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Title: Homer's Odyssey - A Commentary
Author: Snider, Denton Jaques, 1841-1925
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Homer's Odyssey.


A Commentary



By

Denton J. Snider



The Sigma Publishing Co.
10 Van Buren St., Chicago, Ill.
210 Pine St., St. Louis, Mo.



TABLE OF CONTENTS.


                                                       PAGE

INTRODUCTION                                              5

 I. FIRST TWELVE BOOKS.

TELEMACHIAD                                              21

ULYSSIAD                                                121
        (1) OCYGIA                                      129
        (2) PHÆACIA                                     156
        (3) FABLELAND                                   231

II. SECOND TWELVE BOOKS.

ITHAKEIAD                                               396
    BOOKS 13-16 (PREPARATION)                           407
    BOOKS 17-24 (EXECUTION)                             461
        (1) WRONG (17-21)                               468
        (2) PUNISHMENT (22)                             495
        (3) RECONCILIATION (23-4)                       500

SUMMARY                                                 511



_HOMER'S ODYSSEY._



_BOOK FIRST--INTRODUCTION._


The Odyssey starts by organizing itself; it maps out its own structure
in what may be called a General Introduction. Herein lies a significant
difference between it and the Iliad, which has simply an Invocation to
the Muse, and then leaps into the thick of the action. The Iliad,
accordingly, does not formulate its own organization, which fact has
been one cause of the frequent assaults upon its unity. Still the
architectonic principle is powerful in the Iliad, though more
instinctive, and far less explicit than in the Odyssey. It is
reasonable to suppose, therefore, that the poet has reached a
profounder consciousness of his art in his later poem; he has come to a
knowledge of his constructive principle, and he takes the trouble to
unfold the same at the beginning. To be sure, certain critics have
assailed just this structural fact as not Homeric; without good
grounds, in our judgment.

The First Book, accordingly, opens with an Introduction which belongs
to the entire poem, and which embraces 95 lines of the original text.
This portion we shall look at separately in some detail, as it throws a
number of gleams forward over the whole action, and, as before said,
suggests the poetic organism. It has three divisions, the Invocation,
the Statement of the Obstacles to the return of the Hero, and the
Assembly of the Gods, who are represented as organizing the poem from
Olympus. The Divine thus hovers over the poem from the first, starting
with one grand, all-embracing providential act, which, however, is
supplemented by many special interventions of deities, great and small.

_The Invocation._ The first line speaks of the man, Ulysses, and
designates his main attribute by a word, which may be translated
_versatile_ or _resourceful_, though some grammarians construe it
otherwise. Thus we are told at the start of the chief intellectual
trait of the Hero, who "wandered much," and who, therefore, had many
opportunities to exercise his gift. In the second line our attention is
called to the real starting point of the poem, the taking of Troy,
which is the background of the action of the Odyssey, and the great
opening event of the Greek world, as here revealed. For this event was
the mighty shake which roused the Hellenic people to a consciousness of
their destiny; they show in it all the germs of their coming greatness.
Often such a concussion is required to waken a nation to its full
energy and send it on its future career.

Note that Ulysses is here stated to be the taker of Troy, and this view
is implied throughout the Odyssey. Note Achilles is the final Greek
hero; he perished without capturing the city, and in his hands alone
the Greek cause would have been lost. The intellectual hero had to come
forward ere the hostile town could be taken and Helen restored. Herein
the Odyssey does not contradict the Iliad, but is clearly an advance
beyond it.

But Troy is destroyed and now the second grand question of the Greeks
arises: How shall we get back! Only one half of the cycle is completed
by the conquest of the hostile city; the second half is the
restoration. For this disjunction from Hellenic life, brought about by
war, is not only physical but has become spiritual. The theme,
therefore, deals with the wise man, who, through his intelligence, was
able to take Troy, but who has now another and greater problem--the
return out of the grand estrangement caused by the Trojan expedition.
Spiritual restoration is the key-note of this _Odyssey_, as it is that
of all the great Books of Literature.

Here at the start we note two things coupled together which hint the
nature of the whole poem: "He saw the cities of many men and knew their
mind." Not alone the outer habitations of people Ulysses beheld, but
also their inner essence, their consciousness. This last faculty indeed
is the very vision of the sage; he looks through the external sensuous
appearances of men into their character, into their very soul. The poem
will describe many incidents, wanderings, tempests, calamities; but in
them the poetic glance is to behold a great spiritual experience. The
reader of the _Odyssey_ must himself be a Ulysses, to a degree, and not
only "see the cities of many men," but also he must "know their mind."
Then he, too, is heroic in his reading of this book.

But not merely knowledge the Hero is to acquire, though this be much;
the counterpart to knowledge must also be his, namely, suffering. "Many
things he suffered on the sea in his heart;" alas! that too belongs to
the great experience. In addition to his title of wise man, he will
also be called the much-enduring man. Sorrow is his lot and great
tribulation; the mighty sea will rise up in wrath and swallow all,
except that which is mightier, namely his heroic heart. Knowledge and
suffering--are they not the two poles of the universal character? At
any rate the old poet has mated them as counterparts in his hero; the
thirst to know drives the latter to reach beyond, and then falls the
avenging blow of powers unseen.

Furthermore, there is a third trait which is still higher, also
mentioned here: he sought to save not only himself but also his
companions. That wisdom of his was employed, and that suffering of his
was endured, not for his own good merely, but for the good of others.
He must think and suffer for his companions; a suggestion of
vicariousness lies therein, a hint of self-offering, which has not yet
flowered but is certainly budding far back in old Hellas. He must do
for others what he does for himself, if he be truly the universal man,
that is, if he be Hero. For is not the universal man all men--both
himself and others in essence? So Ulysses tries to save his companions,
quite as much he tries to save himself.

But he did not do it, he could not do it; herein lies his limitation
and theirs also, in fact, the limitation of the entire Greek world.
What did these companions do? "They perished by their own folly;" they
would not obey the counsel of their wise man; they rejected their Hero,
who could not, therefore, rescue them. A greater wisdom and a deeper
suffering than that of Ulysses will be required for their salvation,
whereof the time has not yet come. He would bring them home, but "they
ate of the oxen of the sun;" they destroyed the attribute of light in
some way and perished. The fact is certainly far-reaching in its
suggestion; a deep glance it throws into that old heathen world, whose
greatest poet in the most unconscious manner hints here the tragic
limitation of his people and his epoch. It is a hint of which we,
looking back through more than twenty-five centuries can see the full
meaning, as that meaning has unfolded itself in the ages. Time is also
a commentator on Homer and has written down, in that alphabet of his,
called events, the true interpretation of the old poet. Still the
letters of Time's alphabet have also to be learned and require not only
eyesight but also insight.

The Invocation puts all its stress upon Ulysses and his attempt to save
his companions. It says nothing of Telemachus and his youthful
experience, nothing of the grand conflict with the suitors. Hence fault
has been found with it in various ways. But it singles out the Hero and
designates three most important matters concerning him: his knowledge,
his suffering, his devotion to his companions. Enough; it has given a
start, a light has been put into our hand which beams forward
significantly upon the poem, and illumines the mazes of the Hero's
character.

Mark again the emphatic word in this Invocation; it is the Return
(_nostos_), the whole Odyssey is the Return, set forth in many
gradations, from the shortest and simplest to the longest and
profoundest. The idea of the Return dominates the poem from the start;
into this idea is poured the total experience of Ulysses and his
companions. The two points between which the Return hovers are also
given: the capture of Troy and the Greek world. Not a mere book of
travels or adventure is this; it contains an inner restoration
corresponding to the outer Return, and the interpreter of the work, if
he be true to his function, will trace the interior line of its
movement, not neglecting the external side which has also a right to
be.

_The Obstacles._ Two of these are mentioned and carried back to their
mythical sources. All the returning heroes are home from Troy except
the chief one, Ulysses, whom Calypso detains in her grot, "wishing him
to be her husband;" she, the unmarried, keeps him, the married, from
family and country, though he longs to go back to both. She is the
daughter of "the evil-minded Atlas," a hoary gigantesque shape of
primitive legend, "who knows the depths of all the sea,"--a dark
knowledge of an unseen region, from which come many fatalities, as
shipwreck for the Greek sailor or earthquake for the volcanic Greek
islands; hence he is imagined as "evil-minded" by the Greek mythical
fancy, which also makes him the supporter of "the long columns which
hold Heaven and Earth apart"--surely a hard task, enough to cause
anybody to be in a state of protest and opposition against the happy
Gods who have nothing to do but enjoy themselves on Olympus. Sometimes
he refuses to hold the long columns for awhile, then comes the
earthquake, in which what is below starts heavenward. Of this Atlas,
Calypso is the offspring, and possibly her island, "the navel of the
sea," is a product of one of his movements underneath the waters.

Here we touch a peculiar vein in the mythical treatment of the Odyssey.
The fairy-tale, with its comprehensive but dark suggestiveness, is
interwoven into the very fibre of the poem. This remote Atlas is the
father of Calypso, "the hider," who has indeed hidden Ulysses in her
island of pleasure which will hereafter be described. But in spite of
his "concealment," Ulysses has aspiration, which calls down the help of
the Gods for fulfillment. Such is the first obstacle, which, we can
see, lies somewhere in the sensuous part of human nature.

The second obstacle is Neptune, whom we at once think of as the
physical sea--certainly a great barrier. The wrath of Neptune is also
set off with a tale of wonder, which gives the origin of Polyphemus,
the Cyclops--a gigantic, monstrous birth of the sea, which produces so
many strange and huge shapes of living things. But Neptune is now far
away, outside of the Greek world, so to speak, among the Ethiopians.
This implies a finite element in the Gods; they are here, there, and
elsewhere; still they have the infinite characteristic also; they
easily pass from somewhere into everywhere, and Ulysses will not escape
Neptune.

Such, then, are the two obstacles, both connected far back with
mythical beings of the sea, wherein we may note the marine character of
the Odyssey, which is a sea-poem, in contrast with the Iliad, which is
a land-poem. The physical environment, in which each of these songs has
its primary setting, is in deep accord with their respective
themes--the one being more objective, singing of the deed, the other
being more subjective, singing of the soul.

And even in the two present obstacles we may note that the one,
Neptune, seems more external--that of the physical sea; while the
other, Calypso, seems more internal--that of the soul held in the
charms of the senses.

_The Assembly of the Gods._ The two obstacles to the return of Ulysses
are now to be considered by the Gods in council assembled. This is,
indeed, the matter of first import; no great action, no great poem is
possible outside of the divine order. This order now appears, having a
voice; the supreme authority of the world is to utter its decree
concerning the work. The poet at the start summons before us the
governing principle of the universe in the persons of the Olympian
deities. On the other hand, note the solitary individual Ulysses, in a
lonely island, with his aspiration for home and country, with his
plan--will it be realized? The two sides must come together somehow;
the plan of the individual must fit into the plan of the Gods; only in
the cooperation of the human and divine is the deed, especially the
great deed, possible. Accordingly we are now to behold far in advance
the sweep of the poem, showing whether the man's purpose and hope be in
harmony with the government of the Gods.

Zeus is the supreme divinity, and he first speaks: "How sorely mortals
blame the Gods!" It is indeed an alienated discordant time like the
primal fall in Eden. But why this blame? "For they say that evils come
from us, the Gods; whereas they, through their own follies, have
sorrows beyond what is ordained." The first words of the highest God
concern the highest problem of the poem and of human life. It is a
wrong theology, at least a wrong Homeric theology, to hold that the
Gods are the cause of human ills; these are the consequences of man's
own actions. Furthermore, the cause is not a blind impersonal power
outside of the individual, it is not Fate but man himself. What a lofty
utterance! We hear from the supreme tribunal the final decision in
regard to individual free-will and divine government.

Not without significance is this statement put into the mouth of Zeus
and made his first emphatic declaration. We may read therein how the
poet would have us look at his poem and the intervention of the Gods.
We may also infer what is the Homeric view concerning the place of
divinity in the workings of the world.

Such being the command of Zeus, the interpreter has nothing to do but
to obey. No longer shall we say that the Gods in this Odyssey destroy
human freedom, but that they are deeply consistent with it; the divine
interference when it takes place is not some external agency beyond the
man altogether, but is in some way his own nature, veritably the
essence of his own will. Such is truly the thing to be seen; the poem
is a poem of freedom, and yet a poem of providence; for do we not hear
providence at the very start declaring man's free-will, and hence his
responsibility? The God, then, is not to destroy but to secure human
liberty in action, and to assert it on proper occasions. Thus Zeus
himself has laid down the law, the fundamental principle of Homer's
religion as well as of his poem.

Have the Gods, then, nothing to do in this world? Certainly they have,
and this is the next point upon which we shall hear our supreme
authority, Zeus. He has in mind the case of Ægisthus whom the Gods
warned not to do the wicked deed; still he did it in spite of the
warning, and there followed the penalty. So the Gods admonish the
wrong-doer, sending down their bright-flashing messenger Hermes, and
declaring through him the great law of justice: the deed will return
unto the doer. Zeus has now given expression to the law which governs
the world; it is truly his law, above all caprice. Moreover, the God
gives a warning to the sinner; a divine mercy he shows even in the
heathen world.

The case of Ægisthus, which Zeus has in mind, is indeed a striking
example of a supreme justice which smites the most exalted and
successful criminal. It made a profound impression upon the Greek
world, and took final shape in the sublime tragedy of Æschylus.
Throughout the _Odyssey_ the fateful story peeps from the background,
and strongly hints what is to become of the suitors of Penelope, who
are seeking to do to Ulysses what Ægisthus did to Agamemnon. They will
perish, is the decree; thus we behold at the beginning of the poem an
image which foreshadows the end. That is the image of Ægisthus, upon
whom vengeance came for the wrongful deed.

The Gods, then, do really exist; they are the law and the voice of the
law also, to which man may hearken if he will; but he can disobey, if
he choose, and bring upon himself the consequences. The law exists as
the first fact in the world, and will work itself out with the Gods as
executors. Is not this a glorious starting-point for a poem which
proposes to reveal the ways of providence unto men? The idea of the
Homeric world-order is now before us, which we may sum up as follows:
the Gods are in the man, in his reason and conscience, as we moderns
say; but they are also outside of man, in the world, of which they are
rulers. The two sides, divine and human, must be made one; the grand
dualism between heaven and earth must be overcome in the deed of the
hero, as well as in the thought of the reader. When the God appears, it
is to raise man out of himself into the universal realm where lies his
true being. Again, let it be affirmed that the deities are not an
external fate, not freedom-destroying power, but freedom-fulfilling,
since they burst the narrow limits of the mere individual and elevate
him into unity and harmony with the divine order. There he is truly
free.

Thus we hear Zeus in his first speech announcing from Olympus the two
great laws which govern the world, as well as this poem--that of
freedom and that of justice. The latter, indeed, springs from the
former; if man be free, he must be held responsible and receive the
penalty of the wicked deed. Moreover, it is the fundamental law of
criticism for the _Odyssey_; freedom and justice we are to see in it
and unfold them in accord with the divine order; woe be to the critic
who disobeys the decree of Zeus, and sees in his poem only an amusing
tale, or a sun-myth perchance.

But here is Pallas Athena speaking to the supreme deity, and noting
what seems to be an exception. It is the case of Ulysses, who always
"gave sacrifices to the immortal Gods," who has done his duty, and
wishes to return to family and country. Pallas hints the difficulty;
Calypso the charmer, seeks to detain him in her isle from his wedded
wife and to make him forget Ithaca; but she cannot. Strong is his
aspiration, he is eager to break the trance of the fair nymph, and the
Gods must help him, when he is ready to help himself. Else, indeed,
they were not Gods. Then there is the second obstacle, Neptune; he,
"only one," cannot hold out "against all," for the All now decrees the
restoration of the wanderer. Verily it is the voice of the totality,
which is here uttered by Zeus, ordering the return of Ulysses; the
reason of the world we may also call it, if that will help the little
brain take in the great thought.

But we must not forget the other side. This divine power is not simply
external; the mighty hand of Zeus is not going to pick up Ulysses from
Calypso's island, and set him down in Ithaca. He must return through
himself, yet must fit into the providential order. Both sides are
touched upon by Zeus; Ulysses "excels mortals in intelligence," and he
will now require it all; but he also "gives sacrifices to the Gods
exceedingly," that is, he seeks to find out the will of the Gods and
adjust himself thereto. Intellect and piety both he has, often in
conflict, but in concord at last. With that keen understanding of his
he will repeatedly fall into doubt concerning the divine purpose; but
out of doubt he rises into a new harmony.

When the decree of the Highest has been given, Pallas at once organizes
the return of Ulysses, and therewith the poem. This falls into three
large divisions:--

I. Pallas goes to Ithaca to rouse Telemachus, who is just entering
manhood, to be a second Ulysses. He is to give the divine warning to
the guilty suitors; then he is to go to Pylos and Sparta in order to
inquire about his father, who is the great pattern for the son. Thus we
have a book of education for the Homeric youth whose learning came
through example and through the living word of wisdom from the lips of
the old and experienced man. This part embraces the first four Books,
which may be called the Telemachiad.

II. Mercury is sent to Calypso to bid the nymph release Ulysses, who at
once makes his raft and starts on his voyage homeward. In this second
part we shall have the entire story of the Hero from the time he leaves
Troy, till he reaches Ithaca in the 13th Book. As Telemachus the youth
is to have his period of education (_Lehrjahre_), so Ulysses the man is
to have his experience of the journey of life (_Wanderjahre_). Both
parts belong together, making a complete work on the education of man,
as it could be had in that old Greek world. This part is the Odyssey
proper, or the Ulyssiad.

III. The third part brings together father and son in Ithaca; then it
portrays them uniting to perform the great deed of justice, the
punishment of the suitors. This part embraces the last twelve Books,
but is not distinctly set forth in the plan of Pallas as here given.

Such is the structure of the poem, which is organized in its main
outlines from Olympus. It is Pallas, the deity of wisdom, who has
ordered it in this way; her we shall follow, in preference to the
critics, and unfold the interpretation on the same organic lines. Every
reader will feel that the three great joints of the poetical body are
truly foreshadowed by the Goddess, who indeed is the constructive
principle of the poem. One likes to see this belief of the old singer
that his work was of divine origin, was actually planned upon Olympus
by Pallas in accordance with the decree of Zeus. So at least the Muses
have told him, and they were present. But the grandest utterance here
is that of Zeus, the Greek Providence, proclaiming man's free will.

Very old and still very new is the problem of the Odyssey; with a
little care we can see that the Homeric Greek had to solve in his way
what every one of us still has to solve, namely, the problem of life.
Only yesterday one might have heard the popular preacher of a great
city, a kind of successor to Homer, blazoning the following text as his
theme: God is not to blame. Thus the great poem has an eternal subject,
though its outer garb be much changed by time. The soul of Homer is
ethical, and that is what makes him immortal. Not till we realize this
fact, can we be said in any true sense, to understand him.


TELEMACHIAD.

The Introduction being concluded, the story of Telemachus begins, and
continues till the Fifth Book. Two main points stand forth in the
narrative. The first is the grand conflict with the suitors, the men of
guilt, the disturbers of the divine order; this conflict runs through
to the end of the poem, where they are swept out of the world which
they have thrown into discord. The second point of the Telemachiad is
the education of Telemachus, which is indeed the chief fact of these
Books; the youth is to be trained to meet the conflict which is looming
up before him in the distance. Thus we have one of the first
educational books of the race, the very first possibly; it still has
many valuable hints for the educator of the present age. Its method is
that of oral tradition, which has by no means lost its place in a true
discipline of the human spirit. Living wisdom has its advantage to-day
over the dead lore of the text-books.

Very delightful is the school to which we see Telemachus going in these
four Books. Heroes are his instructors, men of the deed as well as of
the word, and the source from which all instruction is derived is the
greatest event of the age, the Trojan War. The young man is to learn
what that event was, what sacrifices it required, what characters it
developed among his people. He is to see and converse with Nestor,
famous at Troy for eloquence and wisdom. Then he will go to Menelaus,
who has had an experience wider than the Trojan experience, for the
latter has been in Egypt. Young Telemachus is also to behold Helen,
beautiful Helen, the central figure of the great struggle. Finally, he
is to learn much about his father, and thus be prepared for the
approaching conflict with the suitors in Ithaca.

_Book First specially._ After the total Odyssey has been organized on
Olympus, it begins at once to descend to earth and to realize itself
there. For the great poem springs from the Divine Idea, and must show
its origin in the course of its own unfolding. Hence the Gods are the
starting-point of the Odyssey, and their will goes before the
terrestrial deed; moreover, the one decree of theirs overarches the
poem from beginning to end, as the heavens bend over man wherever he
may take his stand. Still there will be many special interventions and
reminders from the Gods during this poetical journey.

In accordance with the Olympian plan, Pallas takes her flight down to
Ithaca, after binding on her winged sandals and seizing her mighty
spear; thus she humanizes herself to the Greek plastic sense, and
assumes finite form, adopting the shape of a stranger, Mentes, King of
the Taphians. She finds a world full of wrong; violence and disorder
rule in the house of the absent Ulysses; it is indeed high time for the
Gods to come down from lofty Olympus and bring peace and right into the
course of things. Let the divine image now be stamped upon terrestrial
affairs, and bring harmony out of strife. Still, it must not be
forgotten that the work has to be done through man's own activity.

The conflict which unfolds before our eyes in a series of clear-drawn
classic pictures, lies between the House of Ulysses on the one hand and
the Suitors of Penelope on the other. He who is the head of the Family
and the ruler of State, Ulysses, has been absent for twenty years;
godless men have taken advantage of the youth of his son, and are
consuming his substance wantonly; they also are wooing his wife who has
only her cunning wherewith to help herself. The son and wife are now to
be brought before us in their struggle with their bitter lot. Thus we
note the two main divisions in the structure of the present Book: The
House of Ulysses and the Suitors.


I.

The Goddess Pallas has already come down to Ithaca and stands among the
suitors. She has taken the form of Mentes, the King of a neighboring
tribe; she is in disguise as she usually is when she appears on earth.
Who will recognize her? Not the suitors; they can see no God in their
condition, least of all, the Goddess of Wisdom. "Telemachus was much
the first to observe her;" why just he? The fact is he was ready to see
her, and not only to see her, but to hear what she had to say. "For he
sat among the suitors grieved in heart, seeing his father in his mind's
eye," like Hamlet just before the latter saw the ghost. So careful is
the poet to prepare both sides--the divine epiphany, and the mortal who
is to behold it.

Furthermore, the young man saw his father "scattering the suitors and
himself obtaining honor and ruling his own house." This is just what
the Goddess is going to tell with a new sanction, and it is just what
is going to happen in the course of the poem. Truly Telemachus is
prepared internally; he has already everything within him which is to
come out of him. Throughout the whole interview the two main facts are
the example of the parent and the final revenge, both of which are
urged by the Goddess without and by the man within.

Still there is a difference. Telemachus is despondent; we might almost
say, he is getting to disbelieve in any divine order of the world. "The
Gods plot evil things" against the House of Ulysses, whose fate "they
make unknown above that of all men." Then they have sent upon me these
suitors who consume my heritage. The poor boy has had a hard time; he
has come to question providence in his misery, and discredits the
goodness of the Gods.

Here, now, is the special function of Pallas. She instills courage into
his heart. She gives strong hope of the return of his father, who "will
not long be absent from Ithaca;" she also hints the purpose of the
Gods, which is on the point of fulfillment. Be no longer a child;
follow the example of thy father; go and learn about him and emulate
his deeds. Therewith the Goddess furnishes to the doubting youth a plan
of immediate action--altogether the best thing for throwing off his
mental paralysis. He is to proceed at once to Pylos and to Sparta "to
learn of his father" with the final outlook toward the destruction of
the suitors. She is a veritable Goddess to the young striver, speaking
the word of hope and wisdom, and then turning him back upon himself.

Here again we must say that the Goddess was in the heart of Telemachus
uttering her spirit, yet she was external to him also. Her voice is the
voice of the time, of the reality; all things are fluid to the hand of
Telemachus, and ready to be moulded to his scheme. Still the Goddess is
in him just as well, is his thought, his wisdom, which has now become
one with the reason of the world. Both sides are brought together by
the Poet in the most emphatic manner; this is the supreme fact in his
procedure. The subjective and objective elements are one; the divine
order puts its seal on the thought of the man, unites with him, makes
his plan its plan. Thus the God and the Individual are in harmony, and
the great fulfillment becomes possible. But if the thought of
Telemachus were a mere scheme of his own, if it had not received the
stamp of divinity, then it could never become the deed, the heroic
deed, which stands forth in the world existent in its own right and
eternal.

The Goddess flits away, "like a bird," in speed and silence. Telemachus
now recognizes that the stranger was a divinity. For has he not the
proof in his own heart? He is indeed a new person or the beginning
thereof. But hark to this song! It is the bard singing "the sad return
of the Greeks"--the very song which the poet himself is now singing in
this Odyssey. For it is also a sad return, indeed many sad returns, as
we shall see hereafter. Homer has thus put himself into his poem
singing his poem. Who cannot feel that this touch is taken from life,
is an echo of his own experience in some princely hall?

But here she comes, the grand lady of the story, Penelope, the wife of
Ulysses, as it were in response to the music. A glorious appearance at
a happy moment; yet she is not happy: "Holding a veil before her face,
and shedding tears, she bespoke the bard: Phemius cease from this sad
song, it cuts me to the heart." It reminds her of her husband and his
sorrowful return, not yet accomplished; she cannot endure the anguish
and she begs the bard to sing another strain which may delight his
hearers.

This, then, is the sage Penelope whose character will be tested in many
ways, and move through many subtle turns to the end of the poem. In
this her first appearance we note that she proclaims in the presence of
the suitors her undying love for her husband. This trait we may fairly
consider to be the deepest of her nature. She thinks of him continually
and weeps at his absence. Still she has her problem which requires at
times all her female tact, yes, even dissimulation. Reckless suitors
are pressing for her hand, she has to employ all her arts to defer the
hateful marriage; otherwise she is helpless. She is the counterpart of
her husband, a female Ulysses, who has waited twenty years for his
return. She also has had a stormy time, with the full experience of
life; her adventures in her world rival his in his world. But
underneath all her cunning is the rock of eternal fidelity. She went
back to her room, and wept for her husband "till Pallas closed her
eye-lids in sweet sleep."

Nor can we pass over the answer of Telemachus, which he makes at this
point to his mother. It may be called a little Homeric treatise on
poetry. "Mother, let the poet sing as his spirit moves him;" he is not
to be constrained, but must give the great fact; "poets are not to
blame but Zeus," for the sad return of the Greeks; "men applaud the
song which is newest," novelty being already sought for in the
literature of Homer's time. But the son's harsh reproof of the mother,
with which his speech closes, bidding her look after her own affairs,
the loom and distaff and servants, is probably an interpolation. Such
is the judgment of Aristarchus, the greatest ancient commentator on
Homer; such is also the judgment of Professor Nitzsch, the greatest
modern commentator on the Odyssey.


II.

The other side of the collision is the party of suitors, who assail the
House of Ulysses in property, in the son, in the wife, and finally in
Ulysses himself. They are the wrong-doers whose deeds are to be avenged
by the returning hero; their punishment will exemplify the faith in an
ethical order of the world, upon which the poem reposes as its very
foundation. They are insolent, debauched, unjust; they defy the
established right. Zeus has them in mind when he speaks of Ægisthus,
who is an example of the same sort of characters, and his fate is their
fate according to the Olympian lawgiver. They too are going to
destruction through their own folly, yet after many an admonition. Just
now Telemachus has spoken an impressive warning: "I shall invoke the
ever-living Gods, that Zeus may grant deeds requiting yours."

Still their insolence goes on; the ethical world of justice and
institutions has to be cleared of such men, if it continue to exist.
Who does not love this fealty of the old bard to the highest order of
things? The suitors are indeed blind; they have not recognized the
presence of the Goddess, yet there is a slight suspicion after she is
gone; one of the suitors asks who that stranger was. Telemachus, to
lull inquiry, gives the outer assumed form of the divine visitor, "an
ancestral guest, Mentes of Taphos;" the poet however, is careful to
add: "But he (Telemachus) knew the immortal Goddess in his mind."

The conflict with the suitors is the framework of the entire poem. The
education of Telemachus as well as the discipline of Ulysses reach
forward to this practical end--the destruction of the wrong-doers,
which is the purification of the country, and the re-establishment of
the ethical order. All training is to bring forth the heroic act. The
next Book will unfold the conflict in greater detail.

_Appendix._ The reader will have observed that, in the preceding
account of Book First, it is regarded as setting forth three unities,
that of the total Odyssey, that of the Telemachiad, and that of the
Book itself. We see them all gradually unfolding in due order under the
hand of the poet, from the largest to the least. Now the reader should
be informed that every one of these unities has been violently attacked
and proclaimed to be a sheer phantasm. Chiefly in Germany has the
assault taken place. What we have above considered as the joints in the
organism of the poem, have been cut into, pried apart, and declared to
make so many separate poems or passages, which different authors have
written. Thus the one great Homer vanishes into many little Homers, and
this is claimed to be the only true way of appreciating Homer.

The most celebrated of these dissectors is probably the German
Professor, Kirchhoff, some of whose opinions we shall cite in this
appendix. His psychological tendency is that of analysis, separation,
division; the very idea of unity seems a bugbear to him, a mighty
delusion which he must demolish or die. Specially is his wrath directed
against Book First, probably because it contains the three unities
above mentioned, all of which he assails and rends to shreds in his own
opinion.

The entire Introduction (lines 1-88) he tears from its present place
and puts it before the Fifth Book, where it serves as the prelude to
the Calypso tale. The rest of the Telemachiad is the work of another
poet. Indeed the rest of the First Book (after the Introduction) is not
by the same man who produced the Second Book. Then the Second Book is
certainly older than the First, and ought somehow to be placed before
it. The real truth is, however, that the First Book is only a
hodge-podge made out of the Second Book by an inferior poet, who took
thence fragments of sentences and of ideas and stitched them together.
In the Invocation Kirchhoff cuts out the allusion to the oxen of the
Sun (lines 6-9) as being inconsistent with his theory.

After disposing of the Introduction in this way, Kirchhoff takes up the
remaining portion of the First Book, which he tears to pieces almost
line by line. In about forty separate notes on different passages he
marks points for skepticism, having in the main one procedure: he hunts
both the Iliad and the Odyssey through, and if he finds a line or
phrase, and even a word used elsewhere, which he has observed here, he
at once is inclined to conclude that the same must have been taken
thence and put here by a foreign hand. Every reader of Homer is
familiar with his habit of repeating lines and even entire passages,
when necessary. All such repetitions Kirchhoff seizes upon as signs of
different authorship; the poet must have used the one, some redactor or
imitator the other. To be sure we ought to have a criterion by which we
can tell which is the original and which is the derived; but such a
criterion Kirchhoff fails to furnish, we must accept his judgment as
imperial and final. Once or twice, indeed, he seems to feel the
faultiness of his procedure, and tries to bolster it, but as a rule he
speaks thus: "The following verse is a formula (repetition), and
_hence_ not the property of the author." (_Die Homerische Odyssee_, p.
174.)

Now such repetitions are common in all old poetry, in the ballad, in
the folk-song, in the _Kalevala_ as well as in the Homeric poems.
Messages sent are repeated naturally when delivered; the same event
recurring, as when the boat is rowed, the banquet prepared, or the
armor put on, is described in the same language. Such is usually felt
to be a mark of epic simplicity, of the naive use of language, which
will not vary a phrase merely for the sake of variety. But Kirchhoff
and his followers will have it just the other way; the early poet never
varies or repeats, only the later poet does that. So he seeks out a
large number of passages in the rest of the Odyssey, and in the Iliad
also, which have something in common with passages of this First Book,
especially in the matter of words, and easily finds it to be a "cento,"
a mixed mass of borrowed phrases.

But who was the author of such work? Not the original Homer, but some
later matcher and patcher, imitator or redactor. It is not easy to tell
from Kirchhoff just how many persons may have had a hand in this making
of the Odyssey, as it lies before us. In his dissertations we read of a
motley multitude: original poet, continuator, interpolator, redactor,
reconstructor, imitator, author of the older part, author of the newer
part--not merely individuals, but apparently classes of men. Thus he
anatomizes old Homer with a vengeance.



_BOOK SECOND._


The general relation between the First and Second Books is to be
grasped at once. In the First Book the main fact is the Assembly in the
Upper World, together with the descent of the divine influence which
through Pallas comes to Telemachus in person, gives him courage and
stirs him to action. This action is to bring harmony into the
discordant land. In the Second Book the main fact is the Assembly in
the Lower World, together with the rise of Telemachus into a new
participation with divine influence in the form of Pallas, who sends
him forth on his journey of education. We behold, therefore, in the two
Books a sweep from above to below, then from below back to the divine
influence. Earth and Olympus are the halves of the cycle, but the Earth
is in discord and must be transformed to the harmony of Olympus.

Looking now at the Second Book by itself, we note that it falls into
two portions: the Assembly of the People, which has been called
together by Telemachus, and the communion of the youth with Pallas, who
again appears to him at his call. The first is a mundane matter, and
shows the Lower World in conflict with the divine order--the sides
being the Suitors on the one hand and the House of Ulysses on the
other. The second portion lifts the young hero into a vision of
divinity, and should lift the reader along with him. Previously Pallas
had, as it were, descended into Telemachus, but now he rises of himself
into the Goddess. Clearly he possesses a new power, that of communion
with the Gods. These two leading thoughts divide the Book into two
well-marked parts--the first including lines 1-259, the second
including the rest.


I.

The Assembly of the Ithacans presupposes a political habit of gathering
into the town-meeting and consulting upon common interests. This usage
is common to the Aryan race, and from it spring parliaments,
congresses, and other cognate institutions, together with oratory
before the People. A wonderful development has come of this little
germ, which we see here still alive in Ithaca, though it has been
almost choked by the unhappy condition of things. Not since Ulysses
left has there been any such Assembly, says the first speaker, an old
man drawing upon his memory, not for twenty years; surely a sign of
smothered institutional life. The first thing which Telemachus in his
new career does is to call the Assembly, and start this institutional
life into activity again. Whereof we feel the fresh throb in the words
of the aged speaker, who calls him "Blessed."

Now the oratory begins, as it must begin in such a place. The golden
gift of eloquence is highly prized by Homer, and by the Homeric People;
prophetic it is, one always thinks of the great Attic orators. The
speakers are distinctly marked in character by their speeches; but the
Assembly itself seems to remain dumb; it was evidently divided into two
parties; one well-disposed to the House of Ulysses, the other to the
Suitors. The corruption of the time has plainly entered the soul of the
People, and thorough must be the cleansing by the Gods. Two kinds of
speakers we notice also, on the same lines, supporting each side; thus
the discord of Ithaca is now to be reflected in its oratory. Three sets
of orators speak on each side, placing before us the different phases
of the case; these we shall mark off for the thought and for the eye of
the reader.

1. After the short opening speech of the old man, Ægyptius, the heart
of the whole movement utters itself in Telemachus, who remains the
chief speaker throughout. His speech is strong and bold; from it two
main points peer forth. The first is the wrong of the Suitors, who will
not take the right way of wooing Penelope by going to her father and
giving the bridal gift according to custom, but consume the son's
property under pretense of their suit for the mother. The second point
is the strong appeal to the Ithacans--to their sense of right, to their
sense of shame, and to their fear of the Gods, who "in their divine
wrath shall turn back ill deeds upon the doer." But in vain; that
Ithacan Assembly contains friends and relatives of the Suitors, and
possibly purchased adherents; nay, it contains some of the Suitors
themselves, and here rises one of them to make a speech in reply.

This is Antinous, who now makes the most elaborate defense of the case
of the Suitors that is to be found in the poem. The speech is
remarkable for throwing the whole blame upon Penelope--not a gallant
proceeding in a lover; still it betrays great admiration for the woman
on account of her devices and her cunning. She has thwarted and fooled
the whole band of unwelcome wooers for three years and more by her
wonderful web, which she wove by day and unraveled by night. And even
now when she has been found out, she holds them aloof but keeps them in
good humor, though clearly at a great expense of the family's property,
which fact has roused Telemachus to his protest. Antinous, though
feeling that he and the rest have been outwitted by the woman, does not
stint his praise on that account, he even heightens it.

But we hear also his ultimatum: "Send thy mother away and bid her be
married to whomsoever her father commands, and whoso is pleasing to
her." So the will of the parent and the choice of the daughter had to
go together even in Homer's days. Of course Antinous has no ground of
right for giving this order; he is not the master of the house, though
he hopes to be; his assumed authority is pure insolence. Then why
should the Suitors injure the son because they have been wheedled by
the mother? Still they will continue to consume "his living and his
wealth as long as she keeps her present mind."

But the most interesting thing in his speech is to discover the
attitude and motives of Penelope. We see her fidelity, but something
more than fidelity is now needed, namely the greatest skill,
dissimulation, or female tact, to use the more genteel word. She has a
hard problem on her hands; she has to save her son, herself, and as
much of the estate as she can, from a set of bandits who have all in
their might. Were she to undertake to drive them away, they would
pillage the house, kill her boy, and certainly carry her off. They have
the power, they have the inclination; they are held by one small thread
in the weak hands of a woman, but with that thread she snares them all,
to the last man. Love it may be called, of a certain sort; we see how
Antinous admires her, though conscious that she has made a fool of him
and his fellows. Each hopes to win the prize yet, and she feeds them
with hope, "sending private messages to each man;" thus she turns every
one of them against the other, and prevents concerted action which
looks to violence. That wonderful female gift is hers, the gift of
making each of her hundred Suitors think that just he is the favored
one, only let it be kept secret now till the right time comes!

But Penelope uses this gift as a weapon, it is her means of saving the
House of Ulysses, while many another fair lady uses it for the fun of
the thing. Is she right? Does her end justify her means? True she is in
the highest degree to Family and State, is saving both; but she does
dissemble, does cajole the suitors. One boy, one woman, one old man in
the country constitute the present strength of the House of Ulysses;
but craft meets violence and undoes it, as always.

And yet we may grant something to the other side of her character. She
takes pleasure in the exercise of her gift, who does not? Inasmuch as
the Suitors are here, and not to be dismissed, she will get a certain
gratification out of their suit. A little dash of coquetry, a little
love of admiration we may discern peeping through her adamantine
fidelity to her husband, recollect after an absence of twenty years. As
all this homage was thrust upon her, she seeks to win from it a kind of
satisfaction; the admiration of a hundred men she tries to receive
without making a sour face. Still further she takes pleasure in the
exercise of that feminine subtlety which holds them fast in the web,
yet keeps them off; giving them always hope, but indefinitely extending
it. Verily that web which she wove is the web of Fate for the Suitors.
So much for Penelope at present, whom we shall meet again.

To this demand of Antinous to send the mother away, Telemachus makes a
noble, yes, a heroic response. It would be wrong all around, wrong to
the mother, wrong to her father, unless he (Telemachus) restored the
dower, wrong to the Gods; vengeance from the Erinyes, and nemesis from
man would come upon him for such a deed. Thus the young hero appeals to
the divine order and puts himself in harmony with its behests. Boldly
he declares, that if the Suitors continue in their ill-doing, "I shall
invoke the ever-living Gods; if Zeus may grant fit retribution for your
crimes, ye shall die within this palace unavenged." Truly a speech
given with a power which brings fulfillment; prophetic it must be, if
there be any Gods in the world. Already we have seen that Telemachus
was capable of this high mood, which communes with deity and utters the
decree from above. Behold, no sooner is the word uttered by the mortal,
than we have the divine response. It is in the form of an omen, the
flight of two eagles tearing each other as they fly to the right
through the houses of the town. Also the interpreter is present, who
tells the meaning of the sign, and stamps the words of Telemachus with
the seal of the Gods.

2. Here we pass to the second set of speeches which show more
distinctively the religious phase, in contrast to the preceding set,
which show rather the institutional phase, of the conflict; that is,
the Gods are the theme of the one, Family and State of the other. The
old augur Halitherses, the man of religion, explains the omen in full
harmony with what Telemachus has said; he prophesies the speedy return
of Ulysses and the punishment of the Suitors, unless they desist. Well
may the aged prophet foretell some such outcome, after seeing the
spirit of the son; Vengeance is indeed in the air, and is felt by the
sensitive seer, and also by the sensitive reader.

But what is the attitude of the Suitors toward such a view? Eurymachus
is the name of their speaker now, manifestly a representative man of
their kind. He derides the prophet: "Go home, old man, and forecast for
thy children!" He is a scoffer and skeptic; truly a spokesman of the
Suitors in their relation to the Gods, in whom they can have no living
faith; through long wickedness they imagine that there is no
retribution, they have come to believe their own lie. Impiety, then, is
the chief fact of this speech, which really denies the world-government
and the whole lesson of this poem. Thus the divine warning is
contemned, the call to a change of conduct goes unheeded.

3. Then we have the third set of speeches which are personal in their
leading note, and pertain to the absent Ulysses, whose kindness and
regal character are set forth by Mentor, his old comrade, with strong
reproaches toward the Ithacans for permitting the wrong to his house.
It is intimated that they could prevent it if they chose; but they are
evidently deaf to this appeal to their gratitude and affection for
their chieftain.

Leiocrates, the third Suitor, responds in a speech which is the
culmination of insolence and defiance of right. The Suitors would slay
Ulysses himself, should he now appear and undertake to put them out of
his palace. He dares not come and claim his own! Right or wrong we are
going to stay, and, if necessary, kill the owner. It is the most open
and complete expression of the spirit of the Suitors, they are a lot of
brigands, who must be swept away, if there be any order in the world.
Leiocrates dissolves the Assembly, a thing which he evidently had no
right to do; the people tamely obey, the institutional spirit is not
strong enough to resist the man of violence. Let them scatter; they are
a rotten flock of sheep at any rate.

Here the first part of the Book concludes. The three sets of speakers
have given their views, one on each side; each set has represented a
certain phase of the question; thus we have heard the institutional,
religious and personal phases. In such manner the sweep of the conduct
of the Suitors is fully brought out; they are destroying State and
Family, are defying the Gods, and are ready to slay the individual who
may stand in their way. Certainly their harvest is ripe for the sickle
of divine justice, upon whose deep foundation this poem reposes.

The Assembly of the People now vanishes quite out of sight, it has
indeed no valid ground of being. The young men seem to be the chief
speakers, and show violent opposition, while the old men hold back, or
manifest open sympathy with the House of Ulysses. The youth of Ithaca
have had their heads turned by the brilliant prize, and rush forward
forgetful of the penalty. It is indeed a time of moral loosening, of
which this poem gives the source, progress, and cure. Telemachus,
however, rises out of the mass of young men, the future hero who is to
assert the law of the Gods. In such manner we are to reach down to the
fact that the spirit of the Odyssey is ethical in the deepest sense,
and reveals unto men the divine order of the world.


II.

We now pass to the second part of the book, which shows Telemachus
accomplishing with the aid of the deity what human institutions failed
to do. If the Assembly will not help him in the great cause, the Gods
will, and now he makes his appeal to them.

The Ithacans had refused a ship in order that he might go and learn
something about his father; that is, they will not permit his
education, which is at present the first object.

He goes down to the seacoast, where he will be alone, communing with
the Goddess and with himself, and there he prays to Pallas, washing his
hands in the grey surf--which is, we may well think, a symbolic act of
purification. Is it a wonder that Pallas, taking the human shape of
Mentor, comes and speaks to him? She must, if she be at all; he is
ready, and she has to appear. Her first words are but the echo of his
conduct all through the preceding scene with the Assembly: "Telemachus
henceforth thou shalt be wanting neither in valor nor in wisdom." She
rouses him by the fame and deeds of his father, because he is already
aroused. Still she is a very necessary part; she is the divine element
in the world speaking to Telemachus and helping him; she shows that his
thought is not merely subjective, but is now one with hers, with
objective wisdom, and will rule the fact. He ascends into the realm of
true vision, and from thence organizes his purpose. It is true that the
poet represents Pallas as ordering the means for the voyage, as at
first she ordered the work of the whole poem. Yet this is also done by
Telemachus who has risen to participation in that glance which beholds
the truth and controls the world.

Often will the foregoing statement be repeated; every divine appearance
in Homer, of any import, is but a repetition of the one fact, which
must always be re-thought by the reader. That which Telemachus says is
no longer his mere wish or opinion, but it is the reality, the valid
thing outside of him, hence it is voiced by the Goddess, and must take
place. Thus the poet often compels his reader to rise with him into the
sphere of the divine energy, where thinking and willing are one, and
man's insight is just the word of the God.

The remaining circumstances of the Book group themselves around the two
centers--Telemachus and Pallas--as the Goddess orders them in advance:
"Go thou home and get the stores ready, while I shall engage a ship and
crew among the Ithacans."

1. Telemachus goes among the Suitors, evidently to avoid suspicion,
which his absence might provoke. They taunt and deride him, whereof
three samples are again given. He goes his way, conscious of his divine
mission, not failing however to tell them: "I shall surely make the
voyage, not in vain it will be." He obtains food and wine from the aged
stewardess Eurycleia, who seeks to dissuade him. Then too his mother
must not know of his plan, she would keep him still a boy in the house,
whereas he has become a man.

2. Pallas in the semblance of Telemachus goes through the town to
secure the ship and crew. Then she pours over the Suitors a gentle
sleep after their revel; she takes away their wisdom, yet it is their
own deed, which just now has a divine importance. Finally she brings
all to the ship, seizes the helm and sends the favoring breeze. Or, as
we understand the poet, intelligence brings about these things under
many guises; even nature, the breeze, it takes advantage of for its own
purpose.

Thus Pallas has the controlling hand in this second part of the Book,
she is above man and nature. We can say that the controlling spirit is
also Telemachus, who manifests Reason, controlling and directing the
world. Note the various forms which she assumes, as Mentor, as
Telemachus; then again she works purely through mind, in the natural
way, as for example, when Telemachus goes home and obtains his food and
wine for the voyage. The poet thus plays with her shape; still she is
essentially the divine intelligence which seizes upon men and
circumstances, and fits them into the order universal, and makes them
contribute to the great purpose of the poem. Still the Goddess does not
destroy man's freedom, but supplements it, lifting it out of the domain
of caprice. Telemachus willingly wills the will of Pallas.

Already it has been remarked that the Goddess is made to command
nature--the breeze, the sleep of the Suitors. It is the method of fable
thus to portray intelligence, whose function is to take control of
nature and make her subserve its purpose. The breeze blows and drives
the ship; it is the divine instrument for bringing Telemachus to Pylos,
a part of the world-order, especially upon the present occasion. The
born poet still talks that way, he is naturally a fabulist and cannot
help himself. In his speech, the hunter does not chase the deer, but
brings it before his gun by a magic power; the mystic fisher calls the
fishes; the enchanted bullet finds its own game and needs only to be
shot off; the tanner even lays a spell upon the water in his vat and
makes it run up hill through a tube bent in a charm. But back of all
this enchantment intelligence is working and assumes her mythical,
supernatural garb when the poet images her control of nature.

Thus in general the Mythus shadows forth objective mind, not
subjective; it springs from the imaginative Reason, and not from a
cultivated Reflection. In our time the demand is to have these
objective forms translated into subjective thoughts; then we can
understand them better. But the Homeric man shows the opposite
tendency: he had to translate his internal thoughts into the external
shapes of the Mythus before he could grasp fully his own mind. His
conception of the world was mythical; this form he understood and not
that of abstract reflection. We may well exclaim: Happy Homeric man, to
whom the world was ever present, not himself. Yet both sides belong to
the full-grown soul, the mythical and the reflective; from Homer the
one-sided modern mind can recover a part of its spiritual inheritance,
which is in danger of being lost.

It is therefore, a significant fact that the education of the present
time is seeking to restore the Mythus to its true place in the
development of human spirit. The Imagination is recognized to have its
right, and unless it be taken care of in the right way, it will turn a
Fury, and wreak treble vengeance upon the age which makes it an
outcast. Homer is undoubtedly the greatest of all mythologists, he
seizes the pure mythical essence of the human mind and gives to it form
and beauty. Hence from this point of view, specially, we shall study
him.

In the present Book the fact is brought out strongly that little or
nothing is to be expected from the Ithacan people toward rectifying the
great wrong done to the House of Ulysses. In part they are the
wrong-doers themselves, in part they are cowed into inactivity by the
wrong-doers. Corruption has eaten into the spirit of the people; the
result is, the great duty of deliverance is thrown back upon an
individual. One man is to take the place of all, or a few men the place
of the many, for the work must be done. The mightiness of the
individual in the time of a great crisis is thus set forth in vivid
reality; the one man with the Gods on his side is the majority. With
truest instinct does the old poet show the Goddess Pallas directing
Telemachus, who participates in the Divine and is carrying out its
decree. This communion between man and deity is no mere mythologic
sport, but the sincerest faith; verily it is the solidest fact in the
government of the world, and the bard is its voice to all ages.

This Second Book has its import for the whole poem. It is now manifest
that Ulysses, when he returns, is not to expect a grand popular
reception; he must bring himself back to his own by his skill and
prowess alone. The people will not help him slay the wrong-doers;
rather the contrary will happen. Again the individual must work out the
salvation of himself as well as of his family and his country.
Telemachus has shown himself the worthy son of the heroic father; the
present Book connects him intimately with the return of Ulysses, and
binds the entire Odyssey into unity; especially does this Book look to
and prepare for the last twelve Books, which bring father and son
together in one great act of deliverance.

If in the previous Book we beheld the depravity of the Suitors, we now
witness the imbecility of the People. Still the spark of hope flashes
out brightly in this Ithacan night; something is at work to punish the
guilty and to redeem the land.



_BOOK THIRD._


In narrative, the present Book connects directly with the preceding
Book. Pallas is still with Telemachus, they continue the voyage
together till they reach Pylos, the home of Nestor. They have left
Ithaca, and come into another realm; this change of place, as is often
the case in Homer, carries with it a change of inner condition; the
voyage is not simply geographical but also spiritual; indeed it must be
so, if the young man is to derive from it any experience.

Great and striking is the difference between Ithaca and Pylos. The
latter is the abode of religion primarily, the new-comers find the
Pylians engaged in an act of worship, in which the whole people
participate, "nine rows of seats and five hundred men in each row."

Too large a number, cry some commentators, but they have not looked
into the real meaning of such a multitude. Here is sacrifice,
reverence, belief in the Gods; while among the Ithacans is neglect of
worship, religious paralysis, and downright blasphemy on the part of
the Suitors. Furthermore, in one country order reigns, in the other is
anarchy. Such is the contrast between the Second and Third Books, the
contrast between Ithaca and Pylos. We can well think that this contrast
was intended by the poet, and thus we may catch a glimpse of his
artistic procedure.

The center of the picture is Nestor, a very old man, who, accordingly,
gives soul to the Book. He is so near the world of the Gods in the
present life, that he seems already to dwell with them; age brings this
serene piety.

No accident is it that this Book of Nestor begins and ends with a
festival of sacrifice and prayer; that is the true setting of his
character. What he says to the visitors will take color and meaning
from his fundamental trait; we may expect in his words a full
recognition of divinity in the events of the world.

But he has been a stout fighter in his time, he was in the Trojan War,
though old already at that period. He will give the lesson of his life,
not during that war, but afterwards. He was one of the heroes of the
Iliad, which poem the Odyssey not only does not repeat, but goes out of
its way to avoid any repetition thereof. Moreover he was one of those
who returned home successfully, can he tell how it was done? This is
the question of special interest to Telemachus, as his father, after
ten years, has not yet reached home.

Herewith the theme of the Book is suggested: the Return. Physically
this was a return from the Trojan War, which is the pre-supposition of
the whole Odyssey; all the heroes who have not perished, have to get
back to Hellas in some way. These ways are very diverse, according to
the character of the persons and the circumstances. Thus we touch the
second grand Homeric subject, and, indeed, the second grand fact of the
Greek consciousness, which lies imbedded in the Return (_Nostos_). A
short survey of this subject must here be given. We have in the present
Book several phases of the Return; Nestor, Menelaus, Ulysses are all
Returners, to use a necessary word for the thought; each man solves the
problem in his own manner.

Now what is this problem? Let us see. The expedition to Troy involved a
long separation from home and country on the part of every man who went
with it; still this separation had to be made for the sake of Helen,
that she, the wife and queen, return to home and country, from which
she had been taken. Her Return, indeed, is the essence of all their
Returns. We see that through the war they were severed from Family and
State, were compelled to give up for the time being their whole
institutional life. This long absence deepens into alienation, into a
spiritual scission, from mere habit in the first place; then, in the
second place, they are seeking to destroy a home and a country; though
it be that of the enemy, and the act, even if necessary, brings its
penalty. It begets a spirit of violence, a disregard of human life, a
destruction of institutional order. Such is the training of the Greeks
before Troy. The wanton attack of Ulysses and his companions upon the
city of the Ciconians (Book Ninth) is an indication of the spirit
engendered in this long period of violence, among the best and wisest
Greeks.

Still, in spite of the grand estrangement, they have the aspiration for
return, and for healing the breach which had sunk so deep into their
souls. Did they not undergo all this severing of the dearest ties for
the sake of Helen, for the integrity of the family, and of their civil
life also? What he has done for Helen, every Greek must be ready to do
for himself, when the war is over; he must long for the restoration of
the broken relations; he cannot remain in Asia and continue a true
Greek. Such is his conflict; in maintaining Family and State, he has
been forced to sacrifice Family and State. Then when he has
accomplished the deed of sacrifice, he must restore himself to what he
has immolated. A hard task, a deeply contradictory process, whose end
is, however, harmony; many will not be able to reach the latter stage,
but will perish by the way. The Return is this great process of
restoration after the estrangement.

Many are the Returners, successful and unsuccessful in many different
ways. But they all are resumed in the one long desperate Return of
Ulysses, the wise and much-enduring man. In space as well as in time
his Return is the longest; in spirit it is the deepest and severest by
all odds. The present poem, therefore, is a kind of resumption and
summary of the entire series of Returns (_Nostoi_). In the old Greek
epical ages, the subject gave rise to many poems, which are, however,
at bottom but one, and this we still possess, while the others are
lost. Spirit takes care of its own verily.

The true Returner, accordingly, gets back to the institutions from
which he once separated; he knows them now, previously he only felt
them. His institutional world must become thus a conscious possession;
he has gone through the alienation, and has been restored; his
restoration has been reached through denial, through skepticism, we may
say, using the modern term. The old unconscious period before the
Trojan war is gone forever; that was the Paradise from which the Greek
Adam has been expelled. But the new man after the restoration is the
image of the complete self-conscious being, who has taken the negative
period into himself and digested it. Fortunate person! he cannot now be
made the subject of a poem, for he has no conflict.

But the young man beginning life, the son Telemachus, is to obtain the
same kind of knowledge, not through experience but through inquiry.
Oral tradition is to give him the treasures of wisdom without the
bitter personal trial. It is for this reason that Pallas sends him to
find out what his father did, and to make the experience of the parent
his own by education; it is, indeed, the true education--to master the
accumulated knowledge and wisdom of the race up to date. So we are now
to have the school period of the son, who is thereby not merely the
physical son (which, he remarks, is always a matter of doubt), but the
spiritual son of his father, whereof there can be no doubt.

The Odyssey proper, toward which we may now cast a glance, contains the
wanderings of Ulysses, and is the work of the grown man who has to meet
the world face to face and conquer it; thus he obtains the experience
of life. The two parts are always to be placed together--the education
of the young man and the experience of the mature man; they constitute
a complete history of a human soul. Both are, indeed one--bud and
flower; at bottom, too, both mean the same thing--the elevation of the
individual into an ethical life in which he is in harmony with himself
and with the divine order. True learning and true experience reach this
end, which may be rightfully called wisdom.

So Telemachus the youth is to listen to the great and impressive fact
of his time, containing the deep spiritual problem which is designated
as the Return. Nestor is the first and simplest of these Returners; he
is an old man, he has prudence, he is without passion; moreover he has
not the spirit of inquiry or the searching into the Beyond; he accepts
the transmitted religion and opinions without question, through the
conservatism of age as well as of character. It is clear that the
spiritual scission of the time could not enter deep into his nature;
his long absence from home and country produced no alienation; he went
home direct after the fall of Troy, the winds and the waters were
favorable, no tempest, no upheaval, no signs of divine anger. But he
foresaw the wrath of the Gods and fled across the wave in all speed,
the wrestle with the deity lay not in him.

It is worth our while to make a little summary of these Returners in
classes, since in this way the thought of the present Book as well as
its place in the entire Odyssey can be seen best. First are those who
never succeeded in returning, but perished in the process of it; of
this class the great example is the leader himself, Agamemnon, who was
slain by his own wife and her paramour. Second are those who succeeded
in returning; of this class there are three well-marked divisions,
which are to be sharply designated in the mind of the reader.

(1). The immediate Returners, those who went straight home, without
internal scission or external trouble; unimportant they are in this
peaceful aspect though they were formerly heroes in the war. Four such
are passingly mentioned by Nestor in his talk: Diomed, Neoptolemus the
son of Achilles, Philoctetes, and Idomeneus. Nestor himself is the most
prominent and the typical one of this set who are the Returners through
Hellas.

