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CHAT THREE, Books 9-12
November 1, 1998
12:02 Torrey Philemon enters...
12:02 Theseus Artistides enters...
12:02 Petra Stuyvesant enters...........
Philemon: Shall we begin, even though there's only three of us to start?
Artistides: Nice work the Hades, etc. page, by the way Torrey!
Philemon: I'm using IE for the first time. My Netscape can't connect at all.
Philemon: Thanks Theseus. Didn't know if anyone had time to read it. More questions
Artistides: Hey, three is a great number! Yes, let's start.
Philemon: Any topics either of you want to bring up? We're deaing with everything from
Cyclops through the Island of the Sun, including the Hades experience.
Stuyvesant: Well, I would like to explore the character of Circe as well as some other
Artistides: I was wondering if you could say that the events in the Cyclop's cave were
the beginning of O's adventure, while the Hades cave experience was the beginning of the
end of his adventure?
Philemon: Actually I think the Lotos Easters was first. The Jungian interpretation is
that it was the entry into "the dream world" or the collective unconscious.
Artistides: I have to admit, I liked Circe. She was a pretty good witch. *grin*
Stuyvesant: That sounds like the cycle of life to me, from the cave (womb) to the next
Philemon: Didn't he kind of end in a cave too...Calypso was afterwards.
Philemon: The cave of the male (Cyclops) to the cave of the female (Calypso).
Artistides: Okay, the Lotus eaters as the prelude to the journey, and the cave as the
critical inception of his troubles...
Philemon: Sounds right.
Artistides: Everything between that and the scene in the underworld as the voyage out
(or deeper), and everything after as the voyage home, to himself.
Philemon: So what's your opinion of Circe?
Stuyvesant: I think she is very complex.
Philemon: That's a nice way of describing the voyage, Theseus.
Artistides: Yeah, there are three caves. And that matches up better with my
start, out, then back pyramid. :-)
Philemon: How is she complex, Petra? (What's the third cave?)
Stuyvesant: She obviously wields a lot of power, but it can be worked around through
natural herbs and mental strength. She seems to be a bit selfish, yet offers O the
keys to overcoming the physical trials of his upcoming journey
Artistides: She seems remarkably well behaved and cooperative compared to everyone
else on the journey.
Philemon: Doesn't she appear to change several times? First men into pigs, then
befriend Odysseus, then later help him.
Artistides: Three caves... Cyclops, Hades, Calypso.
Stuyvesant: Yes, it's difficult for me to figure out her motives.
Philemon: Why do you think she helps him as much as she does?
Artistides: I think she's charmed by O's natural charm.
Artistides: (so to speak)
Stuyvesant: Isn't he the first man to ever resist her transformation to swine?
Philemon: You said you liked her Theseus. Just wondering about a man's experience of
her ...how she might be attractive.
Philemon: Interesting point, Petra. Maybe she respects someone who she isn't able to
Artistides: Well, she's obviously a woman to be reckoned with, powerful, intelligent,
beautiful (I think)...
Artistides: She must have been looking for someone of equal stature, and was probably
lonely until someone came along who she could think of as something of an equal.
Stuyvesant: Then she had to swear to the Gods that she would not enchant O further, so
I think after that point she had a higher authority to account to.
Philemon: In The Hero and the Goddess, Jean Houston speaks of the moly as that which
keeps us being drawn into our lower selves. Our kind of divine protection which helps us
Philemon: Keeps us FROM being drawn into our lower selves.
Artistides: I, personally, respect a woman who will not compromise... Men are either
good and worthwile (Odysseus) or not (swine).
Artistides: (Of course, I do seem to be identifying myself with O and not his men.)
Stuyvesant: The thing that struck me most (while she was counselling O on how to avoid
the upcoming dangers) is when she asks him ''Must you have battle in your heart
Philemon: Don't remember that Petra. What was that in reference to?
Stuyvesant: Because some things can NOT be overcome, just endured
Artistides: Yeah, I don't remember that line either. Maybe it's translation
Philemon: Right. Like she counselled him to NOT try to fight Scylla. Yet he does take
up arms, I think, and loses six of his men.
