Today is Friday, November 21, 2014

Its all Greek to me

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Some scholars maintain that Homer existed and stylistic similarities in the two works speak to a common author, like the famed Homeric simile, a lengthy comparison unlike our typically short similes. From Book XXI, line 451 (Odyssey) So they mocked, but Odysseus, mastermind in action, once he's handled the great bow and scanned every inch, then, like an expert singer, skilled at lyre and song--who strains a string to a new page with ease, making the pliant sheep-gut fast at either end--so with virtuoso ease Odysseus strung his mighty bow.


As to differences between the Odyssey and the Iliad, here are some general ideas. The Iliad deals with the years of the war and shows the complicated relationships between the people on each side (Greeks and Trojans) and the Olympic gods, who cannot get along with each other or with humans. There are glimpses of the pain of being human that are deeply effective. The great losses, the wastes, the longings are all here.


Perhaps the Odyssey could be said to have tailored its depiction of longings to a primary one: a mans longing for his own -- home, hearth, family -- when the fire for adventure, for fulfilling duty has been quenched. The epic tells of Odysseuss long journey home, complicated by his mistakes, his weaknesses, his offenses against the divine, but propelled by his desire for Ithaca -- home. It takes 10 years.


There certainly are other ancient works about the 10-year Trojan War. One is the Aeniad, a much later propaganda epic, but fine poem, in which Aeneas, the Trojan, journeys after the war and finally lands in Italy where hell found Rome (Romulus and Remus be darned!). The point here being that Romans, who took a whopping cultural hit from ancient Greece, want the world to know they are proudly descended from an important (and non Greek) Trojan! The famed wooden horse leading to Troys destruction is in this epic, not in Homeric ones. Vergil (also spelled Virgil, 70 B.C. 19 B.C.) is said to have been commissioned for this great work, 10 years in the writing, by Caesar Augustus.


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BW (Bigtime Word) heteroclite abnormal, off the beaten path. Perhaps ancient Troy is altogether heteroclite for you?


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