Civilization Sequence 201 God like Odysseus: The Explorative Mind

September 22, 2014
Samira Khoury
[email protected]
Civilization Sequence 201
God like Odysseus: The Explorative Mind
“…Strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
(Alfred Lord Tennyson)
Basic assumptions or working hypothesis
1. *
“POETS are the interpreters of the GODS.”
“ART is the true interpreter. If we talk about art, we are trying to interpret the
interpreter: yet, even so, we profit greatly thereby.” (Goethe)
*** “Art was (is) powerful. It could transform matter, bend time, escape death.” (Diane
2. The Odyssey is such a work of art: a symbol of human experience. Odysseus has become
a paradigm (an archetypical figure, a symbol) for the breakthrough of the explorative
3. Translation (s) … Honesty / Deception (‫ خيانة‬/ ‫(أمانة‬.
e. g. harlot (Gilgamesh).. Menelaos = Zeus’ son-in-law? (Ody. IV, 74ff)
CONTEXT/CONTENT: (pro-memoria)
1. The TROJAN WAR (Homer’s Iliad)… Aphrodite = love
- “The Famous DEEDS of MEN” (Ody. VIII, 492)
Achilles... Hector… /Paris/Helen
… Helen: “…my heart had changed by now & was for going back home again, and
I grieved for the madness that Aphrodite bestowed when she led me there away
from my own dear country…” (Ody. IV, 259-264)
The HOME-COMING (= NOSTOI) … Athena = Mind, intelligence.
“The Achaians’ bitter home-coming” (Ody. I, 325-7)
Agamemnon (Ody. I, 30-41, XI, 387ff, XXIV, 186-222)
Menelaos (Ody. IV, 290-397), Nestor (Ody. III, 100-200)
Odysseus - Athena: “… You are far the best of all mortals for counsel and
stories, and I, among all the divinities am famous for wit and sharpness.”
(Ody. XIII, 256-286)
The WANDERINGS - Travellers’ tales, seamen’s adventures: e.g.
Menelaos. ODYSSEUS.
The GODS (“Mirror-effect”)
- Man recognizes and represents himself in “his gods”: self-evaluation and
self-elevation. The Homeric gods are “divinized” human beings rather than
‘anthropomorphized’ gods.
- “All men need the gods” (Ody. III, 48) … “Tell me muse”…
- Moral Values and Responsibility, e.g. recklessness (= hybris).
moderation, lawfulness, justice (= dike). What is given (= moira), lot of man =
share (‫ نصيب‬/ ‫(حظ‬.
- Transcendent / Transcendental… (Remoteness / Nearness)…
- “ Oh for shame, how the mortals put the blame upon us gods, for they
say evils come from us, but it is they, rather, who by their own recklessness
win SORROW beyond what is given.” (Ody. I, 32-34)
“ODYSSEUS, son of Laertes, seed of Zeus”:
- The Odyssean question: “Who are you? Where do you come from?”
1. His name: Odysseus = “the distasteful,” “child of wrath,” (Ody. XIX, 405ff),
given to him by Autolykos, “his mother’s noble father, who surpassed all men
in thievery and the art of oath.” (Ody. XIX, 395)
2. His epithets: (= attributes, adjectives)
“man of many ways,” “many designs,” “resourceful,” “god-like,” “shining,”
“sacker of cities,” “much-enduring,” “long-suffering,” “patient-hearted,”
“blameless,” (etc.)
3. “Lying” stories … Transformation / Disguise …
- Animals do not lie. (Konrad Lorenz)
- “.. to prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.” (T.S. Eliot)
4. The three main aspects (distinguishing qualities) of Odysseus:
a) The fighting man: “I shall shoot at another mark, one that no other man
yet has struck.” (Ody. XXII, 5-7)
b) The suffering man: “I shall endure” (Ody. V, 222), “wretched beyond all
the other” (Ody. V, 105) because his share (= moira) was bad: “dysmoros” (Ody. I, 49)
c) The explorative mind: “I shall experience”, “using the mind to every
advantage.” (Ody. IX, 174: XIII, 255)
The hero of the “wooden Horse” (Ody. VIII, 492ff)
5. “No one of the Achaians labored as much as Odysseus toiled and achieved.”
(Ody. IV, 106/7)
CONCLUSION: Another Odyssey?
Tiresias’ prophecy: “…after you have killed these suitors… then you must… go on a journey until
you come where there are men living who know nothing of the sea, and who eat food that is not
mixed with salt…” (Ody. XI, 119 ff), which Odysseus tells Penelope on their first night together
after twenty years. saying:
“… there is unmeasured labour left for the future. Both difficult and great, and all of it I must
accomplish.” (Ody. XXIII, 249-250)