Ancient World Now: The Odyssey

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Circe the Sorceress….another painting by J.W.Waterhouse.

It turns out that Jason & Medea (another famous sorceress) visited Circe on their way back from the Black Sea where Jason was looking for that dazzling piece of finery we call The Golden Fleece. Medea worked all kinds of magic for the man she loved. She started killing people for his benefit quite early in their relationship. They stopped off to see Circe who purified them after they killed her brother. They washed up & got on their way. Later, Jason left Medea for a rich (and much younger) princess—so, Medea killed her in a very fiery, burning-flesh kind of way, and then hung up her little ones to dry, so to speak! She knew this would destroy Jason’s spirit! But that is a whole other story that I’d love to get into here, but hope that you will do a little research on your own and find out why Medea is not just famous, but infamous!

And, as usual, I get away from myself. So here is the powerful Circe, who actually does no harm whatsoever to our hero and his companions. And indeed, makes them all taller and more handsome than before. Oh yes, and younger.

Extra credit and a post here on the website to anyone who can paint, draw, or locate a fabulous image of Calypso. I have looked far & wide, but only found this one that just doesn’t do it for me. What fun you could have doing all the details of her magical garden. Or maybe someone could Photoshop this one & put some clothes on her!


Enjoy today’s installment of The Odyssey!

Ancient World Now: The Odyssey

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Of course, the favorite scene of kids everywhere and throughout the ages, I am sure. Polyphemus the cyclops, one-eyed son of Poseidon, eater of random strays & those washed ashore. Sheep-herder, island-dweller, boulder-thrower, non-drinker but open to it—and lover of Galatea, who did not love him. : (

I have a fondness for this guy. He really was just minding his own business, taking care of his sheep, hanging out in his man-cave. I think it is his role as “shepherd” that always made me feel such affection.  After getting him juiced up, clever Odysseus literally sticks it to him.

What happens to his animals? I’ve always wondered and worried about them….

Find out how the poor monster responds to our hero in today’s podcast. Enjoy!

Ancient World Now: The Odyssey

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Today you meet Nausicaa, “of the white-arms”. One of my favorites. Referred to as “discreet”, you can see why. This young princess is down by the seashore playing ball & washing clothes, when her handmaids find a naked man washed up on the shore! Yikes! Her ladies try to stop her from going down to see what all the ruckus was about, but she insists—because she is Nausicaa, who knows her own mind. She treats him like any other stranger they might meet along the road, is absolutely unruffled and unmoved, and gets him a tunic & some refreshments from their mule cart. What a queen she will be!

In fact, it is known that Sophocles wrote a play about her. But, alas, as so many things from the ancient world, it is lost…..

I love Homer’s passages about this girl. This one in particular, when Odysseus first sees her and cannot tell whether she is mortal or goddess: “I have never with these eyes seen anything like you, neither man nor woman. Wonder takes me as I look on you. Yet in Delos once I saw such a thing, by Apollo’s altar. I saw the stalk of a young palm shooting up…And as, when I looked upon that tree, my heart admired it long, since such a tree had never yet sprung from the earth, so now, lady, I admire you and wonder, and am terribly afraid to clasp you by the knees.”
From Richmond Lattimore’s translation.

Enjoy the second installment of The Odyssey!

Ancient World Now: The Odyssey

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Aaahhh, Penelope….. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Odysseus’s wife is one of the most memorable female characters in all of ancient story. This was one patient lass—she waited twenty years for her husband to return to her! Now that is faith. Penelope was hounded by suitors for years. Everyone was quite sure that Odysseus had been killed in the battle at Troy and that his lovely wife should take a new husband. Lone women surely can’t take care of themselves—and of course, she had all that property—a kingdom! Let’s get her married off to someone new. To keep these rascals at bay, she said she’d take a new husband when she finished weaving this burial shroud for her father-in-law, Laertes (no relation to Ophelia’s bro). Clever lass that she was, she’d weave by day and when the drunken suitors would nod off, she’d unravel at night. Dumb guys! You can see why Odysseus would choose her for a mate.

Here is John William Waterhouse’s painting of Penelope.  Waterhouse was at the tail-end of the Pre-Raphaelite school of painting, which focused on themes from the classical and Arthurian world….and some Shakespeare stuff, too. Edwardian. Victorian. You may know his painting of Proserpina (Persephone to the Greeks) with the pomegranate. Lots of rich details, deep colors, and dolorous looks! Fabulous!

Enjoy our first installment of The Odyssey!

Ancient World Now….two days…..

Podcast launch date: Monday, June 14, 2010.

First episode: The Iliad 20-30 minute podcast.

David’s dear friend Seek died today. We had been taking care of him since Monday, making him comfortable and surrounding him with the things he loved. We watched his body shut down slowly. David gave him a thorough brushing yesterday, and again today after he passed. These are photos of him from healthier times.

Seek loved to drink from faucets. We thought taping a cutout of a raccoon on the wall above the bathroom sink would keep him from doing it. One night we came home and Seek was curled up underneath the photo. We nearly died laughing! Priceless…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
And how can I justify bringing our pet into the Iliad mix? Easily. Homer’s stories touch us because they are real and true and honest. He told stories of love and friendship and betrayal and loss. Countless generations have been moved by this, one of the most famous scenes in The Odyssey. When Odysseus finally arrives back on the island of Ithaka, after 20 years, Athena disguises him an old pauper. Odysseus encounters his old shepherd, Eumaeus….

As they were talking, a dog that had been lying asleep raised his head and pricked up his ears. This was Argos, whom Odysseus had bred before setting out for Troy, but he had never had any enjoyment from him. In the old days he used to be taken out by the young men when they went hunting wild goats, or deer, or hares, but now that his master was gone he was lying neglected on the heaps of mule and cow dung that lay in front of the stable doors till the men should come and draw it away to manure the great close; and he was full of fleas. As soon as he saw Odysseus standing there, he dropped his ears and wagged his tail, but he could not get close up to his master. When Odysseus saw the dog on the other side of the yard, dashed a tear from his eyes without Eumaeus seeing it, and said:
“Eumaeus, what a noble hound that is over yonder on the manure heap: his build is splendid; is he as fine a fellow as he looks, or is he only one of those dogs that come begging about a table, and are kept merely for show?”
“This hound,” answered Eumaeus, “belonged to him who has died in a far country. If he were what he was when Odysseus left for Troy, he would soon show you what he could do. There was not a wild beast in the forest that could get away from him when he was once on its tracks. But now he has fallen on evil times, for his master is dead and gone, and the women take no care of him. Servants never do their work when their master’s hand is no longer over them, for Zeus takes half the goodness out of a man when he makes a slave of him.”
So saying he entered the well-built mansion, and made straight for the riotous pretenders in the hall. But Argos passed into the darkness of death, now that he had seen his master once more after twenty years.
Homer, Odyssey, Book 17
Animals are our friends. People can be mean and hurtful, but an animal friend will never turn on you or cause you pain or betray you. Animals are real and true and honest….Rest in peace, Seek, we love you…………………