reflection DISCUSSION WEEK 2 THREAD ONE Book XII seems to highlight the ideas of fate and human effort; it also highlights the problem of understanding

reflection DISCUSSION WEEK 2


Book XII seems to highlight the ideas of fate and human effort; it also highlights the problem of understanding

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reflection DISCUSSION WEEK 2


Book XII seems to highlight the ideas of fate and human effort; it also highlights the problem of understanding how, or if, human striving can influence fate. For example, Odysseus and his crew encounter monsters whom they can’t directly overcome, either by physical force or by cunning. The only way to avoid being victimized by the Sirens is to accept deafness to their song, and the only way to get past Scylla is to accept loss and grief. In these situations, Odysseus’ bie (physical power) and metis (applied intelligence) are useless, and he can’t win any kleos (fame) from surviving them. So what’s the point of placing Odysseus in these circumstances? What does Odysseus learn from his experiences in these episodes? In considering your response, you might want to think about what happens on Thrinacia: in what ways is Odysseus’ power limited in that situation, too?

The point of placing Odysseus in these circumstances by putting Odysseus in the circumstance of witnessing his crewmembers die, he demonstrates Metis because he is able to keep going forward despite all of the death and sacrifices, he has had to make in order to complete his journey home. He demonstrates remarkable bypassing Scylla despite the pain he received from Metis, allowing him to maintain self-control. 

Odysseus learn from his experiences in these episodes to respect and cherish his life and family in Ithaca as a result of his long trip and tremendous suffering. This is demonstrated in Book 5, where Odysseus is portrayed as spending most of his time in prison with Calypso with his emotions always focused towards Ithaca, grieving nonstop and mourning the loss of his home. 

My response for the last question I suppose Odysseus has discovered that he has more power than he realizes, until when his crewmates turn against him when they encounter Thrinaci. Odysseus is punished by Zeus for the wrongdoings of his crew; he is shown that he is not the only one with enormous power and that he cannot control everything in his own hands. Also, from that situation, it also entails that Odysseus does not control what the people or his crewmates could be doing, especially the unexpected thing. Because of it, it resulted in the death of his crewmates, and he is the only one who survived, but also just barely.


Book XIII seems to concentrate on disguises. For example, Athena initially appears to Odysseus disguised as a shepherd boy, and a bit later (after she reveals her true identity) she disguises Odysseus as a beggar before he approaches his palace. Discuss these two related questions: (1) Why does Athena appear undisguised to Odysseus at this specific juncture in the story? (2) How have Odysseus’ previous adventures prepared him to make the disguise ploy work?

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I think because Athena meets Odysseus on Ithaca and disguises him as an old beggar so that he can gain information without being recognized. He meets his loyal swineherd, Eumaeus, and is pleased with the man’s hospitality as well as his devotion to his master, whom he does not recognize.

On why does Athena choose to reveal herself to Odysseus as a goddess?

In Book One, Athena assumes the identity of Mentes, a close family friend. As Mentes, she tries to persuade Telemachus to call an assembly and reprimand his mother’s suitors. She also hopes to persuade Telemachus to hire a boat and crew to search Hellas for news of his father Odysseus’ fate.

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Books IX through XIII move at a very fast narrative clip; that pace slows down considerably when we get to Books XIV-XVI. Describe the effect this change in pacing has on you personally, and speculate about why Homer made this choice. For example, one narrative opportunity provided by the much more leisurely pace is the shift from action to dialogue (of sorts) and personal reflection; what themes does Homer emphasize here? What does he reveal about the development of significant characters (e.g., Eumaeus) and relationships (Odysseus and Telemachus, Odysseus and Eumaeus, etc)?

