4. Intertextual Fissures: The Returns of Odysseus and the New Penelope
However, the thrust of the story focuses on human relationships and Odysseus's strong desire to reunite with his wife and soul mate, Penelope and their son. To begin with, the question Has Odysseus been unfaithful to his wife? . If Penelope is loyal to her marriage, then according to his lights, so is. Odysseus and Penelope by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein (–) Our couple appears in Book XXVI of the Inferno (), where Dante Eumaeus, his old counselor, and Telemachus, his son, who at first.
One by one the suitors tried their hand, but none could even string the bow let alone shoot an arrow with it through the axes. Then one of the beggars who was accustomed to feeding off the scraps the suitors left asked if he could try his hand.
The suitors laughed, but were amazed to see him string the bow with ease and fire it all the way through the 12 axes. The beggar then turned his weapon on the suitors and shot them one by one. Penelope looked at the carnage.
It is a balmy night, so let us take our marital bed, the one you built with your own hands, and put it under the stars. She is a powerful goddess and was lonely so she took me to her bed.
She is also a beautiful goddess, but even when I lay with her I could not stop thinking of you. Let's look at each in turn.
Marriage among the ancient Greeks With regard to the first question, Nicholas Rauh explains that among landholding Greeks, women were married off to neighboring men to consolidate land ownership, to bear children, and to look after the household: To insure the sanctity of the marriage relationship and the purity of the family line, freeborn Greek children underwent a highly restricted, segregated upbringing, at least insofar as sexual interaction with the opposing gender was concerned.
Within the social stratum of freeborn landholding citizen elites, young people of opposite genders remained rigidly segregated. As with other ancient cultures, the freeborn daughters of respectable landholding families entered into contractually arranged marriages with males from neighboring families for purposes of procreation and to maintain the economic foundations of both families.
Dowries and gifts of land parcels accompanied the coming of age in Greek society.
Religious taboos, such as the need to produce a male heir to preserve the ancestor cult, added the additional requirement that the Greek bride be a virgin at the time of her marriage. Typically, young freeborn females of respectable society would experience no sexual experimentation, no dating as we know it, prior to marriage. They would be kept carefully cloistered in the private recesses of the family household and even more carefully chaperoned in public. They were generally required after puberty to hide their features whenever they were in public, donning costumes similar to those worn by females in contemporary Islamic society.
Virginity prior to marriage was a requirement of the marriage contract, and chastity and modesty after marriage were norms not only expected of, but imposed on respectable Greek females. Married women were expected to maintain the household, to spin and weave clothing for the family as well as for retail saleto direct household servants, to attend to the highly demanding tasks of cooking, cleaning, and domestic hygiene, not to mention, the raising of the family's young.
In view of the limited technologies available for these tasks the number of laboring hours devoted to them was considerable. These requirements inevitably induced families to arrange marriages for female children early on in life. On the whole, young freeborn women of property holding families would be married as soon as they reached puberty to begin the process of child bearing and to maintain the domestic quarters of the newly formed family.
This is a classic example of what Gayle Rubin, in her celebrated essay of the same title, called " the traffic in women ": The woman in this scenario is property. Before her marriage, she belongs to her father or brother; after, to her husband. Sexual fidelity was de rigeur for Greek women because adultery allowed another man access to the husband's property; and this raises the further, more threatening possibility that the children who inherit that property may not be his own.
This would destroy the social economy entirely. This role of women would explain why, as Coontz mentions, marriage based on love would be considered "a serious threat to social order".
Marriage was the means by which social bonds were consolidated, status maintained, property acquired, and its orderly transfer ensured.
Erotic love cares about none of those things, being based on individual desire rather than social needs. So it had no place in marriage. Erotic life among the Greeks If marriage was not for the fulfillment of sexual desire, then it is understandable that, as we saw earlier, men formed erotic relationships "elsewhere".
Rauh lists three outlets for men's sexual energies quote has been edited for length: They were trained by their "pimps" in music, dance, and on occasion intellectual skills such as rhetoric.
Apart from sexual favors, these women were able to appeal to their lover's minds. One problem with courtesan relations was their high costs. Sexual exploitation of female servants directly under one's household control was a far cheaper alternative. This practice by freeborn Greek males may have been relatively commonplace. Since young males had no monetary resources, could not afford hetairai or even more common forms of prostitution, and could not expect to date respectable females in any manner, their outlets for sexual experimentation were basically restricted to relations with household servants, if available, and to other males.
Evidence of fairly elaborate courting rituals among older Greek males and their younger lovers indicate the likely commonplace character of these relationships. So the sort of ritual we expect around romantic love—a man chasing a reluctant love object, wooing that object with poetry and gifts, eventually overcoming that reluctance—was associated in ancient Greece with homosexuality, not with one's eventual marital partner.
Coontz says that the Greeks even considered this sort of homosexual love the noblest of all: In some cultures and times, true love was actually thought to be incompatible with marriage. Plato believed love was a wonderful emotion that led men to behave honorably. But the Greek philosopher was referring not to the love of women, "such as the meaner men feel," but to the love of one man for another This is made possible by death and two new marriages.
The death of Odysseus signifies only the partial end of the old household. If the Cyclic Telegony had ended there, then the audience would have been confronted with a situation similar to that of the Odyssey, in which Odysseus is considered dead but Telemachus, who is supporting his mother, is alive.
