Saturday, August 23, 2008

A lesson from Homer

When Odysseus came to the conclusion (belatedly enough) that it was time for
him to leave Circe's island and go home, an interesting conversation took
place between the hero and the goddess. (It is in the tenth book of the
Odyssey if anyone would want to look it up) He was right, of course, in
deciding to go for he had already stopped on too long- having fathered a
child by his hostess, and there had been that business about the pigs-- but
the complications which he had now to face were formidable. What he chiefly
disliked was Circes's insistence that he take in Hades on the way. He
invented difficulties. Standing before Circe he was not so much the brave
sailor as the sniveling ex-lover exaggerating the drawbacks of the voyage;
he had no pilot, he did not know the way, it was the wrong season for
sailing, barnacles had collected on the craft. This is where Circe shows
her wisdom. "Odysseus of many stratagems, son of Laertes, progeny of Zeus"
she said to him, prefacing her remarks with flattery, "trouble not thyself,
but be of good heart: hoist thy sail, weigh anchor, and trust the gods." In
other words he was to let the divinely ordered seas and the winds take him
where he had to go. The gods were not asleep. What he, Odysseus, had to do
at this stage was to sit down and not argue or get excited. The island
interlude had served its purpose and lasted long enough: it must not be
dragged on for there were other adventures to face. Preparations made,
plans must not be altered for fear of the future or dread of parting. Above
all, the gods must not be told their business. Let Odysseus, in effect, be
sensible and take the strong, straight course.....and not be silly any more.

Hubert Von Zeller in "Leave your life Alone"

No comments:

Streams of consciousness from a mother of 10 who usually can't collect her thoughts and finds commas a nuisance.