Discussion Forum: Week 9

This week we’ll finish our reading of Homer’s Odyssey. Earlier in our reading, in Book 8, we saw the poem modeling of for us the idea that we might have an intense emotional or aesthetic response to poetry: Odysseus cries uncontrollably when he hears a song about the Trojan Horse, not because its sad, but because it reminds him of people he knew who have died and other forms of suffering he’s experienced.

For your discussion below, pick a moment in the Odyssey that provoked a response for you: sadness or tears; laughter, disgust; anger; anxiety; surprise. How is the poem working to produce such a response in that moment? Without going into anything too personal, what do you think made that moment stand out to you as particularly affecting?

You don’t need to quote at length, but you should include a citation to the passage you’re considering, using book and line numbers from Wilson’s translation. For example, the passage I cited above is Odyssey 8.520.

This week, each family will hold its own conversation below. Reply to my family comment headers below, or to someone else in your family!

Remember, you can be very brief in these comments, but you need to add something new (an observation, an argument, a quotation, a question). For full instructions on participating in the discussion forum, click here. Your comment should be submitted before midnight on Wednesday.


    1. A moment that really surprised me in the Odyssey was in chapter 19 where Penelope is explaining how she avoided marriage for so long. In line 148 she tells a disguised Odysseus, “By day I wove the web,/ and in the night by torchlight, I unwove it./I tricked them for three years; long hours went by/and days and months, but then, in the fourth year, /with the help from my own fickle, doglike slave girls,/they came and caught me at it. Then they shouted/ in protest and they made me finish it./ I have no more ideas, and I cannot/ fend off a marriage anymore.” It was a moment of realization for me where I finally understood how Penelope managed to avoid the suitors’ desperate proposals. I was both impressed by her cleverness but also I couldn’t help but feel bad for her. Her position forced her to resort to the most domestic form of resistance and undo hours of hard work just to fend off the suitors. Although it seems insignificant, she did what she could as a woman just to protect the honor of her home and her husband, and that to me felt like a really powerful moment.

      1. I also found this moment to be very emotional. It was difficult reading about Penelope’s efforts knowing that she couldn’t have done anything else to prevent her inevitable fate. This passage gave me a real sense of hopelessness as Penelope continued to weave and unweave every single night, only to be forced into marriage in the end.

      2. This passage also struck me! To see Penelope really do the only thing available to her as a woman, and although a genius idea, it hurt to see how little power she could have over her fate outside of this small trick. But even with that she found a powerful way no matter how tedious and tiresome to protect herself.

      3. This passage also made me feel sad, but it also made me feel fearful and indignant. Penelope is only able to hold her own with a clever trick that can only last so long. Once found out, Penelope is put in a very dangerous place at the mercy of very angry men. Additionally, I felt indignant at the way she is treated by them as a woman and the way she holds up the household while Odysseus is gone is underappreciated.

    2. In Book 13, a moment that particularly stood out to me was when Athena was chatting with Odysseus in Ithaca, she says ” An ordinary man would rush straight home / to see his wife and children when he reached / his country, after such a journey. You / decided not to even ask about them, / until you test your wife.” (13.333-337). This stood out to me and made me feel a bit infuriated, especially as a reader who knows Penelope’s perspective and trauma as a woman trapped in her own home with a missing husband (i.e., she does not need to be tested right now). I think I keep expecting more female solidarity from Athena, even though gods and goddesses sort of transcend these gender roles. I also keep thinking others would be more critical of Odysseus’s actions, and I am angered that he gets away with so much.

      1. I agree; I also found this moment to be infuriating. Not only was Penelope missing her husband, but she also fought off the pursuits of suitors. Although Odysseus does not know if Penelope succumbed to the suitors’ pursuits, the way he approaches the situation completely disregards the struggles that she went through. The fact that Odyessus’s first reaction is to wait to “test” his wife, to me, completely ignores her trauma and shows his lack of empathy.

    3. A moment in the Odyssey that provoked an emotional response from me was actually one of the passages we looked at in class from book 15.160 about the bird’s omen. I found it especially powerful that the poem evoked a connection between the gods and nature as a means of justifying Odysseus’ actions. Nature and the gods are incredibly powerful systems both now and in the ancient world, and I think the text eloquently ties the two together while trying to make sense of immoral actions.

      1. I agree with Orly that this eagle’s omen is very powerful and interesting to think about it. The connection between the immortals and nature is huge and there seems to be alluding to an inherent power hierarchy to it in the poem, and this power dynamic can be extended to societal custom as well. When the crowd sees the omen, Nestor’s son asks Menelaus: “Was this a sign sent by some god for us? Or sent for you?” (15.160) This line makes me think of this unspoken triangular relationship between the immortals, nature (animals), and the mortals. I think there is a common saying that mortals need to yield before nature. But then the immortals use nature to “enlight” the mortals, i.e, the bird’s omen.

      2. I agree with Orly due to the fact that I also found this piece of the text to be especially interesting when it was read in class. The passages are 15. 160 about the bird omen was intriguing to me due to how the relationship between nature and immortals exists. This theme speaks to the power dynamics between each character in the book and continues to justify the actions of Odysseus. I find it interesting that they used this connection to explain this actions because this had not been previously done before.

    4. A moment in the Odyssey that I thought was truly heartbreaking was the passage about Argos the Dog (17.290). Reading this passage, I could not help feeling deep sadness for Argos after he had been mistreated and neglected for the 20 years Odysseus had been gone. Since I was in 5th grade, me and my family have been fostering rescue dogs and helping them find forever homes. Many dogs we foster have been neglected and abused so this particular passage hit very close to home for me.

      1. I agree with this wholeheartedly. As someone who just recently lost a dog, this passage was particularly hard to read. Although, there is something slightly endearing about the dog staying alive until his beloved owner returned, but the state of neglect was also terrifying. Like you said, I additionally have seen dogs in a state of neglect, and it is very sad, so 20 years of sitting and waiting is even sadder, and almost infathomable.

      2. I also thought of this section as soon as I read the question. I don’t have as much personal experience with neglected dogs but our dog that we adopted a few years ago was one of those dogs. I will say that it is such a relief that Argos got to die happy instead of miserable, and I think that’s what gets me in this scene.

      3. This moment also significantly stuck out to me. The depiction of Odysseus’ dog being loyal after 20 years of neglect is striking. As someone who has dogs and worked with foster dogs seeing the almost blind loyalty of dogs is inspiring. This moment highlights the deep and powerful connection that can be present between humans and dogs and highlights the importance of caring for the life around us because, in turn, they will care for us.

      4. I agree with you. Part of my reflection project involves using the Odyssey as a sort of metaphor for my own struggle with mental illness. When my family got our first dog, Chloe, I was in second grade. The next year, I started having panic attacks, and started to become depressed. I felt like she was the only one I could talk to- throughout the rest of elementary school and middle school, and most of high school, she was somehow able to tell whenever I was crying, and would come up to my room and sit with me. The idea that she would never understand where I went if something happened to me scared me a lot. I thought about that with Argos- he likely didn’t understand where Odysseus went, but he was determined to wait for him anyway. Chloe knew me before everything happened, and she never gave up on me getting better. She was a really good dog, and I just wish she could have seen me get better, like Argos saw Odysseus finally come home.

