The Ancient World (HUM 124 - UNC Asheville)/Texts/Odyssey/Book 3

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Summary of Book 3[edit | edit source]

Telemachus travels to Pyros with Athena, still disguised as Mentor, to guide him. Telemachus seeks out Nestor, lord of horses to inquire about his father Odysseus.

Nestor invites the travelers to join in their feast to honor Poseidon. Nestor recounts events of Troy and explains that Zeus and Athena prevented all the armies from returning home safely because they failed to sacrifice to the gods for the havoc they had wrought upon foreign shores. Agamemnon and a few others wanted to stay to appease the gods, while Odysseus and Nestor wanted to go on thus all the men were divided in two groups. Zeus caused them trouble once they left so Odysseus turned back towards Agamemnon while Nestor kept going. Thus Nestor knows nothing of Odysseus' fate.

Upon hearing Nestor's account of the deaths of many brave men such as Ajax, Achilles, Patroclus and Nestor's own son; Telemachus loses faith that his father could have survived. Athena eases his mind and makes a plan to aid Telemachus in seeking Menelaus. Nestor provides him with a carriage and sends his son Pisistratus to travel with him.

Athena reveals herself to all at the feast, and Nestor arranges Telemachus' travel with great care and certainty that the journey will be successful, for it is sped by the goddess Pallas.

Characters[edit | edit source]

Telemachus- He is the son of Odysseus, and is on a quest to find out what happened to his father.

Athena- the goddess of war

Mentor- friend and guide of Telemachus, a disguise for Athena

Pallas- epithet for Athena

Nestor- The horse lord of Pylos

Agamemnon- the king of Mycenae and of all Greece

Aegisthus- usurper and murderer of Agamemnon

Clytemnestra- Agamemnon's wife, lover of Aegisthus

Menelaus- brother of Agamemnon, and King of Sparta who also fought alongside Odysseus in the city of Troy.

Pisistratus- Nestor's son

Ancient Worldview[edit | edit source]

Proper Burials in Ancient Greece

Pg. 143 "And even when he died, no one would bury him; he lay upon the open plain without a tomb and far from town for birds and dogs to eat. No Greek would mourn that monster." The ancient worldview here is that only the deserving get proper burials and are mourned. This plays even more into social roles and what is expected. When one does not preform their expected duty or fulfill their role, this is what becomes of you. You die forgotten and hated instead of loved as a hero.

This quote is referring to the dead body of Aegisthus. Who shirked his responsibilities to go fight, "while we fought and labored at Troy this layabout sat safe in Argos". Aegisthus waited until everyone was off performing their duty to sneak in and take control of Mycenae; the ruler of which Agamemnon was also away. Aegisthus then seduced Clytemnestra, Agamemnon's wife. Upon Agamemnon's return Aegisthus kills him and continues to rule Mycenae for seven more years. Finally Orestes, son of Agememnon, comes to avenge his father by killing both Aegisthus and his mother Clytemnestra.

By this one can speculate that the Greeks had a defined role for everyone that played into society at large; like cogs in a machine. If one person does not fill their role it ruins the system for everyone else. Not only that, but it would be setting a bad example and could encourage others. If everyone were to begin slacking then society could not function. Thus what Aegisthus does is not only lazy but dangerous. We see here that this behavior is condemned to a serious degree. In our modern society we would never consider leaving someone's body to rot outside, even if we believed they deserved it doing so would be unthinkable. By saying "no one would bury him" it suggests that not one person was willing to show him the kindness of a proper burial, illustrating the extent of their disgust with Aegisthus. One can then contrast this with how ancient Greeks would treat the body of a hero. Most certainly they would have a feast in their honor, tell thrilling stories about them, and provide all funeral rites. In a sort of poetic way, not doing anything for the body of Aegisthus was exactly what he deserved. As in he did nothing for them, and they will do nothing for him. Showing respect for the dead body of a hero is similar to saying thank you for what you did, a final kindness. Essentially, you get what you give when it comes to how you will be treated in death.