Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 1 7 1 7 On Reading Homer 1444

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To get started on our reading of Homer. I thought what we'd do is concentrate on

ten of these 12,000 magnificent lines of the Odyssey, and have a look at the

opening ten lines of the Odyssey. You see, up here, I've reproduced the

Greek text. It's not expected in this class that

you've already had Greek, though it would be a good thing to do.

In the coming months and years, who knows, maybe you will learn ancient Greek, if you

don't already know it. And those of you that already have your

ancient Greek, please do jump into the forum, in the course, and help us answer

the questions that come up that make reference to the original language.

I'll go through ahead, I'll go ahead through and correlate the Greek terms such

as they show up here in these opening ten lines with some pieces of our translation

that we're using for the class. The translation from Robert Fagles.

A wonderful translation, from a colleague up at Princeton from some years ago.

Quite an amazing work in itself. So using Fagles as our guide, we'll jump

into this Greek text. The first word, in Homer's Epic, is the

Greek word andra, which indeed means man. It is the word that means a male, example

of the human species. The Greeks had another word that would,

meant, meant the general example, an un-gendered example of any, any human

being. But an andra is a male gendered version of

what the human species is all about. As the first word in the epic, in the

Greek this tells us what the epic is all about.

It is epic convention that, that first word indicate that whole and most

important theme of the story. I made reference to the Iliad, and how it

starts with the Greek word for rage. [foreign], that talks about a horrible,

menacing rage, that has to do with, even divine rage.

That's what starts off that epic. Telling us that the, the, Homer's

representation of the Trojan War is gonna have that as its focal point.

Well, starting off his epic on the, of the Odyssey, with the Greek term, andra, Homer

tells us that this is going to be a story about what it is to be a male human being.

The second term in the epic, Moy. Homer brings himself in, makes reference

to himself in this pronoun. And what he wants to have happen is that

someone should sing. Enipe is a way of giving a command to

someone to say, you, other person out there, do the singing.

And the person that Homer wants to be sung to is himself.

Sing to me. Now, who's, who's he calling on?

Who does he want to go ahead and do the singing this Greek term mousa tells us,

the muse. Homer's story, he, as he understands it

resides with this goddess, the muse, and she now is going to sing to him and use

him as a conduit to spread his, to spread her tale her story, using him as a

mouthpiece for that story. Translate it for human beings.

So this has, a, a sense of divine inspiration to it.

It's a, it's a, it's a old model. It's a tried and true kind of,

construction that the poets fall back on to say they're actually just mouth pieces

for the gods. In some cultures or some, historical

context that we know, this will, generate the idea that there was a, a sacred and

perfect text which could never be changed because it came from the god.

But in, in the Homeric case that's not. Really true, it's understood.

That's not how they think about it. They understand the muse is there as a

inspirational helper, that uses Homer's vocal cords as a way to transmit the

divine voice, yes. But it's not thought that what [foreign]

is somehow perfect and unchangeable. Although it's pretty amazing and most of

the Greeks would have thought that it was pretty amazing.

So Homer is asking the muse to sing to him about a man, an ambra.

The first descriptor Homer decides to use to tell us about this man is that its

going to be a man of twists and turns. The Greek word polytropos there.

You see the beginning polu-, that means many.

Some of you will remember from math class or where ever else you might have learned

that prefix and then tropos is a term that means a turn, a twist or a turn.

The man that we're gonna learn about, this male version of the human species, is

known to be someone who has many twists and turns.

Now that Greek term, polytropos wonderful translation that Fagles has chosen for it,

but, it means many other things as well. It means resourceful.

You might get yourself into trouble but you know you always get out of trouble.

You don't just take no for an answer. That you would just run into a problem and

then shirk away from it. You have many ways at it, you can always

get your way through some difficult situation and find your way out of it.

Also, with the twistiness of Fagle's chosen translation indicates an aspect of

the Greek term that very much present as well, which means you are a little

slippery. And maybe of a kind of trickster

characteristic to you. Odysseus is a, defined as a hero by his

cleverness and his wiliness, but also, he's kind of a wiseguy.

He sneaks around through things. He's a bit sneaky and, crafty.

So, Odysseus is going to be a character, that exhibits, all the greatness, of human

wisdom, including the sides of human wisdom that lead to craftiness,

sneakiness, and trickery. This male version of the human species is

driven, time and again off course, time and again of course.

The story that we're going to hear about what it is to be a human male talks about

resourcefulness and also talks about displacement.

It is fundamentally dislocated. He is out of place, not quite in the place

he is supposed to be. This is an aspect of what it is to be a

male human that Homer is going to explore with us.

He once had once he had pla-, plundered the hallowed trite, heights of Troy.

So Odysseus is resourceful, he has a tremendous amount of wandering, and he

also has a story in his background. He has a past.

What it is to be. And example of this human species is that

you're going to be resourceful, you're going to be dislocated and you're going to

have a past. In Odysseus's case this past is centered

on Troy, what happened there is huge and creates, stirs up an energy, negative and

positive, that's going to drive the events in this epic and in much, a huge swath of

Greek mythology, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy.

Now, during this wandering, during this period of dislocation Odious doesn't just

shrink into himself, feel sorry for himself, and, and fearfully stay away from

what's around him. He sees a certain amount of serendipity,

that's possible, in this situation of being dislocated.

There are lots of things to see out there in the world.