(2). The second one of those who have succeeded in getting home is
Menelaus, whose sweep is far beyond that of Nestor and the immediate
Greek world, taking in Egypt and the East. He was separated from
Nestor, having delayed to bury his steersman; then a storm struck him,
bore him to Crete and beyond, the wind and wave carried him to the land
of the Nile. He is the Returner through the Orient.

(3). Finally is Ulysses, not yet returned, but whose time has nearly
arrived. In comparison with the others he is the Returner through the
Occident. But his Return gives name to the poem, of which it is the
greater portion.

Still the universal poem is to embrace all these phases of the Return,
and the son, through education, is to know them all, not by experience
but by information. Thus his training is to reach beyond what the life
of his father can give him; it must be universal, and in this way it
becomes a true discipline. We must note too, that this poem reaches
beyond the Return of Ulysses, beyond what its title suggests, and
embraces all the Returns, Hellenic, Oriental, Occidental, as well as
the grand failure to return.

Such are some of the thoughts which gleam out the present Book and
illuminate the whole Odyssey. We can now consider structure of the
Book, which falls into two distinct parts, determined by the Goddess.
When she makes ready to quit Telemachus, we enter the second portion of
the Book, and Telemachus continues his journey without direct divine
supervision. As the previous Book was marked by the coming of the
Goddess, the present Book is marked by her going. The intercourse of
the youth with Nestor is the extent of her immediate guardianship;
after such an experience, he must learn to make the rest of the journey
through his own resources. Even the deity teaches that there must not
be too much reliance upon the deity. The first portion of the Book
extends to line 328, where Nestor ends his story of the Returns and
suggests the journey to Menelaus for another phase thereof: "the sun
set and darkness came on." The second portion embraces the rest of the
Book. Again we must note that the fundamental Homeric division into the
Upper and Lower Worlds is what divides the Book, thus giving to the
same its organic principle.


I.

The religious setting of Nestor's world has been noticed already. Into
it Telemachus comes, out of a realm of violence; it must indicate some
cure for the ills of Ithaca. But he is now to show himself a man.
Pallas orders him to put aside his youthful modesty, and boldly make
the inquiry concerning his father. And here the Goddess utters a remark
which the student may well ponder: "Some things thou wilt think of in
thine own mind, but a God will suggest others." Again the Homeric
dualism--the human and the divine--and also their harmony; the two
elements must come together in every high thought or action. The double
relation of the individual--to himself and to the God--is necessary for
all worthy speech; his own activity and that of the deity run together
in true discourse as well as in true action. So the whole poem is made
up of man's self-determined energy and the interference of the Gods;
yet both are to be seen as ultimately one in the deed.

The new-comers are asked to pray, and we hear the famous utterance,
which is characteristic of Nestor's world, "All men have need of the
Gods." This is said by one of his sons. Pallas makes the prayer, a
happy one, which brings forth a feeling of harmony between the
strangers and all the People. The sympathy is complete, and Telemachus
can proceed to ask concerning his father, after he has told who he
himself is, and whence he has come. In response, Nestor begins to tell
the fateful story of the Returns after the fall of Troy. In his
narrative we behold the starting-point of the calamities, the
difference between Agamemnon and Menelaus, followed by a series of
separations in succession. "Zeus planned for them a sad Return," which,
however, was their own fault, "for all were neither wise nor just." It
is clear that the Greek unity is utterly broken, a spiritual disruption
sets in after the capture of the city. It is, indeed, the new problem,
this Return to peace and institutional order after ten years' training
to violence. Such is the penalty of all war, however just and
necessary; after it is over, the fighting cannot stop at once, and so
the victors divide into two camps and continue the fight. Nestor gives
the picture of these repeated divisions; once, twice, thrice the breach
occurs; first he separates from Agamemnon, the second time from
Ulysses, the third time from Menelaus. He will go directly home, and
thus he has to leave the others behind; the scission is not in him as
in them; he can be restored, in fact he restores himself. He has the
instinctive pre-Trojan character still, being an old man; but Ulysses
has lost that, and so separates from Nestor, though never before had
they differed "in the Council of the Chiefs or in the Assembly of the
People." But Ulysses has to return by a far different road, and now
each of the two wise men takes his own way, though both have to return.

Aged Nestor manifestly does not belong to the new epoch, he seems to
have no sense of the deep spiritual struggle involved. He instinctively
went home, shunning the conflict; the others could not. In the Iliad
the relation between the two wise men, Nestor and Ulysses, is subtly
yet clearly drawn; the one--the younger man--has creative intelligence,
the other--the older man--has appreciative intelligence. In the
Odyssey, the relation is plainly evolved out of that described in the
Iliad; the one is the boundless striver, the other rests in the
established order of things.

Nestor, therefore, cannot tell much about Ulysses, who lies quite out
of his horizon, at least in the Odyssey. He can only give hope that the
man of wisdom will yet return. This Telemachus doubts, dropping into
one of his low human moods, even in the presence of Pallas, who rebukes
him sharply. It is, indeed, the great lesson; he must have faith in the
reality of the Gods, this is the basis of all his future progress, the
chief attainment of wisdom. The young man must not fall away into
denial, he must be taught that there is a divine order in the world.
Old Homer, too, had his notions about religion in education, and the
Goddess herself is here introduced giving a lesson.

Nestor, though unable himself to give much information about the
Return, can point to the second grand Returner, Menelaus, who has
lately come from a distant land, and may have something to say. In fact
Menelaus was the last to separate from Nestor, Ulysses had separated
long before.

One other story Nestor tells with great sympathy, that of Agamemnon,
who represents a still different form of the Return. The great leader
of the Greeks can master the Trojan difficulty, can even get back to
home and country, but these are ultimately lost to him by his faithless
spouse. Still, after the father's death, the son Orestes restores
Family and State. Therein Telemachus sees an image of himself, the son,
who is to slay his mother's suitors; he sees, too, the possible fate of
his father. Ulysses has essentially the same problem as Agamemnon,
though he has not the faithless wife in addition; Telemachus beholds
his duty in the deed of Orestes, according to Greek consciousness. We
shall see hereafter how Ulysses takes due precaution not to be slain in
his own land, as Agamemnon was. In disguise he will go to his own
palace and carefully note the situation in advance, and then strike the
blow of deliverance.

Several times Homer repeats in the Odyssey the tragic story of
Agamemnon, the great Leader of the Greeks at Troy. An awe-inspiring
tale of destiny; out of it Æschylus will develop his great tragedy, the
Oresteia. Indeed the epos develops into tragedy with the full mythical
unfolding of this story. Æschylus will deepen the motives into internal
collisions; he will show the right and the wrong in Agamemnon, and even
in Clytemnestra. Orestes, however beneficent his deed in avenging his
father, will not escape the counterstroke; Æschylus will send after him
the Furies for the guilt of having murdered his mother. Thus the double
nature of the deed, its reward and its penalty, unfolds out of Homer
into Æschylus, and creates the Greek drama as we know it at present.

Nestor has now told what lay in the immediate circle of his experience:
the Return direct through Hellas. Again he mentions the last
separation; it was that of himself from Menelaus, when the latter was
swept beyond the limit of Hellas into Egypt, from which he has now
returned. What next? Evidently the young man must be sent to him at
Sparta in order to share in this larger circle of experience, extending
to the Orient. So Greece points to the East in many ways; Nestor, the
purely Hellenic soul, knows of that wider knowledge, though it be not
his, and he knows that it should be possessed.

In this Book as elsewhere in the Odyssey the grand background is the
Trojan war. The incidents of the Iliad are hardly alluded to, but are
certainly taken for granted; the Post-Iliad is the field of interest,
for in it the Returns take place. Thus the two great poems of Homer
join together and show themselves as complements of each other.


II.

Now comes the separation which marks the second portion of the Book.
Pallas, in the guise of Mentor, coincides with Nestor in advising
Telemachus to pay a visit to Menelaus, and then she departs, "sailing
off like a sea-eagle," whereat great astonishment from all present.
That is, she reveals herself; all recognize the Goddess, and probably
that is the reason why she can no longer stay. She has become internal.
Telemachus is now conscious, as she disappears, and he has his own
wisdom; he has seen Pallas, and so he must go without her to Sparta.
Hardly does he need her longer, being started upon the path of wisdom
to know wisdom. At the court of Nestor, with its deeply religious
atmosphere, she can appear; but she declines to go with him in person
to Menelaus, though she advises the journey. All of which, to the
sympathetic reader, has its significance. Still Pallas has by no means
vanished out of the career of Telemachus; she at present, however,
leaves him to himself, as she often does.

Nestor, too, responds to the marvelous incident in true accord with his
character; he invokes her with prayer and institutes a grand sacrifice,
which is now described in a good deal of detail. Just as the Book opens
with a sacrifice to a deity, so it closes with one--the two form the
setting of the whole description. Thus the recognition of the Gods is
everywhere set forth in Nestor's world; he is the man of faith, of
primitive, immediate faith, which has never felt the doubt.

It is well that Telemachus meets with such a man at the start, and gets
a breath out of such an atmosphere. He has seen the ills of Ithaca from
his boyhood; he may well question at times the superintendence of the
Gods. His own experience of life would lead him to doubt the existence
of a Divine Order. Even here in Pylos he challenges the supremacy of
the Olympians. When Nestor intimates that his father will yet return
and punish the Suitors, with the help of Pallas, or that he himself may
possibly do so with the aid of the same Goddess, Telemachus replies:
"Never will that come to pass, I think, though I hope for it; no, not
even if the Gods should so will." Assuredly a young skeptic he shows
himself, probably in a fit of despondency; sharp is the reproof of the
Goddess: "O Telemachus, what kind of talk is that? Easily can a God, if
he wills it, save a man even at a distance." Thus she, a Goddess,
asserts the supremacy of the Gods, even though they cannot avert death.
But the youth persists at present: "let us talk no more of this; my
father never will return." But when Nestor has told the story of
Ægisthus punished by the son Orestes, the impression is strong that
there is a divine justice which overtakes the guilty man at last; such
is the old man's lesson to the juvenile doubter. The lesson is imparted
in the form of a tale, but it has its meaning, and Telemachus cannot
help putting himself into the place of Orestes.

Such is, then, the training which the young man, shaken by misfortune,
obtains at the court of Nestor; the training to a belief in the rule of
the Gods in a Divine Order of the World--which is the fundamental
belief of the present poem. It is no wonder that Telemachus sees Pallas
at last, sees that she has been with him, recognizing her presence. To
be sure, she now disappears as a personal presence, having been found
out; still she sends Telemachus on his journey to Sparta. Thus the
Third Book has a distinctive character of its own, differing decidedly
from the Book which goes before and from that which follows. Here is a
religious world, idyllic, paradisaical in its immediate relation to the
Gods, and in the primitive innocence of its people, who seem to be
without a jar or inner scission. No doubt or dissonance has yet entered
apparently; Pylos stands between Ithaca, the land of absolute discord,
and Sparta, the land recently restored out of discord. The Book hears a
relation to the whole Odyssey in its special theme, which is the
Return, of which it represents in the ruler Nestor a particular phase.
It prepares the way for the grand Return, which is that of Ulysses; it
is a link connecting the whole poem into unity. Moreover it shadows
forth one of the movements of Greek spirit, which seized upon this idea
of a Return from Troy to express the soul's restoration from its
warring, alienated, dualistic condition. It is well known that there
were many poems on this subject; each hero along with his town or land
had his Return, which became embodied in legend and song. All Hellas,
in a certain stage of its spiritual movement, had a tendency to break
out into the lay of the Return. One of the so-called cyclic poets,
Hagias of Troezen, collected a number of these lays into one poem and
called it the _Nostoi_ or Returns, evidently an outgrowth of this Third
Book in particular and of the Odyssey in general.

Thus Telemachus has witnessed and heard a good deal during his stay
with Nestor. He has seen a religious world, a realm of faith in the
Gods, which certainly has left its strong impression; he has been
inspired by the example of his father, whose worth has been set forth,
and whose place in the great Trojan movement has been indicated, by the
aged Hero. Still further, Telemachus has been brought to share in the
idea of the Return, the present underlying idea of the whole Greek
consciousness; thus he must be led to believe in it and to work for it,
applying it to his own case and his own land. Largely, from a negative,
despairing state of mind due to his Ithacan environment, he has been
led into glimpses of a positive believing one; this has sprung from his
schooling with Nestor, who may be called his first schoolmaster, from
whom he is now to pass to his second.

The reader must judge whether the preceding view be too introspective
for Homer, who is usually declared to be the unconscious poet, quite
unaware of his purpose or process. No one can carefully read the Third
Book without feeling its religious purport; an atmosphere it has
peculiar to itself in relation to the other Books of the Telemachiad.
To be sure, we can read it as an adventure, a mere diverting story,
without further meaning than the attempt to entertain vacant heads
seeking to kill time. But really it is the record of the spirit's
experience, and must so be interpreted. Again the question comes up:
what is it to know Homer? His geography, his incidents, his grammar,
his entire outer world have their right and must be studied--but let us
proceed to the next Book.



_BOOK FOURTH._


The transition from Book Third to Book Fourth involves a very
significant change of environment. In Sparta, to which Telemachus now
passes, there is occurring no public sacrifice to the Gods, but a
domestic festal occasion gives the tone; he moves out of a religious
into a secular atmosphere. Pylos allows the simple state of faith, the
world unfallen; Sparta has in it the deep scission of the soul, which,
however, is at present healed after many wanderings and struggles.
Nestor, as we have seen, is quite without inner conflict; Menelaus and
Helen represent a long, long training in the school of error,
tribulation, misfortune. Pylos is the peace before the fall, Sparta is
the peace after the fall, yet with many reminiscences of the latter.
This Fourth Book reaches out beyond Greece, beyond the Trojan War, it
goes beyond the Hellenic limit in Space and Time, it sweeps backward
into Egypt and the Orient. It is a marvelous Book, calling for our best
study and reflection; certainly it is one of the greatest compositions
of the human mind. Its fundamental note is restoration after the grand
lapse; witness Helen, and Menelaus too; the Third Book has no
restoration, because it has no alienation.

The account of the various Returns from Troy is continued. In the
preceding Book we had those given by Nestor, specially his own, which
was without conflict. He is the man of age and wisdom, he does not fall
out with the Gods, he does not try to transcend the prescribed limits,
he is old and conservative. The Returns which he speaks of beside his
own, are confined to the Greek world; that was the range of his vision.

But now in the Fourth Book we are to hear of the second great Return,
in which two Greeks participate, Menelaus and Helen. This Return is by
way of the East, through Egypt, which is the land of ancient wisdom for
the Greek man, and for us too. It is the land of the past to the
Hellenic mind, whither the person who aspires to know the antecedents
of himself and his culture must travel; or, he must learn of those who
have been there, if he cannot go himself. Egyptian lore, which had a
great influence upon the early Greek world in its formative period,
must have some reflection in this primitive Greek book of education. So
Telemachus, to complete his discipline, must reach beyond Greece into
the Orient, he must get far back of Troy, which was merely an
orientalizing Hellenic city; he must learn of Egypt. Thus he transcends
the national limit, and begins to obtain an universal culture.

But the moment we go beyond the Greek world with its clear plastic
outlines, the artistic form changes; the Hellenic sunshine is tinged
with Oriental shadows; we pass from the unveiled Zeus to the veiled
Isis. Homer himself gets colored with touches of Oriental mystery. The
Egyptian part of this Fourth Book, therefore, will show a
transformation of style as well as of thought, and changeful Proteus
will become a true image of the Poet. The work will manifest a symbolic
tendency; it will have an aroma of the wisdom of the East, taught in
forms of the parable, the apologue, with hints of allegory. The world,
thrown outside of that transparent Greek life, becomes a Fairy Tale,
which is here taken up and incorporated into a great poem. We shall be
compelled to look thoroughly into these strange shapes of Egypt, and,
if possible, reach down to their meaning, for meaning they must have,
or be meaningless. We shall find that this Fourth Book stands in the
front rank of Homeric poetry for depth and suggestiveness, if not for
epical lucidity.

What did not Telemachus see and hear at Sparta? That was, indeed, an
education. He saw the two great returned ones, the woman and the man.
Helen he saw, who had passed through her long alienation and was now
restored to home and country after the Trojan discipline. In her, the
most beautiful woman, the human cycle was complete--the fall, the
repentance, the restoration. Then the eager youth saw Menelaus, and
heard his story of the Return; he is the man who seeks the treasures of
the East, and brings them to Hellas in the Hellenic way. He finds them,
too, after much suffering, never losing them again in the tempests of
his voyage, for does he not spread them out before us in his talk? Both
the man and the woman, after the greatest human trials, have reached
serenity--an institutional and an intellectual harmony. The young man
sees it and feels it and takes it away in his head and heart.

The present Book falls easily into two distinct portions. The first is
the visit of Telemachus to Sparta and what he experiences there. Sparta
is at peace and in order; the youth to a degree beholds in it the ideal
land to which he must help transform his own disordered country. The
second portion of the Book goes back to Ithaca (line 625 of the Greek
text). Here we are suddenly plunged again into the wrongful deeds of
the suitors, done to the House of Ulysses. They are plotting the death
of Telemachus, the bearing of whose new career has dawned upon them.
Ithaca is truly the realm of discord in contrast to the harmony of
Sparta and the House of Menelaus, which has also had sore trials. Hence
Sparta may be considered a prophecy of the redemption of Ithaca.

Following out these structural suggestions, we designate the organism
of the Book in this manner:--

I. The visit of Telemachus at Sparta in which he beholds and converses
with two chief Returners from Troy, those who came back by way of the
East, Menelaus and Helen. This part embraces the greater portion of the
Book and falls into three divisions.

1. The arrival and recognition of the son of Ulysses by Menelaus and
Helen who are in a mood of reminiscence, speaking of and in the Present
with many a glance back into the Past. The Oriental journey to Cyprus,
Phoenicia, and specially Egypt, plays into their conversation, making
the whole a Domestic Tale of real life with an ideal background lying
beyond Hellas.

2. When the son is duly recognized and received, the father Ulysses
comes in for reminiscence; with him the background shifts from the
Orient to Troy, where he was the hero of so many deeds of cunning and
valor, and where both Menelaus and Helen were chief actors. The
literary form passes out of the Domestic Tale of the Present into the
Heroic Tale of the Past, from sorrowful retrospection to bracing
description of daring deeds. Helen and Menelaus, each in turn, tell
stories of Ulysses at Troy to the son, who thus learns much about his
father. As already said, the background of this portion is the Trojan
war which was the grand Hellenic separation from the Orient. The Iliad,
and specially the Post-Iliad are here presupposed by the Odyssey.

3. The Return of Menelaus is now told to Telemachus, which Return
reaches behind the Trojan war into the East and beyond the limits of
the real Hellas into Egypt. Thus the spatial and temporal bounds of
Greece are transcended, the actual both in the Present and Past goes
over into the purely ideal, and the literary form becomes a Marvelous
Tale--that of Proteus, which suggests not only Present and Past, but
all Time.

II. Such is the grand Return of Menelaus out of struggle and dualism
into peace and reconciliation with himself and the world, barring
certain painful memories. The poet next, in sharp contrast throws the
reader back to Ithaca, the land of strife and wrong, in general of
limits for young Telemachus, who is reaching out for freedom through
intelligence, and is getting a good deal thereof. Two phases:

1. The Suitors' limits, which he has broken through; their wrath and
their plan of murdering him in consequence.

2. The mother's limits, which he has also broken through; her paroxysm
in consequence, and final consolation.


I.

The first portion of the Book, as above given, is by all means the
greatest in conception and in execution as well as the longest. As
already indicated there are three kinds of writing in it, yet fused
together into unity, which makes it a most varied, yet profoundly
suggestive piece of Art. The simple idyllic, domestic strain of
ordinary real life we hear at the start in the reception and
recognition of Telemachus at Sparta; the scene lies in the sunshine of
a serene existence, yet after mighty tempests. Thence we pass into the
heroic world of Troy out of Greece and the Present, and listen to an
epical story of heroism told by Menelaus and Helen, of the Hero
Ulysses; finally we are brought to Egypt, and hear a prophecy
concerning the same Hero, who is now the subject of the Fairy Tale. In
other words, in this portion of the Fourth Book we observe a change of
scene to three localities--Greece, Troy, Egypt, which correspond to
Present, Past, and Future, and which attune the soul respectively to
Sorrow, Reminiscence, Prophecy. In accord with this variety of place
and circumstance is the variety of literary form already noted: the
ordinary Descriptive Tale of the Present, the Heroic Story of the Past,
and the Fairy Tale imaging what is distant in space and time.

1. As Telemachus arrives, he notes the outer setting to this noble
picture of Menelaus and Helen. There is the magnificent palace with
many costly ornaments of "bronze, gold, silver, amber and ivory;" it
has the ideal of Greek architecture, not yet realized doubtless, still
it suggests "the Hall of Olympian Zeus" to the admiring Telemachus. The
new-comers happen upon a wedding-festival, which connects the place and
the occasion with the Trojan war and its Hero Achilles, whose son is
now to marry Helen's daughter, betrothed to him while at Troy. Moreover
it is a time of joy, which brings all before us at first in a festal
mood.

Nor must we pass by that astonishing utterance of Menelaus to his
servant who proposed to turn away the guests: "Thou prattlest silly
things like a child, verily have we come hither partaking of the
hospitable fare of other men." Therefore we ought to give that which we
have received. One likes to note these touches of humanity in the old
heathen Greek; he too knew and applied the Golden Rule. The wisdom of
life here peers forth in the much-traveled Menelaus; suffering has
taught him to consider others; sorrow he has experienced, but it has
brought its best reward--compassion. This sorrow at once breaks forth
in response to the admiration of Telemachus for the outward splendor of
his palace and possessions.

The Spartan king takes a short retrospect of life as it has been
allotted him; the sighs well out between his words as he tells his
story. Eight years he wandered after the taking of Troy; for he passed
across the sea, to Egypt, even to Æthiopia and Lybia, which he portrays
as a wonderland of golden plenty. But while he was gone, "gathering
much wealth," his brother Agamemnon was slain; "therefore, small joy I
have bearing rule over these possessions." But chiefly he laments the
loss of one man, on account of whom "sleep and food become hateful to
me when I think upon him." That man is Ulysses, who has suffered more
than any other Greek. Thus a strong deep stream of sympathy breaks
forth from the heart of Menelaus, and the son, hearing his father's
name, holds up the purple mantle before his eyes, shedding the tear. A
strong unconscious bond of feeling at once unites both.

How can we fail to notice the clear indication of purpose in these
passages! The Poet brings Menelaus, as the culmination of his story, to
strike the chord which stirs most profoundly the soul of Telemachus.
The son is there to inquire concerning his father; without revealing
himself he learns much about the character and significance of his
parent. The same artistic forethought is shown, when, at this sad
moment, Helen enters, the primal source of all these calamities, in a
glorious manifestation of her beauty. Telemachus sees or may see,
embodied in her the very essence of Greek spirit, that which had to be
restored to Hellas from Asia, if Hellas was to exist. The Poet likens
her to a Goddess, and places her in surroundings which are to set off
her divine appearance. In her case, too, we notice the distant
background: Egyptian presents she has, as well as Menelaus, "a golden
distaff and a silver basket bound in gold." Mementos from far-off
wonderland are woven into the speech and character of the famous pair.

Now for a true female trait. Helen at once recognizes the young
stranger as the son of Ulysses, wherein she stands in contrast to her
husband Menelaus, who, in spite of his thinking about his friend just
at that moment, had failed to see before him the son of that friend.
But no sooner had the woman laid eyes upon Telemachus than she
personally identified him. When the wife had spoken the words of
immediate insight and instinct, the wise husband sees the truth and
gives his reasons. When the fact has been told him, he can easily prove
it.

Supremely beautiful is this appearance of Helen in the Odyssey; she is
the completion of what we saw and knew of her in the Iliad. Now she is
restored to home and country, after her long alienation; still she has
lurking moments of self-reproach on account of her former deeds. Though
she has repented and has been received back, she cannot forget, ought
not to forget the past altogether. The conduct of the husband is most
noble in these scenes; he has forgiven her fully, never upbraiding,
never even alluding to her fatal act, excepting in one passage
possibly, in which there is a gentle palliation of her behavior: "Thou
camest to the place, moved by some divinity who wished to give glory to
the Trojans." The husband will not blame her, she acted under the
stimulus of a God. The fallen woman restored is the divinest of all
pictures; we wonder again at the far-reaching humanity of the old bard;
to-day she would hardly be taken back and forgiven by the world as
completely as she is in the pages of Homer. She is indeed a new Helen,
standing forth in the purest radiance within the shining palace of
Menelaus. Long shall the world continue to gaze at her there.

Telemachus is to see and to hear Helen; that is, indeed, one of his
supreme experiences. But it is not here a matter of superficial staring
at a beautiful woman; all that Helen is, the total cycle of her
spirit's history, is to enter his heart and become a vital portion of
his discipline. It is probable that the youth does not realize every
thing that Helen means and is; still he beholds her, and that in itself
is an education. Helen is not merely a figure of voluptuous beauty,
which captivates the senses; she bears in her the experience of
complete humanity; she has erred, she has transformed her error, she
has been restored to that ethical order which she had violated. All of
which the young man is to see written in her face, and to feel in her
words and conduct, though he may not consciously formulate it in his
thought. This is the true beauty of Helen, not simply the outer
sensuous form, though she possesses that too. She could not be the
ideal of the Greek world, if she were merely an Oriental enchantress;
indeed it is just the function of the Greeks to rescue her from such a
condition, which was that of Helen in Troy.

Already the heart of Menelaus is full at the thought of his friend
Ulysses, and he warms toward the latter's son now present. He again
utters words of sympathetic sorrow. All are touched; all have lost some
dear relative at Troy; it is a moment of overpowering emotion. The four
people weep in common; it is but an outburst; they rally from their
sorrow, Menelaus commands: "Let us cease from mourning and think of the
feast."

It is at this point that Helen again interposes. Her experience of life
has been the deepest, saddest, most complete of all, she has mastered
her conflicts, inner and outer, and reached the haven of serenity; she
can point out the way of consolation. In fact it is her supreme
function to show to others what she has gone through, and thereby save
them, in part at least, the arduous way. For is not the career of every
true hero or heroine vicarious to a certain degree? Assuredly, if they
mean any thing to the sons and daughters of men. Helen can bring the
relief, and does so in the present instance.

She fetches forth that famous drug, the grand antidote for grief and
passion, and all life's ills, the true solacer in life's journey. It
had been given her by an Egyptian woman, Polydamna, whom she had met in
her wanderings, and it had evidently helped to cure her lacerated soul.
Again Egypt lies in the background, as it does everywhere in this Book,
the veritable wonderland, from which many miraculous blessings are
sent. Moreover it is the land of potent drugs, "some beneficial and
some baneful;" its physicians too, are celebrated as excelling all men.
Still more curious is the fact that women possess the secret of
medicine as well as men, and Polydamna may be set down as the first
female doctor--she who gave the wonderful drug to Helen. Surely there
is nothing new under the sun.

This marvelous drug, often called Nepenthe from one of its attributes,
has naturally aroused much curiosity among the many-minded readers of
Homer down the ages. Some have held that it was an herb, which they
have pointed out in the valley of the Nile. Others hold it to be opium
literally, though it does not here put to sleep or silence the company.
On the other hand allegory has tried its hand at the word. Certain
ancients including Plutarch found in it an emblem hinting the charm of
pleasing narrative. As Helen at once passes to story-telling about
Ulysses at Troy, changing from sad reminiscences of the dead to
stirring deeds of living men, we may suppose that this has something to
do with her Nepenthe, which changes the mind from inward to outward,
from emotion to action. The magic charm seems to work potently when she
begins to talk. Through her, the artist as well as the ideal, we make
the transition into the Heroic Tale of the olden time, of which she
gives a specimen.

2. Very naturally the Trojan scene is next taken, that greatest deed of
the Greek race, being that which really made it a new race, separating
it from the Orient and giving it a new destiny. Helen now tells to the
company myths, particularly the labors of Ulysses. She narrates how he
came to Troy in the disguise of a beggar; none knew him, "but I alone
recognized him," as she had just recognized Telemachus. Thus she
celebrates the cunning and bravery of Ulysses; but she also introduces
a fragment of her own history: "I longed to return home, and I lamented
the infatuation which Venus sent upon me." She wished to be restored to
her husband who was "in no respect lacking in mind or shape." We must
not forget that the husband was before her listening; she does not
forget her skill. Also Telemachus was present and hears her confession
of guilt and her repentance--important stages in her total life, which
he is to know, and to take unto himself.

Menelaus has also his myth of Ulysses at Troy, which he now proceeds to
tell. It brings before us the Wooden Horse, really the thought of
Ulysses, though wrought by Epeios, by which the hostile city was at
last captured. Here the Odyssey supplies a connecting link between
itself and the Iliad, as the latter poem closes before the time of the
Wooden Horse. Ulysses is now seen to be the Hero again, he is the man
who suppresses emotion, especially domestic emotion in himself and
others for the great end of the war. It suggests also the difficulty of
Ulysses; he had so long suppressed his domestic instincts, and done
without the life of the family, that he will have great trouble in
overcoming the alienation--whereof the Odyssey is the record. In this
story of Menelaus, Helen has her part too; she came to the Wooden
Horse, "imitating in voice the wives of all the Greek leaders," who
were deeply moved, yet restrained themselves except one, Anticlus,
"over whose mouth Ulysses clapped his powerful hands, and saved the
Greeks." Truly a strong image of the suppression of feeling in himself
and in others.

But why did Helen do thus? Was it a hostile act on her part? Menelaus
hints that it was at least very dangerous to the Greeks, though he
delicately lays the blame of it on some God, "who must have inspired
thee." She was testing the Greeks whom she supposed to be inside the
horse. Will they answer the call of their wives? Do they still retain
their affection for their families? Above all, does Menelaus love me
still? Such was her test, in which we witness another of her many
gifts. At any rate, she is not yet free, she is still married in Troy,
though the hour of her release be near.

With these two stories, the note changes; the sad turn of the talk is
transformed into a quiet earnest joy, the sorrows of the present vanish
in the glorious memories of the past. The moment Troy is introduced,
the narrative becomes an Heroic Tale, a sort of Iliad, with its feats
of arms. Thus we hear the story of Ulysses while at Troy, giving two
instances of his craft and his daring. Next we are to hear of him after
his Trojan experience, this now theme will give the new poem, the
Odyssey, which, however, is seen to interlink at many points with the
Iliad.

But this is sufficient, night has come on, Telemachus has heard and
beheld enough for one day. Helen disappears from the scene, she has
contributed her share, her own selfhood, to the experience of the young
man. Telemachus has seen Helen, and thus attained one supreme purpose
of Greek education. Never can that face, beautiful still, yet stamped
with all the vicissitudes of human destiny, pass out of his mind; never
can that life of hers with its grand transformation pass out of his
soul. The reader, too, has at this point to bid good-bye to Homer's
Helen, the most lasting creation of a woman that has yet appeared upon
our planet. A power she has, too, of continuous re-embodiment; every
poet seeks to call her up afresh, that is, if he be a poet. It may be
said that each age has some incarnation of Helen; the Greek myth for
two thousand years, Medieval legend, even Teutonic folk-lore have
caught up her spirit and incorporated it in new forms. The last great
singer of the ages has in our own time, evoked her ghost once more in
the shining palace of Menelaus at Sparta. Farewell, Helen, for this
time, but we shall meet thee again; yesterday thou didst show thyself
in a new book under a new garb, to-morrow thou art certain to appear in
another. Thine is the power to re-create thyself in the soul of man
with every epoch and in every country. Great is that discipline of
Telemachus, which we still to-day have to seek: he has seen Helen.

3. The preceding story was the Heroic Tale, which goes back to the
Past, especially to Troy, as the grand deed done by the united Hellenic
race, whereof the Iliad is a sample. But now we enter a new field, and
a new sort of composition, which, in default of a better name, we shall
call the Fairy Tale. Helen is not now present, nor is her struggle the
theme; Menelaus, the man, is to recount his experience in his return to
Hellas.

The story is inspired by the desire of Telemachus to know about his
father. As that father is not present the question arises, Where is he?
Menelaus will undertake to answer the question by a tale which shadows
forth the Distant and the Future--a prophetic tale, which casts its
glance through the veil of Time and Space.

A mythical figure appears, Proteus, the Old Man of the Sea, who is to
foretell to the inquiring mortal what may be needful for his safety.
Not an Olympian God is Proteus, yet a supernatural shape standing
between man and deity and mediating the two, the human and the divine.
For it is Proteus who sends Menelaus back to the Gods whom he has
neglected and offended.

The Fairy Tale which we are now to consider, is not to be looked upon
as an allegory; it is a story with incident, movement, character, all
in their own right, and not for the sake of something else. But we must
not, on this account, imagine that it has no thought; in fact, the
Fairy Tale is just the way in which primitive peoples think. It has
thought, often the profoundest thought, which darts through it, not
steadily, but fitfully in flashes at the important links, like electric
sparks. This thought we are to catch and hold, and not rest satisfied
with the mere outer form of the story.

Persons we can always find who are strongly prepossessed against seeing
any meaning in the Fairy Tale, or in the Mythus. Modern usage of these
literary forms, doubtless, justifies such an opinion. Still we must
remember that Homer was not playing, but thinking with his Fairy Tale;
he had no technical terms, and almost no abstract language for
expressing thought; the day of philosophic reflection had not yet
dawned upon Greece. Homer has a great and deep thought to utter, but
his utterance is and must be mythical. His problem, too, he has, and it
is spiritual; the Mythus is his statement, honest, earnest, final. No,
he was not playing at story-telling, though it must have given him
pleasure; nor was his object merely to delight somebody, though he
certainly has delighted many by his song. He was the true Poet,
upholding his own worth and that of his vocation; he was loyal to the
Muse whose word he must sing whether it find listeners or not. Homer
built his legendary structure to live in, not to play in; with all his
sportiveness, he is a deeply earnest man; if his Zeus sometimes takes
on a comic mask, it is because Providence is a humorist. Homer, when he
mythologizes, is thinking, thinking as profoundly as the philosopher,
and both are seeking to utter to men the same fundamental thought. The
reader is to think after the poet, if not in the immediate mythical
form, then in the mediate, reflective way.

The present Tale seeks to give an answer to the two main questions of
Telemachus: Where is my father now? And, Will he return home? To answer
the one question requires a knowledge of what is distant in Space; to
answer the other question requires a knowledge of what is distant in
Time. Can we not see that herein is an attempt to rise out of that
twofold prison of the spirit, Space and Time, into what is true in all
places and times? In other words, Menelaus unfolds in a mythical form,
the Universal to his young pupil, and we may now see in what manner he
gives the lesson.

He leaps at once into the middle of his theme; he was in Egypt and
detained there by the Gods, "though longing to return home." Such is
the great initial fact, he did not do his duty to the Gods. Without
their aid or without their adequate recognition, he seeks to come home.
This indicates the spiritual difficulty; he is indifferent to or a
disbeliever in the Divine. The Gods are the upholders of the
world-order, they are the law and the spirit of the reality. Clearly
Menelaus could not or did not fit himself into the providential system.
Neglect of the Gods--that detains him, must detain him. The result is,
he and his companions are wasting away on an island, without any chance
of return.

The question of the hour is, How shall I get out of the difficulty?
Only in one way: Acknowledge the Gods, put yourself into harmony with
their order, then the outer world and the inner man will be one, and
must bring about the deed, which is the return. We are now to witness
the process whereby this reconciliation between man and the Gods takes
place--surely the supreme matter in life. It is told in the form of the
Fairy Tale or Marvelous Legend, which shifts and changes; we, however,
must cling to the essence else it will escape us, Proteus himself we
must hold fast, and not be misled by his many appearances.

Menelaus begins to feel sorrow, which is a penitent condition
antecedent to all help. Moreover he wanders alone, he has gone apart
from his companions; behold, the Goddess steps out of the air and
speaks. She reproaches him with folly, and turns him to the deity who
can assist him. Who is this Goddess?

It is Eidothea, the Goddess of Appearance, yet the daughter of Proteus,
the old First One, to whom she directs Menelaus, as the only means of
salvation. Mark how she designates Proteus: "he is the true, the
immortal; without error, without death; he knows the depths of all the
sea"--the great sea of Time and Space, which envelops the poor mortal.
But he must be snared and held--surely not an easy task it is to catch
him.

The etymology of the names of these two deities indicates their meaning
and relation. The grand dualism of the world is clearly suggested:
Appearance and Substance, the Transitory and the Eternal, that which
seems and that which is. Menelaus had gone astray, he had neglected the
Gods, he had followed Appearance, Delusion, Negation; the result could
only be death. But even Appearance points to something beyond itself,
something true and eternal. So Eidothea suggests Proteus, who is her
parent; that is, she is the manifestation of his being. She is the
many, he is the one underneath and in the many; she is change, he is
the permanent in all change. He may well be designated as her father,
whose transformations she knows and declares. These transformations are
called his tricks or stratagems, the shapes he puts on in the world of
Appearance; they are indeed Eidothea herself along with her voice
telling what is higher than herself.

When this one first principle is clearly revealed, then all is
revealed; the future becomes transparent, and the distant becomes near.
But you must hold fast to the one true Proteus; he will turn to
fire--hold fast; he will become running water--hold fast; he will
change to tree, beast, reptile--hold fast. Then he will show himself in
his right shape, and will speak the fact. Hold fast; the One is under
all, and is a God, who will lift the veil of Space and Time from the
visage of Truth. But unquestionably the man in his desperate struggle
must never forget the injunction. Hold fast to old Proteus.

We must note, too, that the poet has shown Menelaus as prepared to
receive this divine revelation; the Greek wanderer has been brought to
contrition by manifold sufferings. "I surely must have sinned against
the Immortals," is his penitent outcry. Thus he is ready for the new
truth, and the voice of the Goddess speaks, when he is internally in
condition to hear it. The divine word is not forced upon him; he must
do his share even toward creating the same within himself. Now, along
the shore of the sea, "he prays the Gods fervently," ere he goes to his
task. Egyptian Proteus he seeks to catch and to hold, for it is Proteus
who is to point out to him the way of reconciliation with Zeus and the
Olympian Gods.

Stress is strongly laid by the poet upon the fact that Proteus is of
Egypt. Evidently, in the mind of Homer, the thought of this Fourth Book
connects with the land of the Nile. What hint lies in that? The highest
wisdom of Egypt, indeed, of the Orient, is just this grand distinction
between Appearance and Substance, the Transitory and the Eternal, the
Many and the One. What Egypt gave to Hellas is here suggested, nay,
said directly. In fact, the first great step in wisdom, is still to
make the above distinction, which in many ways has been handed down to
us from the East.

But the Greeks united the two sides--that which appears and that which
is, or the world of sense, and the world of spirit--and thereby
produced art, the plastic forms of Gods and Men. Hellas brought forth
to the sunlight Beauty, which Egypt never could. Even here Egyptian
Proteus leads Menelaus to the Greek Gods, and becomes himself a kind of
antecedent Hellenic deity. Egypt means to Greek Menelaus two things:
first, it is a land of error, of alienation, of darkness; secondly, it
has its light, its wisdom, which, when he finds, points him homeward to
Hellas, to his own Gods.

Deeply suggestive become all these mythical hints, when we once are in
touch with their spirit. We naturally pass to the Hebrew parallel,
since that other great world-historical people of antiquity, the
Israelites, had their experience also with Egypt. For them, too, it was
a land of darkness, slavery, divine estrangement. They also sought a
Return, not dissimilar to the Greek Return, to their true home. It was
a long, terrible time, a wandering not on the water, like the
sea-faring Hellene, but in the wilderness and desert, like the
sand-faring Semite. All the companions (but two) were lost, and the
leader also; moreover that leader was learned in all the wisdom of the
Egyptians, but had to get out of it and away from it, and lead his
people into their own possessions. Much light Egypt with all its
darkness furnished to Moses and Judea; much to Menelaus and to Hellas.
So the two chief streams of human culture, the Greek and the Hebrew,
are traced back to the Egyptian source in the earliest books, or Bibles
of the two peoples themselves.

Moreover we find the form of the two grand experiences quite the same;
there is a going into Egypt, the land of dazzling riches and power and
civilization; there is the misfortune and trial in that land after a
time of prosperity, finally, there is the Return home, with many
wanderings and sufferings. Both peoples bring with them what may be
called the Egyptian idea, yet each transforms it into its own spirit
after its own fashion.

Still further we may follow this thought and behold it as universal.
The form of separation and return is fundamental in human spirit; this
is its inherent movement, and the shape which it imparts to the great
works of literature. The very destiny of man is cast into this mould;
there is, first, his estrangement, the fall from his high estate; then
is his return to harmony with the divine order. The Hebrew Bible begins
with the Fall of Man; that is the first chapter; the rest of the book
is his rise, and marks out the path of his Return which, of course,
shows many sinuosities. Such is the deepest fact of the human soul, and
to image it, there springs into existence the corresponding literary
form. Not that it was taken consciously by the poet or maker after much
ratiocination; he has to take it, if he sees the universe as it is.
This form is the form of the everlasting reality, of which he has the
immediate vision, it is also the form of very selfhood, of the Ego.

Though different in many things, the Odyssey and the Bible are both, at
bottom, Returns. They restore the man after alienation. Indeed we may
behold the same form as fundamental in all Great Literary Books--in
Homer, in Dante, in Shakespeare, in Goethe.

Many things connected with this catching and holding of Proteus are
suggestive, but they are the flash of the poet into the depths, and
must be seen with the poetic glance, for they bear with much loss the
heavy translation into thought. How this Eidothea, the Goddess of
Appearance, turns against her own father, and helps to make him reveal
himself in his true shape; how Menelaus and his three comrades put on
the skins of the sea-calves, and deceive the deceiver, applying the
latter's art of transformation to himself, and destroying appearance
with appearance; how the poor mortals almost perish through the odor of
the skins of the sea-calves, thus showing their human weakness and
limitation, till ambrosia, the food of the Immortals, is brought by the
Goddess, which at once relieves them of their mortal ailment--these and
other incidents have their subtle, far-reaching hint of the
supersensible world. The whole story is illumined with one thought, how
to master the material show of things and reach their spiritual
inwardness.

But the chief duty of these people, now disguised to destroy disguise,
is to hold the Old Man fast when they have once caught him, that
shifty, ever-changing Old Man of the Sea. Let him turn to water, to a
snake, to a lion, to a tree--hold him fast; he is the One under them
all and will at last reveal himself. Very necessary, indeed, is it to
hold fast, and never let go in the grand play of Appearances; the
strength of the man is shown by his ability to hold fast, amid the
fleeting shadows of Time.

Menelaus holds the Old Man fast, and asks: What God detains me from my
return? The answer comes home strong: Thou hast neglected the sacrifice
due to Zeus and the other deities; thou hast not recognized the Gods.
Verily the heart of the difficulty; Menelaus has not placed himself in
harmony with the divine order, in which he must act. What then? Go back
to the beginning, back to Egypt, and start aright; commence thy return
again with the new light, recognize Zeus and the Gods by sacrifice
there, and thou shalt see home. Thus the Egyptian estrangement is
removed, the Greek hero of wisdom must reach beyond the experience of
Egypt and be restored to the Greek Gods.

At once Menelaus was ready to obey, though "his heart was broken" at
the thought of recrossing the sea to Egypt, for the "way was long and
difficult." Still he will do it; and next he is given a look into the
Distant and Future, a glance into the soul of things separated from him
by Space and Time. He will know concerning the Returners, in deep
accord with the spirit of the poem. He hears of the awful death of
Ajax, son of Oileus, he hears of the sad fate of his brother Agamemnon;
also the Old Man of the Sea tells him a few words concerning Ulysses,
who is still alive but cannot get away from the isle of Calypso. News
just good enough to give hope to the son who is eagerly listening, and
hears that his father still lives.

Finally, Menelaus learns of his own future existence from the Old Man,
who is in person the very embodiment of what lies beyond the senses, of
immortality. "The Gods have decreed thou shalt not die, O Menelaus, but
shalt dwell in the Elysian Plain, at the ends of the earth." He is the
husband of Helen, and coupled forever with her destiny; he is, through
her, of the divine family of Zeus. Such is the promise, has it not been
fulfilled?

The poet thus brings to an end his Fairy Tale, with its deep-reaching
glances into Egypt as one of the antecedent sources of Hellenic
civilization. We find therein hinted a double relation: first, Egypt
was the giver of much wisdom to Greece especially the distinction into
Appearance and the one First Principle; secondly, it was hostile to
Greek spirit, which had to pass through the Egyptian stage to reach its
own destiny. Homer spins, in this Book, a thread which connects the
culture of Hellas with that of Egypt, So much we dare find in the
present legend without much straining. The distant background of this
entire visit of Telemachus to Sparta is Egyptian and Oriental, as we
see from the talk of both Helen and Menelaus.

We may now be certain that Homer, the poet, had before him a thought of
this kind: the inner soul of things and the outward manifestation. The
story of Proteus we may call not merely a Fairy Tale, but the Fairy
Tale, which images its universal self in setting forth its special
theme; it has the one meaning, which, however, takes on many varieties
of external shape; it is the essence of all Fairy Tales. Still you have
to catch the Proteus and make him tell his secret; I can only advise
you to hold fast, and finally the true form of the Old Man will reveal
itself, and speak the truth of many appearances, nay, of all. In
reading this poem of Homer we are only following the poet, if we seek
to lay hold of its essence under its varied manifestations. The whole
Odyssey is a Proteus, ever changing, assuming new forms, which will
utterly bewilder the reader until he reaches its first principle. Homer
probably suggests that his own Fairy Tale, nay, his own poem, is a
Proteus, which must be grasped and held by the one central thought. In
fact, does not the modern reader, like ancient Menelaus, in his
wanderings need an Eidothea, an interpreter, to point out the Old Man
of the Sea, the First One, and to tell how to catch him? In the very
names of Proteus and Eidothea we feel the intention, the conscious
etymology which borders on personification. Yet around this simple
substrate of thought are woven so many wonders, so many suggestions,
far-hinting and deep-glancing, that it becomes truly the Tale of Tales
(_Märchen aller Märchen_).

The Fairy Tale will appear again in the Odyssey, and take possession of
the whole poem for a time when we come to the wanderings of Ulysses.
Now it is but a slight bubbling-up of what will be a great stream. At
present it turns to the East and unfolds the Greek relation thereto;
hereafter it will turn to the West, and unfold the Greek relation
thereto. Both have their wise men, and the Return is from each
direction to Greece. The distinction between them we may suggest in
advance: the one has more of the speculative, of the spirit; the other
has more of the active, of the will, though neither side excludes the
other. Both men return to Hellas as the common destination; hence, we
find in this Book everywhere expressed the intimate brotherhood between
Menelaus and Ulysses.

It is of great interest to see the poet build his Fairy Tale, which is
but one form of his mythical procedure. Instinctively he builds it, as
the bee does the honey-cell. He places the God or Goddess at the center
of every movement or event; by divine will it is all brought about. The
sea which stands in the way of the return of Ulysses is a deity,
Poseidon; Eidothea is a person, the voice of the world of Appearance,
and she leads to Proteus, the Primal One. To Homer personality is at
the heart of this universe. Such is truly the mythical mind; all
phenomena are the product of an intelligent will, not of blind law. Not
a long chain of cause and effect hovers before Homer's soul, thus his
work would be prose; but he sees self-cause at once, and so cannot help
being poetical, as well as religious. The culture of to-day tends too
much to divest us of the mythical spirit--which is not altogether a
gain. Homer, if rightly studied, will help restore that lost gift of
the early ages.

But now we must turn our look to the youth for whom the tale has been
told--the learner Telemachus. He hears of the Orient and its principle;
the antecedents of his people, their origins, separations, their
advance upon the older nations are significantly hinted. All this is an
education. For its function is to bring together the scattered wisdom
of the Past and to give it to the youth who is coming upon the stage of
life; thus he is made the spiritual heir of all that his race has
achieved in word and deed. Telemachus has learned about the history of
Troy, the great event of the early Greek world; he has heard the
Returns of the Heroes, and he has seen Helen. But, chiefly, he has been
taught the grand distinction between Appearance and Substance; he has
come to know, if he has learned his lesson, the One in the Many; he has
been shown how to reach beyond the sensuous appearances of things and
enter the realm of spirit. Such is still the best education to-day,
though the manner of it be so different. There were no books in those
days, no schools but the lips of the aged; every Greek youth, to a
degree, was a Telemachus, and had a similar discipline. Tradition,
song, folk-lore are also means of education; we cannot do without the
mythus even now, and we are in many ways seeking to restore it to its
place in the training of the child, and of the grown man too.
Telemachus has graduated, he can now go home; so he asks to be
permitted to depart for Ithaca, where the hardest practical problem of
life is awaiting him. But mark, he carries with him the grandest of all
hospitable presents: the knowledge of the true and eternal in contrast
to the unreal and transitory.

In these four Books of the Odyssey the education of the Homeric youth
has been given. Next we are to have the experiences of the man--those
of the typical man Ulysses, as he works out his own problem. Menelaus
could not tell that tale; the man himself must be seen doing,
overcoming his obstacles by the deed. He will present a phase of life
not known to the East, not known to Egyptian Proteus. Thus the Odyssey
will be an entire book, a veritable Bible for young and old, with its
complete cycle of human discipline.

The story of Proteus itself is Protean, and must be grasped in its
essence through all its appearances. The whole Odyssey is veritably a
Protean poem as already said, whose study is to seize the one truth
which is underneath all these shifting shapes and manifold events. What
are we doing now but trying to grasp Proteus in this exposition? There
is no mythus in Homer which has wound itself so deeply and so variously
into the literature of the world. It would be an interesting history to
trace its employment by later poets, and see how it has mirrored itself
in the consciousness of the ages. The last world-poet, Goethe, takes
the figure of Proteus from his eldest brother, the first world-poet,
and transplants it into the Second Part of Faust, where it has its
place in the development of the modern man. The Mythus of Evolution the
tale of Proteus becomes in Goethe's hands, and hints of Darwinism long
before Darwin.

Still the most significant historical fact of this Fourth Book is the
connection which it makes between Egypt and Greece. In another Greek
legend, that of OEdipus, the same connection is made through the
Sphinx, whose riddle the Greek hero solves, whereat the Egyptian
monster destroys itself.

The Sphinx, the grand symbol of Egypt and chief product of its Art, may
be taken as the Egyptian starting-point for both Greece and Judea. The
Sphinx is half human, half animal; the two are put together in stone
and thus stand a fixed, unreconciled contradiction. Such was just the
Sphinx-riddle of humanity to the old Egyptian: man is a beast and a
spirit, linked together without any true mediation. Both the Hebrew and
the Greek sought to solve this grand riddle, each in his own way. The
Hebrew attempted to extirpate the sensuous element; he would have no
graven image, no idolatry, he would worship only the pure spirit, and
obey only the divine law. The Greek reconciled the two sides, by making
the sensuous element the bearer and the revealer of the spiritual. The
animal must be subordinated to the spirit, then it can live, nay can
have a new and higher existence. Thus Art arose in Greece, and not in
Judea.

The interpretations which the story of Proteus has received are simply
infinite. Probably it appeals to every reader in a somewhat different
fashion; he pours into this marvelous form certain phases of his own
experience and is satisfied. Indeed Proteus is not only a Form, but a
Form of Forms for the human mind, hinting both the oneness and the
multiplicity of the Ego itself. We may go back to the Vedas and find
traces of it there in some sun-myth; we may go to the sea and find it a
miraculous legend in which the Greek sailor set forth his perils and
his escapes. It certainly connects Hellas with Egypt, and suggests the
movement of ancient civilization. Menelaus in his voyage transcends the
Greek world of the Trojan epoch, and brings back the story thereof to
his country. The tale of Proteus is said to have been carried back to
Egypt, where Herodotus, several hundred years after Homer, found it in
a new transformation, Proteus being a king of Egypt, who took Helen
from Paris and kept her till Menelaus arrived and received her from the
Egyptian ruler. Thus the Fairy Tale raised the Old Man of the Sea to
the royal dignity, changing sovereignty from water to land. (_Herodotus_,
II. 112-20.) Plato makes him typical of a sophist, Schlegel of a poet,
Lucian of a dancer.

We shall now take a glance backwards and give a short summary of the
story, that its inner development in the hands of the poet may be more
fully seen.

1. The desolation of Menelaus and his companions on the island of
Pharos; no Return possible, death from hunger imminent. Moreover,
disregard of the Gods, internal estrangement, a condition of separation
from the Divine, truly an Egyptian condition.

2. Eidothea appears to him, just the Goddess of Appearance, and points
him to a power beyond herself. Hitherto he was lost in the world of
Appearance; but when he thinks of it, he separates himself from it, and
sees its nullity. So the Finite points to the Infinite, the Fleeting to
the Permanent, the Sensible to the Supersensible, Eidothea to Proteus,
who is the First One, or the First Principle underlying all Appearance,
hence her father.

3. She tells also how to catch him. When he emerges from the water,
source of all Forms, indeed just the Formable (see Goethe's Faust, Part
II. in the _Classical Walpurgisnight_), he will count by fives all his
sea-calves, or sea-forms, offspring of the sea (Halosydna). This
counting by fives, is significant, hinting the earliest abstraction
from the sensuous through number, specially by means of the five-system,
though Homer knew well the decimal system (see _Od._ XVI, 245. _Iliad_
II. 126). Menelaus with his companions is to take on this sea-form, and
be counted with the rest, though in disguise; then when Proteus lies
down to sleep with his herds or Forms, he is to be seized; that is,
seized in repose, as he is himself, not in relation to his shapes. They
must continue to hold fast to this primal Form of Proteus, or the
archetype, through all his changes, till he resumes his first shape,
"the one in which thou sawest him in repose." Then they possess the
Essence as distinct from the Phenomenon; they know that their disguise
has torn off all disguise, and attained the real.

4. Proteus will now tell Menelaus the truth devoid of all delusive
shows; ere the latter can leave Egypt and return to Greece he must put
himself into harmony with the Greek Gods, Zeus and the rest. So he has
to go back to Egypt's river and start over again in the right way. Then
he will make the Return to Hellas.

5. Proteus also gives the fate of a number of Returners. Ajax he
specially speaks about--Ajax, son of Oileus (not the greater Ajax), the
blasphemer, who said he would return in spite of the Gods, and at once
perished. The account of the death of Ajax has its meaning for
Menelaus, who thought of getting home with paying due regard to the
Gods. Once more Agamemnon's dire lot is told with some new incidents
added. Thirdly Proteus has seen Ulysses in an ocean isle with the nymph
Calypso who detains him though eager to get away. Thus the son hears
the fact about his father. Finally Proteus prophesies the immortality
of Menelaus, for has not the latter reached beyond Appearance into the
Eternal already, just by catching and holding Proteus? So the Old Man
of the Sea cannot help giving this prophecy, which lives directly in
his own experience.

Though Telemachus is not told that his father is returning, still he
may draw such an inference from the story of Menelaus, who was also
detained on an island longing to get home. If the Gods, being duly
recognized, will give their help in the one case, they will in the
other; they too, will come to the aid of Ulysses, when he has placed
himself in harmony with them. This is what is about to happen.

As already set forth, there are three divisions of this first part of
the Fourth Book: the simple idyllic Present at Sparta, the disrupted
strifeful Past at Troy, the movement out of the latter by way of Egypt.
Taking the three divisions together, we note that they form the total
sweep of one great Return, that of Menelaus, from unity through
separation back to harmony. Thus Menelaus and also Helen are shown to
have solved their problem.

But there remains the harder and deeper problem of Ithaca, which is
that of Ulysses. Here enemies have possession of the man's home, and he
brings back no help, only himself. It is therefore, a natural
transition to introduce at this point the Ithacan condition which is
seen to be more difficult than the Spartan one, for Menelaus seems to
have had no enemies in his house to dispute his Return, as Agamemnon
had and also Ulysses has. But Agamemnon perished, Ulysses will not.


II.

Accordingly the affairs of Ithaca are introduced, as they happened
after the departure of Telemachus. This thread is picked up from the
Second Book, where he had his final conference with the Suitors and
told them his mind. We must recall that Ithaca is the abode of conflict
and disorder; the Suitors and Household of Penelope are the two
antagonistic elements; upon both the secret departure of Telemachus
explodes like a bomb, and brings the characters of each side to the
surface.

Telemachus stands in relation to the Suitors as well as to his mother;
both are putting their restraints upon him which he has broken through
and asserted his freedom, his new manhood. One, however, is the
restraint of hate, the other is the restraint of love; both stand in
the way of his development. He must get his great education in defiance
of Suitors and of mother. The attitudes of these two parties are
described, and form the two divisions of this second part of the Fourth
Book.

1. The Suitors, when they hear of the deed of Telemachus, are not only
surprised but startled, and they at once recognise that a new power has
risen which threatens to punish their misdeeds. The youth has plainly
become a man, a man showing the skill and courage of his father, and
with the sense of wrong burning in his breast. Already he has declared
that he would wreak vengeance upon them, the day of reckoning seems to
have dawned. Previously they despised his warnings as the helpless
babble of a mere boy; now they have to meet him, returning, possibly,
with help from his father's friends.

