Ulysses Funmary # 9: Scylla & Charybdis

Ok– it is long past time for me to write this funmary, but admittedly I’ve been bogged down in the minutie of academia (not unlike our librarians here).  So, after far too much ado and many apologies, through the twin dangers we must sail.

Now, in The Odyssey, Odysseus knows what dangers await him.  He has advanced warning from Circe (remember her?) and chooses to lose a few crew members to the many-headed monster Scylla rather than to lose his entire ship to the whirlpool of Charybdis.  We see just an echo of this as Steven Daedalus sails cautiously into the librarian’s discussion: “A hesitating soul taking arms against a sea of troubles, torn by conflicting doubts” (184).  We also get our first hint of how heavily Shakespeare and Hamlet are going to feature.  Despite his hesitations, though, Stevie soon jumps into the argument with both feet (and several other body parts as well).

In fact, take a moment to Brush Up Your Shakespeare and your Hamlet, ladies and gentlemen.

Don’t we all feel better about things now?

Odysseus and his crew spend their time gawking at the revolving, churning, spewing, and generally attention-seeking Charybdis.  Meanwhile, Scylla sneaks up behind from her cliff and grabs up 9 of the sailors for a snack.  Our Joyce has pulled a similar trick with this section.  He has us all gaping agog as Stevie argues round and round about Shakespeare, Hamlet, Anne, and assorted other personages{few of Stevie’s arguments are new ones, and most are terribly outlandish, but doesn’t he describe them well!}, so we nearly fail to notice the crucial things happening in the background.

What exactly is happening behind the scenes, you ask?  Well…

I’m sensing a list coming on:

1. Our characters are all gathering: Stevie, Buck, and Leo are all together at the same time, and young Kinch has just been and gone.

2. We are finally getting to see Stevie away from the world that makes him so uncomfortable.  While firmly entrenched in his murky library, he feels like the master puppeteer– manipulating minds with his words.  It is only at the end of the section that he reemerges “into a shattering daylight of no thoughts” (215).

3. Stevie, though he claims not to believe in his own argument, is living proof of his own “ghosting” theories.  Having left Ireland as a young man, he has returned to its shores to act out his scenes without truely experiencing them.  He cannot connect with the world around him, and instead lives in foggy flashbacks of his mother, his father, and his regrets.

4. Though he feels most comfortable in their company, we get the distinct feeling that the librarians are mocking Stevie– winding him up and watching him go through his dance.

Yet, for all the foaming verbiage of this chapter, despite its hushed reading room setting, Our Hero (well… our boyo at any rate) navigates himself safely and ends the section in a peaceful place, free from any foreboding omens, and on his way to the nearest pub.

Up next… Our Namesake!

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ULYSSES pp. 60-65, “Calypso”

By LIZAANNE

Now that we’ve all had a chance to refuel (with our beverage of choice), time to get back on track with the next few pages of Calypso.  While the rest of the passengers are boarding, let’s take a few moments to review my tweets covering this section.  Pay careful attention, please, because Joyce loads us up with insight into Leopold and Molly Bloom over the course of these 6 pages:

60-LB buys sausage, avoiding eye contact w/ butcher; saunters back towards home, reading posters cut sheets adverting far-away farms; leads 2 daydream

61-recalls estranged friends; cloud brings dark thoughts of barren land & people; thinks of home & Molly 2 cheer up; @ home finds mail on mat

62-LB delivers postcard & letter 2 Molly in bed; moves dirty clothes; makes tea; cooks kidney; scans letter from daughter w/ fond memory

63-LB takes b-fast tray 2 Molly, sees she has opened letter; LB lavishly describes her body; letter is from her manager Boylan about concert

64-M asks L 2 define “metempsychosis” from her smutty book; he tries; he recalls day they met & how much he hates circuses; M wants new book

65-still explaining migration of souls; puts book in pocket; kidney burns; LB rescues it & eats alone in kitchen; thinks of daughter’s note

 Let me ‘splain– no, there is too much.  Let me sum up:

 1. Leo here follows the plan that he set out for himself earlier in the section, so we can see he is goal-oriented, which fits what we already know of him as a businessman.  He has his day planned out carefully.  So carefully, in fact, that he refuses to acknowledge any connection to the butcher (just as he previously only made small-talk with the store-keeper), lest it lead to something for which Leo is unprepared: “No: better not: another time” (60).  [side note– his reaction to Molly’s novel is certainly startling.  Who knew that Leo circus-o-phobic?]

