ashamed and embarrassed to have wet himself in front of his classmates” they would tell me it was a gross tautology and have me remove one.

For the same reason, you would never say "She was anxious and nervous about the exam in the morning" - we may well pick apart the wider concepts of anxiety and nerves but in this usage they refer to exactly the same feeling. Whether she later gets diagnosed with anxiety is irrelevant to how it's used here.

To bring this back to 6.66 and 6.221, what we're talking about are their feelings in the moment of experience, as in my example, not feelings which develop later (reflective shame, embarrassment, cringe).
jeidsath wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:03 pm
A person would be ashamed of his family's slave-holding past, unless he thought slavery wasn't really so bad of a thing, in which case he might simply be embarrassed about it.

A person would be embarrassed that his mother had sent him a care package during his Freshman year at college, but not ashamed of it.
"Senator Fluffelfoofer's slave-holding past is particularly embarrassing for him in light of his progressive policies" - cf. The Guardian headline "Ben Affleck admits embarrassment led him to try to hide slave-owning ancestor"

"He hid his mother's care package in the drawer of the bedside table because he was ashamed to have it on show"

Fantastic Man Magazine (where I get all my news) - "Are You Embarrassed By Your Car?"

50 Dollar Detail (for anything not covered by Fantastic Man Magazine) - "I'm Ashamed of My Car". The second sentence also says "I understand how embarrassing it can be..."

I see no problem with the crossover in either of these situations, and I don't think it's helpful trying to impose ideal distinctions onto the way language is actually used. This is why I'm arguing we need to be clearer than 'shame' and 'embarrassment' when we talk in English about the Greek - it's a meaningless distinction on its own.

I think we can all agree, though, that Paul's English is startlingly good and makes me ashamed of 😉 my own abilities in other languages.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seneca2008 » Wed Aug 14, 2019 2:42 pm

Thank you Sean for your impressive and eclectic references. It has increased the range of my reading!

Although in English a clear distinction can be drawn between "embarrassment" and "being ashamed" its not easy and people will want to draw the line between meanings in different places, according to their cultural background.

Cairns says that αἰδώς is notoriously difficult to translate and I think that this is born out by our difficulties in this text.

Following Jones I can swerve the actual question of what is the "αἰδώς" that Odysseus feels at the prospect of being bathed by the "ἀμφίπολοι" because I simply do not believe that Odysseus is telling the truth. Those who think Odysseus is telling the truth will have to explain what exactly there is about his nakedness that he is ashamed of, given that he has been naked in full view of the "ἀμφίπολοι" throughout the scene. Joel has helpfully suggested that it is the filthiness of his body, but that is already evident to the "ἀμφίπολοι" - in part it is his monstrous appearance which led them to run away. It is possible I suppose that Odysseus is concerned about showing his body in the close proximity of the "ἀμφίπολοι" where they will see more clearly his filthiness and possibly his genitals might be exposed. Why he should be concerned about this isn't clear given the low status of the "ἀμφίπολοι". Jones explains the covering of the genitals as a sign that he posed no sexual threat to the women rather than being out of a sense of modesty. We would also need an explanation about why the "ἀμφίπολοι" refuse to bathe Odysseus before he tells them to stand apart (which confusingly they are already doing) and that he will not bathe in their presence.

Perhaps this episode is not the easiest on which to have a discussion about "αἰδώς" and related concepts. It will take some time for me to read Cairns and so understanding "αἰδώς" will have to be a longer term project. Interestingly I have now found Cairn's PhD thesis which at first sight seems to address the problem of "αἰδώς" more directly.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by Paul Derouda » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:49 pm

