Friday, April 12, 2013

Remember that gross part with the eye? This is grosser, and not in the cool way. (Sundays With The Classics)

Back to The Odyssey, as I continue to alternate between Homer's epic poem and the book Ulysses which is supposed to be based on Homer's epic poem but which so far as I can tell is based on everything but Homer's epic poem.

But this post is based on Homer's epic poem, and specifically about what I believe is the first ever incidence of an #Occupy movement bringing down the 1%, and also how the 1% are pretty disgusting, which we kind of suspected, right? I mean, we kind of always suspected that, right?

Yes. Yes, we did.

When last we left Odysseus, he was trapped in the cave of Polyphemus, who had been blinded, and left to die by his (Polyphemus') gods-fearing fellow cyclopi  (I was going to go with cyclopses, but how could I miss tacking a single i onto that word?)

(Get it?)

Odysseus is trapped in Polyphemus' cave, and devises as a plan to get out that they will hang onto the sheep from below to sneak past Polyphemus, who for some reason pats each sheep on the back as it walks out of the cave.

So let's think about that.

Polyphemus is aware that Odysseus, and his remaining (i.e., "not eaten") men are in the cave and that they can only get out if he moves the rock.  But Polyphemus is blind and can't find Odysseus.

So he moves the rock.

I mean, cyclopi

(I'm really onto something there.  It's cracking me up.  Well, I mean, it's making me smile a bit, which is making Mr Bunches, who is sitting across from me, wonder why I'm smiling.  BACK TO OUR ESSAY!)

aren't supposed to be the smartest tools in the barrel, I guess, but why wouldn't Polyphemus, oh, I don't know, search everywhere in the cave as best he can or maybe just pound everything with a giant fist until he kills something, or at least try that before he opens the cave?

But then, once he does open the cave, Polyphemus is able to realize that this means Odysseus and the fellas might sneak out, so he manages to block the cave door... somehow... to only let one sheep through at a time, or so one would think but he doesn't, hang on for that.

Then Polyphemus thinks "what if they try sneaking out by riding on a sheep," so he cleverly (only not really) pats each sheep on the back as they go out, and so Odysseus and the guys sneak out by clinging to the sheeps' bellies?  And Polyphemus never figures that out, either?

ALSO: Odysseus tied the sheep in threes to let his men sneak out, presumably, I'm guessing, because one sheep isn't strong enough to carry a whole Ithacan, so that blows the whole idea because now the sheep are marching out past Polyphemus in perfect three-by-three procession that would make Colonel Scheisskopf proud.*

*Catch 22 reference.

And having snuck out, with Odysseus sneaking out by hanging on the bottom of the prize ram, you'd think they'd leave well enough alone, but Odysseus taunts Polyphemus from afar, causing Polyphemus to rip the top off of a mountain and throw it, nearly sinking the ship, and when they narrowly avoid that, Odysseus then taunts him again, over his crew's protests, and gets another mountain thrown at them which splashes them back onto the beach and makes them sit and have a barbecue for a night before leaving, so that's not all bad, I suppose, except at every beachfront barbecue I've been to, someone plays reggae music and after about 48 seconds, reggae music gets monotonous and irritating and that's even before all the frat boys in their baseball hats with straight brims begin singing No Woman No Cry offkey and spilling their Bud Lite Limes onto their Reeboks.

Things get worse, then, a bit, and by "worse" I mean both "worse for Odysseus, because he is a greedy one-percenter and/or the takers on his ship don't understand how job creation works [depending on your political viewpoint]" and also I mean "worse, as in good God, Greeks, you were disgusting."

The one percent stuff: Odysseus visits an island or something where they outfit him with more ships and because he's such a happening guy they give him a bag of wind, capturing the zephyrs in a bag so that he can use them to sail to Ithaca (I've been saying Ithaca throughout this post but it just now occurs to me that I'm not entirely sure if Odysseus if from Ithaca.  On the other hand, I'm clearly too lazy to go check it out, so let's just keep on saying Ithaca.)

(NOTE: My Kindle is literally 7" from my hand as I write this.  I was not kidding about the "too lazy.")