2. Leo multi-tasks at home as he does the job of both husband and wife (cooking, tidying, bringing in the mail, organizing laundry, etc) because that slovenly, slug-a-bed Molly has yet to arise from her Spanish?, squeeky-springed mattress {as the astute Scooter Thomas noted, she is an excellent napper}; although she does awaken enough to gobble her breakfast and to clandestinely read the letter from her lover, Boylan.  

2a. As the first female character to be properly introduced in the novel, Madame Molly does not demand our sympathies.  Instead, she plays the part of the over-indulged and over-sexed nymphette to a tee (by having her tea and drinking it too, so to speak). 

2b. However, we do have her question about “metempsychosis” to thank for illuminating a central premise of this novel: the transference of Odysseus’s spirit into Leopold.  There’s also a nice little example for us pointing to Molly as a nymph.

3. Despite his domestic placidity, however, there are dark depths to our Irish Odysseus.  During his trip back home from the butcher’s, Leo is unexpectedly overcome by a wave of despair (interrupting another lovely daydream of ripening fruit in the Promised Land) when he sees a cloud pass over him–an example of pathetic fallacy in reverse.  This incident, although Leo dismisses it out of hand as “morning mouth” (61) clearly throws him off his stride.  It echoes Stephen’s previous imagery of barren lands and sexually-unproductive women, here with the added themes of the lost and abandoned Israelites throughout the world.  Leo’s feelings of loneliness and disconnection also match Odysseus’s emotions as he weeps at the shore of Calypso’s island. 

3. In another of his refreshing contrasts to Stephen, though, Leo does not wallow in his misery.  Thoughts of Molly lift him out of his funk and cheer him as he arrives home.  Thus, Leo manages to score two points up on our Stephen in that he successfully makes it back home without his key and he does it cheerfully [interestingly enough, Leo brings himself back by conjuring up pleasant sensory images– echoing the experiment Stephen was trying earlier]. OH– make that three points, Leo actually likes his family members and recalls them fondly, as evidenced by his brief flashback to when young Milly gave him the mustache cup for his birthday. 

Right, time for nibbles and questions.  Buy some sweets from the nice lady’s tray– mind the chocolate frogs. 

Questions for discussion:

–How many sexual innuendos did you count in these 6 pages?  The “tender gland” one doesn’t count as it is too easy. 

–What do you think was REALLY in that letter from young Master Boylan?

–Would you like to see the Blooms on an episode of “How Clean is Your House?”  Explain using details.

–Calculate the probability of the word “metempsychosis” appearing in an dirty novel about circuses to at least 10 decimal places.

Bonus points: 

 a. Jerry mentioned several posts ago that each section has its own color.  Can you identify the color for this section? 

b. Did you catch the cameo appearance of rosy-fingered Dawn?

ULYSSES pp. 55-59, “Calypso”

By LIZAANNE

Hi, folks!  Welcome aboard “The Odyssey” section of the novel–please have your tickets ready to be stamped.  Thank you.

This fourth section [Calypso] introduces us to the man who will be our second central character of this novel, namely Leopold Bloom.   Our narrator has backed the timeline up to the morning again, so that we meet Mr. Bloom at the beginning of his day.  After reading the first 5 pages of this section, we’ve learned quite a bit about him.  First, however, here are my tweets:

55-Leopold Bloom is introduced by his love of organ meats, how he makes b-fast, & talks to the cat–he anthropomorphizes as pretty but cruel

56-LB watches cat drink; decides on kidney for b.fast; checks on wife- she mumbles; considers loose bed springs; puts on hat w/ hidden paper

57-LB leaves key behind so won’t have to disturb wife, wanders down street in good mood; daydreams about exotic East– knows is just fantasy

58-LB greets shopkeeper after considering property values-wonders how he made his money; passes by school– hears lessons; arrives @ butcher

59-LB oogles meat & servant girl in shop; reads ads from cut sheets-thinks of cattlemarket; places order, wants to hurry so can follow girl

So, what have we learned on our first foray into Bloom-land? Well…

1. Leo is an advertising businessman who has a head for making money, property prices, potential clients, and a good land bargain.  Despite these talents, though, he seems to be living at the lower end of the spectrum. 

