The Ancient World (HUM 124 - UNC Asheville)/Texts/Odyssey/Book 10
Summary[edit | edit source]
The crew reaches Aeolus, god of the winds. He gives Odysseus a bag full of the winds to spur his trip home. His crew however, thinks Aeolus gave him a bag of gold and silver, and when they tear it open, the winds escape, forcing the vessel back to Aeolus, who refuses to help them, thinking that the other gods hate Odysseus and do not want to see him return safely.
The crew then sets out, but Laestrygonian giants pelted their ships with rocks, sinking most of the fleet. Only Odysseus's ship survives. The remaining men find themselves on Circe's island. The sorceress drugs most of the crew, turning them into pigs. Hermes tips off Odysseus, and the warrior then overpowers Circe and forces her to return his men to normal. Circe then instructs Odysseus on how to attract the spirit of the deceased blind prophet Tiresias. One of his men got drunk on the roof, woke up and fell to his death.
Characters[edit | edit source]
Ancient Worldview[edit | edit source]
A present worldview of the Greeks is the idea of memory. When Odysseus and his men first discover traces of inhabitants on the island that they're on, his men wail in fear for their own skin. Odysseus chastises them for this, telling them that those thoughts are not "honorable or useful". All his men were concerned about was keeping themselves alive, and keeping their memory alive. Memory itself can be "honorable" or "useful" by the standards of the time because men were expected to be brave and willing to die. Scared, the crew was only willing to preserve their memory. When Circe wipes the memories of the crewmen, she turns them into pigs, a metaphor for how a man who doesn't have a memory or honor is nothing more than a dirty animal. Another ancient worldview that is demonstrated through the prose in this book is the idea that greed is a fatal flaw of humanity. Throughout this book, we see several different instances of greed causing trouble for Odysseus and his crew. Originally, it is demonstrated after they depart from the realm of Aeolus and decide to open the bag of winds he gave them. There are two examples of greed displayed here. Odysseus's crew displays greed when they open the bag expecting riches instead of winds, since they feel they have been under-compensated for the journey. The other is the greed Odysseus displays by wanting sleep. He knows he should stay awake, but he lets his desire get the better of him and falls asleep, allowing his crew to open the bag and sabotage their journey. The result of this is that they end up at the island of the Laestrygonians, and several of them die at the hands of the giants, displaying the idea that greed is a fatal flaw of mankind. This is also excellently expressed when Odysseus and his crew run into Circe. Circe represents the desires of the men and their greed for food and pleasure leads them to being turned into pigs. This is a common symbol for greed, and the Odyssey is no exception to this rule. Another ancient worldview established in this book is the importance of clothing and its association with status. Throughout the book we see mentions of fine clothing and slave girls providing it. The grand feast Circe provides is also linked to a gift of fine clothes for her guests, and Odysseus is provided with fine clothes before he sleeps with Circe. Dressing richly was the way to show status. The most honorable men were important, and the way they displayed it was through clothing. It was also respectful to treat guests as such, as evidenced by Circe's gifts of clothing.