What will the Suitors do? The most audacious one, Antinous, is ready
with a proposal. The boy will prove a pest, we must waylay him on his
return and murder him. Such is their final act of wrong, which is now
accepted by all, and the proposer gets ready to carry out his plan.
Hitherto it may be said the Suitors had a certain right, the right of
suit, which, however, becomes doubtful through the uncertainty about
the death of the husband, and through the unwillingness of the wife.
But now their guilt is brought out in strong colors, there can be no
question about it. They man a boat and lie in wait for their prey on a
little island which the youth has to pass in coming home.

2. The mother Penelope hears of the daring act of her boy, done without
her consent or knowledge. The news is brought to her, just as she is
recounting the goodness of Ulysses and the wrongs of the Suitors. This
new misfortune, for so it seemed to her, is quite too great a burden to
bear; she breaks out into lamentations find recites her woes: a husband
lost and now a son in the greatest danger. But she is to get both human
and divine consolation. Eurycleia, the old nurse, confesses to her part
in the affair, and advises the queen "to put on fresh garments and to
pray to Pallas, ascending to the upper chamber."

Pallas sends to the distressed mother a refreshing sleep and a
consoling dream, which we may consider to have been suggested by the
words of Eurycleia. Her sister who dwelt far away, appears to her and
says that her son, guided by Pallas, will surely return. Doubtless we
see here an expression of the deepest instinct of Penelope; the outer
suggestion of the nurse and her own unconscious faith fuse together and
form the phantom and give to the same an utterance. The youth who can
plan and carry out such an expedition will probably be able to take
care of himself. Penelope of course has some doubt, since the good
Ulysses has had to suffer so much from the Gods. About him, too, she
will know and so inquires of the phantom. Doth he live? But the shadowy
image can tell nothing, the act of Ulysses lies not in its field of
vision, it declines to speak further and vanishes.

Thus Telemachus has broken through the two restraints which held him in
bondage at his Ithacan home, both keeping down his manly endeavor. The
first comes from the Suitors and is the restraint of hate, which would
give him no opportunity in the world of action, and in addition is
destroying his possessions. The second restraint springs from love, and
yet is injurious. The solicitude of the mother keeps him back from
every enterprise; having lost her husband, as she deems, by his too
adventuresome spirit, she is afraid of losing her boy for the same
reason, and is in danger of losing him anyhow, by making him a cipher.
Such are the two obstacles in Ithaca which Telemachus is shown
surmounting and asserting therein his freedom and manhood. The whole is
a flash of his father's mettle, he is already the unconscious Ulysses;
no wonder that he inquires after his parent in Pylos and Sparta. The
poet will now carry him forward to the point where he will actually
meet and know Ulysses himself; the son is to advance to direct
communion with his great father.

Here the Fourth Book, or rather the Telemachiad, reaches out and
connects with the Ithakeiad, which begins in the Thirteenth Book.
Ulysses returns to Ithaca and steals to the hut of the swineherd
Eumæus; Telemachus comes back from Sparta, and, avoiding the ambush of
the Suitors, seeks the same faithful servant. Thus father and son are
brought together, and prepare themselves for their heroic task.

But before this task can be accomplished, the grand experience of
Ulysses is to be told in the eight following Books (V-XII); that is, we
are now to have the Ulyssiad, just as we have had the Telemachiad.
Father and son are now separated from home and country; both are to
return through a common deed of heroism.

_General Observations._ Looking back at the Telemachiad (the first four
Books) we observe that it constitutes a very distinct member of the
total organism of the Odyssey. So distinct is it that some expositors
have held that it is a separate poem, not an integral portion of the
entire action. The joint is, indeed, plain at this place, still it is a
joint of the poetic body, and not a whole poetic body by itself. Only
too easy is it for our thought to dwell in division, separation,
scission, analysis; let us now turn to the opposite and more difficult
habit of mind, that of uniting, harmonizing, making the synthesis of
what seems disjointed. In other words let us find the bonds of
connection between the last four Books and the coming eight Books, or
between the Telemachiad and the Ulyssiad.

1. We have already noticed the three grand Returns, rising one above
the other to the culmination--that of Nestor, of Menelaus, of Ulysses.
Now the first two are told in the Telemachiad; but they openly lead up
to the third, which is the complete Return, and which is just the theme
of the Ulyssiad. Nestor makes the immediate Return, without conflict,
through Greece, but he points directly to Menelaus, and foreshadows the
coming of Ulysses. Menelaus, however, prophesies the third Return, and
thus directly joins his account with the Ulyssiad. In this manner we
see and feel the intimate bond between these two grand divisions of the
total Odyssey.

2. We notice the same general movement in the Telemachiad and in the
Ulyssiad; the same fundamental scheme underlies both. There is the real
Present, in the one case Ithaca, Pylos, Sparta, in the other ease
Phæacia; then there is in the same heroic Past the Trojan war and its
deeds of valor; thirdly there is a movement in both to an ideal world,
to a Fableland, outside of Hellas and beyond even Troy; finally there
is a Return in both to Greece and to the Present. Setting the stages of
this movement down in definite numbers, we have, first in the
Telemachiad: (1) Hellas, the Present; (2) back to Troy, the Past, in
the reminiscences of Nestor, Menelaus, Helen; (3) forward to the Fairy
World in the account of Proteus; (4) return to Ithaca at the end of the
Fourth Book. Secondly in the Ulyssiad we may here note in advance the
same general movement: (1) Phæacia, the Present; (2) back to Troy in
the strains of Demodocus; (3) forward to the Fairy World of Polyphemus
and Circe; (4) return to Ithaca in the Thirteenth Book. Thus we reach
down and grasp the fundamental norm according to which the poet
wrought, and which holds in unity all the differences between these two
divisions of the poem. The spiritual basis of this movement, its
psychological ground, we shall endeavor to unfold more fully hereafter.

3. In correspondence with the preceding, we can distinguish in both
divisions the same kinds of style: (1) the symple Idyllic Tale of the
Present; (2) the Heroic Tale recounting the Past and specially the
Trojan war; (3) the Fairy Tale which introduces a supernatural realm.
Each of these styles is poetic, yet with its own coloring and
character. Here again we should observe the author employing his
fundamental norm of composition a second time, and thus re-asserting
himself as the same person in both divisions of the poem--in the
Telemachiad as well as in the Ulyssiad.

4. In each division, again, there is a supreme woman at the center of
domestic life--Penelope in the one, Arete in the other, each being wife
and mother, each supremely faithful to her institution, the Family.
This predominance and glorification of the married woman and the home
constitute a common characteristic of both divisions, and show the same
fundamental conception of her worth, as well as of her position in the
social order. It may be doubted if Modern Literature has improved upon
this Homeric representation.

5. Then the contrasts between the Telemachiad and the Ulyssiad link
them together. Disturbed Ithaca, peaceful Phæacia; the theoretic
education of the son, the practical discipline of the father;
Telemachus, the son of his father, Nausicaa, the daughter of her
mother, the Ithacan boy and the Phæacian girl--such are a few of these
contrasts. Finally father and son, strongly contrasted, yet having
their unity in this family of which they are members, suggest the unity
of the poem of which they are characters.

These bonds of connection are so strong that they overbalance all
discrepancies of single passages, interpolations, and inconsistencies
of detail. Still, if the mind of the critic refuses the general sweep,
and insists upon prying asunder the joints, and upon looking through
its microscope at the little things, it will find only separation,
discord, and many small Homers instead of a single great Homer. The
particular always divides, but the general unites; so the Homeric poems
will have two sets of reader, the dividers and the unifiers.

_The Education of Telemachus._ This is another name, which we have
frequently used, for the Telemachiad. The Homeric youth is also to get
his training for life; he is to find and to take possession of his
inheritance transmitted from the Past. The general statement of this
educational fact occurs frequently in the work: Telemachus wishes to
know about his father. That is his immediate inquiry, which will extend
to knowing something about the fathers and what they did; then his
investigation will go beyond the fathers and the Greek world, reaching
over into Egypt and the East. The function of education is to put into
possession of the coming man the wisdom of the Past, and specially the
means for acquiring this wisdom; then he can transmit the intelligence
of the race to those who are to follow him. So Telemachus has attained
the age when he must know ancestral wisdom. Such is his strong
instinct, he feels his limitation, he is penned up in a narrow life at
Ithaca, whose barriers cramp his free spirit. This intense desire for
education, for finding out something about the world in which he is
placed, is the starting point for the boy. He shows his spirit by
breaking through the restraint of the Suitors and his mother in order
to get an education. Like many a youth to-day, he has to leave home,
has to run away, in fact, that he may have his opportunity. What does
he get? Or, what is the content of this education! Let us see.

1. We find that he gets a fair amount of religious training. He has
been led through the misfortunes of his House to question the goodness
of Providence and the superintendence of the Gods. But Minerva gives
him a strong lesson, so does Nestor. He obtains a glimpse of the Divine
Order, and feels the necessity of keeping in harmony with the same. The
outcome of his visit must impress him with the providential side in
human action.

2. He sees new countries, talks with famous men, and partakes of their
wisdom. Chiefly, however, he hears of the grand Return in its manifold
phases; he learns the story of those who failed, of those who reached
home, like Nestor and Menelaus. Great is the lesson; this Return images
the movement of the soul, the breach within and the restoration. It is
remotely his own inner life outlined, and that of every man; Telemachus
has just made a separation from home and country, to which he must come
back and be reconciled. His own soul-form he must dimly feel in the
great Return of the Heroes from Troy, and their various destinies he
must recognize to be his own possibilities.

3. Telemachus the aspiring youth, is trying to recover his patrimony,
which is of two kinds, physical and spiritual. The Suitors are
destroying the one, and keeping it out of his hands; with them is one
conflict, that of justice. But he must also inherit his father's mental
riches; he has to separate from home and his mother to find this form
of wealth or even to learn of its nature. So Telemachus has his Trojan
expedition, not so great in itself, yet, adventurous enough for a boy.
He is moving on the lines of his father when the latter went to Troy--a
national affair; but his deed is a breaking loose from boyhood--the
breach out of which he is to come back a man.

4. The form of this educative process of the Odyssey is very different
from ours. It seizes hold of the mythical element in man, and the
reader of to-day is to penetrate to the meaning by something of an
effort. Telemachus is to see Helen; what does that signify in
education? He is to hear the Tale of Proteus and feel its purport in
relation to his own discipline. One asks: Is not this imaginative form
still a vital element of education? The Odyssey has been and is now a
school-book of the race.



_THE ULYSSIAD._


We have now reached the second grand division of the poem, the Odyssey
proper, which we have named under necessity the Ulyssiad, and which
gives an account of the adventures of Ulysses before he comes to Ithaca
and joins Telemachus. If the division which we have just had may be
called the education of a youth, this division may be called the
discipline of a man through experience of the world. The whole embraces
eight Books, fifth to twelfth inclusive, with a little of the
thirteenth. There is no doubt that this is the most subtly constructed
piece of writing in existence, transparent in the highest degree, and
yet profound as thought itself. We may therefore, look a little at the
structure in advance.

The first thing to be noticed is that there are two very distinct
movements in the present division. On the one hand the action moves
through three separate localities--Ogygia or Calypso's Island, Phæacia,
Fableland. This external movement of the poem has its inner
counterpart, which the reader is to penetrate. On the other hand there
is the movement of the individual, the Hero Ulysses, who begins with
Fableland, passes through Ogygia and comes to Phæacia. This movement
also has its corresponding internal significance. As the first movement
is that of the poem, or of the world, we may call it objective; as the
second movement is that of the individual man, we may call it
subjective. The two together, accordingly, spin the two strands of the
world and of man into the one thread of existence. Both we shall
consider.


I.

The objective sweep with its three localities is coupled with
geographical names which have given to the erudite guild a great deal
of trouble, with very small reward. In general these names of places
may be deemed to be mythical, yet with certain far-off gleams of actual
lands. Much more distinct and real is their spiritual significance. The
objective movement shadows forth the movement of society, the rise of
civilization, the becoming of the institutional world, which is here
unfolded through three stages in the following order:--

    1. Ogygia.
    2. Phæacia.
    3. Fableland.

1. Ogygia is the pure product of nature without cultivation or with
very little. It is the place where the natural man must conquer his
appetites, and long for, and finally seek for, a realm of order.
Calypso is the concealer, she who conceals spirit in the jungle of
nature. Here, then, occurs the primordial breach between the physical
and spiritual, out of which an institutional world can rise.

2. Phæacia now appears, in which we behold the fundamental institutions
of man, Family and State, in their primitive idyllic condition, yet
transcendently pure and beautiful. The evolution of this new order from
the savage Cyclops is hinted in the poem. Only after Calypso is put
aside, do Arete the wife and Nausicaa the maid become possible. Upon
such a foundation a social system can be developed, with commerce,
navigation, etc. Still further, Phæacia can begin to mirror itself in
art, as it does here in the songs of the bard, and also in games.

3. Fableland comes next, really a product of self-conscious art. In it
are set forth the struggles which arise between man and the civilized
order. Phæacia is the simple condition of peace; man is in complete
harmony with himself and his institutional environment. But what if he
falls out with both? That will be a new stage, represented by a new set
of beings, who are to indicate not so much the conflict with nature as
the conflict with spirit. The world of reality is transcended,
marvelous shapes sweep into view, Polyphemus, Circe, the Sirens, even
the supersensible realm of Hades--all of which, however, must await a
special exposition. Still we should note that after this ideal realm of
struggle and desperate enterprise comes the real world of strife,
Ithaca, which is to be harmonized by the man who has passed through
this Fableland, and has reached an ideal harmony in Phæacia.


II.

We soon find that Ulysses has been thrown back to Calypso's Isle from
Fableland, of which in a certain sense it is the continuation. The
circle which he has passed through is, therefore, the following:--

    1. Fableland.
    2. Ogygia.
    3. Phæacia.

This is, then, the movement of the individual, in contrast with the
previous sweep of the poem as a whole, which represents the movement of
the world. Both are bound together, both pass through the same stages,
though in a different order. The process of social development begins
with the state of Nature, with Ogygia, unfolds into a simple
institutional life, into Phæacia, which then enters into certain
negative phases, such as are seen in Fableland. But the man from Troy,
Ulysses, begins with the last, and is whelmed back into the first, and
finally rests in the second before going to Ithaca. Let us note this
personal movement in a little more detail.

1. Ulysses passes into Fableland, having wantonly done a deed of
violence against civilized life and order by destroying the city of the
Ciconians (Book IX), as he was returning from the Trojan War. Such is
the negative element in him, which has been engendered by that war, and
which now appears in various manifestations, such as his doings with
Polyphemus and Circe, till his career in Fableland winds up with
destroying the Oxen of the Sun. This is the extreme negative act which
throws him back beyond Circe's into Calypso's realm. He assaults really
his own will in this last act, he undermines his own power of recovery,
he puts out his own light. Circe would have sent him forward again,
leaving intact his will-power; Calypso detains him lulled in the
sensuous delights of her bower. He denies his own reason; how then can
he rise after a fall? Indeed what use is there of rising? So he sinks
down into Ogygia, the Dark Island.

2. It is no wonder, therefore, that he remained with Calypso seven
years and more, draining to the dregs the cup of that life. Still he
has desire to return home, must have it, he must possess reason to deny
reason. He longs for what he has not, sensuous charms cannot drown his
aspiration; such is the Hell in which he has placed himself. Still even
here when he has passed his probation, he must be released by a decree
of the Gods, who, formerly favorable to Neptune, the divine foe of
Ulysses, have now become friendly to Minerva, the Hero's protectress.
Why this change in the everlasting powers? When Ulysses is ready to
leave Ogygia, the Gods cannot keep him there, they have to change; the
divine Order must help him escape, if it be divine. This is just what
happens; Zeus, voice of the Olympian law, commands his departure, and
Calypso must obey.

3. Ulysses, then, comes to Phæacia, an institutional land with social,
domestic, and political life. From the grot of Calypso he passes to the
home of Arete; both woman and man are in an ethical relation. He sees a
world of peace and harmony, he witnesses the corrective of his own
negative Trojan experience. He, having taken Phæacia into himself, has
a remedy for distracted Ithaca; he has beheld an ideal to which he can
adjust his own land. He was not the man to bring civil order to Ithaca
just after the destruction of Troy; now he has passed through his own
destructive phases, has become conscious of them, has told them to the
Phæacians, which long account has in it the character of a confession.
All is given in a mythical form, but it is none the less an
acknowledgment of error from first to last. He is the poetical
confessor of himself, and the Phæacians are contemplating the grand
experience in the mirror of art.

We may now see the reason why the poet began the story of Ulysses with
the stay at Calypso's Isle. Thus the poem unfolds in the order of
society, starting with the state of nature, passing thence to a
civilized condition, and showing finally the conflicts of the same with
the negative forces which develop in its own bosom. Homer could have
landed Ulysses at Phæacia, and could have made the Ulyssiad start in
that sphere, placing Calypso's Book just after the account of the
slaughter of the Oxen of the Sun. But what a loss would that have been!
No social development would thus be suggested in the movement of the
poem, and the individual Ulysses would have to pass, not from
institutional Phæacia, but from savage Ogygia to the reformation of
Ithaca. In this way we realize to ourselves the true instinct, or
perchance the profound thought which underlies the structure of this
portion of the poem.

Thus we conceive the double movement of the Ulyssiad through its three
main stages, in which we feel strongly emphasized the idea of
development, of a genetic process. These lands and peoples are
generated by the wanderer's own spirit, though they all exist in their
own right and are carefully set down in Homeric geography. Ogygia is
the product of Ulysses himself, and so he goes thither to the reality.
The misfortunes in these lands are the very deeds of the offenders
returning upon them. As the Gods are both subjective and objective, so
are these poetic places and persons; they are both in Ulysses and
outside of him, they are the inner change of the individual and the
outer development of the world. Each, however, fits into the other, is
inseparably intertwined with the other; both together form the double
movement which is the fundamental structural fact of the present
division of the Odyssey.

Of course our unfolding of the subject must follow the movement of the
poem, but we shall not neglect the movement of the individual.
Accordingly Calypso's Island, Ogygia, is the realm which is to be first
considered.



_BOOK FIFTH._


In this Book the reader will observe two distinct parts, which are so
often found in Homer and constitute the deepest distinction in his
poems: these two parts are the Upper World of the Gods and the Lower
World of Man, both of which are shown in action and counteraction. The
grand dualism between the mortal and the immortal is fused into a
living narrative and makes the warp and woof of Homeric poesy. The
general purport of both parts is seen to be the same at bottom: it is
to remove the obstacles which stand in the way of the Return of Ulysses
to home and country. These obstacles arise from the Gods above and from
Nature below--the divine and the physical, though the latter also is
presided over by deities. Thus the Greek hero, with the aid of the
higher Gods, is to put down the lower ones, or convert them into aids
for his advancement towards the grand end, which is his institutional
life in Family and State. In this way only can Ulysses, from his
alienation, attain unto harmony with himself and with the Divine Order.

The first part of the Book gives the Council of the Gods and its
consequences reaching down to the mortal who is the subject of
deliberation. We shall note three stages in this movement from Olympus
to Earth: (1) Zeus to Hermes, (2) Hermes to Calypso, (3) Calypso to
Ulysses. Thus from the highest the decree is brought below and opens
the providential way.

The second part deals with the mortal, who is brought into relation
with three Gods, all representing phases of the physical element of
water: (1) Neptune, the great deity of the sea, (2) Ino Leucothea, a
lesser deity of the same, (3) the River-God, through whose channel
Ulysses comes at last to land. It is manifest that he must rise beyond
these water-divinities with their uncertain fluctuating element, and
attain to the fixed earth with its life, ere he can find repose. We
shall now develop these two parts of the Book with their subdivisions
in the order stated above.


I.

First then is the divine obstacle, which has to be removed by the Gods
in Homer, when the individual is ready to have it removed. This
obstacle is at present centered in the Goddess Calypso, the marvelous
concealer and extinguisher of the Hero in her island Ogygia. Neptune is
not here spoken of, though his element, the sea, is mentioned as
something which must also be met and transcended; the Hero through his
own will can surmount this difficulty. Verily Calypso is the grand
spiritual hindrance of Ulysses, and, to help him get rid of it, the
Olympians assemble and start the movement, the conditions being that he
is internally prepared to be helped by the Gods. Of the latter fact we
shall note a number of indications hereafter.

Of this divine activity in removing the first obstacle we may
distinguish three phases:--

1. The council of the Gods on Olympus under the presidency of Zeus, and
the decree there.

2. Hermes is sent by the supreme deity to Calypso, with the decree.

3. Calypso imparts the decree to Ulysses, who soon sets about doing his
part.

In this brief outline we see the descent of the divine influence from
Zeus the Highest, through Hermes messenger of the Gods, to Calypso, a
local subordinate deity, down to the mortal Ulysses who is to get the
benefit thereof. Thus the poet makes his world-order ready for the deed
of the man, who is now to act with all the energy of his being, and not
lie back expecting the Gods to do everything for him. Such is the
situation between the divine and human sides, of which we shall
elaborate the former a little more fully.

1. The council of the Gods in which the matter is now discussed, seems
somewhat like a repetition of the one at the beginning of the First
Book, which indeed starts the whole poem. At present we may suppose
that the poet wishes to recall that first council and its decree to the
mind of the reader, inasmuch as the latter is now to begin the second
grand division of the poem, the Odyssey proper, or Return of Ulysses.

Pallas takes up the complaint and arraigns Providence on an ethical
ground: the good king is forgotten and the good man suffers. To the
face of the Supreme Ruler she draws the conclusion: "Let not any
sceptered king henceforth be kind to his people and recognize justice,
but always let him be harsh and work unrighteousness." Then she cites
the unhappy lot of Ulysses. But Zeus throws the charge back upon
Pallas, for she already had laid the divine plan that Ulysses was to
take vengeance on wrong-doing suitors, and Telemachus she could save
"by her skill," if so she chose. Here Pallas again hints as she did in
the First Book, the two lines on which the poem moves (Telemachus and
Ulysses), and she also notes the two present obstacles (Calypso and the
sea) in the way of the Return of Ulysses.

The divine activity begins work at once: Zeus sends Hermes to Calypso
with the Olympian decree. Ulysses, however, is to reach home "without
any escort of the Gods or of mortal men;" that is, he must exercise his
own free-will tremendously, there is to be no special intervention of
the Gods without the corresponding human effort. Note this passage as
indicating the consciousness of the poet respecting divine help; it is
not to take the place of free agency, but to complement the same. The
Hero will have to sail on a raft, "suffering evils;" but he will reach
"the land of the Phæacians, near of kin to the Gods," where he will be
"honored as a God," and will be sent home with abounding wealth, "more
than he would ever have received at Troy, returning unharmed with his
share of the booty." Such is the promise of the world-governor to the
self-reliant man; this promise is not fate but foresight on the part of
the Supreme God. "Thus is the Hero destined to see again his friends,"
namely by means of a small raft or float, which he alone must control
in his own strength, without the help of God or man. Such is the reward
of heroic endeavor, proclaimed by Zeus himself.

2. The messenger Hermes begins his flight down to Calypso, holding his
magic wand, with which he puts men to sleep or wakens them, imparting
the power of vision or taking it away. He reaches the wonderful island
with its grot, the account of which has been a master-stroke in
literature, and shows that the description of nature was not alien to
the Greek poet, though he rarely indulges in it. One thinks that the
passage contains a suggestion of much modern writing of the kind.

It is to be noted that this island is mostly a wild product, it has had
very little training from its resident. A natural house and garden we
see it to be in the main; the senses, especially sight and smell, are
gratified immediately by physical objects. There is little indication
of Art, possibly a beginning in the singing and weaving; rude nature
may have been transformed somewhat in the four fountains and in the
trailing grape-vine. But this description is not made for its own sake,
as are many modern descriptions of nature; the whole is the true
environment for Calypso, and suggests her character.

Her name means the concealer, concealed herself in that lone sea-closed
island, and concealing others. Undeveloped she is, like nature, yet
beautiful; sunken still in the life of the senses, she dwells in her
little paradise without any inner scission. But it must be recollected
that Ulysses is not native to the island, he has come or rather fallen
hither, from a higher condition. He, therefore, has the scission in
himself, he longs to leave and be restored out of this realm of mere
nature.

With such a longing the Gods must coincide, for they are the Gods of
culture, of the rise out of the physical. The long Journey of Hermes
hints the distance between Olympus and Calypso's isle--a distance which
has its spiritual counterpart. The command of the Olympians is borne to
this lower Goddess; Hermes is the voice of the higher ethical divinity
to the lower one of mere nature. But even the higher God has his
physical counterpart, is not yet wholly a spirit; so Hermes eats his
ambrosia and drinks his nectar set before him by Calypso in true Greek
fashion and misses the smoke of sacrifices along his barren route.

It is curious to see how Hermes plays with polytheism, hinting ever so
slyly the contradiction in the Greek Pantheon. "Why dost thou a God ask
me a God why I come?" It is indeed an absurd question, for a God ought
to know in advance. In numerous places we can trace a subtle Homeric
humor which crops out in dealing with his many deities, indicating a
start toward their dissolution. Then with a strong assertion of the
supremacy of one God, Zeus, Hermes utters the unwilling word: Ulysses
must depart from this island.

The answer of Calypso is significant, she charges the Gods with
jealousy; "Ye grudge the Goddesses openly to mate with men," which
proposition she nails by several examples. But the Gods reserve to
themselves the privilege of license with mortal women. A complaint
still heard, not in the Olympian but in our Lower World; men are not
held to the same code of morals that women are! But Calypso yields up
her lover whom she "thought to make immortal and ageless." What else
can she do? It is true that she saved him once and has preserved him
till the present; she is, however, but a stage which must now be
transcended. Appetite may preserve man, still he is to rise above
appetite.

3. Now Ulysses is brought before us. The first fact about him is, his
intense longing to return home; he is found "sitting on the shore, and
his eyes were never dry of tears" as he looked out on the sea toward
his country; "for the nymph was no longer pleasing to him," whatever
may have been the case once. Surely the hero is in bonds which he
cannot break, though he would; a penitential strand we may well find in
his sorrow; thus he is ready for release.

Calypso, therefore, announces to him the divine plan: he must make a
raft and commit himself to the waters. She has to obey, for is she not
really conquered by Ulysses? Certainly the divine order requires her to
send the man away from her island. Yet the return is by no means made
easy, but is to be won by hardest effort; he must grapple with the
waves, with angry Neptune after leaving Calypso. No wonder that Ulysses
shuddered at the proposition; truly he has the choice between the devil
and the deep sea, and he manfully chooses the latter. First, however,
the Goddess has to take the great oath "by Earth, by Heaven above and
Styx below," the sum total of the physical universe, from whose
presence the perjurer cannot escape, though a God, that she is not
practicing any hidden guile against her much-desired guest. Always the
doubter, the skeptic Ulysses will show himself, even toward a divinity.
He must test the Gods also, as well as man. Very beautiful and humane
is the answer of the Goddess: "Such things I plan and deliberate for
thee as I would devise for myself, were I in so great straits. For I
too have a righteous mind, and the heart within my breast is not of
iron, but compassionate."

Has a change come over the Goddess through this visit from Olympus?
Hardly could she have felt this before, else she would have sent away
Ulysses of her own accord. Her adjustment to the divine decree seems
now to be internal, and not simply a yielding to an external power.
Still the separation costs her deep pangs, and she wonders how Ulysses,
a mortal, can give her up, who is immortal, with all her beauty and the
pleasures of her paradise.

The answer of Ulysses reveals the man in his present stale of mind. He
recognizes Calypso as beautiful, deathless, ever young; still he must
have something more than sensuous life and beauty; though it last
forever, it can never satisfy. Not to be compared with the Goddess in
grace and stature, is his wife Penelope, still he longs for his home;
"yea, though some God wreck me on the wine-dark deep, I shall endure."
But there is no doubt the other side is also present in Ulysses; he has
within himself a strong sensuous nature with which is the battle, and
the poem does not disguise the matter, for he is again ready to enjoy
all the pleasures of Calypso's bower, after this paroxysm of
home-sickness.

Such is the deep struggle of the man; such is also the divine obstacle,
which has to be removed by an Olympian interference before he can
return. We see that Ulysses in spite of all blandishments of the
Goddess and momentary weakness of himself, was ready for its removal;
in his heart he has overcome Calypso, and wishes to get back to his
institutional life in Family and State. Such a man must return, the
Gods must be on his side, else they are not Gods. According to the
Greek conception, Calypso is a subordinate deity who must be put down
by the Olympians; appetite is not a devil, but a lower good, which must
be adjusted to the higher. Note, then, that the external stream, or the
world-movement represented by the Gods, now unites with the internal
stream, the spirit of the individual, and brings forth the great event.
As stated often before, these two streams run through all Homeric
poetry.

Ulysses now makes his raft; the hero is also a ship-builder, being the
self-sufficient man, equal to any emergency, in whom lie all
possibilities. The boat, still quite primitive, is constructed before
our eyes; It is the weapon for conquering Neptune, and prophesies
navigation. Calypso aids him in every way, she even supplies him with
tools, the axe, the adze, the augur, which imply a more advanced state
of civilization than has hitherto appeared in the Dark Island. Whence
did she obtain them? No special answer is given; hence we are thrown
back upon a general answer. Calypso is the original wild state of
nature; but her transformation has begun, she helps Ulysses in her new
character. These tools are themselves formed from nature into means for
subduing nature; the instrument of bronze in the hands of the
wood-cutter is the master of the tree. At present Calypso is also such
an instrument; she, the wild product of nature, is herself transformed
into a means for helping Ulysses conquer the mighty physical element
before him; an implement she has become in the hand of the Gods for
restoring the heroic endurer, and hence she can emblematically hand him
these material implements, for they are one with her present spirit.
Indeed we may carry the analogy one step further, turning it inwardly:
Calypso, though once the inciter to sensuous desire, now helps the man
put it away and flee from it; ethically she is converted into an
instrument against her former self. In like manner nature is turned
against nature by the thinking artificer.

Also food and drink and raiment the Island Goddess furnishes for the
voyage; with rare skill she tells him how to direct his course by the
stars; she is mistress over the winds, it seems, for she sends the
right one to blow. Wonderful indeed is the change; all those forces of
nature, formerly so hostile, have been transformed into helpers,
Calypso herself being also transformed. Thus we catch the outlines of
the Fairy Tale or marvelous story, which tells, in a supernatural way,
of man's mastery of the physical world, once so destructive, now so
obedient.

Cloth for his sails she brought him, but we must recollect that she was
a weaver at the start of the story. At last Ulysses pushes his raft
down into the fair salt sea; Ogygia, the place of nature's luxuriance
and delight, is left behind; he must quit the natural state, however
paradisaical, and pass to the social order, to Ithaca, though the
latter be poor and rocky. Still we may well recall the fact that the
island and Calypso once saved Ulysses, when wrecked elsewhere, on
account of the slaughter done to the Oxen of the Sun; this wild spot
furnished him natural shelter, food, gratification; nay, it gave him
love.

To be sure, the other side is not to be forgotten: it had to be
transcended, when it kept him away from the higher institutional life.
Ulysses, the wonderful, limit-transcending spirit, unfolds within even
while caught in this wild jungle; he evolves out of it, as man has
evolved out of it, thus he hints the movement of his race, which has to
quit a cave-life and a mere sensuous existence. Such is the decree of
the Gods, for all time: the man must abandon Calypso, who is herself to
be transformed into an instrument of his progress.

We may now begin to see what Calypso means, in outline at least. The
difficulty of comprehending her lies in her twofold character: at one
time she is nature, then she is the helper against nature. But just
therein is her movement, her development. She is Goddess of this
Island, where she rules; but she is a lesser deity who has to be
subordinated to the Olympians, as nature must be put under spirit. The
Greek deified nature, not being able to diabolize it; still he knew
that it must be ruled and transmuted by mind. Thus Calypso is a
Goddess, inferior, confined to one locality, but having sensuous beauty
as nature has. She, without ethical content, as purely physical, stands
in the way of institutions, notably the Family; she seduces the man,
and holds him by his senses, by his passion, till he rise out of her
sway. On this side her significance is plain: she is the female
principle which stands between Ulysses and his wedded wife, she not
being wedded. Thus she is an embodiment of nature, from the external
landscape in which she is set, to internal impulse, to the element of
sex. So it comes that she is represented as a beautiful woman, but
beauty without its ethical content can no longer chain Ulysses. That
charm is broken, in spite of passing relapses.

Then comes the other side of Calypso's character, as already indicated:
she changes, she turns and helps Ulysses put down herself and get away
from her world, furnishing him quite all the means for his voyage. Not
without a certain regret and parting display of her charms does she do
this; still the change is real, and at the last stage we must imagine a
Calypso transformed or partially so.

The enchantress on her magic island is a favorite theme with the Fairy
Tale, and the situation in itself rouses curiosity and wonder. The bit
of land floating on the sea in appearance, yet withstanding wave and
tempest, is, to the sailor, the home of supernatural beings. The story
of Calypso has the tinge of nautical fancy. In like manner the story of
Robinson Crusoe is that of a sea-faring people. We see in it the
ship-wrecked man, the lone island, the struggle with nature for food
and shelter. But Defoe has no supernatural realm playing into his
narrative--no beautiful nymph, no Olympian Gods. That twofold Homeric
conception of an Upper and Lower World, of a human and divine element
in the great experience, is lost; the Englishman is practical,
realistic, utilitarian even in his pious observations, which he flings
into his text from the outside at given intervals.

Ogygia, the abode of Calypso, means the Dark Island, upon which Ulysses
is cast after the destruction of the Oxen of the Sun. Calypso, in
harmony with the name of her abode, signifies the concealer--and that
is what has happened to Ulysses, his light is hidden. She is the
daughter of Atlas, who has two mental traits assigned to him; he is
evil-minded and he knows all the depths of the sea. A demonic being
endowed with his dark knowledge of things out of sight; he has a third
trait also, "he upholds of himself the long pillars which keep Heaven
and Earth apart" (Book I. 53). Naturally under such a burden he is not
in good humor. Calypso is the daughter who, along with her grot, may be
conceived to have risen out of the obscure depths of the sea, with
something of her father's disposition. Doubtless Greek sailors could
behold in her image the dangerous rocks which lurked unseen beneath the
waters around her island. The comparative mythologist finds in her tale
the clouds obscuring or concealing the Sun (here Ulysses) till the
luminary breaks out of his concealment and shines in native glory.
Something of truth lies in these various views, but the fundamental
meaning is not physical, but ethical.


II.

We now come to the great physical obstacle standing in the way of the
Return of Ulysses, the sea, which, however, has always its divine side
to the Greek mind. A series of water-deities will rise before us out of
this mighty element, assuming various attitudes toward the solitary
voyager. Three of them, showing themselves as hostile (Neptune), as
helpful (Ino Leucothea), as saving (the River-God); all three too seem
in a kind of gradation, from the vast total sea, through one of its
phases, to the small stream pouring into the sea from the land. Thus
the Greek imagination, playing with water, deified the various
appearances thereof, specially in their relation to man. The
introduction of these three marine divinities naturally organizes this
second part of the Fifth Book into three phases or stages. Such is the
divine side now to be witnessed.

Parallel to this runs the human side, represented by the lone hero
Ulysses, who is passing through a fearful ordeal of danger with its
attendant emotions of anxiety, terror, hope, despair. A very hard test
is surely here applied to weak mortal flesh. We shall observe that he
passes through a series of mental perturbations at each divine
appearance; he runs up and down a scale of doubt, complaint,
resolution. His weakness he will show, yet also his strength;
dubitation yet faith; he will hesitate, yet finally act. Thus he saves
himself at last through his own will, yet certainly with the help of
the Gods; for both sides have to co-operate to bring about the heroic
act of his deliverance.

Pallas also comes to the aid of her favorite, but in an indirect
manner. The sea does not seem to be her element. She stops the winds
and "informs his mind with forecast," but she does not personally
appear and speak, nor is she addressed, as is the case with the
water-gods. She plays in by the way in this marine emergency; her
appearances now do not organize the action. But the three appearances
of the water-gods are the organic principle, their element being at
present the scene of the adventure. On these lines we shall note the
course of the poem in some detail.

1. Neptune returning from the Ethiopians to Hellas, sees the lone
sailor with his little craft from the heights of the mountain called
Solyma; at once the God's wrath is roused and he talks to himself,
"shaking his head." The clouds, the winds, the ocean obeyed his behest,
and fell upon the voyager in a furious tempest. A huge billow whirled
the raft around and threw Ulysses off into the deep; with difficulty be
regained his place, and escaped death.

A vivid picture of the grand obstacle to early navigation, of which
Neptune is the embodiment. Why should he not be angry at the man who
seeks to tame him? The raft means his ultimate subjection. Nature
resists the hand which subdues her at first, and then gracefully
yields. To be sure there had to be a mythical ground for Neptune's
anger at Ulysses: the latter had put out the eye of his son, the
Cyclops Polyphemus, which was another phase of the subjection of wild
nature to intelligence. For seventeen days Ulysses had easy sailing,
guided by the stars; but the sea has its destructive side which must
also be experienced by the much-enduring man.

Corresponding to this outer tempest, we observe an inner tempest in the
soul of Ulysses. "O me wretched! what is now to happen to me!" Terror
unmans him for the time being; regret weakens him: "Thrice happy, four
times happy the Greeks who fell on Troy's broad plain!" Thus he goes
back in memory to his heroic epoch and wishes for death then. Too late
it is, for while he is lamenting, a wave strikes him and tosses him out
into the deep; now he has to act, and this need of action saves him
from his internal trituration, as well as from external death.

With this renewed energy of the will, a new help appears, a divine aid
from the sea. For without his own strong effort, no God can rescue him,
however powerful. That toss out into the waves was not without its
blessing.

2. Ino Leucothea, Ino the white Goddess, beholds him with pity in his
extremity--she was once mortal herself but now is divine. Her function
seems to be to help the shipwrecked mariner; her name reminds the
reader of the white calm of the sea, elsewhere celebrated by Homer
(Book X, 94; Nitzsch's observation). Thus she appears to represent the
peaceful placid mood of the marine element, which rises in the midst of
the storm and imparts hope and courage, nay predicts safety. She gives
her veil to Ulysses, in which commentators trace a suggestion of the
fillet or sacred cloth which was given out from a temple in Samothrace,
and had the power of saving the endangered mariner, if he had tied it
round his body. As it is here employed, it strangely suggests a
life-preserver. At any rate Ino is the calming power opposed to angry
Neptune, and she works upon both the waters and the man.

"Ill-fated man," she cries, "why hast thou so angered Neptune?" Then
she changes her note: "Still he shall not destroy thee, however much he
desires." She bids him give up his raft to the anger of Neptune, throw
away his clinging wet garments of Calypso, and swim to the land of the
Phæacians. Then she hands him the veil which he is to "bind beneath his
breast," and, when he has reached land, he is to throw it back into the
sea. A ritual of some kind, symbolic acts we feel these to be, though
their exact meaning may be doubtful. Ino, "the daughter of Cadmus," is
supposed to have been a Phoenician Goddess originally, and to have
been transferred to the Greek sailor, just as his navigation came to
him, partly at least, from the Phoenicians. If he girded himself with
the consecrated veil of Leucothea, the Goddess of the calm, Neptune
himself in wrath could not sink him.

Such was the faith required of Ulysses, but now comes the internal
counterstroke: his skepticism. "Ah me! what if some God is planning
another fraud against me, bidding me quit my raft!" The doubter refuses
to obey and clings to his raft. But the waves make short work of it
now, and Ulysses by sheer necessity has to do as the Goddess bade him;
"with hands outspread he plunged into the sea," the veil being
underneath him. When he quits his raft, and is seen in the water,
Neptune dismisses him from view with a parting execration, and Pallas
begins to help him, not openly, but indirectly.

In such manner the great doubter is getting toward shore, but even here
his doubts cease not. Steep jutting cliffs may not permit him to land,
the billows may dash him to death on the sharp shoaly rocks, or carry
him out again to sea, or some huge monster of the deep may snap him up
in its jaws; thus he is dashed about internally, on the billows of
doubt. But this grinding within is stopped by the grinding he gets
without; a mighty surge overwhelms him, he clutches a rock and saves
himself, but leaves flakes of flesh from his hands behind on the rock.
"He swam along the coast and eyed it well," he even reaches the mouth
of a soft-flowing river, where was a smooth beach and a shelter from
the wind. Here is the spot so long desired, here then he passes to an
act of faith, he prays to the river which becomes at once to the Greek
imagination a God.

3. This brings us to the third water deity, and we observe a kind of
scale from the universal one, Neptune, down to a local one, that of the
river. The middle one, Ino, is the humane kindly phase of the great
deep, showing her kinship with man; Neptune was the ruder god of the
physical sea, and, to the Homeric Greek, the most powerful and natural.
No wonder that he was angry at that little raft and its builder; it
meant his ultimate subjection.

The prayer of Ulysses to the River-God is, on the whole, the finest
passage in the present Book. It shows him now a man of faith, humbled
though he be to the last degree of misery: "Hear me, ruler, whoever
thou art, I approach thee much-besought. The deathless Gods revere the
prayer of him who comes to them and asks for mercy, as I now come to
thy stream. Pity, ruler, me thy suppliant." Certainly a lofty
recognition of the true nature of deity; no wonder that the River
stayed his current, smoothed the waves and made a calm before him. Such
a view of the Gods reveals to us the inner depths of the Hero's
character; it calls to mind that speech of Phoenix in the Iliad (Book
Ninth) where he says that the Gods are placable. As soon as Ulysses
makes this utterance from his heart, he is saved, the Divine Order is
adjusted to his prayer, he having of course put himself into harmony
with the same. He has no longer any need of the protecting veil of the
sea-goddess Ino, having escaped from the angry element, and obtained
the help of the new deity belonging to the place. He restores the veil
to the Goddess according to her request, in which symbolic act we may
possibly read a consecration of the object which had saved him, as well
as a recognition of the deity: "This veil of salvation belongs not to
me, but to the Goddess." Not of his strength alone was he saved from
the waves.

Such is one side of Ulysses, that of faith, of the manifestation of the
godlike in man, especially when he is in the very pinch of destruction.
But Ulysses would not be Ulysses, unless he showed the other side too,
that of unfaith, weak complaint, and temporary irresolution. So, when
he is safe on the bank of the stream, he begins to cry out: "What now
am I to suffer more! If I try to sleep on this river's brink for the
night, the frost and dew and wind will kill me; and if I climb this
hill to yonder thicket, I fear a savage beast will eat me while I
slumber." It is well to be careful, O Ulysses, in these wild solitudes;
now let the petulant outburst just given, be preparatory to an act of
will which will settle the problem. "He rose and went to the wood near
by; he crept under two bushes that grew from the same place, one the
wild and the other the tame olive." There in a heap of leaves--man's
first bed--he slept under the intertwined branches of the two
olives--nature's shelter against wind, rain, sun. He, with all his
cultivation is quite reduced to the condition of the primitive man.

One cannot help feeling a symbolic intention in these two olive trees,
one wild and one cultivated. They represent in a degree the two phases
of the man sleeping under them; they hint also the transition which he
is making from the untamed nature of Calypso's island to the more
civilized land of Phæacia. The whole Book is indeed the movement to a
new life and a new country. We might carry out the symbolic hint much
further on these lines, and see a meaning in their interwoven branches
and the protection they are giving at present; but the poetic
suggestion flashing afar over poem backwards and forwards is the true
effect, and may be dimmed by too much explanation.

Such is this marvelous storm with its ship-wreck, probably the first in
literature, but often made use of since. The outer surges of the
tempest are indeed terrific; but the main interest is, that along with
this external description of the storm, we witness the corresponding
internal heaving and tossing of a human soul. Everywhere we notice that
Ulysses doubts at first, doubts Calypso, doubts Ino, doubts even his
final safety when on land. He is the skeptical man, he never fails to
call up the possibilities on the other side. Though a God give the
promise, he knows that there are other Gods who do not promise, or may
give a different promise to somebody else. It is the experience of
life, this touch of doubt at first; it always accompanies the thinking
man, who, like Ulysses, must be aware of a negative counterpart even to
truth. Not pleasant, but painful is this doubt shooting through the
soul, and keeping it in distress and often in lamentation. So even the
Hero breaks out into unmanly complaint, and reveals to the full his
finite nature.

Yet if Ulysses doubts, he always overcomes his doubt in the end; he
sees the positive element in the world to be deeper than the negative
one, after a little access of weakness. Under his doubt is the deeper
layer of faith, so he never gives up, but valiantly holds on and
conquers. The Gods come to his aid when he believes and acts. His
intellect is doubt, his will is faith: wherein we may trace important
lines which unite him with Faust, the chief character in our last
world-poem. Ulysses will complain, and having freed his mind, will go
to work and conquer the obstacle. He struggles with the billow,
clinging to the mast, though he had just said: "Now I shall die a
miserable death."

Parallel to this human side runs the divine side, which we need not
further describe here, with its three water-deities. A little attention
we may give to the part of Pallas. At one time she seems to control the
outer world for her favorite, sending the wind or stopping it; then she
is said to inform his mind with forecast, that he may do the thing in
spite of wind or other obstacle; finally he often does the deed without
any divine suggestion, acting through himself. In these stages we can
see a transition of the Mythus. The first stage is truly mythical, in
which the deity is the mover, the second is less so, the Goddess having
become almost wholly internal; in the third stage the mythical is lost.
All these stages are in Homer and in this Book, though the first is
still paramount.

Taking into view the general character of the mythical movement of this
Fifth Book, we observe that there is a rise in it from a lower to a
higher form; Calypso and Neptune are intimately blended with their
physical environments, the island and the sea. Though elevated into
persons, they are still sunk in Nature; it is the function of the Hero,
especially the wise man, to subordinate both or to transcend both:
which is just what Ulysses has done. His Mythus is, therefore, a higher
one, telling the story of the subjection of nature and of her Gods.
This story marks one phase of his career.

The reader will probably be impressed with the fact that in the present
Book the stress is upon the discipline of the will. The inner reactions
of complaint, doubt, or despair turn against the deed, to which Ulysses
has to nerve himself by a supreme act of volition. The world of Calypso
is that of self-indulgence, inactivity, will-lessness, to which Ulysses
has sunk after his sin against the source of light, after his negation
of all intelligence. It is not simply sensuous gratification with the
mind still whole and capable of resolution, as was the case with
Ulysses in the realm of Circe, in which he shows his will-power, though
coupled with indulgence. Such is the difference between Calypso and
Circe, which is always a problem with the reader. In this way, too, we
see how the Fifth Book before us is a direct continuation and unfolding
out of the Twelfth Book. Indeed the very movement of the poem is
significant, which is a going backwards; so Ulysses drops far to the
rear out of that light-loving Island of the Sun, against which is his
violation, when he comes to Ogygia.

But Ulysses has now, after long discipline, transcended this sphere,
and has reached a new land, of which the account is to follow next.



_BOOK SIXTH._


We are now to make one of the chief transitions of the poem, we are
going to pass from the Dark Island and the stormy sea to Phæacia, a
bright, sunlit land, where reign peace and harmony. Moreover, we move
out of the realm of nature to that of institutions. Still more
significant are the central figures of the two localities, both women;
one of these we have seen, Calypso, who is now to give way to Nausicaa.

This Book may, therefore, be called Nausicaa's Book, as she is the
leading character in it, imparting to it a marvelous mood of idyllic
beauty and womanly purity. She is the person chosen by the poet to
introduce the Hero into the new realm, Phæacia, being in sharp contrast
to Calypso, who detained Ulysses in dark Ogygia away from his family,
and whose character was adverse to the domestic relation. But Nausicaa
shows from the start the primal instinct of the true woman for the
home. She is still young, but she has arrived at that age in which she
longs with every throb of her heart to surrender her own separate
existence, and to unite it with another. She manifests in all its
attractiveness the primordial love of the woman for the Family, basis
of all institutional life, as well as fountain of the deepest joys of
our terrestrial sojourn.

On this account she represents the place of Phæacia in the Greek world
as well as in the present poem; perhaps we ought to add, in the whole
movement of civilization. That land may be called the idyllic one, a
land of peace and of freedom from all struggle; the borderland between
the natural and the civilized spheres. Man has risen out of the
grossness of mere sensuous individualism, such as we see in Polyphemus
and in other shapes of Fairyland; but he has not yet reached the
conflicts of higher forms of society resulting from a pursuit of
wealth, from ambition, from war. Here is a quiet half-way house on the
road from nature to civilization; a sweet reposeful realm, almost
without any development of the negative forces of society; a temporary
stopping-place for Ulysses in his all-embracing career, also for
individuals and nations in their rush forward to reach the great end.
The deep collisions of social life belong not to Phæacia, nor to
Nausicaa, its ideal image.

It is the virgin land, the virgin world, which now has a young virgin
as its central character and representative, to mediate Ulysses with
itself, the universal man who must also have the new experience. Still
she is not all of Phæacia, but its prelude, its introductory form;
moreover, she is just the person to conduct Ulysses out of his present
forlorn condition of mind and body into a young fresh hope, into a new
world. The Calypso life is to be obliterated by the vision of the true
woman and her instinctive devotion to the Family. We are aware that
Ulysses has not been contented with the Dark Island and its nymph, he
has had the longing to get away and has at last gotten away; but to
what has he come? Lost the one and not attained the other, till he
beholds Nausicaa, who grasps him by the hand, as it were, and delivers
him wholly from Calypso, leading him forth to her home, where he is to
witness the central phase of domestic life, the mother.

The organism of the Book easily falls into two parts, one of which
portrays Nausicaa at home, the other gives the meeting between her and
Ulysses. Yet over this human movement hovers always the divine, Pallas
is the active supernal power which brings these events to pass,
introducing both the parts mentioned. She is the providence which the
poet never permits to drop out. Most deeply does the old singer's
sincerity herein move the reader, who must rise to the same elevation;
Homer's loyalty is to faith, faith in the Divine Order of the World,
for this is not suffered to go its way without a master spirit; the
individual, especially in his pivotal action, is never left alone, but
he fits in somewhere; the Whole takes him up and directs him, and
adjusts him into the providential plan; not simply from without but
through himself. Such is this poet's loyalty to his Idea; he has faith,
deep, genuine faith, yet unostentatious, quite unconventional at times;
a most refreshing, yes, edifying appearance to-day, even for religious
people, though he be "an old heathen."

Such continual recurrence of the God's interference with the course of
events--what does it mean? This is unquestionably the fundamental
problem with the earnest student of Homer. Let us observe, then, first,
that the poet's principle is not to allow a divine intervention to
degenerate into a merely external mechanical act; himself full of the
spirit of the God, he puts the divine influence inside the individual
as well as outside, and thus preserves the latter's freedom in the
providential order. The faithful reader will never let these movements
of the deity drop into mere machinery; when he does, he has lost the
essence of Homer. Doubtless it requires an alert activity of mind to
hold the Gods always before the vision in their truth; they must be
re-thought, or indeed re-created every time they appear. The
somnolescent reader is only too ready to spare himself the poetic
exaltation in which the old bard must be read, if we would really see
the divinities, and grasp the spirit of their dealings with man. Speak
not, then, of epical machinery in Homer, the word is misleading to the
last degree, is indeed libellous, belieing the poet in the very soul of
his art.

In the present Book there is not by any means as much divine
intervention as in the preceding one; we pass from the lower realm of
the water-gods to that of Pallas, the goddess of intelligence, who is
the sole active divinity in this Book. She appears to Nausicaa at the
beginning in the form of a dream, and bids the maiden look after some
washing. Our first question is, why call in a goddess for such a
purpose? The procedure seems trivial and unnecessary, and so it would
be under ordinary circumstances. But through this humble and
common-place duty Nausicaa is made a link in the grand chain of the
Return of Ulysses, which is the divine plan underlying the whole poem,
and is specially the work of Pallas. To be sure this had no place in
Nausicaa's intention, but it does have a place in the providential
scheme, which has, therefore, to be voiced by the Goddess. Yet that
scheme does not conflict with the free-will of the maiden, which finds
its fullest scope just in this household duty, and brings out her
character. She reveals to Ulysses her nature, this is the occasion; she
had to be free to represent what she truly was to the much-experienced
man. An ordinary wash-day has little divinity in it, but this one is
filled with the divine plan. Thus small events, otherwise immediately
forgotten, may by a mighty co-incidence he elevated into the sphere of
the World's History, and become ever memorable. That French soldier who
threw a camp-kettle over the head of Mirabeau's ancestor and thus saved
him from being trampled to death by a passing troop of cavalry, made
himself a factor in the French Revolution, and was inspired by whom,
demon or angel?

As already hinted, the structure of the Book is determined by the two
interventions of Pallas, which divide it into two portions; these are
shown in the following outline:--

I.  (1.) Pallas appears to Nausicaa in a dream, and gives the
         suggestion.

    (2.) Nausicaa, when she awakes, obeys the suggestion and
         proceeds to the place of the washing.

II. (1.) Ulysses also asleep, lies in his cover not far from the
         same spot, when Pallas starts the plan for his waking.

    (2.) Meeting of Ulysses and Nausicaa, and the going to the city.

In both parts we observe the same general method; the divine influence,
beginning above, moves below and weaves the mortal into its scheme
through his own action.


I.

First is a short introduction giving a bit of the history of the
Phæacians, in which we catch a glimpse of their development. They once
dwelt near the Cyclops, the wild men of nature, from whom they moved
away on account of injuries received; they could live no longer in such
a neighborhood. Here we note an important separation, probably a change
of life which leaves the ruder stage behind. The colony is led forth to
a new land by its hero, who lays the foundation of a social order by
building houses, temples to the Gods, and a wall round the city, and
who divides the territory. Thus a civil polity begins by getting away
from "the insolent Cyclops" or savages. On the other hand, civilized
enemies who might bring war, seem not to dwell near the Phæacians,
beloved of the Gods. Beyond all conflict, inner and outer, lies the
fortunate realm; it touches the happy mean between barbarism and
civilization, though perchance on the road from former to latter; at
present, however, it is without the evils which go before it and come
after it. As already stated, it is an idyllic world, life appears to be
one continued festival, with song and dance of youth. It is not real
Greece, not Ithaca, which just now is a land of discord and conflict.
What the poet says of Olympus in a famous passage a little further on
in this book, seems applicable, in spirit at least, to Phæacia:

    The storm-wind shakes it not, nor is it wet
    By showers, and there the snow doth never fall;
    The calm clear ether is without a cloud,
    And over all is spread a soft white sheen.

1. Now comes the appearance of Pallas, who "like a breath of wind"
approaches the couch of the maiden in slumber, and admonishes her about
the washing. Some such care the Goddess does impose upon the
housekeeper to this day, and if report be true, at times troubles her
dreams. It is indeed an important duty, this necessity of keeping the
household and its members clean, specially the men, too often
indifferent. Young Nausicaa, just entering upon womanhood, is ready for
the divine suggestion; plainly she has come to that age at which the
Goddess must speak to her on such matters. So much for Pallas at
present.

2. Therewith we touch another fact; the maiden has reached the time
when she must think, of marriage, which she instinctively regards as
her true destiny in life. Still it does not appear that she is
betrothed though "the noblest Phæacians are wooing thee." In simple
innocence there hovers in her mind the thought of Family, yet she shows
a shy reserve even before her father. With that sweet thought is joined
the primary household care, which naturally enough comes to her in a
dream. Cleanliness is next to godliness is our modern saying; it is
certainly the outward visible token of purity, which Nausicaa is going
to bring into her domestic surroundings. We may reasonably think that
in the present scene the external deed and the internal character
mirror each other.

It must be confessed, however, that to the modern woman wash-day, "blue
Monday," is usually a day bringing an unpleasant mood, if not positive
terror. She will often declare that she cannot enjoy this Phæacian idyl
on account of its associations; she refuses to accept in image what in
real life is so disagreeable. As a symbol of purification the thing may
pass, but no human being wishes to be purified too often. Nausicaa's
occupation is not popular with her sex, and she herself has not
altogether escaped from a tinge of disrelish.

It is curious to note how customs endure. What Homer saw, the traveler
in Greece will see to-day wherever a stream runs near a village. The
Nausicaas of the place, daughters and mothers too, will be found at the
water's side, going through this same Phæacian process, themselves in
white garments even at their labor, pounding, rubbing, rinsing the
white garments of their husbands, brothers, sons. Not without sympathy
will the by-stander look on, thinking that those efforts are to make
clean themselves and their household, life being in truth a continual
cleansing for every human soul. So Hellas has still the appearance of
an eternal wash-day. (See author's _Walk in Hellas, passim_.)

Nausicaa obtains without difficulty wagon and mules and help of
servants. After all, the affair is something of a frolic or outing;
when the task is done, there is the bath, the song, and a game of ball.
It is worthy of notice that the word (_amaxa_) here used by old Homer
for _wagon_, may still be heard throughout Greece for the same or a
similar thing. In the harbor of Piræus the hackman will ask the
traveler: "Do you want my _amaxa_?" The dance (_choros_), is still the
chief amusement of the Greek villagers, and, as in Nausicaa's time, the
young man wishes to enter the dance with new-washed garments, white as
snow, whose folds ripple around his body in harmony with his graceful
movements. Many an echo of Phæacia, in language, custom and costume,
can be found in Greece at present, indicating, like the Cyclopean
masonry, the solid and permanent substructure of Homer's poetry, still
in place after more than 2500 years of wear and tear.