        That was a lot sadder than I meant for it to be. Sorry. I promise, I am okay, I’ve just been very introspective since I started this project.

      5. I feel like this passage should make anyone feel something. when I was young I lost three pets, but since then none. I now have a new puppy, and two kittens. The thought of them dying hurts but what is so hard about Argos is that he was so loyal. I feel that this is an example of Odysseus’ selfishness. Although it was for the sake of the plan, to know that he had to for in my opinion such as trivial reason it makes me so upset

    5. One passage that I found particularly emotional was when Odysseus is speaking to Penelope in disguise: “His lies were like the truth, / and as she listened, she began to weep. / Her face was melting, like the snow […] So were her lovely cheeks / dissolved with tears. She wept for her own husband, / who was right next to her. Odysseus / pitied his grieving wife inside his heart, / but kept his eyes quite still, without a flicker” (19.204-13). The fact that the person Penelope is grieving for is right in front of her adds a sense of agonizing irony to the moment. The entire poem has been building up to their reunification, and now that Odysseus is back he still cannot reveal himself to her. I also think that the poem is drawing on more everyday experiences. Most people have not returned to their home in disguise after a 20 year absence, but they have probably experienced the sense of distance and estrangement that exists between Odysseus and Penelope: they should be able to speak openly, but they are emotionally separated by situations partially outside of their control.

      1. I found this moment incredibly powerful, especially since as a reader we know all of Odysseus’ journey, something that Penelope would only sparsely know about through shared stories. To me, the most fascinating part of the passage was that Odysseus maintains his front of being a stranger, a plot that we had seen when he was an actual stranger and keeps to his trickery in order to play the long game. In an incredibly emotional scene, we see Odysseus stay true to his ways, something that most people would be hard-pressed to do in my opinion.

    6. I always find Calpyso’s response to Hermes’ visit to be very emotional (5.117-145). I feel sorry for Calypso, marooned alone on her island with few visitors, and while she seems unwilling to recognize Odysseus’s displeasure at being waylaid, I do understand her desire to retain her lover. She has to be exceedingly lonely, and I sympathize with her in 5.118-120 when she says, “You cruel, jealous gods! You bear a grudge/ whenever any goddess takes a man/ to sleep with as a lover in her bed.” Calypso is right in her assertion that the (male) gods do not look kindly upon goddesses who go to bed with mortal men, as her later examples of Dawn and Demeter confirm. She is faulted only for loving a mortal man and attempting to rectify her own solitude.

      1. I also highlighted this portion as a particularly relatable moment. I think these double standards of male gods looking down on female goddesses sleeping with mortal men despite male gods being celebrated for doing so speaks to the continuing sexism and misogyny that still exists today, especially in regard to sexuality and sex. Men who have multiple sexual partners are often praised and regarded as “cool” among their peers, while women who do the exact same thing are often labeled with derogatory terms like slut or whore. This scene not only angered me, but also goes to show that we as a species really have not advanced all that much.

      2. I agree in that Calpyso’s reaction to Hermes’ command was emotional. She first reacted with anger and accused the gods of being unfair towards her and other goddesses by not allowing them to have male lovers while male gods are free to do so. Then she shifts into sadness because she is losing Odysseus, the man she has been with for several years. When Calypso informs Odysseus that she will send him on his way, he asks if it is a trap and if she will inflict pain on him. To that, Calypso says, “I swear I will not plot more pain for you. I have made plans for you as I would do for my own self, if I were in your place”(5.187-189). This sad response humanizes the goddess Calypso and adds to the emotional toll Odysseus’ journey takes on the people involved.

      3. Hi Vivan, I totally agree with you! It reminds me about Adonis and Aphrodite’s story. Adonis, the mortal lover of Aphrodite, wounded by wild boar and bled to death in Aphrodite’s arm. In many version of the story, the boar was sent by Ares who was jealous about Aphrodite spent so much time with a mortal man.

    7. A moment I found particularly surprising was in Book 24, when Odysseus finally sees his father again, and it is narrated in lines 236-241: “Then he wondered/ whether to kiss his father, twine around him,/ and tell him that he had come home again,/ and everything that happened on the way—/ or question him. He thought it best to/ start by testing him with teasing and abuse.” I found this behavior on Odysseus’ part cruel, and disappointingly in keeping with the manipulative actions of our supposed hero earlier in the poem. I had hoped that Odysseus would showcase these kinds of traits only when confronted with an opportunity to achieve kleos, but it seems that his need to test people and make them hurt extends to the private sphere as well. The poem contrasts Odysseus’ options with such clear description (with words like “twine” and “kiss” opposed by “tease” and “abuse”) making the moment all the more upsetting when he does choose to berate his father rather than embrace him.

      1. I similarly thought this was an interesting moment, especially when it came to the idea of how Odysseus perceives himself in the greater scheme of the world. To me, this moment highlighted the fact that he still believed that he could not automatically trust anyone, even his own father. I wonder if this is partially because he is a trickster himself and thus knows that anyone else could trick him, or if the war caused mistrust that he is still showing. I also wonder how much Emily Wilson’s translation makes this moment so powerful, because, as Jessica said, the wording of it makes for a very bizarre moment where instead of getting the embrace we expect we get a moment of tension.

      2. This moment also surprised me. There is the lead-up to Odysseus seeing his father again, and then an emotional response that the reader would expect, but after that Odysseus’ actions immediately turn things on its head. I think these few lines act as a fascinating glimpse into Odysseus’ head. We see his reasoning and the way he overthinks what should be a simple and joyful reunion. He is mistrusting, and it is up to the reader to decide whether that is as a result of the journey he has taken or is simply part of his character.

      3. It is certainly a complex and emotionally charged scene, and your interpretation of Odysseus’ actions makes a lot of sense. While some readers may see Odysseus’ behavior as cruel, others may see it as a necessary means of testing his father’s identity and loyalty. Nevertheless, the contrast between the loving actions of “twine” and “kiss” and the cruel actions of “tease” and “abuse” does highlight the complexity of Odysseus’ character and the challenges he faces in reconciling his public and private selves. Overall, the scene serves as a powerful reminder of the high stakes of Odysseus’ journey and the difficult choices he must make along the way.

    8. We covered this section briefly in class, but one section that really sparked an emotional response has to be Odysseus reuniting with Argos the dog. In Odyssey 17.290 we see Odysseus wipe away a tear and can’t help as to enquire how Argos has been in the time while he has been gone. There is something fundamentally human about the way Argos is discussed, speaking to the way humans have formed bonds with animals for thousands of years.

    9. A scene that was incredibly heartbreaking to me occurred in Book 11 in which we are flashing back to Odysseus’ trip to the Underworld. In the Underworld, he sees his mother who he did not know was dead. She tells him, “…that is why I met my fate and died…it was missing you, Odysseus, my sunshine, your sharp mind and your kind heart. That took sweet life from me” (11. 196-203). A few moments later, he tries to hug her, but she passes through him becasue she is only a spirit in the Underworld. This scene was so sad; Odysseus, who has not been home in two decades, visits the Underworld in an attempt to complete a task that will hopefully get him closer to home where he will be reunited with his loved ones. However, he finds what he perhaps least expects; his mother dead citing his absence and missing him as the reason she died. I cannot imagine Odysseus’ grief in this moment, especially when he cannot even hug her one last time.

