Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

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seanjonesbw
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Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Nov 29, 2019 10:06 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.

Please feel free to ask any question in this thread, no matter how basic you think it is, and we will try to help you with an answer.
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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 with vocabulary and notes

Resources for deeper study are available in the group dropbox folder

We started at Book 6. Here are all the threads so far:

Book 6
Lines 1-23
24-47
48-70
71-92
93-118
119-140
141-161
162-185
186-210
211-238
239-261
262-294
295-331 [end]

Book 7
1-26
27-47
48-77
78-102
103-132
133-157
Greek Text Lines 158-183
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158 ὅ σφιν ἐὺ φρονέων ἀγορήσατο καὶ μετέειπεν·
159 “Ἀλκίνοʼ, οὐ μέν τοι τόδε κάλλιον, οὐδὲ ἔοικε,
160 ξεῖνον μὲν χαμαὶ ἧσθαι ἐπʼ ἐσχάρῃ ἐν κονίῃσιν,
161 οἵδε δὲ σὸν μῦθον ποτιδέγμενοι ἰσχανόωνται.
162 ἀλλʼ ἄγε δὴ ξεῖνον μὲν ἐπὶ θρόνου ἀργυροήλου
163 εἷσον ἀναστήσας, σὺ δὲ κηρύκεσσι κέλευσον
164 οἶνον ἐπικρῆσαι, ἵνα καὶ Διὶ τερπικεραύνῳ
165 σπείσομεν, ὅς θʼ ἱκέτῃσιν ἅμʼ αἰδοίοισιν ὀπηδεῖ·
166 δόρπον δὲ ξείνῳ ταμίη δότω ἔνδον ἐόντων.”

167 αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ τό γʼ ἄκουσʼ ἱερὸν μένος Ἀλκινόοιο,
168 χειρὸς ἑλὼν Ὀδυσῆα δαΐφρονα ποικιλομήτην
169 ὦρσεν ἀπʼ ἐσχαρόφιν καὶ ἐπὶ θρόνου εἷσε φαεινοῦ,
170 υἱὸν ἀναστήσας ἀγαπήνορα Λαοδάμαντα,
171 ὅς οἱ πλησίον ἷζε, μάλιστα δέ μιν φιλέεσκεν.
172 χέρνιβα δʼ ἀμφίπολος προχόῳ ἐπέχευε φέρουσα
173 καλῇ χρυσείῃ ὑπὲρ ἀργυρέοιο λέβητος,
174 νίψασθαι· παρὰ δὲ ξεστὴν ἐτάνυσσε τράπεζαν.
175 σῖτον δʼ αἰδοίη ταμίη παρέθηκε φέρουσα,
176 εἴδατα πόλλʼ ἐπιθεῖσα, χαριζομένη παρεόντων.
177 αὐτὰρ ὁ πῖνε καὶ ἦσθε πολύτλας δῖος Ὀδυσσεύς.
178 καὶ τότε κήρυκα προσέφη μένος Ἀλκινόοιο·

179 “Ποντόνοε, κρητῆρα κερασσάμενος μέθυ νεῖμον
180 πᾶσιν ἀνὰ μέγαρον, ἵνα καὶ Διὶ τερπικεραύνῳ
181 σπείσομεν, ὅς θʼ ἱκέτῃσιν ἅμʼ αἰδοίοισιν ὀπηδεῖ.”

182 ὣς φάτο, Ποντόνοος δὲ μελίφρονα οἶνον ἐκίρνα,
183 νώμησεν δʼ ἄρα πᾶσιν ἐπαρξάμενος δεπάεσσιν.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by Hylander » Fri Nov 29, 2019 5:29 pm

The proper treatment of strangers, according to the norms of Homeric hospitality, especially when they supplicate in a formally correct fashion.

The Phaeacians are stunned into silence by the appearance out of thin air of this stranger dressed in clothing belonging to Arete and Alkinoos, who delivers a supplication marking him as polite and genteel and then sits by the hearth in the ashes (hopefully not soiling the clothing). Then Ekheneos breaks the silence by rebuking Alkinoos, instructing him in the proper way to treat a stranger.

In the Iliad, as here, rebukes are often preliminary to action by the rebuked individual.

The scene here is somewhat reminiscent of Athena's entrance in disguise in Book 1, where Telemachus notices her presence and sees to it that she is taken care of. Also, perhaps, it anticipates Odysseus' entry in his own hall on his return disguised as a beggar. There, in contrast, he is treated contumeliously by the suitors, in contrast to his reception here.