2. Leo endears himself to the reader through his fanciful daydreams (He is a good deal more cheerful in his thoughts than Stephen, which is a welcome change for us) and his kind treatment of his wife and his cat.  

3. Ah, on the subject of Molly (whose name we don’t learn until 3 pages into the chapter)–when we first meet Leo, he is putting together a breakfast tray for his wife, who is still in bed.  She’ll be there for the rest of the section.  Like Odysseus with Calypso, Leopold is tied to his love.  Unlike Odysseus, Leo doesn’t seem to mind much, at least we have seen no signs of it yet.  He is a devoted husband; in fact, we get the idea that he might be just a bit afraid of her.  According to the Bloomsday book, we should pay particular attention to her noisy bed-springs, which make their first appearance here.

4. Leo is not nearly as well-educated as our friend Stephen and is considerably older and more comfortable in his environment (not to mention in his own skin).  Leo knows Stephen’s father, Simon, well enough (probably in the pub) to have heard his impressions of the shop-keeper O’Rourke many times.  There are two things Leo and Stephen share at the moment: 1-that neither of them possess a key to their homes [however, Leo has only propped his door closed, and he fully intends to be back after his trip to the butcher]; 2- that both men are dressed in black because they are showing respect for the dead [Leo has a funeral to attend this morning after breakfast]. 

5. Leo has an eye for the ladies, particularly well-rounded ones.   He also loves organ meat.  These two ideas are probably connected.

6. Leo also appreciates the scatological elements of blood, guts, etc.  We shall shortly hear more about this than we ever wanted to know.

So, here are some questions for discussion as this train pulls into the station for refueling:

— How are the cat and Molly similar?

–Why does Leo carry a lucky potato?

–How does the idea of “Homerule sun rising up in the northwest” connect to our previous discussions of Irish-Anglo relations?

— Why is Leo buying pork sausage when he is supposed to be Jewish?

Odyssey Funmaries #17: Ithaca (Books XVII-XX)

By MARK HOOBLER

 

For all of our 4 books to funmarized below, our hero, the wily Odysseus, Sacker of Cities & Goddesses, goes about incognito as a beggar. Why does he do this? Why not just run into his home, or castle, and shout that he is back? Why does he not run up to Penelope and plant a big wet one on her lips? It’s been 20 freakin’ years after all. Why delay even more? It was the German Homeric scholar, F.A. Wolf, who first identified this as Die Odysseusverkleidetalsobdachlosebettlerverzögernthema. [The Odysseus disguised as a homeless beggar delaying theme]*. This funmarizer read the whole of Wolf’s 1,300 page opus, Identity and Otherness in Homer in an attempt to get to the bottom of this narrative mystery, only to find this on the last page: “Here I can go no further. I have identified this theme in Homer: I leave it to those who shall come after me to explicate it.” Well. I am afraid I am going to have to be content to funmarize these books, and leave the analysis to others.

Let’s get on with it, shall we?

Book 17 opens with a funmary of its own! Telemachus leaves Odysseus with Eumaeus in the country and heads to the palace. (The suitors are hanging around the palace as usual, watching dvds, ordering pizzas, making crank calls, drinking milk right from the bottle in the fridge, etc.) When he gets there Penelope (“Mom”) has Telly funmarize his trip. He does a decent job, but he is no Ben Vore. (Luckily he makes no reference to Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey.)

Soon thereafter Eumaeus with the disguised Odysseus leave the country and head into town. They are not on the road long when Odysseus earns the ire of one of the suitors’ swineherds, Melanthius. (In addition to having really bad houseguest manners, the suitors and their swineherds do NOT like beggars; the next time Odysseus comes back to his homeland after a 20-year odyssey, I would advise him to disguise himself as a king, hell, maybe a god.) So Odysseus has to suffer these outrageous slings & arrows from this guy, and all the while we are thinking, ‘If this dope only knew who he was insulting! It’s King Odysseus, Most Wily of Men and Sacker of Cities!!’