    1. After seeing Odysseus long for his family throughout the entire story, when he is finally in front of Penelope, he does not reveal himself but continues to present himself as a beggar and lies to her. “She wept for her own husband, who was right next to her” (19.209). I think this part of the story provokes both sadness, confusion, and is not satisfying for the audience/reader. Despite his wife crying for him in front of him, Odysseus does not reveal himself and ease her pain. For the reader/audience, the reunion between the two still does not occur even though Odysseus is seeing his wife for the first time in decades.

      1. I would like to agree with Erin. I felt this part particularly emotional as his wife is in complete sadness directly in front of him. One would assume that Odysseus would feel some sort of empathy for his wife, yet he seems unbothered. This provokes a true and utter sadness for his wife, while he toys with this emotion throughout, he shows his true loyalty to her yet seems unbothered by her sadness and weeping.

      2. I also thought this moment of the book is sad but also unsatisfying, especially paired with Penelope openly admitting to him how much she misses her husband without knowing that’s who she was talking to. She describes her heart as “melting” (19.137) and describes her situation with the suitors to him: “they shouted/ in protest and they made me finish it./ I have no more ideas, and I cannot/ fend off a marriage anymore” (19.153-156) It is heartbreaking to read and frustrating to watch Odysseus process all of this and still not reveal himself. I understand the reasoning behind it, but with Penelope enduring so much for so long we want to see her reunite with him.

        1. This section increased my confusion about Odysseus and how much he truly missed his wife. We are introduced to Odysseus sobbing for Penelope and home (5 216-224) on Calypso’s island, apparently withstanding the temptation of a beautiful goddess for 9 years. However, Odysseus stays with Circe for a year after becoming her lover, and seemingly only leaves once his crew begs him to see reason. His motivations for withstanding such a treacherous journey don’t seem completely fueled by his motivation to return to his wife. Him not revealing himself to her immediately shows surprising self-discipline that a man reunited with his beloved wife after years apart would in theory lack.

    2. A moment in the Odyssey that made me sad was in Book 11 when Odysseus encounters his mother’s shade in the underworld. He states “And with her words the dream broke and I awoke, blinking in the sunlight” (Odyssey 11.224-225). This passage elicited feelings of sadness as it highlights the gap between Odysseus and his deceased loved ones. The dream presented an opportunity for Odysseus to reconnect with his mother, but it was brief, and ultimately unfulfilling. This moment affected me deeply, as it reminded me of the importance of cherishing our relationships with those we love while they are still with us. Once they are gone, it is often too late, and feelings such as regret or sadness start to become apparent.

    3. One moment that stuck out to me in The Odyssey was one we discussed in class the other day; the reunion of Telemachus and Odysseus. What initially evoked emotion for me was the fact that Odysseus would not reveal his true identity to his son when readers knew of Telemachus’ desire for his father to return home; Telemachus’ “first [wish] would be to have my father come back home” (Odyssey 16.148-149). Reading this line in Book 16 specifically struck me with sadness, as Telemachus was longing for his father, a man who was actually right in front of him. It was not until Athena intervened that Odysseus presented himself in his true form to Telemachus. Within this conversation between Telemachus and (unidentified) Odysseus, I argue that the poem is seeking to create a sense of suspense for the reader before the ultimate reunion of father and son. I think the suspense within this passage makes the reunion that much more joyous and fulfilling for readers.

      1. This reunion in the Odyssey also stood out to me, but it provoked a different response – surprise and relief. While I agree that this moment was sad to read, the sudden shift from deception to revelation was even more surprising to me.

        When Odysseus declares, “I am your father, that same man you mourn” (Odyssey 16.188), it feels as if the tension that has been building due to his deception has finally been released.

        The poem works to create this response through its use of dramatic irony. We, the readers, know Odysseus’ identity while the other characters do not. When Odysseus reveals himself, I was surprised that he actually did so. He had not revealed himself earlier in the text when his wife was weeping for him and he was right beside her in disguise. But here, when his son is longing for his father, Odysseus drops his facade.

    4. A moment that provoked a strong response from me was in Book 19 when Odysseus is reunited with his old nurse Eurycleia. Specifically, when Eurycleia recognizes Odysseus by a scar on his leg that he received in a boar hunting accident. I feel the reason this scene struck me was that it showed how the characters shared history. This was another reminder of how long Odysseus has been gone and all the people waiting and hoping for his return. The fact that Eurycleia is the only one who recognizes Odysseus in his disguised state adds to the sense of emotional depth that the passage evokes. The text says, “But Eurycleia, daughter of Ops, recognized the scar as she sponged his feet. Her eyes widened, the sponge slipped from her hand, and she fell to her knees, right beside Odysseus’ feet.” (19.425-428). This quote captures the moment of recognition and the emotional impact it has on Eurycleia, as she realizes that the stranger in front of her is actually her master. The way that she falls to her knees and clasps his knees shows the depth of her emotional connection to him.

      1. I was also struck by this moment in book 19. It especially touched me since it is a reminder that even though he is in disguise, there are still signs of who he is through this disguise — he cannot fully mask himself. Even though Eurycleia has not seen him in such a long time, her remembering this scar is especially interesting since it is coming from his nurse’s perspective. It shows how large his legacy and impact is as he is so much older from when his nurse knew him. This, on top of Penelope prompting this encounter, made this scene very memorable for me.

      2. I also thought that Eurycleia recognizing Odysseus was memorable. However, this sweet scene was immediately contrasted by Odysseus’ violent reaction to her. Instead of just telling her to be discrete about his identity, he grabbed her by the throat and threatened to kill her if she told anyone (19.481-492). This made me angry because I didn’t see a valid reason why Odysseus needed to do this to the sweet old woman who raised him. I think that this scene illustrates Greek attitudes towards both women and slaves, as either group of people were able to be subjugated and mistreated by their “masters” and have their struggles be unchallenged by the society they lived in.

    5. The most emotional moment in this poem for me was Odysseus finally seeing his dog, Argos, again. The narrator introduces Argos with a flashback to how he was when Odysseus knew him: an energetic young puppy that he took out hunting. This idyllic time is compared to Argos as he is when Odysseus sees him again: neglected, alone, sitting in a pile of dung, dirty, flea-ridden, and physically unable to move. The startling contrast between the happy times described in Odysseus’s memory and the horrific state in which he finds his beloved pet really drives home how much of his own life he missed. I found this to be an intensely melancholy scene that highlighted the pain caused by Odysseus’s twenty-year absence. He’s clearly nostalgic about the time he had in Ithaca before he left for Troy, and Argos is a physical representation of the irreversibility of his decision to leave, as well as the toll his time away has taken. What was once the king’s vibrant, talented hunting dog and personal companion has grown old, abandoned, and left to die in a pile of dung. This underlying significance that Argos carries makes for an extremely moving scene.