I think Homer intentionally and purposively wrote this kind of fast pacing. He is a genius writer – he grabbed the attention of the readers with his amazing plot structures, he also used drama to add depth to his characters.  The Odyssey is written in dactylic hexameter, a rigid literary framework in which each poem line contains six ‘feet,’ or dactyls, each consisting of one long and two short syllables. Homer also repeats lines of poetry and beautiful words. The pace slows as the story returns from the fantastic world of the wanderings. These books serve to return Odysseus, at last, to Ithaca; in addition, they further consider two of the most important themes in the epic: hospitality and loyalty.

 his book’s central theme was “Home Sweet Home.” Odysseus pined for his homeland, his family, and his throne. Nothing is more important than your own home, as this book demonstrates. When Odysseus lies, Athena demonstrates that lying is terrible.

He grows as a character during the novel; towards the end, he is more patient and able to put his pride aside, and he becomes more cunning, even reducing his status as King of Ithaca by disguising himself as a beggar. He is permitting criticism from the suitors.



At the beginning of Book XXI, Homer creates a pause in the action (between saying that “[t]he time had come” [l. 1] and Penelope’s retrieval of Odysseus’ famous bow [ll. 50 ff.]): within this pause he relates a flashback of how Odysseus had come to own this bow. For what reasons (there are probably more than one or two) does he do so? Why does he associate the bow with hospitality (xenia)? How do this brief narrative suspension and flashback affect the audience’s experience of the contest and the subsequent slaughter in the hall?

Why does he associate the bow with hospitality xenia?

Penelope’s choice of contest — one that only Odysseus could win — supports the suspicion that she is aware of the beggar/Odysseus’s real identity. When the beggar/Odysseus asks for an unofficial chance at the bow, Penelope immediately counters Antinous’ objection. Dismissing the idea that the guest would claim her as his bride, she responds that by giving the wandering stranger a shot she is simply being hospitable. Of course, the beggar would not claim her for his bride; Odysseus would not have to.

Telemachus’ role at the contest is secondary but significant. His attempt at stringing the bow symbolically illustrates that, although he isn’t quite yet ready to assume the burden of leadership from Odysseus, he is, indeed, the destined heir to Odysseus’ legacy. Some critics also complain that Telemachus is unduly rude when he sends his mother to her quarters as Odysseus is about to string the bow; other suggest that he is angry. Neither is the case. In fact, Telemachus is accomplishing two important tasks. He is asserting his own position in the household, and he is removing his mother from harm’s way. She may suspect that the beggar is her husband, but Telemachus knows that a battle is about to take place and that his place is at the side of the king.

How do this brief narrative suspension and flashback affect the audience’s experience of the contest and the subsequent slaughter in the hall? 

Penelope introduces the idea, which is news to the suitors. 

Antinous felt threatened then he attacks his underlings, Eumaeus and Philoetius, a safe way for him to let out aggression. Then he hypocritically praises Odysseus, the king he otherwise mocks and hopes to replace. The purpose of this passage is not just to advance the plot. 

· Here, the reader is given important insights into the characters by virtue of Homer’s arrangement of the events. Homer shifts the reader’s focus as a film director might.

After the contest gets underway, Homer cleverly takes the reader outside the great hall to a scene in which Odysseus identifies himself and shows his famous scar to his loyal servants, Eumaeus and Philoetius. Then he asks the former to get the maidservants out of the hall and the latter to bolt the courtyard’s outer gate. 


At the beginning of Book XXII, Homer shifts the audience’s perspective from a view of Odysseus to a view of Antinous (ll. 1-14) in order to highlight the differences in behavior and character of both men.  How does Homer use details of description to highlight these differences and connect them to the themes he’s been developing throughout the narrative? Furthermore, what is the significance of Odysseus shooting Antinous in the throat (ll. 15-21)?

How does Homer use details of description to highlight these differences and connect them to the themes he has been developing throughout the narrative? 

Homer described Odysseus as an expert in terms of battle. Though a strong and courageous warrior, he is most renowned for his cunning. He is a favorite of the goddess Athena, who often sends him divine aid. And Antinous is an arrogant suitor. 

what is the significance of Odysseus shooting Antinous in the throat?

