08 October 2012

The Odyssey

I listened to a n audiobook of The Odyssey that I downloaded in my Ipod Touch. It was an interesting story and I can have a clearer image of the events in the story since the reading was full of emotions, unlike reading a book by myself.

I have watched the movie of The Odyssey some years ago and made a movie review as a requirement for my English course. That time, however, I did not focus much attention to the story and I have already forgotten it by now. Listening to the reading by various people is quite the feat since it is a new thing for me.

Basically, the story is about the misfortunes of Ulysses on his way back home after the war in Troy. There was also the story of the struggles of Telemachus, son of Ulysses, as he deals with the several suitors of his mother, Penelope, believing that Ulysses had died. Minerva, a goddess fond of Ulysses, had helped Ulysses and even Telemachus and Penelope through all their struggles. Provided with guidance from various people and with Minerva, Ulysses managed to return to his homeland and be reunited with his own family after 20 years and take revenge to the hateful suitors.

I think that the story was dark and gloomy talking mostly of one's misfortunes. I believe that the story belongs to a certain kind of literature. I am guessing that it was, at least in the old times, a tradition to ask one who they just met not only for their names but also for their misfortunes. In all honesty, I find it totally odd but I guess one could better understand a stranger by knowing what difficult things he had gone through. Even so, asking that from a person whom you just met is kind of rude, at least on this day.

I am also thinking that it was part of the traditions on the old days to ask not only for one's name, but also for his parents' name and his hometown. One's father and mother will reflect and affect one's character and so is the place where he has been raises. The culture, practices and traditions of the people in the place will partake in other's judgement of the person who came from that place. Like, if his hometown was a place known for its various sports, then the others would expect that he would at least excel in one or two of those sports. Likewise, if his parents are of noble origins, he is expected to be of excellent disposition. Even on this day, people are very careful not to bring shame on their family names. Sometimes, an adult relative of your friend will also mention that your this or that person's son or daughter. Well, the parents have lived for some good period of time, made acquaintances with several people and made themselves distinguished in one way or another...at least as compared to their off-springs.

It was also a bit evident how hospitable people were during those era. They will invite strangers into their houses and feed them before they get to know anything from these people. In this day, that very act was like asking to be doomed for it was very dangerous. Strangers are only being fed during festival celebrations, which is a tradition that has been dying as the years passed. In that age, however, I guess that their beliefs of gods were more powerful than anything and being kind to strangers is upon the will of their gods. They also believed that their gods take on the form of a mortal human and be among the human crowds to see who do excellent deeds and mischief among their fellows.

I was thinking that The Odyssey is another feminist story. In the olden times, I believe that male dominates female over almost everything. In the story however, there were some female characters who have shown dominance over males. Minerva and Penelope are some of the major female supporting characters in the story. It was also mentioned several times in the story that the cause of the war in Troy was Helen - the main story should be contained in Iliad.

Minerva, a goddess endowed with immortal beauty and magnificent powers is the main character to come to Ulysses's help. Her power and status is not as great as his father's, Jupiter, and uncle's, Neptune. There was even a part in the story where Minerva admitted that she is afraid of Neptune's anger. She had helped Ulysses to return to his hometown despite many misfortunes he had encountered. There were parts in the story were Minerva had shown her powers by changing Ulysses looks to deceive those around him or to make those around him treat him with more respect. Minerva also took forms of humans in order to come to both Ulysses's and Telemachus's aides, as well as to Penelope's. Although in the end, she still revealed herself as a goddess.

Penelope, Ulysses's wife, had gathered several suitors even though it was against her will. It was obvious how fair of a woman she was just by seeing the number of men who have come to take her for marriage. Her cleverness has been shown by her idea of making a needlework for Ulysses's father and that she will choose a man to marry after she finishes it. It was her trick to deceive the suitors since she undo her stitches every night. It was later discovered by the suitors through her maids that have fallen prey to them. Then, during a celebration when Ulysses, in disguise of an old man, return, she had come up with an idea of having an archery competition and that the winner will be chosen as the one she will marry. The suitors had a dreadful end in Ulysses's hand though.

There was also Nausicaa, a princess in the country of the Phaeacians, whose people had escorted Ulysses back to his homeland, Ithaca. I would say that his meeting with Nausicaa was the end of his misfortunes. It was Nausicaa who gave him the idea to ask his Father and Mother for help in sending him back to his country. It was through her that Ulysses managed to see his homeland again.

"Still, death is certain and when a man's hour came, not even the gods can help him no matter how fond they are of him."

This was the line that I like throughout the entire reading. Perhaps it was the only part that I remembered. It was mentioned by Minerva while on her disguised as a mortal.

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