A Narratological Commentary on the Odyssey

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

BOOK TEN

This book contains two short adventures (Aeolus and the Laestrygonians), followed by one long one (Circe); cf. Introduction to 9.

1–79 Fourth adventure: Aeolus. This episode illustrates that Odysseus has fallen out of grace with the gods (cf. 9.554–5): Aeolus, himself a man 'dear to the gods' (2), concludes, on account of the mishap with the bag of winds, that Odysseus is a man 'hated by the gods' (74, 75). Again, the misery of the Greeks is self-inflicted (cf. adventures 1 and 3), as Odysseus-narrator notes, speaking of their 'folly' (27) and 'stupidity' (79).

The adventure revolves around the *'sleep' motif: the companions open the bag of winds while Odysseus is asleep. Their foolish behaviour forms an anticipatory doublet of their slaughter of Helius' cattle during his sleep (Book 12), an act which will have much graver consequences. For Odysseus, who is worn out, sleep was at first 'sweet' (31: γλυκύςύνος a standard combination), but afterwards he calls it 'cruel' (68–9: ύπνος|σχέτλιος a unique combination; the enjambement highlights the qualification). A similar change of focalization of his sleep occurs in 12.327–96n.

This adventure confronts Odysseus with a new variant of hospitality (cf. Introduction to 9): his host first receives him properly (entertaining him, asking interested questions, and providing him with an escort to his next destination), but later rejects him when he returns a second time. In addition, his escort is of a special nature: as master of the winds, Aeolus eliminates adverse winds by putting them into a bag and sends a favourable wind, Zephyrus (20–6). However, the companions mistake the pompe for a guest-gift (36, 43–4) and open the bag; the adverse winds gain free play and propel them away from their homeland and back to Aeolus (47–55). The second time Odysseus leaves Aeolus, he has to do without an escort and the

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