II.

The washing is done now, the sport is over, and the party is getting
ready to go home; but the main object is not yet accomplished. Ulysses
and Nausicaa are here to be brought together--the much-experienced man
and the innocent maiden with her pure ethical instinct of Family. In
many ways the two stand far asunder, yet in one thing they are alike:
each is seeking the domestic relation, each will consummate the bond of
love which has two phases, the one being after marriage and the other
before marriage. Both are moving in their deepest nature toward the
unity of the Family, though on different lines; Ulysses and Nausicaa
have a common trait of character, which will be sympathetically found
by each and will bring them together.

I. At this fresh turn of affairs there is an intervention of Pallas,
not prolonged, but sufficient: "Thereupon Athena (Pallas) planned other
things, that Ulysses should wake, and see the fair-faced maiden who
would conduct him to the city of the Phæacians." The Goddess does not
appear in person, as the deities so often do in the Iliad, nor does she
take a mortal shape, or move Ulysses through a dream; she simply brings
about an incident, natural enough, to wake the sleeping hero. Why then
introduce the Goddess at all? Because the poet wishes to emphasize the
fact that this simple incident is a link in the providential chain;
otherwise it would have no mention. The ball is thrown at one of the
servants, it falls into the stream, whereat there is an outcry--and
Ulysses wakes.

Of course, the latter had at first his usual fit of doubt and
complaint, just when the Gods are helping him: "Ah me! to what land
have I come! What men are here--wild, insolent, unjust, or are they
hospitable, reverencing the Gods? I shall go forth and test the
matter"--and so by an act of will he rescues himself from inner
brooding and finds out the truth.

2. Now we are to witness the gradual outer approach between Ulysses and
Nausicaa, till it becomes internal, and ends in a strong feeling of
friendship if not in a warmer emotion. The wanderer, almost naked, with
only "a branch of thick leaves bound about his loins," comes forth from
his hiding place, a frightful object to anybody, a wild man apparently.

All the servants run, but Nausicaa stands her ground before the nude
monster; being a Princess she shows her noble blood, and, being
innocent herself, what can she he afraid of? Thus does the poet
distinguish her spiritually among her attendants, as a few lines before
in the famous comparison with Diana he distinguished her physically:
"Over all the rest are seen her head and brow, easily is she known
among them, though all are fair: such was the spotless virgin mid her
maids." Thus is hinted the outer and also the inner superiority which
has now revealed itself in the Phæacian Princess.

Henceforth a subtle interplay takes place between her and Ulysses, in
which we observe three main stages: First, the wild man in appearance
he steps forth, yet he succeeds in touching her sympathy, wherein her
charity is shown; Second, the transformed man, now a God in appearance
he becomes, at whose view the maiden begins to show deep admiration, if
not love; Third, the passing of Ulysses to the city to which he is
conducted by the maiden, who also tells him how to reach the heart of
the family, namely, the mother Arete. Thus she seeks to mediate him
with her country and her hearth.

(1) Ulysses, issuing from his lair, addresses her in a speech which
shows superb skill on account of its gradual penetration to the soul of
the fair hearer. He praises first her external beauty with many a happy
touch, yet with an excess which seems to border on adulation. This
reaches her outer ear and bespeaks his good-will and gentleness at
least. Then he strikes a deeper chord: he mentions his sufferings,
those which are past, and forebodes those which are yet to be,
perchance upon this shore. "Therefore, O Princess, have compassion,
since I have come to thee first; none besides thee do I know in this
land. Give me some old rag to throw around me, some useless wrappage
which you may have brought hither." Pathetic indeed is the appeal;
therewith comes sympathy, the man is no wild Cyclops, whom all
Phæacians still remembered with terror, but a victim of misfortune.

Now comes the culmination of his speech, which shows his keen insight
into human nature, as well as his own deepest longing: "May the Gods
grant thy heart's desire---husband, home, and wedded harmony." With
this praise of domestic life upon his lips he has touched the
profoundest chord of her heart; he has divined her secretest yet
strongest instinct, and has appealed to it in deep emotion. Yet mark!
in the same general direction lies his own dearest hope: he also will
return home, to wife and family. Thus he has found the common
meeting-place of their souls; the two strike the absolutely concordant
note and are one in feeling--he the husband, she the maiden.

In her answer she expresses her strong sympathy, her words indeed rise
into the realm of charity. It is no mark of baseness to be unfortunate;
"but these must endure," what Zeus lays upon them. Such is the
exhortation of the young maiden to the much-enduring man; she has
divined too the ground-work of his character. "But now, since thou hast
come to our land, thou shalt not want for garment or anything else
proper for the needy suppliant." Then she recalls her attendants,
reproving them for their flight, and orders them to give to Ulysses
food and drink, oil to be used after bathing, and ample raiment. Nor
should we pass by that other expression of hers: "all strangers and the
poor are Jove's own," under the special protection of the Supreme God,
who will avenge their disregard. Such is this ideal world of Phæacia,
still ideal to-day; for where is it realized? The old poet has cast the
imago of a society which we are still trying to embody. Well can she
say that the Phæacians dwell far apart from the rest of the nations,
"nor does any mortal hold intercourse with us." Thus, too, she marks
unconsciously the limit of her people.

(2) The reader, along with Nausicaa, is to see the transformation of
the beggarly wanderer, who, having taken his bath and put on his
raiment, comes forth like a God. This is said to be the work of Pallas,
"who caused him to appear taller and more powerful, with flowing locks,
like the hyacinth." He becomes plastic in form, beautiful as a statue,
into which the divine soul has been transfused by the artist. Such a
transforming power lies within him, yet is granted also by a deity; the
godlike in the man now takes on a bodily, or rather a sculpturesque
appearance, and prophesies Greek plastic art.

The echo of this change is heard in the words of the maiden: "Hear me
attendants; not without the will of the Olympians does this man come to
us; lately I thought him unseemly, now he is like the Gods who hold the
broad Heavens." Such is her lively admiration now, but what means this?
"Would that such a man might be called my husband, dwelling here in
Phæacia!" That note is indeed deeper than admiration.

(3) The third phase of this little play is the bringing of Ulysses to
the city and home of Nausicaa. He, having satisfied his hunger, and
being ready to start, receives some advice from the maiden, who seeks
to conduct him at once to the center of the home. They will pass first
through the outlying country, which shows cultivation; then they will
go up into the city, with its lofty tower and double harbor; the
seafaring character of the people is especially set forth by Nausicaa,
whose name is derived from the Greek word for a ship. Particularly we
must notice her fear of gossip, which also existed in Phæacia, ideal
though the land was. She must not be seen with Ulysses; men with evil
tongues would say: "What stranger is this following Nausicaa? Now she
will have a husband." The sharp eye of Goethe detected in this passage
the true motive; it is love, always having the tendency to deny itself,
which dictates so carefully this avoidance of public report; the thing
must not be said just because there is good reason for saying it. Her
solicitude betrays her feeling. In pure simplicity of heart she pays
the supreme compliment to Ulysses, likening him indirectly to "a God
called down from Heaven by her prayers, to live with her all her days."
Still further she intimates in the same passage, that "many noble
suitors woo her, but she treats them with disdain, they are Phæacians."
To be sure she puts these words into the mouth of a gossipy and
somewhat disgruntled countryman, but they come round to their mark like
a boomerang. Does she not thus announce to the much-enduring man that
she is free, though under a good deal of pressure? All this is done in
such an artless way, that it becomes the highest art--something which
she does not intend but cannot help. Surely such a speech from such a
source ought to repay him for suffering shipwreck and for ten years'
wandering.

We cannot, therefore, think of calling this passage spurious, with some
critics both ancient and modern. The complaint against it is that the
young Phæacian lady shows here too much reflection, in conjunction with
a tendency to sarcasm foreign to her life. But we find it eminently
unreflective and naive; the very point of the passage is that she
unconsciously reveals the deepest hidden thought and purpose of her
heart to Ulysses. With all her being she must move toward the Family,
she would not be herself unless she did; yet how completely she
preserves modesty and simple-heartedness! Nor is the sarcastic tinge
foreign to young girls. So we shall have to set aside the objections of
Aristarchus the old Greek, and Faesi the modern German, commentator.

But the final instruction of Nausicaa is the most interesting; the
suppliant is not to go to the father but to the mother. Nay, he is to
"pass by my father's throne and clasp my mother's knees," in token of
supplication; then he may see the day of return. Herein we may behold
in general, the honored place of the mother as the center of the
Family, its heart, as it were, full of the tender feelings of
compassion and mercy. In the father and king, on the other hand, is the
man of the State with its inflexible justice, often putting aside
sympathy and commiseration with misfortune. The woman's heart may
indeed be called the heart of the world, recognized here by the old
poet and his Phæacians.

This mother, however, is in herself a great character; she is next to
have a Book of her own, which will more fully set forth her position.

The character of Nausicaa, as here unfolded in the ancient poet, has
captivated many generations of readers since Homer began to be read.
The story has lived and renewed itself in manifold forms; it has that
highest power of a genuine mythus, it produces itself through all ages,
taking on a fresh vesture in Time. In old Hellas the tale of Nausicaa
was wrought over into various shapes after Homer; it was transformed
into a drama, love-story, as well as idyl. The myth-making spirit did
not let it drop, but kept unfolding it; later legend, for instance,
brought about a marriage between Telemachus and Nausicaa. Our recent
greatest poet, Goethe, also responded mightily to the story of
Nausicaa; he planned a drama on the subject, of which the outline is to
be found in his published works. He did not find time to finish his
poem, but there is evidence that he thought much about it and carried
it around with him, for a long period. One regrets that the German poet
was not able to give this new transformation of his ancient Greek
brother, with whom he has manifested on so many lines an intimate
connection and poetical kinship. In portions of the _Italian
Journey_ specially we see how deeply the Odyssey was moving him and
how he was almost on the point of reproducing the whole poem with its
marine scenery. But Nausicaa in particular fascinated him, and it would
have been the best commentary on the present Book to have seen her in a
now grand poetic epiphany in the modern drama of Goethe.



_BOOK SEVENTH._


If the last Book was Nausicaa's, this one is Arete's; there is the
transition from the daughter to the mother, from the maiden to the
wife. Still it is not quite so emphatically a woman's Book, since the
wife has to include the husband in her world. Ulysses now goes to the
center of the Family, to its heart, that he may meet with compassion.
Still she withholds her sympathy at first for a good reason; Arete is
not wholly impulse and feeling, she has thought, reflection. So, after
all, it is left to the men to take up the suppliant.

Very surprising to us moderns is the picture drawn by the old Greek
poet of this woman, and of her position: "the people look upon her as a
God when she goes through the city;" her mind is especially praised;
she has a judicial character, supposed usually to be alien to women:
"she decides controversies among men," or perchance harmonizes them. To
be sure her position is stated as exceptional: "her husband honors her,
as no other woman on earth is honored;" she is evidently his counselor
as well as wife. Thus the poet would have us regard Arete not merely as
a person of kind feelings and of sweet womanly instincts, but she has
also the highest order of intelligence; she is united with her husband
in head as well as in heart, perchance overtopping him in ability. Not
domestic simply is the picture, it rises into the political sphere,
even into the administration of justice.

Is the character of the woman, as thus set forth, possibly a thousand
years before Christ, by a heathen poet in an uncivilized age
comparatively, to be a prophecy unto us still at this late date?
Certainly the most advanced woman of to-day in the most advanced part
of the world as regards her opportunities, has hardly reached the
height of Arete. Unquestionably a glorious ideal is set up before the
Sisterhood of all time for emulation; or is it unattainable? At any
rate the woman in Homer stands far in advance of her later historical
position in Greece.

We may now turn to the husband for a moment, Alcinous the King, the man
of civil authority who represents the State, whose function is to be
the protector of the Family and of whomever the family receives into
its bosom rightfully. He is the element surrounding and guarding the
warm domestic center; still he seems to have stronger impulses, or
probably less governed, than his wife. Distinctly is the superiority
accorded to the woman in this discourse of Pallas to Ulysses; possibly
the Goddess may have overdrawn the picture a little in favor of her
sex, as really Alcinous becomes the more prominent figure later one.

So we catch a very fascinating glimpse of the Phæacian world. Two
prominent characters representing the two great institutions of man,
Family and State, we witness; thus is the spirit of the whole poem
ethical. Here is no longer the realm of Calypso, the nymph of wild
untrained nature, but the clear sunlit prospect of home and country,
the anticipation of sunny Ithaca and prudent Penelope to the hapless
sufferer. Ulysses sees his own land in the image of Phæacia, sees what
he is to make out of his own island. Verily it is a great and
epoch-making experience for him just before his return; he finds the
ideal here which he is to realize.

Accordingly we have in line three women, Calypso, Nausicaa, Arete,
through whose spheres Ulysses has passed on his way to his own female
counterpart, Penelope. We may see in them phases of man's development
out of a sensuous into an institutional life. Nor is the suggestion too
remote that we may trace in this movement certain outlines in the
progress of mankind toward civilization.

In the mythical history of Phæacia which is also here given, we can
observe the same development suggested with greater distinctness.
Already in the previous Book it was stated that the Phæacians at first
"dwelt near the insolent Cyclops," from whom they had to make the
removal to their present island on account of violence done them by
their neighbors. But now we hear that both Alcinous and Arete are
descended on one side from the daughter of King Eurymedon, "who ruled
over the arrogant race of Giants," all of whom, both king and "wicked
people," had perished. On the other side the royal pair had the sea-god
Neptune as their progenitor who was also the father of the Cyclops
Polyphemus. It is impossible to mistake the meaning of this genealogy
and the reason of its introduction at the present conjuncture. The
Phæacians likewise were sprung of the wild men of nature, and had been
at one time savages; but they had changed, had separated from their
primitive kindred and begun the march of civilization. The poet has
manifestly before his mind this question: why does one branch of the
same people develop, and another branch lag behind; why, of two
brothers, does one become civilized and the other remain savage? Of
this dualism Greece would furnish many striking illustrations, whereof
the difference between Athena and Sparta is the best known. Here the
change from the locality of the Cyclops, implying also the change in
spirit, is made by a hero-king, "the large-souled Nausithous,"
evidently a very important man to the Phæacians. Then this respect
given to the woman has often been noted as both the sign and the cause
of a higher development of a people. At any rate the Phæacians have
made the great transition from savagery to civilization, and thus
reveal the inherent possibilities of the race.

We now begin to catch a hint of the sweep of the poem in these
portions. Ulysses who has lapsed or at least has become separated from
his institutional life, must travel back to the same through the whole
rise of society; he has to see its becoming in his own experience, and
to a degree create it over again in his own soul, having lost it. Hence
the evolution of the social organism passes before his eyes, embodied
in a series of persons and places.

In this Seventh Book, therefore, Ulysses is to make the transition to
Family and State as shown in Phæacia, and as represented by Arete and
Alcinous. We shall mark three leading divisions:--

I. Ulysses enters the city in the dark, when he is met by Pallas and
receives her instructions. The divine principle again comes down and
directs.

II. The external side of this Phæacian world is shown in the city,
garden, and palace of the king; nature is transformed and made
beautiful for man. All this Ulysses now beholds.

III. The internal side of this Phæacian world, its spiritual essence,
is shown in the domestic and civil life of the rulers and nobles; of
this also Ulysses is the spectator, recognizing and appropriating.

Thus we see in the Book the movement from the divine to the human,
which we have so often before noticed in Homer. The three parts we may
well put together into a whole: the Goddess of Intelligence informs the
mind of man, which then transforms nature and builds institutions. Here
Pallas simply directs Ulysses, who, however, is now to witness the
works of mind done in Phæacia, to recognize them and to take them up
into his spirit.


I.

Ulysses follows the direction of Nausicaa and passes to the city
stealthily in a kind of concealment; "Pallas threw a divine mist over
him," the Goddess now having the matter in hand. Moreover she appeared
to him in the shape of a young girl with a pitcher, who points out the
house of Alcinous and gives him many a precious bit of history in her
prattle. Again we must see what this divine intervention means; Pallas
is in him as well as outside of him. These are suggestions of his own
ingenuity on the one hand, yet also the voice of the situation; indeed
he knew them essentially already from the instructions of Nausicaa.
Still further, they are now a part of the grand scheme, which is in the
Olympian order, and hence is voiced by the Gods.

The poet introduces his mythical forms; we hear also the fabulous
genealogy of the Phæacian rulers, the meaning of which has been above
set forth. They, too, Arete and Alcinous, have come from the Cyclops,
and have made the same journey as Ulysses, though in a different
manner. It must be remembered that he has had his struggle with the
giant Polyphemus, one of the Cyclops, whereof he will hereafter give
the account. But the chief matter of the communication of Pallas is to
define to Ulysses the position and character of Arete, evidently a
woman after her own heart. In this way the Goddess, taking the part of
a prattling maid, gives the royal pedigree, and especially dwells on
the importance of the queen. Also she throws side glances into the
peculiar disposition of the Phæacians, needful to be known to the
new-comer. They are a people by themselves, distrustful of other
peoples; they too must be transcended.

It is well at this point to observe Homer's procedure in regard to
Pallas. We can distinguish two different ways of employing the Goddess.
The poet says that Pallas gives to the Phæacian women surpassing skill
in the art of weaving. This is almost allegorical, if not quite; the
Goddess stands for a quality of mind, is subjective. Again, when she
endows Ulysses with forecast in an emergency, it is only another
statement for his mental prevision. Many such expressions we can find
in the Odyssey; Pallas is becoming a formula, indicating simply some
activity of mind in the individual. But in the important places the
Goddess is kept mythical; that is, she voices the Divine Order, she
utters the grand ethical purpose of the poem, or makes herself a vital
part thereof. Thus she is objective, truly mythical; in the other case
she is subjective and is getting to be an allegorical figure. The
Odyssey, with its greater internality compared with the Iliad, is
losing the mythus.

There is a third way of using Pallas and the Gods which is hardly found
in Homer, indeed could not be found to any extent without destroying
him. This is the external way of employing the deities, who appear
wholly on the outside and give their command to mortals, or influence
them by divine authority alone. Thus the Gods become mechanical, and
are not a spiritual element of the human soul. Virgil leaves such an
impression, and the Roman poets generally. Even the Greek tragic poets
are not free from it; especially Euripides is chargeable with this sin,
which is called in dramatic language _Deus ex machina_.

Though the Homeric poems as wholes are not allegories, yet they have
allegory playing into them. Indeed the mythus has an inherent tendency
to pitch over into allegory through culture. Then there is a reaction,
the mythical spirit must assert itself even among civilized peoples,
since allegorized Gods are felt to be hollow abstractions, having
nothing divine about them.

There can hardly be a doubt that a proper conception of the relation of
the deities to men is the most important matter for the student of
Homer. But it requires an incessant alertness of mind to see the
Homeric Gods when they appear to the mortal, and to observe that they
are not always the same, that they too are in the process of evolution.
For instance, in the present Book as well as elsewhere, Pallas must be
noted as having two characters, a mythical and allegorical, as above
unfolded. Nitzsch, whose commentary on the Odyssey, though getting a
little antiquated, is still the best probably, because it grapples with
so many real problems of the poem, says: "It is wholly in Homer's
manner to represent, in the form of a conversation with Pallas, what
the wise man turns over in his own mind and resolves all to himself"
(_Anmerkungen zu Homer's Odyssee, Band II, S. 137_). Very true, yet on
the next page Nitzsch says that it is "entirely wrong to suppose that
Pallas represents the wisdom of Ulysses _allegorically_." But what else
is allegory but this embodiment of subjective wisdom? Now Nitzsch truly
feels that Pallas is something altogether more than an allegory, but he
has failed to grasp distinctly her mythical character, the objective
side of the Goddess, and so gets confused and self-contradictory.

One of the best books ever written on Homer is Nägelsbach's _Homerische
Theologie_, which also wrestles with the most vital questions of the
poem. But Nägelsbach's stress is almost wholly on the side of the
Gods, he seems to have the smallest vision for beholding the free,
self-acting man in Homer. In his first chapter (_die Gottheit, the
Godhead_) he recognizes the Gods as the upholders and directors of the
Supreme Order (sec. 28); also they determine, or rather create
(_schaffen_) man's thought and will (sec. 42). What, then, is left for
the poor mortal? Of course, such a view is at variance with Homer in
hundreds of passages (see especially the speech of Zeus with which the
action of the Odyssey starts, and in which the highest God asserts the
free-will and hence the responsibility of the man). Nägelsbach himself
suspects at times that something is wrong with his view and hedges here
and there by means of some limiting clauses; note in particular what he
says about Ulysses (sec. 31), who is an exception, being "thrown upon
his own resources in cases of extreme need," without the customary
intervention of the Gods. But the man in his freedom, who co-operates
with the God in the providential order, is often brought before the
reader in the Iliad as well as in the Odyssey (see author's _Com. on
the Iliad_, pp. 129, 157, 216, etc.).


II.

We now come to one of the most famous passages in Homer, describing the
palace and garden of Alcinous. First of all, we must deem it the outer
setting of this Phæacian world with its spirit and institutions, the
framework of nature transformed which takes its character from within.
Civilized life assumes an external appearance corresponding to itself;
it remodels the physical world after its own pattern. The result is,
this garden is in striking contrast with the bower of Calypso, which is
almost a wild product of nature. The two localities are mirrored
surrounding each home respectively. Again we observe how Homer employs
the description of scenery: he makes it reflect the soul as its center.

In a certain sense we may connect these Phæacian works with Pallas, who
has directed Ulysses hither; they are the works of intelligence. The
arts and the industries spring up through the transformation of nature.
Here is first noted the palace of the king with certain hints of its
materials and construction; especially have the metals been wrought and
applied to human uses. Gold, silver, steel, brass or bronze are
mentioned in connection with the palace and its marvelous contents.
Thus an ideal sense of architecture we note; still more strongly
indicated is the feeling for sculpture, the supreme Greek art. Those
gold and silver watch-dogs at the entrance, "which Vulcan made by his
skill, deathless and ageless for all time;" those golden boys "upon
their well-built pedestals holding lighted torches in their hands" are
verily indications that the plastic artist has already appeared. The
naive expression of life which the old poet gives to the sculpturesque
shapes in the palace of Alcinous, is fresh as the first look upon a new
world, which is indeed now rising.

But not only the Fine Arts, the Industries also are touched upon.
Weaving is specially emphasized along with navigation, one being the
Phæacian woman's and the other being the Phæacian man's most skillful
work. Other occupations are involved in these two. Thus is marked the
beginning of an industrial society.

After the palace the garden is described with its cultivated
fruit-trees--pear, pomegranate, apples--a good orchard for to-day. Of
course the vineyard could not be left out, being so important to the
Greek; three forms of its products are mentioned--the grape, the
raisin, and wine. Finally the last part is set off for kitchen
vegetables, though some translators think that it was for flowers. Nor
must we omit the two fountains, such as often spout up and run through
the Greek village of the present time.

Undoubtedly fabulous threads are spun through this description. Quite
too lavish a use is made of the precious metals in the house of
Alcinous, as in some fairy tale or romantic ballad; so much gold is
found nowhere outside of wonderland. In the garden fruit is never
wanting, some of it just ripe, some still green, some in flower. No
change of season, yet the effect of all seasons; surely a marvelous
country it appears; still we learn that in Campania are some sorts of
grapes which produce thrice a year. A mythical garden is indeed the
delight of human fancy. Eden has its counterparts everywhere. Indeed a
significant parallel might be drawn between Greek Phæacia and the
Hebrew Paradise; in the one, man unfolds out of savagery, in the other
he is created at once by a divine act. Can we not see Orient and
Occident imaging themselves in their respective ideal products? The one
from below upwards, the other from above downwards; both movements, the
Greek and the Hebrew, belong to man, and have entered into his
civilization. The next world-poet, Dante, will unite the two streams.


III.

Ulysses now comes to the internal element of Phæacia, to its soul as it
were, manifested in the institutional life of Family and State. From
this indeed is derived the beautiful world which we have just
witnessed; Art builds up a dwelling-place, which images the spirit of
the people to themselves and to others.

In accord with his instructions from both. Pallas and Nausicaa, he
first goes to Arete and clasps her knees in supplication, begging for
an escort to his country. But behold! She hesitates, notwithstanding
his strong appeal to her domestic feeling and her sympathy with
suffering. What can be the matter? Another Phæacian, not of the royal
house apparently, but of the nobles, is the first to speak and command
the stranger to be raised up and to be hospitably received. An old
religious man who sees the neglect of Zeus in the neglect of the
suppliant, a man of long experience, "knowing things many and ancient,"
is this Echeneus; him at once the king obeys, the queen still remaining
silent.

Soon, however, we catch the reason of her conduct in the question:
"Stranger, where did you get those garments?" She noticed Ulysses
wearing the mantle and tunic "which she herself had made with her
servants," and which Nausicaa had given him. Surely this is a matter
which must be accounted for before proceeding further. Herein the woman
comes out in her own peculiar province; no man would ever have noticed
the dress so closely; Alcinous did not, and wise Ulysses in this case
did not forecast so far out of his masculine domain. But the poet had
made the subtle observation and uses it as a turning-point in his
little drama. Now we see the queen before us: imagine a pair of dark
eyes shooting indignation upon the man clothed with garments intrusted
this very morning to the daughter.

Nor should we fail to scan her second question: "Do you not say that
you have come hither a wanderer over the deep?" Verily the case is
suspicious. Ulysses sees his plight, and at once offers the most
elaborate explanation, going back and giving a history of himself for
the last seven or eight years. Now we know why the poet specially
praised the mind of Arete, and why her husband so honored her, and why
she could be judge of disputes among men. She shows the keenest
observation united with reasoning power; she stands out in contrast
with the Phæacian men, who follow impulse more readily than she, as she
keeps the judicial balance, though a woman, and demands evidence of
truth from the uncertain stranger.

We may draw from this scene certain traits of the Phæacians, as we see
here a man, a typical man probably who is outside of the royal family.
An ideal humanity seems to live in them; they will receive the
unfortunate wanderer and succor him to the fullest extent. More
impressive still is their religious faith; they live in intimate
communion with the Gods, who appear in person at the feast "sitting
among us;" nor do the deities conceal themselves from the solitary
wayfarer; "since we are as near to them as are the Cyclops and the wild
tribes of Giants." So speaks Alcinous, hinting that kinship, which has
been previously set forth; both himself and Arete are the descendants
of savages, who were children of the Gods of nature. But they have
risen into fellowship with the higher Gods of Olympus. The words of the
king seemed to be tinged with sarcasm at those inferior deities,
parents of savagery, from whom, however, they themselves are sprung. He
cannot forget the Cyclops, the men of violence who once did his people
wrong.

In these mythical allusions, obscure enough just here, we have already
traced the rise of Phæacia into an ethical existence. The worship of
the higher Gods is the emotional side of such a condition, and the
treatment of the suppliant marks an advance toward the conception of an
universal humanity. Still Phæacia, has its spiritual limits, genuine
Greek limits, of which hereafter something will be said.

It is sufficient to state that the speech of Ulysses has its effect, it
contains a great deal which appeals to the character of Arete; his
leaving Calypso and his desire to return to his home-life must be
powerful motives towards winning her sympathy. Then she cannot help
recognizing and admiring his skill; there is an intellectual bond
between them, as well as an ethical one. Not much does she say
hereafter, her part being finished; her husband takes the lead
henceforth. She has tested the wanderer, Alcinous can now preform the
ceremonies.

We soon see that the king needs a counterpart in such a wife, he being
impulsively generous; he blames his daughter for her backwardness in
not coming to town with Ulysses, whereat the latter frames one of his
smallest fibs in excuse of the maiden. Still further, the king in a
surprising burst of admiration, wishes that Ulysses, or "such an one as
thou art," might stay and be called his son-in-law. Altogether too
sudden; Arete would not have said that, though the woman be the natural
match-maker. Still Alcinous, in a counter-outpouring of his generosity,
promises to send Ulysses to his own land, though "this should be
further off than Euboea, the most distant country." Thus overflows
the noble heart of the king, but he clearly needs his other half, in
the thorny journey of life.

Thus has Ulysses reached the heart of Phæacia and found its secret
beat; he has felt its saving power, not simply externally but also
internally; it rescues him from dangers of the sea and of himself too.
The truly positive side of life begins to dawn upon him again, after
his long career of struggle with dark fabulous shapes. Well may he pray
Zeus for Alcinous: "May his fame be immortal over the fertile earth"--a
prayer which has been fulfilled, and is still in the process of
fulfillment. Arete gives the order to the servants to spread his couch
for the night's repose, she has received him.

In the sweep of the present Book, many origins are suggested. The
genealogy of the king and queen and people is significant, it might be
called the genealogy of civilization. The woman is placed at the
center; out of her springs the family, and with it come society, state,
the institutional world.

Of such a world the external environment is seen in the garden, palace,
and city of the Phæacians, which are built by the spirit for its
dwelling-place and reflect the spirit. The Greek world of Beauty is
born, and its course is foreshadowed; this ideal Homeric realm is
prophetic of what Greece is to become. The plastic arts and the
industrial arts are suggested, and to a degree are realized.

The artistic soul of Hellas is fully felt in Homer's Phæacia. The
formative impulse is everywhere alive and at work; the instinctive need
of shaping and transforming nature and life is here in its first
budding, and will bloom into the greatest art-people of all time. Those
two supreme Fine Arts of mature Greece, Architecture and Sculpture, are
present in examples which foretell plainly Phidias and the Parthenon.

    King Alcinous; thy fair palace has had fairer offspring,
      Thou art ruling the world still by the beautiful form;
    Out of thy mansion majestic was born in a song the Greek Temple,
      Sentineled round with a choir--Titans columnar of stone,
    Bearing forever their burden to hymns of a Parian measure,
      Wearing out heaviest Fate to a Pindaric high strain.
    Look! those boys of thy garden with tapers are moving to statues,
      Seeming to walk into stone while they are bringing the light;
    Hellas springs out of thy palace all sculptured with actions
          heroic,
      Even the God we discern turning to marble by faith.

Such is the originative, prophetic character of Phæacia, which the
reader must take profoundly into his soul, if he would understand the
genetic history of Greek spirit. Verily the poet is the maker of
archetypes and reveals in his shapes all that his people are to become.

    Thou, old Homer, wert the first builder in Greece, the first
          carver,
      Afterward she could but turn fancies of thine into stone;
    Architects followed thee, building thy poem aloft into temples,
      Sculptors followed thee too, thinking in marble thy line.

Nor must we forget the Industrial Arts here suggested--weaving,
ship-building, the working of metals; in general, there is hinted the
varied transformation of nature, which begets a civilized life.
Agriculture is present, also horticulture, which the garden of Alcinous
presupposes. Such, then, is the grand frame-work for the social order
as here portrayed.

But the chief art of the Homeric world has not yet been given, though
it is at work now, and is just that which has reproduced Phæacia with
all its beauty. This is the poet's own art, which having set forth the
other arts, is next to set forth itself. Accordingly we are to see the
poet showing the poet in the following Book, which may, therefore, be
named the Book of the Bard. Thus we pass out of the industrial and
plastic arts of Phæacia, into the supreme art, the poetic, as it
manifests itself in the Phæacian singer.



_BOOK EIGHTH._


We observe a decided change in the present Book; it has a character of
its own quite distinct from the preceding Books. Yet it is on a line of
development with them, we note a further spiritual evolution which must
be looked into with some attention. In general, Phæacia is now seen as
an art-world, in true correspondence with Hellas, of which it is a kind
of ideal prototype. In the two previous Books we saw portrayed chiefly
institutional life in Family and in State. But in this Book
institutional life, though present and active, is withdrawn into the
background, and becomes the setting for the picture, yet also is the
spirit which secretly calls forth the picture. A poetic art-world now
passes before us in entrancing outlines, a world filled with song,
dance, games, with all the poetry of existence.

Such an artistic development follows from what has gone before. Man,
having attained culture, civilization, and a certain freedom from the
necessity of working for his daily bread, begins to turn back and look
at his career; he observes the past and measures how far he has come.
The image of himself in his unfolding he beholds in art, specially in
the poetic art, whose essence must at last be just this institutional
life which has been described in Phæacia. He attains it and then steps
back and portrays his attaining of it; having done the heroic deed, he
must see himself doing it forever, in the strains of the bard. Art is
thus the mirror of life and of institutions; it reflects the grand
conflict of the times and the people; it seizes upon the supreme
national event, and holds it up in living portraiture along with its
heroes.

Now the great event which lies back of Phæacia at the present time, in
fact lies back of all Greece for all ages, perchance lies back of all
Europe, is the Trojan War. It was the first emphatic, triumphant
assertion of the Greek and indeed of the European world against the
Orient. The fight before Troy was not a mere local and temporary
conflict between two quarrelsome borderers, but it cuts to the very
marrow of the World's History, the grand struggle between East and
West. Family and State are most deeply concerned in it, the restoration
of the wife is the main object of the Trojan War, which the chieftains
of Greece must conclude victoriously or perish. A new world was being
born on this side of the Ægean, and the Greeks were its first shapers
and its earliest defenders. This occidental world, whose birth is the
real thing announced at Troy in that marvelous cradle-song of Europe,
called the Iliad, has already begun its career, and shows its earliest
period in Phæacia. It is no wonder, then, that the Phæacian people wish
to hear the Trojan song, and it alone, and that the Phæacian poet
wishes to sing the Trojan song, and it alone.

Thus we behold in the present Book a quiet idyllic folk on their island
home out in the West listening to the mighty struggle of their race,
with dim far-off anticipations of all that it involved. Nor were the
women indifferent. Arete, the wife and center of the Family, is not
henceforth to be exposed to the fate of Helen; think what would Phæacia
be without her, or she without Phæacia; think what she would be in
Troy, for instance. Strong emotions must rise in the breasts of all the
people at hearing such a song.

But still stronger emotions well out of the heart of Ulysses. He is one
of the heroes of the Trojan War not yet returned, a living image of its
sacrifices. Of course, he is the main hero sung of by the bard in the
present Book; such is the artistic adaptation of the Homeric work,
clearly done with a conscious design. Ulysses has already passed
through several stages--Calypso, Nausicaa, Arete; now he has reached
the poet, Demodocus certainly, and perchance Homer himself, who is to
sing not only of the Trojan War, but also of its consequences--this
rise of man's spiritual hierarchy as here unfolded, from Nature, into
Institutions, and thence into Art. After hearing Demodocus, Ulysses
picks up the thread and becomes his own poet, narrating his adventures
in Fairyland with the free full swing of the Homeric hexameter. Thus he
acquires and applies in his own way the art of Phæacia; the arch of his
life spans over from the heroic fighter before Troy to the romantic
singer before the Phæacian court.

It is plain, therefore, that this Book is distinctively the Book of the
Bard. In the experience of Ulysses, Demodocus is placed on a line with
the three leading figures in the last three Books--they being women,
while the singer must be a man. One reason is, possibly, that a
Phæacian woman could not be permitted to sing such a strain as the
story of Venus and Mars. At any rate, he is fourth in the row of
shapes, all of which are significant. We catch many touches of his
personality; he is blind, though gifted with song; "evil and good" he
has received, and is therein a typical man. It is in every way a
beautiful loving picture, painted with strong deep undertones of
sympathy; no wonder is it, therefore, that Demodocus in all ages has
been taken as a portrait of Homer by himself, showing glimpses of the
man, of his station in life, and of his vocation. Later on we shall
consider this point in more detail.

The three songs of the bard furnish the main landmarks for the organism
of the Book. All of them will be found more or less intimately
connected with the great event of the immediate Past, the story of
Troy. Phæacia shows an intense interest in that story and the bard
approves himself its worthy singer. Indeed the three songs stand in
direct relation to the Iliad; the first deals with an event antecedent
to the Iliad; the second has the theme of the Iliad, though in a
changed form, inasmuch as the seducer, the wife and the husband are
here Gods (Mars, Venus, Vulcan) instead of mortals (Paris, Helen,
Menelaus); the third deals with an event subsequent to the Iliad. Yet
the singer carefully avoids repeating anything in the Iliad. It is
almost impossible not to think that he had not that poem in mind; or,
rather, we are forced to conclude that the present author of the
Odyssey knew the Iliad, and we naturally think that both were by the
same man. Demodocus is the singer of the Trojan War, yet he shuns
singing what has already been sung about it. Herein we may catch
another faint reflection of Homer, the organizer, the transfigurer of
old legends into his two poems. Note also that he hovers around the
Iliad, before and after it, yet never into it, here and elsewhere in
the Odyssey; specially in the Third Book have we observed the same
fact.

In the present Book, however, is another strand; besides these songs of
the bard belonging to the past are the doings in Phæacia belonging to
the present, which doings have a connection and a correspondence with
the songs. Thus we observe three divisions in the Book, and two threads
which run through these divisions. The following outline may serve to
show the general structure:--

I. There is the representation of the struggle between the physical and
mental in what may be called Phæacian art; skill and strength have an
encounter shown in two ways:

    1. Past, heroic, ideal; the contest between Ulysses and Achilles at
    Troy; intelligence vs. mere courage. Sung by the bard. Pre-Iliad.

    2. Present, real, not heroic; the games in which there is a contest
    also, and in which both skill and strength are involved, with the
    preponderance of the physical.

II. Now we drop to the sensuous inactive side of the Phæacian world,
the luxurious, self-indulgent phase of their life, which is also imaged
in their art doubly:

    1. Past; an Olympian episode, a story of illicit love among the
    Gods, corresponding to the story of Helen on earth. Sung by the
    bard.

    2. Present; hints concerning the sensuous life of the Phæacians who
    love the feast, the song, the warm bath and bed, along with dance
    and music, showing their pleasure in art. Return of the men from
    the market-place to the palace and into the presence of Arete.

III. We pass to what may be called the triumph of intelligence and the
recognition thereof,--Phæacian art is again introduced, Ulysses is
revealed.

    1. Past, heroic, ideal; Troy is taken by skill, by the Wooden
    Horse, not by the physical might and courage of Achilles. Sung by
    the bard. Post-Iliad. This may be considered also a triumph over
    Venus who favored Troy.

    2. Present; Ulysses weeps, his tears are noticed by Alcinous, who
    demands his name, country, travels. Ulysses has already in a number
    of ways discovered himself as connected with the past, with the
    Trojan War. In the next Book he tells his name, country, character,
    adventures.

If we scan the sweep of this outline, we observe that it opens with the
conflict between Brain and Brawn, or between Mind and Might, and ends
in the victory of Mind in the grand Trojan conflict. Similar has been
the movement hitherto, from Calypso onwards, which, however, shows the
ethical conflict. Still the intellectual and the ethical spheres have
to subordinate the natural, and mind is the common principle of both.

As an introduction to the Book we have an account of the men assembling
in the marketplace, where "they sat on polished stones near one
another." Pallas has, of course, to be employed, though in a passing
and very subordinate way; she acts as herald to call the assembly
together, and thus stamps it with a divine import. We must grant to the
poet his right, but the Goddess seems almost unnecessary here, as the
herald could have done the same work. Once more Pallas interferes: "she
sheds a godlike grace upon the head and shoulders of Ulysses,"
imparting to him majesty and beauty, "that he might be dear to all the
Phæacians," those lovers of the beautiful in art and life. Thus, like a
visible deity, he was "to be feared and to be revered;" strength also
the Goddess gave him, "that he might accomplish all the contests which
the Phæacians would try him with." Thus is the Hero prepared divinely.

Alcinous makes a speech to the assembly, touching the wanderer, who is
again promised an escort to Ithaca; the king chooses the crew, and the
ship is launched. Meanwhile, however, there is to be a sacrifice with
festival, the bard is led in and his harp adjusted, his portion of food
and drink not being omitted, for he is not a hired musician, but an
equal at the feast.

We are now to witness two kinds of entertainment, both of which
according to the Greek conception, belong to the sphere of art. The one
is an heroic song, and is thrown into the past; the other is a trial of
bodily skill and strength, and belongs to the present. Both kinds show
contest, and this contest is mainly between the physical and the
spiritual elements in man. Which is paramount? Each is necessary, yet
one must be subordinate.

1. Note, first of all, the theme of the bard: "The Muse inspired him to
sing the strife between Ulysses and Achilles, the fame whereof had
reached high Heaven." The Trojan War lies manifestly in the background
of the quarrel. When did it take place, at what period during the
struggle? There is nothing to settle the question decisively, such a
dispute might have arisen almost at any time. But as it is the
antecedent trouble in the Greek army, a dualism which this army brings
with itself in its leaders, we may reasonably put it somewhere towards
the beginning. This is also the opinion of Nitzsch (_Com. ad loc._),
who places the scene of the dispute on the island of Tenedos, in sight
of the walls of Troy and who cites the old _Cypria_ in support of his
opinion. Other ancient authorities place it after the death of Hector;
not long before the fall of the city.

Concerning the subject of the dispute there is little difference of
opinion. The Greek commentator, Eustathius (died about 1200 A.D.)
cites the following legend in reference to it: "Agamemnon, having
consulted the Delphic Oracle about the result of the Trojan War,
received the answer that Troy would be taken when the best men of the
Greeks would begin to quarrel. At a feast a dispute arose between
Achilles and Ulysses, the former maintaining that Ilion would be
captured by bravery, the latter by skill and cunning." Hence the joy of
Agamemnon at what would otherwise be regarded as a ground for sorrow.

The response of the Oracle was ambiguous, yet even out of its ambiguity
we may read something. Achilles, the man of courage, was regarded as
the hero of the Greeks, but this opinion must be contested, and wisdom
must also have its place in the management of the war, before the
hostile city can be taken. These two principles are represented by
Achilles and Ulysses respectively. The God of Wisdom, Apollo, responds,
therefore, in accord with his character, carefully, doubtfully, not
taking a decisive stand on either side, uttering an oracle which itself
needs interpretation. Still we can see that it means a protest against
mere brute courage--a protest which Ulysses voices. The Trojan Horse,
the grand successful stratagem, may be considered as the outcome.

In Shakespeare's _Troilus and Cressida_, the same subject is worked
over very fully and is indeed the main pivot of the drama, in which
Achilles is substantially deposed from his heroship and replaced by
Ulysses. The contest between mind and might or skill and courage, is
what the English poet took from his Greek elder brother in part and in
part derived from later legend. The struggle between brain and brawn
was indeed a vital one in the Greek camp; there was always the danger
lest the spirit would got lost in its physical manifestation. Indeed
the danger of the Greek world was just this, and it perished at last of
the same disease which we already notice at Troy. It fell to a worship
of the sensuous in life and art, and so lost its soul in a grand
debauch.

2. King Alcinous has noticed that Ulysses hid his face and wept at the
song of the bard. Thus strong emotion seizes him on hearing the strife
at Troy, while the Phæacians listen with delight. Such is the contrast,
hinting two very different relations to the song. But the king will
divert him from his grief, and so calls for the games to show him "how
much we excel others in boxing, wrestling, leaping and running." The
quoit was also one of the games.

In like manner Achilles is diverted from his sorrows for his friend
Patroclus, by an elaborate exhibition of games, which are set forth in
Book Twenty-Third of the Iliad. Contests of strength and skill they
are, showing the body under control of mind and manifesting the same up
to a certain point. They have an artistic side and train the man
physically, requiring also no little mental alertness.

When the Phæacian contestants had finished, there was an attempt to
bring Ulysses into the game and have him show what he was, but he
declined the courteous invitation; "cares are in my mind more than
games." Then Euryalus taunts him with being a merchant, or robber, and
no athlete. Ulysses makes a caustic reply, picks up the quoit, and
hurls it far beyond the marks of the others; then with some display of
temper he challenges any of the Phæacians present to any kind of
contest. He even becomes boastful, and tells what he is ready to do in
the way of games; still further, he can shoot the bow and throw the
javelin in heroic fashion--which accomplishments he will employ with
telling effect against the suitors hereafter.

Alcinous pacifies him with gentle words, and proceeds to withdraw all
his previous claims extolling Phæacian athletic skill. The soft arts of
peace are theirs; "in boxing and in wrestling we have small fame;" but
on the other hand "we delight in feasts, we love the harp and dance;"
new clothes are in favor, and "we like the warm bath and bed." Very
different is now the call of King Alcinous from that last one: let the
stranger see "how much we excel others in the dance and song," to which
is strangely added seamanship. Such is the preparation for the lay of
the loves of Mars and Venus.

Through these games the heroic strand in the stranger has been brought
to light, somewhat in contrast with the Phæacians. As he had a contest
of mind with Achilles at Troy, so he has now a contest which shows his
physical might; he is no weakling in spite of his intellect. Pallas too
does not fail him, she marks his superiority in the throw of his quoit,
and thus inspires him with courage.


II.

We have now reached the second song of the bard, for the way has been
smoothed by the preceding description of the luxurious delights of the
Phæacians. It is often called the Loves of Venus and Mars, or the
Adulterers caught on Olympus. From time immemorial much doubt of
various sorts, poetical, moral, philological, has been cast upon this
song. Some ancient commentators have regarded it an interpolation, not
a genuine part of Homer; modern expositors have not hesitated to follow
the same opinion.

And indeed there are strong grounds for suspicion. Almost every reader
feels at the first perusal its jar with the general character of this
idyllic Phæacian world; it is decidedly adverse to the spirit of Arete
and Nausicaa, as previously unfolded; the fact would almost seem
impossible that, in an atmosphere created chiefly by these two women,
there could be such a kind of artistic enjoyment. The most conservative
reader is inclined here to agree with those who perform an act of
excision upon the text of Homer. The whole passage grates too harshly
upon nerves which have been attuned to the sweet innocent life depicted
in the two preceding Books.

The objections to the song may be summed up in the following heads. (1)
It is inconsistent and deeply discordant with the ethical tone of
Phæacia already given. (2) It does not further Ulysses in any way, it
shows no trait in his character, unless his faint approval signifies
his liking for such songs. Nor does it seem on the surface to connect
him with Troy, as do the other two songs of Demodocus. (3) It gives an
unworthy view of the Gods, degrading them far below Homer's general
level, reducing them to ordinary burlesque figures which violate all
decency, not to speak of morality. (4) Philologists have picked out
certain words and expressions peculiar to this passage, which, not
being employed by Homer elsewhere, tend to indicate some other author.

Still, if the passage be an interpolation, this must have taken place
early in the history of the poems. Pausanias the traveler declares that
he saw the dancing scene of the Phæacians depicted upon the throne of
Apollo at Amyclæ, the artist of which probably flourished about 600 B.
C. The old philosopher Heraclitus, who would scourge Homer from the
festivals of the Gods, doubtless had this passage in mind. Plato
censures its indecency specially, and, as is well known, would exclude
all Homer from his ideal Republic. The ancients thus accepted the
passage as Homeric, with the exception of some of the later
grammarians.

Next come the many attempts, old and new, to allegorize the Olympian
scene, or to explain it away. From the fact that the sun keeps watch
and is mentioned twice in this part, the latest school of mythologists,
the comparative so-called, have taken much comfort, and have at once
found in the whole a sun-myth. Some ancient expositors, according to
Athenæus, interpreted it as a story written for the purpose of
deterring the listeners from doing similar bad deeds, pointing to the
punishment even of Gods herein designated; thus they sought to save the
credit of Homer, treating him quite as some commentators have treated
certain morally questionable stories in the Bible. Thus along down the
ages to the present the loves of Venus and Mars have created trouble.

Undoubtedly the song has meaning and deserves a rational exposition.
Has it any connection with the other songs of this Book, or with Homer
in general? It is certainly a product of early Greek poesy; can it be
organically jointed into anything before it and after it? The burlesque
tone which it assumes towards certain Olympians has caused it to be
connected with the Battle of the Frogs and Mice, and with the war of
the Gods in the Iliad (Book Twenty-First). Let us extend our horizon,
and take a new look in various directions.

In the first place this song connects with Troy and the Iliad like the
other two songs of Demodocus. The cause of the Trojan War and of its
poem was the deed of Paris. The seducer, the wife, the husband--Paris,
Helen, Manelaus--are the three central figures of the legend. Here this
legend is thrown up among the Gods themselves, who furnish three
corresponding characters--Mars, Venus, Vulcan. Then there is the wrong
and the punishment of the wrong in both cases. Such is the theme of the
Trojan War as it appears in the Iliad. Thus the three songs of
Demodocus indicate a Pre-Iliad, an Iliad, and a Post-Iliad in due
order.

In the second place one asks very emphatically: Why this present
treatment of the Gods on Homer's part? But here we must make an
important distinction. The Supreme God, Zeus, does not appear, nor does
Juno nor does Pallas, indeed none of the Goddesses except the guilty
one. The disgrace falls upon two mainly: Mars and Venus. In the Iliad
they are Trojan deities hostile to the Greeks, and here the Greek poet
serves them up together in an intermezzo, which makes them comic.
Indeed the Greek Hero Diomed fights and puts down just these two Trojan
deities in the Fifth Book of the Iliad. So must every Greek Hero at
Troy conquer Mars and Venus (Violence and Lust, to give a suggestion of
their purport) before Helen can be restored to home and country; he
must put down the hostile city and its Gods. Note too, whither the
Greek poet sends each of these deities after their release: Mars flies
off to Thrace, a distant, barbarous country, beyond the borders of
Hellas, where he can find his own; Venus on the contrary slips away
southeastward to Cyprus inhabited by peoples Oriental or Orientalizing,
and therein like Troy and herself. Both rush out of Greece with all
speed; they belong somewhere in the outskirts of the Greek world.

We may now see why the Phæacians, without being so very wicked, could
find an element in the song which they enjoyed. To them, with the
Trojan War always in mind, this was the theme: the adulterous Trojan
deities caught and laughed out of Olympus--those being the two deities
who first misled by desire and then tried to keep by war the beautiful
Helen, the Greek woman. Throwing ourselves back into his spirit, we may
also see why Ulysses, the old war-horse from Troy, "was rejoiced in his
heart, hearing the song" which degraded and burlesqued the Gods whom he
had fought ten years, and who were, in part at least, the occasion of
his wandering ten more. Venus and Mars did not find much sympathy in
the Phæacian company, we may be sure. Why then regard them as Gods? The
Greek deified everything; even the tendencies which he felt himself
obliged to suppress had something of the divine in them. Calypso, whom
Ulysses subordinated at last to the higher principle, was a Goddess;
Troy, the hostile city, had its deities, whom the Greek recognised. Now
its two chief deities are involved in a common shame, and flee from
Olympus, flee almost outside of the Greek world. Certainly the audience
could take some ethical satisfaction in that.

Then there is a third consideration different from the two preceding,
both of which seek to look at the song from the ancient Greek
standpoint. But from our modern standpoint it is also to be regarded.
There is no doubt that we see here the beginning of the end of
polytheism; the many Gods collide with one another, some are now put
out and all will be finally put out; they are showing their finitude
and transitoriness. Still further, we catch a glimpse of the sensuous
side of Greek life, the excess of which at last brought death. Homer is
the prophet of his people, when read with insight; he tells not only
what they are, but hints what they are to become.

In general, we pass in this second part of the present Book as we have
divided it, to the sensuous element of the Phæacian world, the
inactive, quiet, self-indulgent phase, in decided contrast to the
preceding part which shows a love of manly action in games and in war.
Let us still further develop the twofold way in which this fact is
brought out.

1. The second song of Demodocus has the general theme of the Trojan War
and suggests the grand event of the aforetime. It manifestly carries
the Trojan scission into Olympus and drives out in disgrace the Trojan
deities. Vulcan, the wronged husband, is the divine artificer; he makes
a network of chains which could not be broken, "like a spider's web, so
fine that no one could see it, not even a God;" in this snare the
guilty deities are caught, exposed, punished. These invisible, yet
unbreakable chains have an ethical suggestion, and hint the law which
is also to be executed on Olympus, as it was below in Troy. As Vulcan
is the artist among the Gods, we are prompted to find also an artistic
bearing in the scene; the artist catches the wrong-doers by his art and
holds them fast in a marvelous net where they still lie, and shall lie
for all time; even the intercession of Neptune cannot get them free.
The scene is indeed caught out of the reality and holds to-day; the
dashing, finely-uniformed son of Mars (so called at present) is most
apt to win the heart of the gay, fashionable, beautiful daughter of
Venus, have an escapade, and cause a scandal. Oft too they are caught
in our modern, most adroitly woven spider's web, which goes under the
name of newspaper, and held up, if not before a seeing Olympus, at
least before a reading public, which not seldom indulges in
conversation very much in the style of the Gods as here set forth. We
moderns do not go to the market-place to hear such a strain, but have
it brought to us in the Morning Journal. One advantage the Phæacian
had: Arete and Nausicaa did not go to the market-place, where this song
was sung, only men were there, but the print will enter the household
where are wife and daughter. At any rate, we have to pronounce the song
of Demodocus typical, universal, nay, ethical in spite of its
light-hearted raillery, inasmuch as the deed is regarded as a breach of
divine law, is exposed and punished, and the recompense for the release
of the guilty pair, the penalty, is duly stated in accordance with law.
Not every modern story-teller is so scrupulous, in meting out justice
to ethical violation.

2. So much for the song; we turn again to the Phæacians, who are not
now engaged in athletic, but in a milder sport, the dance. Youths moved
their bodies in tune to the strain; still in Greece the dance and the
song often go together. Then two danced alone without the song, but
employed a ball, tossing it from one to the other, for the amusement of
the spectators. A rhythmical movement of the body in the dance shows
more internality than the athletic game, but it is less hardy, is more
indicative of luxury and effeminacy.

On account of these enjoyments, which have been unrolled before us in
so many striking pictures, the Phæacians have been regarded by some
writers both in ancient and modern times as the mythical Sybarites
devoted simply to a life of pleasure. The love of the warm bath and
clean clothes, the dance and the song, above all the second lay of
Demodocus have given them a bad name. Heraclides Ponticus derived their
whole polity of non-intercourse, of concealment, of sending away the
stranger as soon as possible out of their island, from their desire to
resign themselves more completely to their luxurious habits, without
foreign disturbance. Horace expresses a similar view of this people.
Nitzsch in Commentary (_ad loc._) defends the Phæacians warmly against
the charge, and the view that Arete and Nausicaa cannot be products of
a corrupt society holds good. An idyllic people, not by any means
enervated, though pleasure-loving--so we must regard them. That lay of
the bard, rightly looked into, does not tell against them as strongly
as is sometimes supposed. Still Heraclides touched upon a limitation of
Phæacia in his criticism, it refused to join the family of nations,
it sought to be a kind of little China and keep all to itself. It
had solved, however, the problem of external war and of internal
dissension; no dispute with neighboring nations about commercial
privileges, no local strife which cannot be settled by Arete. The poet
has as nearly as possible succeeded in eliminating the negative element
out of this society. An unwarlike folk, but not effeminate, happy in
peace, with a childlike delight in play, which is the starting-point of
art, and remains its substrate, according to Schiller; truly idyllic it
must be regarded, a land on the way between nature and civilization,
where life is a perpetual holiday, and even labor takes on a festal
appearance.

Ulysses gives the palm of excellence in the dance to the Phæacians, and
with this recognition the king proposes a large number of
presents--hospitable gifts, such as the host gives to his honored
guest. Moreover an apology and a gift are required of that Euryalus who
recently offended Ulysses. Thus reconciliation is the word and the
deed. Then all are ready to return to the palace into the presence of
Arete, who is the orderer, and she makes arrangements for packing up
the gifts. Note the warm bath again, supposed sign of effeminacy; here
it is taken by Ulysses with decided approbation. Nausicaa, too, appears
in a passing glance, and simply asks to be remembered for her deed; the
response of Ulysses is emphatic: when he gets home he "will pray to her
as to a God day by day, for thou, O maiden, hast saved my life."

In this round of recognition, the bard must not be forgotten; he is
again led in, a banquet is served, and Ulysses takes special pains to
honor him "with a part of the fat back of a white-tusked boar," and to
speak a strong word of commendation: "Demodocus, I praise thee above
all mortals; either the Muse or Apollo has taught thee, so well dost
thou sing the fate of the Greeks."


III.

The praise of the bard naturally leads to the third portion of the
Book, introduced by another song, which has its intimate connection
with the preceding ones. Then its effect is noted upon Ulysses, who
weeps as before, being stirred by many memories of companions lost.
Verily Troy is a tearful subject. What motive for weeping? Who is this
stranger anyhow? Alcinous now starts his interrogations which Ulysses
answers in the following Book. Still, though nameless, he has unfolded
himself quite fully through his actions in this Book. Again we hear the
deeds of the aforetime sung by the poet, and see their influence in the
present.