So Odysseus keeps the bag of wind a secret from his loyal men who are after all not his men -- they were borrowed from the land of Riverdancers, remember -- but they are loyal enough to him to literally row him all over the world, so you'd think he would say "Hey, just so you know, if things get becalmed I've got this bag of wind that we could open and blow the ship where we need to go even though that would clearly not work because for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction, so the wind would push the sails forward with the exact same force that the man holding the bag would be pushed backward, so either the ship would remain motionless or the man holding the bag would have to be left behind on a solid piece of ground or something but Newton's laws have not yet been discovered, we're still in an era where we think "earth" is an element, so CARRY ON!"

Where was I?

And Odysseus and his men ARRIVE AT ITHACA IN THIS VERY CHAPTER, they see it and it's all aglow with the home fires but for some reason they do NOT land and welcome Odysseus home, probably because that would make for a very short epic poem, and instead they anchor overnight offshore and Odysseus goes to sleep and the Not His Men find the bag he got and mutter something about how Odysseus is a king and everyone loves him and why should he get all these riches and they decide to get some of the gold out of the bag, but the bag is the Bag O' Wind, which they open and it blows them completely back to the kingdom they'd left which gave them the Bag.

Does Odysseus explain to them what happened?

He does.

Do they graciously say "Well, that's an error that could happen to anyone, here, camp out overnight, let's roast a sheep and sing No Woman No Cry?"

They do not. They get mad at him and kick him out.

Why are these people so mean? Not just because Odysseus once strapped Polyphemus to the top of the Trojan Horse to drive on vacation, or something, but probably because they are disgusting people.

Let's show Exhibit A in how disgusting the Wind Gifting People are.  Here is how they are introduced:

We came to the Aeolian isle; there dwellsAeolus, son of Hippotas, belov'dBy the Immortals, in an isle afloat.A brazen wall impregnable on all sides Girds it, and smooth its rocky coast ascends.His children, in his own fair palace born,Are twelve; six daughters, and six blooming sons.He gave his daughters to his sons to wife;They with their father hold perpetual feast

But it's not all superincest-y:

And with their consort chaste at night they sleep
On statliest couches.

So, you know, before you get too creeped out by a dad commanding his six daughters and six sons to marry, it's okay: they sleep chaste.

Ecch.

This installment ended the way it began: After being chased off the Land Of Incest for having the gall to have accidentally been blown back there by his money-grubbing men, the men sail to a land where they roam into a palace only to be confronted by a queen

In size resembling an huge mountain-top,
A woman, whom they shudder'd to behold
She forth from council summon'd quick her spouse
Antiphatas, who teeming came with thoughts
Of carnage, and arriving, seized at once
A Greecian, whom, next moment, he devoured.

Out of the frying pan, into the fire, and by "fire" I mean "Yet another land where giant people eat the Greeks and throw rocks at ships."

PS: I should note that I am fully aware that the picture that leads this post does not accurately reflect the actual way the Greeks escaped Polyphemus, and in fact it makes Polyphemus look not so much like a Giant Cyclops as just "A really big guy." Why an artist would choose to make The Odyssey less interesting is beyond me.  That picture ought to be titled "Some Guys Sneaking Out of Andre The Giant's Boring Survivor Watch Party."


8 comments:

PT Dilloway, Grumpy Bulldog said...

I'm really starting to think the Odyssey is overrated. As is Odysseus's reputation of being clever. I mean it doesn't seem clever to taunt a pissed-off blind Cyclops or to keep the bag of wind secret.

BTW, when they opened the bag, would that be considered breaking wind?

Briane P said...

I am so jealous of you and disappointed in me that I did not think of that breaking wind thing first.

Michael Offutt, S.F.A. said...

Oculus means eye.

My story takes place in Ithaca.

I wonder if I was unconsciously channeling the Odyssey.

Briane P said...

Weird. So your story is, like "Ulysses", a retelling of "The Odyssey"? But unlike Joyce, in that YOUR book is actually well-written and fun to read.

Andrew Leon said...

There's no need for physics or science because MAGIC!

I suppose you could say his men "ripped a big one."

Briane P said...

Jealous, and then jealous-er. WHY AM I NOT COMING UP WITH THESE?

Andrew Leon said...

Maybe it's a good thing. Maybe it means you not full of hot air.

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