Stuyvesant: Around line 130 in book12 after he asks "how if possible, can I pass
Kharybdis, or fight off Skylla when she raids my crew?"
Philemon: What translations are you both reading? I have Fagles.
Artistides: Butler again.
Stuyvesant: Robert Fitzgerald
Philemon: He does want to see Scylla, right, so he takes more risks than he's supposed
Artistides: Does he lose the men because he fights, or is his resistance merely
Philemon: He says that was his most painful experience, losing his six men to
Scylla...even though he lost men to the Cyclops who also ate them.
Philemon: I THINK he loses men because he tries to see her, hopes he'll see her before
she sees him.
Stuyvesant: But he knew in advance that he would lose six and said nothing so the
guilt must be greater
Philemon: He's learning when NOT to fight and when to keep silent. A preparation for
dealing with the suitors, being patient.
Stuyvesant: He did avoid losing another 6 though, which Circe said might happen
Philemon: Did either of you see the movie? There's a big focus on the movie in regard
to teaching Telemachus when to fight and when to restrain himself.
Artistides: Well, would it have been better to say, "Hey guys, we're going to
lose six of you. I don't know who exactly, but six of you are Scylla fodder."?
Philemon: The Cyclops was a devouring male and Scylla a devouring female.
Philemon: He does seem to withhold some information from his crew, doesn't he? As he
did with Aeolus. They wanted to find out what was in the windbag.
Artistides: Hmmm, do you think he felt worse because he lost these to a feminine
Stuyvesant: in my Lawrence translation Circe asks O, "Will you not even gove the
Gods best?" which I think is even a more powerful way of showing O's
determination to forge his own destiny (not allowing the Gods to play their part)
like functional atheism in a way not allowing space for the Gods in your life. Even
though in this case he knows that space will be painfully filled.
Artistides: That was different, I think. He should definitely have told them
what was in that bag!
Stuyvesant: I think he felt worse because he had no control, and that is what he is
used to most of the time (perhaps *that* was why he wept so much on Ogyia, lack of
Philemon: He takes a risk anyway with Scylla, sets himself against the gods or
Artistides: More power to Odysseus if that's the case! My favorite line from the new
Hercules (which I infrequently watch) was from the first episode... "The gods had
better stay out of my way."
Stuyvesant: oops, typo up there :give the Gods (not gove)
Philemon: Yes, Petra, it doesn't work for him to approach life like a warrior in
Artistides: gove's okay, luv
Stuyvesant: I saw the NBC version of the movie last week and it confused me a little,
they didn't follow the story as much as I had hoped, was a little confusing in fact,
didn't remember Circe tricking O and his men into losing 5 years of time in the book.
Artistides: She didn't.
Stuyvesant: thanks Th.
Philemon: I don't remember that part of the movie. Did they not show the men
transformed into swine?
Stuyvesant: Good, because I went back to re-read that part thinking I had missed
Artistides: I thought the best thing about that mini-series is that they chose this
for their subject matter.
Stuyvesant: the men were transformed into all kinds of animals, Gracie Allen that I am
I started thinking "Oh this is where the word Circus comes from" but I'm
sure someone will correct me on the FB BB as I always take apart words in the wrong way
Philemon: Writer's license. Makes you wonder what license Homer took too. If he
changed anything in the myths he had learned, for the sake of the story.
Philemon: Circus, interesting.
Artistides: LOL - That's funny! Circe - Circus!
Artistides: I'm sure Circus comes from Circle.
Stuyvesant: This is a side question: I know Homer was blind, but have you
noticed there are several key characters that are also blind?
Artistides: Or they come from the same latin root.
Philemon: Anyone know what Circe means?
Philemon: Yes, Tiresias is blind. The Cyclops is blinded. Anyone else?
Stuyvesant: Circus then from circle is probably the ring, like 3-ring circus
Artistides: Circa, circus, etc.
Stuyvesant: The singer at the party that tells the tale of O and makes him cry
Philemon: That's right. The blind bard.
Stuyvesant: I thought that might be Homer injecting himself into the story at that
Philemon: Is there anything the blind seem to have in common?
Artistides: Hmmm, if we're not even sure if Homer was a real individual person, then
how can we speculate if he was blind?
