Studies in the Odyssey by Bernard Fenik

By Bernard Fenik

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Besides, the poet is composing the scene with his audience in mind — any irony depends on that. We know that his despair will be short and soon end in the joy of recognition. And since we know that his painful illusion will be brief, there is little pity and less fear on our part at his awakening in what he thinks is a foreign country. Whatever elements of cruelty the scene may have, these are overridden and absorbed by its humor, suspense, poignant ironies and exquisite banter at the end. More than that, Athena behaves in a fashion normal for Homeric gods, as a few comparisons will show.

S c h w a r t z , 68 f. The nameless Stranger 35 The motif is not restricted to the Odyssey, for it appeara again in the Hymn to Demeter. Here, of course, the influence of the epic might well have been the determining factor. In the course of her wanderings the goddess sits down by a spring in the guise of an old woman where she is found by the daughters of king Keleos who are on their way to fetch water (98): ιο ο ϊζετο 8’ έγγύς iSolo φίλον τετιημένη ήτορ Παρθενί<>> φρέατι &θεν ΰδρεύοντο πολΐται έν oxijj, αύτάρ δπερθε πεφύκει θάμνος έλαίης, YpTjt παλαιγενέΐ έναλίγκιος.

Course (γ 286,1 80) and then detained for many years in foreign lands before he returns, laden with treasure**. The symbolic value of this connection between Menelaos and Odysseus was analyzed in a brilliant article by F. K l i n g n e r * · . Taking up an old expression, he described Telemachos’ journey as a "learning” : an introduction, first of all, and formal entry into his father’s world; more importantly, a learning in which his "horizon" — the information he receives about his father from differ­ ent persons — gradually widens and in which he comes into contact with per­ sons, and learns of happenings, that relate directly to his own and Odysseus' fate.

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