      1. I also thought that this moment really highlighted for Odysseus the amount of time that had passed since he was away. I think that the reason for the strong emotion evoked by the deterioration of his once young and energetic dog comes from the connection many of us have to our own pets. Loosing a pet can be heartbreaking and with Odysseus this loss is coupled with the many other losses he’s encountered on his journey. I think Argos can be read as a physical representation of what the war and the journey afterwards has done to Odysseus and his relationships. The violence that has followed Odysseus and that he’s been a catalyst of brought a lot of destruction to the people around him and to Odysseus himself. Although Odysseus has physically survived, I think that the transformation of Argos to a neglected, pitiful dog can reflect the ravaging of Odysseus’s life and all he had left behind at home.

    6. The scene where Penelope finally knows that Odysseus has returned home was particularly emotional. When Odysseus reveals the story of how he built their bed, he passes Penelope’s “final test.” The book states, “At that, her heart and body suddenly relaxed. She recognized the tokens he had shown her. She bursts out crying and ran straight towards him and threw her arms around him, kissed his face, and said, ‘Do not be angry at me now, Odysseus!…I felt a constant dread that some bad man would fool me with his lies’” (24.205-210). This is an incredibly tender moment as the couple reunites after 20 years apart.

      1. I agree that their reunion is a very touching moment. This moment also struck me because it is a release of tension that has been building up. Penelope has known it was Odysseus yet still had to test him and keep quiet about her suspicions but now that the suitors are gone things are returning to normal in the household and the couple can finally set aside tricks and celebrate their reunion together.

    7. The ending of the encounter with Polyphemus made me quite sad. Especially when he begged his father for help, on page 257 where Polyphemus says “acknowledge me as your son, and be my father… let him get there late and with no honor”. The eye gouging scene had just happened so the poor man had just had his eye burned out by a hot stick, and was being taunted by the man who did it. The plea is just so desperate, I understand Odysseus had to gouge his eye out in order to escape but his gloating on his ship was unnecessary. Especially because he the curse Polyphemus places on them is what seals the fates of his men. The entire debacle was not a great look for Odysseus.

      1. I’m definitely with you about this passage evoking some emotions. For me, it was primarily frustration. After such a close encounter with death for himself, as well as many of his crew *actually* dying, it feels insulting to both their memory and this loyalty to him when Odysseus takes the opportunity to gloat over Polyphemus and give his full name and title (Odyssey 9.502-506). Ultimately, he and his crew are cursed by Poseidon for his arrogance, demonstrating once again that Odysseus values his own reputation and glory over being a good leader for his men.

    8. I thought it was strange but almost humorous at the beginning of Book 10 when Odysseus casually described the arrangement of each brother married to a sister.

      “We reached the floating island of Aeolus…
      Twelve children
      Live with him in his palace: six strong boys,
      And six girls. He arranged their marriages,
      One sister to each brother.” Odyssey 10.1-7

      Odysseus glosses over this as if it was normal and just part of what he was observing though this is clearly far from normal.

    9. I was struck by these words, which Odysseus says to Telemachus after he reveals himself: “Dear son, / soon you will have experience of fighting / in battle, the true test of worth. You must / not shame your father’s family; for years / we have been known across the world for courage / and manliness” (24.504-509). Odysseus has been to hell and back; he’s fought many years in a terrible war, and lost many friends; and, upon returning home, his first wish is that his son go through the same ordeal. It’s hard to believe, even being familiar with the sociocultural values of Archaic Greece. Telemachus will go to war: the vicious cycle will persist: nothing has been learned.

    10. After Odysseus finds out the enslaved girls had betrayed him and his mother. When they cohered to sleep with the suitors. I understand why he’s mad in this moment he’s hell bent on getting revenge on everyone and anyone that was involved. He just wants them death for their action not who they are as long as it’s not an honorable death. “I refuse to grant these girls a clean death, since they poured down shame on me and Mother, when they beside the suitors” (22.435).I think this is sad and disappointing but relatable to the audience. Odysseus is just disappointed because these enslaved people are suppose to be loyal to him and his mother especially not when he was gone for so long. It’s understandable for him to be upset enough to kill since he had the power to do so.

    1. On of the parts of the Odyssey that I found the saddest is when Odysseus discovers that his mother had died when he talks to her ghost. The text says,”Then in my heart I wanted to embrace the spirit of my mother. She was dead and I did not know how. Three times I tried, longing to touch her. But three times her ghost flew from my arms, like shadows, or like dreams. Sharp pain pierced deeper in me as I cried” (11.204). Odysseus’ grief especially resonated with me in this scene because losing a parent is something that everyone experiences in their lives. The fact that Odysseus is able to see and hear his mother, but unable to touch her makes this scene even more heart-wrenching because although her ghost may remain, Odysseus will never be able to hug his mother again or truly be with her.

      1. This excerpt also ellicited great emotion from me as well. I think that part of the reason it resonated so deeply is because anyone who has grieved can relate the the feeling of wanting to see that person just one more time. In this passage, we as an audience can relate to the desperation that Odysseus feels in wanting to embrace his mother. This almost gives the audience hope that they can reunite with their loved ones in the afterlife. However, the searing pain of Odysseus not being able to touch his mother makes it even realer for the audience that they too will never get to see their loved ones again. So while Emma is correct in that this scene is emotional for Odysseus, it is equally as emotional for the audience because they can relate to the disappointment so deeply.

    2. A moment that surprised me takes place during Book 23, when Penelope shows her true cunningness by her final task for Odysseus. To test him one final time, she orders the maids to bring their bed into the hall (Odyssey 23.178). The bed is rooted to the ground and cannot be moved, which Penelope knows, and Odysseus fully reveals his identity by knowing this information too. Penelope’s ability to outsmart and be more cunning than Odysseus was pleasantly surprising to me.

      1. I think this is a great point and one which I also was definitely happy to see! It was very satisfying to see Penelope outwit Odysseus because we’ve only mostly seen Odysseus do it himself. It was a nice change of pace to see the tables be turned on Odysseus, and I’m glad to see it because it’s also refreshing. It’s nice to see Odysseus married a woman smarter than him, or at least more witty than him.

    3. The moment that most effected me was the moment in book 17, page 290, where Odysseus sees his old neglected dog for one last time before he passes away right in front of his owner. I felt incredibly angry and upset when I read that part. As someone who adores animals and sees them as innocent, it truly upset me to see that the suitors could not even pity or take care of an innocent dog like Argos. Their neglect and lack of care for an innocent animal, starving it, forcing it to live in refuse infested with fleas, was truly appalling. I do not see how anyone in their right mind could hurt an innocent dog like that. If I was Odysseus, that would have made me feel anguish and pain too. Argos was not even my dog, though I feel terrible for him and wish he had gotten the care he deserved. The suitors treatment of innocent animals shows how evil they truly are.

