Iliad and Odyssey

   The Iliad represents the male-oriented Indo-European world and Zeus, Apollo, and the Olympians in general figure in it the most prominently.  Following The Iliad, we come to The Odyssey, where we have the return of the Goddess. G 143


   It was Samuel Butler who said that The Odyssey was probably written by a woman.  The change in mode and mood from The Iliad and it’s the male war and achievement-oriented psychology to that of The Odyssey, where learning about life from the goddess, is very important.  G 143

   The Odyssey is the tale of Odysseus’s wanderings from the time of his fleet being blown about by the gods to his final return home, cast ashore asleep on Ithaca.  In the first part of the story, he is dealing with human beings on the surface of the Earth.  Once he lands in the Land of the Lotus Eaters, he’s in the world of myth and monsters, and the characters he meets are all mythological: the Cyclops, Scylla and Charybdis, Laestrygonians, monsters; Circe, Calypso, and Nausicaa, all nymphs.  When finally he wakes up at home again and goes to his palace, he finds that during his absence his wife’s suitors have been usurping him, and then comes the conclusion – the routing of the suitors and the reunion with Penelope.  This is obviously a mythological journey, and the principle transformative experiences are with these nymphs – that is to say, the female principle. 

   Consider Circe, Calypso, and little Nausicaa.  When we study these figures, we see that Circe is the temptress, Calypso the wife, and Nausicaa the virgin.  Now, think back on the cause of the Trojan War: three goddesses, Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena, are competing with Paris as the judge, for the beauty prize.  These are the dominant goddess principles, and they represent aspects of the manifestation of female power.     (include????)

   After Odysseus has had ten years of this war, he starts for home with his fleet of twelve ships – and as soon as you hear the number twelve you know that it is a mythological situation.  The twelve ships represent aspects of Odysseus’s own essence.  He and his men go ashore on the way home, and there they rape the women and ravage the town just for fun.  But when they return to their ships the gods say, “This is no way for a man to return to his wife!”  He needs to be reintroduced, or as they would say today, debriefed.  

   So for ten days the gods blow the ships about until they come ashore at the Land of the Lotus Eaters.  From then on they are in the realm of dreams and visions, the world of myth.  Odysseus will encounter three nymphs, and not one of them can be pushed around, because he must meet the female principle on her own terms.  Of course, he gets help from Hermes, and it is interesting to note that in The Odyssey the warrior hero’s guiding god is not Ares, the god of war, not Apollo, nor Zeus, but Hermes: the messenger-god who guides souls to rebirth in eternal life.  And through the initiation by the three goddesses who were slighted in the beginning by the Judgment of Paris, he is made ready to return home to his wife, Penelope, and rescue her from the suitors. 

   With Penelope there appears another interesting motif: that of weaving.  During Odysseus’s absence, she has been weaving daily a tapestry and at night unraveling it.  This is a ruse to keep her suitors at bay for she has promised she will choose one when she finishes her weaving.  Now, all the female figures to whom Odysseus is introduced pick up this theme: Circe of the braided locks, weaving a tapestry; Calpyso also of braided locks weaving a tapestry; and little Nausicaa, doing the laundry.  This is a female as Maya, weaver of the world of illusion, creator of the tapestry of the world.   G 146