Odyssey Part 3

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Odyssey Part 3 Journal for Latin 3 5/15/2007

What I Learned

This is the third part of the story of Ulysses’ journey back home, called the Odyssey, and written by Homer.

Ulysses is still in the underworld talking to his now dead friends. Agamemnon was killed by Aegisthus in conjunction with his wife. Achilles tells him how he would rather be a poor farmer’s assistant then to be “the ruler over all whom death has crushed,” or the king of the underworld. Ulysses also sees some other things in the underworld, like Sisyphus trying to push a stone uphill, but it keeps rolling down when he is near the top.

After leaving the underworld, Ulysses must sail past the Sirens without falling for them. He does this by filling his men’s ears with wax and tying himself to the mast. Next he must sail in between Scylla, a monster, and Charybdis, who creates a whirlpool. He manages to escape, but with fewer men.

Next he comes to he island of Helios. He has been warned not to eat the cattle and sheep, but his men reason it would be OK to do so. A few days later Zeus sends down a thunderbolt which destroys Zeus’s men and the rest of his men. Ulysses is now alone.

Ulysses manages to get past Scylla and Charybdis again, and stays a long time with Calypso. But soon he is on his way home again. After arriving home he disguises himself as a beggar. He gets his wife to set up a test for the suitors. They must string Ulysses’ bow and shoot an arrow through 12 ax handles. Only Ulysses can do it, and afterwards he kills all of the suitors.

His wife Penelope is afraid to recognize Ulysses as her husband. She thinks that it is a trick, until Ulysses verifies his identify by telling her that their bed can not be moved because it is on a tree trunk. This gets her to recognize her husband.

However Ulysses’ troubles are not over yet. The families of the slain suitors want revenge, and Ulysses must sail and make an offering to Poseidon.

Personal Response

Did Homer invent the story of Sisyphus pushing the bolder up the hill only to have it fall, or is Homer just including a common Roman story? It would be interesting if Homer invented this for this story and it has now become famous on its own and we longer attribute it to the Odyssey.

I like the part where Ulysses said that Orfon had a “club of bronze that could not break.” That must have been a common problem those days, and heroes like that had special ones which did not break. It’s interesting how there are bits and pieces of what their culture is like in their stories.

The story about his bed being carved out of a tree is interesting. That must have been hard to make but must have been very beautiful.