      1. I also found this moment really moving. When we were going over the scenes of justification for Odysseus’ murdering of the suitors, I found this one where Odysseus witnesses his dog dying the most compelling. In particular, the description of the neglected dog lying “in a pile of dung from mules and cows” and “covered in fleas” really conveyed how much time passed since Odysseus first trained Argos. The small action of Argos being too weak to move toward his master and Odysseus discreetly wiping away tears adds emotional weight and allows the reader insight as to how the passage of time and changes that occured in Ithaca have affected Odysseus. Being a dog owner, it is quite sad to see how when your pet ages the energy and vibrancy of their puppyhood fades away and they are no longer able to leap as high to greet you or sprint around the house in circles. It is really sad that Odysseus didn’t even get the chance to witness this transformation and is robbed of precious time with his pet.

    4. A moment in the Odyssey that made me sad was what we touched on in our class last Tuesday. This is when Odysseus meet his mother in the underworld. He realizes that she is gone while he is already in a place of pain and suffering. In that moment I can’t imagine the way he feels as you realize you never will be able to truly see that person again or love them the way you have throughout your life. This excerpt is from Odyssey 11.224-225

      1. This was the exact moment that I thought of when asked if there was any scene that induced a real reaction from me. Odysseus has been shown to cry a good amount, however, the moment he is moved to tears when told that his mother died while he was gone hit real hard. That kind of cry comes from an understanding that someone you hold so dear to your heart is gone and you won’t be able to see them again. Odysseus experiences much loss during his journey but this loss is so unexpected that it triggers a different kind of mourning.

      2. This part of Book 11 really stuck with me too. Despite all of the hardships that Odysseus goes through, the profound sorrow and pain he experiences here is hard to brush off. He seems to really confront the meaning of death, and the reality that he has seen his mother for the last time in his life. Odysseus does some pretty morally questionable things throughout the epic, but this scene depicts something so innate to the human experience that you can’t help but empathize.

    5. The moment that provoked a strong response for me was in book 17, page 290. This passage is about the death of the dog Argos and how it effected Odysseus. Argos was mistreated and neglected by the suitors for 20 years. The neglect put Argos in a terrible condition, so when Argos finally sees Odysseus he dies. In this scene we see the relationship between Odysseus and his dog, and it allows the reader to almost sympathize with Odysseus and in a way humanizes him, despite all the pain and violence he had caused.

      1. I also found this moment to be very moving. It is always very difficult to see an animal hurt and neglected, especially a dog as they are dependent on us to care for them. This is also an important moment for the reader to see a different side of Odysseus. Seeing him in this light, instead of the usual violence, allows the reader to relate to him more in his loss.

    6. I was surprised at the way the poem presents Odysseus’ encounter with the cyclops Polyphemus (9.400). Odysseus puts his wit on full display by calling himself ‘Noman’ in front of Polyphemus, so that the cyclops cannot communicate effectively when Odysseus and his men twist the stake into his eye. I interpreted this moment as the poem’s attempt to glorify Odysseus and his wit. However, I still came away disappointed in Odysseus, given that his brazen and unnecessary interaction with Polyphemus cost him the lives of half his men.

    7. I chose the Argos episode that begins at 17.290. We looked at this episode last class, but essentially Argos, a beautiful and proficient hunting dog. has been neglected and grown old since Odysseus went away. Now that Odysseus has returned, Argos feels that he can die. This tugged at my heartstrings and reminded me of the death of my own dog. Chase died of brain cancer when I was a sophomore in high school.

    8. A moment in the book that took me by surprise is how Athena manipulated the suitors to engage in even worse behavior to stir up more hatred for them from Odysseus. In Book 20, from lines 284 – 287, it goes: “But still Athena would not let the suitors refrain from hurtful insults and abuse, so even deeper bitterness would sink into the heart of great Odysseus,”. I was taken aback at the level of animosity Athena held for the suitors because I don’t recall there being any egregious act done by them against her. I’m not sure to what degree Athena’s care for Odysseus played a part in this behavior, or if this was done to instill greater piety and fear for the gods, but to actively work against the suitors reveals a personal disdain for them. I think the reason why this moment stood out strongly to me is that I’m not used to seeing depictions of such wrathful gods in the media I interact with, so this depiction is definitely unique in my mind.

    9. Dogs have always been my weak spot. I can handle a lot of things, but dogs dying has never been one of them. As a result, 17.290 hit hard. I don’t think it’s sad only because Argos dies, but it’s the bittersweet, gut-wrenching kind of sad. Dogs love so readily and so unconditionally, and the idea of Argos surviving only to see Odysseus one last time makes me cry. It is the definition of bittersweet. It’s sweet that Argos actually gets to see Odysseus again, even after 20 years. It’s bitter because he dies, after being without Odysseus and being mistreated for 20 years. It’s a moment in the Odyssey that doesn’t have any plot relevance, but shows how Odysseus truly wasn’t forgotten, even after being away for so long. Additionally, I think dogs are such an integral part of the households they belong to. Anyone who has a dog knows that. And many people who know that, may also know that a dog’s death is horrible. It’s the death of pure love and loyalty. So, in the Odyssey, having Argos as a dog serves the story well, as it shows that Odysseus is still loved and remembered in Ithaca.

    10. An emotion I felt often throughout this poem was frustration, specifically, frustration with Odysseus.
      One of these situations in which my frustration was more pronounced was when the Cyclops asked Odysseus if he was a pirate who went around mercilessly slaughtering people (9.251), and a few pages prior he did just that to Cicones (9.40). Maybe anger is a more accurate emotion, becuase I just thought “why this guy”. I guess throughout the poem I had a lot of trouble sympathizing with him, and the scene with the cyclops captures a lot of that becuase it feels like Odysseus is given a free pass (or at least a softer pass) when he does a lot terrible things as well. I guess I just thought “is odysseus really that much better a guy than the cyclops?”.

    11. For me the lines in Book 12 of Circe warning Odysseus of the threats he will face as he faces the second half of his return journey, including one that the audience has already been clued in on from the outset of the poem. The specific lines are, “If you can remember home and leave the cows unharmed, you will at last arrive in Ithaca. But if you damage them, I must foretell disaster for your ship and for your crew. Even if you survive, you will return late and humiliated, having caused the death of all your men.’”(12.137-144)
      These lines evoke a sense of subtle dread for me. The knowledge that their disobedience of the sun god will make certain their demise despite so many warnings and their survival of so many previous trials just hints that they were not stupid or moronic for their actions, they were at-or past-their limits. While not the most powerful emotional reaction, It still evoked a dread of the inescapable. Despite so much labor and so much assistance, they were doomed to fall from the very beginning, which is the knowledge that the readers and viewers must acknowledge all throughout the poem.

      1. I agree! This moment also struck me, along with the general sense of an unavoidable foregone conclusion that hangs over the events of the poem. I think this moment achieves its potency in its specificity; one simple, seemingly inconsequential action could derail the fates of Odysseus and his men for years, and potentially end lives. The dread that these words conjure is, to me, rooted in how this warning exposes the fragile structure of fate.

    1. One of the moments in the Odyssey that I found particularly surprising was Achilles and Odysseus’ interaction in the Underworld. After having read the Iliad, which centered around Achilles’ decision between honor and life, I found it interesting that he seemed to regret his choice. He says that he would “prefer to be a workman, hired by a poor man on a peasant farm, than rule as king of all the dead.” This image would have provided a clear understanding for the intended audience of the poem that he would rather be anywhere but the Underworld (11.489-491). I think the scene resonated with me specifically because it demonstrates the universal human experiences of regret and fearing death.