Another reception that is significant: Odysseus' reception by the swineherd slave Eumaeus in Book 11. Eumaeus is one of the most sympathetic figures in the Odyssey -- he's even dignified with heroic epithets -- and perhaps there's a parallel between Odysseus' reception in the well-ordered and opulent polity of the Phaeacians on Odysseus' arrival in Scheria and the humble but well-ordered pig farm of Eumaeus on Odysseus' arrival in Ithaca.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by seanjonesbw » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:15 pm

I've seen the hospitality of the Cyclopes described in a few places as the epitome of the Homeric 'bad host', but it's so extreme (perhaps even satirical?) that it's hard to tell what the consequences would be of being a bad, or at least indifferent, host in Homer. How is justice meted out in this system?
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by Hylander » Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:49 pm

How is justice meted out in this system?
You lose your eye.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by Aetos » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:00 pm

Well, we know what happens to bad guests! I'm thinking the suitors in the Odyssey, Paris in the Iliad. Both are punished, but their punishment is not immediate; the suitors plague Penelope for many years (I'm not sure if it's ten or twenty), Paris' troubles start after his return to Troy (or if you believe Herodotus, in Egypt during the escape from Menelaus)but he doesn't actually die until the 10th year of the war. As Zeus is the god of hospitality, ultimately he administers the "system" which includes both guest and host. I can't imagine the consequences being any less severe for a bad host. I'm betting there's a special place in Tartarus for bad hosts (I'm thinking Atreus and his father Tantalus here), considering Tantalus served up Pelops to his divine friends.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by seanjonesbw » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:56 am

Hylander wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 8:49 pm
How is justice meted out in this system?
You lose your eye.
I had that coming.
Aetos wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:00 pm
As Zeus is the god of hospitality, ultimately he administers the "system" which includes both guest and host. I can't imagine the consequences being any less severe for a bad host. I'm betting there's a special place in Tartarus for bad hosts (I'm thinking Atreus and his father Tantalus here), considering Tantalus served up Pelops to his divine friends.
Maybe I'm thinking too much in terms of modern manners or medieval 'courtesy books', but I feel like there should be social as well as divine consequences for being a bad host. Does Echeneus feel he has to prompt Alcinous because of a fear of Zeus Xenios or because this comparative youngster is being rude? Perhaps a bit of both, but how would a guest act if they were only slighted (as opposed to being lined up as dinner), I wonder?
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by Hylander » Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:55 pm

Maybe I'm thinking too much in terms of modern manners or medieval 'courtesy books', but I feel like there should be social as well as divine consequences for being a bad host. Does Echeneus feel he has to prompt Alcinous because of a fear of Zeus Xenios or because this comparative youngster is being rude?
Sean, I think you're extrapolating beyond the frame of the Odyssey. Ekheneus prompts Alkinoos because he's old and wise and a good speaker, and he knows how guests should properly be treated. He's like Nestor -- the person whose age and wisdom make him the arbiter of good behavior.

The poem says nothing about fear of Zeus Xenios. Treating guests properly is a natural thing to do, unmotivated by fear of retribution. (In these situations, there might have been a socially pervasive expectation of mutuality, however: the expectation that if the hosts were guests somewhere on a different occasion, they would be treated with similar courtesy.) Even today, people don't go out of their way to help strangers -- for example, giving up a seat on a crowded bus to a pregnant woman -- out of fear of divine retribution.

As I read the passage (and maybe I'm extrapolating a bit too), the Phaeacians are stunned into silence by Odysseys' appearance and supplication of Arete -- we're not told that they ignore Odysseus and go on doing what they were doing before Odysseus' appearance. I haven't done the research, but I think the relatively common formula ἀκὴν ἐγένοντο σιωπῇ implies a stunned, astonished silence.

No one is deliberately being rude, but in their astonishment they've simply lost sight of what they're expected to do next. Then an old and wise counselor speaks up and rebukes Alkinoos, motivating further development of the narrative. As I mentioned, rebukes are a frequent motivator of action in the Iliad, and I think that's what's going on here.

The society of the Phaeacians is depicted as well-ordered, just and equitable, like Nestor's palace in the earlier part of the Odyssey. I think the poet is setting up a more or less explicit contrast with the disordered situation on Ithaca in Odysseus' absence. Treatment of strangers is a key part of the contrast.