I read Jones' article, which has some interesting insights, and his idea that Odysseus is refusing the bath to save Nausicaa's face is attractive. But in the same time I think Jones is not giving proper consideration to the context where the washing takes place. He says: "The conclusion must be that it was not modesty on Nausicaa's part that prevented her bathing Odysseus. It was her youth, her immaturity: she did not know how to act properly in the circumstances." But Nestor's daughter washing Telemachus in the safety of her father's palace is altogether different from this scene, which takes place in the wilderness. The element of danger is evident when a naked man surges upon a group of teenage girls on a lonely beach; at 130ff. Odysseus is even compared to hungry lion when he approaches them. It's true enough that Odysseus lied to Alcinous that Nausicaa had washed him in the river. But when he says this, they are all in the security of the palace, where the normal rules of hospitality are back in place and where the threat that Odysseus posed to the girls is already forgotten.

As mwh noted earlier, it would be beneficial to pay attention to how αιδως operates; how, for example, it inhibits young men from questioning them elders in book 3. Translating it as "shame" is definitely misleading, and I'm beginning to wonder if "embarrassment" is misleading as well. LSJ has "respect for the feeling or opinion of others or for one's own conscience", which gives a better idea in my opinion. It seems to me that these misleading English words (shame, modesty etc.) make all this seem more complicated than it really is.

I'll take one more non-Homeric example. Public swimming pools are omnipresent in Finland. Men and women have different changing areas (and saunas, of course!), but there are no cabins, just lockers to store your stuff and benches, and everyone changes in full view of other people. Until the age of 7 or so it's perfectly normal to take children to the opposite sex's changing area, until they're old enough to go alone. So if I took my 7 year old daughter to the swimming pool without my wife, my daughter would come with me to the men's changing area. Nobody would mind getting naked before her, nor would she mind doing the same (but that's bound to change any moment now, and then she'd go alone to the other side!). On the other hand, if this same 7 year old daughter of mine brought her girl friend to our home, I would certainly make sure I didn't walk out of the shower naked in front of them – not out of "modesty", and not because I would be "ashamed" or "embarrassed" (I wouldn't be, not in the least), but because my sense of propriety (or whatever I should call it) tells me so. Rules are different in the changing area of a swimming pool and at home when you have visitors, especially if they are little girls, who are likely to be easily intimidated. I think this is the sort of αιδως Odysseus felt (or perhaps rather pretended to feel) when he refused the bath; it's true that they were just slave girls, but pace Jones I think they have some intimacy with Nausicaa (I think that the Odyssey often downplays slavery to show especially household slaves happy and in good terms with their masters). At the same time, it must be kept in mind that Odysseus is a master of cunning, and him acting the way he did must have seemed to him the best way to further his own case. But I don't think acting "properly" and advancing one's own cause are necessarily mutually exclusive (as Jones seems to think when he writes "My conclusion about 128-9 is that 'modesty, tact or delicacy of feeling' are not the primary reasons for Odysseus' action. Self-preservation, and the desire not to be misunderstood, are in fact the motives.")

One final note: it has been suggested in the context of this passage (although the wording was different :) ) that if someone has seen your willy once there would be no point in ever hiding it again. I think that would be bad policy in life in general, and Odysseus is well aware of it in this particular passage.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seanjonesbw » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:43 pm

Paul, I think you make the case very clearly for the translation I offered above of "I scruple to be naked" i.e. Odysseus' own 'feelings' are not the important thing, but his 'deportment' and respect for the feelings of others. Thank you for spelling it out in full - I think you're right that embarrassed isn't the right word if that's how you read it.

If I might borrow from the several examples of Finnish nudity you've offered up (I hope archive.org makes a copy of this thread for future generations) - given the knowledge that it is not seen as 'indecent' for students to run naked through the streets, and the knowledge that it's not indecent to be naked in front of girls under 7 in the context of a swimming pool, I don't think it's possible for a non-Finn to infer that nudity would be indecent in front of visitors in the home. So we need more evidence - in your argument, Odysseus saying αἰδέομαι γὰρ γυμνοῦσθαι is the evidence that in this exceptional situation (away from the palace), a line has been crossed and his nakedness is indecent.