Odysseus’ judgment and prudence finally pay off and devised an effective plan and implemented it at just the right moment.  He killed the enemy’s most aggressive leader, Antinous, before any of the suitors realize that the king has returned or that they are in danger. With the leader dead, confusion races through the crowd. Eurymachus, typically, tries to talk his way out of the situation. He claims that everything was Antinous’ fault; the rest were simply under his control and now are prepared to serve their king. He offers to tax the people to pay back everything and adds that he and the other suitors will contribute plenty of their own possessions as well.  Odysseus, however, is interested in only one kind of repayment. Eurymachus sees that he must fight or die and calls his fellow suitors to arms. He barely mounts a charge before the king’s arrow rips through his chest and into his liver. Because of his military expertise, the early battle goes well for Odysseus. He has caught the enemy by surprise, cut off escape, destroyed its leadership, and caused confusion. Telemachus fetches armor for the king and himself as well as the two loyal herdsmen. The suitors have only the swords that they wear. However, the sinister goatherd Melanthius complicates matters. Familiar with the castle, he retrieves a dozen spears and armor to match from the storeroom whose door Telemachus has carelessly left ajar. Odysseus sees the danger but resists panic. His faithful herdsmen cut off Melanthius’ second trip and hang him live by the rafters.


Many students and scholars of Homer’s Odyssey have pointed out that they find the ending (Book XXIV) unsatisfying and anticlimactic. They claim that the story would have been better if it had ended with the reunion of Odysseus and Penelope in Book XXIII. Do you agree or disagree with this judgment? What narrative or thematic costs and benefits are incurred, so to speak, by ending the story with the events in Book XXIV? What costs and benefits would have been incurred by ending with the events in Book XXIII?  In addition, you can also use this thread to raise  topic or question regarding the Odyssey that I haven’t addressed, but you wish I had. 

Do you agree or disagree with this judgment?

there are several difficulties that the contemporary reader has with The Odyssey. These include issues such as difficult language, tangential stories, and the verse style it was written in. However, the focus of this paper is the final volume of the epic. This volume, Book XXIV, is usually noted as rather anticlimactic. Many believe that it is simply an epilogue having the epic really ends in Book XXII when Odysseus killed the suitors. Some scholars believe that the final book is not even Homeric. 

What narrative or thematic costs and benefits are incurred, so to speak, by ending the story with the events in Book XXIV? 

The scene changes abruptly. Hermes leads the souls of the suitors, crying like bats, into Hades. Agamemnon and Achilles argue over who had the better death. Agamemnon describes Achilles’ funeral in detail. They see the suitors coming in and ask how so many noble young men met their end. The suitor Amphimedon, whom Agamemnon knew in life, gives a brief account of their ruin, pinning most of the blame on Penelope and her indecision. Agamemnon contrasts the constancy of Penelope with the treachery of Clytemnestra.

 What costs and benefits would have been incurred by ending with the events in Book XXIII? 

Eurycleia goes upstairs to call Penelope, who has slept through the entire fight. Penelope does not believe anything that Eurycleia says, and she remains in disbelief even when she comes downstairs and sees her husband with her own eyes. Telemachus rebukes her for not greeting Odysseus more lovingly after his long absence, but Odysseus has other problems to worry about. He has just killed all the noble young men of Ithaca—their parents will surely be greatly distressed. He decides that he and his family will need to lay low at their farm for a while. In the meantime, a minstrel strikes up a happy song so that no passers-by will suspect what has taken place in the palace. 



On pp. 129-131, the chorus refers to Helen’s marriage to Paris as “Troy’s Blood Wedding Day” (698) and to Helen as bringing “her wedding to a stabbing end” (740).  Like the Feast of Apollo in the Odyssey, the idea here seems to be a perversion of ritual.  What other rituals (or references to rituals) are similarly perverted in this play, so far?  What seems to be the point of such perversion?

in Oresteia of Aeschylus Agamemnon, the rituals or references to rituals are similarly perverted when various shades of red in relation to various fabric materials are possibly used to create further allusions to blood imagery. These elements generally appear in the context of scenes with sacrifice rituals and ceremony; as Walter Burkert has observed of the Agamemnon, through it the language of sacrificial ritual runs like a leitmotiv. Moreover, he gives an interesting description of the purpose of ritual, this is the essence of ritual, too; only the myth carries in fantasy, to the extreme what, by ritual, is conducted into more innocent channels: animals are slain instead of men, and the date is fixed when the revolution has to come to an end. Thus it is ritual that avoids the catastrophe of society. In fact only the last decades have abolished nearly all comparable rites in our world; so it is left to our generation to experience the truth that me cannot stand the uninterrupted steadiness even of the most prosperous life; it is an open question whether the resulting convulsions will lead to purification or catastrophe. 

