Homer's Odyssey

Homer's Odyssey

Homer's Odyssey

Homer's Odyssey

Excerpt

The detail with which these pages retrace the story of the Odyssey attests once more to its spell. It is the timeless poem of the journey of middle life, of the enforced privilege of the instruction, and of the harbor that may await. But there is another reason for following the story in detail, to try to enter the poet's mind. Post‐ Socratic ages have mountingly assumed conceptual schemes behind human narratives. Philosophy, theology, history, political and social structures and much else have given backgrounds against which characters live their inner lives. Chief writers, needless to say, partly subsume these mental settings in the thoughts and acts of their characters. But people's uniquely felt experience is uppermost ; their lone consciousness has appeared the basic human fact. Homer did not share this assumption. His preconceptual age and tradition gave his characters the double role at once of living their lives and showing the nature of the world. The two spheres intermingle ; immortal agents and settings surround and help define the characters. The outspread brilliance lures and ennobles but does not finally include the mortals.

The poetic tradition that descends in Hesiod, of the so-called succession myths of the generations of the world-establishing gods, was familiar in some form to Homer. Phoenix in the Iliad, before trying to persuade Achilles by the heroic tale of Meleager, de-

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