We will get many more chances to think this same thought in the course of the next 4 books.

When Eumaeus and Odysseus reach the palace there is a heartfelt moment when Odysseus’ old dog Argos recognizes his master. Our hero must fight back a tear. Then the dog dies, foreshadowing the fate of every dog in Western Literature from here on in. Then it is time for the crazy Greek gods to meddle in human affairs yet again. Athena commands Odysseus to go around to all the suitors and ask for food to separate the wheat from the chaff. A real annoying suitor, Antinous, not only heaps abuse on Odysseus, but also heaves his wooden stool at Odysseus, whom it hits square in the back. You just know things are not going to end well for this Antinous guy. When Penelope hears of the abuse this beggar has suffered, she invites him to come speak to her. Odysseus-beggar has Eumaeus tell her he will come at night-fall when it is safer.

But first Antinous stirs up trouble between Odysseus and a real beggar, Arnaeus. He proposes a boxing match between them for a fat, sizzling goat sausage. Odysseus ‘belts up’ and the suitors notice he is stacked, cut like like a UFC fighter. No one seems to think this is strange. Odysseus dispatches the real beggar with one punch and gets the sausage.

Picture 50Just give him the sausage.

Then Athena descends from the heavens to give Penelope a royal-makeover, a mani-pedi good enough for a queen. She inspires her with a plan, and Penelope goes to talk to the suitors. When they see her royal hotness, the suitors are entranced. Penelope tells them they need to start bringing her gifts. And so they do. After this, the suitors really party. You can almost hear the C&C Music Factory and smell the wine. Things get out-of-hand, there is more stool-tossing, and Telemachus shuts the party down, kicking everyone out (sort-of) except for Odysseus.

Telly and Odysseus use this opportunity to hide all the weapons in the palace. But lest we forget Odysseus-beggar has a date with Penelope. You would think, knowing this guy’s libido, he would toss off the costume and, er, announce himself, to his wife. You would be wrong. He goes through a whole charade, weaving a story for the weaver, of how he met Odysseus many years ago on his way to Troy. Penelope buys it. She then tells her maids to make a splendid bed for the beggar and bathe his feet. When she is washing his feet, Penelope’s maid recognizes Odysseus by a scar on his foot. She exclaims out loud that it is him, but once again Athena saves the day by making sure Penelope does not hear. Then Odysseus tells the maid if she tells anyone he will kill her. Oof. Bet she isn’t too glad he came home.

Now Penelope tells us something strange:

When night falls and the world lies lost in sleep
I take to my bed, my heart throbbing, about to break,
Anxieties, swarming, piercing – I may go mad…

Penelope has Restless Leg Syndrome!

Penelope tells Odysseus she is going to have a contest to win her hand in marriage; the suitor who can string O’s bow (not his oboe; many people do not know Odysseus was a world class oboe player) and shoot an arrow through 12 axe heads will win her hand, if not heart.

Not so much happens in the next book. Odysseus has some restless sleep. Penelope has some restless sleep. They both pray to the gods. Odysseus asks Zeus for a sign. Zeus sends him one (thunder & lightning; not very original for Zeus, but Odysseus buys it.). Odysseus-beggar goes to see his old stableman who comments that he looks a lot like Odysseus. We get another raucous feast with the suitors in which Odysseus-beggar gets a cow’s foot tossed at him, along with more verbal abuse.

Jeez! These suitors are real JERKS! Someone needs to teach them a lesson!

I wonder what will happen next…

Wandering Rocks starts Ulysses tomorrow!

Follow along in real time as Jerry tweets his way through page 1!

Starts at noon!

——

* = Wolf spent the rest of his life trying to establish this trope in other works of art but to little avail. In his twilight years Wolf claimed to have found it in several episodes of the OC on the WB, but he was mocked by his colleagues with a strain of vitriol that was excessive – even by German standards – and forced to recant. He was found dead at his desk in 1998 clutching a photograph of Misca Barton wearing a magic marker beard he had doodled in.