1. Ulysses himself now asks the poet to sing of the Wooden Horse which
"was made by Epeius with the aid of Pallas," the Goddess here standing
for skill, as it is now skill which takes Troy, not mere courage. Then
mark further: Ulysses was the man who introduced it within the Trojan
walls by stratagem--clearly another case of brain-work rather than
brawn-work. This famous Wooden Horse was "filled with men who took
Troy." Such is the song which Ulysses now calls for, mentioning himself
by name--a fact which makes the announcement of his name soon after
more impressive and dramatic. The Phæacians had just heard the
culminating act in the taking of Troy, whereof Ulysses was the hero;
behold! he stands before them, in all the prestige of song. Some
critics have wondered why the name of Ulysses was withheld so long, and
have imagined all sorts of interpolations; surely they have not seen
the plan of the poet.

The Wooden Horse is not employed in the Iliad, but is one of the
striking details of the later epics, which recounted the destruction of
Troy. The song of Demodocus carries the incident back to the time of
Homer, and before Homer, for it suggests antecedent ballads or
rhapsodies which Homer knew, but did not use, and which poets after him
developed. The Odyssey takes for granted that its hearers knew the Lay
of the Wooden Horse, and also the Lay of the Strife between Ulysses and
Achilles, "the fame of which had reached the broad Heavens." Thus we
get a peep into the workshop of Homer and catch a glimpse of his
materials, which he did not invent, but found at hand. Homer is the
builder, the architectonic genius; he organizes the floating, disparate
songs of his age into a great totality, into a Greek Temple of which
they are the stones. Note what he does with this lay of Demodocus; he
puts it into its place in the total structure of the Odyssey, and thus
preserves it forever. So he has done with all his materials doubtless.

We may now see that those who cut up the Homeric poems into so many
different songs or ballads simply destroy the distinctive work of
Homer. They pry asunder the beautiful Greek Temple, lay its stones
alongside of one another, and say: behold the poet. But this is just
what he is not, and in the present Book we may see him unfolding his
own process. Homer is not Demodocus, but the latter's lay he takes up
and then weaves what he wants of it into the texture of the total poem.
He is thus a contrast to the bard, whom, however, he fully recognizes
and makes a part of his own work. Thus Homer himself really answers the
Wolfian theory, which seeks to reduce him to a Demodocus, singing
fragmentary lays about the Trojan War.

From the Greek poets the Wooden Horse passed to Virgil, who has made it
the best-known incident of the Trojan War. It is probably the most
famous stratagem of all time, due to the skill of Ulysses. Herein lies
the answer to the first lay of Demodocus; in the dispute Ulysses is
right, indeed he is a greater hero than Achilles, who could never have
captured the hostile city. The incident took place after the action of
the Iliad, and after the death of Achilles, who, heroic in courage,
stood in the way of intelligence. When he is gone, the city falls,
overthrown by the brain of Ulysses.

Homer does not pretend to give the song of Demodocus in full, but a
brief summary of what he sang before the Phæacians. A later poet,
Arctinus, took up the legend here alluded to, and developed it in a
separate epic, called the Iliou-persis or Sack of Troy. Indeed a vast
number of legends and lays about the Trojan War bloomed into epics,
which were in later times joined together and called the Epic Cycle.
Thus we distinguish two very different stages of consciousness in early
Greek poetry: the ballad-making and the epical, Homer being the supreme
example of the latter, and Demodocus an instance of the former.

Looking back at the three lays of the bard in the present Book we find
that they all are connected together in a common theme of which they
show different phases, beginning, middle and end--the conflict before
the Iliad, the conflict of the Iliad, and the conflict after the Iliad,
all hovering around the great national enterprise of the Greeks, namely
the Trojan War, in which the deepest principle of the Hellenic world,
indeed of the entire Occident, was at stake.

But Homer, in distinction from Demodocus, weaves into his poem not only
the past but the present, not only Troy but Phæacia, not only the
movement against the East but also the movement toward the West, of
which Phæacia is simply one stage. The Hero who unites these two great
movements of Greek spirit is now brought before us again.

2. Ulysses weeps at the song of the bard which recalls so many memories
of friends departed and of dire calamities. These tears connect him
deeply with Troy and its conflict; the Phæacians listen intently, but
are outside of the great struggle, they shed no tears. Thus does
Ulysses in his strongest emotions unite himself with the Trojan
enterprise of aforetime. He is not simply a wanderer over the sea
seeking to get home, but a returner from Troy; he has revealed himself
through his feelings. He personally shares in the woes sung by the
bard, because he has experienced them. Indeed the very image which the
poet here employs to express sorrow, taken from the woman whose husband
has been slain fighting for his city, and for his wife and his
children, recalls Hector, Andromache and Astyanax as they appear in the
Sixth Book of the Iliad. Ulysses is like such a woman, without home or
family, alone among strangers, shedding tears. Thus he connects himself
with the fateful story of Ilium.

Previously Ulysses wept at the first lay of Demodocus, now he
emphasizes his sorrow by repetition. Whenever the theme of Troy is
touched, he has to respond with tears; the second time of weeping at
the Trojan tale is necessary in order to fix his character and identify
him as a returner. Yet this repetition so vitally organic is questioned
by many critics, some of whom resort to excision. It is hardly worth
the while to notice them in their various attempts at destruction and
construction; when we once catch the underlying motive all becomes
plain. The first and last scenes of weeping unifies the Book, the bond
of tears holds its parts indissolubly together in the emotions.

Alcinous has observed the stranger both times, sitting near him, while
we may suppose that the other Phæacians, not noticing him, to be
further off. The king sees his distress and even hears his sobs; in the
first case the royal host refrained from inquiry, that being the duty
of hospitality; but now the time for interrogation has arrived. The
speech of Alcinous is characteristic; full of humanity, full of
sympathy is the tone: "a guest, a suppliant stands for a brother even
to the man of little feeling." A touch of prophetic boastfulness he
shows here and elsewhere; the ships of the Phæacians he endows with
supernatural powers, which fact, however, is not without meaning: "We
have no pilots, no rudders even, our boats obey our thoughts, and know
the cities and lands to which they come; very quickly do they shoot
across the wave, hid in fog and cloud." Truly an ideal ship, which time
has not yet realized, though recent navigation, with its present steam
and its future electricity, is on the way thereto. Still angry Neptune
threatens danger and may work damage, "smiting the ship on the dark
deep." This speech of Alcinous with its miraculous, prophetic tinge,
with its far-seeing hints of coming realities, almost foretelling our
modern humanity and our modern mastery of the sea through science, and
putting the two side by side, has given much trouble to the critics,
whom we again shall have to pass by, as they simply darken the poet.

Finally comes the demand: who art thou and why didst thou weep? What is
thy relation to Troy? Such is the culminating question; Ulysses has
been unfolding himself more and more throughout the present Book before
the king and people. The games showed his heroic strength; the dances
brought out his recognizing and harmonious spirit; the lays of
Demodocus have developed his connection with Troy. He clearly belongs
to the past and to the present, possibly he is a bridge spanning them,
which bridge he may be induced to build in wondrous rainbow colors
before the eyes of the Phæacians.

_Appendix._ It seems never to have been noticed what an important
relation the present Book sustains toward the Wolfian theory concerning
the Homeric poems. The picture of Demodocus here given doubtless
suggested to Wolf the first outline of his view, and has influenced
other commentators who lean toward similar opinions. It is well known
that Wolf in his famous _Prolegomena_ maintains that the Iliad and
Odyssey were originally a string of ballads more or less disconnected,
and that Homer was only one of the many balladists, probably the best;
furthermore he holds that these ballads were brought together, edited
and put into their present shape by certain literary men called
_diaskeuastoe_--revisers, redactors, professors of poetry and philology
at the court of Peisistratus, about 500 B.C.

That is, Wolf regards Homer as a Demodocus, a singer and also a maker
of disjointed ballads and war-songs, the latter pertaining mostly to
the heroes of the Trojan War. These were sung at the festivals of the
people, at the houses of the nobility, and at the courts of kings,
quite as we see the bard singing here in Phæacia. This fact we may
accept; but the question comes up: Is Homer such a balladist and
nothing more?

Now it is clear that Homer is not a Demodocus, since the latter is not
an epical builder, but a simple singer of separate lays for the
occasion. Mark well that Homer in this book does not unfold the themes,
"Strife between Ulysses and Achilles," and "The Wooden Horse," but
simply alludes to them as well-known; he barely gives the title and a
little of the argument, then drops the matter, leaving us to suppose
that the Bard sang a somewhat lengthy lay, of which the effect upon the
hearers and specially upon Ulysses is duly noted.

Homer, therefore, in this Book as well as in the First Book where
Phemius is introduced, makes the Bard or Balladist merely one of his
figures, and the song one of his incidents, while he, the veritable
Homer, portrays the total environment, showing the court, the games,
the household, the complete Phæacian world. Here we come upon the main
distinction: Homer's eye is upon the totality of which the
ballad-singer is but a small fragment; Demodocus appears in but one
Phæacian Book, and is by no means all of that, though for once the
leading figure.

A step further we may carry the thought. Homer is not only not a
Demodocus, but he very distinctly contrasts himself with Demodocus by
his poetic procedure. If he is at such pains to show himself a
world-builder, and then puts into his world a ballad-singer as a
passing character, he certainly emphasizes the difference between
himself and the latter. It is also to be noticed that Demodocus does
not sing an Iliad, though he chants lays of Troy; the Iliad is an
organized work, not a collection of ballads strung together. Everything
about Demodocus indicates separate songs; everything about Homer (the
Iliad and the Odyssey) indicates unity of song. Hence with the
separatists, dissectors, anatomizers, Demodocus is a greater favorite
than Homer, indeed he has taken the place of Homer.

Moreover the poet has plainly marked another stage, a stage between
himself and Demodocus. In the next Book Ulysses will begin singing and
continue through four Books, giving his adventures in Fableland, which
by itself possesses a certain completeness. Still it is but an organic
part of the total Odyssey, whose poetical architect is Homer. Ulysses
as singer is clearly higher than Demodocus; but Homer is above both,
for he takes both of them up into his unity, which is the all-embracing
poem.

Most emphatically, therefore, Homer shows himself not to be a
Demodocus, not to be a ballad-singer, which is an essential point in
the Wolfian argument. Homer himself refutes Wolf some 2,500 years
beforehand, and his is still the best refutation. A careful study of
this Eighth Book settles the relation between balladist and poet by a
simple presentation of the facts in their proper co-ordination, and
also puts the alert reader on the track of the genesis of the Wolfian
_Prolegomena_. For there can hardly be a doubt that Wolf, consciously
or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, derived his main conception
of Homer from the present Book and from the part that Demodocus, the
bard, plays in it. To be sure, the idea that Demodocus, in a general
way, is Homer, is old, coming down from antiquity and suggesting itself
to the modern reader, who very naturally thinks that Homer is giving
some traits of himself in his picture of the blind singer. So much we
may grant: some traits of himself, but not all by any means; Homer
doubtless upon occasion could sing a short lay of Troy for the
amusement of his audience, like Demodocus; but in such a part he is
only a wee fragment of the author of those magnificent works, the Iliad
and the Odyssey. The total Homer builds totalities, by the very
necessity of his genius.

Who, then, according to the theory, put these ballads together? Wolf,
fully possessed of the notion that Demodocus is Homer, starts to
account for the present form of the poems, which he assigns to the
shaping hand of Peisistratus and his college of editors, critics, and
poetasters. That is, the grand marvel of Homeric poetry, the mighty
constructive act thereof, he ascribes to a set of men essentially
barren and uncreative, for all of which he cites some very dubious and
inadequate ancient authority.

Here again we may be permitted to trace the Wolfian consciousness to
its origin, for origin it has in time and circumstance. Wolf was a
professor in a University, and his department was philology; his ideas
on Homer are really drawn from his vocation and his surroundings. Why
should he not make a philologer and a professor the author of the
Homeric poems? So he came to imagine that the tyrant Peisistratus 500
B.C. had under his patronage a kind of German University, or at least
a philological seminary, whose professors really constructed Homer as
we now have him, having put him together out of antecedent ballads
which the actual Homer and many others may have made ages before. Wolf,
therefore, is the founder of two philological seminaries; one at the
University of Berlin, and the other at the court of Peisistratus. Great
is the professor in smelling out the professor anywhere; still we
cannot help thinking that what Wolf ascribed to the old Greek seminary,
was done only at his German seminary, namely, the patching together of
Homer out of ballads.



_FABLELAND._


The movement of the second grand division of the poem, the Ulyssiad,
has passed through two of its stages, which have been already
considered; the third is now reached which we have called Fableland,
though it may be said that the two previous lands are also fabulous.
Let it then be named the Fairy World, though this term also does not
state or suggest the fact with precision. Without troubling ourselves
further about names, we shall proceed to seize the meaning by an
exposition given in some detail.

No careful reader can doubt that the poem changes decidedly at the
present juncture in color, style, environment and purpose. What reason
for it? And what is the connection with the preceding portion of the
poem? Four Books (IX-XII) of the same character essentially, unfold
themselves before us and demand a new kind of appreciation; they are
not idyllic, not epical; they form a class of a peculiar sort, which
class, however, we have before noticed in the Odyssey, showing itself
in short but suggestive interludes.

We shall, accordingly, first grapple with the leading facts of this new
poetic order and seek to interpret them, or rather let them interpret
themselves. Phæacia, which we have just seen, lies before Fableland,
though the story of the latter is now told in Phæacia.

1. The first fact which strikes us is the decided contrast between the
two realms. Phæacia is the land of pure idyllic delight, its supreme
characteristic is peace, its happy people seem to have no conflict;
Fableland, on the contrary, is one incessant course of strife, struggle
and calamity, beginning with the unprovoked attack on the Ciconians.
Polyphemus the savage Cyclops is the opposite of the civil ruler
Alcinous; Circe, the enchantress, is the insidious foe to domestic life
represented by Arete; State and Family in Phæacia are counterbalanced
by an anti-State and an anti-Family in Fableland. Thus man and woman
are shown in the two different places as institutional and
anti-institutional. Still deeper does the opposition reach; Phæacia
lies wholly in the Upperworld, with its sweet sunlight, while Fableland
has a dim Underworld, beyond the sunlight, the realm of the
Supersensible; finally Fableland witnesses the supreme negative act of
man, typified in the slaying of the Oxen of the Sun. We may, therefore,
affirm that Fableland, as compared with Phæacia, shadows forth the
realm of negation; the one stands for the ideal Greek world of ethical
order and harmony; the other is the denial and destruction of the same.

But we must not omit the reverse side of the contrast. In Fableland
there is one continued striving of the human soul, a chafing against
all limits, a moving forward from one stage to another; the spirit of
man is shown transcending its bounds everywhere. In Phæacia, however,
there is no striving apparently, it is contented with itself and stays
with itself, seeking no neighbors; it is the land of rest, of cessation
from conflict, possibly of stagnation, unless it is stirred by inner
scission.

The transition from Phæacia to Fableland is, therefore, full of
meaning. It is possible that Ulysses or the poet wished to show these
people the struggles which were slumbering in their society, for all
civilized order has the possibility of them. The negative spirit will
rise hereafter in their midst; so it rose in legendary Greece after the
Trojan War, so it rose in historical Greece after the Persian War. Thus
we may catch a prophetic tinge in this web of marvelous tales. On the
other hand, we should note also that Ulysses has reached the land of
peace just through the realm of strife and negation.

2. The next important thing is to observe how the poet is going to
locate, and environ this negative world. As it is the opposite of the
civilized order of Hellas, he throws it outside of Hellenic boundaries.
Over the Greek border somewhere it has to be placed; thus it passes
easily from the known to the unknown, out of the civilized to the
barbarous, out of the natural, to the supernatural.

All this we feel at once in the narrative. It is true that the first
destructive deed, the attack upon the Ciconians, occurs within the
limits of historical Hellas, in a region well known; but this act is
the prelude and the example, the offenders are at once borne to the
Lotus-eaters, who have the faintest touch of historical reality, and
thence to Polyphemus who is wholly fabulous. In this realm of pure
fable they stay till the end, having been cast out of Greece by the
poet on account of their hostile spirit.

Moreover we should note that they move about on the sea, that most
unstable element, in contrast to the fixed land; on the one there is
order and law, on the other caprice and violence. Yet certain fixed
points are set in this uncertain domain, namely the islands, which
however, are wholly separated from Hellas and her life, and have
inhabitants of their own, strangers to Hellenic influence. Ulysses and
his crew will pass from island to island, each of which will show its
meaning in some way antagonistic to Greek spirit. Out of the pale they
all lie in the boundless billowy waters; thus the Odyssey in this part
becomes a sea poem, while in the other two parts it is essentially a
land poem. The Greek was and still is a native of both sea and land
which are physically interwined and bound together in Greece as in no
other portion of the globe. His great poetical book envisages his
country as well as himself.

The main point, however, is that Fableland being negative to the Greek
world is put outside of all of its known geographical limits, and thus
becomes the setting for the marvelous story. It may here be added that
Grimm's Tales have a similar border which lies between civilized life
and the forest, since the forest was, for our Teutonic ancestors, the
fairy realm, in which their supernatural beings dwelt for the most
part. Out of culture back to nature the human being sometimes has to go
and have strange communings with the spirits there; such is often the
movement of the Fairy Tale. But who are these spirits or weird powers
dwelling in the lone island or in the solitary wood?

3. This question brings us to the pivotal fact of all Fableland: it is
ruled over by a new order of deities, not Olympians; the poet, throwing
it out of Hellas below, throws it out of Olympus above. Indeed what
else could he do? The Gods of Greece are the protectors of its
institutions, State and Family; they are the embodiment of its spirit,
of its civilization. But a spirit is now portrayed which is negative to
Greek spirit, which denies and defies it in its very essence; the
result is a new set of supernatural shapes which dominate the separated
world. The negation also must be seen taking on a plastic form, and
appearing before the Greek imagination.

The deities of Fableland, or its supernatural powers, are therefore
opposite to the deities of Olympus. Hence their shape is changed, they
can be even monstrosities, such as Polyphemus, the Læstrigonians,
Scylla and Charybdis. Circe and Calypso are beautiful women, yet not
natural women, in spite of their beauty; there is something superhuman
about them, divine, though they be not Olympians. Shapes of wonder they
all seem, unreal, yet in intimate connection with mankind. Moreover
they are local, attached to a given spot, or island; they are not
universal, they have no general sway like the Olympians; limited,
confined, particular is their authority, which the human being can and
must transcend.

At this point Olympus can descend into their world and give command.
So, after all, the Greek Gods rule over the realm which is negative to
them, must do so, else they were not Gods. But they are in a far-off
background, namely, in civilized Hellas, beyond whose border Ulysses
passes in these Books. Still Zeus, the supreme Greek God, sends his
decree to Calypso, when Ulysses is ready to leave the Dark Island. Thus
the Olympians exercise a final jurisdiction even here. It is to be
noticed, however, that Pallas has little to do with Ulysses in
Fableland; for is she not substantially negated? But when he touches
Greece again, and even in Phæacia, she will not fail to be at his side.
She belongs not to Wonderland, but to the clear rational realm of light
and order; she cannot follow even her darling mortal through these dark
mazy wanderings.

It is manifest that the epical Upper World of the Gods has receded from
the place it occupies in the Iliad and in the other portions of the
Odyssey; in fact, it has been largely but not wholly supplanted. A new
order of deities is portrayed, subordinate, yet authoritative in their
limited domain, which is cut off by the vast sea from united Hellas,
and is thus made merely individual and anti-social by its situation.

What are these shapes and why? Man has created them that he may
indicate his own spiritual state when he has fallen out with the
established order. Really they are phases of the development of the
hero, who is reaching out through disbelief, denial, defiance, toward a
restoration. He is negative to the Greek consciousness, and this
negation takes shape by mind, yet has to be put down by mind. The whole
process he projects out of himself into two lines of movement: the
first is the row of preternatural forms arranged as if in a gallery of
antique sculpture, the second is himself passing through these forms,
grappling with them, mastering them, or fleeing from them.

Such is this Fairy World which has crept in under the grand Olympian
order in response to a true necessity. Its beings are not natural, its
events are not probable; thus the poet forces us to look inward if we
would see his meaning. Spirit is portraying spirit, and not
externality, which is here made absurd; in this manner we are driven
out of the real into ideal, or we drop by the way in reading those four
Books.

4. But it must not for a moment be thought that Homer created this
Fairy World or made, single-handed, these Fairy Tales. The latter are
the work of the people, possibly of the race. Comparative folk-lore has
traced them around the globe in one form or other. The story of
Polyphemus is really a collection of stories gathered about one central
person; some portions of it have been found in the East as well as the
West, in Arabian and Tartar legend as well as in Celtic and Esthonian.
The subtle play upon the word "nobody" as a name is known far and wide
by many people who never heard of Homer. Wilhelm Grimm took the trouble
to collect a lot of examples from a great variety of sources, ancient,
medieval and modern, European and Asiatic, in a special treatise called
the Legend of Polyphemus. Circe, the enchantress, has been discovered
in a Hindoo collection of Tales belonging in the main to the thirteenth
century of our era; but the witch who has the power of turning men into
animals is as universal as folk-lore itself. The werewolf superstition
will furnish instances without number. The descent into Hades has its
parallel in the Finnish epic _Kalevala_, which reaches far back into
Turanian legend; even the North American and Australian savages have
their heroes enter the world beyond, and bring back an account of what
is there. Truly one of the earliest needs of the human soul is this
striving to find and to shadow forth in mythical outlines the realm of
the supersensible. Dante's Journey through Inferno goes back to Virgil,
Virgil goes back to Homer, and Homer to the folk-tales of his people,
and these folk-tales of Greece reach out to still more remote ages and
peoples. Thus into Christian legend the old heathen stories are
transformed; many descents to Hell and Purgatory, as well as visions of
Heaven are recorded in the Middle Ages. It may be said that folk-tales
have an ancestry as old as man himself, and have followed him
everywhere as his spirit's own shadow, which he casts as his body casts
its visible shadow.

A collection of Fairy Tales we may, then, consider these four Books,
with its giants, cannibals, enchantresses, with its bag of winds, which
is still furnished by the town-witch to the outgoing sailor in some
countries, if report be true. In fact, a little delving among the
people, who are the great depositories of folk-lore, would probably
find some of the stories of the Odyssey still alive, if not in their
completeness, at least some shreds or floating gossamers thereof.
Indestructible is the genuine tale when once made and accepted by the
people, being of their very essence; it is also the primordial material
of which all true poetry is produced, it is nature's Parian marble of
which the poetic temple of Greece is built, specially this Homeric
temple.

5. At this point we begin to see just what is the function of Homer who
has inherited a vast mass of poetic material. He is its shaper,
organizer, transformer; chiefly, however, he is the architect of the
beautiful structure of song. He does not and cannot make the stone
which goes into his edifice, but he makes the edifice. His genius is
architectonic; he has an idea which he builds into harmonious measures.
What the ages have furnished, he converts to his own use, and orders
into a poetic Whole.

The store of Fairy Tales in those four Books was unquestionably
transmitted to him, but he has jointed them into the Ulyssiad, and into
the total Odyssey, of whose structure they form the very heart. The
question arises: Did Homer find those Tales already collected? Possibly
he did, to a certain extent; they seem to come together of themselves,
making a marvelous romance of the sea. Some story-telling Greek sailor
may well have given him the thread of connection; certainly they are
sprung of nautical experience. But in whatever shape they may come to
the poet, we may be certain of one thing: his constructive spirit
transformed them and put them into their present place, where they fit
to perfection, forming a most important stage in the grand Return.

In the development of the folk-tale, we can in a general way mark three
grades. (1) There is first the story which sets forth the processes in
nature, the clouds, the winds, the storms, the sun and moon, the
conflict of the elements. Such is mainly the mythical character of the
old Vedas. Many a trace of this ancient conception we can find in
Homeric Fableland, which has a strong elemental substrate in the wrath
of Neptune, in the tempests, in the winds of Æolus, in the Oxen of the
Sun. Still the Odyssey has passed far beyond this phase of mythical
consciousness; it cannot be explained by resolving it back into mere
nature-myths, which method simply leaves out the vital fact, namely,
that of development. (2) In the second stage of the Fairy Tale the
physical meaning begins to withdraw into the background, and an ethical
element becomes dominant; the outer conflicts of nature, if they be
present, are taken to portray the spirit's struggle, in which a supreme
moral order of some kind is brought to light. Here we may well place
Grimm's collection of folk-tales in many ways an epoch-making book. In
those simple stories of the people we observe the good and the bad
marked off distinctly and engaged in some kind of a wrestle, which
shows at last the supremacy of the good. Not in every case perhaps, but
such is the tendency. But these Tales of Grimm, though collected, are
in no sense united; the architect never appeared, though they are the
material of a great Teutonic epos; they are the stones of the edifice,
not the edifice itself by any means. (3) Out of this second stage
easily rises the third, the poet being given; whereof the best example
is just those four Books of the Odyssey. Now the folk-tale stands not
alone, in widowed solitariness, but is made to take its place in the
great national, or perchance universal temple of song.

We may say, therefore, that Homer not only gathered these Tales but
organized them into a Whole, so that they no longer fall asunder into
separate narratives, but they are deftly interwoven and form a great
cycle of experience. No segment of this cycle can be taken away without
breaking the totality. Moreover the entire series is but an organic
part of the Odyssey.

It is now manifest that those who resolve these Tales into a
disconnected bead-roll have really fallen back into the second stage
before mentioned; they have undone the work of Homer. If these four
Books be simply a string of stories without an inner movement from one
to the other, or without any organic connection with the rest of the
poem, the entire poetic temple is but a pile of stones and no edifice.
And this is what Wolf and his disciples make out of Homer. In one way
or other they tear asunder the structure and transform it backwards in
a collection, allowing it hardly as much unity as may be found in the
Canterbury Tales of Chaucer. A school more recent than that of Wolf,
the Comparative Philologists, have gone still further backwards, and
have reduced Homer to the first stage, to a nature-myth. The merit of
both schools is that they have called attention to Homer's primitive
materials; they have rendered impossible the idea that Homer created
the Greek Gods or his mythology, or even his little stories. The defect
of these schools is that they fail to see the architectonic Homer, the
poet who builds the crude materials furnished by his people into an
enduring structure of the noblest art. They recognize in the edifice
the stone and also the stone-cutter, but no master-builder.

Homer, therefore, is not merely the editor, collector, redactor; he is
not a Grimm, gathering his tales from the mouths of the people with a
scientific accuracy. He gathered them, doubtless, but he transfigured
them into an image reflecting the experience of a human soul. Our age
is indeed scientific, it is collecting the folk-songs and the
folk-tales from every quarter of the globe, and stringing them on a
thread, like so many beads, not being able to transmute them into
poetry. Wolf heralded the coming time by starting to reconvert Homer
into his primitive materials, by making him scientific and not poetic,
at least not architectonic. Still we may be permitted to hope that
these vast collections of the world's folk-lore will yet be transmuted
by some new Homer into a world-poem.

6. The careful reader will also weigh the fact that Ulysses is now the
story-teller himself. The entire series of adventures in Fableland is
put into his mouth by the poet. Herein, we note a striking difference
from the previous Book, the ninth, in which Demodocus is the singer.
What is the ground of such a marked transition? Demodocus has as his
theme the war at Troy with its lays of heroes, and its famous deeds; he
celebrates the period portrayed in the Iliad; his field is the Heroic
Epos, or the songs of which it is composed. But he cannot sing of the
world outside of the Greco-Trojan consciousness, he cannot reach beyond
the Olympian order into the new set of deities of Fableland. Ulysses,
however, has transcended the Trojan epoch, has, in fact, reacted
against Hellenic life and institutions, though he longs to get back to
them, out of his alienated condition. This internal phase Demodocus
does not know, it manifestly lies beyond his art. He does not sing of
the Return at all, though Phemius, the Ithacan bard, did in the First
Book. A new strain is this, requiring a new singer, namely the man who
has had the wonderful experience himself.

The result is, another art-form has to be employed, the Fairy Tale, of
which we have already spoken. The individual now turns inward and
narrates his marvelous adventures in the region of spirit, his
wrestlings there, his doubts, his defeats and escapes. For Fableland is
not actual like Hellas, not even like Phæacia; it is a creation of the
mind in order to express mind, and its shapes have to be removed from
sensuous reality to fulfill the law of their being. Such is plainly
Homer's procedure. Once before he sped off into Fairyland, toward Egypt
and the East, leaving Hellas and Troy behind, quite as Ulysses here
does. It was the story of Menelaus in the Fourth Book, who also found
Proteus and Eidothea, a new order of deities, though Olympus and Zeus
lay in the distant background. Moreover, Proteus and Eidothea represent
the two sides, the supersensible and the sensible, the latter of which
must be transcended and the former grasped, ere return be possible.

Nestor also tells his own experience in the Third Book, but he keeps
inside of Hellas and under the direct control of the Greek Gods. Hence
no Faery Realm rises in his narrative, he needs none for
self-expression. But Menelaus and Ulysses, wandering far over the Greek
border, reach a new world, and require a new art-form for their
adequate utterance. Especially is this the case with Ulysses, who has
had a much larger and deeper experience than Menelaus, and who thus
stands in strong contrast with Nestor, the old man of faith with his
devotion to the old order, who has no devious return from Troy, and
continues to live in immediate unquestioning harmony with the
Olympians. There is no room in Pylos for a Circe or a Polyphemus.

Ulysses, therefore, having reached the court of Phæacia, takes a calm
retrospect of the past, and recounts the same to the people there; he
comes to know himself, and he uses art for self-expression, not for the
praise of the external deed of war; his inner life is the theme. In
other words, he has become self-conscious in Phæacia, he knows his own
processes, and shows that he knows them. As already pointed out, this
internal movement of his spirit is the process of the negative, he has
turned denier of the old institutional order of Greece, and he has to
work through into a positive world again, which he now sees before
himself in Phæacia.

To be sure, the self-consciousness to which he has attained is not
expressed in the language of philosophy, but in poetry, in a
transcendental Fairyland. There is as yet no Greek language of
philosophy; a long development will bring it forth however; Aristotle
will deracinate the last image of Homer, and leave the Greek tongue
supersensible.

7. The fact that Ulysses must tell his own story is deeply coupled with
the following characteristic: these four Books of Fableland are
essentially a confession. From beginning to end we observe it to be an
account of shortcomings and their results; we find the acknowledgment
of error in the very statement of the transaction. He confesses to
Alcinous and the Phæacians his negative attitude to the State and the
consequences thereof; he confesses to Arete in what way he has violated
her institution. Here lies the necessity: this confession is absolutely
needful to his soul to free it of its negative past. He has become
conscious of his condition, and utters his confession to these people
who are the opposite of it, and thus gets rid of his limitation. The
psychologic ground of his telling his own story is that he must.

To be sure, this is all done in a mythical form, which is somewhat
alien to our method of making a confession. Then Homer does not
moralize by the way, he does not usually approve or condemn; he simply
states the deed and its consequences. His procedure is objective, truly
artistic, letting the thing speak for itself. The modern reader,
however, likes to have moral observations interspersed, which will stir
up his sentiments, and save him the trouble of thinking the matter out
for himself.

Yet Ulysses, on the other hand, is always striving to reach out of his
error, to transcend his limitation. His mistake flings him to the
earth, but he gets up again and marches forward. Thus he asserts his
own infinite worth; he is certain to reach home at last and accomplish
the grand Return.

But he does not bring back his companions. These often seem to be lower
unheroic phases of human nature, which the hero must throw off in the
course of his development. In general, they may be considered to be in
him, a part of himself, yet they are real persons too. This rule,
however, will not always apply. Still his companions are lost, having
"perished by their own folly," while he is saved; the wise man is to
live, the unwise to pass away.

The pivotal sin committed by Ulysses in Fableland is against Neptune,
who is angry because Ulysses put out the eye of his son Polyphemus. So
the God, after the affair of the Oxen of the Sun, becomes the grand
obstacle to the Return, and helps to keep the hero with Calypso. Such
is the mythical statement in which three conceptions seem to blend. (1)
Neptune is the purely physical obstacle of the sea, very great in those
early days. (2) Nature has her law, and if it be not observed, the
penalty follows, when she may be said to be mythically angry. If a man
jump down from a high precipice, he violates a law of nature,
gravitation, and she executes him on the spot, it may be; she is always
angry and quick to punish in such cases; but he may climb down the
height and escape. In like manner a man, undertaking to swim across the
sea, encounters the wrath of Neptune; but he may construct a ship, and
make the voyage. (3) Finally there is the ethical violation: we shall
see in the narrative, how Ulysses, after appealing to humanity, becomes
himself inhuman and a savage toward Polyphemus, who then curses him and
invokes father Neptune with effect. So the God visits upon Ulysses the
punishment for his ethical offense, which is the main one after all. In
this way Fableland through the story of Polyphemus contains a leading
motive of the Ulyssiad, and thereby of the whole Odyssey, and Ulysses
is seen to be detained really by his own deed.

8. The general structure of these four Books is simple enough. They
form a series of adventures, with three to a Book. Though the
connection seems slight on the surface, there are inner threads which
bind intimately together the separate adventures; one of the points in
any true interpretation is to raise these threads to light. The general
movement of the whole may be regarded as threefold: the sensible world
(two Books), the supersensible Hades (one Book), the sensible world a
second time (one Book). Very significant are these changes, but it is
hardly worth while to forecast them here; they must be studied in
detail first, then a retrospect can be given, as the contents of the
four Books will be present in the reader's mind. We may now say,
however, that this sweep from the sensible into the supersensible, and
back again to the sensible, has in it the meaning of a soul's
experience, and that the second sensible realm here mentioned is very
different from the first.

The central fact of Fableland is, accordingly, that the man must get
beyond the realm of the senses, and hold communion with pure spirit,
with the prophet Tiresias, and then come back to the real world,
bringing the wisdom gained beyond, ere he can complete the cycle of the
grand Return.



_BOOK NINTH._


Ulysses is now called for by Alcinous, and he is to be the singer. At
first he naturally pays a compliment to his predecessor Demodocus: "A
pleasant thing to hear a bard such as this," with a voice like unto
that of the Gods. Then he gives a delicate touch of commendation to the
whole people "sitting in a row and listening to the singer" who is
chanting the famous deeds of the aforetime. But when Ulysses praises
the tables laden with bread and meat, and the cupbearer filling the
wine-cups of the guests, saying, "This seems to me the best thing,"
strong opposition has been aroused, shown even in antiquity by the
sharp protest of Plato and Lucian. Still this Phæacian enjoyment is
innocent enough; not ascetic is the trait, yet not sensual; to-day good
people usually eat and drink without the song of bard or other
spiritual entertainment accompanying the material one of gustation.

Now comes the change, Ulysses is to give a song, he is to sing his own
deeds, the story of his trials, "which will wake fresh sorrow in me."
Clearly this will be a different song from the preceding one of
Demodocus; not now an heroic tale of Troy, but an account of the Return
therefrom; a tale in which endurance is the theme rather than action.
The hero is more the sufferer than the doer; he is to meet the hostile
blows of Fate and to master it by his ability to bear as well as by his
ability to act. A new poetic form will gradually rise out of the theme
and in harmony with the same; the present movement runs counter to the
Trojan story both in space and in spirit.

The first act of Ulysses in this novel procedure is to be duly noted:
he declares who he is, gives his father's name and utters a hint of his
own character. Very great surprise must the announcement have created
among those Phæacians--a veritable sensation, as we say in these times;
for Ulysses had been the real hero of the songs of Demodocus just sung;
behold, that hero himself is present and has been listening all the
while. The dramatic disguise, in which the interest of the hearer has
centered hitherto, is thrown off, the concealed man shows himself.

Still deeper must we look into this act of self-revelation. "I am
Ulysses," says the bard now, proposing to sing of Ulysses. I am myself,
I know what I have done and I am the man to tell it. Really here is a
statement of self-consciousness; the singer is no longer a Demodocus
singing of another man, of Ulysses, at Troy, but it is Ulysses himself,
now singing of himself, of his profoundest experiences, which none
other but he can tell. His internal life opens, not that active heroic
one; the trials of his spirit are the theme, therewith must follow a
new manner of utterance, a poetic form which can express what is within
and still remain in the domain of the imagination. A self-conscious art
we must now be prepared for, which seeks to express just the
self-consciousness of the poet going through his inner experiences,
with the counterstroke from the outer world.

What new art-form, then, will Homer, the grand constructive poet, who
seizes every object necessary for his temple of song, assign to Ulysses
singing of himself? The Fairy Tale is taken with its strange
supernatural shapes, which have no reality, and hence can only have an
ideal meaning; we are ushered into the realm of the physically
impossible, where we have to see the spiritually actual, if we see
anything. Polyphemus is not a man, not an animal, not a direct product
of nature; he is a creature of the mind made by the mind in order to
express mind. Undoubtedly he has external shape, but that shape is
meaningless till we catch the spirit creating him. The Fairy Tale
removes the vision from an outer sensuous world, and compels an
internal vision, which looks into the soul of things and there beholds
the soul.

The Fairy Tale existed long before Homer, it is a genuine product of
the people. The stories which here follow have been traced among the
remotest races; they spring up of themselves out of the popular heart
and imagination. Homer picks them up and puts them into their true
place in his grand edifice, polishing, transforming them, by no means
creating them; certainly he never created this art-form. His merit is
that he saw where they belong and what phase of human experience they
express; to this merit must be added his special power, that of poetic
transfiguration. Not simply a redactor or putter together externally of
odd scraps, but the true architect of the totality; thus he comes
before us on the present and on all other occasions.

Ulysses, having told us who he is, proceeds to inform us of a second
important fact: his soul's strongest aspiration. He longs to return to
home and country. Ithaca, a small, rocky island, is the sweetest spot
on earth to him; Circe and then Calypso tried to detain him, each
wishing to keep him as husband; "but they could not shake the purpose
of my heart." One thinks that he must, while saying this, have cast a
sly glance at Arete, for whose approval it must have been intended, for
she was no friend of Circe and Calypso.

It is a curious fact that Homer, in this short description, makes two
mistakes in reference to the topography of Ithaca. The island can
hardly be called low as here stated, nor does it lie westward of
Cephallenia, but northeastward. A reasonable inference is that Homer
was not an Ithacan, and did not know the island very well, though he
may have seen it in a passing visit. Anaximander with his first map
comes after Homer several hundred years.

The present Book has three plainly marked portions. First comes the
wanton attack on the Ciconians, which connects immediately with the
Trojan experience of Ulysses. Second is the country of the
Lotus-eaters, to which he and his companions are driven by wind and
storm. Third is the Land of the Cyclops, especially of Polyphemus, with
whom he has his chief adventures. The first two portions are quite
brief, are in fact introductory to the third, which takes up more than
four-fifths of the Book, and is the Fairy Tale proper. We may observe
the gradual transition: the Ciconians are a real people in geography
and history; the Lotus-eaters are getting mythical, are but half-way
historical; the Cyclops belong wholly to Fableland. Thus there is a
movement out of the Trojan background of reality into the Fairy World.

Having marked the dividing lines, the next thing will be to find the
connecting links between these three portions. They are not thrown
together haphazard or externally joined into one Book; they have an
internal thought which unifies them and which must be brought to light.
The poet sees in images which are separate, but the thinker must unite
these images by their inner necessity, and thus justify anew the poet.


I.

The first sentence strikes the leading thought: "The wind, bearing me
from Troy, brought me to the Ciconians." Troy is the starting-point,
the background out of which everything moves. After the fall of the
city Nestor gives an account of the disputes of the Greek leaders and
their separation (Book III. l. 134 et seq.); Ulysses is driven alone
with his contingent across the sea toward Thrace, where he finds a city
in peace, though it had been an ally of Troy. "I sacked the city, I
destroyed its people;" he treated them as he did the Trojans, "taking
as booty their wives and property." Such is the spirit begotten of that
ten years' war in the character of Ulysses, a spirit of violence and
rapine, totally unfitted for a civilized life, at bottom negative to
Family and State. This is the spiritual starting-point from which he is
to return to home and country through a long, long, but very needful
discipline.

He is well aware that he has done something for which vengeance awaits
him, so he urges his companions to flee at once. But they would not
obey, they stayed there "drinking much wine and slaughtering sheep and
oxen along the sea-shore." Revel and feasting follow, till the
Ciconians rouse the outlying neighbors and drive the Greeks to the
ships, with the loss of six companions for each ship. Such is the first
incident after the Trojan War, showing clearly the destructive phase
thereof, which has been drilled into the character by so long a period
of bloodshed.

This is not yet Fairyland, but a real people and a real conflict. The
Ciconians in the later historic time of Herodotus still dwelt in
Thrace. Grotius in his famous book _On the Rights of Peace and War_
cites the present instance as a violation of international justice. The
grand positive ground of attacking Troy is not found here; there was no
Helen detained in wrongful captivity. The sack of Ismarus pictures the
evil results which spring from all war, even the most just. Again we
must affirm that this deed of wrongful violence is the start toward the
great Return, and hints what has to be overcome internally by the
journey through Fairyland.

Later we find a fact, not here mentioned, pertaining to the sack of the
city of the Ciconians. Ulysses had saved Maron, the priest of Apollo,
who in gratitude gave him the strong wine with which he overcame
Polyphemus in the cave. His merciful deed thus helped him conquer the
monster of nature. But in general it is plain that Ulysses, though
desiring to get back to an institutional life, is not ready by any
means for such a step; he is in reality hostile to the very essence of
institutional life. He is too much like the suitors now to be their
punisher.

All put to sea again, to be tossed on that unruly element, with their
little vessels exposed to wind and wave. "They call thrice by name each
one of their dead companions" ere they set out; the meaning of this
invocation has been much discussed, but it probably rests upon the
belief that they could thus call the souls of the deceased to go along
with them to home and country. The fact that just six were lost from
each ship was made the ground of an assault upon Homer in antiquity by
Zoilus, famed as the Homeromastix, or Homer's trouncer.

The great sea with its tempests is now before them, heaving and
tossing; after the attack upon the Ciconians we can well imagine that
this storm has its inner counterpart in the soul of Ulysses. Does he
not show within himself a deep scission--between his desire to return
and his deed? At any rate he is borne forward; when he sought to round
Maleia, the southern point of Greece (now Cape St. Angelo), and sail
home to Ithaca, he was carried out to sea by the winds, beyond the
Island Cythera, across the main toward the coast of Africa. Thus he is
swept outside the boundaries of Hellas proper into a region dimly
known, half-mythical; he cannot make the sharp turn at Maleia, inside
the Greek world; he must go beyond it and there reach his final
experience. Not simply physical is this description, else it would be a
mere statement in geography; it is also spiritual and hence rises into
poetry.


II.

Next is the land of the Lotus-eaters, where Ulysses and his companions
arrive, after being driven helplessly "across the fishy deep" for nine
days (this is a favorite number in Homer) by the hostile winds. The
Lotus-eaters, "whose food is flowers" use no violence, but reach to the
new-comers their plant, the lotus, to satisfy hunger. Whoever has once
tasted of that pleasant food, straightway forgets home and the Return,
and wishes to live always among the Lotus-eaters. The will is broken,
all activity is sapped; the land of idlers it is, relaxed in a sensuous
dream life, in which there is a complete collapse of volition.

Now the point is to connect this country with the Ciconians, or rather
to see this internal condition evolving itself out of the preceding
one. For the line of conjunction must be within, of the spirit;
physically the two countries are far enough apart. In the first case,
we have noted a state of external violence, which really means a
destroying of the will. The Greeks assailed a quiet people, assailed
its will; then they were beaten and driven off, they had their negative
deed served up to themselves. Now what? There follows an internal
collapse of the will, a logical result of their own conduct, which is
hinted by their being drifted about on the seas, apparently quite
helpless. No wonder that, when they touched land again, and obtained
some food, they desired to stay there, and eat of the lotus. Yet it is
the consequence of their own act; that wanton destruction of the
Ciconian will is at bottom the destruction of their own will; they are
really assailing their own principle--a fact which is to be brought
home to them by a long and bitter experience.

But there is one man among them, who, though not guiltless by any
means, felt the nature of the Ciconian act, and who has still some
volition left in the right direction. "By force I led back to the ship
those who had tasted of the lotus, and bound them beneath the
oar-benches." The rest of the companions were ordered aboard, they
obeyed; off they sail again on the hoary deep--whitherward? Thus
Ulysses shows himself the man of will among the will-less, and solves
his part of the problem among the Lotus-eaters, setting out for the new
Unknown.

This people probably lived on the coast of Lybia according to Homer's
conception, though the land is outside the clear Greek geographical
horizon, floating mistily somewhere on its borders, half real, half
fabulous, on the way to Fairyland. We enter more distinctly the inner
realm of the spirit, as the outer realm of reality becomes less
distinct and demonstrable. The Ciconians were an actual people, the
conflict with them also actual, quite the Trojan conflict; but the
Lotus-eaters form the transition to the Wonderland of the Odyssey.

As regards the lotus, several plants were called by that name; one is
mentioned in a previous Book of the Odyssey (IV. 603) which was
probably a kind of clover growing in the damp lowlands of Greece and
Asia Minor, and utilized for grazing. Another sort was a species of
lily which grew in the valley of the Nile. But the lotus of the present
passage is generally considered to be the fruit of a shrub which yields
a reddish berry of the size of a common olive, having somewhat the
taste of a fig. This fruit is still highly esteemed in Tripolis, Tunis
and Algiers; from the last named country it has passed over to France,
and is often hawked about the streets of Paris under the name of
_Jujube_, where the passing traveler will purchase a sample, and eat of
the same, testing the truth of Homer's description, but probably not
losing thereby his desire for home and country.

The Lotus-eaters have had a famous history; they have caught the fancy
of poets and literary men who have sought in various ways to reproduce
and embellish them. Among English-speaking peoples the poem of Tennyson
on this subject is a prime favorite. But in Homer the Lotus-eaters are
not an isolated fact, they are a link in the chain of a grand
development; this inner connecting thought is the true thing to grasp.

Let us, then, penetrate the heart of the next movement of Ulysses. The
Lotus-eater gave up family and country; "chewing the lotus, he forgot
the return." His will vanished into a sensuous oblivion; he was
indifferent, and this indifference was a passive destruction of the
Greek world to which he was returning. But now in due order the active
destroyer of that world appears; behold the Cyclops, the wild man of
nature, truly a monster to the Greek institutional sense, being without
domestic and civil order. Thus we mark the inner transition: the active
principle of that which was a passive Lotus-eater is the Cyclops, a
Polyphemus. The Trojan negative result, so deeply lodged in the soul of
Ulysses and his companions, cannot remain mere indifference or
forgetfulness; it must proceed to action, to virulent destructive
action, which is now to be bodied forth in a fabulous shape. Only a few
of the weakest companions of Ulysses were ready to become Lotus-eaters,
and they were easily thrust under the oar-benches and carried away.
Here there is a fresh conflict, altogether the main one of the present
Book.


III.

If then we have seized the matter aright, we have reached a shape in
Fairyland, which represents what is hostile, actively hostile, to the
Greek institutional world, State, Family, Society. Ulysses stands in a
double relation to the present condition of things. The Cyclops is
really a picture of him in his negative character, a product of his
destructive Trojan spirit, yet he is just the man who must put down the
Cyclops, he must master his own negation or perish. Ulysses sees the
natural man, or rather, he sees himself with all culture taken away,
with all institutional life eliminated from his existence.

He may well be frightened at the monster, who is very real, though a
dweller in Fairyland. Nor should we forget that the Cyclops also
undergoes a change, he too is in the process and shows something like
development under the severe tuition of Ulysses.

As already said, the present portion is altogether the longest in the
Book, it is essentially the entire Book. The other two portions were
hardly more than a short introduction and a brief transitional stage;
now comes the full and highly elaborated tale, in which both the land
and its inhabitants are fabulous, supernatural. There are two distinct
divisions treating of the Cyclops: the first describes their race in
general, the second gives a description of the particular grand
Cyclops, Polyphemus, in his conflict with Ulysses.

I. This time there is no tempest, such as arose after leaving the
Ciconians, in order to reach the land of the Cyclops; that collapse of
the will seems to have pictured itself in the quiet deep. But who are
the Cyclops? A race "without law, addicted to violent deeds;" they have
no agriculture, "they plant not, neither do they plow;" they get their
products, "trusting to the Gods," that is, trusting to nature, since
the Cyclops have small regard for the higher Gods, as we shall soon
see. Another mere formula this, showing that the Homeric deity was
getting crystallized even for Homer. "They hold no councils" in common,
are not associated together, but "they dwell in vaulted caves on
mountain heights," such as the famous Corycian cavern which is near the
top of a mountain on Parnassus. There "each man rules his wives and
children," evidently a herding polygamous condition of the family; "nor
do they (the Cyclops) care for one another." Still further, "they have
no ships with crimson prows," no navigation, no commerce which seeks
"the cities of men" and binds them together in the bond of society and
humanity. Yet there is an excellent harbor and a good soil, "with
copious showers from Zeus;" nature has surely done her part, and is
calling loudly for the enterprising colonist to come and plant here his
civilized order. This passage must have stirred the Greek emigrant to
leave his stony Hellas and seek in the West, a new home; it suggests
the great Hellenic movement for the colonization of Italy and Sicily
from the 6th to the 9th century B.C. The poet has plainly been with
the frontiersman, and seen the latter's giants.

The main thing to be noticed in the present account is the
extraordinary number of negatives. No laws, no assemblies, no
association; no plows, no ships, no intercourse with other cities; the
whole civilized life of man is negated, and man himself is thrown back
into a state of nature. It is worth while to search for the purpose of
this negative procedure on the part of the poet. He might have given a
positive description of nature, telling what it is, and telling what
the Cyclops is, not emphasizing so much what he is not. But thus the
meaning would not come out so plainly; the Cyclops is just the negation
of the whole civilized world of Greece, which fact must be expressly
imaged in the very words used in the poem. He is not so much a simple
being of nature as a being antithetic to society.

At this point we can trace his connection with the great Trojan
experience, which, as already set forth, has begotten a negative
tendency in its participators. The war at Troy, like all war
long-continued, has bred men to be anti-social; they have to destroy
State, Family, Commerce, Agriculture, till destruction becomes habit,
yea principle, and takes possession of their intellect. The Cyclops was
generated at Ilium, and is a colossal phantasm of the spirit which
prompted the attack on the Ciconians.

It should be stated here that the Cyclops of Homer are different from
those of Hesiod and of other mythographers, inasmuch as the latter were
represented as the demons who forged the thunderbolts of Zeus, and were
connected with the volcanic agencies chiefly in Sicily and Italy. Mount
Ætna belching forth its lava streams may have suggested to the Greek
imagination the sick giant Polyphemus in its caverns, drunk on the red
destructive wine of Ulysses.

First is a small island, "stretching outside the harbor" of the land of
the Cyclops, woody, full of wild goats; there the ships of Ulysses drew
to the shore. It was bare of human dwellers, the Cyclops had no boats
to reach it; a good place for stopping, therefore, quite out of reach
of the savages. Nor is the fountain forgotten, "sparkling water flowing
from a hollow rock down to the harbor"--an adjunct still necessary to
every Greek village or encampment. "Some God led us through the dark
night" without our seeing the island till the boats struck it--surely a
providential intervention on our behalf.

Leaving behind the other ships at this point, Ulysses takes only his
own and its crew, and goes forth to "test these people, whether just or
unjust, hospitable or godless." He cannot rest in ignorance, he must
have the experience and know the unknown. He soon sees "a cave high up
the mountain, not far from the sea, overarched with laurel shrubs;" he
observes also "an enclosure, made of stones set in the earth;" these
stones are not hewn (as some translators say), since the so-called
Cyclopean walls so common in Greece were not built by this kind of
Cyclops. In the enclosure were resting "many herds of sheep and
goats"--just such a scene as can be witnessed in the rural parts of
Greece to-day. This is the environment of "the man-monster," who is now
to be the theme of song.

II. Polyphemus is a Cyclops but he has characteristics of his own. He
has no family in his cave, he lives wholly for himself apparently; he
seems to be the largest of his race, "like no man who lives by bread;"
he towers alone "like the peak of a high mountain shaggy with woods;"
apart from others "he plans his unjust deeds." A portentous shape with
but a single eye in his head, a cave-dweller similar to the primitive
man; he has too an evil disposition in his huge bulk.

This is the being with whom Ulysses is now to engage in conflict, which
becomes highly dramatic. The conquest of the man of Nature by the man
of Intelligence--such is the theme through its various fluctuations.
This man of Nature, however, we are always to consider from his
negative side, as hostile to a civilized order; so the poet has
carefully represented him. He is to be put down; yet even Polyphemus
has his right, he is brought to a gleam of self-knowledge, and Ulysses
has to pay the penalty of his deed, which has also its curse. A very
deep current runs through the poem in this part, which we shall divide
into five different scenes, hoping thus to make its movement and
thought somewhat more distinct.

1. Ulysses, taking twelve of his bravest companions from his ship, not
forgetting a goatskin of wonderful wine, for he had a presentiment that
he would meet a huge wild man, who is wont to succumb readily to
civilized drink, enters the cave while Polyphemus is absent. A vivid
picture of that primitive dairy with its cheese, milk, curds; the men
fell to and helped themselves, as was natural. Then the companions
wished to depart at once, taking what quantity of cheese they could
carry, but Ulysses refused, he must "see the Cyclops and test his
hospitality." Just the opposite was the case in the land of the
Ciconians; there Ulysses wished to flee but his companions would not.
Why this difference? He must know Polyphemus, must see the giant and
subordinate him; that is just his supreme necessity now, he really can
no more run away from the monster than from himself. But that attack on
the Ciconians was an unjust, violent deed of which the penalty was sure
to follow; this Ulysses knew and sought to escape. In the present case,
however, no wrong has been done as yet, and he must meet and solve his
problem, while his weaker companions would shun the trial.

Polyphemus returns with his herds in due time, and closes the mouth of
the cave with a huge rock, "which not two and twenty wains could move
from the threshold." Soon by the light of his fire he sees the lurking
strangers and asks, "Who are you?" Ulysses replies, stating that they
are returning from Troy, but have been driven out of their way by
adverse winds; then he makes his human and religious appeal: We come as
suppliants, receive us; "revere the Gods," specially Zeus the protector
of suppliants. But the Cyclops scoffs at Zeus and the rest of the Gods:
"we are their betters." Thus is witnessed in the monster the denial of
the Greek religion, and an atheistic turn of mind.

Next follows in logical sequence his supreme negative act, he is a
man-eater. "He seized two of my companions and hurled them against the
ground as if they were dogs, then he devoured them piecemeal,
swallowing all--entrails and flesh and marrowy bones." Surely Ulysses
is getting some experience on the line of that Trojan deed.

Now we catch the entire sweep of this particular Cyclops. He has shown
himself as the representative of three mighty negations: of civilized
life, of religious life, and of human life. He destroys man, feeds on
him; so negation, war, revolution, must do in the end. The horrid
phantasm is the true image of the destroyer of the race. Nor does he
belong to the old Greek world and to the Trojan time only; he is among
us, and he can be translated into modern terms quite familiar.
Polyphemus is an anarchist, an atheist, and a cannibal; the ancient
poet wraps the three together in one mighty monstrosity. In the morning
the Cyclops devoured two more companions for his breakfast, then drove
his flocks afield, leaving the rest of the strangers shut up in the
cave with the big stone in the opening.

During the day the "man of many shifts" has an opportunity for
reflection in that dark recess. He dares not kill the giant outright,
"with my sharp sword stubbing him where the midriff holds the liver,"
for how could they then get out? No, the man of nature must be saved
and utilized; with all his might he is to be overborne by the man of
intelligence, and made to remove the big stone.

2. The plan of Ulysses with its successful execution is the subject of
the next phase of the conflict. By this plan three things must be done
in order to counteract the giant and to negative his power. He must be
deprived of physical vision, which becomes the more easily possible
from the fact that he has but one eye; if he had two eyes like the
ordinary man, he could still see though one be put out. That this
purpose be accomplished, he must somehow be shorn of his physical
strength; finally any resistance which might come from the rest of the
Cyclops outside must be rendered nugatory. Such are the three chief
points of the impending problem, which Ulysses has to meet and does
meet with astonishing skill and foresight; the Cyclops is blinded, is
made helpless by drink, and is befooled by a pun.

Ulysses burns out the eye of the monster with the charred end of a
stick of olive wood, which he prepares beforehand; huge Round-eye (the
meaning of the word _Cyclops_) has no eye now. Ulysses by means of that
miraculous wine, product of culture, makes the giant drunk, who thus
loses his physical superiority. The Ithacan evidently knew, as well as
the American, the power of fire-water over the wild man; that the wine
had some strength, is shown by the fact that one cup of it had to be
diluted with twenty measures of water, when taken by ordinary mortals.
Not without significance does the exhilarated Cyclops laud this
civilized wine in contrast to that of the wild grapes of his own land.

But the third scheme of Ulysses is the most subtle of all, and touches
the heart of the whole problem, though it be merely a pun. He calls
himself Nobody to Polyphemus, who, without sight or insight, is the
victim of a word. For a complete man must have not only a double sight
from his eyes, but a double insight from his mind, seeing before and
after in the latter case especially. The result is when the other
Cyclops, roused by the cries of Polyphemus, ask him from outside the
cave: What is the matter? he answers, Nobody is killing me. Whereat off
they go, dropping a word or two of cold advice, or perchance of
sarcastic humor.

