tells the story of the wandeirngs of the Greek hero Odysseus
(Ulysses) on his way home from the Trojan War. The selections
for this week are a "story within a story" - shipwrecked
on the island of Phaeacia, Odysseus is narrating for the Phaeacians
the story of his adventures: how the monstrous Cyclops captured
him and held him prisoner and how he finally escaped... how
the witch Circe turned his companions into pigs and how he
rescued them... and how he summoned up the ghosts of the dead
in order to consult with the prophet Teiresias. If you have
never read the Odyssey, this is a good way to get
started - Odysseus is a great storyteller (although he is
very self-important, always "covering himself with glory)
- hopefully he will captivate you with his tales just as he
captivated his Phaeacian audience.
Here are some quotes:
... with a sudden clutch he gripped up two of my men
at once and dashed them down upon the ground as though they
had been puppies. Their brains were shed upon the ground,
and the earth was wet with their blood. Then he tore them
limb from limb and supped upon them. He gobbled them up like
a lion in the wilderness, flesh, bones, marrow, and entrails,
without leaving anything uneaten.
There were wild mountain wolves and lions prowling
all round it- poor bewitched creatures whom she had tamed
by her enchantments and drugged into subjection. They did
not attack my men, but wagged their great tails, fawned
upon them, and rubbed their noses lovingly against them.
As hounds crowd round their master when they see him coming
from dinner- for they know he will bring them something-
even so did these wolves and lions with their great claws
fawn upon my men...
When I had prayed sufficiently to the dead, I cut the
throats of the two sheep and let the blood run into the trench,
whereon the ghosts came trooping up from Erebus- brides, young
bachelors, old men worn out with toil, maids who had been
crossed in love, and brave men who had been killed in battle,
with their armour still smirched with blood; they came from
every quarter and flitted round the trench with a strange
kind of screaming sound that made me turn pale with fear.
Perhaps you know something
about the Fables
of Aesop from when you were a child... but you
probably don't know the whole story! Aesop's fables were not
originally for children at all - and they date back to the
very beginnings of Greek culture and in their original form
they are often not very appropriate for children at all. Instead
of encouraging positive behavior, the fables make fun of foolish
behavior. Sometimes this ridicule takes the form of physical
punishment, and sometimes the punishment is verbal - but either
way, the fools are punished without mercy. Although the fables
often have "morals" attached to them, there is nothing
nice about the world of Aesop. The basic message is "you
idiot! how can anybody be so stupid???". So, if you have
to deal with any stupid people in your life, these fables
might come in very handy...
Here are some quotes:
A dove who lived in a certain dovecote was boasting about
the number of children she had given birth to. The crow heard
her and said, 'Stop your bragging! The more children you have,
the greater the slavery you bring into the world!'
A man and a lion were arguing about who was best, with
each one seeking evidence in support of his claim. They
came to a tombstone on which a man was shown in the act
of strangling a lion, and the man offered this picture as
evidence. The lion then replied, 'It was a man who painted
this; if a lion had painted it, you would instead see a
lion strangling a man.'
There was a boy tending the sheep who would continually
go up to the embankment and shout, 'Help, there's a wolf!'
The farmers would all come running only to find out that what
the boy said was not true. Then one day there really was a
wolf but when the boy shouted, they didn't believe him and
no one came to his aid. The whole flock was eaten by the wolf.
When Thales the astronomer was gazing up at the sky,
he fell into a pit. A Thracian slave woman, who was both
wise and witty, is said to have made fun of him for being
eager to know what was happening over his head while failing
to notice what was right there at his feet.