Odyssey Funmaries #16: Eumaeus (Books XIII-XVI)

By TAD SMITH

First of all, my apologies to the millions of followers who were anxiously waiting with bated breath on Saturday for OF #16.  As I mentioned to Jerry,  I ran into a bit of a perfect storm this weekend.  Octogenerians, my 5-week old nephew, a hot air balloon race, 2 hours of traffic, a 1929 Model A, a parade, my parents’ dial-up modem, and a bourbon tasting all contributed to my tardiness.  Luckily, I only had to cover 67 books in this post!  So, with that being said, I’ll attempt to quickly (in bullet point no less!) touch on the major points of books 13-16, and then spend a few words on Eumaeus, one of the more intriguing characters that we’ve come across so far in The Odyssey.

Book XIII

  • Odysseus (finally!) finishes telling Alkinoos et al. of all that he has gone through in his attempts to return to his homeland of Ithaca.
  • Having been hooked up with some sweet new tripods and cauldrons, not too mention a nice long nap, O. is whisked back to Ithaca by the Phaiakians, and dumped on his native shore.
  • Upon returning from their delivery run, the Phaiakians’ ship is turned to stone by Poseidon.  Seriously, we get it Poseidon.  You’re pissed.  Just let it go…
  • Odysseus awakens on the beach, unfamiliar with the island from which he has been away from for so long.
  • Athena (the ultimate spoiler) appears, disguised as a shepherd.
  • O. tries to conceal his true identity, which prompts A. to reveal hers.
  • O. asks A. what she thought about this season of Lost.  A. promplty tells him how the show will end.
  • A. catches O. up to speed regarding Telemachus’ journey and the suitors’ tomfoolery.
  • A. disguises O. as a beggar, and sends him to see Eumaeus, his old friend and swineherd.

Odysseus in disguise.

Book XIV

  • Odysseus arrives at Eumaeus’ hut, and is almost torn to shreds by Eumaeus’ dogs.
  • E. invites O. in, feeds him, and offers him shelter.
  • E. extols all the virtues of his master, as O. listens in disguise.
  • O. predicts that O. will soon return to Ithaca.
  • E. is skeptical, as he has heard many men make the very same claims.  Most of the time, these men are beggars looking for charity in exchange for a promising word on O.
  • In order to further conceal his true identity, O. tells E. a fabricated story about his experiences with O. during the Trojan War.  O. *shockingly* uses this story as another opportunity to let any and everyone listening know how awesome O. is.

Book XV

  • Athena hightails it to Sparta, and hints to Telemachus that it’s probably time to head back to Ithaca.  She warns him of the suitors’ ambush, and instructs him to visit Eumaeus.
  • T. leaves Sparta with a wine cup, a winebowl, a robe, and a sweet t-shirt.  But not before everyone witnesses an eagle soaring through the air with a goose in its clutches, which obviously means Odysseus is back.
  • T. picks up a hitchhiker named Theoklymenos, who apparently happens to be a prophet and an augur.  Convenient, no?
  • Meanwhile, back at Eumaeus’ hut, Odysseus tests E. hospitality by offering to leave, and no longer be a burden.  E. scoffs at this idea, and proceeds to tell O. the his life story.
  • E. is a prince.  Who’d thunk it?
  • T. reaches Ithaca, where he leaves Theoklymenos with Piraeus, a spearman.  Before they leave T., a hawk flies by with a dove in it’s grip.  If only they had an augur available to tell them what this sign meant……

Book XVI

  • Telemachus arrives at Eumaeus’ hut to find E. talking with his father, still in disguise.
  • E. leaves to tell Penelope that T. has returned.
  • Athena meets O. outside, where she removes his beggar’s disguise.
  • O. re-enters the hut, revealing his true identity to his son, T.
  • Hugs and weeping abound.
  • Reunited, O. & T. devise a plan to defeat the suitors.  O. will come to the palace disguised as a beggar while T. hides all of the weapons from the suitors.  Then they will take up the hidden weapons and kill the suitors.
  • Hilarity ensues.

O MY SWINEHERD!

It is in Book XIV that we are introduced to Eumaeus.  He’s a character that, frankly, after my first reading, I sort of expected to fade back into the background of the story.  But Eumaeus has some staying power that we haven’t really seen so far in the Odyssey (at least for someone mortal or not named Odysseus or Telemachus).  If we were casting “The Odyssey,” Eumaeus would be played by the revered, veteran actor whose performance sticks with you even as a minor part.  Think Charlton Heston as the player king in Hamlet.