      1. I’m also moved a lot by this section. It touches upon the eternal question of seeking glory after death as a living person and thus giving up his current life. It is tragic that Achilles realizes this after death, and there will be so many more people who will follow the same path as him, doomed by glory. It is even mirrored in everyday choice, should we give up playing videogames right now to review for a test that we don’t know if we’ll do well in even if we reviewed? Humans simply aren’t very good at predicting the future, and the illusive future leaves us lost and anxious in the present. And we don’t even know if we will have the chance of looking back at our lives and assessing our choices as Achilles does after life.

    2. The scene between Odysseus and Argos the Dog provoked sadness for me. Homer writes, “So Argos lay there dirty, covered with fleas. And when he realized Odysseus was near, he wagged his tail, and both his ears dropped back. He was too weak to move towards his master” (17.290). The physical state of neglect shocked me and reminded me of all the animals that still to this day are neglected when their owners pass away or have to abandon them. Then the passage continues, “twenty years had passed since Argos saw Odysseus, and now he saw him for the final time – then suddenly, black death took hold of him”(17.290). A lot of animals do hold on and wait for their owners before passing away and this sad moment reminded me of the fact that there is an increased number of pet deaths around the holidays. This is because family members come home and the pets are relieved the whole family is home and end up passing away.

      1. I agree with this Eva that the scene between Odysseus and Argos the Dog was saddening. The line “twenty years had passed since Argos saw Odysseus, and now he saw him for the final time – then suddenly, black death took hold of him”(17.290) is sad, however, I also thought that was peaceful. Earlier in the passage we see that Argos was neglected, “But now he is in bad condition, with his mater gone, long dead. The women fail to care for him…”(17.290). Even though Argos was alive, he was described as dead. However, when he sees Odysseus his owner and is not neglected he gets to live and then die.

      2. This was also a moment that struck me. Although there was a lot of impactful moments throughout the Odyssey, there is something about the innocence of animals that always strikes a cord with me. It makes me think about how dogs often need to be put down because they fight so hard to stay alive and they live their lives trying to please their owners.

      3. I also found this scene to be one that resonated with me the most. As I was reading it in class, I found that I felt a lot of empathy, sympathy, and sadness for Argos the Dog, especially since he was neglected and was basically immobile because of how little he was cared for. I think that this scene also shows the loyalty of animals, despite the conditions they are in. When Argos saw Odysseus, he tried displaying actions of happiness for being reunited with his master, however he was too weak. Additionally I like the point Eva brought up about how pets usually wait for their owners before they pass away. I think that most of the loyalty we see are through animals and their actions.

    3. A moment that provoked a response for me was when Odysseus killed the 148 suitors and henchmen, which left me surprised, and yet not at the same time. When we were discussing this specific passage in class, I initially thought this was utterly irrational. Odysseus already at this point killed off/sacrificed his own crew members in order to survive and get what he wants, which, although he was seen as a hero, was also done in a very selfish way. As we talked further, I realized why (in greek mythology terms) this was okay, as they were planning on killing his son. The poem is working to produce such a response at this moment by using repetition, listing the numbers of various men he was targeting. This moment stood out to me in particular because, unlike contemporary works, I think that greek mythology tends to write things in an extreme manner. The number of people Odysseus killed was very shocking, although it is normal for these sorts of works.

      1. This is definitely an interesting moment in the text. As Professor Farmer mentioned in the lecture, this gruesome ending is one that we know is coming from the beginning of the poem. And yet this doesn’t seem to make the atrocities committed at the end any less shocking. We spend the entire poem preparing for this moment and it’s the story teller’s responsibility to make us believe that Odysseus is justified in his actions.

    4. The moments between the Cyclops and Odysseus in book 9 were especially thought provoking to me because it reminded be of the second book of the Percy Jackson Series: The Sea of Monsters. In that book, Percy also has an encounter with Polyphemus on his island while he is actually with his half-brother who is also a cyclops. There are definitely parallels between the two stories which immediately led me to this connection.

      1. To add to what Jill was saying, I also found that the cyclops scene provoked a response from me because I found it to be very humorous. Of course, the scene where Polyphemus is talking to the other cyclopes about “Noman” attacking him is funny because he got tricked and his friends think he’s stupid (9.400). But also just the whole scenario is funny with him having tons of cheese and wine and talking to his sheep and the misunderstanding of xenia. This part of the story while still being gory, serves as a comedic relief from the rest of the poem that I find quite sad, so this scene stands out.

    5. A quote that influenced me was, “Her face was melting, like the snow…So were her lovely cheeks / dissolved with tears. She wept for her own husband, / who was right next to her. Odysseus / pitied his grieving wife inside his heart, / but kept his eyes quite still, without a flicker” (19.204-13). Emily Wilson describes the interaction between Penelope and Odysseus; however, Penelope does not know it is Odysseus as he can not reveal himself to her. What resonated with me was the emotional aspect of this conversation, especially Wilson describing Penelope’s face as melting because she is so distraught over her missing husband. It is tragic to see Penelope grieving for her missing husband while he is, in fact, right in front of her eyes.

      1. This quote stuck out to me as well but evoked a different emotional response for me. To me, I thought it was a funny scene when Penelope acts towards Odysseus as if she does not recognize him, yet plays it out as if she is upset and missing him dearly. Penelope cannot yet reveal that she knows it is Odysseus, as it would be too dangerous to reveal his identity like that. However, I think she does a really good job acting, and it is funny how she continues to play it out as if she is totally blind. This is until she finally laughs when having Eurycleia clean his feet because she knows she would recognize his scar. Up until then though, I think it is really funny how she plays it off as if she doesn’t recognize him.

    6. I thought it was really funny when Odysseus was finishing the story of his many travels to King Alcinous and the Phaeacians and he gets to telling the story of Calypso. He has a line where he says “It is annoying, / repeating tales that have been told before” (12.452-453). This made me laugh because it supports the concept that Odysseus’ entire story was a lie or at least just him making himself look good. By excluding the story of Calypso, he tries to keep his image as a pious man despite spending years with the goddess even when he could have gone home earlier. I liked this scene in particular because it seems so surprisingly human for the famously god-like Odysseus.

    7. One moment in The Odyssey that made me particularly emotional was the reunion of Odysseus and Telemachus. I don’t really relate to or empathize with either of these characters on the surface, but this moment still moved me. When Wilson says that Telemachus “hurled his arms around his father, and he wept,” (16.215) it made me miss my own family, and made me think of when I first saw them at the start of the winter, spring, and fall breaks. Even then, I know I’m only feeling a tiny fraction of what Telemachus and Odysseus are feeling in this moment. Although this is a small connection, missing and reuniting with one’s family is such a universal experience that it probably helps every reader connect to the characters. So although they do terrible things, moments like this keep Odysseus and Telemachus in a sympathetic light.