In, in his core, internal curiosity. Ramps itself up when he finds himself in

this, dislocated position. When he's out there, there are many cities

of men for him to see. He's not fearful of people that are

different or places that are different. He also is going to learn the minds of the

people that he runs into in these many cities.

When Odysseus runs into someone that doesn't think quite like him, he doesn't

sit them down and lecture them, and tries to change their mind and insists that his

way of thinking about something is right and their way must be wrong.

He's not a dogmatic man who comes in and is interested in, in different ways of,

different points of view, only so that he can change them and match his.

Odysseus is constantly curious about other ways of looking at the world.

He assimilates those, listens to them and brings them into his own character.

This is what gives him his power and his ability to be resourceful.

He knows all kinds of ways in and out because he is a wonderful student of how

different people view the world. There's a kaleidoscopic array of

viewpoints of the world out there. Odysseus fear none of them and learns from

them all. Many pains he suffered.

Heart sick on the open sea. Odysseus is a man of suffering.

He has a very intimate relationship with pain, difficulty, suffering, and also at

the same time endurance. When he undergoes awful things, again, he

doesn't just turn tail and feel sorry for himself.

He bears up under them and presses forward.

There was something about being one of these andra that is related also to the

idea of suffering and enduring pain. When Odysseus endures pain, he fights

back. Fighting to save his life and bring his

comrades home. Now, in our story earlier, in the earlier

lecture, we talked about the nostos. You'll see here, the Greek term, here in

its accusative form that has a different end point, noston, but that comes from the

Greek nominative, nostos, which means home.

A, a homeward, a journey that he is trying bring his men on.

So he's trying to move them, to find their way home.

And it's going to be a struggle through, to endure through all of these

difficulties. But, and there's the Greek [foreign] that

changes direction. But, he could not save them from disaster,

hard as he strove. His men are not quite, you know, up to the

challenges that Odysseus himself is up to and they succumb.

Odysseus could not save them from the difficulties that awaited them.

Suffering challenges at every corner, Odysseus gets through them, but not his

men. The recklessness of their own ways

destroyed them all. The recklessness of their own ways.

When you're a Greek. Male and andra, being reckless is not a

good thing. Yes, you're supposed to be fearless, yes,

you should not shrink back from difficult situations, but to walk in pell-mell into

awful situations without thinking things through first, that counts as

recklessness, and that's never a smart thing to do.

Odysseus's men are reckless, they don't think through, and they pay a terrible,

terrible price. They are indeed destroyed so, spoiler

alert, Homer is telling us all of the men are going to be destroyed.

Odysseus alone Is going to make it through.

Now what's the difficulty? What did they succumb to?

What was the problem they ran into to? The blind fools, they devoured the cattle

of the sun. And the sun got wiped from sight the day

of their return. Now, you'll remember that in the Odyssey

there are lots of different episodes. And some of you will recall very famous

ones. For example, the cyclops or maybe you'll

remember the sirens or any of the other many episodes that Odysseus and his men

get into. Cattle of the Sun is surely an important

one, but it's not always the, the foremost one in people's minds.

Homer, though, look what he's doing. He's placing this episode right at the

beginning, showing us what's really important.

I mean, the whole epic is contained in these ten lines.

Why does Homer decide to place the Cattle of the Sun as the most prominent of these

episodes? This is something we'll need to pay some

attention to, and especially when we get to our discussion of book twelve.

I'll do some talking about why it is that Homer might have placed this episode, as a

central one in, in his story. The men devour the cattle of the sun.

And when they do, the sun god wipes their homecoming from sight.

Homer then goes back to his muse, and tells, asks the muse to, continue on.

Launch out on his story muse, daughter of Zeus.

Start from where you will. Begin from where you wish to begin, muse,

and get us started on our story. The story we're gonna embark on, we're

gonna jump right into the middle. We get into the action.

And we're gonna fill in the back story with, recollections and flashbacks.

And we'll move toward the future as the story carries on.

But we're gonna launch. Right into it, from where the muse wants

us to begin, and which is right from the middle.

And she indeed is a fugatere dias. She is a daughter of Zeus.

This muse is no small goddess. She's a daughter of Zeus himself.

Then to close he's opening, Homer, re-, brings the news back into the story and

asks again, this word for sing, [foreign]. And here also brings back himself, sing

for our time, too. Sing also for us, is the very literal way

that the Greek works. [foreign], sing also for us.

Homer brings in the first person pronoun again.

In the first line, it was the first person singular.

Homer is invoking himself to get involved in his own story, asking the Muse to keep

it going. By the end of the tenth line, Homer is

saying, yes. First person, let's bring me in, But he

includes us as well. The first person singular becomes a first

person plural. So now all of us are invited to come along

with Homer on this journey that is going to be his Odyssey.

As the weeks come along in the next, in the opening weeks of this class, we're

going to spend a lot of time with Homer. It's an amazing story.

Off we launch on our own journey to learn from it and delight from it and to get a

window into what really makes myth tick. This concentration on the Odyssey and how

its, its many twists and turns are going to be kind of laboratory for us to

understand. Many details of what makes Greek myth,

Greek myth. So, pay attention as closely as you can in

your reading. It's the great part of this course, to

spend time with Homer and the other magnificent poets we're gonna spend time

with. I think is one of the great joys, so just

please be sure as I said at the beginning of the course.

Be sure to give yourself time to enjoy it. From here on, off we launch on our

The Description of 1 7 1 7 On Reading Homer 1444