We should, however, reach down to the essence of what appears on the
surface as a mere trick of speech. It may seem far-fetched to say, but
it is none the less the actual fact, that Ulysses is a Nobody, and a
very active one to Polyphemus. That is, he has shown himself the
negative power which overwhelms the giant, who is now himself quite
reduced to a nobody by Mr. Nobody. Or, in abstract terms, Ulysses has
negated the negation and has here suggested the subtle work of the
process in doing so. Has he not negatived Polyphemus, who was himself a
negative, so carefully and fully defined by the poet at the start?

Thus we come upon the deepest pun ever made, or possible to be made, a
literary form which the greatest geniuses have been fond of sporting
with; we can find puns in Dante, Goethe, and notably in Shakespeare.
The pun of Ulysses rests upon the duplicity inherent in the negative;
no-man is the man, especially to Polyphemus, whose brain cannot span
the two sides of the punning idea, who is not two-eyed but one-eyed by
nature, and this one eye is soon put out by the man with two eyes. Such
is the earliest instance of what may be called the Play of the
Negative, which is still subtly ensconced in the spoken and written
word, and winds in an elusive game of hide-and-seek through all
Literature. Many men, both writers and readers, are its victims, like
Polyphemus.

And all these floating metaphysical gossamers are found in Homer! Yes,
but not in a metaphysical form; Homer's organ is poetic, he lived in
the age ere philosophers had dawned. Still he too had before him the
problems of the soul and of the world. Nor would he have been a true
Greek unless he had grappled with this Play of the Negative, which had
some marvelous fascination for the Greek mind. It is the leaven working
in the Sophists with their subtle rhetoric, in Socrates with his
negating elenchus, in Plato with his confounding dialectic. Homer, as
the prophet of his people, foreshadowing all forms of Greek spirit and
of Greek literature, bring to light repeatedly this Play of the
Negative.

The modern German, in more respects than one the spiritual heir of the
ancient Greek, has not failed to give evidence of his birthright in the
same direction. Kant's Critique, and Hegel's Logic are the most
desperate efforts to grasp this slippery, double-doing and
double-thinking Negative, infinitely elusive, verily the old Serpent.
But the supreme attempt is the modern poetic one, made by Goethe in his
Faust poem, in which is embodied anew the mighty Negative, who is now
none other than the devil, Mephistopheles. Thus the last world-poet
reaches across the ages and touches elbows with the first world-poet in
a common theme.

Thus Ulysses nullifies the Cyclops, inflicting three deprivations
through his three means: the charred stick takes away vision, the
strong wine takes away strength, the ambiguous pun prevents help. The
pun also announces covertly to Polyphemus the nature of the power which
is undoing him, but he does not and cannot understand that. But the
problem of Ulysses is not at an end with simply nullifying the Cyclops;
he and his companions are not yet outside of the cave. Herewith we come
to a new stage of process.

3. This is the escape, to which the strong giant must be made to
contribute, he is skillfully turned against himself. The great stone is
removed by him from the mouth of the cave, but he places himself there
at the entrance, and no human being can pass. Still, the herds have to
go out to their pasture. Ulysses dexterously binds three large sheep
together, fastens a companion under the middle one, while he clings
beneath a huge ram, and out they move together. But the giant stops
just this ram and talks to it, being his favorite of the flock. The man
of nature is again outwitted by the man of intelligence, allowing his
enemy to slip through his very fingers. The conversation of the blind
Cyclops with the dumb animal is pathetic; his one solitary friend
apparently, the only creature he loved, is compelled to silent service
against its master. "Why art thou last to leave, who wast always first?
Dost thou long to see the eye of thy ruler, which has been put out by
that vile wretch, Nobody?" So the Cyclops speaks, without seeing or
knowing, yet with a touch which excites sympathy for his misfortune.

The special characteristic of this scene is that Ulysses does not now
destroy, but employs Polyphemus and his property. Nature must be used
by intelligence to overcome nature; the strength of the giant must be
directed to rolling away the big stone; his herds are taken to bring
about the escape of his foes, and he is turned into an instrument
against himself. Thus he is no longer negated as in the last scene, but
utilized; having been subdued, he now must serve.

Ulysses and his companions are outside the cave, having gotten rid of
those dark and fearful limits which walled them in with a monster.
Mind, thought has released them; soon they are on their ship in a free
element. But the end is not yet; even Polyphemus, the natural man, must
come to know who and what has subjected him, he too is in the grand
discipline of the time.

4. Two things Ulysses is now to tell to the Cyclops in the distance.
The first is the wrong and the penalty thereof: "Amply have thy evil
deeds been returned to thee," namely, his treatment of men. "Zeus and
the other Gods have punished thee," there is a divine order in the
world, which looks after the wrong-doer. Thus Polyphemus the anarchist,
atheist, and cannibal gets a short missionary sermon on justice,
religion and humanity. But he does not receive it kindly, he "hurls a
fragment of a mountain peak," and almost strikes the ship. The line of
danger is not yet passed.

Still Ulysses must tell something else though his frightened companions
try to dissuade him. But he must, he cannot help it: "If any one ask
thee, say it was Ulysses, the city-destroyer, who put out thine eye." A
great light this word brings to the poor blind Cyclops, almost the
light of self-consciousness. He recalls, he knows his conqueror, and
therein begins to know himself, to recognize his error. "Ah, woe is me!
the ancient oracles about me are fulfilled!" Of old there had been
prophecies concerning his destiny, but he did not understand them,
seemingly did not regard them. How could he, with his bent toward the
godless? The prophet Telemus had foretold "that I would lose my sight
at the hands of Ulysses." How shall we consider this prophecy? A dim,
far-off presentiment among the Cyclops themselves that they were to be
subjected to a higher influence; their limited, one-eyed vision was to
vanish through a more universal, two-eyed vision. Such a presentiment
nature everywhere shows, a presentiment of the power beyond her, of the
spiritual. What else indeed is Gravitation? A longing, a seeking which
even the clod manifests in its fall earthward, a prophetic intimation;
so the Cyclops, the natural man, had his prophet whom he now begins
rightly to recognize; truly he is getting religious, quite different is
his present utterance from his previous blasphemy: "we are better than
the Gods." Nay, he offers to intercede with his father Neptune, praying
the God to give a sending of the stranger over the sea. Moreover he
recognizes his divine father as the only one who can heal him in his
present distress. Possibly the words are spoken to beguile, but
Polyphemus here offers to do his duty to the stranger on his shores,
and he recognizes the Gods.

Manifestly we witness in this passage a striking development of the
rude Cyclops under the tough discipline of experience. He acknowledges
first his mistake in regard to the prophecy: "I expected to see a man
tall and beautiful and of vast strength, not this petty worthless
weakling who has put out mine eye." A hero of visible might, a giant
like himself, not a man of invisible intelligence, he imagined he was
to meet; great was his mistake. The conflict between Brain and Brawn
was settled long ago before Troy, and has been sung of in the preceding
Book. Here then is certainly a confession of his mistake, and, if his
words are sincere, an offer to undo his wrong.

5. At this point there is a change in Ulysses, his victory has begotten
insolence, he becomes a kind of Cyclops in his turn. Such is the demon
ever lurking in success. Listen to his response to the confession and
supplication of his wretched victim: "Would that I were as sure of
taking thy life and sending thee down to Hades, as that the
Earth-shaker shall never heal thine eye." The implication is that the
God cannot do it--an act of blasphemy which the God will not be slow to
avenge. But how true to human nature is this new turn in Ulysses, how
profound! No sooner has he escaped and experiences the feeling of
triumph, than his humanity, nay his religion vanishes, he sweeps over
into his opposite and becomes his savage enemy. What follows? The law
must be read to him too, his own law; he will hear it from the mouth of
Polyphemus, and it is essentially this: As thou hast done to me, so
shall it be done to thee.

Accordingly we have next the curse of the Cyclops denounced upon the
head of the transgressor. This curse is to be fulfilled to the letter,
the poet has fully shown the ground of it, Ulysses has really invoked
it upon himself, it lies in his deed. Possibly Polyphemus, when he
offered to give the dues of hospitality and to send the guest home, was
merely using the words of deception, which he had just had the
opportunity of learning, and was trying to get possession of his
enemy's body. Doubtless it was well for Ulysses to keep out of the
giant's hands. But that does not justify his speech, which was both
cruel and blasphemous.

Hear then the curse of the Cyclops, which hints the great obstructing
motive to the return of Ulysses, and marks out the action of the poem;
"Give Ulysses no return to his home; but if he returns, may he arrive
late and in evil plight, upon a foreign ship with loss of all his
companions, and may he find troubles in his house." Of course Neptune
heard the prayer, had to hear it, in the divine order of things. The
curse lay inside of Ulysses, else it could not have been fulfilled; he
himself could drop from his humane and religious mood in adversity and
become a savage in prosperity. His chief misfortunes follow after this
curse. But for the present he escapes to Goat Island, though another
portentous rock is hurled at him by the Cyclops. There he sacrifices to
the Highest God, Zeus, who, however, pays no heed--how is it possible?

Such is this far-reaching Fairy Tale, certainly one of the greatest and
most comprehensive ever written. It shows a movement, an evolution both
of Polyphemus and Ulysses; this inner unfolding indeed is the main
thing to be grasped. It is worth the while to take a short retrospect
of the five leading points. (1) The completely negative character of
the Cyclops as to institutions, religion, and even the physical man.
(2) This negative being is negated by the man of intelligence, who puts
out his eye, nullifies his strength by drink, and thwarts all help for
him by a punning stratagem. (3) He is made to help his enemies escape
from his cave by the skill of Ulysses who turns the force of nature
against nature. (4) The Cyclops reaches self-knowledge through Ulysses,
who tells his wrong and its punishment, who also tells his own name:
whereat the Cyclops suddenly changes and makes a humane offer. (5)
Ulysses changes the other way, becomes himself a kind of Cyclops and
receives the curse.

This curse will now follow Ulysses and drive him from island to island
through Fableland, till he gets back to Ithaca with much suffering and
with all companions lost, where he will find many troubles. In this
manner the return of Ulysses becomes intertwined with Polyphemus and
this Fableland, which furnish an underlying motive for the third Part
of the Odyssey (the last 12 Books). The curse here spoken is still
working when Ulysses reaches home and finds the suitors in possession.
Verily his negative spirit lies deep; in cursing Polyphemus, he has
cursed himself.

Thus the impartial poet shows both sides--the guilt as well as the good
in Polyphemus and in Ulysses. The man of nature has his right when he
offers to transform his conduct, and it shows that Ulysses still needs
discipline when he scorns such an offer. Polyphemus too is to have his
chance of rising, for he certainly has within himself the possibility.
Has not the poet derived the noble Arete and Alcinous and institutional
Phæacia from the savage Cyclops? But Ulysses negatives Polyphemus just
at the start upward. The character which he showed in sacking the city
of the Ciconians is in him still, he is not yet ready to return.

The Ninth Book has thus run through its three stages and has landed us
in pure Fableland. These three stages--the attack on the Ciconians,
the Lotus-eaters, the adventure with the Cyclops--may now be seen to
be parts of one entire process, which we may call the purification of
the spirit from its own negative condition. The man, having become
destructive-minded (_oloophrn_) must be put under training by the Gods,
and sent to battle with the monsters of Fableland.

So we advance to the next Book with the certainty that there is still
some stern discipline in store for the wandering Ulysses.



_BOOK TENTH._


At the first glance we can observe a certain similarity between this
Book and the last one. There are in each three distinct portions or
adventures, two very short and simple, and one very long and intricate.
Each Book culminates in a fabulous being with whom the Hero has a
wrestle for supremacy, and in both cases he comes out victorious. We
are still in Wonderland, we have to reach into the ideal realm in order
to find out what these strange incidents mean. The two central figures
are Polyphemus and Circe, respectively, each of whom imparts the
dominating thought to the Book in which he or she appears.

The first thing we ask for is the connection, the inner thread which
joins these Books together. It was stated that Polyphemus was the
negation of the institutional world, he was individualistic, he
belonged to neither Family nor State. No laws, no councils, no civil
polity; he is a huge man of violence, hostile specially to man's social
life. Circe on the contrary, is the woman hostile to woman's domestic
world, the Family, first of all; she is the grand enchantress,
representing the power and seductiveness of the senses; she is the
enemy of what we call morals. To be sure, we shall find in her
something more, whereof the full unfolding will be given hereafter.

Ulysses is the one who is to meet those negative forces and put them
down. His companions give him special trouble in the present Book, they
seem to represent the weaker phases of man, possibly of Ulysses
himself. Already he has suppressed Polyphemus, or the institutional
negation; now he is to subordinate Circe or the moral negation. The
latter is a woman because she must have sensuous beauty and all the
charm of passionate enticement; the former is a man because he must
show strength and violence rather than the allurement of pleasure.

Nor should we forget that these forms are in Ulysses himself, and were
really generated out of his Trojan life; that spirit of his, shown at
the start by the attack on the Ciconians, has all these phases in its
process. He is traveling through an Inferno, seeing its entire demonic
brood, which he has begotten, and which he has to fight and subject. At
the same time these fantastic shapes are typical, and shadow forth the
universal experience of man, belonging to all countries and all ages.

As already stated, there are three different localities to which
Ulysses is brought. Three islands, bounded, yet in a boundless sea,
through which he moves on his ships; such is the outermost setting of
nature, suggestive of much. No tempest occurs in this Book; the stress
is upon the three fixed places in the unfixed aqueous element.

I. First is the island where dwells Æolus with his Family; hither
Ulysses comes after putting down Polyphemus who was hostile to domestic
life. In this spot the bag of winds is given into the possession of the
navigator, whose companions, however, release them, and he is driven to
the starting-point, with the winds at large. Æolus refuses to receive
him the second time.

II. Next is the city of the Læstrigonians, where is a civil life, a
State, to which Ulysses can come after subjecting the Cyclops, who had
no polity of the sort. But the State is verily a giant, a cannibal to
him now, with all the winds loose. Hence he has to flee for his life.
Whither now does he go?

III. Not to Penelope and Ithaca, but to Circe, and her isle. She is the
form which next rises before Ulysses, banished from the domestic world
of Æolus, and fleeing from the civil life of the Læstrigonians.

We shall try to bring the threads of connection to light, for it is our
emphatic opinion that these three islands with their shapes are
spiritually bound and wound together. Still further, they reach back
and interlink with the forms of the previous Book, which furnish
antecedent stages of the grand total movement of Fairyland. Separated
in image are these islands and their inhabitants, but they have to be
united in thought. Not a more accident is the sequence, but a
necessity, a strict evolution. The work here, according our best
belief, is organic, and the reader must not rest contented with his
understanding of it, till he moves with the poet from place to place by
the interior path of the spirit.


I.

The first fact about the Æolian Isle is that it was afloat in the
waters of the sea, as Delos and other islands of antiquity were
reported to be. Not stationary then; the king of it, Æolus, has a name
which indicates a changeable nature, veering about like the winds, of
which he is king. The second fact pertaining to this Isle is that a
wall of brass encircles it not to be broken through; "and the cliff
runs up sheer from the sea." Manifestly two opposite ideas are
suggested in this description: the fixed and the movable; the island
within itself is bound fast, and cannot be driven asunder; yet it
floats in the most unstable of elements, in the sea and winds. Such is
the physical environment, clearly mirroring the meaning. Something
permanent in the midst of all that is mutable we may expect to find
here.

On the island dwell the King of the Winds and his wife, along with six
blooming sons and daughters. He gave his daughters to his sons for
wives; a custom not elsewhere found in Homer outside of the realm of
the Gods; yet is claimed to have been a very ancient custom, which the
Ptolomies revived in Egypt. At any rate here is the picture of the
Family in its patriarchal form, wholly separated from other connections
and set apart by itself, on the brass-bound precipitous island. The
Family is abstracted from the rest of the world and given a
dwelling-place.

At this point we begin to catch a glimpse of the significance of the
story. The Family is the first power which seizes the emotions and
passions and caprices of men (the winds of his soul) and starts the
taming of them; the marriage tie is fixed, is not for a day; thus the
Family makes itself permanent, and makes the human being stable through
feeling and duty. None but married people are here; very different will
it be hereafter in the island of Circe. The king of the winds is not
only Æolus, but also his institution, the Family, rules here, for there
is no State to be governed. Not polygamy, but monogamy, as the great
Homeric principle of domestic life, do we witness--the mutual devotion
of one man and one woman. Externally we found the fixed and the
floating; internally also we discover the fixed and the floating, or
rather, that principle which fixes the floating, and makes the world
stable. Thus we see the reason why Homer puts the Family upon the Isle
of the Winds.

It is no wonder, therefore, that in such a place is held up before us a
picture of happiness and plenty. "All feast from day to day with
endless change of meats;" why ask whence the viands come? The inner
peace provides them. Even the sound of flutes is heard round about,
according to one way of translating the passage; music attunes the
everlasting festival. Not mere gratification is this, but happiness,
the outer again mirroring the inner; domestic harmony is the matter set
forth.

Hither Ulysses comes with his companions, "to the city and beautiful
houses" of Æolus. A city is here, but no civil life is introduced into
the story. "A whole month the monarch entertained me;" what was again
the interest? "He asked me about Ilium," the eternal theme, which lies
always in the background of Fairyland as well as of Historic Hellas.
The Trojan war and also "the Return of the Greeks" were recounted, we
may say, sung by Ulysses; the Iliad and the Odyssey, delighted also
those domestic Æolians. Was not Troy destroyed because of a wrong done
to the Greek Family? Finally Ulysses was gotten ready to be sent home
by his host.

Æolus, the ruler of the winds, gives them into the might of Ulysses; he
confines them in "a bullock's bladder," which, tied by a silver chain,
he places in the ship. It is manifest that the sea, deprived of these
windy powers, cannot hinder the passage. Again we behold the main fact
of the island: the unstable, uncertain, capricious, is held by the
fixed, the permanent; during his sojourn with Æolus, Ulysses has
obtained an inner hold, an anchorage of the moral kind, which he sorely
needed. This was given him by his view of the Family, which was the
real security of the island. All the conditions of his return (but one)
are placed in his hand, tied up in a bag. "Only the west-wind was
allowed to blow," which sent him homewards.

Still the supreme condition was not, could not be given by Æolus or by
anybody else, could not be tied up in a bag. The free man must be
alert, he must watch, and win his own salvation; his prime duty is to
keep the bag tied, and therein to exercise his will. This is just what
he failed to do at the last moment. He went to sleep when in sight of
Ithaca; his companions, led by curiosity and avarice (two blasts of the
soul) open the bag, expecting to find gold and silver, and find the
rushing winds. Of course all are driven back to the starting-point, to
the island, on which they soon land.

What will Ulysses do in such extremity? "Shall I drop into the sea and
perish, or shall I still endure and stay among the living?" Suicide
will not solve his problem: "I remained and suffered." Herein also we
trace the stamp of the hero, whose special call it is to master fate.

So Ulysses tries again to get the bladder of winds from Æolus,
confessing that it was equally the fault of himself and his companions.
But the opportunity is gone; the sum total of conditions, all bagged
and tied up, and put into his hands, presents itself only once.
Moreover the sleep of Ulysses, just at the nick of destiny, showed an
internal weakness; he became careless, almost insolent under such
circumstances; he manifested a similar trait to that which led to the
curse of the Cyclops. Again he hears a malediction, now uttered by his
former host: "Get thee out of my island quickly, most guilty of men,
hated by the Gods!" Thus Æolus regards the man before him, and
reinforces the curse of Polyphemus. But if Ulysses had to fall asleep
by sheer fatigue (which construction the passage hardly demands), then
he did not look properly after his companions, making them the sharers
of his knowledge. A foolish question has been asked here and much
discussed: How did Ulysses know what his companions said during his
sleep? Easily enough; but the answer is not worth the candle.

Æolus, therefore, refuses to receive Ulysses and his companions a
second time; they have fallen, they must experience the full meaning of
their conduct; they must go to Circe, and some of them, at least, be
changed into swine, till they know the nature of their deed. Æolus
cannot receive them, they have destroyed his gift; they would repeat
their act, if he gave all into their hands again, without the deeper
penalty. The law thus is clear; they, having disregarded the fixed
control of appetite and passion, which the King of the Island imparts,
are swept back into brutishness.

Many have been the interpretations of this marvelous King and his
children and his island. The supporters of the physical theory of
mythology have maintained that the twelve sons and daughters are the
twelve months of the year, six of summer and six of winter, while
Æolus, the father, is the Sun who produces them. Others regard Æolus as
a mortal king, who, on account of certain traits or certain deeds, was
transformed into the fabled monarch of the winds. There has been much
dispute over the location of Æolia; the most of those who have searched
for its geographical site are in favor of one of the Lipari Islands, on
the northern coast of Sicily. Finally Virgil has somewhat transformed
the legend and put it into his Æneid.


II.

Ulysses and his companions now had to use the oar on seas without wind;
"their spirit was worn out," hope had fled from them toiling through
the becalmed deep. They arrive at the land of the Læstrigonians, a race
of giants, into whose narrow harbor surrounded by its high precipices
the ships enter, with the exception of that of Ulysses, who has learned
caution. A kind of cave of the Giant Despair is that harbor, reflecting
outwardly the internal condition of the men, after their weary labor
coupled with the repulse from Æolus.

First of all we here observe a city with a civil order; there is the
place of assembly, a king over men, with a royal palace. No husbandry
appears, but there are wagons fetching wood to town on a smooth road
(probably a made road); shepherds are specially designated, so that we
may suppose a pastoral life prevails, yet these people in their city
are not roving nomads. The Family also is noticed, being composed of
the king, queen, and daughter; the latter is bringing water from the
town fountain--a primitive, idyllic touch. But the stress is manifestly
not upon the domestic but the civil institution; the State is here in
full operation, in which fact we mark the contrast with the preceding
island, Æolia. Another sharp contrast may be drawn between the
Læstrigonians and the Cyclops; the latter are giants also, but have no
civil order.

Ulysses, therefore, witnesses the State, in due gradation after the
Family. He can come to both these institutions now, and see them at
least, for he has put down Polyphemus, who, we recollect, was the
negation of both. But only see them, not share in them; the curse of
the Cyclops is still working upon him and in him; though he destroy a
destroyer, that does not make him positive; the devil destroys the
wicked, but that does not make him good. Hence the State rejects him as
did the Family; he is by no means ready to return to Ithaca and
Penelope. Such is his experience at present.

But why should the Læstrigonians be portrayed as giants? Of course the
Fairy Tale deals in these huge beings for its own purpose. Æolus and
his children seem to have been of common stature. The fancy can often
play into the meaning, or suggest a glimpse thereof. The State may be
called the Big Man, the concentrated personality of many persons; he
strikes hard, he overwhelms the wrong-doer. Therefore he seems now so
terrible to Ulysses, and is really so to the latter's companions, of
whom all perish here except one shipful. It is the function of the
State to punish; in the sweet domestic life of Æolus, there was no
punishment, only banishment; thus we behold now the penalty, at the
hands of that institution which is specially to administer it. The
companions did no wrong to the Læstrigonians, but note that just here
judgment comes upon them. Ulysses escapes, but to him also these people
appear as destroyers, as man-devouring cannibals; so the State often
seems to the guilty, overwhelming the individual with its penal
vengeance.

The Cyclops was also a giant and a cannibal, full of hostility; but
mark the difference. He was the Strong Man of Nature, not human in
shape, with that one eye in his head; his violence was against
institutions, the violence of the wild barbarian, which has to be put
down by man. But the Læstrigonians live in a civilized order which has
to punish the transgressor; their shapes are not monstrosities of
nature, but magnified human bodies. Both are giants and cannibals, both
negative, but in a wholly different sense.

What is the location of the Læstrigonians? A subject much disputed
recently and of old, with very little profit. Some expressions are
puzzling: "The herdsman coming in greets the herdsman going out;" then
again, "a herdsman needing no sleep would earn double wages," which
implies apparently two periods for toil in twenty-four hours, the one
"for tending cows" and the other "for tending sheep;" and this is
possible, "for the paths of day and night are near" to each other, as
if somehow day and night ran their courses together. What does it all
mean? Some dim story of the polar world with its bright nights, which
story may have come from the far North into Greece, along with another
Northern product, amber, which was known to Homer, may lie at the basis
of this curious passage. But we can hardly place the Læstrigonians
under polar skies in spite of this polar characteristic. Others have
sought their locality in the Black Sea and have even seen their harbor
in that of Balaklava. All of which is uncertain enough, and destined to
remain so, but furnishes a marvelous field for erudite conjecture and
investigation. The certain matter here, and we should say the important
one also, is the institutional order and its negative attitude toward
Ulysses. That is, we must reach down and bring to light the ethical
thread which is spun through this wonderful texture of Fairy Tales,
before we have any real explanation, or connecting principle.


III.

Onward the wanderer, now with his single ship, has to sail again;
whither next? He arrives at another island called Ææa, "where dwells
the fair-haired Circe, an awful Goddess, endowed with a singing voice,
own sister of the evil-minded wizard Æætes, both sprung of the Sun and
of Perse, daughter of Oceanus."

This genealogy we have set down in full, as given by the poet, on
account of its suggestiveness. These names carry us back to the East,
quite to primitive Arya; here is the Sun, the God of the old Vedas;
here is Perse, curiously akin to Persia, which was light-worshiping in
her ancient religion; then we come to Æætes, father of Medea, usually
held to be of Colchis on the Eastern coast of the Black Sea, whence we
busily pass to Hellas in many a legend, and from Hellas we now have
traveled far westward into Fairyland. One ancient story, probably the
first, placed Circe in the remote East; another, this of Homer for
example, sends her to the far West; a third united the two and told of
the Flight of Circe upon the chariot of the Sun from Orient to
Occident, which is doubtless a much later form of the tale, though
ascribed to Hesiod. Circe is of a higher ancestry than Polyphemus,
though both go back in origin to the sea with their island homes; she,
however, is a child of the light-giving body, and will show her descent
in the end. Her name is related to the circle, and hints the circling
luminary, on whose car she is said to have fled once. Here in Homer,
however, we may note an inner circle of development; she passes through
a round of experience, and seems to complete a period of evolution. She
must be grasped as a movement, as a cycle of character, if you please;
she develops within, and this is the main fact of her portrayal.

The preceding etymological intimations are dim enough, yet they point
back to Asia, and to an old Aryan relationship. Not too much stress is
to be put upon them, yet they are entitled to their due recognition,
and are not to be thrown aside as absolutely meaningless. By Homer,
himself, they could not have been understood, being traces of a
migration and ethnical kinship which had been in his time long
forgotten, and which modern scholarship has resurrected through the
comparative study of language.

More important is the connection between Circe and the two preceding
portions of this Book, Æolia and the Læstrigonians. We have just seen
how both Family and State cast Ulysses off, must cast him off, since he
is without moral subordination. The inner self-control demanded by an
institutional life he has not been able to reach, after the alienation
produced by the Trojan War; the bag of winds given into his hand by
Æolus he could not keep tied. Why? Behold Circe rise up and take on
shape after his twofold experience. Really she is evolved out of
Ulysses in a certain sense; he sees her just now and not before,
because he has created her. Why is he thus repelled by Family and
State? Circe is the answer; she is the enchantress who stands for
sensuous pleasure in its most alluring form; with her is now the
battle.

Thus we approach another struggle of the hero, the longest and by far
the most elaborately unfolded, of the present Book. In many respects it
is the counterpart of the story of Polyphemus in the previous Book.
There he meets and puts down the anti-institutional man; here he meets
and puts down the anti-moral woman. The one represents more the
objective side of man's spirit, the other more the subjective; both
together image the totality of the ethical world, in its two supreme
aspects, institutions and morals.

Very famous has this story of Circe become in literature. It has
furnished proverbs, allusions, texts for exhortation; it has been
wrought over into almost every possible form--drama, novel, poem,
paramyth; from the nursery to old age it retains its charm and power.
Its meaning is plain enough, especially at first; but it grows more
weird and more profound as it develops; at last it ascends quite into
the beyond and points to the supersensible world.

Now the main point to be seized in this tale is the movement, the
development of Circe through her several stages, which are in the main
three, showing Circe victorious, Circe conquered, and Circe prophetic.
Ulysses and his companions move along with these stages, being also in
the process; but the center of interest, the complete unfolding, is
found in Circe. These three chief stages we may give somewhat more
fully before entering upon the detailed exposition.

_First._ The island is reached; some of the companions under a leader
(not Ulysses) go to Circe's abode, and are turned into swine after
partaking of her food. Circe triumphant.

_Second._ Ulysses himself then goes, having obtained the plant _moly_;
he subdues, enjoys; he releases his companions. He finally asks to be
sent home, according to the promise she had given. Circe subordinated.

_Third._ Then she reveals her prophetic power and announces the future
journey to Hades, ere he can return home. Thus she sends him on beyond
herself, and reaches her culmination in this Book.

Of these three stages the last seems inappropriate to Circe's
character, and is always a puzzle to the reader, till he probes to the
thought underlying the tale. Circe, then, is to show herself a seeress,
and foreshadow the world beyond the present. Why just that in her case?
But before the question can be answered, we must unfold the first two
stages.

I. After an introduction which names the new island and its occupant,
as well as gives a bit of her genealogy, the tale takes up Ulysses and
his companions. After a rest of two days and two nights, the hero goes
forth to spy out the land, ascends a hill whence he sees the smoke of
Circe's palace rising "through the bushes and the trees." His last
experience makes him careful, his thirst for knowledge does not now
drive him to go at once into her presence. He returns to his companions
with his information, and on the way back he kills a high-horned stag,
"which had come down from the woods to the stream to slake its thirst."
The result is a good meal for all once more, and a restoration of hope.

1. In such a mood he imparts his discovery: "I have seen with mine eyes
smoke in the center of the island." Terror-striking was the
announcement to his companions, who at once thought of "the cannibals,
Cyclops and Læstrigonians." And they had cause for fear. It may,
however, be said in advance that Circe is not a man-eater, but a
man-transformer; she is a new phase of the great experience, she
bestializes; she is negative, not so much from without as from within,
not consuming the human shape but transmuting it into that of an
animal.

A curious expression here needs some explanation. "We know not where is
east and where is west, not where the Sun goes under the earth, nor
where he rises." Why not? There have been several ways of viewing this
passage. Ulysses did not know the countries where the Sun set or rose,
though he must have seen the direction. A statement from Voss may be
here translated: "The side of night and of day he knew well, for he saw
sunrise and sunset; but he does not know into what region of the world
he has wandered away from home." One other suggestion: it may have been
very foggy or cloudy weather at the time. The internal hint, however,
is clear; he is astray, lost; he knows not what direction to take for
his return.

But something has to be done. Accordingly Ulysses divides his crew into
two portions, one commanded by Eurylochus, the other by himself. The
lot decided that Eurylochus and his company should go to the house of
Circe, and the lot always decides aright in the hand of Ulysses. Forth
they "go wailing, two and twenty companions, and leave us behind,
weeping." A tearful time for those forty-four people plus the two
leaders; which numbers give a basis for calculating the size of the
crew, of which six had been already destroyed by the Ciconians and six
by the Cyclops.

2. Soon they reach the abode of Circe, whose picture is now drawn with
characteristic touches. She is beautiful, sings with a beautiful voice,
and makes beautiful things, weaving webs such as the Goddesses weave.
Surely an artistic being; her palace is built of hewn stone, not of
natural rock, yet it lies in the depths of the forest. Here again she
shows her power: wild animals, wolves and lions, lie around--fawning
upon, not attacking men, tamed by her powerful drugs. That is, she
shows herself the mistress of nature, or rather the transformer
thereof; her mighty spell can change character and shape.

There has been a difference of opinion from antiquity down to the
present about these animals. Are they transformed men, or merely wild
animals tamed? The matter is left in doubt by the poet and either view
will answer for the passage. The connection, however, with the
transformation of the companions of Ulysses, would suggest the first
meaning. These partake of her food, with which she mingles her drug,
"in order that they might wholly forget their native country." But here
is something more than the indifference of the Lotus-eaters; these
eaters and drinkers at once become swine as to "their heads, voices and
hair," and eat the acorn and the fruit of cornel-tree, "like wallowing
pigs." Yet their mind remained "firm as before."

There can be no doubt that Time has interpreted this scene in but one
way, and Time is probably correct. Still it is not here expressly said
that the companions indulged to excess in food and drink, though they
apparently had just had a sufficiency of feasting along the sea-shore,
on venison and wine, "unspeakable meat and sweet drink." We must,
however, consider the whole to be a phase of that same lack of inner
subordination which led these people to untie the fatal bag of winds
upon a former occasion.

3. One man alone escaped to tell the story, as so often happens in such
adventures; it is Eurylochus, "who remained outside the palace
suspecting guile." When Ulysses hears the account, he proposes to go at
once and release his comrades. Eurylochus beseeches him not to attempt
it, but he persists, saying, "I shall go, a strong necessity is upon
me." Possibly in his contemptuous expression, "You stay in this place
eating and drinking," is hinted just that which he is now to put down,
in contrast with his companions. Eurylochus is the man who is unable to
solve the problem; he runs away from it, is afraid of it, and leaves
his wretched associates behind. But the problem must have a positive
solution, which here follows.

II. We are now to witness the dealings of Ulysses with Circe; he is to
subordinate her, making her into a means, not an end; she will
recognize him and submit completely, taking an oath not to do him any
harm; she will release his companions and restore them to their natural
forms at his behest; she will then properly entertain the entire crew,
no longer turning them into swine. The world of the appetites and the
senses will be duly ordered and subjected to the rational; from an
imperious enchantress Ulysses changes Circe into an instrument of life
and restoration. He is the transformer of her, not she of him; for she
will reduce man to a beast, unless he reduces her to reason.

1. Ulysses on his way to Circe's palace is met by a seeming youth
(really a God, Mercury) who warns him and gives him a plant potent
against the drugs of the enchantress. It is manifest that Ulysses has a
divine call; he knows already his problem from Eurylochus, the God
reiterates it and inspires him with courage. In addition he receives a
plant from the divine hand, whereof the description we may ponder: "The
root is black, its flower white as milk; the Gods call it _moly_, hard
it is for men to dig up." Very hard indeed! And the whole account is
symbolical, we think, consciously symbolical; it has an Orphic tinge,
hinting of mystic rites. At any rate the hero has now the divine
antidote; still he is to exert himself with all his valor; "when she
shall smite thee with her staff, draw thy sword and rush upon her, as
if intending to kill her." Thus he is to assert the god-like element in
himself, the rational, and subject to it the sensuous. It is clear that
Ulysses is beginning to master the lesson of his experience.

2. He does as the God (and his own valor) directed, and Circe cowers
down subdued. She is not supreme, there is something higher and she
knows it. At once she recognizes who it is: "Art thou that wily Ulysses
whose coming hither from Troy in his black ship has often been foretold
to me?" Such a prophecy she must have known and felt, she had mind and
was aware of a power above her, which would some day put her down,
after the Trojan time. In like manner Polyphemus, the man of nature,
has heard of a coming conqueror, and actually named him.

This one kind of subjection, however, is not enough, it must be made
universal. Every kind of subordination of the sensuous, not merely in
the matter of eating and drinking, is necessary. The next thing to be
guarded against is carnal indulgence, which may "make me cowardly and
unmanly." Hence Circe has "to swear the great oath, not to plot against
me any harm." Thus in the two chief forms of human appetite, that of
eating and drinking and that of sexual indulgence, she is subjected.

Ulysses is beginning to have some claims to being a moral hero, still
he is not by any means an ascetic. He has the Greek notion of morality;
we have a right to enjoy, but enjoyment must not make us bestial;
rational moderation is the law. He drinks of Circe's cup, but does not
let it turn him into a swine; he shares in all her pleasures, but never
suffers his head to get dizzy with her blandishments. Every seductive
delicacy she sets before him, mingled with the most charming flattery;
"I did not like the feast." Why? This leads us to the next and higher
point.

3. Lofty is the response of Ulysses: "O Circe, what right-minded man
would endure to touch food and drink before seeing his companions
released?" At once she goes to the sty and sets them free, restoring
their shapes, "and they became younger, larger, and more beautiful than
they were before." A great advantage is this to any man; it is worth
the hard experience to come out with such a gain, especially as the
companions must have been getting a little old, stooped and wrinkled,
having gone through so many years of hardship at Troy and on the sea.

4. Thus Ulysses has transformed Circe into an instrument for restoring
his fallen comrades; surely a noble act. Next she of her own accord
asks Ulysses to go to the sea-shore for the rest of his men and to
bring them to her palace for refreshment and entertainment. This he
succeeds in doing after some opposition from the terrified Eurylochus,
who has not yet gotten over his scare. Sorely did the companions need
this rest and recuperation after their many sufferings on land and sea;
"weak and spiritless they were, always thinking of the bitter
wandering." But now in the palace of Circe "they feasted every day for
a whole year," eating and drinking without being turned into swine.
Even Eurylochus follows after, "for he feared my terrible threat."

Thus we catch the sweep of this grand experience of and with Circe; if
she governs, she bestializes man; if she serves, she refreshes and
restores. Her complete subordination is witnessed; from transforming
people into swine, she is herself transformed into their helper, and
she becomes an important factor in the great Return to home and
country. But it is time to think of this Return again; the period of
repose and enjoyment must come to an end.

III. Here, then, we behold a new phase of Circe, that of the seeress
into the Beyond. Ulysses says to her at the end of the year: "Now make
your promise good, send us home, for which we long." Stunning is the
answer after that period of relaxation: "Ye must go another way, ye
must pass into the Houses of Hades." It is indeed a terrible response.
But for what purpose? "To consult the soul of the blind Theban seer
Tiresias, whose mind is still unimpaired; to him alone of the dead
Proserpine gave a mind to know." Clearly this means the pure
intelligence without body; Ulysses must now reach forth to the
incorporeal spirit, to the very Idea beyond the senses, beyond life.

The first question which arises in this connection is, How can Circe,
the enchantress of the senses, be made the prophetess of the
supersensible world? If we watch her development through the two
preceding stages, we shall see that she not only can, but must point to
what is beyond, to spirit. In the second stage she experiences a great
change, no longer transforming into the lower, but herself transformed
into the higher; she becomes a moral being, subordinating the sensuous
to the spiritual; she has, therefore, spirit in her life and manifests
it in her actions, when she is the willing means of subjecting appetite
to reason.

The same transformation we may note on her artistic side, for she
remains always beautiful. The first Circe is that alluring seductive
beauty which destroys by catering to the senses; she is that kind of
art, which debauches through its appeal to appetite and passion alone.
But the second Circe is transfigured, her service is of the spirit, she
releases from the bondage of indulgence, she aids the ethical Return to
Family and State. It is true that she never becomes a saint or a nun,
she would not be Greek if she did; moreover, according to the Greek
view, she must be transcended by the typical man, who is to rise into
an institutional life, which is hardly Circe's. Still the primal moral
subjection is shown in her career.

The domain of morals reveals the spiritual in action, the domain of
true art reveals the spiritual in representation. What shall I do with
this world of the senses? was a great question to the Greek, and still
is to us. In conduct subordinate it; in nature transform it into an
image of the higher. The work of art is a divine flash from above into
a sensuous form; this flash we separate from its material, and pass
into pure spirit; then we reach Tiresias, the mind embodied, not
limited in Space and Time.

Circe thus indicates her own limitation, which belongs to morals and
art. She is not the Infinite, but can point to it; she hints the rise
from art to philosophy. Backwards and forwards runs the suggestion in
her career; the Greek can lapse to the first Circe and die in a debauch
of the senses, or he can rise to the prophetic Circe, and lay the deep
foundation of all future thought. The Greek world, in fact, had just
this double outcome.

Ulysses, then, has to go to Hades, the supersensible realm; his heart
was wrung, "I wept sitting upon the couch, I wished no longer to live
nor to see the light of the sun." But after such a fit, he is ready for
action: "when I had enough of weeping and rolling about, I asked Circe:
Who will guide me?" Then he receives his instructions, which have
somewhat of the character of a mystic ritual, with offerings to the
dead, who will come and speak. Messages from the spirit world he will
get, but he must pass through the Ocean stream, to the groves of
Proserpine. From that point, after mooring his ship, he is to go to the
houses of Hades, where is a rock at the meeting of two loud-roaring
rivers; "pour there a libation to the dead" with due ceremony. In all
of which is the method of the later necromancy, or consultation of the
departed for prophetic purposes. Very old is the faith that the souls
of deceased persons can be made to appear and to foretell the future,
after a proper rite and invocation; nor is such a belief unknown in our
day.

Ulysses departs from Circe's palace and tells his companions concerning
the new voyage: whereat another scene of lamentation. To the Greek the
Underworld was a place of gloom and terror; he liked not the spirit
disembodied, he needed the sensuous form for his thought, he was an
artist by nature. The Homeric Greek in particular was the incarnation
of the sunny Upperworld, he shuddered at the idea of separating from it
and its fair shapes. But the thing must be done, as it lies in the path
of development as well as in the movement of this poem.

Ulysses must therefore go below, inasmuch as this world with its moral
life even, is not the finality. There is aught beyond, the limit of
death we must surmount in the present existence still; a glimpse of
futurity the mortal must have before going thither. So Homer makes the
Hero transcend life as it were, during life; and extend his wanderings
into the supersensible world.

The reader has now witnessed the three stages of this Tenth
Book--Æolus, the Læstrigonians, and Circe. The inner connection between
these three stages has also been investigated and brought to the
surface; at least such has been the persistent attempt. Especially has
Circe been unfolded in the different phases which she shows--all of
which have been traced back to a unity of character.

The intimate relation between the Ninth and Tenth Books has been set
forth along with their differences. Both belong to the Upperworld of
this Fableland; hence they stand in contrast with the Netherworld,
which is now to follow.



_BOOK ELEVENTH._


The present Book is one of the most influential pieces of writing which
man has produced. It has come down through the ages with a marvelous
power of reproduction; in many ways poets have sought to create it
over; indeed Time has imitated it in a series of fresh shapes. Virgil,
not to speak of other attempts in ancient Greek epics, has re-written
it in the Sixth Book of the Æneid; from Virgil it passed to Dante who
has made its thought the mould which shapes his entire poem--the
_Divine Comedy_.

It is one phase of the great Mythus of the Apocalypse, or the
uncovering of the Future State, which in some form belongs to all
peoples, and which springs from the very nature of human spirit. Man
must know the Beyond; especially the Hero, the spiritual Hero of his
race, must extend his adventures, not only over the world, but into the
other world, and bring back thence the news concerning those who have
already departed.

This then is the supreme Return of the Hero, the Return from beyond
life, still alive; he is to conquer not only the monster Polyphemus and
the enchantress Circe, but also the greatest goblin of all, Death.
Common mortals have to make the passage thither without returning; the
Hero must be the grand exception, else he were no Hero. Transcendent
must he be, rising above all limits, even the limit of life and death.

We have, therefore, in the present Book the Greek glance into
immortality. This is the essence of it, hence its prodigious hold upon
human kind. That the conscious individual persists after the
dissolution of the physical body is here strongly affirmed; indeed the
world beyond is organized, and its connection with the world on this
side is unfolded, in a series of striking pictures for the imagination.
It is thus a grand chapter in the history of the soul's consciousness
of its eternal portion, is in fact the middle link between the Oriental
and the Christian view of immortality.

Ulysses, as the wise man, or rather as the intellectual Hero of his
age, must go through the experience in question; he cannot return to
home and country, and be fully reconciled with his institutional life
here and now, without having seen what is eternal and abiding in the
soul. The wanderer must wander thither, the absolute necessity lies
upon him--and he must fetch back word about what he saw, and thus be a
mediator between the sensible and supersensible, between time and
eternity. In that way he means something to his people, becomes, in
fact, their Great Man, helping them vicariously in this life to rise
beyond life. The complete Return, then, involves the descending to
Hades, the beholding the shapes there, and the coming back with the
report to the living. Perhaps we ought to consider just this to be the
culmination of the whole journey, the grand adventure embracing all
possible adventures.

The connection with the preceding Book can not be too strongly
enforced. Circe points out the way to Ulysses; her nature is to point
to the Beyond, to which she cannot herself pass. In her last phase, she
was spirit, but still in the sensuous form; that spirit in her, as in
all true art and even in the world, points to its pure realm, where it
is freed from the trammels of the senses. This gives the main
characteristic of Homeric Hades; it is the supersensible world, outside
of Space and Time; or, rather with its own Space and Time, since it is
still an image.

Hence these mythical statements which seek to get beyond all known
geographical limits. Ulysses had to cross the Ocean stream, which ran
round the whole earth; to go over it was indeed to go over the border.
There below is the gloomy grove of Proserpine; there too, are the four
rivers of the Lower Regions, with names terribly suggestive; into
Acheron the stream of pain (or lake) flow Pyriphlegethon (Fire-flames)
and Cocytus (the Howler), the latter being an offshoot of Styx (Hate or
Terror). Where "the two loud-sounding rivers meet" the third one
(Acheron) is a rock, a firm protected spot seemingly, there with mystic
rites is the invocation of the dead to take place.

Thus we see that the poet's description remains spatial in his attempt
to get beyond space. He has to express himself in images taken from the
sensible world, even while pushing them beyond into the supersensible.
He makes us feel that the image is inadequate, though he has to use it;
poetry is driven upon its very limit. At this point specially we note
the kinship of the Odyssey with Romantic Art, which through the finite
form suggests the Infinite. Dante comes to mind, whose great poem is
one vast struggle of the limited symbol with the unlimited spirit which
is symbolized. Thus the old Greek song becomes prophetic, foreshadowing
the next great world-poem, or Literary Bible, written in the light of a
new epoch.

Strong is the sympathy which one feels with the ancient singer in this
attempt to probe the deepest mystery of our existence. He must have
reflected long and profoundly upon such a theme, building in this Book
a world of spirits, and laying down the lines of it for all futurity.
Probably the most gigantic conception in literature: the universal
Hero, ere he can round the complete cycle of experience, must pass
through the Beyond and come back to the Present. It deepens the idea of
the Return, till it embraces the totality of existence, by making it
reach through the Underworld, which is thus a domain in the spiritual
circumnavigation of the globe.

The structure of the Book is somewhat intricate and it requires quite a
little search to find the lines upon which it is built. It has at the
first glance a rather scattered, disorganized look; for this reason the
analytic critics have fallen upon it in particular, and have sought to
tear it into fragments. It is possible that some few lines may have
been interpolated, but it remains an organic whole, and the final
insight into it comes from viewing it in its total constructive
movement.

As the Book is an effort to make a bridge between the sensible and
supersensible realms, manifestly this separation into two realms will
constitute the fundamental division. The diremption into soul and body,
into life and death, runs through the entire narrative, also that into
men and women; but the main distinction is into Past and Present. The
sensible world when canceled becomes Past, the distant in Time and
possibly in Space; this Past through its characters, its spirits, is
made to communicate with the Present.

Moreover the Past has its distinctions. To the Greek mind of Homer's
age, specially in Phæacia, the Trojan War is the grand central fact of
the aforetime; thus the Past divides into the Pre-Trojan, Trojan, and
immediate Past, in the Book before us. A complete sweep down into the
Now is given--the sweep of the supersensible. Also the Present has two
representatives: Ulysses along with his companions, and the Phæacians.

In the Past, therefore, is arranged a long gallery of souls speaking to
the Present, which listens and also has its communication. The problem
now is to get a structural form which will hold the idea. Let the
following scheme be sent in advance, which scheme, however, can only be
verified or understood at the close of the Book on a careful review.

I. The first great communication of the dead and past to the living and
present, by voice and by vision; some speak, others are only seen.

1. The present and living element is made up of Ulysses and his
companions who are invoking by their rites and prayers the souls of the
Underworld. The companion Elpenor dead, but not yet buried, forms the
transition between the Present and Past.

2. The past and dead element, Pre-Trojan, is called up in two general
forms: the ancient seer Tiresias who is both Past and Future through
his mind, and, secondly, the souls of Famous Women, who pass in review
before the Present. The hint of a world-justice runs through both the
prophecies of the seer and the destinies of some of these women.

II. The second grand communication of the dead and past, now Trojan--to
the living and present, now Phæacian prominently, given by voice and
vision.

1. The Present is here not only Ulysses far off in Hades, but the
Phæacians in their actual sensible world. The latter demand again the
grand background and presupposition of their present life--the Trojan
epoch represented in its great spirits.

2. The Past, Trojan, in three typical Greek heroes, Agamemnon,
Achilles, Ajax. The three typical Greek women of the Trojan epoch are
also mentioned. An implicit idea of punishment, or of heroic limitation
brought home to the hero, is traceable in this portion.

III. The idea of a world-justice with its universal judgment, hitherto
only implied, now becomes explicit in Hades and organizes itself,
showing (1) the judge, Minos, (2) the culprits in four condemned ones,
(3) the saved one, Hercules, who rises out of Hades through the deed.
By implication so does the living Ulysses--hence the journey is at an
end, Hades is conquered.


I.

Ulysses follows the direction of Circe, indeed he is propelled by the
wind which she sends, to the "confines of the Ocean stream," to the
limits of this terrestrial Upperworld. Here is the land of the
Cimmerians, "hid in fog and in cloud," which veils the realm of the
dead; here the sun sends no beam, either rising or setting. Again it is
possible that the poet may have heard some dim account of the regions
of the extreme North. But the significance of the Cimmerians is to
shadow forth the dark border-land between life and death, which is here
that between the limited and the unlimited. We see the strong attempt
of the poet to get beyond limitation in its twofold appearance: first
he will transcend the external boundary of the Homeric horizon, that of
the sea stretching far to the westward; still more emphatic is his
effort to transcend the limits of finite thinking and to reach an
infinite realm, which is the goal of the spirit. He sweeps out of
sensuous space, yet the poetic imagination has to remain in space after
all, though it be a new space of its own creation. In like manner, he
has to give the disembodied souls some finite nourishment in the shape
of food and blood, in order that they become real. We feel in these
dark Cimmerian limits his wrestle to pass over to the supersensible by
thought.

I. The Present is represented by Ulysses and his companions, who now
perform the rites consisting of a sacrifice and prayer to "the nations
of the dead." We may find in the libation of "mingled honey, sweet
wine, and water," a suggestion of the tissues and fluids of the body,
while the blood of the sacrificed animals hints the principle of
vitality. When the disembodied spirit tastes these elements, it gets a
kind of body again, sufficient at least to be able to speak. That the
sheep must be black is curiously symbolical, hinting the harmony
expressed in the color of the animal and of Hades.

The souls "came thronging out of Erebus," eager to communicate. This
aspiration must thus be their general condition; they wish to hear from
us as much as we wish to hear from them. Hence there must be a
selection, which involves a new rite, the flaying and the burning of
the carcasses of the animals along with "prayer to Pluto and
Proserpine" king and queen of the Underworld. Yet this choice requires
activity from the hero, who has to draw his sword and keep off the
crowd of spirits, till the right one comes, the Theban seer Tiresias.

Thus is the Past linked into the Present, which to receive the
communications of the departed by means of a ritual, in whose symbolism
we see the effort of the living to know the Beyond. Now occurs a
curious incident: Ulysses beholds his companion Elpenor, dead, yet
unburned, and hears his first message. This soul can still speak, and
be seen; it hovers half way between the two worlds, having still a
material phase of the body which has not yet been burnt. Elpenor tells
the nature of his death: "some deity and too much wine" did the
thing--a combination which is usually effective in Homer. An unhappy
condition, suspended between matter and spirit; he begs that it be
ended. But the poor fellow has another request which shows the longing
of the humblest Greek--the longing for the immortality of fame. "Make a
tomb beside the seashore for me, an unfortunate man, of whom posterity
may hear." Thus he too will live in the mouths of men; wherein we catch
possibly a gleam of Homer himself, who has certainly erected an
imperishable monument to Elpenor, voicing the aspiration of the soul
even in Hades.

It is the hint of a deep maternal instinct that Anticleia, "my mother
deceased" comes at once to the blood and wishes communication. But
Ulysses must first hear Tiresias, the strongest ties of Family are
subordinate to the great purpose. Surely all are now ready to listen to
the Past with its message; here comes its spirit, voiced with a fresh
power.

II. We have just had the Present, and in the case of Elpenor, the
immediate Past, which is not yet wholly gone. Next we take a leap to
the Past of long ago, to the Pre-Trojan time, whose spirits will
appear. Two sets of them, divided according to sex into man and woman,
we behold. But the man here is the prophet, hence what he says belongs
to the Future, into which Ulysses now gets a glimpse.

Thus both Future and Past are given their place in the supersensible
realm, both being abstractions from the Present, which is the reality,
the world of the senses. Yet that which is abiding and eternal knows
not Past, Present, or Future, or knows them all equally, having that
which is common to them all, being indeed the principle of them all. In
a sense we may say that Tiresias is Past, Present and Future, he is the
voice of the Past speaking in the Present foretelling the Future. Then
the Famous Women come forth, whose fame causes them to appear now and
to be recorded. Thus the poet takes the two ancient sets and suggests
that which underlies them both and makes them ever present.

1. Tiresias, though he spans the three dimensions of Time, is
essentially the prophet, and so his stress is upon the Future. His body
has been long dead, but his mind is left in its untrammeled activity;
he may be considered as the purest essence of spirit. No senses
obstruct his vision, he sees the eternal and unchangeable law; yet he
must throw it into images and apply it to special cases. What a
conception for a primitive poet! We feel in this figure of Tiresias
that Homer himself is prophetic, foreshadowing the pure ideas or
archetypal forms of Plato, and that he, in his struggle for adequate
expression of thought, is calling for, and in fact calling forth, Greek
philosophy.

Tiresias speaks at first without drinking of the blood, yet he has to
drink of it to tell his prophecy. This little contradiction is not
vital, let it not trouble us. The prophetic announcement to Ulysses
includes four special cases. First, the Hero must have his struggle
with Neptune on his way homeward, the God will avenge the blinding of
his son, though that blinding had to take place; every man who
overcomes a great power, even a natural power, will get the backstroke
of his own deed. The very ship of Ulysses, which defies Neptune,
exposes itself to a conflict which it might avoid, did it not undertake
to master the God's element; such is the penalty of all victory.
Secondly, he must keep down appetite, particularly at the Trinacrian
Isle, and not slay the Oxen of the Sun, else the penalty will follow
there too. Not to keep down passion and appetite is clearly to eat of
those oxen in some way, which will be more carefully scrutinized
hereafter. Then, thirdly, "thou shalt avenge the violent deeds of the
Suitors, when thou hast returned home."

The common ground in these three cases of prophetic insight is
retribution for the act done there above on earth. The penalty is as
certain in the future as it has been in the past; violation brings
punishment. Ulysses has had that experience often; note it is told him,
or, if you wish to think the matter in that way, he tells it to himself
for his own future experience. So the Prophet sees the universal law,
he knows what abides in all the fleeting appearances of the world.
Ulysses also, were he to descend into the depths of his own soul, would
find the same prophecy; indeed this descent into Hades is also the
descent into himself, as well as into the outer supersensible world.
The hero in his intellectual journey has gone far, we can now behold
him near the eternal verities.

But the fourth statement of the Prophet is here too, it is the word of
promise. When this last conflict with the Suitors is over, then be
reconciled with Neptune by a fitting sacrifice (which means that
Ulysses should quit the watery element) give hecatombs to the
Immortals, recognize them and their rule. Then serene old age will take
thee off remote from the sea and all struggle, among a happy people,
whom thou hast made happy. Such is the promise, extending quite beyond
the limits of the Odyssey, which ends not at the death of Ulysses, but
with his last conflict. So there is hope amid all this struggle, hope
of becoming the complete man, who has reached harmony with the Gods,
with his people, and with himself.

In such fashion Tiresias calls into vision the course of the entire
poem, and reaches even beyond it, embracing the whole life of Ulysses,
till he too descends for the last time into Hades. Verily the prophet
is Past, Present and Future; his true abode is in the realm of pure
spirit. He foretells, but the Future is prefigured as the outcome of
what is universal; it must be so and not otherwise, else is the world a
chaos. Thus Tiresias is put at the beginning, he being the typical
person of this Underworld, in which the deities, Pluto and Proserpine,
do not appear, being held in the dark background. The prophet telling
his prophecy is the very Figure of the Supersensible.

But again let us be reminded that these hints of pure universal thought
are borne to us in images, in particular shapes, whereby ambiguity
rises, and meaning runs double. Nevertheless the true-hearted reader
will go down with the old poet into Hades, and there behold in these
images things which lie beyond the senses; he will behold the very
spirit of ancient Tiresias.

2. Having seen the Man, Ulysses is next to behold the Famous Women of
the Past, which is still Pre-Trojan with one exception. Examples from
all the relations of the woman in the Family are given: the mother, the
maiden, the wife. Tragic and happy instances are brought before
us--ideal forms taken from the ancient Mythus of Hellas, and begetting
in later times a prodigious number of works of art, in poetry,
sculpture and painting. Here they are put into Hades, the place of the
spirit unbodied, which will hereafter take on body in the drama, in the
statue, and in the picture. Ulysses witnesses these shapes in advance,
and gives their idea, which is to be realized in the coming ages of
Hellas. Truly is Homer the primordial Hellenic seer, he who sees and
sets forth the archetypal forms of the future of his race. Undoubtedly
he drew from mythical stores already existent, but he ordered them,
shaped them anew, and breathed into them the breath of eternal life. No
wonder the universal Greek hero must go to Hades to see these forms of
the Past which are, however, to live afresh in the Future.