We also have to remember that the society depicted in the Odyssey is a fiction, and we shouldn't look too far beyond what the text itself tells us explicitly and clearly implies for a rigorous code of social behavior.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by Paul Derouda » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:19 pm

Aetos wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:00 pm
Well, we know what happens to bad guests! I'm thinking the suitors in the Odyssey, Paris in the Iliad. Both are punished, but their punishment is not immediate; the suitors plague Penelope for many years (I'm not sure if it's ten or twenty), Paris' troubles start after his return to Troy (or if you believe Herodotus, in Egypt during the escape from Menelaus)but he doesn't actually die until the 10th year of the war. As Zeus is the god of hospitality, ultimately he administers the "system" which includes both guest and host. I can't imagine the consequences being any less severe for a bad host. I'm betting there's a special place in Tartarus for bad hosts (I'm thinking Atreus and his father Tantalus here), considering Tantalus served up Pelops to his divine friends.
I don't think the Iliad parallel is very apt. Paris doesn't die or receive his punishment in the Iliad (the poem describes only a short period of time in the 10th year of the war), and in any case, his offense is peripheral to the main narrative and the main themes of the Iliad. Most importantly, the whole outlook of the poem is different. Unlike the Odyssey, the Iliad isn't a particularly moralistic poem, it's not particularly concerned about good behavior and bad behavior and How to Act Properly in Society; the Iliad is centered around a certain heroic martial ethos.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by Aetos » Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:01 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:19 pm
I don't think the Iliad parallel is very apt. Paris doesn't die or receive his punishment in the Iliad (the poem describes only a short period of time in the 10th year of the war), and in any case, his offense is peripheral to the main narrative and the main themes of the Iliad. Most importantly, the whole outlook of the poem is different. Unlike the Odyssey, the Iliad isn't a particularly moralistic poem, it's not particularly concerned about good behavior and bad behavior and How to Act Properly in Society; the Iliad is centered around a certain heroic martial ethos.
Perhaps not one of my best thought out parallels, not to mention the fact that I haven't quite completed the Iliad yet (I'm at book 17) and I've never read a translation of it. I have a general idea of what's to come, being more or less familiar with the story. Including Paris in my very short list of bad guests was no doubt a mistake as a parallel to the punishment of the suitors in the Odyssey, but I wasn't really comparing main themes in either work. In the case of Paris, I was thinking more in terms of his whole story (which spans several works), rather than just the role he plays in the Iliad. So far, the only mention I've read of Paris' thefts in the Iliad is just prior to and after the duel between him and Menelaus (there might be more, but that's all that I remember) and if I remember correctly, their return was sought by Menelaus as a condition of the contest, so at best we have only an implication of Paris' behavior. So yes, not a parallel; however, from the myth, we know that he stole Helen and Menelaus' property, definitely qualifying him as bad houseguest. I do count the slaughter of many of his friends and family as part of his punishment.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by seanjonesbw » Tue Dec 03, 2019 3:22 pm

@Hylander

I see why you say I'm extrapolating beyond the text, but I was genuinely asking a question rather than proposing a theory, to see if anyone else could think of a passage where a character thought there would be divine consequences for bad behaviour. Paul often has some good example from his encyclopaedic knowledge of Homer. Zeus I just plucked out as who I thought was the most likely candidate.
Hylander wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:55 pm
The poem says nothing about fear of Zeus Xenios. Treating guests properly is a natural thing to do, unmotivated by fear of retribution. (In these situations, there might have been a socially pervasive expectation of mutuality, however: the expectation that if the hosts were guests somewhere on a different occasion, they would be treated with similar courtesy.)
It's always possible to get into a debate about the 'prime mover' in a chain of motivation - did I pay my taxes because I felt anxious that it was getting close to the deadline, or because I was afraid of going to prison? Would I pay my taxes if there were no consequences? - but when Echeneus says "οὐ μέν τοι τόδε κάλλιον, οὐδὲ ἔοικε" (dulce et decorum non est?), the question naturally occurred to me "So what?" - what are the consequences if you are 'indecorous'?

There's a good example in book 17 (355ff), when Odysseus comes as a beggar to the table of the suitors, begging for scraps of bread. He reaches Antinoos, and asks him to give him something too, but Antinoos tells him in no uncertain terms to shove off and leave them alone. At first, Odysseus responds by getting in a jibe (ὢ πόποι, οὐκ ἄρα σοί γʼ ἐπὶ εἴδεϊ καὶ φρένες ἦσαν· 17.454) and saying that he would be too stingy to give a pinch of salt to a beggar in his own house. This seems to be a simple social exchange of 'for shame'. Then Antinoos throws a stool at him, and Odysseus ups the ante by invoking the gods to ruin Antinoos' marriage:

ἀλλʼ εἴ που πτωχῶν γε θεοὶ καὶ Ἐρινύες εἰσίν,
Ἀντίνοον πρὸ γάμοιο τέλος θανάτοιο κιχείη.
17.475-6