But how then do we interpret Nausicaa telling her ἀμφίπολοι to engage in something indecent? Does she not know the standard of decency here? To come back to your Finnish example - if you accidentally walked out naked in front of your visitors, apologised on account of it being indecent, but then they offered to give you a bath, where should I (the non-Finn) draw the line of decency? Based on your apology or their offer?
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by jeidsath » Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:52 pm

I still think that the αιδως here is about dirt and grime rather than nudity. (Paul, what is Finnish etiquette about a sauna right after a workout or backpacking trip? I assume people are supposed to wash themselves off first? And if they are dirty enough, might even be a bit embarrassed about washing themselves in front of others?)

In support of this, are ἀπολούσομαι and χρίσομαι really future? If they are aorist subjunctive, then Odysseus is saying "stay back until..." not "stay back in order that..."?
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seneca2008 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:55 am

Jeidsath wrote:In support of this, are ἀπολούσομαι and χρίσομαι really future? If they are aorist subjunctive, then Odysseus is saying "stay back until..." not "stay back in order that..."?
I thought that they are subjunctive with ὄφρα in a purpose clause. LSJ says the following about temporal ὄφρα:

“until:
1 with aor. ind., of a fact in past time, ὄ. καὶ αὐτὼ κατέκταθεν till at last they too were slain, Il. 5.557, cf. 588, 10.488, 13.329, Od. 5.57, 7.141, etc.; with τόφρα preceding, 4.289.
2 with aor. subj., of an event at an uncertain future time, ἔχει κότον, ὄ. τελέσσῃ he bears malice till he shall have satisfied it, Il. 1.82, cf. 14.87, 16.10: but in this case ἄν (κε or κεν) is commonly added, 6.258, 10.444, Od. 4.588, etc.; with τόφρα preceding, Il. 1.509.”

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by jeidsath » Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:28 am

I never realized it was always an uncertain future time, but that makes sense, now that I think of places that I've seen it. Regardless, the reason that Odysseus vocalizes for being embarrassed to strip is that he has not cleaned or oiled himself for some time. We have to add something unstated if we think he's worried about his nudity.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seneca2008 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:10 am

jeidsath wrote:Regardless, the reason that Odysseus vocalizes for being embarrassed to strip is that he has not cleaned or oiled himself for some time. We have to add something unstated if we think he's worried about his nudity.
Well you are in good company as this is the view taken by Stanford and Hainsworth.

Jones' reply to this is covered above ie that the girls are slaves and under instruction from Nausicaa and that she had "no qualms about asking her slaves to wash him". But Jones also points out that proponents of this explanation also have to deal with 22.498 where "the slaves embrace and kiss the head, shoulders and hands of an Odysseus 'spattered with blood and gore like a lion .... all his chest and both cheeks were bloody; he was a terrible sight to look on'". If gore was no barrier to embraces in book 22, grime should be no barrier to slaves bathing a man under their mistress' instructions in Book 6."

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by seneca2008 » Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:56 am

Paul Derouda wrote:I read Jones' article, which has some interesting insights, and his idea that Odysseus is refusing the bath to save Nausicaa's face is attractive. But in the same time I think Jones is not giving proper consideration to the context where the washing takes place. He says: "The conclusion must be that it was not modesty on Nausicaa's part that prevented her bathing Odysseus. It was her youth, her immaturity: she did not know how to act properly in the circumstances." But Nestor's daughter washing Telemachus in the safety of her father's palace is altogether different from this scene, which takes place in the wilderness. The element of danger is evident when a naked man surges upon a group of teenage girls on a lonely beach; at 130ff. Odysseus is even compared to hungry lion when he approaches them. It's true enough that Odysseus lied to Alcinous that Nausicaa had washed him in the river. But when he says this, they are all in the security of the palace, where the normal rules of hospitality are back in place and where the threat that Odysseus posed to the girls is already forgotten.
I think that the comparison with Nestor's daughter isn't quite as you represent it. There is no question of Nausicaa washing Odysseus, she orders her slaves to do it. Although its not explicit presumably Nestor tells Polycaste to wash Telemachus just as Menelaus orders slaves to do the same at Sparta. Nausicaa is imitating these actions by a head of a household.