Stuyvesant: They do not see in the physical world and to Cyclops this was a great
hindrance, but for T it did not take away from his inner vision, perhaps it even clarified
things for him, no distractions
Artistides: The blind are certainly critical to this story, but I don't quite see
Artistides: So to speak.
Stuyvesant: Is that true Thesus? I didn't know that.
Philemon: I'm reminded of The Little Prince. "What is essential is invisible to
Philemon: Odysseus learns not to be seduced by physical reality, and to hold to his
Artistides: I have always understood there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding
the "person of Homer."
Stuyvesant: Well, I always wonder why a character is given a particular handicap,
Homer could have cosen other things, why blindness? Some handicaps have a history
like Achille's heel, but sometimes you just have to figure out why a person is afflicted
with something - what other things does it enhance for example.
Philemon: From what I know, that's true, Theseus. Some scholars still don't think he
was one person.
Philemon: Odysseus is somewhat "blind" at first - like unconscious.
Maybe he has to learn to see more deeply into things and not just rely on his senses.
Philemon: And making himself visible physically or by name gets him into trouble.
Artistides: The bard's blindness seems incidental. The cyclops is blinded by
O. How did Tiresias lose his sight?
Stuyvesant: O is definetly a bit above the normal "limbic system" responses
of his generation - I mean, he is someone who strives to oversome his more basic
Philemon: There are three different stories of why Tiresias loses his sight. He tells
the secrets of the gods, he tells Hera that women enjoy sex more, and I think the last is
that he sees Athena naked. Something like that.
Stuyvesant: I think T saw Athene naked and she blinded him
Philemon: There's an interesting story that he was transformed into a female for a
number of years, and therefore knew female experience as well as male.
Artistides: I think all three of those are related... Telling or seeing the truth... a
truth which some one would rather not be seen or told.
Philemon: In a way, Tiresias is blinded for challenging the gods, gaining power over
12:52 Kaliber Solon enters...
Philemon: Yes, Theseus. Sort of like making visible what should be hidden.
Philemon: Welcome Kaliber. We're talking about Tiresias' blindness.
Artistides: The truth is power, and the more powerful the truth, the higher the price.
Stuyvesant: Oh, I just read Joesph Campbell's student's joke about why he was
blinded. Did you read that in the Hero and the Goddess, Torrey?
12:53 maia Nestor enters...
Philemon: What do you think about Odysseus with his men? Should he tell the truth more
than he does? He certainly warns them against eating the cattle.
Philemon: Welcome, Maia.
Artistides: Maia! Hi there!
12:54 maia Nestor: Hello all...sorry I'm late.
Stuyvesant: Good afternoon Kaliber and Maia!
Artistides: How specific is his warning? I seem to remember it was a bit on the
Philemon: I think this time he learned to tell them what was going on. But he was
feeling more resigned to fate, and afraid they wouldn't listen. And like with the windbag,
they get into trouble when he takes a nap.
Stuyvesant: Mine says: "Let this whole company swear me a great oath: Any herd of
cattle or flock of sheep here shall go unharmed...."
Artistides: Maybe the moral of this story is pick your crew wisely.
12:57 Petronilla Livius enters...
Philemon: Before that, it seems like the men's disobedience may be partly Odysseus'
fault as a leader. But it doesn't seem to me that he's at fault with the cattle incident.
Does it to you?
Stuyvesant: I think they were as good a crew as he could get, they were very tired!
12:58 maia Nestor: There is a theme about Odysseus...the Autolycan
element perhaps; that he is the ultimate outsider.
Philemon: Hello, Petronilla. Feel free to join in.
Stuyvesant: Hello Petronilla!!!
Livius: Hi all - just got in!
12:59 maia Nestor: Odysseus was not easily understood by the paradigms
of the time, and I think, as much as his crew must have trusted him, they resented him.
Remember, he was also their king.
Philemon: How is he the ultimate outsider, Maia?
Stuyvesant: I think he is acut above the men of his time, and obviously below the
Gods, he surely does stand outside the crowd.
Artistides: No, he was clearly at fault with the windbag incident, but the island
incident is the crew's own fault.