    8. One moment in the Odyssey that stood out to me is in Book 6, when Odysseus meets Nausicaa, the daughter of King Alcinous, and is overcome with awe and gratitude (Odyssey 6.158-162). This moment is particularly affecting because it marks a turning point in Odysseus’s journey. He has been stranded on Calypso’s island for years and has suffered greatly, but now he finally has a chance to return home. Nausicaa’s kindness and hospitality provide a glimmer of hope for Odysseus, and he is overcome with emotion at the prospect of finally being reunited with his family.

    9. I have read the Odyssey many times throughout my academic career and the one passage, starting in book 22 on line 436 in which Odysseus forces the women who he feels has wronged him to clean his house before slaughtering them, is perhaps one of the most grotesque in my opinion. In the first year of high school, I read this for the first time and our class acted out these scenes and I have not forgotten it all these years later. It is for me one of the most viscerally repulsive parts of the book, and reading it now again for the third or fourth time it is still an uncomfortable read. I think it says a lot about the views of women and enslaved people in the Hellenistic period as well as the sheer cruelty of Odysseus. Sure, we can argue the ethics of murdering the suitors who mistreated his home and Penelope, but this is just disgusting to me.

      1. I agree that this moment definitely stood out in my mind too when looking back on the Odyssey and on Odysseus as a character. To me, when looking back on moments like Odysseus’s reunion with Telemachus as Cynthia mentioned and other moments where it feels like we should be rooting for Odysseus, I tend to remember the terrible things that Odysseus did to those women during that period of the story. I think that moments like these are often what can date the text most as I think Odysseus might still be a more relatable and heroic character as those would be considered more minor transgressions during the Hellenistic period.

    10. One moment which stuck out to me was the depiction of Odysseus when he was trapped with Calypso. “She found him sitting upon the beach with his eyes ever filled with tears, his sweet life wasting away as he wept for his homecoming; for he had got tired of Calypso, and though he was forced to sleep with her in the cave by night, it was she, not he, that would have it so.” The depiction just seems to go against the gender norms of the time. He is described as sweet and helpless, subject to someone more powerful and trapped by circumstance. He also cried a lot, which would potentially be seen as weakness. This passage just stuck out to me as a subversion of gender roles in the story.

    11. I was really struck by the emotions I felt when Odysseus is reunited with his wet nurse. As was mentioned in class, Eurycleia was only able to recognize him by the scar on his leg (although to be fair, he was artificially aged up). Odysseus has aged past the point where people of his household may recognize his face. When she does recognize her master, the person she nursed to boyhood, she collapses to her knees, weak with emotion. I cannot imagine what would be going through her head. Hope for his return must have left the minds of many of those who worked at Odysseus’ household, replaced instead by the despair caused by the suitors and their constant revelry. Her physical reaction to her realization of Odysseus’ presence shows just how much of an influence Odysseus has on his people and how much they love him.

    12. I was surprised in book 4.102 just how devastated Menelaus is after all his fiery warmongering before and throughout the events of the Iliad and Trojan war. His explanation to Telemachus that his mourning process has him, “…sit here in my palace, mourning all who died, and often weeping. Sometimes tears bring comfort to my heart, but not for long; cold grief grows sickening. I miss them all….” While there were tears in the Iliad they were mostly in the moment reactions or the realization of the cost of war, but this display of PTSD symptoms adds a weight to the most popular myths in history.

    1. Although the reaction that 17.205-212 elicits in me isn’t one of particular sadness or rage, I find that I repeatedly think back to that tiny little description of a bucolic altar/watering hole on Ithaca since reading it last year. It’s not a long a passage, or even a very important moment at all, but that little piece of text always invokes strong feelings of security and comfort for me amidst the whirlwind of events in the latter half of the epic. Its not even as involved as the idyllic and peaceful descriptions of the Phaeacians palace, or even the island of Cyclopes, but the comfort (or “warm and fuzzies”) in just knowing that on Ithaca there is a fountain encircled by poplars where cool, clean water flows makes it a little place I can sit in my feelings of safety for a while.

    2. One moment I found to be particularly touching was Odyssey 8.18-22. These lines describe how Athena “poured unearthly charm” into Odysseus to him “taller and sturdier” make the Phaeacians respect him. My first reaction to this was sort of disgust, or at least an eye roll because I was thinking about it in terms of the 21st century, along the lines of “of course he’s only going to be respected if he’s tall and sturdy.” Once I started thinking it about it a little bit more, I was really struck by the fact that Athena is the one in this passage with the power, as she is really through the whole poem. It’s so striking to see that a woman, even if she is a goddess, is always going to be more powerful than a man.

      1. Great point Zoe. I think this passage really elicits a feeling that Athena is choosing to bestow these physical features onto Odysseus, and he only gets them because she wills it. Another level of this is that she bestows him with superficial physical attributes which speaks to an even greater power differential between Athena and Odysseus. This shows the reader how hollow his ostensible power is.

    3. One moment that made me feel sad was when Hermes visits Calypso. I feel bad for her because she is very lonely due to being trapped on her island alone, and she is so desperate for contact that she keeps Odysseus on the island despite his protests. I feel especially bad for her when she says, “You cruel, jealous gods! You bear a grudge/ whenever any goddess takes a man/ to sleep with as a lover in her bed” in 5.118-120. All she wants is to be able to have a companion and a lover, but she is continuously denied just that just because the lover in question is a mortal.

      1. I also think it’s interesting that Calypso cites other examples where the male gods didn’t allow female gods to keep their lovers. She talks about how Demeter finally allowed herself to love, and this lover was killed by Zeus. This created a feeling of helplessness as even other gods have to obey the orders of Zeus. They are not allowed to love unless Zeus allows it, and Calypso communicates the unjustness of the situation here.

    4. A moment from the Odyssey that I found saddening was actually one we discussed in class, when Odysseus reunites with his dog, Argos (17.290). The description is quite detailed of how Argos was neglected for 20 years and not cared for, he was dirty with fleas and was living next to dung. And right after Odysseus left, the dog passed away. It is evident that Argos was suffering and in a lot of pain. Reading this passage made me feel sad and bad for the dog. I think this moment stood out to me because it was clear the pain that the dog was in and I have a soft spot for dogs so it was sad to read.

      1. I also found this moment to be very sad. I think what made it this way for me was also the state that Argus was in like you mentioned, and also the loyalty towards Odysseus that he had. I also think that the hope that Argus had that his owner would one day return was also quite touching, and the way that he recognizes Odysseus even after it has been so long. The way that Odysseus recognized his dog and realizes that his dog recognizes him but can’t go to him was also super sad to me. This can be seen on page 396 lines 304-306 when the author writes “At a distance, Odysseus had noticed, and he wiped his tears away and hid them easily.”

        1. I absolutely agree, as soon as I read the prompt for this week’s forum, I immediately came back to Odysseus and Argos as a moment of sadness. I think the passage really provides a perfect representation of what Odysseus lost in his twenty years away from home, in a way that practically everyone can relate to, their pet(s). Over the decades, Odysseus was a leader, and a warrior, he confronted monsters, and navigated relationships with powerful beings, but he left so much behind, and in being briefly reunited with Argos, Odysseus shows us in an innately human way, the price that he paid, leaving behind those that he loved – by tearing up at the sight of his dog.