On multiple occasions, Homer addresses Eumaeus in the second person.  He is the only character addressed in such a way.  It’s a bit curious, and may subconsciously play a part in why I like Eumaeus so much.  Homer’s choice to address him as “you, Eumaeus” subtly makes his character more real.  Couple that with my (and Ben’s) newfound disillusion with Odysseus, and it’s easier to relate to Eumaeus.

It’s hard not to develop an affinity for Eumaeus as he proves to be somewhat of an anchor throughout Odysseus’ long-awaited homecoming.  Not only that, but his woodland hut is ground zero for all the planning and scheming on how to facilitate this homecoming.  He’s a god-fearing, cynical, loyal, humble, swineherd who waits year after year for his master’s return.  As you may have guessed, Eumaeus had to be a Cubs’ fan.

null

Eumaeus, maybe this is the year…..

Follow-Up Questions

  1. Will there be an Eumaeus in Ulysses?
  2. Will he or she be as likable?
  3. What’s up with all the disguises and concealment?
  4. Is there an augur union?
  5. Does anybody else miss Andre Dawson?

Tomorrow is Bloomsday!!!

Hot air balloon races be damned!!!

Jump on the bandwagon!!!

 

Odyssey Funmaries #14: Wandering Rocks (Book XII.LXI-LXXX)

by BEN VORE

Today’s Funmary takes us backward in chapter 12, to Circe’s speech to Odysseus after he has ascended from Hades but before he encounters the Sirens, Scylla & Charybdis and the Oxen of the Sun (coming tomorrow!). The text amounts to a mere 19 lines, and yet Jerry Grit has chosen these lines to be the metaphor for our collective assault on the treacherous cliffs of Mt. Ulysses. And he has assigned me to write about them, even though he has already done so. It’s time we finally pulled the curtain back on this joker.

beez1

Jerry Grit, the College Years. (That’s my butt he’s touching.)

Let’s look at exactly how Circe describes the Wandering Rocks (or “Clashing Rocks” in the Fagles translation, although some scholars contend that the Wandering Rocks and Clashing Rocks [or Symplegades] are similar but in different locations):

But once your crew has rowed you past the Sirens
a choice of routes is yours. I cannot advise you
which to take, or lead you through it all —
you must decide for yourself —
but I can tell you the ways of either course.
On one side beetling cliffs shoot up, and against them
pound the huge roaring breakers of blue-eyed Amphirite —
the Clashing Rocks they’re called by all the blissful gods.
Not even birds can escape them, no, not even the doves
that veer and fly ambrosia home to Father Zeus:
even of those the sheer Rocks always pick off one
and Father wings one more to keep the number up.
No ship of men has ever approached and slipped past —
always some disaster — big timbers and sailors’ corpses
whirled away by the waves and lethal blasts of fire.
One ship alone, one deep-sea craft sailed clear,
the Argo, sung by the world, when heading home
from Aeetes’ shores. And she would have crashed
against those giant rocks and sunk at once if Hera,
for love of Jason, has not sped her through. (XII.LXI-LXX)

Translation: It’s your choice, Odysseus, but you’re dead meat if you sail for the rocks. Better go the other way even though that’ll probably kill you too.

The Jason and Hera reference is illuminating. You remember Jason and the Argonauts. Let’s pad this funmary watch the trailer. (Pay close attention to the “treacherous, falling rocks” at 0:53!)

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie (and shame on you if not), Jason releases a dove to fly through the Clashing Rocks. It passes through but not without losing a few tail feathers. Surmising that they’ll be fine since they don’t have tail feathers, the Argonauts paddle really hard and pass through as well, except for losing part of the stern (the mascot). (The scene where Mr. Argonaut gives them a tongue-lashing for smashing up the family boat was left on the cutting room floor.) Once they have passed, the Rocks never Clash again. (The Clash, however, will never cease to Rock.)

So why does Circe tell Odysseus that “not even birds can escape [the Rocks], no, not even the doves”? Because she knows he won’t make it? Because, like many immortals, she can’t stop meddling with her mortal boy toy (although she’ll make a big production out of how the mortals have free will to decide as they please)? 