13:00 maia Nestor: In Troy, he is the princeling from a little land,
little known, little wealth. Do you remember how he urges the men to eat in the Iliad, and
Achilles is scornful?
Stuyvesant: I agree, Theseus
13:01 maia Nestor: O is like no one else, he has been described as the
first modern man...excellence, such as Achilles- well that is easy to look up to. But
people resent excellence of the mind...
13:01 maia Nestor: He thinks like no one else, acts like no one else...
Philemon: And people resent authority, especially when they're tired and starving.
Stuyvesant: I agree with that too, Maia
Philemon: It didn't occur to me. He must be very lonely, in a way. Maybe part of why
he's seduced by women.
13:02 maia Nestor: He is so used to keeping his own counsel- if there is
a fault with him in the bag of winds story, it is that he didn't share with his men. But
that was his way, the way of survival.
Stuyvesant: I'll look it up, but I think they prefer a quick death to stavation at
that point, so they know the risk
Philemon: He has to learn when to speak and when not to speak. When to tell the truth
and when to withhold it.
Philemon: I think that's right, Petra. They figure they're done for anyway, so they
might as well die after a good meal.
Artistides: I think you're right about that Petra.
13:04 maia Nestor: Seduced by women? You have to again, remember the
times...infidelity in a man was fairly de rigeur. Odysseus had no woman at Troy that we
know of. Circe...just a lull for him, I think. He was exhausted. And Calypso kept him
against his will. With Circe, he had to sleep with her; Hermes (his great grandfather btw)
told him to.
13:04 maia Nestor: Yes, Petra is correct, I think.
Stuyvesant: "Better open your lungs to a big sea once and for all than waste to
skin and bones on a lonely island!"
Philemon: Actually, I was sorry I wrote "seduced by women" after I wrote it.
It sounds like the patriarchal attitude that women are to blame.
13:06 maia Nestor: I think it is hard for modern readers to reconcile
his deep, all encompassing love for his wife with his two dalliances...but then we must
recall what the times were, the conventions and customs.
Philemon: Yes, Maia. It appears that Odysseus' infidelity is acceptable but Penelope's
wouldn't be in those times.
Stuyvesant: I don't see that he had any choice under the circumstances, and I'm big on
13:07 maia Nestor: Well, that, I think, is mirrored everywhere, and
simply because a man needed to know who his son was. If he was indeed the father.
Livius: And he does ask if Penelope has wed another when he talks with his mother
Stuyvesant: Am I correct though in thinking that Penelope's would be excused if she
was married according to the traditions at the time, since the assembly agreed that she
Artistides: I don't know if we know anything about standards of fidelity as they apply
to Penelope, at least not from this book.
13:08 maia Nestor: There is a myth that his son by Circe came back to
Ithaka and killed him, you know. But it seems to contradict Homer's canon.
13:08 maia Nestor: If she had promised O to not marry until her son was
raised, and that son is now raised...there was nothing against her marrying.
Philemon: Yes, some kind of story about Telemachus that does exist in writing. Don't
remember the author. Telemachus supposedly married Circe.
Stuyvesant: Yes, Maia, that's what I understood, thanks.
Artistides: You're right about that Petra. It would not have been a crime if
Penelope had remarried.
Philemon: But in those times, Maia, she wouldn't have had an affair without being
Philemon: Not that the suitors were exactly appealing to her.
13:10 maia Nestor: And Penelope married Circe's son...Telegonus, I
think. But that wasn't Homer. That was a later convention.
13:11 maia Nestor: No...if she had an affair, according to the tenets
laid out by Homer, or implied, anyway, she would have been guilty.
Stuyvesant: Now it's straing to sound like "Peyton Place"
13:11 maia Nestor: That's what that all comes down to...a son should
know who sired him.
13:12 maia Nestor: Yes Petra...well, the sex is hardly the issue. The
journey is everything.
Philemon: Do you all want to talk about Odysseus' experience in Hades? Like what he
learned there, and what the purpose of all his encounters there was?
13:12 maia Nestor: Who this man was, how he thought, what he went
through...his rejection of immortality, his need to be home...not just with his wife and
son, but his Ithaka.
