ODYSSEY Readalong week 3: bks 7-9


Welcome back to those reading along with us through Homer’s Odyssey. I think there are four of us total, including me and my husband G., but hey, I committed to this, and I’m going to do it. So if anyone else out there is lurking and reading, give a shout in the comments.

Prior to Christmas, the story finally shifted from Telemachos to Odysseus himself.

Book 7: Phaecia’s Halls and Gardens. Athena in disguise as a small girl guides Odysseus to the castle and gives him useful info, and then disguises him. He follows directions, goes in and hugs the queens knees and begs for hospitality, which they give him. This encourages him, so he goes further and asks for a ship before the queen notices O is wearing her daughter’s clothes. Another awkward Odyssey moment. He spills the beans on his trip from Calypso to Nausicaa, and everyone is very impressed, then they go to sleep. Honk shoo.

Book 8: A Day for Songs and Contests. Things get set up for a party. A blind singer tells a story of Odysseus and Achilles. O cries, but only the king notices (similar to what happened with Telemachus a few books ago). He switches things up and calls for the feats of strength to commence. Those who win are named to spread their fame. Odysseus is first invited, then taunted, and he gets up and hurls a discus farther than anyone else, and tells them to bring it on. Again, awkward! King brings back the singer, asks outright who he is, then settles back to hear about the ten years O has been missing. (Finally!)

[Aside: did you know I lettered in track in high school, and when I ask people to guess what my event was they never can. It was discus.]

Book 9: In the One-Eyed Giant’s Cave. O and his men left Troy, raped and pillaged a town, landed on an island of Lotus Eaters, who got so high they didn’t even remember home, then went to an island of Cyclopes. O insisted they try for hospitality. Instead, they got imprisoned and the Cyclops ate a bunch of the men. They sharpened a stick, got him drunk and poked him in the eye. A bunch of his Cyclops buddies came to see what the ruckus was about, but O had given him a fake name: Nobody. They left after the cyclops, whose name is revealed as Polyphemus, keeps shouting that Nobody tricked him.

[Aside: when we read an excerpt of this in 9th grade English, our teacher, Mr. S the hog farmer, told us about the girl the year before who'd had to read the Cyclops passage and had accidentally pronounced his name Polypenis. Tee hee.]

The men sneak out under the bellies of sheep, get to their ship, but then Odysseus starts taunting Polyphemus and boasts his real name. Couldn’t just sail away, but had to incur the penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, which was Polyphemus complaining to his dad Poseidon that Odysseus was a jerk (to be fair, he was still angry about all those men Polyphemus ate), and that’s why Poseidon has been so angry at O till now. O tries to set things right with Zeus, who won’t accept his sacrifice, and that’s why Athena had to intercede on his behalf. So, just a little over a third of the way through, we’re finally getting some answers.

That’s it for this week. Join us next Wednesday 1/14 to discuss books 10, 11 and 12. What did you think?

Previous Posts:

Odyssey readalong schedule link

Week one link

Week two link

One Response to “ODYSSEY Readalong week 3: bks 7-9”

  1. V Says:

    Love the contrast between Books 7/8 vs. Book 9: High-minded rules of hospitality, competition and lordly conduct vs. the looting, pillaging and eye-burning adventures. A lot of personality for O goes a long way — and makes him go a long way, as we finally get why Poseidon is so against him.