A Narratological Commentary on the Odyssey

By Irene J. F. De Jong | Go to book overview

BOOK SIX

Odysseu's three-day stay with the Phaeacians, his last adventure on his way home, is narrated at considerable length: 6.1–13.187.1 In many respects the Phaeacians occupy a middle position: they are 'close to the god', receive the gods at their tables, and lead a life of luxury and carefree bliss like theirs, and yet like all mortals they pray to the gods and are punished by them; they were once associated with the Giants and Cyclopes (the Phaeacians once lived near the Cyclopes; a forefather of the royal family of the Phaeacians was king of the Giants; Poseidon is the father of both the Cyclops Polyphemus and the Phaeacian Nausithous), but at some stage distanced themselves from the other two (both literally, by moving away from the Cyclopes, and figuratively, by calling the Giants 'wild tribe'); their existence has fairytale aspects (magic ships, trees which continually produce fruit), yet the organization of their society resembles that of Ithaca, Sparta, and Pylos (king reigning as primus inter pares within a council, assembly of the people, games, heroic songs, rules of hospitality). Their intermediary nature makes them eminently suited to form the transition from the fairytale world of Odysseu's adventures to the reality of Ithaca. The marital bliss of the reigning couple and the social harmony of their people remind Odysseus of what he aspires to at home. At the same time, their isolation (they are never visited by others) and unheroic existence (they never wage war) make clear to him by contrast–as when Calypso offered him immortality–why home is to be preferred to this paradise; staying with the Phaeacians 'would be a living death'.2

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1
Mattes (1958), Reinhardt (1960a: 112–24), Segal (1962), Clarke (1967: 45–66), Lattimore (1969), Rose (1969), Rüter (1969: 228–54), Dolin (1973), de Vries (1977), Krischer (1985, 1989), Tebben (1991), and Reece (1993: 104–7).
2
Clarke (1967: 54).

-149-

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A Narratological Commentary on the Odyssey
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Glossary xi
  • Commentary 1
  • Book One 3
  • Book Two 44
  • Book Three 68
  • Book Four 89
  • Book Five 123
  • Book Six 149
  • Book Seven 170
  • Book Eight 190
  • Book Nine 221
  • Book Ten 250
  • Book Eleven 271
  • Book Twelve 296
  • Book Thirteen 313
  • Book Fourteen 340
  • Book Fifteen 362
  • Book Sixteen 385
  • Book Seventeen 407
  • Book Eighteen 437
  • Book Nineteen 458
  • Book Twenty 483
  • Book Twenty-One 504
  • Book Twenty-Two 524
  • Book Twenty-Three 545
  • Book Twenty-Four 565
  • Appendix A - The Fabula of the Odyssey 587
  • Appendix B - The Continuity of Time Principle and the 'Interlace' Technique 589
  • Appendix C - The Piecemeal Distribution of the Nostoi of Odysseus, Agamemnon, and Menelaus 591
  • Appendix D - 'storm' Scenes in the Odyssey 594
  • Appendix E - The Recurrent Elements of Odysseus' Lying Tales 596
  • Appendix F - The 'storeroom' Type-Scene 598
  • Bibliography 599
  • Index of Greek Words 622
  • Index of Subjects 624
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