We must also consider the audience of the singer. Who are present?
First of all, Arete, mother and wife, together with Nausicaa, the
maiden, to these he is specially singing. Their importance in the
Phæacian world has been already indicated; naturally they wish to hear
of woman in the Family. Accordingly this portion of the Eleventh Book,
the catalogue of Famous Women, or Homer's "Legende of Good Women," is
organized after the relations of domestic life. Three classes are
suggested: the mothers; the maidens and the wives, of the grey
aforetime.

But by all means the glory and the stress of the song are given to the
mothers; the other two classes are very briefly dismissed, as being
essentially described in the first. Arete is indeed the grand center
and end of womanhood; Nausicaa as maid is but a transitory phase, and
as wife she is to become mother, and then take her supreme place in the
chain which upholds and perpetuates humanity. So the old Greek poet
must have thought; was he very far from right?

    _a._ The first of these mothers to appear is Anticleia, the mother
    of the Hero Ulysses, of the Hero who has made this remarkable
    voyage to the world beyond, of its kind the supreme heroic act done
    by a living mortal. She, however, belongs to the immediate Past,
    and thus corresponds to the man, Elpenor, in the previous section,
    though she of course has been buried. Note, therefore, this mark of
    symmetrical structure.

    It is the beautiful instinct of the mother, that she flits in the
    ghost-world to her son at once, when the chance is afforded. She
    has already appeared, even before Tiresias came; now she is the
    first after that prophet, who gives directions to Ulysses
    supplicating: "Tell me, O Prophet, how shall my mother recognize me
    as her son." Ulysses learns much from her about Ithaca, especially
    about his father Laertes, who now never goes to the town but stays
    in the fields, "with a great sorrow in his heart, desiring thy
    return, while old age weighs hard upon him." Such is the father,
    still living, whom Ulysses may yet see.

    The mother died from longing for her son and "the memory of his
    gentleness;" still her longing brings her to him in the life
    beyond. The great revelation is concerning the future state: the
    soul is immortal, this fact Ulysses is to tell in Phæacia. The
    strong desire to behold the loved ones who have passed away is
    indeed the impulse; but they too return, though insubstantial. It
    is the primary groundwork of faith in immortality--this feeling of
    the domestic relation affirming that it is eternal and cannot be
    broken by death. Still the mother is but a ghost and cannot be
    embraced; this the son has to accept, though he would have her in
    flesh and blood.

    _b._ At once there is the transition to the famous mothers of
    legend--"wives and daughters of Heroes" says the poet, with, an eye
    to his audience, which has men in it also, so he does not mention
    mothers, though they are the burden of his strain. Here follows a
    Catalogue of Women, giving them their due place in the genealogy
    and destiny of distinguished houses. Three groups of these mothers
    we may distinguish.

    First is the group of mortal women who were embraced by some god,
    and gave birth to heroic offspring. Tyro met Neptune and brought
    forth Pelias and Neleus; from the latter sprang Nestor who connects
    the Pre-Trojan and Trojan ages, since he appears both in the Iliad
    and Odyssey. In the Third Book of the latter epos we have already
    seen Nestor sacrificing to his divine ancestor; so the present
    passage has its pertinence to the total poem. In the same group are
    Antiope and Alemena, the latter of whom was the mother of Hercules,
    whose father was Zeus. At the end of the present Book, Hercules
    himself will appear as the supreme example of the Greek Hero.

    Such were three typical mothers, famed in Hellenic legend, being
    the women who bore Heroes, the offspring of Gods. It was deemed the
    highest function of the Greek mother to bring forth a Hero, the
    child of divinity, with an immortal portion. This view, in its
    purely sensuous aspect, is dubious enough to the modern ethical
    mind, still its real meaning must be looked at with sympathetic
    vision, which sees therein the divine descent into mortal flesh, a
    mythical utterance of the faith that the great man is the son of
    God. The Christian view universalizes this conception, holding that
    all men, and not merely the Heroes, are God's children. Yet the
    Christian world has also retained its faith in the Son of God, son
    by a mortal woman, which faith the old Greek had too, and expressed
    in his way. Thus we may extract out of this Homeric account
    something more than divine license; it has indeed a wonderful
    pre-Christian suggestiveness, and gives a glimpse of the movement
    of Universal Religion.

    The second group of famous mothers are mortal women with mortal
    husbands. The wedded wife brings up now the domestic relation,
    which is passingly introduced by the spouse of Hercules, Megara,
    who is simply mentioned. The two chief women of the group are
    Epicaste and Chloris, the one supremely tragic in her motherhood,
    the other reasonably happy. Epicaste is mother of OEdipus, who
    marries her after slaying his own father who is her husband, both
    deeds being done in ignorance; thus the closest domestic ties are
    whelmed into guilt and tragedy, whereof Sophocles has made a
    world-famous use, in his two dramas on the subject of OEdipus.
    Chloris is, on the contrary, the mother of Nestor, not a tragic
    character by any means; also she is mother of Pero, the beautiful
    maiden, "whom all the people around were wooing," and who was
    happily won by an heroic deed. Mark the interest of those
    listeners, Arete and Nausicaa, mother and daughter in this tale.
    Thus the two women, Epicaste and Chloris, have opposite destinies,
    and show the sharp contrasts of life.

    In the third group are two mothers who have a double honor; each
    has borne twins and heroic ones at that; moreover the Gods again
    enter the domestic relation of mortals. Leda's sons are "Castor the
    horseman, and Pollux the boxer," the first being mortal, the second
    immortal, and reputed son of Zeus, who permitted the immortal
    brother to share his immortality with his mortal brother; hence
    "every other day they both are alive, and every other day they both
    are dead." Again the divine gives itself to the human in the spirit
    of true brotherhood; the son of Zeus takes on the ills of mortality
    through fraternal love. The second mother of this group is
    Iphidameia, who declares Neptune to be the father of Otus and
    Ephialtes, of her monstrous twins, "who at the age of nine years
    threatened war upon the Gods," and proposed to storm heaven by
    piling Mount Ossa upon Olympus and Pelion on top of that. Such is
    the contrast: one set of sons is noble, worthy, and "receive honor
    like unto Gods;" the other set is defiant, assailing the divine
    order, and are slain by the arrows of Apollo "ere the down
    blossomed beneath their temples, and covered their chins with
    tender furze."

    _c._ Such, then, is the account of the mothers, the women who have
    borne children famous in legend. They have taken up nearly the
    whole of the present catalogue; the wives and maidens now come in
    for brief mention, forming two groups, three persons to the group.
    The poet is impartial, he introduces the faithful woman, Ariadne,
    and the faithless woman, Eriphyle; in the one case man is the
    betrayer of woman, and in the other case woman is the betrayer of
    man. Possibly in Ariadne may be a little hint for Nausicaa, saying,
    Beware.

    But the singer is tired and sleepy; moreover has he not told the
    essence of the matter in this portion of his song? He at once
    dismisses any further account of famous women, "wives and daughters
    of Heroes," whom he saw in Hades. Nausicaa and Arete have had their
    share, wonderful has been their interest in the struggles and
    sufferings of their sex; they feel in themselves the possibility of
    such conflicts. These ideal shapes of the olden time, product of
    the myth-making Imagination, are types, are the ghosts of Hades
    which Ulysses must see and know, ere he return to the Upperworld.


II.

We now reach the second main division of the Book, which is marked by
the introduction of the audience, the Phæacians, "who were held rapt
with the charm" of the story. Observe, too, that the palace was not
brilliantly illuminated, but shadowy--fit environment for fairy tales
(line 334). This main division is again separated into two subordinate
divisions which embrace the Present and the Past, and thus is in
structure homologous with the preceding main division. Yet both the
Present and the Past are not now the same as the previous Present and
Past.

I. First of the hearers speaks out the mother, wife of Alcinous, Arete,
in response to the compliment of Ulysses in singing of the Famous Women
of Greek legend. "Phæacians, how does this man seem to you now in form,
stature, and mind?" Very different does he seem from what he once did;
thus she gently apologizes for her previous treatment. She appreciates
the Hero; moreover, she asks that the high guest receive hospitable
gifts without stint; "for much wealth lies in your halls by the bounty
of the Gods."

Having thus heard from the woman, we now are to hear from the man, the
representative Phæacian, king Alcinous. In the first portion of the
Book Ulysses and his companions were the Present to which the Past
appeared in Hades. Now the Phæacians are introduced as the Present,
which is to hear the voice of the Past from Hades. Moreover, the Past
is not the Pre-Trojan, but the Trojan Past, which we have already (in
the Eighth Book) seen to be dear to the Phæacian heart. It is no
wonder, then, that Alcinous, as soon as he can urge his request, calls
for a song about the Greco-Trojan Heroes in the Underworld. "Tell us if
thou didst see any of those godlike Argives who followed thee to Troy
and there met their fate." Not the mother of the Hero, but the Hero
himself is now to be called up; the man wishes to listen to the deeds
of man. Demodocus, the Phæacian bard, always sung of some phase of the
Trojan struggle, which was the popular subject of story and song in
Phæacia. Thus we note again how the famous Past, stored away in Hades,
is made to flow into the Present, and to contribute an ideal of
heroism, and a warning also, to the living.

A touch of Homer as literary critic we should not pass by, as he does
not often take that part. Alcinous, praising the tale of Ulysses, says:
"Form of words is thine, and a noble meaning, and a mythus, as when a
minstrel sings." Three important qualities of poetry are therein set
forth: beauty of language, nobleness of content, and the fable in its
totality--all of which belong to the preceding narrative. Moreover,
Alcinous draws a sharp contrast with that other sort of storytellers,
mere liars, "of whom the dark earth feeds many," who go about
"fabricating lies, out of which we, looking into them, can get
nothing," can draw no meaning. Such at least is our view of this
passage (line 366) about which there is a difference of opinion among
commentators. At any rate we catch a glimpse of Homeric literary
criticism in Homer, who states the requirements of good poetry, and
contrasts them with the "liar" or fabricator of yarns, which are
certainly devoid of the noble spirit or worthy content.

So Ulysses is asked to begin his Trojan story, always more interesting
than that catalogue of women, at which everybody began to yawn. "It is
not yet time to go to sleep," cries Alcinous, "the night here is
unspeakably long," and still further, "I would hold out till daylight,"
listening to thy story.

II. The Trojan Past, then, is the theme; we are to behold the ghosts of
those who were famous during the War at Troy, and immediately
afterwards, both men and women. But the women are not here given a
special portion to themselves, but are woven into the general
narrative. This part of the Book is sung for the men, the opposite sex
is withdrawn into the background; still they will be duly mentioned,
since the whole conflict is over a woman. Moreover Alcinous wishes to
hear what the heroic men are doing in the future world, whither too he
must go.

1. Three Greek shades will pass before us, Agamemnon the Leader,
Achilles the Hero, and Ajax the man of strength. We shall find them
placed in a certain contrast with Ulysses, who is shown greater than
any of the three. All have been overwhelmed by fate through their own
folly or weakness, while Ulysses still lives, the master of fate, and
beholds them in Hades. Such is his triumph, which the shades themselves
declare.

First comes the soul of Agamemnon, the great King, who has the bond of
authority in common with King Alcinous. He tells the story of his own
murder in considerable detail, which story has been given twice already
in the poem. A most impressive event to the Greek mind of Homer's age;
the greatest of the rulers is wretchedly cut off from his Return by his
wife Clytæmnestra and her paramour Ægisthus. This Return is what points
the contrast between him and Ulysses; moreover the contrast is also
drawn between the wives of the two men, one the faithless and the other
the faithful woman. Still the wrong of Agamemnon is suggested by
himself: "I heard the piteous voice of Cassandra, whom Clytæmnestra
slew, crying for me; I, though dying, grasped for my sword," to no
purpose, however. Surely the wife had her wrongs as well as the
husband, out of which double guilt Æschylus will construct his mighty
tragedy.

Next after the Leader, in due order comes the Hero of the Greeks before
Troy, Achilles. He recognizes this descent to Hades as the greatest
deed of Ulysses: "What greater deed, rash man, wilt thou plan next?" It
is verily the most wonderful part of his Return, overtopping anything
that Achilles did. Still Ulysses pays him the meed of heroship: "We
Argives honored thee as a God, while living, and now thou art powerful
among the dead; therefore do not sorrow at thy death, O Achilles." But
he answers that he would rather be the humblest day laborer to a poor
man than to be King of the Shades. It is not his world, he longs for
the realm of heroic action, here he has no vocation. No Troy to be
taken, no Hector to be vanquished down in Hades; the heroic man must
sigh for the Upper World with its activity. Some consolation he gets
from the account which Ulysses gives of his son, who was in the Wooden
Horse and distinguished himself at Troy for bravery. Thus the father
lives in his son and "strides off delighted through the meadow of
asphodel." This plant is usually regarded as the _Asphodelus ramosus_,
a kind of lily with an edible tuberous root, still planted, it is said,
on graves, to furnish to the dead some food which grows in the earth.
This ancient custom has been supposed to be the source of the legend of
its being transplanted to Hades.

The third heroic shade is that of Ajax, son of Telamon, with whom
Ulysses had a rivalry, the story of which runs as follows: After the
death of Achilles, Thetis his mother offered his arms, the work of
Vulcan, to the worthiest of the remaining Greek heroes. The contest lay
between Ajax and Ulysses. Agamemnon would not decide, but referred the
question to the Trojan prisoners present, asking them which of the two
contestants had done them the most injury. They said Ulysses. Whereupon
Ajax went crazy and slew himself. Now he appears in Hades, still
unreconciled; it is really the most wretched lot of all. Ulysses here
speaks the reconciling word, growing tender and imploring; but the hero
"answered not, darting away with the other shades into Erebos." Wherein
we may well see how much greater in spirit Ulysses was than his big
muscular rival. He has reached in this respect the true outcome of
life's discipline: to have no revenges, and to speak the word of
reconciliation.

In fact the superiority of Ulysses over all these heroes is clearly
manifested. He brings no captive woman home to his domestic hearth, and
hence he has a right to count upon Penelope's fidelity, though
certainly he shows himself no saint in his wanderings. Moreover
Agamemnon lacked foresight in his Return, which Ulysses will exhibit in
a supreme degree when he first touches his native soil. The second
hero, Achilles, could not conquer Troy, then he could not conquer
Hades; yet both are conquered by Ulysses who is thus the greater.
Finally unreconciled Ajax--all are limited, incomplete, in contrast
with the complete, limit-removing Hero, who has just removed even the
limit of Death in the only way possible. Verily to him they have become
shadows, that whole heroic world before Troy is now put by him into
Hades.

Thus we see that, while the characters belong to the Trojan time, there
is a movement out of that period, it is transcended. The background
here is the Iliad, yet the incidents are taken from the Trojan war
after the action of the Iliad is brought to a close. The fates of the
three great heroes of that poem are not given in the poem; here they
are given with a tragic emphasis. Thus the Odyssey carries forward the
Iliad, supplements it, and forms its real conclusion, both being in
fact one poem. In the full blaze of the glory of Achilles the Iliad
ends; but he cannot take Troy; and still less, after his death, can
Ajax; the divine armor must go to Ulysses who has brain, then can the
city be taken. Even the son of Achilles will fight under Ulysses and
enter the Trojan Horse, the work of Pallas, of Intelligence. Thus we
catch here as in other places, glimpses of the unity of both the Iliad
and the Odyssey, the great work reflecting the one national
consciousness of Hellas in its complete cycle.

2. We should not fail to cast a separate glance at the three typical
women of the Trojan epoch--Helen, Clytemnestra, Penelope--in contrast
with the three heroes already described. They are all mentioned and
compared in the speech of Agamemnon, but do not form an organic part of
the Book by themselves, as do the Pre-Trojan women. They are wives, and
wifehood not motherhood, as in the previous case, is the phase of the
domestic relation which is the theme of song and struggle in their
lives. Possible its present importance is the reason why wifehood was
dismissed with so brief mention in the portion concerning the famous
mothers.

Note, then, the gradation of the three: Clytemnestra is the fallen
unrestored; Helen is the fallen restored; Penelope is the unfallen, who
keeps a home for her absent husband during twenty years. The tragic,
the mediated, the pure; or, to take a later analogy, the infernal, the
purgatorial, the paradisaical; such are the three typical female
characters of Homer, ranging from guilt, through repentance, to
innocence. In this framework lies quite all possible characterization.
Naturally Agamemnon shows a bitter vein of misogyny, with only his wife
in view; but he takes it all back when he thinks of Penelope.

Two of these women, Helen and Penelope, are still alive and do not
belong to the realm of Hades; the ghost of the third, Clytemnestra,
does not appear. Still all three are mentioned here in the text, and
stand in relation to the three Greco-Trojan heroes, none of whom were
restored through the Return. Ulysses, however, is the real solution of
them all; he spans all their inadequacies, masters their fates, and
reaches home. The three Greek heroes above mentioned fell by the way in
the course of the grand problem, and are seen in Hades, complaining,
unhappy, showing their full limitation. To a degree they are suffering
the penalty of their own shortcomings: which fact prepares us for the
third and last phase of the Underworld.


III.

We now come to a new division of the Book, which forms in itself a
complete little poem, yet is derived directly from the preceding
divisions, and is harmonious with them in thought, development and
structure. Undoubtedly there is a difference here, but the difference
means not absolute separation but a connected unfolding of parts. The
present division has been assailed more violently by the critics and
torn out of its place with greater unanimity than any other portion of
the Odyssey, with the possible exception of portions of the last two
Books. Let us confess, however, that our tendency is to reconcile, if
this can be done, the discords and to knit together the rent garment,
by threads not always on the surface, but very real to any eye which is
willing to look underneath.

Unquestionably a punitive element enters now, there is guilt and
punishment in Hades. But who has not felt that in the preceding
division the three Greek heroes were under the inevitable penalty of
their own deeds? Very natural is the transition. Indeed the three
divisions of the Book show a gradual movement toward a penal view of
Hades: the first (Tiresias and the Famous Mothers) has a slight
suggestion of the penalty; the second (the three Greek heroes) has the
idea of punishment implicit everywhere; the third makes the idea
explicit and organizes itself upon the same.

Again, there is a change of style, which now is strongly tinged with
the Orphic, initiatory, symbolical manner, in marked contrast with the
clear-flowing narrative which has just preceded. But we noticed the
same characteristic before, in the first division of the Book, where
the sacrificial rites and the part of Tiresias were given. Homer has
many styles, not each style has many Homers, nor is there a new Homer
needed for each change of style. Note the great varieties of style in
the two Parts of Faust by way of illustration. Moreover we here pass
into the dim Pre-Trojan epoch, as was the case in the first division,
but guilt is now flung into that time and with it the penalty. Hoary,
gigantic shapes of eld do wrong to the Gods, and are put into the
punitory Hades. Thus this third division returns to the first with its
own new principle. In truth one may say that Homer herein shows
features akin to Hesiod; well, Homer is Hesiod and many more.

We hold, therefore, that this third division is an organic part of the
Book both in idea and structure; it carries to completion the thought
of a world-justice, which Tiresias has already declared in his speech
to Ulysses, and which is exemplified in the three Greek heroes. Thus it
unfolds what lies in the first two divisions, and links them together
in a new and deeper thought. For this realm of Hades, hitherto a
distracted spot without any apparent order, now gets organized with its
own Justiciary and its own Law. Yet here too we shall find a solution
and a parallel; just as Ulysses was the true hero at Troy, standing
above all the others and solving their problems, so Hercules is the
great Pre-Trojan hero, saving himself at last and rising to Olympus.
Finally the two careers of Ulysses and Hercules are affirmed to be
identical. This division, therefore, falls of itself into three
portions: (1) the Judge, (2) the condemned, (3) the redeemed. Thus the
whole forms a complete little cycle within itself.

1. Minos, the Judge, was the ancient king of Crete, where he was
lawgiver and suppressed wrong-doing on sea and land. Here he continues
his vocation, which demands the assigning of the just penalty to the
guilty. He is manifestly the type of Justice, both punishing and
rewarding; as punisher he has been transferred by Dante to the Inferno.
Later Greek legend united with him two other judges, his brothers,
Rhadamanthys and Æacus.

2. We have next four instances of punishment, though this is apparently
of different degrees. The wrong, however, is not stated except in the
case of Tityos, which probably hints the general nature of the misdeeds
of the three others. The poet takes for granted that his hearer could
fill out each legend for himself. In every case there was evidently
some violation done to the Gods, not to men--some crime against
Olympus. The period is thrown back into the Pre-Trojan time, into the
age of the demigods and of the free intercourse between mortals and
immortals; thus it is parallel with the first division of the Book. But
now judgment has entered the Houses of Hades along with the penalty.

The guilt of Orion is that of love between a mortal and a Goddess,
Aurora, which violation was punished by the "soft bolts" of Artemis,
protectress of chastity. This legend has already been alluded to by
Calypso. (Book V. line 121.) Jealous are the Gods of that mortal man
with whom a Goddess falls in love, and with good reason. Orion's
punishment is an eternal chase, the hunter is compelled to hunt
forever, repeating what he did in life. Perhaps not a heavy punishment
for one who is fond of hunting; yet a tremendous burden, if never
interrupted with rest; indeed it becomes a labor quite like the labor
of Sisyphus, ever repeated. Of Tityos both the guilt and punishment are
indicated; the legend is similar to and yet in contrast with that of
Orion; in the one the Goddess approaches the mortal and in the other
the mortal approaches the Goddess; hence, too, the severer punishment
in the latter case. The second legend ought to be completed here by a
fact derived from the story of Prometheus: the liver grows as fast as
the vultures rend or consume it; thus again rises the idea of infinite
repetition, now of suffering, not of action, for Orion is active.

The next two forms, Tantalus and Sisyphus, have also a kinship. Both
had known secrets of the Gods and had betrayed them; Tantalus is also
reported to have taken away nectar and ambrosia from the Olympian table
after being a guest there; Sisyphus revealed to the river-god Asopus
the secret that Zeus had spirited away the latter's daughter, Ægina.
The penalty is that Tantalus remains perpetually hungry and thirsty,
with sight of food and drink always before his eyes; he cannot reach
them when he strives. The finite, with an infinite longing, cannot
compass the infinite; the man loses it just when he grasps for it--a
truly Greek penalty for a sin against the Greek world, which rests upon
the happy harmonious unity of the spirit with the body and with nature.
The Christian or Romantic longing and grasping for the Beyond is to the
Greek soul a punishment of Hades. Tantalus with his hunger and thirst
seems to represent more the striving of the intellect to attain the
unattainable; while Sisyphus suggests the effort of the will--practical
endeavor, the eternal routine of mechanical employment, which always
has to begin over again. Etymology brings also a suggestion. Both names
are reduplicated; in Tantalus is the root of the word which means to
suffer; in Sisyphus, lurks the signification of craft; it hints the
wise or crafty planner (_sophos_) who always pushes the act to a point
where it undoes itself or must be done over again. Note the effect of
this reduplication of the first syllables, which means repetition; over
and over again, in an infinite series must the matter be gone through,
in suffering and in doing; the very words are in labor.

Indeed this indicates the common element in these four punishments: the
endless repetition of the struggle of finitude. The first two, Orion
and Tityos, reached out for Goddesses, being mortals; the second two,
still mortals, but in communion with deities, attempted to bring down
divine secrets to earth; the one set strove to make the finite
infinite, the other to make the infinite finite. Both were contrary to
the nature of the Greek mind, which sought to keep the happy balance
between the two sides, between body and spirit, between the temporal
and eternal. Now the punishment of these people is to give them their
infinite, but in the form of an infinite repetition of their finite
act, which is just the spirit-crushing penalty. The power of these two
types, Tantalus and Sisyphus, is shown by the fact that all ages since
Homer have adopted them and wrought them over into many forms of art
and poetry.

Here then is the unsolved problem of the Greek world, a problem which
the Christian world has met and answered. Tantalus and Sisyphus are in
pain and toil simply through themselves; man, however, must have the
power to reach the apples, and roll the stone up hill, he must assert
himself as limit-transcending, as infinite, for once and for all, and
not caught in an infinite series, which is a veritable mill of the
Gods, that is, of the Greek Gods. Now this strange fact comes to light:
Homer, seer that he is, has a dim consciousness of this solution, and
faintly but prophetically embodies it in a new figure, namely, that of
Hercules, which we shall now consider.

3. The Homeric solution is to divide the man, or to double him, into
his shade (eidolon) and his self. The former belongs to Hades and
appears now; it is the finite Hercules with his striving and labors; he
still has his bow and arrow, is ready to slay beasts, snakes, and
birds. He is in quite the same punishment as Orion or even Sisyphus,
the penalty of all finitude is upon him. Yet the other side is given,
that of victory. "I, though the son of the highest God, Zeus, had to
endure boundless tribulation." Strangely Christian does this sound. "I
was put under service to a far inferior man to myself, who laid upon me
bitter labors." The higher must serve and save the lower. "Then the
mightiest labor I performed, I came down hither to Hades alive and
dragged thence the dog Cerberus"--conquered the great terror of the
Underworld. Thus Hercules has really transcended Hades, and so we read
here that "he himself is among the immortal Gods, in bliss," that is,
his infinite nature is there, while the finite part is still below in
Hades. Such is the old poet's far-cast glance, reaching deep into the
future and beyond the Greek world.

Still another significant word is spoken. "O Ulysses, unhappy man! Thou
dost experience the same hard fate which I endured upon the earth."
Thus does Hercules identify the career of Ulysses with his own--the
same striving and suffering, and the same final victory, the peace of
Olympus. Who cannot attain the latter is a Tantalus, seeking but never
reaching the fruit. Such is the outcome and culmination of Hades; after
Hercules has spoken, no further word is heard by Ulysses.

Dante, whose poem on so many lines grows out of this Eleventh Book, has
also the same duplication of the person in his Paradise. The soul is in
its special planet, Venus, Mars, etc., and also it is in the highest
Heaven, enjoying the Vision of God. But Dante universalizes the Greek
view, making it truly Christian; all men are children of God and can
attain the seats of the Blessed, not merely the one man, the Hero
Hercules. Still even here the inference is that Ulysses must also be
transferred to Olympus, though no such declaration is made.

We hope the reader feels how inadequate Hades would be, and how
incomplete the experience of Ulysses would be, if this last division of
the Book were cut out. The wanderer has now gone through the total
cycle of the Underworld, not only outwardly, but inwardly; he is just
ready to step out of it, because he is beyond it in spirit. This last
step is now to be given in Homeric fashion.

There is a danger at present rising strongly into consciousness, a
danger inherent in this too-long contemplation of Hades; it is the
danger of the Gorgon, the monster whose view turns the spectator into
stone, taking away all sensation, emotion, life. The Greek sooner or
later must quit Hades, and flee from its shapes; the supersensible
world he must transfuse into the sensible, else the former will rush
over into the fantastic, the horrible, the ugly. The Gorgon is down in
Hades too, having been slain in the terrestrial Upperworld by a Greek
Hero, Perseus, who slew the monster of the Orient which once guarded
the fair Andromeda, a kind of Pre-Trojan Helen, chained in captivity,
whom the heroic Hellenic soul came to release. Ulysses has now reached
the Greek limit, Oriental phantasms will rise unless there be a speedy
return to the reality, to the realm of sense. Hades has furnished its
highest image in Hercules, beware of its worst. Already the Underworld
has been in danger of running into the fantastic; then Beauty, the
Hellenic ideal, would be lost. The figures of Homeric Hades hitherto
have all been men and women, but the monsters are ready to come forth.
So they did come forth in the later Greek world under the spur of
Oriental influence; witness the Revelations of St. John in the Island
of Patmos, joint product of Greek and Hebrew spirit, showing truly the
dissolution of the Hellenic ideal.

Thus Ulysses, the supreme spiritual Hero of the Greeks, is shown
running away from the Underworld, fearing to look upon coming shapes in
Hades; about which fact two reflections can be made: first, Ulysses had
to do this in order to remain a Greek; secondly, the poet clearly
announces, in such an action, that there is another world lying beyond
his world, that underneath the Greek Hades is another Hades, which
threatens to rise into view. That Hades will burst up hereafter and
become the Christian Hell. Ulysses confesses that there is a realm
beyond him there, which he has not conquered, has not even dared to
see, and thus he significantly points to the future. The Gorgon is a
shadowy anticipation of fiends, of devils, of the infernal monsters of
the Romantic Netherworld of Dante, who is to be the next great Hero,
passing into the dark world beyond with a new light. To be sure, Virgil
sends Æneas into Orcus, and makes such descent a Book of his poem, but
Virgil too speaks of a realm beyond his Orcus, which his Hero does not
enter. Thus the Roman poet shows substantially the same limits as the
Greek poet, whom he has for the most part copied.

Here again we find a conception embodied in song, on which the human
mind has moved through many ages. Poetry, Art, Theology, have taken
from this Eleventh Book of the Odyssey many creative hints: it is truly
an epoch-making work in the history of man's spiritual unfolding. As
already stated, Virgil repeats it, Dante grows out of it and makes it
over, in accord with the spirit of Christendom, which has many a root
running back to this Homeric Hades. The present Book may be called the
Greek prophecy heralding medieval Art, and shows old Homer
foreshadowing Romanticism. Did he not see the limits of his world? The
particular connecting link between two Literary Bibles, Homer and
Dante, is just the present Book, even if Dante never read Homer. For
the study of Universal Literature it is, therefore, a specially
important document. A many-sided production also; its poetic, its
religious, its artistic, its philosophical sides are all present in
full activity and put to test the spiritual alertness of the reader.

Wherein does the negative nature of Hades lie? The question rises from
the fact that Ulysses in Fableland has been declared to be passing
through various negative phases; such is the expression often used
already. First of all, it is a negating of the sensible world and a
going into the supersensible, a seeking of the spirit without the body.
Hades was quite the opposite of the Greek mind, which demanded
embodiment, and hence was inherently artistic. Still the Greek mind
created a Hades, and finally went over into the pure Idea in Plato and
the philosophers. Even Homer seems to feel that philosophy is at last a
needful discipline, that the abstract thought must be taken from its
concrete wrappage, that the Universal must be freed from the
Particular.

Ulysses has to pass through Hades in order to complete the cycle of his
experience, and realize what is beyond the senses; he must know the
spirit apart from the body in this life; he must see the Past as it is
in its great disembodied minds; he must behold the famous heroes of
Troy as they are in reality, not as they are in the glamor of poetry.
As tested by their life and deeds he sees them below in the
Netherworld; Greek souls stark naked in Hades he beholds, and then
rises out of it.

_Retrospect._ Very important, in our judgment, is this Eleventh Book;
it is really one of the sacred documents of Universal Religion, as well
as a great creative idea in the World's Literature, But it has fared
badly as to its friends; for interpretation it usually falls into the
hands of the negative, merely critical Understanding, which has the
unfortunate habit of turning Professor of Greek, commentator on Homer,
and philologer generally. In order to grasp and connect its leading
points more completely, we shall look back at the thought and structure
of the Book once more.

First of all, there must be felt and seen the necessity of taking this
journey to the Netherworld on the part of the Hero, the complete person
of his time. The very conception of the universal man must include the
visit to the realm of the Idea; the passage from the sensible to the
supersensible, is the deepest need of his soul. Homer can give this
spiritual movement only in a mythical form, hence it occurs here in
Fableland. So Ulysses has to make the transition from Circe to Hades.

Having the entire Book now before us, we observe that it shows a
threefold movement; that is, one movement with three leading stages.
These take the shape of three communications from the realm of the
dead, which includes all past Time, imparted to the living who are now
present, namely the Phæacians, through Ulysses, who has had this cycle
of experiences and now sings them. But that which is true in past Time
must be seen to be true in all Time--Past, Present and Future. So there
unfolds the idea of a World-Order, foretold at first by the Pre-Trojan
prophet Tiresias, illustrated by the fate of the three Greco-Trojan
heroes in Hades, and finally realized and active in the realm of Minos.
The whole has, therefore, the secret underlying thought of a
world-tribunal, which works through all human history; it is a kind of
Last Judgment to which the deeds of men are appealed for final
adjudication; it most profoundly suggests in its movement the ethical
order of the Universe. Let us briefly sum up its three stages.

I. The first communication from the Hades of the Past to the real world
of the Present through Ulysses is that of the prophet Tiresias, "whose
mind is whole;" he may be called the pure Idea (as subjective) uttering
the Idea (as objective, as principle of the world). For he beholds the
truth of things as they are in their essence, he himself being the
impersonation of Truth. Thus he looks through the Future and foretells;
he knows that Neptune will avenge the deed done to Polyphemus, that the
Oxen of the Sun constitute a great danger, that Ulysses will punish the
Suitors; then he prophesies the peace and final harmony of Ulysses
after his long conflict and separation from home, country, and the
Divine Order.

So speaks Tiresias and is therein a kind of world-judge, prefiguring
Minos of the last stage of Hades. For he prophesies according to the
law of the deed; what you have done is sure to return upon you, be it
good or bad. Hence he can tell what will happen to Ulysses for acts
already committed (the wrath of Neptune); he can give a warning
concerning things which Ulysses may do (the slaying of the Oxen of the
Sun); he can affirm the certain punishment of guilt (the case of the
Suitors). Thus the prophet voices a world-justice, which inflicts the
penalty unflinchingly, but also bears within itself reconciliation.
Such is the prophetic Idea, appearing in advance, not yet ordered and
realized.

II. The second communication from Hades to the Phæacians through
Ulysses comes from the Trojan Past, and is voiced by the three most
famous heroes of the Iliad--Achilles, Agamemnon, Ajax (the last one,
however, does not speak, but acts out his communication). All three are
tragic characters, are the victims of fate, that is, of their own fatal
limitations. Such is the world-judgment here, it is really pronounced
by themselves upon themselves in each case. Agamemnon states his own
guilt, Achilles shows his limit by his complaint, Ajax does not need to
speak. Ulysses simply listens and sees; now he tells the story of Troy
and its heroes anew to the Present, indicating how they have put
themselves into Hades.

The intimate connection between this part and the preceding part of
Tiresias is plain. The prophet has forecast the law which rules these
heroes also; they are truly illustrations of his prophecy, or of its
underlying principle. They expose the heroic insufficiency of that
Trojan time; they are the negative, tragic phases of greatness, which
have also to submit at last to the law of compensation. Thus is the
illustrious Trojan epoch judged and sent down below; but mark! Ulysses,
of that same epoch, survives, is present, and is singing the judgment.

III. The world-justice which ideally underlies the prophecies of
Tiresias in the first part of the present Book, and which is the secret
moving principle in the fates of the three Greco-Trojan heroes in the
second part, becomes explicit, recognized and ordered in the third
part, which is now to be given. There is first the world-judge, Minos,
famous for his justice during life, distributing both penalties and
rewards in the Netherworld. Secondly we see the condemned ones, Orion,
Tityus, Tantalus, Sisyphus (mark the significant reduplication of the
root in the names of each one of them). All four are represented as
having wronged the Gods in some way; they have violated the Divine
Order, according to the Greek conception; hence the tribunal of
world-justice, now organized and at work in Hades, takes them in hand.
To be sure, the text of Homer does not say that they were sentenced by
the decree of Minos, but such is certainly the implication. These four
had a common sin, to the Greek mind: they sought to transcend the limit
which the Gods have placed upon finite man, hence the image of their
penalty lies in the endless repetition of their acts, which is also
suggested in their names. Orion has always to pursue and slay the wild
beast, never getting the work done; the liver of Tityus grows and
swells afresh (root from _tu_, meaning to swell, Latin _tumor_) though
being consumed by the vultures; in like manner Tantalus and Sisyphus
have ever-repeated labors. Such is the glimpse here of the Greek Hades
of eternal punishment. Now comes the curious fact that the heroic man
through labor and suffering can rise out of this Hades of finitude; he
can satisfy the demand of world-justice, and rise to Olympus among the
blessed Gods. Such was Hercules, and such is to be Ulysses, who now
having seen the culmination of Hades and heard its prophecy of his
future state, leaves it and returns to the Upperworld.

Undoubtedly these thoughts of future punishment and reward are very dim
and shadowy in Homer; still they are here in this Eleventh Book of the
Odyssey, and find their true interpretation in that view of the life to
come into which they unfolded with time. The best commentary on this
Book, we repeat, is the _Divine Comedy_ of Dante, the grand poem of
futurity, which carries out to fullness the order, of which we here
catch a little glimpse.



_BOOK TWELFTH._


Ulysses flees from the Underworld, there is something down there which
he feels he cannot master, something which he has not seen but of which
he has a vague presentiment. The Gorgon stands for much, dimly
foreshadowing a Hades beyond or below the Greek Hades, with which,
however, it is not his call to grapple. Hence the poet puts upon his
Hero a limitation at this point, strangely prophetic, and sends him in
haste back to the terrestrial Upperworld. The bark crossed the stream
of the "river Oceanus," then it entered "the wide-wayed Sea" in which
lay the island of Circe, "where are the houses of the Dawn, and her
dances, and the risings of the Sun." Verily the Hero has got back to
the beginning of the world of light, in which he is now to have a new
span of existence after his experience in the supersensible realm.

From the brief geographical glances which we catch up from the voyage,
as well as from a number of hints scattered throughout the Odyssey (for
instance, from what is said of the Ethiopians in the First Book), we
are inclined to believe that Homer held the earth to be round. We like
to think of the old Poet seeing this fact, not as a deduction of
science, not even as a misty tradition from some other land, but as an
immediate act of poetic insight, which beholds the law of the physical
world rising out of the spiritual by the original creative fiat; the
Poet witnesses the necessity by which nature conforms to mind. Homer
knew the spiritual Return, this whole Odyssey is such a Return, whereby
the soul is rounded off to completeness, and becomes a true totality.
Why should he not apply the same law to nature, to the whole Earth, and
behold it, not indefinitely extended as it appears to the senses, but
returning into itself, whereby the line becomes a circle and the plain
a globe? Some such need lay deep in his poetic soul, to which he had to
harmonize the entire universe, visible as well as invisible. Not
science is this, but an immediate vision of the true, always prophetic,
which observes the impress of spirit everywhere upon the realm of
matter. The old Greek sages seem to have known not merely of the
rotundity of the Earth, but also of its movement round the Sun and upon
its own axis, both movements being circular, returns, which image mind.
Did they get their knowledge from Egypt or Chaldea? Questionable; if
they looked inwardly deep enough, they could find it all there. Indeed
the sages of Egypt and Chaldea saw the fact in their souls ere they saw
it or could see it in the skies.

So these Homeric glimpses into the realm of what is to become science
are not to be neglected or despised, in spite of their mythical,
ambiguous vesture. Moreover they are in profound harmony with the
present poem, to which they furnish remote, but very suggestive
parallels, making the physical universe correspond to the spiritual
unfolding of the Hero.

Ulysses, accordingly, comes back to the sensible world and there he
finds Circe again. Indeed whom else ought he to find? She is the bright
Greek realm of the senses reposing in sunlight; she has been
subordinated to the rational, she is no longer the indulgence of
appetite which turns men to swine, nor is she, on the other hand, the
rigid ascetic. Hence we need not be surprised at her bringing good
things to eat and drink: "bread and many kinds of meat and sparkling
red wine." Moreover, she is still prophetic, she still has the outlook
upon the Beyond, being spirit in the senses. Her present prophecies,
however, will be different from her former one, she will point to the
supersensible, not in Hades, for that is now past, but in the
Upperworld of life and experience. Such is the return of the Hero to
Circe, the fair, the terrestrial, who makes existence beautiful if she
be properly held in restraint; beautiful as sunlit Hellas with its
plastic forms she can become, in striking contrast to the dark shapes
of the sunless Underworld which leads to the Gorgon, the realm of
spooks, shades, fiends, in general of romanticism.

So much for Circe in her new relation in the present Book; how about
Ulysses? It is manifest that he too is prepared for a fresh experience.
He has been in the Underworld and great has been the profit. There he
has seen the famous men and women of old and beheld the very heart of
their destiny; the Trojan and the Pre-Trojan worthies sweeping backward
through all Greek time he has witnessed and in part heard; he has
become acquainted with the prophet Tiresias who knows Past, Present and
Future, who is the universal mind in its purity from all material
dross; he has beheld the Place of Doom and its penalties, as well as
the supreme Greek Hero, the universal man of action, Hercules. Nor must
we forget that he has run upon a limitation, that Gorgon from whom he
fled. Truly he has obtained in this journey to Hades a grand experience
of the Past, of all Greek ages, which is now added to his own personal
experience. So this Past, with its knowledge, is to be applied to the
Future, whereby knowledge becomes foreknowledge, and experience is to
be transformed into prophecy. Mark then the transition from the
previous to the present Book: when Ulysses comes back to the world of
sense, he will at once see in it the supersensible, which he has just
behold; he must hear in the Present a prophetic voice, that of Circe
proclaiming the Future.

Thus Ulysses is now ready to listen to the coming event and to
understand its import. It is to be observed that up to the Eleventh
Book he has had experience merely; he took everything as it came, by
chance, without knowing of it beforehand; he simply happens upon the
Lotus-eaters, Polyphemus, Circe, though the careful reader has not
failed to note an interior thread of connection between all these
adventures. As to Hades, it is pointed out to him in advance by Circe,
though all is not foretold him; but in the Twelfth Book, now to be
considered, he has everything in detail laid open to him beforehand. A
great change in manner of treatment; why? Because Ulysses must be shown
as having reached the stage of foreknowledge through his journey to
Hades; hitherto he was the mere empirical man, or blind adventurer,
surrendering himself to hazard and trusting to his cunning for getting
out of trouble. But now he foresees, and Circe is the voice thereof; he
knows what he has to go through before he starts, here in the
Upperworld, to which he has come back, and through whose conflicts he
is still to pass, for life has not yet ended. Such, we think, is the
fruit of that trip to the Underworld, the supersensible is seen in the
sensible, and the Future becomes transparent.

Accordingly Circe foretells, and Ulysses foreknows; the two are
counterparts. Then he simply goes through what has been predicted, he
fills up the outline with the deed.

This is the essential fact of the Book, which is organized by it into
two portions, namely the prophecy and the fulfillment; Circe has one
part, Ulysses the other. Moreover each part exhibits the same general
movement, which has three phases with the same names: the Sirens, the
Plangctæ on the one hand with Scylla and Charybdis on the other, and
the Oxen of the Sun.


I.

As soon as Ulysses, after coming back from Hades, had performed the
last rites over the corpse of Elpenor, Circe appears and makes a
striking address: "O ye audacious, who still living have gone down to
the house of Hades--ye twice-dead, while others die but once." Such is
one side of Circe, now rises the other: "But come, eat food, drink wine
the whole day;" let us have a Greek festival ere new labors begin. Then
Circe holds a private conference with Ulysses, she asked each thing
"about the journey to Hades," which, it seems, she must know ere she
can foretell the remaining part.

One cannot help feeling in this passage that the poet hints that these
prophecies of Circe have some connection with what Ulysses imparts to
her concerning Hades. Indeed she repeats what Tiresias had already
foretold in reference to the Oxen of the Sun--a matter which she
probably heard from Ulysses. Cannot the other two adventures be derived
in a general way from the experiences of the Underworld? The Past seems
here to furnish the groundwork for the predictions of the Future, and
Circe, knowing what has been in the pure forms of the supersensible,
becomes the voice of what is to be.

1. First come the Sirens, whom Ulysses will have to meet again, as he
has often met them before. Indeed Circe herself was once a Siren, a
charmer through the senses. The present Sirens are singers, and entice
to destruction through the sense of hearing, inasmuch as "heaps of
bones lie about them," evidently the skeletons of persons who have
perished through their seductive song. Pass them the man must; what is
to be done? He will have somehow to guard against his sensuous nature
and keep it from destroying itself. Yet on the other hand he must
enjoy, which is his right in this world of sensations; each good music
must be heard. So Circe tells of the scheme of putting wax into his
companions' ears, while he is bound to the mast. Already Tiresias
warned Ulysses in the Underworld to hold his appetite in check and that
of his companions, if he wished to return home. This warning Circe now
repeats, indeed she repeats in a new mythical form her own experience,
for she, the Siren, has also been met by Ulysses and mastered. Yet
these later charmers seem to have been more dangerous. When they are
passed, a new peril rises of necessity.

2. Next we behold an image, or rather two sets of images, of the grand
dualism of existence. That escape from the Sirens is really no solution
of the problem, it is external and leaves the man still unfree, still
subject to his senses. There must be somehow an inner control through
the understanding, an intellectual subordination. But just here trouble
springs up again. The mind has two sides to it, and is certain to fall
into self-opposition. Two are the ways after parting from the Sirens,
says Circe: "I shall tell thee of both."

One way is by the Plangctæ (rocks which clasp together); here no bird
can fly through without getting caught, even the doves of Zeus pay the
penalty. "No ship of men, having gone thither, has ever escaped"--except
the God-directed Argo: surely a sufficient warning. Then the second way
also leads to two rocks, but of a different kind; at their bases in the
sea are found Scylla, the monstrous sea-bitch, on one side, and
Charybdis, the yawning maelstrom, on the other; between them Ulysses
must pass with his ship and companions.

It is manifest that here are two alternatives, one after the other; the
first is that of the Plangctæ, the Claspers, which mean Death, unless
they be avoided, yet this avoidance does not always mean Life. We can
trace the connection with the Sirens: the absolute resignation to the
senses is license, is destruction; we may say the same thing of the
opposite, the absolute suppression of man's sensuous being is simply
his dissolution. Hence the extremes appear; the moral and the immoral
extremes land us in the same place; they are the two mighty rocks which
may smite together and crush the poor mortal who happens to get in
between the closing surfaces. If we understand the image, it holds true
of excess on either side; excessive indulgence is overwhelmed by its
opposite, so is excessive abstinence; they co-operate, like two valves,
for the destruction of the one-sided extremist. Truly Greek is the
thought, for the Greek maxim above all others was moderation, no
over-doing. Such then are the Plangctæ, which Ulysses must avoid
wholly, if he wishes to escape. Still, even the danger is by no means
over.

There is the second way which introduces a new alternative; the path of
moderation has its difficulty, it too forks and produces perplexity and
peril to the voyager. Here is the point where Scylla and Charybdis
appear, a new set of extremes, between which the mean is to be sought,
then the passage can be made. Yet even thus it costs, Ulysses will lose
six of his companions; the penalty has to be paid, just the penalty of
moderation. _Es rächt sich alles auf Erden._ Two sets of extremes
always; if you shun one set and take the middle path, just this act of
shunning produces a second set; cut the magnet in twain with its two
poles, then each part will at once have two poles of its own. Such is
indeed the very dialectic of life, the dualism of existence, which the
heroic voyager is to overcome with suffering, with danger, with many
penalties.

Fault has often been found with this duplication of the alternative,
but when rightly seen into, it will show itself as the central fact of
the entire description. It casts an image of the never-ceasing
differentiation both in the mind and in the world; it hints the
recurring contradiction in all thought and in all conduct, always to be
solved, yet never quite solved. What else indeed has man to do? To
master the contradiction gives him life, movement, energy, and it must
be mastered every day. The old poet is going to the bottom of the
matter. The above mentioned repetition of the alternative has its
correspondence with the repetition which we have seen to be the
fundamental form into which the whole Book is cast.

Plainly the Double Alternative here mythically set forth, springs out
of the conflict with the Sirens, and is a deepening of the same to the
very bottom. Indulgence kills, abstinence kills, in their excess; and
the middle path bifurcates into two new extremes with their problem.
Prophetic Circe can tell all this, for does it not lie just in the
domain of her experience, which has also been twofold? Pure forms of
spirit, wholly non-natural, are these figures representing the Double
Alternative, created by the Imagination to express Thought.

3. The final warning of Circe is mainly a repetition of what Tiresias
had told Ulysses already in the Underworld; from the latter she heard
it and puts it here into its place. Beware of slaying the cattle of the
Sun, oxen and sheep in two flocks, over which two bright nymphs keep
guard. There can scarcely be a doubt concerning the physical basis of
this myth. The seven herds of oxen, fifty to the herd, suggest the
number of days in the lunar year (really 354); the seven herds of sheep
suggest the corresponding nights. Lampelia (the Moon or Lamp of Night)
is the keeper of the one; Phæthusa (the Radiant one) is the keeper of
the other--namely the Sun as the day-bringer. Seldom has the old Aryan
form of the myth been so well preserved; the whole reads like a
transcript out of the Vedas.

Still stronger than the physical side is the spiritual suggestion. The
slaughter of these cattle of the Sun points to the supreme act of
negation in the intellectual man, to the sin against light. Ulysses and
his companions now know the way to reach home, having had the grand
experience with the Sirens and then with the Double Alternative;
moreover the leader has heard the warning twice. If they now do wrong,
it will be a wrong against the Sun, against Intelligence itself.

A certain critic finds fault with Circe because she repeats the warning
of Tiresias, and he holds that some botcher or editor, not Homer,
transferred the passage from one place to the other. Yet this
repetition is not only an organic necessity of the poem, but gives an
insight into the character of Circe: she cannot foresee of herself the
great intellectual transgression, but Tiresias can; the Sirens and the
Double Alternative, however, lie within her own experience. So she
copies where she cannot originate, and in this way she is decidedly
distinguished from Tiresias, though both are prophetic.

Such is the outlook upon the Future given by Circe, in the way of
warning, whereby the warned know what is coming. In the three
adventures we feel a certain connection, in fact an unfolding of one
out of the other, beginning with the primary conflict of the Senses,
which soon rises into the Understanding, and finally ends in a revolt
against Reason itself, the source of Light. They have the character of
typical forms, derived from the Past, yet they are certain to recur
again, and hence can be foretold.


II.

We now have reached the second portion of the Book, which is the
fulfillment of the prophecies of the first portion; moreover we see how
the forewarnings are heeded. Ulysses and his companions enter their
vessel and start once more upon the sea, leaving the island of Circe,
who sends them a favorable wind. We note also that Ulysses always
repeats the warning to his companions, and tells to what they are
coming next; they are to share in his knowledge. Three times he does
this, just before each incident, and thus prepares them, though he does
not tell everything. The experience with the Bag of Winds has taught
him much; his companions through ignorance of its nature opened it and
the fatality followed. So he received the penalty of not sharing his
knowledge with his fellows; now he avoids that mistake, for his conduct
at present shows that he regards his failure to impart his information
as a mistake. He was the cause of the ignorance of his companions,
which was brought home to him by their deed. Now he tells them, still
he will not be able to save them; the fault is theirs when they
transgress, and they will receive the penalty.

1. In accord with the plan already foretold, the ship approaches the
island of the Sirens, Ulysses fills the ears of his men with wax and
enjoys the song, being tied firmly to the mast. It is evident that he
cannot control himself from within, he wishes to be loosed, but is only
fastened the more tightly by his deafened associates. Foreseeing his
own weakness he guards against it, yet brings out the more strongly his
lack of self-mastery. He gives up his freedom in order not to perish
through enjoyment. Herein we find suggestive hints concerning the
natural man; he must be governed from without, till he become
self-governable. Truly this is the first stage both in the individual
and in history, and Ulysses is the typical personality representing
both.

The song of the Sirens is given, which we did not hear in the previous
prophetic portion. We may note in it touches of flattery, of
enticement, of boundless promises, even of wisdom for the wise man.
Then that favorite theme, the Trojan War, they claim to know, "and all
that has ever happened upon the foodful earth." Such are the gorgeous
promises to the man thirsty for knowledge; but mark in their meadow the
bones and decaying bodies of dead men. Evidently their sweet song,
promising all, lures only to destroy. Their power, however, lasts but
for the moment, while the senses are tingled; when the fit is over,
Ulysses is set free and he makes no attempt to return to them. Indeed
another problem is upon him; he sees "a great wave and mist," to which
is added a loud sound of rushing waters. Again he exhorts his
companions and tells them all that he dares about the approaching
dangers.

2. Now we are to witness a practical dealing with the Double
Alternative, which was theoretically set forth in the previous portion.
But the first Alternative, those bi-valvular rocks called Plangctæ,
which clasped the sea-faring man between their valves and crushed him
to death, is wholly avoided, is not even mentioned in the present
passage, though it is possibly implied in one place. At any rate the
grand stress is laid upon the second Alternative, Scylla and Charybdis,
between which the ship is to pass.

Here again Ulysses shows his limitation. In spite of Circe's warning,
he puts on armor, takes two spears, and goes on deck, like a Homeric
hero, to fight Scylla. He tries to solve his problem externally, as he
did in the case of the Sirens. In vain; he could not see his foe
anywhere, and his eyes grew weary, peering about at the mist-like
rocks.

Not thus was Scylla to be met, a monster not of mortal mould, hardly
attainable by the senses. Still she was present somehow, and made
herself valid. The whirling waters roared and seethed, all were intent
upon the maelstrom, Charybdis, the other side; "we looked at her,
fearing destruction," and destruction came just from the direction in
which they were not looking. Scylla, watched, remains invisible;
unwatched, she appears and snaps up six companions; external weapons
can effect nothing against her. Still Ulysses gets through, scotched
somewhat; he has failed to see both sides at one and the same time;
mind, intelligence alone can rise out of the particular thing of the
senses, and grasp the two things in opposition. As we read the story
here, it suggests the man, the life-faring man, who is so drawn to one
part that he neglects the counterpart, which has equal validity and
soon makes itself felt by the penalty. Not the Alternative, then,
Scylla _or_ Charybdis, but the combined Scylla _and_ Charybdis is the
word of mastery. The two kept in separation destroy, the two held in
unity are conquerable. Under all difference of Nature lies the
Thought's oneness, which is the true synthesis of every Scylla and
Charybdis. Such is the experience of Ulysses now; the Sirens, the
creatures of the senses, may be thwarted by a species of external
force; but not the present monsters can be so treated. The dualism
exists doubtless, and we can be caught in it, but the function of mind
is to overspan it, and so transform all difference, discord, diabolism
into unity, harmony, deity.

Thus Ulysses disobeys Circe's command not to attempt to fight Scylla
with weapons; the reason of her injunction becomes plain. Not a
sensuous thing to be slain is Scylla, in spite of her animal figure;
the poet hints that she is to be encountered by mind, which must here
see both sides at once and so assert its supremacy over both. To be
intent upon the one and disregard the other--that is the grand human
danger. Hence the thought of Scylla and Charybdis has passed into the
literature of the world, nay into the proverbs of the people, to
express the peril of one-sidedness, as well as the inherent dualism in
all conduct. Moreover the golden mean is suggested, that principle of
action so familiar in later Greek philosophy. Deeper than this golden
mean, however, runs the idea here; the dialectic of existence, the
twofoldness which must be made one, the higher synthesis over all
analysis are dimly intimated in the marvelous tale.

3. Having escaped through the two rocks, Ulysses and his companions
come to "the flawless island of the Sun," the all-seeing luminary of
Heaven. It is the total light beholding the totality. Is it not
manifest that we have passed out of dualism into unity, out of strife
into harmony? The island is represented as pastoral, peaceful, idyllic,
with its herds reposing in sunlight; certainly a decided contrast to
the noise and struggle in the region of Scylla and Charybdis. Or we may
give the matter a psychological turn and say: Such is the transition
from the Understanding with its finitude to Reason with its
universality, to the all-seeing light within. Ulysses, having
transcended the limit he showed in his last experience, has gone
forward to the clear sunlit realm which illumines all limitations.

But just at this point danger arises. On the island are pasturing herds
of oxen and sheep sacred to the Sun, things of light consecrated to
light. The temptation will be to use them for the gratification of
appetite, perhaps under some strong stress. Already both Tiresias and
Circe have given the warning, which Ulysses now repeats to his
companions and even exacts an oath from them not to harm the holy
flocks. But hunger pinches, Ulysses again goes to sleep at the wrong
moment, and the oxen of the Sun are slain by his men. It is true that
the test is a hard one, death by starvation is impending, and they
yield, not only violating their oaths but their light. Then they
defiantly repeated their deed, "for six whole days they feasted,
selecting the best of the Sun's oxen." When Ulysses awoke, he chid them
sternly, but did not, or could not, stop them. The result was, they
perished.

Already we have touched upon the physical basis which underlies this
tale. The symbolism we may consider somewhat more closely. The sin
against light on the part of the companions is double: they knew better
because they had been forewarned, they were not ignorant as when they
opened the Bag of Winds. Secondly, they destroyed objects sacred to the
grand luminary, they assailed the very source of light. Ulysses has
shared in the act also, he too must take his part of the penalty. He is
saved, for he forbade the wrong, yet he went to sleep at the critical
moment. To be sure the companions were hungry; but that is just the
test; if they had had plenty to eat, there would have been no real
trial of their fidelity to principle.