      2. Honestly, of all the scenes in the Odyssey this scene actually made me tear up. I think part of it is that I (like a majority of the audience in all likelihood) have felt the pain and heartbreak that comes with losing such a loyal, loving, innocent companion like a dog, and the grief that comes when you find out that some of their pain could have been prevented if only you knew in time to fix it. And also just, the overwhelming grief and horror that comes with realizing there is no making up for lost time and intense regret and “should have”‘s that pop in your head when you wish you could spent your time with them more wisely if only you knew it would be so short..

        I think in some part the innocence and sheer unwavering love we see from Argos for Odysseus is what makes this hurt more than some other scenes with Odysseus’ pain, because while Odysseus has been responsible for some intense grief and misery for others at Troy, Argos is just a wholly innocent victim of Odysseus’s tragically delayed return and the suitors’ malevolence. The horrible mistreatment and heartbreaking death of Argos, coupled with the grief that we know Odysseus feels over the treatment of his dog and the heart wrenching fact that Odysseus cannot even greet/pet/ comfort his dog in Argos’ final moments just…hit me like a punch to the gut, but also served to make me so incredibly incensed toward the ones who mistreated this dog so badly.

    5. In book 17, I found of moment of brevity when Odysseus says to Antinous “You handsome idiot” (Odyssey 17.456). I thought that insult was rather funny as it is rude compliment. Especially considering the context I think that it was intentionally made as a moment for the reader to pause and think about the implications of the situation that lead up to this insult and the fallout that happened because of it.

      1. I agree with this – I definitely think it speaks to Wilson’s translation and her ability to engage the reader with the text. There are many moments in the text that are comical, such as the Polyphemus scene we discussed in class, but which invoke other emotions and are deeper than just humor. I’ve read other translations of the Odyssey before that haven’t felt nearly as engaging, and Wilson’s text is very good at engaging the emotions of the reader.

    6. One moment that provoked a feeling of anxiety for me was Odysseus’s response to Eurycleia recognizing him (19.483-490). Although it is understandable for Odysseus to want to keep his identity a secret, he was very aggressive towards Eurycleia to the extent where I feel he attacked her. Rather than being kind and gentle towards the woman who took care of him, he tells her that if his secret is revealed because of her he will not spare her life. This moment should’ve been a touching reencounter, but due to Odysseus’s character it became a moment that produced fear/anxiety. I think this moment stood out to me because I already questioned Odysseus’s morality, and this response confirmed that he will trample on anyone who gets in his way.

      1. I also found this moment very thought provoking for me because of how it shows Odysseus’ true character and demonstrates why he is such a complex man. In this moment we see the harsher less humanized side of Odysseus where he acts without thinking presumably. I thought this was a key part of the story where we see his true colors and found it to be very revealing of his character. I think it also speaks perhaps to different conceptions of gender roles and thus a negligence of this impact of his strong words.

        1. I also found this moment very shocking. We talked a lot in class about how the poem is trying to justify Odysseus’s future actions by making him a sympathetic character, so I was surprised that he was harsh to Eurycleia. I wonder if it could have been perceived differently by an ancient reader because of Odysseus’s higher status. I think that Odysseus’s willingness to act cruel towards someone he is supposed to care for highlights how important it is for his plan to be successful.

    7. The end of the archery contest, particularly 21.473-475, was both suspenseful and saddening, as we see Odysseus prepare to kill all of the suitors. The book has been building to this point since the beginning, which makes this moment all the more important. Throughout the Odyssey we see constant reminders of the suitors ravaging his house; Odysseus’s main driving factor to return home is to save his wife and son; and, the preceding 5 books focused on slowly developing this plan, finally unfolding in book 21. These three pages are a culmination of everything. Eurycleia is ordered to lock the doors and usher the “innocent” from the room, while Odysseus is given the bow that he will soon use to kill all the suitors. When Odysseus strings the bow, accompanied by Zues’s thunder, we can feel the tension and power in this moment. Finally, the book ends with Telemachus strapping on his armor and standing by his father, bringing the story full circle and finally uniting Odysseus and his son in a moment of solidarity. In addition, this section is the final moment for the reader to question Odysseus’s planned mass murder, provoking some element of sadness. Is what he is going to do justified?

      1. The end of the archery contest was very suspenseful for me also. It really felt like the beginning of the climax of the epic as Odysseus faces the final opponents standing between him and retaking the throne of Ithaca. Even then, the tension is not from whether or not Odysseus will win. Rather, the tension from this scene from knowing all of the suitors are going to be massacred. Whether or not this massacre is justified lies within one’s own interpretation. For me, however, it was satisfying to see the suitors who have leeched off Odysseus’s wealth for so long finally be dealt with.

    8. Although I wasn’t shocked, I was saddened by 22.311-377 where Odysseus kills the priest who is supplicating him. He only decided to spare the poet and the house boy because Telemachus asks him to. Even then, it seems like he only does this to use them as props so that they can spread the word that Odysseus is merciful and good. When Odysseus tells them “so live and spread the word that doing good is far superior to wickedness”, it felt very ironic to me since he had just finished killing the suitors and would be painfully killing some of the slave girls. This passage solidified Odysseus’ image as a morally dubious character.

    9. A scene from Homer’s “Odyssey” that invokes a strong emotion from me is the scene in which Odysseus returns home and is able to find and reunite with his son, Telemachus. This story is full of struggle and conflict so it was very refreshing to see a positive twist later in the story. On top of being a refreshing scene, this point in the story also invoked a number of positive emotions out of me.

      I will cite a small passage from Homer’s “Odyssey”, around lines 17.330 where Odysseus is in a disguised as a beggar and no human recognizes Odysseus but his old dog does. This is a great scene because the audience is aware that Odysseus has returned but the characters in the story do not. By having the dogs sense that the beggar is Odysseus before any other characters, it adds extra positive emotions to this entire scene.

  1. An early moment in The Odyssey which provoked an anxious response in me, was one of the first scenes introducing the reader to Telemachus. In 1.355-365 Telemachus takes it upon himself to confront the suitors who are waiting for Penelope. He declares himself as the master and uses harsh words. He ultimately commands Penelope to return to her room where she cries for Odysseus. I find this scene to be anxiously powerful because it demonstrates the moment where Telemachus is called to be the new “head of the house,” by attempting to restore order since Odysseus’ absence is being taken advantage of by the suitors. It also shows the generational anger being passed from Odysseus to Telemachus. It is interesting to note that even though Penelope is disturbed by Telemachus’ actions, she still cries for Odysseus who was clearly the model for these actions. From this moment on, Telemachus’ character grows closer and closer to assuming an authoritarian role like his father.

  2. One of the most interesting moments of the Odyssey to me was towards the end, when Odysseus sits down and conserves with Penelope, who does not know who he is, but follows all of the rules of the home with him as if he were any of the 128 suitors in her home. She talks to him about himself, and this is a very warping experience to me. Odysseus has traveled all this way to meet his wife, and while he could see her and hug her and be with her again, he uses his supposed god given cunning first, which shocked me now that even still he places this over higher value than the love he had for his wife. (19:110-215)

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