It seems to be the point of such perversion are the rational and creative male principle of freely chosen compacts represented by Apollo and the marriage bond triumphs over what is female, inherited from the past, natural, and local. A lively controversy over this issue has sprung up recently among classical scholars, a controversy that illuminates, if not anticipates, my own attempt to insert the ancient text into a contemporary theoretical debate. Not surprisingly, it turns on the way in which the Oresteia integrates women into the newly founded civic order.


Find several instances of irony in Agamemnon’s speech (795-839).  In addition, Aeschylus has Agamemnon refer to Odysseus, which invites the audience to compare him with Odysseus.  How do the two men compare?

A great success in creating irony in the play and has used many stylistic devices to achieve that. The several instances of irony in Agamemnon’s speech is that when a lot of action happens in the palace in the first scene. It concentrates more on the punishment of human sins and gives more weight to death including a great use of dramatic irony in explaining the homecoming events in his life. It is through the use of this device that the writer captures the reader’s attention and the will to read to the end. It is openly clear that irony does not serve to build on important events in the play apart from creating suspense for the reader. The watchman, the elders and many more create a lot of irony in the play.

The two men are being compared because Odysseus and Agamemnon posses a great deal of qualities that seem almost identical, while at the same time are also completely different. The main event that happens to both men is something that every great story should have, otherwise known as a problem.


Consider the tapestry that Clytaemnestra persuades Agamemnon to walk on as he enters the palace.  What’s the subtext of her description of the tapestry (p. 140, ll. 957-974)?

Consider the tapestry that Clytaemnestra persuades Agamemnon to walk on as he enters the palace, the subtext of her description of the tapestry here is in when Clytemnestra argues that one needs to be envied to be admired, and thus she plays on his need to be considered as an essential requirement of heroic excellence or virtue. Agamemnon’s response is tantamount to defeat, for Clytemnestra can use her supposed feminine weakness to force him to comply. Thus, she appeals to his sense of pride and ultimately when she dares him to display how enviable he is and thus tempted he cannot refuse, for to do so would call into question his heroic status. Within the character of Clytemnestra, Aeschylus has fused hypocrisy and manipulation but has coupled them with strength, intelligence and resolve. 



Explore the differences between Aeneas and Odysseus in terms of their social obligations, the nature of their journeys, and the nature of their heroic tasks. What goal(s) does each hero have to accomplish? What makes each man heroic? Is one more or less sympathetic than the other? 

Aeneas is a representation of each Roman citizen who lives by their virtues and religion. Every Roman citizen must have two major virtues, he must continue to be religious, and he must continue to be true to the Roman people. In this poem, Aeneas includes both strengths and must deal with their returns and costs. Odysseus, is not driven by any sense of duty. He leaves Troy to return home to Ithaca, but does not reach his destination in 10 years. Odysseus was driven with self-interest and abandoned those he is indebted to and responsible for. Odysseus returns to Ithaca and his wife at the order of the Gods when he was filled with bliss with Calypso. Odysseus and Aeneas are very similar heroes but in some respects and are very different. They are all magnificent heroes, except that one is a Greek and the other is a Trojan horse. Odysseus is from the Greek story Odyssey written by the famous Greek poet Homer. His mission is to go home after a long journey. Aeneas is from The Roman story The Aenied, written by the famous Roman poet Virgil. Aeneas’ mission is to find a new house for him and his family. These two characters have many similarities and differences in the way they fight.