Whether this has the same strength as 'God damn you!' or is a genuine hope for the gods to intervene, I suppose it really is impossible to tell from the text, but it suggests to me that divine justice is the final arbiter of decorum in the world of the Odyssey, and therefore the 'prime' motivator (even if it's not always at the front of the mind).
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by Paul Derouda » Tue Dec 03, 2019 3:23 pm

Aetos:
Well, I agree that the myth of Paris and Helen is a good parallel, and indeed Paris is the very example of a bad guest getting his just desserts. What I meant was that the Iliad poet isn't really interested about that, or generally about moralizing. It's a long time since I read the duel of Menelaus and Paris, but it seems to me that as far as Paris is concerned, it's about showing him as a braggart and a dandy than about his offense as a guest.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by seanjonesbw » Tue Dec 03, 2019 3:31 pm

Hylander wrote:
Mon Dec 02, 2019 2:55 pm
Even today, people don't go out of their way to help strangers -- for example, giving up a seat on a crowded bus to a pregnant woman -- out of fear of divine retribution.
I think for many Christians the immediate motivation might be to 'do a good thing' or see a smile of thanks, but lurking beneath is the desire to be a 'good Samaritan' and to love one's neighbour, implicit in which is the acceptance of God's grace. The opposite is the absence/rejection of God's grace, something people are definitely afraid of (and I think could be argued to be retribution, even if the word is strong - John 3:36 etc.). While it's less common these days, images of hell like the 'fire and brimstone' sermon in A Portrait of the Artist provide an additional incentive.
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ch.3 wrote:I pray fervently to God that not a single soul of those who are in this chapel today may be found among those miserable beings whom the Great Judge shall command to depart for ever from His sight, that not one of us may ever hear ringing in his ears the awful sentence of rejection: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels!
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by Aetos » Tue Dec 03, 2019 3:45 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:
Tue Dec 03, 2019 3:23 pm
What I meant was that the Iliad poet isn't really interested about that, or generally about moralizing. It's a long time since I read the duel of Menelaus and Paris, but it seems to me that as far as Paris is concerned, it's about showing him as a braggart and a dandy than about his offense as a guest.
No argument here.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by Hylander » Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:27 pm

While it's less common these days, images of hell like the 'fire and brimstone' sermon in A Portrait of the Artist provide an additional incentive.
But as I recall, the sermon in Portrait of the Artist isn't about being a good person or doing good -- it's about accepting or rejecting in its entirety the Church's rigid dogma. It's a step in Stephen's growing alienation from his entire upbringing, including religion.

By the way, Paul, Ulysses is easier once you've read Portrait of the Artist and Dubliners. And reading Ulysses, difficult as it may be, is one of the great reading experiences of a lifetime.

But if you read nothing else by James Joyce, Paul, read the last story in Dubliners: The Dead.

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by seanjonesbw » Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:45 pm

Hylander wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:27 pm
But as I recall, the sermon in Portrait of the Artist isn't about being a good person or doing good -- it's about accepting or rejecting in its entirety the Church's rigid dogma. It's a step in Stephen's growing alienation from his entire upbringing, including religion.
True in context for Stephen/Joyce in the long run, but the immediate effect is that he's terrified that that's where he's heading because of what he's done. When I was growing up (as a Catholic) that kind of image was still being bandied about and I was genuinely afraid that if I did something wrong there was literal teeth-gnashing punishment awaiting me, regardless of its function as propaganda.
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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by Paul Derouda » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:18 pm

Hylander wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 2:27 pm
While it's less common these days, images of hell like the 'fire and brimstone' sermon in A Portrait of the Artist provide an additional incentive.
But as I recall, the sermon in Portrait of the Artist isn't about being a good person or doing good -- it's about accepting or rejecting in its entirety the Church's rigid dogma. It's a step in Stephen's growing alienation from his entire upbringing, including religion.

By the way, Paul, Ulysses is easier once you've read Portrait of the Artist and Dubliners. And reading Ulysses, difficult as it may be, is one of the great reading experiences of a lifetime.

But if you read nothing else by James Joyce, Paul, read the last story in Dubliners: The Dead.
I've read the Portrait of the Artist and liked it a lot. I might well read the Dubliners, if it's of comparable difficulty; Ulysses I'll definitely postpone until "when I have the time".

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Re: Odyssey Reading Group: Book 7 Lines 158-183

Post by seanjonesbw » Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:26 pm

Paul Derouda wrote:
Wed Dec 04, 2019 8:18 pm
I might well read the Dubliners, if it's of comparable difficulty
The most accessible thing he wrote by far, apart from his letters and a dreary play. And short, to boot!
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