Philemon: Why did he have to descend into Hades before he could go home
Stuyvesant: That's true, but there must have been a sensibilty about family roles that
is MUCH different than now, I agree sex is not really the issue, but all these role
reversals are difficult to manage
Stuyvesant: Sure Torrey
Livius: I was fascinated with the list of women her saw in Hades
13:14 maia Nestor: See...I think we are taking a simple story about a
complex man and turning it into a complex story about a simple man. Hades? Couldn't it
have just been a literary device? We have to remember what a genius, in that sense, Homer
Philemon: Say more, Petronilla. I wonder what the purpose of encountering these
specific women was.
13:15 maia Nestor: Hesior has a fragment that mirrors the women in
Philemon: A literary device? Like Hades is Odysseus' confrontation with his future and
Stuyvesant: Jean Houston talks about these women as "the mothers"
Philemon: I noticed that too, Petra. She talks about his meeting the fathers and
meeting the mothers.
Stuyvesant: the "Realm of the Mothers" represent rebirth and transformation
Artistides: I do think it's important to remember that Homer is primarily trying to
entertain, while also creating a masterpiece.
Philemon: A writer often have several purposes. To entertain and to enlighten etc.
13:18 maia Nestor: You see, this is what my friend Gnaeus Cassius calls
the Gravesian dreamworld...how many people here have ever tried to write fiction?
Philemon: Like Gulliver's travels. That's a kind of 18th century (was it 18th?)
Artistides: Me, me, me!
13:19 maia Nestor: Yes, Theseus, I agree! When writing fiction, do you
think, ah, this would be a good metaphor for the life/death experience, this would be a
good anecdote to illustrate embracing the shadow? I don't think so...I think we write to
tell a story, and that kind of stuff just happens.
Stuyvesant: Yes, Theseus and the entertinment part, at least for me, stems from the
fact that he transcends blown-up versions of everyday trials and tribulations.
That's the great thing about myth, they are larger than life and represent life.
Artistides: But I've never heard of a "Gravesian dreamworld."
13:19 maia Nestor: Not Gulliver though...that was satire, and so it had
to be intended.
Philemon: I've written screenplays, in which you have to condense several levels of
meaning into one story line.
Stuyvesant: To me this is not a stream of thought work, lots of layers and hidden
13:20 maia Nestor: I think Odysseus went to hades for several reasons:
to see his mother, learn that loss. To hear Agamemnon's story, to have closure with
Agamemnon, non-closure with Aias. To see the women of myth...just as part of the story.
Philemon: I consciously construct metaphors and symbolism, Maia. I think that writers'
13:21 maia Nestor: Has to do with Rob't Graves, Theseus. His embrasure
of Laura Riding's overthetop theories...wishthink.
Artistides: Yes, Maia. I wrote a very large heroic epic (unpublished), just
trying to write a good story, and when I went back for the subsequent drafts I kept
finding interesting little facets and connections I hadn't really intended.
13:22 maia Nestor: Well Torrey, you are very mystical...I don't think
most do that. I always remember how the Beatles were lauded for their Aeolian cadence,
their deliberate usage, and they had no idea what the critics were talking about...
Stuyvesant: I like the idea that this mother-realm informs him of the patterns in
things and how these mothers tell him of how they were intimate with the Gods. Since
he has had a similar experience now, he can understand the importance of communing with
the Gods, that you don't just "go it alone."
13:22 maia Nestor: Yes, Theseus...the MUses! I agree...I've done the
same thing. You write your piece and the lietmotifs appear...
Philemon: Gee, Theseus, we'll have to read your heroic epic next! Sounds interesting
13:23 maia Nestor: Homer was a genius, unparalleled in my eyes, but we
must remember he was a Dark Age poet. Simpler tools for a simpler time.
13:23 maia Nestor: That'
13:24 maia Nestor: That's true Petra. But he was very connected with the
gods, no? Specifically Athena...
Stuyvesant: Maia, I think your comment about the Beatles is still true, great art
pulls from a source that even the artist is sometimes unaware of.
Philemon: Whatever Homer intended, Maia, we can still see deeper meanings in what he
wrote, even if he wasn't conscious of them. And those deeper meanings probably spoke to
the people of his times, as the myths did.
Artistides: (I am planning on rewriting it, maybe soon.)
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