The polemical cry that the Cyclic Telegony utters against the Odyssey is so intense that it resounds even in the Odyssey, which is aware of a Thesprotian-Telegonian rival tradition, as I will show. The relevant scene is Odyssey xxiii — However, I will tell you all, holding nothing back. Not that you will find it to your liking, any more than I do! Teiresias told me to carry a well-balanced oar and wander on from city to city, till I came to a people who know nothing of the sea, and never use salt with their food, so that crimson painted ships and the long oars that serve those ships as wings are quite beyond their experience.
After that I was to go back home and make ceremonial sacrifices to the everlasting gods who live in the far-flung heavens, to all of them this time, in due precedence. As for my end, he said that Death would come to me away from the sea, and that I would die peacefully in old age, surrounded by a prosperous people. He assured me that all this would come true.
He will, superficially imitating his Odyssean self, wander again in the many cities of men, thus challenging the authority of an Odyssean tradition that has made him the paragonal wanderer.
Odysseus is made to speak as the external narrator so that his litmus test on the epic becomes all the more ironical, since it is the Odyssey that intentionally questions its own identity, limits, and value. Odysseus informs his wife that he will place an oar on his shoulder and leave again. Once Odysseus has explained why he will leave again, Penelope takes the floor and replies in bitter irony Odyssey xxiii — By referring to another journey not across the sea, but across various lands, not in search of his way home, not trying to return to Ithaca and Penelope, Odysseus virtually informs his wife, as well as the external audience, that he will transform himself into the hero of another poem, that he is going to abandon the ship of the Odyssey and evolve into the hero of a post- and non-Odyssean tradition.
His oar is about to become a winnowing fan. Odysseus refers to his old age and depicts an almost idyllic picture of his last days. In a remarkable display of careful planning, the Odyssey will reward Penelope by allowing her to allude to the real death of Odysseus, through a cunning irony that is expressed in timely fashion. Through this scene, the Odyssey implicitly states that only within its own poetic borders can Odysseus be the great hero of return, that only within its own framework will Telemachus be the good son and Penelope the faithful and patient wife, and that in the end only the Odyssean song-tradition will be able to grant Odysseus what he was seeking: By reminding the audience that the lack of personal knowledge about the future enables the transmission of transcendental knowledge, Penelope is made to resemble the epic bard.
The abdication of the personal authority of her husband allows her to channel to the listeners the higher knowledge of the tradition as a whole, knowledge that no mortal can ever possess. Greek epic has transformed the nexus of such bipolar antitheses into a thick web of poetic associations.
The very scene of Odysseus carrying the oar on his shoulder is presented in a metapoetic cloth, since the oar is the poetic trademark of his Odyssean adventures, the metonymical sign of the tradition of the Odyssey. Therefore, the entire scene of his wandering in a foreign land is a poetic iter to another, non-Odyssean tradition.
Odysseus is carrying, oar-like, the Odyssey itself on his shoulder, asking the people he meets the following questions: The Sailor and the Oar The Sailor and the Oar is a well-known traditional story, which can be subdivided into two groups.
When he meets a man or men who are unable to state the name of the tool the mariner is carrying, he decides to end his journey and settles down in the same place this man or community live. In the second group, the story of the Sailor and the Oar is presented as a future event: Once he meets such a person he will settle down. The differences between the two groups do not only refer to narrative time past versus futurebut also to narrative form.
In the first group, the story is related in the third-person, in the second group in the first-person since the narrator is the mariner himself. Even a Greek sailor, in the case of commenting on the hardships of his trade, attempts to make St.
Elias a reflection of his own self, i. Is it possible then that we can reconstruct the context of the narration backwards by stating that Odysseus conjures up the story of the oar when he wants to evaluate seafaring as a way of life, namely when he implicitly evaluates the Odyssey? The narrative situation is similar, since even the present-day tellers imply that they report the story of the oar when they desire to make a more general statement referring to their relationship with the sea.
This kind of reasoning leads to another equally important question. The story of the Sailor and the Oar would no doubt have formed part of the Thesprotian-Telegonian tradition of which the Odyssey was aware, but would it have had any meaning in the Cyclic Telegony, where a local Thesprotian genealogical myth that of Callidice had taken the place of the story of the oar, which ends, in all the folktale material Hansen has studied, with the sailor settling down away from home?
The suitors are buried by their relatives. And Odysseus, having sacrificed to the Nymphs, sails off to Elis to look at his herds and is entertained by Polyxenos, receiving as a gift a krater; and on this was the story of Trophonios, Agamedes, and Augeas.
The Odyssey: Penelope's suitors | Books | The Guardian
Then sailing back to Ithaca, he accomplishes the sacrifices spoken of by Teiresias. And after these events he arrives at the Thesprotians and marries Kallidike, the queen of the Thesprotians. Then war occurs between the Thesprotians and the Brygians, with Odysseus leading.
Then Ares routs the followers of Odysseus, and Athena battles him. After the death of Kallidike, Polypoites the son of Odysseus receives the kingship, and Odysseus returns to Ithaca. Meanwhile Telegonus, sailing in search of his father, lands at Ithaca and ravages the island. Odysseus in defense is killed by his unwitting son. Telegonus upon realizing his error takes the body of his father and Telemachus and Penelope to his mother.
She makes them immortal, and Telegonus lives with Penelope; Telemachus with Circe. Callidice, who was at the time queen of the Thesprotians deemed him worthy of residing there by offering him the kingdom.