Odyssey Funmaries #15: Oxen of the Sun (Book XII.CCLXXXII-CDXCI)


What a shitty trip. Odysseus must be a distant relative of Clark Griswold. Let’s look at the parallels.

Clark Griswold: Aunt Edna dies in her sleep. Clark and the family must drive their dead aunt to a relative’s house, earning bonus points for driving cross-country in the rain with a dead person on the roof.

Odysseus: His buddy Elpenor gets drunk, falls off the roof, and dies.  Odysseus must sail to Aeaea to bury him, although he does not put Elpenor on the roof of the Family Truckster.

Clark Griswold: Frequently notices a hot chick driving next to him.  Clark is also frequently foiled in his attempts to seal the deal (eats dog piss covered sandwiches, almost collides with a truck, gets caught with said hot chick in swimming pool by wife).

Odysseus: Notices hot chicks singing to him as he sails by.  Rather than dancing with a urine soaked sandwich, Odysseus asked to be tethered to the boat to keep from pulling over to try to nail the Sirens.

Clark Griswold: Drives in to East St. Louis, has hubcaps stolen. Roll ‘em up!

Odysseus: Sails between Scylla and Kharybdis, six men are eaten. Roll ‘em up!

Man, this vacation sucks. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like things will get better for Odysseus just yet. You can imagine this as a deleted scene from Vacation. After all that Helen (Eurylokhos) wants to pull over for a while. Clark (Odysseus) isn’t sure, but finally agrees. “Okay, that sucked. Let’s pull over for a while to rest, BUT WE ARE NOT GOING TO MCDONALD’S (or eating the Oxen of the Sun)! I BROUGHT SANDWICHES (provisions in the hold of the ship)!”

Clark/Odysseus does not want the family eating the Oxen of the Sun for one important reason: they belong to Helios. And Helios loves his Oxen. I imagine the Oxen of the Sun taste like veal. I don’t know what veal tastes like because it is clearly wrong to eat veal. Just like it wrong to eat the Oxen of the Sun.

Everyone seems okay with the ground rules Clark/Odysseus lays out, but a storm comes along and they have to pull the car into a garage and park for a while (pull the ship into a grotto). Clark/Odysseus again reminds everyone not to go to McDonald’s/eat the Oxen of the Sun because he has more than enough sandwiches/provisions. Eventually the sandwiches run out and while Clark is taking a nap, Helen and the kids run to McDonald’s/slaughter and eat the oxen of the sun.

Clark/Odysseus is not happy. “Why did you go to McDonald’s/eat the Oxen of the Sun? I told you I had sandwiches!”

Nobody really has an answer for that, so our crew sets off again. After driving/sailing for a little while longer, Zeus sends an ass-kicking storm to follow the Family Truckster/Odysseus’ ship. This storm completely destroys the car/ship and kills the entire family/crew. Only Clark/Odysseus survives and he is carried by the storm back to…KHARYBDIS/EAST ST. LOUIS!!! We all remember from earlier in the trip that Kharybdis is a whirlpool that will ruin your day, much like a drive through East St. Louis. Somehow, Clark/Odysseus makes it through without getting sucked into the whirlpool or getting mugged. The only possible explanation for this: Zeus was watching over him. Clark/Odysseus eventually lands on the island belonging to Kalypso, a dangerous and beautiful nymph who “received and loved” him. Maybe Clark finally does seal the deal. Good for him.

This would be a pretty good deleted scene, but it didn’t make it into the final cut of Vacation. Maybe Clark got sick of telling the story, just like Odysseus did.

Countdown to Bloomsday…

 Page 1 of Ulysses awaits us this Tuesday!

Get on the Holiday Road to Wandering Rocks!


4 Responses

  1. East St. Louis always had a Kharybdis feel to me.

    Frankly, after reading this, I’m surprised National Lampoon’s Vacation wasn’t on the required viewing list.

    Or perhaps it will be added as an essential prerequisite around Monday at 9 p.m. when everyone is already sweating bullets.

  2. Vacation’s absence is simply due to my shortsightedness. Its addition now may unduly strain our more sensitive readers. Watch it for extra credit. References to any Chevy Chase movie during our Ulysses read will get you 1 point.

  3. Oxen of the Sun would be a great band name.

  4. It is sort of strange to think about. It IS a shitty trip. Only the wholesale carnage of the Iliad makes the Odyssey look more domestic and pastoral.

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