A Narratological Commentary on the Odyssey

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

BOOK FIFTEEN

Book 15 describes the last part of the night of the thirty-fifth day, the thirtysixth and thirty-seventh day, and the early morning of the thirty-eighth day; cf. Appendix A. We return to the 'Telemachus' storyline, which was dropped by the narrator in 4.624. Athena now carries out Zeus's injunction in 5.25–7 to escort Telemachus home safely: she gives him advice (28–42) and sends him a favourable wind (292–4); from 495 onwards he is back on Ithaca again. Meanwhile the narrator briefly switches back to Odysseus (301–495); the use of the 'interlace' technique † at such short intervals prepares for the merging of the 'Telemachus' and 'Odysseus' storylines in the next book (cf. Appendix B).

In accordance with the 'continuity of time' principle †, the same amount of time has elapsed for Telemachus as for Odysseus (who occupied the stage during the last ten books), viz. twenty-nine days.1 That a considerable time has passed is suggested by Athena coming 'in order to remind (Telemachus) of his homecoming' (3), rebuking him because 'it no longer becomes him to wander away from home' (10), Telemachus asking Menelaus 'to send him on his way now at last ' (ήδηνύν 65, and cf. ήδη in 66 and 88; cf. 10.472, where Odysseus' comrades beg him to remember home 'now at last' after a year's stay with Circe), and being greeted by Eumaeus as a son who has been away for ten years (16.18); cf. also the anticipation of an absence of 'eleven or twelve days' in 2.374 and 4.588. Although Telemachus' long stay in Sparta is primarily the result of the 'continuity of time' principle, the narrator has taken care to motivate it (as he did in a similar case in 4.625–57n.), stressing the impressionability of Telemachus (cf. 4.43–6, 71–5) and the

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1
Apthorp (1980). Differently Olson (1995: 91–102).

-362-

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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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