Whatever her motivation, Circe ensures that the Wandering Rocks, while mentioned, never make an appearance in The Odyssey. This begs the question: Why on earth did Joyce include them in Ulysses? I guess we’ll find out, unless Jerry wants to just tell us all now.

What should we make of the fact that Odysseus chose to avoid the Wandering Rocks and yet we humble tillers are sailing straight for them? Are we suicidal? Possibly. To some, most definitely. But given the pedestal I had put Odysseus on during my collegiate years, and given the drop in stature (both on a moral level but even more so on a basic competency level) Odysseus has suffered in this re-reading, dare I say that I’m excited to take the path Odysseus did not? Is this hubris? Will this be my hamartia?

This also begs the question: Who have you invited to Wandering Rocks

Countdown to Bloomsday…

 Page 1 of Ulysses awaits us next Tuesday!

Wandering Rocks won’t crush you if you just paddle really hard!

Odyssey Funmaries #13: Scylla & Charybdis (Book XII.CCLIX-CCCXXXVIII)

By TAD SMITH

Just to recap our adventures with the Sirens………

Absolutely available on iTunes. Absolutely 5 star ratings.

Wax-free and arguably hornier (at least based on the fine piece of artwork above), Odysseus & crew find themselves approaching Scylla & Charybdis, a duo rivaled by maybe one or two others in terms of utter awesomeness.

You may be asking yourselves what any great leader of men would do when stuck between a rock and a hard place (sorry, I had to)?  Easy.  Pep talk.

Friends,

have we never been in danger before this?

More fearsome, is it now, than when the Kyklops

penned us in his cave?  What power he had!

Did I not keep my nerve, and use my wits

to find a way out for us?

Now I say

by hook or crook this peril too shall be

something that we remember.

Heads up, lads!

We must obey the orders as I give them.

Get the oarshafts in your hands, and lay back

hard on your benches; hit these breaking seas.

Zeus help us pull away before we founder.

You at tiller, listen, and take in

all that I say-the rudders are your duty;

keep her out of the combers and the smoke;

steer for that headland; watch the drift, or we

fetch up in the smother, and you drown us. [12.269-287]

Inspiring.  Moving.  Impassioned.  Stirring.  In a nutshell,  we’re gonna survive because I’m so awesome.  But if we do die, blame the guy working the tiller.  Somewhere, Knute Rockne is rolling in his grave.  Ready to now go beat Navy charge forward, the crew sails on toward Scylla.  A bit clearer in regards to Odysseus’ thoughts on accountability, our humble tiller operator is probably thankful Circe steered them toward a six-headed monster already described as a nightmare that cannot die [12.139] as opposed to a whirlpool.

An aside:  Do you think Odysseus really sells this adventure to his men?  I mean he knows they’re gonna skirt by Scylla as opposed to Charybdis, and he knows six men will be killed.  He was pretty forthright with his crew regarding the Sirens, but chose not to clue them in to the other fun.  I can understand holding his tongue because there is nothing they can do, but does he at least play out the adventure?  Or do you think he comes across as someone who knows about their surprise birthday party, but tries to act surprised anyways?  I’m thinking he’s probably just going through the motions.

Anywho, as Odysseus and his crew spend the next bit rubbernecking at “that yawning mouth”[12.316] known as Charybdis, Scylla snatches up six of Odysseus’ best men for a snack.  Odysseus is a bit shaken by this, exclaiming that watching yet some more men (we’ve gotta be closing in on 4 digits lost under Odysseus) dangling from Scylla’s mouth(s) “far the worst I ever suffered, questing the passes of the strange sea”[12.334-335].  Which is saying something when you consider all the stuff Odysseus has gone through.  Yet the very next line after dropping these superlatives (worst ever!), Odysseus wraps up his tale in a pretty succinct and nonchalant fashion.

We rowed on.  “Superior moral fibers,” my ουσ.

 

Countdown to Bloomsday…

6 days away from page 1 of Ulysses

Perhaps Odysseus should have skipped Scylla & Charybdis

and headed straight for the Wandering Rocks.