Reading guide to Od. 13-24
NB: Page references are to Fitzgerald's translation
The encounter between Odysseus and Athena in Bk. 13 (pp. 235
ff.) is richly significant for both their characters. What do they have
in common? The scene also says something about how appearance and true
identity may diverge (both for the goddess and the hero).
In Bk. 13 Odysseus begins a series of "Kretan tales" he will
tell (pp. 238 f.); cf. Bk. 14 pp. 253 ff. and 17 (324 ff.). Notice
how each of these rather tall tales is suited to the interests,
expectations and knowledge of its particular addressee.
Eumaios' hospitable reception of Odysseus in Bk. 14 is worth
contrasting with that of the suitors in Bks. 1 and 17 and
to the goatherd Melanthios (316ff.).
To appreciate the character of the Eumaios scene, consider the
Encyclopaedia Brit.'s opening paragraphs on Pastoral literature: although pastoral as a
genre of poetry develops much later than Homer, in what respects
does his "idyll" exemplify the pastoral mode?
The Eumaios visit is also an occasion for many stories:
Bk. 14 ends with Odysseus going to bed: contrast this scene
with his first night in the palace in Bk. 20 (375f.).
Note in Bk. 15 the arrival and skills of Theoklumenos ("God
hearing") who will come into play in the palace (386).
Other notable entrances to come: the faithless maidservants (pp. 299-200)
Penelope (303) Eurukleia (310) Iros (337) Melanthios (316, 380)
It may be worth comparing Odysseus' speech on pp. 278 f. with that of
Achilles in the underworld.
Athena's apparition to Odysseus and company in Bk. 16 seems a
variation on the theme of the disguised god visiting mortals to discover
their justice; but it may also cast Odysseus' own apparition to
Telemakhos in a new light.
In some sense Bk 22 may be read as an Iliadic "battle book":
what themes do they share?
Bk. 23.333: the "end" of the Odyssey?
The conversation with Achilles and Agamemnon in the so-called second
nekuia (= "voyage to the underworld") of Bk. 24 (446 ff.) may be
read as a discussion of types of heroism. What would Odysseus add to the
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