Saturday, December 08, 2012

The gods suck worse than Gandalf. (Sundays With The Classics)

This time around, it was The Odyssey, and I spent the entire time wondering again about these Greek Gods, who seem so powerful and yet so... lame.

Remember, last time Ulysses sailed away from Calypso's island on a raft he had to build himself: all the Gods decided to free Ulysses from Calypso, and sent Hermes to tell her, and she agreed, but then they made him sail himself, and even build his own wrath, and then also someone forgot to tell Neptune, who made a 20-day storm that Ulysses barely survived.

This time, the story opens on a palace in Phaecia, the country Ulysses has run aground in, and Minerva decides to help Ulysses out and make sure he's not lost.  So she picks the least effective way to do that, which is this:  Minerva goes to the princess, Nausicaa, who is sleeping.  While Nausicaa sleeps, Minerva disguises herself as Nausicaa's friend, and sneaks into Nausicaa's house.

What I was thinking at that point is this: some of the gods can stir up the oceans to create a twenty-day storm. (But can't kill a mortal?)  Other gods can't even make sure people in a house don't wake up; they have to sneak in.  I do not understand these gods.

Minerva gets worse: her plan is to whisper to Nausicaa that Nausicaa better wake up and wash her wedding dress... seriously... so that Nausicaa will go to wear Ulysses is sleeping and find him and show him back to the city.

Seriously .

That somehow works, and Nausicaa wakes up, convinces her dad to build a mule train and Nausicaa and all her servants go for a day doing laundry at the seashore, where their "playing wanton with a ball" wakes up Ulysses, who stumbles out naked and encrusted with sea goop -- that's more or less exactly how Homer describes Ulysses at that point -- but Nausicaa lends him some oil and he bathes in the stream and Minerva curls his hair.

Seriously :

When he had thoroughly washed himself, and had got the brine out of his hair, he anointed himself with oil, and put on the clothes which the girl had given him; Minerva then made him look taller and stronger than before, she also made the hair grow thick on the top of his head, and flow down in curls like hyacinth blossoms; she glorified him about the head and shoulders as a skilful workman...
 So the gods can intervene in mortal's lives, to curl their hair, but not to guide them directly to a city.

I've been keeping track: Athena disguised herself to help Telemachus but provided zero guidance, other than I think helping steal a boat.  Hermes ordered Calypso to let Ulysses go.  Minerva gave Ulysses something to keep himself afloat or something while he was in the sea, and then had Nausicaa find him.

And the gods curled Ulysses' hair.

These are pretty useless gods, if you ask me.  Gandalf was more helpful to the fellowship, and Gandalf didn't do squat.  

(And don't give me "But he killed the Balrog."  Gandalf took credit for the Balrog dying but we only have his word for it and all Gandalf did was break the bridge, and he did that so poorly that Gandalf fell to his death, too.  Gandalf sucked.)

So the plan works, though, and Ulysses, godlike hair and all, is taken back to the city, but h has to wait outside the city because Nausicaa doesn't want the peasants to say "coarse" things about her if she drives through the city with a handsome man, because Nausicaa is a virgin and has been turning down suitors left and right.

SO: Princesses do their own laundry, travel by mule, and cannot keep peasants from teasing them, while the gods are stuck doing hairstyling.  That is your mystical journey so far.

But there was a mention of a cyclops in this chapter, so maybe that'll be coming up next?


Andrew Leon said...

Hey! It's important to have god-like hair!
Not that I would know, not having any and all, which is probably why Uly liked it so much, since it sounds like he didn't have any either.

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