It is right to draw attention to the liminal space in which Nausicaa operates. (I have done this from the outset of the laundry episode).

Nausicaa's authority in this space is uncertain as is her grasp of the operation of Xenia. As Jones says " ... the young Nausikaa shows how they treat xenoi in Sheria, and we are amused as the young princess offers the grimy nude (of all people) a bath (of all things) on a beach (of all places). Telemachus was welcomed by Nestor on the beach in book 3, but his bath came later on in the palace." So Nausicaa has good intentions but gets it all wrong. The slaves are uncertain what to do because bathing a stranger at the beach doesn't seem the correct procedure.

I think its wrong to elide with this as you do the sexual element. I think that this threat has been neutered (!) by Odysseus entreaty to Nausicaa at 149 onwards. As previously mentioned Jones argues that Odysseus covers his genitals to make it clear that he is not a sexual threat.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by jeidsath » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:30 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:10 am
If gore was no barrier to embraces in book 22, grime should be no barrier to slaves bathing a man under their mistress' instructions in Book 6."
I think we should bring up γίγνωσκε δ’ ἄρα φρεσὶ πάσας and the context before deciding the two dramatic conceptions couldn't fit one poet.

And, again, it is stomping all over the social distance that Homer has described to use this clunky mistress/slave language. As I said above, it should be obvious that Rhett Butler would never have said "αἰδέομαι γὰρ γυμνοῦσθαι κούρῃσιν ἐυπλοκάμοισι μετελθών" to house-slaves. To restate, this language to or about slaves would be impossible to imagine in an antebellum Southern gentleman, or a Golden Age Athenian, a Roman of any age, or even a Russian to serfs under the Czar. The Greeks called their slaves "man-footed", as if they were cattle. In Homer's more primitive age they were still worse off. Homer's dramatic conception is far removed from this.
Joel Eidsath -- jeidsath@gmail.com

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Paul Derouda
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 6 Lines 211-238

Post by Paul Derouda » Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:48 pm

seneca2008 wrote:
Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:56 am
I think that the comparison with Nestor's daughter isn't quite as you represent it. There is no question of Nausicaa washing Odysseus, she orders her slaves to do it. Although its not explicit presumably Nestor tells Polycaste to wash Telemachus just as Menelaus orders slaves to do the same at Sparta. Nausicaa is imitating these actions by a head of a household.

It is right to draw attention to the liminal space in which Nausicaa operates. (I have done this from the outset of the laundry episode).

Nausicaa's authority in this space is uncertain as is her grasp of the operation of Xenia. As Jones says " ... the young Nausikaa shows how they treat xenoi in Sheria, and we are amused as the young princess offers the grimy nude (of all people) a bath (of all things) on a beach (of all places). Telemachus was welcomed by Nestor on the beach in book 3, but his bath came later on in the palace." So Nausicaa has good intentions but gets it all wrong. The slaves are uncertain what to do because bathing a stranger at the beach doesn't seem the correct procedure.

I think its wrong to elide with this as you do the sexual element. I think that this threat has been neutered (!) by Odysseus entreaty to Nausicaa at 149 onwards. As previously mentioned Jones argues that Odysseus covers his genitals to make it clear that he is not a sexual threat.
Well, when Jones writes "The conclusion must be that it was not modesty on Nausicaa's part that prevented her bathing Odysseus", the way I understand this is specifically that he is referring to why Nausicaa didn't personally wash Odysseus but gave the task to the slave girls.

I didn't mean to elide the sexual element, but thought it was included implicitly when wrote about an element of danger.

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