What is your impression of Dido’s as a leader/queen and as an individual? How would her personal experience make her view the Trojans favorably? How does she differ from the women with whom Odysseus has affairs?

Dido was a widowed Queen of Carthage who entertained Trojan Prince Aeneas. They were both in love with each other however, the witches plot on Dido’s destruction and the sorcerers conjured a storm to break out when the royal couple are hunting and the impersonation of Mercury by on of her coven. The storm breaks wand courtiers hasten back to town while the false Mercury tells Aeneas he must leave Dido and sail to Italy. Aeneas together with his sailors delight on the witches. Aeneas parted with Dido and Dido killed herself. Aeneas was a virtues man and lived to fulfill his duties before his personal life so Dido and Aeneas parted ways. However, Odysseus was a privileged man, he had an affair with Circe a devastatingly beautiful goddess-enchantress and Calypso who was a goddess-nymph. After Odysseus initially conquers Circe, she does everything she can to help him. She was an excellent hostess and lover to Odysseus and she even helped the Greeks with supplies and advice. The other woman named Calypso, was a dominating goddess and wanted to captive Odysseus for seven years in the hopes of marrying him when in fact Odysseus has already been married to her wife Penelope the daughter of Icarius of Sparta. He only left Calypso when the gods told him to.


Looking back on your reading of the Aeneid, consider how destiny/fate is finally fulfilled. What role does human passion play in the working out of destiny/fate? Which characters (human and divine) have aligned themselves with destiny/fate (pietas)? Which characters have refused to do so? What pattern emerges from comparing the two groups, especially when we consider gender?

Virgil endows the character Aeneas with human qualities, portraying him a flawed mortal man. In Book I, he experiences overwhelming grief when he cannot find his wife Creusa during the fall of Troy and he feels discouragement when his fleet is struck by a storm. In Book II, Aeneas is uncertain about the course of action he should take. Later in Book IV, Aeneas is torn between his love for Dido and his need to fulfill his mission. Aeneas was a sensitive but compassionate man. He was a true representation of the of a hero, he puts first the interest of Roman empire and values along it. He was warrior and a leader who was able to motivate his men in face of adversity but shows compassion and sorrow.


Contrast the shield of Achilles (the excerpt from the Iliad is on the course home page) and the shield of Aeneas (VIII.788-955). As you do so, consider the significance of the differences between the two: how does Achilles’ shield reflect the values and customs of Greek culture? Likewise, how does Aeneas’ shield reflect the values and customs of Roman culture? Notice what activities predominate on each shield. 

Aeneid’s Shield has been decorated with all the accomplishments of his predecessors, whereas Achilles’ Shield is completely drawn from myth. Achilles’ Shield parallels with the situation Achilles was in at the time, whereas Aeneid’s Shield shows the future of his generation.



In this thread, consider the significance of the ways that Beowulf fights: when he fights Grendel, he refuses to use weapons; when he fights Grendel’s mother, he wears armor and carries Unferth’s sword Hrunting. Even though both instances are duels, what’s the significance of the difference between the primitive mano a mano struggle and the armed expedition? In particular, consider the significance of the weaponry—the treasure—that Beowulf wears on his expedition against Grendel’s mother.

I believe with Beowulf’s fight with Grendel, the writer made it so to focus on the superhuman strength and bravery of the epic hero. After reading the part of the epic where Beowulf fought the monster Grendel mano a mano , it left an impression with the readers of his undebatable courage and skill in battle. He fought the monster only with his bare hands. With the strength of 30 men in his hand-grip, Beowulf seizes the ogre’s claw and does not let go. The ensuing battle nearly destroys the great hall, but Beowulf emerges victorious as he rips Grendel’s claw from its shoulder socket, sending the mortally wounded beast fleeing to his swamp, bleeding out and eventually dead. After the fight, Grendel’s claw was displayed in the hall as a trophy of some sort. As a viewer, I considered this as  an arrogant move in Beowulf’s part. It seemed like him killing Grendel was not enough, he also wanted all Danes to be reminded of his feat. The significance of this act is that it seemed like his actions and decisions are not that pure as what he presents it to be. 


