Od. 13-24

Reading guide to Od. 13-24

NB: Page references are to Fitzgerald's translation (Vintage)

  • 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:
  • Look at Odysseus' "cloak" story (pp. 261 ff.): what does it show about how stories can work?
  • Compare Odysseus' words at 14.186 ff. (Fitz.) with those of Achilles at Iliad 9.378 ff (Fagles) for an epitomized opposition between the two heroes.

  • 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 discussion?

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