R. B. Rutherford


THE PHILOSOPHY OF
TH E ODYSSEY

rursus quid virtus et quid sapientia possit
utile proposuit nobis exemplar Ulixen,
qui domitor Troiae multorum providus urbis
et mores hominum inspexit, latumque per aequor,
dum sibi, dum sociis reditum parat, aspera multa
pertulit, adversis rerum immersabilis undis.
Sirenum voces et Circae pocula nosti;
quae si cum sociis stultus cupidusque bibisset,
sub domina meretrice fuisset turpis et excors,
vixisset canis immundus vel amica luto sus.
nos numerus sumus et fruges consumere nati,
sponsi Penelopae, nebulones, Alcinoique
in cute curanda plus aequo operata iuventus,
cui pulchrum fuit in medios dormire dies et
ad strepitum citharae cessatum ducere curam.

(Horace, Epistles i 2.18-31)

So let us now turn from the vigour and combat of the Iliad to the Odyssey with its ethos. For that poem too is not altogether devoid of wisdom (ἀϕιλοσόϕητος).

([Heraditus], Homeric Allegories 60)

The ancient critics are well known—some might say notorious—for their readiness to read literature, and particularly Homer, through moral spectacles. 1 Their interpretations of Homeric epic are philosophical, not only in the more limited sense that they identified specific doctrines in the speeches of Homer's characters, making the poet or his heroes spokesmen for the views of Plato or Epicurus, 2 but

____________________
From Journal of Hellenic Studies 106 ( 1986): 145-62.

-249-

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Odysseus/Ulysses
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Odysseus/ Ulysses *
  • Contents *
  • The Analysis of Character ix
  • Editor's Note xv
  • Introduction i
  • Critical Extracts 7
  • The Odyssey and the Western World 89
  • The Name of Odysseus 103
  • Homer and Hamlet 118
  • Kazantzakis: Odysseus and the "Cage of Freedom" 133
  • Shakespeare's Ulysses and the Problem of Value 144
  • The Fugitive from the Ancestral Hearth: Tennyson's "Ulysses" 161
  • Seeds for the Planting of Bloom 176
  • Dante's Ulysses: from Epic to Novel 189
  • Odysseus in Sophocles' Philoctetes 203
  • Joyce and Homer 214
  • The Platonic and Christian Ulysses 228
  • The Philosophy of Th E Odyssey 249
  • Odysseus and the Suitors 273
  • Chronology 289
  • Contributors 291
  • Bibliography 293
  • Acknowledgments 299
  • Index 303
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