Grendel and his mother are both monsters, “kin of Cain,” but each feels a different motivation to attack Heorot.  How does each monster’s experience make him/her similar to human beings?  After you’ve answered this question, consider the fact that the scop tells of the story of Hildeburh during the ceremony celebrating Beowulf’s victory over Grendel (pp. 19-21). In what way(s) is Grendel’s mother like Hildeburh?  What might the poet be implying (perhaps unconsciously) about the pursuit of vengeance?

Grendel’s motivation to attack the people in Heorot because of his rage since they disturbed his peace every single night. This is a human-like characteristics since we also feel the need to hurt even kill somebody else especially if they upset and hurt us in some way. Grendel’s mother motivation was more personal since her attach was in a way to avenge her son. Again, this is a human tendency to take revenge and do unto others what they have done to us. This is where the phrase an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth came from, the need for revenge. Like many other women in the Germanic warrior culture depicted in Beowulf, Hildeburh functions as a “peace-pledge between nations”. Through marriage, Hildeburh helps to forge a connection between tribes. Grendel’s mother is nothing like Hildeburh since she was not a promoter of peace.


In the second celebration at Heorot (pp. 30-31), Hrothgar speaks a long monologue which scholars have called “Hrothgar’s sermon.”  As an old man, at the end of his career as a warrior and king, Hrothgar confers his wisdom on Beowulf, a young man at the beginning of his career as a famous warrior and (later) king. What are Hrothgar’s main points? In particular, consider his description of King Heremod (p. 30); compare this passage with that on p. 16, where the scop compares Heremod to Sigemund.

Hrothgar warns Beowulf of the seductive dangers of success after Beowulf defeats Grendel’s mother. Hrothgar asserts that power causes the soul to grow distracted by fortune’s favor and so to lose sight of future perils.  Hrothgar specifically warns Beowulf not to “give way to pride,” an admonition that is discordant with the culture of boasts and reputation that other parts of the poem celebrate. Hrothgar also emphasizes to his young friend that life is fleeting and that he should orient himself toward “eternal rewards”—a supremely Christian idea—rather than worldly success. Throughout the poem, however, it seems that eternal rewards can be won only through worldly success—the reward of fame for being a valiant warrior.


HEREMOD was one of the Danish kings in the past. Although he was given power over all men, he didn’t use it to increase the Danes’ glory. Rather, he used that power to slaughter his table-companions, which was considered the biggest sin in Anglo-Saxon culture. The Sigemund episode relates a familiar story from Norse mythology, which foreshadows Beowulf’s fight with the dragon in the third part of the epic. The evil king Heremod, who fails to fulfill the responsibilities of a lord to his people, represents Beowulf’s opposite.



For this post, keep in mind what Sayers says about natural symbolism in her introducton. In Canto III. 18, what is Virgil referring to when he says “those who have lost the good of intellect” (emphasis mine)?  What does this loss have to do with the exhortation above Hell’s gate, to “lay down all hope, you that go in by me”?

The poets enter the gate and the initial sights and sounds of Hell at once assail Dante. It was a horrible sight and spirits are in pain, there were unending cries which made Dante ask where they come from, and Virgil replied these were the souls of the uncommitted, and the angels who were not rebellious against God nor faithful with Satan. There were worms at their feet eat the blood and tears of these beings.

Charon speaks no more, but by signs, and pushing, he herds the other spirits into the boat. The boatman strikes with his oars any soul that hesitates. The boat crosses, but before it lands, the opposite shore is again crowded with condemned souls. Virgil tells Dante to take comfort in Charon’s first refusal to carry him on the boat, because only condemned spirits come this way. As Virgil finishes his explanation, a sudden earthquake, accompanied by wind and flashing fire from the ground, terrifies Dante to such a degree that he faints.


Again, for this post, keep in mind Sayers’ discussion of natural symbolism.  Consider the punishment of the sins in Circles 2, 3, 4, and 5.  Instead of explaining how each punishment fits each sin, Dante seems to …

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