The ancient poet, throwing deepest glances into the soul and into the
world, beholds the supreme negative act of man, and seeks to clothe it
in a symbol. Mind turns against mind, when the man does what he knows
is wrong, and the destructive side is doubly re-inforced when he
assails light itself, and knowledge slays knowledge. When a person who
knows affirms in word and deed that his knowing is a lie, his light
puts out a light, he destroys the Oxen of the Sun. What then? It is no
wonder that the great luminary threatens "to go down to Hades and there
shine among the dead," unless the full penalty is exacted for such a
deed. In fact, he is already extinguished mentally for these men, and
Zeus, voicing the world-order, can only hurry them off into darkness.
Very wonderful is the thought lurking in the symbolism of the old seer:
intellectual negation, skepticism, denial, culminating in the negative
deed, will at last drive the Sun himself out of Heaven and send him
below into the Underworld. It is highly probable, however, that the
negative man will be sent down there first, as is done in the present
case.

After slaying the Oxen of the Sun and repeating the offense many times,
Ulysses and his companions must again meet life, and accordingly they
set sail upon the sea, bound for home and country. But such men have
not in them the elements of the Return. Storms arise, winds blow, the
helmsman is killed by the falling mast, and the ship is struck by
lightning. The destructive powers of nature seem to concentrate upon
these destroyers; such is the decree of Zeus, carrying out his promise
to the Sun; verily the Supreme God could not well do otherwise. Ulysses
alone barely saves himself upon a fragment of the mast and keel;
manifestly there is a difference between him and his companions, who
disobeyed his order. The text says that "the companions feasted for six
days," it would seem that he did not; still he is involved in their
calamity, though not fully in their guilt. Here is, then, a distinction
of importance, since upon it is based the saving of Ulysses, who is yet
to have a career.

While Ulysses may not have personally participated in the guilty deed,
he was not active against it, he did not apparently seem to restrain
the repetitions of it, he was paralyzed in energy. It was his will
which was defective, not his intellect; he did not commit the offense,
but he did not stop it, and try to conciliate the wrath of the Gods by
sacrifices, by what we now call repentance. Hence, while he does not
perish, he is still unfinished, incomplete, with a limit to be removed.
A training of the Will is to be gone through next, till it be able to
do what Reason commands. A new discipline therefore is in store for the
Hero after the loss of his ship and his companions.

What will this discipline be? To a degree his entire career must be
worked over again from the beginning. Upon his fragment of wood he
floats back to Scylla and Charybdis; he falls into the old dualism in
one of its phases, for he cannot stay upon the Island of the Sun, the
place of unity and rest and light. Indeed have we not just seen him in
the fierce conflict between knowing and doing, which he has not been
able to unify in the last adventure? So he drops back between the
grinding mill-stones of two opposites; one of these opposites, the
maelstrom Charybdis, is sucking him in, but he clutches the branches of
a large fig-tree overhanging the whirlpool, and holds fast till his
mast and keel return to the surface of the water, upon which he
escapes.

One cannot help feeling that the poet in this description has a
conscious meaning underneath, it is more or less allegorical. The will
of Ulysses was paralyzed in the Island of the Sun, he is helplessly
carried forward on the sea, till the yawning gulf of Charybdis
(Despair) threatens to swallow him, when he puts forth a mighty effort
of will, represented in his clinging to the branches of the fig tree,
which extends Hope to him, and thus he rescues himself. Now he rows his
raft "with both his hands," it is indeed time to exert anew his
volition. Charybdis could not take him, on account of a saving germ in
him still; she has to let him pass. Whither?

Naturally the next station rearward is that of the Sirens, and this in
a general way is what Ulysses reaches in his relapse. He comes to the
realm of the senses, for the fact is that this was the source of the
great trouble in the Island of the Sun. The companions, pressed by
appetite and the needs of the body, yielded up their conviction, their
intelligence; they had not reached that strength of the spirit which
prefers the death of the body to a surrender of the soul. Ulysses at
last acquiesced, the problem was too great for him and so he also is
cast out of the Island of the Sun back into the region of the senses.
But it is a new region of the senses, not that of the Sirens, not that
of Circe, both of which he has transcended by an effort of will-power;
it is the realm of Calypso, the Concealer, which has been reached
through the collapse of the will after the sin against light. There is
unquestionably an affinity between Circe, the Sirens, and Calypso, yet
there is also such a difference between them that the poet has assigned
to them distinct domains, It is plain, too, that Ulysses in his present
paralysis will remain long with Calypso, not at once will he recover
his power after such a negation. He is hidden, as it were, in her Dark
Island Ogygia after that undoing of light; he passes from the sun-world
of Reason to its opposite. Calypso, therefore, is reached through the
grand Relapse, not through the progressive movement, which we have seen
him going through hitherto.

Still Ulysses has in him the germ of betterment, of salvation. He longs
to reach home and country, to return to his institutional world; that
spark of aspiration has a saving power; it will not be extinguished
even in the sensuous delights of Calypso's bower.

_Observations._ In looking back at the Twelfth Book and thinking it
over as a Whole, the reader will always feel that he has not fully
sounded its depths. It has not exercised so great an influence upon
mankind as the Eleventh Book, but it is probably profounder. It lures
specially the thinker and the psychologist, it seems not only to set
forth thought but the thought of thought. Very difficult is the poetic
problem in such a case, the imaginative form really is driven to its
utmost limit in order to express the content.

I. The first thing to be fully grasped and thoroughly studied is the
structure of the Book. For structure is the primordial fact of any
work, and especially of any great work, structure has always its own
meaning and far-reaching suggestiveness, and it points directly to what
the Book signifies, being its inner vital organism. In the Twelfth Book
we shall ponder a little the three essential facts of its structure.

(1) There is the twofold division of the Book, while the other Books of
Fableland have distinctly a threefold division. Herewith is coupled the
duplication of its content; the second part repeats what is contained
in the first part; or the first part tells in advance what is to be
done in the second part. Thus the structure images dualism: Thought and
Action, Word and Deed, Idea and Reality, Prophecy and Fulfillment. Yet
it also hints the oneness in the dualism.

(2) The next point in structure is the threefold subdivision of each of
the two parts. That is, now the structural principle falls back into
that of the preceding Books of Fableland. Each part has its three main
adventures with their respective environments and shapes, quite as each
Book hitherto has had. What does this suggest to the reader--this
duplication of the threefold form of the Book?

(3) Finally comes the very peculiar structure of the second adventure,
which we have above called the Double Alternative. The dualism of the
Book we may say, is now doubled, and transformed into the middle one of
the three grand trials or exploits which the Hero has to pass through.
The monster Scylla is here to be noted, with its six necks and heads,
three on each side of the body, wherein again the triple is duplicated,
though the body is certainly one. It was this monster which did most
harm to Ulysses, snapping up six of his companions in the passage.

Such are the main points in the structure of the present Book,
assuredly as great a marvel as anything recorded in the same, when it
is once fully beheld. That it is intimately connected with the thought
of the Book, is indeed the very form and mould thereof, is felt by
every careful reader. But what is this thought? Here the difference
begins, and the conflict of opinion ranges over and into fields diverse
and far apart.

II. It may be said that the interpretations suggested by these three
adventures--with the Sirens, with Scylla and Charybdis, and with the
Oxen of the Sun--belong to two extremes; those of Nature and of Mind.
Readers and commentators of different character and training will
differ; one set will lean to the physical view, the other to the
spiritual. It is our opinion that both views can find justification in
the poem. We may first look at the physical interpretation.

All these monsters have been supposed to represent perils of
navigation, especially in the Italian seas, which were frequented by
the early Greek navigator. They have also been located geographically,
to be sure in a variety of places. The Sirens dwelt on three dangerous
rocks near the island of Capræa, according to ancient authorities; or
they were found on the promontory between Pæstum and Elea, or even down
at Cape Pelorum in Sicily. Why should they not be indeed everywhere!
Then they have been supposed to personify the secret dangers of a calm
sea, and their song is the music of splashing waters. Undoubtedly a
physical substrate must be granted in the case of the Sirens, and in
the Mythus generally; still they are truly everywhere, not only in the
Italian Sea, but also in the sea of life, and they appear not only to
the professional sailor but to every human navigator. Are literal rocks
passed by putting wax into the ears of the crew and by tying the
captain to the mast? Surely some other peril is suggested.

In the second adventure, the Plangctæ (the Claspers, not the Wanderers,
as some translations give it), have been located at the Lipari Islands
in the Sicilian Sea, where there is strong volcanic action. The
well-known Symplegades of the Argonautic expedition which were placed
at the entrance of the Euxine, were probably patterned after this
Homeric conception, and transferred to the North-east. The two terrors,
Scylla and Charybdis, lie in the straits of Messina, according to the
accepted view, the former on the Italian side, the latter on the
Sicilian. A town named Scilla still exists in those regions, and an
eddy in the straits of Messina is still called Charilla (from Charybdis
doubtless.) Etymologically Scylla means a bitch, Charybdis is allied
with Chaos (from a Greek word meaning to yawn). Later legend gave to
Scylla a great variety of forms, which were reproduced in art and
poetry. One story represents her as having been a beautiful maiden who
was loved by Glaucus, and who was turned into her present monstrous
shape by Circe through jealousy, for the enchantress loved Glaucus too.
The sucking-in of the waters by Charybdis, and her disgorging of them
has been connected with the ebb and flow of the tides. It may also be
added that the Plangctæ (in the sense of wandering or floating islands)
have been supposed to refer to icebergs, some report of which may have
reached the Homeric world through the Phoenician sailor, who must
have passed outside of the straits of Gibraltar, into the Atlantic.

III. Such are some of the physical explanations which this Book has
suggested; we may now consider it in relation to certain mental
phenomena. Already we have unfolded the ethical meaning which
especially lies in these shapes, and the Hero's struggle with them. But
they have another and deeper suggestion; they adumbrate the nature of
mind itself and the process of thinking; both in form and content the
whole Book strangely points to psychology, as if the poet, having
created these wonders of Fableland, were going to create his own
creative act and present it in an image.

(1) The division of the Book into the two parts already alluded to in
which each is what the other is, in which there are both separation and
identity, calls up the fundamental fact of self-consciousness, which is
often expressed in the formula Ego=Ego. Mind, Ego, separates itself
into two sides, yet each side is the whole and recognizes the other
side as itself. This act is the condition of knowing of every kind,
which always differentiates then identifies. One step more: Circe in
her prophecy gave the pure form of the idea, then came its realization,
so that there is suggested the primordial distinction of the mind into
Intellect and Will, or the Thought and the Deed. Thus we see in this
division of the Twelfth Book the exact characteristic of
subject-object, and there is still further suggested the distinction
between Thinking and Willing.

(2) Passing to the threefold subdivision of each of the two parts, we
observe that it also calls up psychological distinctions. Three stages
of the knowing mind, Senses, Understanding, Reason, may be found here,
not very definitely given, still distinctly implied. The Sirens
represent the Sensuous, especially in its moral aspect; the Plangctæ
with Scylla and Charybdis set forth a vivid image of the divisions and
conflicts of the finite Understanding; the Oxen of the Sun point to the
central light, that of Reason, which, when destroyed in any way,
constitutes the chief human calamity.

Another curious psychological hint may be noted in the text of Homer.
The Sirens, the first or implicit stage, are sometimes spoken of in the
dual and sometimes in the plural; Homer would seem to imply that they
are two in number, yet they always act and sing as one. That is, the
dualism or separation is as yet implicit; but in the second stage (that
of Scylla and Charybdis) it will become explicit with decided emphasis.
Later legend made the Sirens three in number, and gave them names, and
otherwise distinguished them; but this is not Homeric and indeed has
lost the Homeric consciousness.

(3) The fact that the previous Books of Fableland have a threefold
division only, while this threefold division is duplicated in the
Twelfth Book, has also its psychological bearing in connection with the
foregoing views. In the first case, the poet was not aware of his
process, he yielded to the poetic act immediately; but in the second
case, he is conscious, he knows his own process and prefigures it; he
holds it up before himself in advance, just as Circe holds up before
Ulysses his future career. Ulysses also must know in advance, hitherto
he has simply followed instinct and chance, whithersoever they led. In
like manner, the poet now shows himself knowing what he will do; his
threefold organic movement, hitherto more or less implicit and
unconscious, has become explicit and conscious, and can be prophesied.
He himself thus is an example of the Ego which both casts before and
forecasts itself, in other words is self-duplicated.

(4) Here, however, we must note a distinction. In all four Books of
Fableland, Ulysses is the poet himself in a sense, he is singing his
own adventures to the Court of Phæacia, he is well aware of what he has
passed through and to what he has come.

He is not a Demodocus chanting heroic strains of the Trojan Past; he is
Ulysses telling his own spiritual experiences after the taking of Troy.
It has been already unfolded (p. 246-7) that he was in a negative,
alienated condition; he had fallen out with and was separated from his
Hellenic world, whereof this Fableland is the record. But he arrives at
Phæacia, an harmonious institutional realm, then he becomes fully
conscious of his negative condition and projects it out of himself in
these Tales or Songs. So all Fableland shows this consciousness in the
man; but the Twelfth Book shows him conscious not only of his negative
state, but of his mental process, conscious of his consciousness, we
may say; he is not only Thought, but is Thought thinking Thought, or at
least imaging the same; that is, Thought has itself as its own object
or content. So much we are inclined to find hinted in this duplication
of the movement in the Twelfth Book.

At this point we hear the cry of dissent: You make Homer too
introspective, you make him a self-introverted, self-torturing
nineteenth century man, whereas he is the most unreflective,
unconscious of poets. Very natural is such a protest, my good reader;
this sort of thing may be carried too far, and become fantastic. Still
it is a great mistake to think that Homer never takes a glance at his
own mind and its workings. He must have looked within in order to see
his world; where else was it to be found in any such completeness? He
has built it, and he must have taken some interest in the architect and
in his processes. Homer himself is a greater wonder than any wonder he
has created, and he probably knew it.

It is by no means the purpose to affirm in the preceding remarks that
Homer intended to make an allegorical psychology. He simply had a mind,
and the essence of mind is to be able to look at mind. So Homer saw
himself and his own process, and set it forth in an imaginative form.
Very similar is the plan of Shakespeare in the _Tempest_. Prospero is
the poet, not only as poet, but the poet making his drama in the drama.
There is also a significant duplication both of structure and
character: Prospero is at one time magician, that is, poet, and
commands the elements and the spirits, especially Ariel; at another
time he assumes his ordinary relations as parent and as king, and is as
limited as other mortals. Shakespeare made many dramas, then he saw
himself making dramas, then he put into a drama himself making dramas.
That is, he in the end (Tempest is usually held to be the last of
Shakespeare's plays) took up his own poetic process into a poem, and
thus completed the arch of his great career.

So much for the psychological aspect of these Books of Fableland. It
must be stated again that abstract terms, so necessary for an exact
science of mind, had not been elaborated to any extent in Homer's day.
Reflective language is a later product of Greek spirit. Still the
philosopher is anticipated and prophesied in the poet, and it certainly
cannot be amiss to trace vague premonitions and promises of the coming
Plato and Aristotle in the old poet. Homer has in him the germ of the
whole Greek world, and for that matter, much of the modern world also;
the best commentary upon him is the 2500 years since his time.

IV. The slaying of the Oxen of the Sun has also its searching
suggestiveness, and is found in one form or other in the World's
greatest Books. Mind destroying mind may be shown as light
extinguishing its own luminary; some such hint lies in the symbolism
both of the act and its punishment. It is indeed the culminating point
of negation--spirit denying spirit. This is the real sin against the
Holy Spirit, unpardonable because repentance, all possibility of pardon
is denied by the doer of the deed. As I understand him, this is the
essence of the sin of Dante against Beatrice, with which she reproaches
him in the last part of the Purgatorio. Suggestions of the same kind of
guilt may be found in the characters of Shakespeare's Hamlet and
Banquo, in whose cases the violation brings on a tragic fate; indeed
every true tragedy has some touches of the light-denying or
light-defying deed and its penalty. Above all rises in this respect the
Faust of Goethe, the theme of which is explicitly intelligence denying
intelligence, whereby the human mind becomes utterly negative, begets
the Devil, and enters into compact with him for a life of indulgence.
While such a state lasts, repentance is impossible.

Some such intimation ancient Homer must have had, and shadowed it forth
in this strange symbolic deed. Ulysses having disregarded all he had
learned by his long and bitter experience, leaving unheeded the
warnings and prophecies of the Supersensible and the Sensible World
(Tiresias and Circe), drops back into the sphere of Calypso, and has to
serve the senses seven years till will and aspiration lift him again.
Such a servitude was not uncommon in Greek legend, Hercules is the very
embodiment thereof; even a God, Apollo, Light itself, has to serve
Admetus, a mortal, in expiation of undivine guilt.

An important element of structure is to be noted at this point: the
poem bifurcates and the reader has to move in two directions. If he
wishes to follow the development of Ulysses, (which is indispensable)
he must return with the latter to Calypso's Island and trace him
through his three grand experiences--Oyggia, Phæacia, and Fableland.
But if the reader wishes to continue in the action of the poem, he must
now pass out of Fableland to Ithaca in the company of the Hero. (For
this double movement of the Ulyssiad, see pp. 121-8.)

But before Fableland is left behind, its full sweep may be called up
once more: from the Upperworld of Earth (Ninth and Tenth Books, both
belong together in a general survey), which shows the negation of Greek
ethical life and its conflicts, we pass to the Underworld of Hades,
which on the one hand is the negation of all Greek sensible existence,
and on the other hand is the revelation of the supersensible (soul,
idea, world-justice); thence we come back to the Upperworld in which
the idea, obtained beyond, is seen struggling with the reality in
various negative phases--Ulysses, knowing in advance, is shown in his
attempt to realize his knowledge in the deed. Such then, is this grand
threefold sweep of Fableland.

One more retrospect: let us glance back at the whole Twelve Books, this
first half of the Odyssey, composed of the Telemachiad and the
Ulyssiad. Both are parts of one whole; father and son acquire each his
special discipline for the coming deed. Both are brought to a
recognition of the Divine Order, the son mainly through tradition, the
father mainly through experience. Both reach beyond the sensible into
the supersensible or ideal realm; Telemachus hears the story of
Proteus, which teaches the essence in all appearance; Ulysses descends
to Hades and there communes with pure mind without its terrestrial
incumbrance, in the case of Tiresias and others. Such is the internal
preparation; now they are to do the deed. The idea they possess, the
next is to make it real.

Accordingly the action of the poem, with Ulysses as its center, moves
next to Ithaca, the realm in which the idea is to be realized:
wherewith we enter upon a new grand division of the poem.

(The reader who wishes to study the parallelism between this Twelfth
Book and Prospero can consult the author's Commentary on Shakespeare,
where it treats of the _Tempest_. In fact, the entire play, which is
also a kind of Fairy Tale, has many correspondences with Homer's
Fableland.)



_ITHAKEIAD._


Such is the designation which we have concluded to give to the last
twelve Books of the Odyssey, inasmuch as a name is needed for this
portion corresponding to the Telemachiad and the Ulyssiad. The scene is
laid wholly in Ithaca, the characters of the poem are all brought
together, and the main conflict takes place. It is the country which is
to be cleansed of violence and guilt; that Divine Order which father
and son have learned about, each in his own way, they must now make
real in the world, especially in their own land. Manifestly Ithaca
represents the realm of wrong, of hostility to the social system of
man; the Suitors defy Law, Family, State, Gods.

But Ulysses, before he can reform his country, has had to reform
himself. When he attacked the Ciconians, he was as negative to
institutional order as the Suitors themselves; he was not the man to
destroy them at that time, he was too like them to undo their work.
Hence the long discipline in Fableland, which has been fully explained
in the preceding comments; hence too he had to see Phæacia, the ideal
institutional life realized in Family and State, as well as in Industry
and the Fine Arts. Let the reader note that he passes, not from
Fableland, but from Phæacia, to Ithaca; having that Phæacian Idea in
his soul, he can transform his own country. Thus he will truly save his
companions, namely, the people, whom before he lost in Fableland.

Telemachus also in his training has seen much and brought back an ideal
with him. He has heard the wise man Nestor and witnessed the religious
life of Hellas in its highest manifestation. Pylos, Nestor's kingdom,
is almost a Greek theocracy; the Gods appear visible at the feasts and
hold communion with the people. Likewise at Sparta Telemachus saw a
realm of peace and concord, in striking contrast with his own Ithaca;
but chiefly he heard the Marvelous Tale of Proteus, after which he was
eager to return home at once. Thus he too has had his experience of a
social order, as well as his ideal instruction. Previous to his journey
he had shown a tendency to despair, and to a denial of the Gods on
account of the disorders of the Suitors in his house. Unquestionably he
comes back to Ithaca with renewed courage and aspiration, and with an
ideal in his soul, which makes him a meet companion for his father.

The third character is the swineherd Eumæus who is the great addition
in this portion of the Odyssey. He too has had his discipline, which is
to be recounted here; he has been stolen as a child and sold into
slavery; still the most terrible calamities to himself and his master
and to the House of Ulysses, have not shaken his fealty to the Gods.
Thus in common with Telemachus and Ulysses he has faith in the Divine
Order, and can cooperate with them in realizing the same in Ithaca.
Very different has been his discipline from that of the other two, both
of whom became negative and had to be sent away from home for training,
but Eumæus has remained in his hut and never swerved in his fidelity to
his sovereigns above and below, though he does not understand the
providential reason for so much wrong and suffering.

To these three men we are to add the woman, Penelope, who has her part,
perhaps the most difficult in this difficult business. She cannot
resort to violence, she must use her feminine weapon, tact, with a
degree of skill which makes her an example for all time. Indeed not a
few of her sex declare that she has overdone the matter, and that her
acts are morally questionable. But there can be no doubt that it is the
part of tact to find fault with tact, and that woman will always decry
woman's skill in artifice, without refraining from its employment
altogether; indeed just that is a part of the artifice.

For this and similar reasons the moral bearings of this portion of the
Odyssey have always aroused discussion. In general, the question comes
up: What constitutes a lie? Is the disguise of Ulysses justifiable? Is
the subtlety of Penelope morally reprehensible? The old dispute as to
conduct rises in full intensity: Does the end justify the means? Two
parties are sure to appear with views just opposite; the one excuses,
the other condemns, often with no little asperity. The Odyssey has been
denounced even as an immoral Book and both its hero and heroine have
been subjected to a burning ordeal of literary damnation.

The poet has, however, his wrongful set, the Suitors, about whose
character there is no disagreement. They are the negation of that
Divine Order which is to be restored by those who believe in it--the
three men who come together at the hut of the swineherd, and who have
been trained by the time and circumstances just to this end. Ulysses
has had to pass through his negative period and overcome the same
within; now he is prepared to meet the Suitors and to destroy them
without the negative recoil which came upon him after destroying the
city of Troy. He can do a necessary deed of violence without becoming
violent and destructive himself; he will not now re-enact the Ciconian
affair.

Let us look into the inner movement of the matter here indicated. The
slaughter of the Suitors by Ulysses was undoubtedly a negative act, yet
the Suitors also were negative in conduct, wholly so; thus violence is
met and undone by violence, or negation negates negation. What is the
outcome? Manifestly a double result is possible: if a negative cancels
a negative, there may remain still negation, or there may be a positive
result. Ulysses has passed through the first of these stages by his
discipline already recorded, after which he is master of the negative;
the destruction of the Suitors will not now make him destructive, as
did the destruction of Troy. It will be seen, therefore, that the poem
has a positive outcome; after some trouble, Ulysses will renovate the
country, will restore Family and State, in fine the whole Order which
had been upset by the Suitors.

With the transition from Fableland occurs a marked change in the style
of the poem. In the previous portions we have already noted the
Marvelous Tale of Fairyland, the Heroic Tale of Troy, the Idyllic
Epopee of the Present, the latter especially in Phæacia. But in these
last twelve Books we read a story of actual social life, a story which
almost strikes into the domain of the modern Novel. Still fabulous
adventures will be interwoven--now more in the form of the
novelette--with Phoenician and Egyptian backgrounds. Also a tone of
humanity, even of sentiment, makes itself felt in various places. A new
situation brings with it a new style, yet Homeric still. Hereafter
these points will be more fully noticed.

We have already indicated the fact (p. 19) that Pallas starts to
organize the Odyssey in Book First. Two portions she designates, the
Telemachiad and the Ulyssiad, which really belong together, showing the
spiritual palingenesis, or internal renovation of son and father ere
they proceed to the renovation of their country. Such in general are
the first twelve Books, showing the two masters of destiny, the two
positive men with their idea; the second twelve Books show them
realizing their idea, and doing the great deed for which they have been
prepared.

This second half of the Odyssey falls into two divisions. The first is
located at the hut of the swineherd and brings the three men together,
whose general character has been already indicated; they have been
trained by life to a living realization of the Divine Order. This
division consists of four Books (XIII-XVI). The second division
transfers the scene from country to town, from hut to palace. Ulysses
in disguise will witness personally the full course of the wrong of the
suitors, against his property, his family, his state, and against the
Gods. Then he becomes the minister of the world-justice which he has
already seen in Hades. Finally he harmonizes the distracted
institutional life of his country and the poem ends. This second
division embraces the last eight Books, and has its own special stages
in its movement.

_Survey of Books Thirteenth to Sixteenth._ In this portion we are to
witness the leading transition of the poem, that of Ulysses and
Telemachus to Ithaca, the transition from the long and elaborate
preparation for the act to the act itself, which is the supreme one of
man, that of asserting and realizing the Divine Order. In these four
Books is the gathering of the chosen forces into one spot and into one
purpose--which forces have been hitherto separately developed; here it
is that we behold the practical preliminary movement for destroying the
Suitors. Hence arises the feeling which most readers express on a
sympathetic perusal, that these four Books of the Ithakeiad, which is
the name already given to the present division of the Odyssey, have
enough in common to cause them to be grouped together in an organic
survey of the poem. They have, first of all, unity of locality--the hut
of the swineherd--to which, round which, and from which their incidents
move. To be sure there is a glance at the enemy, the Suitors, who are
at a different point; but even this glance serves to emphasize the
setting common to these four Books, which is the abode of Eumæus. Very
humble it is, but it stands in every way as the contrast to the palace.

This unity of place naturally suggests unity of action as to what is
going on in that place. All the forces in opposition to the Suitors are
secretly gathering there and organizing. It is the center of attraction
which is drawing out of the universe every atom of congenial energy for
punishing the transgressors. It has brought Ulysses from Phæacia,
Telemachus from Sparta, and possesses already the faithful Eumæus in
its own right. This is the fortress, and these are the three men who
make the attacking army. They are now getting themselves together. All
three have passed through a grand discipline just for the present end,
which is to be the great deed of deliverance.

Moreover the place has a character of its own, a peculiar atmosphere in
sympathy with its purpose. Its strength we feel, its adamantine
fidelity to the House of Ulysses. It is a secluded spot in contrast to
the palace; its occupant is a slave in contrast to the kings who are
suitors; his business is to be the companion of swine in contrast to
the regal entertainment at court. The highest and the humblest of the
social order are here placed side by side; with what result? The
unswerving rock of loyalty is the hut and the heart of the swineherd;
upon it as the foundation the shattered institutional world of Ithaca
is to be rebuilt. The lowest class of society is, after all, the basis
of the edifice; if it remain sound, then the superstructure can be
erected again after the fiery purification. But if it be utterly
rotten, what then? Such, however, is not the case in Ithaca, as long as
there exists a man like the swineherd. From his rock, then, and, still
more, from his spirit, is to issue the energy which is to transform
that perverted land of Ithaca.

Still, here too Ulysses is the pivot, the central character; the hero
both in thought and action, for whom Eumæus furnishes a spatial and
spiritual environment. The hut of the swineherd is but a phase, one
landing-place in the career of Ulysses. An idyllic spot and forever
beautiful; who but Homer has ever gotten so much poetry out of a
pig-sty? We witness the transfiguration of what is the very lowest of
human existence into what is the very highest, veritably the Godlike on
earth.

Ulysses, however, has to remain in disguise even to his most faithful
servant; not out of distrust we must think, but out of prudence.
Knowing his master, the swineherd would be a different person in the
presence of the Suitors; he has an open, sincere, transparent heart,
and he would probably let the secret be seen which lay therein. The
gift of disguise he possesses not, as Ulysses has clearly observed in
his conversation; in this respect he is the contrast to the Hero
himself. But Telemachus will get the secret, for he has craft, is the
true son of his father; has he not just shown the paternal trait in
cunningly thwarting the Suitors who are lying in wait for him, by the
help of Pallas, of course?

In these four Books, accordingly, we behold one stage of the great
preparation for the deed which is the culmination of the poem. Not now
the disciplinary, but the practical preparation it is, when one is
ready and resolved internally, and is seeking the method and means.
Both Ulysses and Telemachus have had their training; now it must pass
into action.

We behold, first, Ulysses making the transition from Phæacia to Ithaca,
and thence to the fortress of loyalty, from which the movement is to be
made. Secondly we see all the instruments getting together, and being
prepared for the work, particularly the three heroes of the attack.
Finally we observe Ulysses inquiring and learning all about the
situation in Ithaca; he obtains everything that information at second
hand can give. But hearsay is not enough; he must see at first hand.
Thus we pass to the palace, and out of the first series of four Books,
which we are next to consider separately.



_BOOK THIRTEENTH._


In general, we have in this Book the grand transition from Phæacia to
Ithaca, in both of its phases, physical and spiritual. The sea is
crossed from land to land in a ship; the idyllic realm is left behind,
and the real world with its terrible problem is encountered. Phæacia
was quite without conflict. Ithaca is just in the condition of conflict
and discord. Phæacia, moreover, was a land of looking back at the past,
of reminiscence and retrospection; Ithaca is the land of looking
directly into the face of the future, with the deed to follow at once;
it is the field for action and not contemplation. Not only spatially,
but also in thought we must regard this transition.

Ulysses has both these worlds in him; he is the man of thought and the
man of action. Hitherto in his career the stress has been upon the
former; henceforth it is to be upon the latter. In this Book, which is
the overture marking the change in the key-note of the poem, we have
three distinct facts brought out prominently and through them we can
grasp the general structure. There is, first, the departure of Ulysses
from Phæacia and arrival at Ithaca; secondly, when this is finished,
there is the glance backward, on the part of the poet, to the
miraculous voyage and to Phæacia itself, in which glance Neptune plays
an important part; thirdly, there is the glance forward, which occupies
most of the Book, taking in Ithaca and the future, in which glance
Pallas, the Goddess of foresight, gives the chief direction, and
Ulysses is her mortal counterpart. This is, accordingly, to a large
extent a Book of divine suggestion; two deities appear, the Upper World
plays into the Lower World, yet in very different manners. The God of
the Sea seems to be an obstructionist, a reactionary, with look turned
behind, an old divinity of Nature; while Pallas always has her look
turned forward, and is furthering the great deed of purification, is
wholly a divinity of Spirit. These three phases of the Book we shall
note more fully.

I. We have a glimpse of the court at Phæacia; Ulysses has ended the
long account of his experience, the time of action has arrived. The
formal yet hearty farewell is described; the gifts of the host are
given, and the guest is sent on his way. Nor must we forget the bard
Demodocus, still singing at the banquet, but the theme of his song is
not now mentioned; evidently it was some tale of Troy, as before, and
this stage of song has been far transcended by Ulysses. Very eager the
Hero was to start; "often he turned his head toward the all-shining
Sun" to see how far away the hour still remained. He wishes to listen
to no more lays of the Past, sweet though they be, nor does he desire
to tell any tales himself.

Moreover we hear the great longing of his heart: "May I, returning,
find at home my blameless wife!" In like manner he wishes domestic joy
to the king, as this whole Phæacian world partakes more of the Family
than of the State. Of course, he cannot leave without going to the
heart and center of the Family, namely, Arete, wife, mother, and even
judge of the people. So we hear from the lips of Ulysses a final
salutation to her in her threefold character, "Within thy household
rejoice in thy children, thy people and thy husband the king." She
looks to the domestic part on the ship for Ulysses; she sends servants
bearing bread, wine and garments for the passage. Nausicaa we feel to
be present in the last interview, but not a word from her or from the
departing guest to her; self-suppression is indeed the law for both,
for is not Penelope the grand end of this voyage?

The ship of the Phæacians in which the passage is made is a miraculous
one, and yet prophetic; it is gifted with thought and flies more fleet
than a falcon, swiftest of birds. Again the mythical account prefigures
the reality, and this little marvelous story of the sea hints, yes,
calls for the speed of modern navigation. It is not a matter to be
understood; Ulysses, the wise man, knows nothing about it, he is sunk
in sleep while making the passage. But the wise man is to come to
knowledge hereafter.

He has arrived in Ithaca, and entered a safe port; he, still deep in
slumber, is laid on the shore with all his goods and gifts, when the
mariners turn back. At this point we have an interesting description of
the surroundings, wherein we may observe the poet's employment of
nature as a setting for the returned Ulysses. There is the secure haven
shutting off the winds and waves of the sea; at the end of the haven
stands the olive tree, product of culture, and hinting the civilized
world, which Ulysses now enters; it was a tree sacred to Pallas in
later Greek legend, and, doubtless, in Homer's time also. Next came the
cave of the Nymphs called Naiads, with its curious shapes of stone, the
work of the Nymphs to the old Greek eye, but named stalagmites and
stalactites in modern speech. Two are the entrances, one for Gods and
one for men; both human and divine visitors come thither, it is indeed
a point of meeting for the two influences, which is its essential
suggestion. Ulysses, lying with his goods beneath the olive tree and
near the cave, is under divine protection, which here Nature herself is
made to declare. This scenery is not introduced for its own sake, but
for the divinity in it, whereof another example is to follow in the
case of Neptune.

There have been repeated attempts to identify the locality described by
the poet with the present geography of Ithaca. Travelers have imagined
that they have found the haven and cave, notably this was the case with
Sir William Gell; but the more common view now is that they were
mistaken. Homer from his knowledge of Greece, which has everywhere
harbors, caves and olive-trees, constructed an ideal landscape for his
own purpose, quite as every poet does. He may or may not have seen
Ithaca; in either case, the poetic result is the same.

II. The physical transition from Phæacia to Ithaca is accomplished;
while Ulysses is asleep, the poet casts a glance backward at the
marvelous ship and at the marvelous land which has just been left
behind. Both are henceforth to be forever closed to the real world and
its intercourse; the realm of fable is shut off from Ithaca, and from
the rest of this poem.

The matter is presented in the form of a conflict between the Phæacians
and Neptune, between the sea-faring people and the sea; clearly it is
one of the many struggles between Man and Nature which the Greek Mythus
is always portraying, because these struggles were the ever-present
fact in Greek life. The God has been circumvented by the speed of the
navigators; Ulysses without suffering, without a storm, has reached
Ithaca. "No more honor for me from mortals or Gods," cries Neptune, "if
I can be thus defied?" He makes his appeal to the Highest God, and we
hear the decision: "Turn the ship to a stone and hide the city with a
mountain." The first is accomplished in view of the Phæacians; the
second is possibly prevented by their speedy sacrifices to Neptune, and
the new decree of the ruler, which forbids their giving further escort
over the sea to strangers. At any rate Phæacia is shut off from the
world, and has not been heard of since; there have been no more
transitions thence since that of Ulysses. The marvelous ship and the
marvelous city vanish forever by a divine act, even by the will of
Zeus. Yet, on the other hand, they eternally remain, crystallized in
these verses of Homer, more lasting than the rock of Neptune.

Why this interference from above? Wherein is the escort by the
Phæacians a violation of the divine order as voiced by the Supreme God?
Note that Ulysses has escaped, which is the will of Zeus; note, too,
that the Phæacians are punished for helping him escape, which is also
the will of Zeus. The sailors bring the wanderer to his home without
trouble, but they are smitten by the God while returning.

For the primal suggestion of the legend, may we not say that the sea,
that enormous force of Nature with many reserved energies in its vast
bosom, though bestrid and subdued by a ship, at times breaks loose and
destroys, in spite of skillful navigation and perfect machinery? Still
to-day the sea has a residue of the uncontrollable, and probably will
have for some ages to come. Neptune has not ceased from his wrath
against the man of thought, who tries to straddle and ride him, and
Zeus still supports at times the Sea-god's appeal for honor, when his
prerogative is violated. Yet not always by any means, for Zeus belongs
to the true Olympians, deities of intelligence, who once put down the
old Gods of Nature.

Still Nature has its right, nay, its law with the penalty. The poet
looks upon the sea as a great deity demanding sacrifice and honor.
Furthermore, for every conquest made over it, there is the
counterstroke, the resistance, which is the vengeance of the God. Thus
says Zeus: "If any man, trusting in his own strength, refuses to give
unto thee honor, always vengeance is thine afterwards."

We have already noticed the creed of the poet to be that every action
has its penalty; the deed, even the good deed, is the fruit of a
conflict and puts down something which has its might, aye its right,
which is soon to make itself felt in counteraction. _Es rächt sich
alles auf Erden_, sings our last world-poet in full harmony with his
eldest brother.

It is not surprising that Alcinous at this point remembers an "ancient
God-spoken oracle," which had uttered in advance the wrath of Neptune
and the present penalty. In like manner, Polyphemus, in his crisis,
remembered a similar oracle. It is indeed the deep suggestion of Nature
which the sages have heard in all times. The poet takes his thought and
works it into a mythical shape, in which, however, we are to see not
merely the story but the insight into the world order.

Ulysses now leaves the sea, after having been chiefly in a struggle
with it for years, ever since he sailed from Troy. It was the element
in his way, the environment always hostile to him; Neptune was the
deity who was angry and made him suffer. Still the God of the sea could
not prevent his Return, such was the will of Zeus. Thus we cast a
glance back at the Phæacians who vanish, and at Neptune who also
vanishes.

The poem henceforth quits the sea, after marking the fate of the
sea-faring people of Phæacia. That great mysterious body of water, with
its uncertainties of wind and wave, with its hidden rocks and magic
islands, is now to drop out of the horizen of the Odyssey. It is the
great sea-poem of the Greeks, yes of the world; the sea is the setting
of its adventurous, marvelous, illimitable portion. It comes out the
sea, with its realm of wonders; henceforth it is a land poem in the
clear finite world. Ulysses the Hero must turn his face away from the
briny element; not without significance is that command given him that
he must go till he find a people who take an oar for a winnowing-fan
ere he can reach peace. So the fairy-ship ceased to run, but the
steam-ship has taken its place in these Ithacan waters. Still the
poetic atmosphere of the Odyssey, in spite of steam, hovers over the
islands of western Greece to-day; the traveler in the harbor of Corfu,
will look up at the city from the deck of his vessel and call back the
image of Phæacia, and if he listens to the speech of the Greek sailors,
he will find words still in use which were employed by old Homer,
possibly were heard by the poet in this very harbor.

III. Next comes the most important and longest portion of the Book,
turning the glance forward to Ithaca and the future, also to the great
deed of the poem. A new deity appears when Neptune vanishes, not a
hostile power of Nature but a helpful spirit of Intelligence--it is the
Goddess of Wisdom, Pallas. This divine transition from the one God to
the other is the real inner fact, while the physical transition is but
the outer setting and suggestion.

Accordingly, the theme now is the man and the deity, Ulysses and Pallas
in their interrelation. We are to have a complete account of the human
unfolding into a vision of the divine. The movement is from a complete
separation of the twain, to mutual recognition, and then to
co-operation. Pallas has had little to do with Ulysses during his great
sea-journey, and since he left Troy. That long wandering on the water
was without her, lay not at all in her domain, which is that of clear
self-conscious Intelligence. That misty Fableland is the realm of other
divinities, though she appeared in Phæacia.

The question, therefore, is at present: How shall this man come into
the knowledge of the Goddess? How shall he know the truth of the
reality about him in his new situation, how understand this world of
wisdom? The sides are two: the man and the deity, and they must become
one in spirit. The supreme thing, therefore, is that Ulysses hear the
voice of Pallas, and develop into unity with her; indeed that may be
held to be the supreme thing in Religion and Philosophy: to hear the
voice of God. Even in the business of daily life the first object is to
find out the word of Pallas.

Such is the dualism in the world, which must be harmonized; but in the
individual also there is another dualism which has to be harmonized.
Ulysses is mortal, finite, given over to doubt, passion, caprice, is
the unwise man, subjective; but he is also the wise man, has an
infinite nature which is just the mastery of all his weakness; he has
always the possibility of wisdom, and will come to it by a little
discipline. He will rise out of his subjective self into the objective
God. This is just the process which the poet is now going to portray;
the Hero overwhelmed in his new situation and with his new problem, is
to ascend into communion with Pallas, is to behold wisdom in person and
hear her voice, and then is to advance to the deed. This process we may
look at in four different stages, as they unfold on the lines laid down
by the poet.

1. First we have quite a full picture of Ulysses before he reaches the
recognition of the Divine, and of his gradual climbing-up to that
point. At the start he is asleep, is not even conscious of the external
world about him, he has indeed entered a new realm, yet old. As long as
the Phæacian spell is upon him, he can do nought but slumber. Then he
wakes, he sees but does not recognize his own country. He doubts, he
blames the Phæacians wrongfully, in his distrust of them he counts over
his treasures. He is now the unwise, capricious man; he has no
perception of Pallas; not only the land is in disguise to him, he is in
disguise to himself, to his better self.

Yet the poet is careful to mark the providential purpose just in this
disguise. The Goddess threw a mist over things, that he might not know
them, or make himself known till all was in readiness for the
destruction of the Suitors, till she had told him what he had to do.
Still it is his own act or state that he cannot at first hear the voice
of the Goddess.

The next step is that he recognizes the country, it is described to him
and named by Pallas. But she is in disguise now; she has appeared, but
not in her true form; she is not yet wisdom, but simply identifies the
land, telling him: "This is Ithaca." Thus he recognizes the external
landscape, but not the Goddess, who is as yet but a simple shepherd
describing things.

Now what will he do? He also will disguise himself to the shepherd,
because he does not recognize who it is. He makes up a fable to account
for his presence and for his goods. Both are now in disguise, the man
and deity, to each other. They are doing the same thing, they are one,
with that thin veil of concealment between them.

Then comes the mutual recognition. She tears away the veil, laughs at
his artifice, and calls out her own designation: Pallas Athena. She had
previously named Ithaca, which brings the recognition of the outer
world; now she names herself, which brings the recognition of the
divine world. Thus Ulysses has rapidly passed from sleep through a
series of non-cognizant states, till he beholds the Goddess.

2. Both the deity and mortal have now reached the stage of mutual
recognition, and thrown off their mutual disguise, which was a false
relation, though it often exists. Does not the man at times conceal
himself to the God, by self-deception, self-excuse, by lying to his
higher nature? In such case is not the God also hidden, in fact
compelled to assume a mask? Thus the poet brings before us the
wonderful interplay between the human and divine, till they fully
recognize each other.

At once Pallas changes, she assumes a new form, the outward plastic
shape corresponding to her Godhood in the Greek conception, that of "a
woman beautiful and stately." Nor must we forget that Ulysses has also
changed, the two transformations run parallel, in the spirit of the man
and in the form of the Goddess. This unity of character also is stated
by Pallas; "both of us are skilled in wiles; thou art the best of
mortals in counsel and in words; I am famed among the Gods for wisdom
and cunning." Hence her argument runs, let us throw off disguise to
each other, for we have a great work before us.

It is also to be noted by the reader that each, the man and the
Goddess, ascribes to the other the credit of skill and forethought,
specially the credit of coming to Ithaca in disguise to discover the
true situation. Says Pallas: "Another man would have rushed to see wife
and children in his house, but thou wilt first test thy wife." Here the
Goddess gives the thought to the man. Says Ulysses: "Surely I would
have perished in my own palace, like Agamemnon, if thou, O Goddess,
hadst not told me everything aright." Here the man gives the thought to
the Goddess. This is not a contradiction, both are correct, and the
insight is to see that both are one, and saying the same thing at
bottom. The deity must be in the man, as well as in the world; and the
man must hear the deity speaking the truth of the world ere he attain
unto wisdom.

Even the mist which hung over the landscape at first, has now
completely vanished; Ulysses recognizes all the local details--the
haven, the olive-tree, the grot of the Nymphs, and the mountain; all
the Ithacan objects of Nature come back fully. But chiefly he
recognizes the Goddess, whereupon both can pass to the great matter in
hand--the deed.

3. This deed has been often mentioned before--the purification of
Ithaca, chiefly by the slaughter of the Suitors, "the shameless set,
who usurp thy house and woo thy wife." Sitting on the roots of the
sacred olive, the two, the man and the deity, plan destruction to the
guilty. Verily those double elements, the human and the divine, must
co-operate if the great action be performed. The eternal principle of
right, the moral order of the world, must unite with the free agency of
the individual in bringing about the regeneration of the land. Thus
after their complete recognition and harmony, which takes place out of
separation, Ulysses and Pallas look forward to the impending deed,
which is their unity realized and standing forth as a fact in the
world.

4. Finally we have the manner of doing the deed, the plan is laid
before us. Pallas tells Ulysses that he must again assume his disguise,
both in the hut of the swineherd and in the palace at Ithaca. She does
not propose to do his work for him; on the contrary it must be his own
spontaneous energy. In fact, Pallas is in him making this suggestion,
yet outside of him, too, speaking the voice of the situation.

The scheme shows the structure of these four Books (XIII-XVI),
organized of course by Pallas. Ulysses is to go to the swineherd who is
loyal, and will give shelter. Telemachus is to be brought to the same
place by Pallas, not externally, as we shall see, but through the free
act of Telemachus himself. Thus the three chosen men are gathered
together in their unsuspected fortress. Two things we must note in
regard to these movements: they are wholly voluntary on part of the
persons making them, yet they belong in the Divine Order, and thus are
the work of the deity. Free-Will and Providence do not trammel each
other, but harmoniously co-operate to the same end. So carefully and
completely is this thought elaborated that we may consider it
fundamental in the creed of the poet.

In such manner the weak, finite Ulysses is brought into communion with
the immortal Goddess. Yet he, the poor frail mortal, drops for a moment
even here. When Pallas speaks of Telemachus having gone to Sparta, to
learn about his father, Ulysses petulantly asks: "Why did not you, who
know all things, tell that to him" without the peril of such a journey?
The answer of Pallas is clear; I sent him in order that he might be a
man among men, and have the good fame of his action. Telemachus, too,
must be a free man; that is the education of Pallas. The Goddess will
help him only when he helps himself. Divinity is not to sap human
volition, but to enforce it; she would unmake Telemachus, if she
allowed him to stay at home and do nothing, tied to his mother's apron
strings.

And here we cannot help noting an observation on Homer's poetry. It
must be in the reader ere he can see it in the book. Unless he be ready
for its spirit, it will not appear, certainly it will not speak. There
must be a rise into the vision of Homeric poetry on the part of the
reader, as there is a rise into the vision of the Goddess on the part
of Ulysses. The two sides, the human and the divine, or the Terrestrial
and the Olympian, must meet and commune; thus the reader, too, in
perusing Homer, must become heroic and behold the Gods.



_BOOK FOURTEENTH._


The Book begins with another transition in place; Ulysses passes from
the sea-shore, with its haven, grot, and olive-tree up into the
mountain, to the hut of Eumæus. We have quite a full description of the
latter's abode; there is a lodge surrounded by a court and a wall;
within this inclosure are the sties, and the droves of swine over which
he is the keeper, with four assistants. Nor must we omit the fierce
dogs, savage as wild beasts. Such is the new environment which Ulysses
enters, and which has at its center a human being who gives character
to this little world. Again we catch a clear quick glimpse of the Greek
landscape in one of its phases.

The spiritual transition is, however, the main thing. Ulysses passes
from Pallas, the deity of pure wisdom, to Eumæus, the humblest of
mortals in his vocation. Yet this poor man too has the divine in him,
and manifests it in a supreme degree, not, however, in the form of
reflective wisdom, but in the form of piety, of an immediate faith in
the Gods. Still this faith has its sore trial. Such is the contrast
between the two men. Ulysses has brought with him the Goddess of
Wisdom, whose words he has heard, and with whom he has held communion.
Hardly does Eumæus know Pallas, he has not the internal gift of seeing
her in her own shape. Thus both these men share in the divine, but in
very different ways.

From this difference in the two men spring both the character and the
matter of the Book. It is a play, a disguise; a play between Wisdom and
Faith, in which the former must be in disguise to the latter, yet both
have the same substance at bottom. For Faith is Faith because it cannot
take the form of Intelligence, yet may have in its simple immediate
form all the content of Intelligence.

Eumæus has an open single-hearted piety; he cannot play a disguise, he
hates it for he has been deceived by it when assumed by lying fablers.
For this reason he is not intrusted with the secret of his master's
return till the last moment, he would have to dissemble, to violate his
own nature, and then perhaps he would not have succeeded in his
attempt. So Ulysses with a true regard for his man withholds the great
secret, and has to play under cover in order to get the needful
information.

Accordingly the present Book has a decided tinge of comedy. There is,
on the one hand, the disguise, external and internal--in garments and
in identity; on the other hand, there is the error which takes one
person for another, and produces the comic situation. Thus the Book is
prophetic of a great branch of Literature, and may be considered as a
starting-point of Greek Comedy, yes, as one of the origins of
Shakespeare. To be sure, it is not mere fun or amusement; it is the
Comedy of Providence, who often is in disguise bringing his blessing.
Eumæus in his piety has just that which he thinks he has not; his
loyalty has brought to him just that which he most desired; his mistake
is in reality no mistake, but a mere appearance which will vanish in
the end.

It is true that this sport of comic disguise began in the previous Book
with Pallas. But can the mortal hide himself from the deity, specially
from the deity of wisdom? Hence the Goddess tears away the mask with a
smile, and there follows the recognition. But at present it is the
mortal who is the victim of disguise, by virtue of his limitations.
Still the mortal, when he cannot see, can believe, and so transcend
these same limitations. Thus it is with Eumæus, his mistake is a comic
nullity.

In the hut of the swineherd, there is no domestic life, the woman is
absent. This condition is specially ascribed to the present state of
things in Ithaca. Eumæus, though he be a slave, could have a household,
"a dwelling and ground and wife," if his old master were at home. Even
now he has his own servant, bought with his own wealth. Slavery was not
a hard condition in the house of Ulysses; it was domestic in the best
sense probably. Indeed the slaves were often of as high birth as their
masters, who in turn might be slaves in the next fluctuation of war.
Eumæus himself was of kingly blood, and he retains his regal character
in his servitude.

Ulysses has now reached the fortress which is to be the rallying-point
of his army of three heroes, and from which he is to issue to the work
of the time. But that is hereafter. In the present Book, we have his
play with Eumæus, his disguise, which assumes three main attitudes.
First, he is passive, chiefly asking and listening; thus he gets out of
Eumæus what information he wishes; then he plays an active part in his
disguise, telling his own history under the mask of fiction; finally he
assumes an open disguise, that is, he tells of one of his artifices at
Troy, and then states his present object in telling it. The simple
Eumæus, however, does not suspect him in all these transformations.
Still we may notice in the swineherd a strong feeling of oneness with
the stranger, an unconscious presentiment of who he is.

I. The approach of Ulysses to the lodge of Eumæus is an experience
which one may have in the mountains of Greece to-day. We can find the
same general outline of a hut with its surrounding fence and court, in
which domestic animals are penned, particularly during the night. Then
there is that same welcome from the dogs, which issue forth in a pack
with an unearthly howling, growling and barking at the approaching
stranger, till somebody appear and pelt them with stones. Often must
the wandering Homer have had such a greeting! The hospitable swineherd,
Eumæus, the poet must have met with in his travels; the whole scene and
character are drawn directly from real life. A similar reception we
have had in a remote pastoral lodge, dogs included. But the modern
pedestrian will hardly employ the ruse of Ulysses, that of sitting down
on the ground and letting his staff drop out of his hand. He will use
his weapon and grasp for a stone everywhere present on the Greek soil,
though the fight be unequal. Still the sentence of Pliny (_Nat. Hist._
VIII. 61) deserves always to be cited in this connection: _impetus
eorum (canum) et soevitia mitigatur ab homine considente humi_; as if
dogs in the height of their rage might be touched with the plea of
piety.

The character of the swineherd straightway shows itself by his conduct
toward this poor hungry stranger, a vagabond in appearance. To be sure,
hospitality was and is a common virtue in Greece; but Eumæus saw at
once in the wretched looking man his master "wandering among people of
a strange tongue, needing food." Therefore come, old man, and satisfy
yourself with bread and wine. Such is the strong fellow-feeling warming
the hearth of that humble lodge. Misfortune has not soured the
swineherd, but he has extracted from it his greatest blessing--an
universal charity. This is not a momentary emotion, but has risen to a
religious principle: "All strangers and the poor are of Zeus;" such is
the vital word of his creed. He is a slave and has not much to share;
"our giving is small but dear to us;" very dear indeed, a mite only,
but it is as good as a world. Well may we call him, with the poet, in
the best sense of the title: "the divine swineherd." We should note too
that the poet addresses Eumæus in the second person singular, with a
tone of loving familiarity very seldom employed elsewhere in his two
poems. Was there some intimate personal relation figured in this
character which we still seem to feel afar off there in antiquity?

At any rate the picture of the swineherd has the most modern touch to
be found in Homer. It shows the feeling of humanity developed quite to
its supreme fullness; it has modern sentiment, nay, it borders at times
upon modern sentimentality. It recalls the recent novel, which takes
its hero from the lowest class and garnishes him with regal virtues.
Strange old Homer, prophetic again! He seems to have anticipated the
art-forms of all the ages, and to have laid down the lines on which the
literary spirit must move forever. Otherwise, indeed, it could not be;
he has in him the germs of future development; the last novel is
contained in the first, which is the tale of Eumæus.

In the character of the swineherd, the central point is his loyalty,
adamantine as the rock of his humble home. It is loyalty in a double
sense: to his divine and to his human master, to God and to man, Zeus
and Ulysses. The same trait it is, in a terrestrial and a celestial
manifestation. Both sides of this loyalty are just now under the sorest
trial; there is every temptation to fall away from God and man and
become wholly disloyal. Many have yielded but he will not; in his
solitary abode he keeps piety and patriotism aflame with the breath of
his spirit. Hence he furnishes the rock on which the new order can be
built; without this loyalty in the humble class, no restoration would
be possible, even with the presence of Ulysses.

First we may notice that he is loyal to his human master though he
believes that the latter is dead and cannot return. Still he does not
pass over to the side of the Suitors, who are doing that master and his
house the great wrong. Secondly, the swineherd is loyal to Zeus and the
Divine Order of the World. Hear him: "The Gods love not deeds of
violence; they honor justice and the rightful works of men." Such is
his faith; still this faith is passing through the ordeal of fire: why
should the Gods, being good, keep the good Ulysses away from his
Return? The simple swineherd cannot fathom the ways of Providence,
still he believes in that Providence; he is divinely loyal. His
allegiance does not depend upon prosperity, not even upon insight. Zeus
may rule the world as he pleases, I shall still have faith: "Though he
slay me, I shall believe in him."

Now we may turn for a moment to Ulysses. He is a passive learner from
the swineherd, calling forth information by subtle inquiry; much,
indeed, has he learned from the humble, pious man. First, he has seen a
shadow of his own doubt, and how it may be dispelled. Then he has
discovered loyalty in this representative of the people, who must still
possess it in their hearts, though suppressed in the present, untoward
time. Also he hears again of the Suitors and their guilty deeds, viewed
with a loyal eye. Finally he plays the prophet to Eumæus and foretells
the return of Ulysses. This is the height of his disguise, wherein he
rises to the humor of Providence, who has brought to the swineherd the
realization of his strongest wish without his knowing it. His prayers
have come to pass, could he but see. Herein Ulysses suggests the part
of Providence in disguise, bringing the fulfillment of his own
prophecy.

II. It is now the turn of Ulysses to give some account of himself in
answer to the swineherd's pressing questions. He tells a famous story,
a fiction of his own life, yet it has in its disguise the truth of his
career. The outer setting is changed, but the main facts are the same.
Still there is enough difference to prevent it from being a repetition.
It is the Odyssey told over again with new incidents, and variations
upon an old theme. We behold here the conscious storyteller, clothing
the events of life in the garb of a marvelous adventure. Ulysses had in
mind his own experience in this account, and he adapts it to the time
and place.

The main points of its contact with himself we may note. First, there
is the pre-Trojan period, a time of roving and marauding, which is true
of that age in general, and may have some touch of Ulysses in
particular. Second is the Trojan war, the epoch of heroic conflict to
which all had to go, so strong was the public sentiment. Third comes
the post-Trojan epoch, with the wanton attack on the Ægyptians, very
much like the attack upon the Ciconians in the Ninth Book. From these
attacks in both cases the grand calamity results, which causes the long
wandering. The Phoenician episode, however, has no counterpart in the
career of Ulysses. Fourth is the storm at sea, with the clinging to the
mast, and the landing upon the coast of the Thesprotians, all of which
is a transcript of the experience of Ulysses in getting to Phæacia from
Calypso's isle. Fifth is the arrival at Ithaca, which shows the actual
fact, with changed circumstances. Thus we may say that the true Ulysses
in disguise tells the true story of his life in disguise. This gift is
what makes him the poet.

Indeed we are compelled to think that Homer here suggests his own
poetic procedure. What he narrates is his own experience, in the form
of art. His poetry is and must be his own life, though in disguise.
Goethe has said something similar: All that I have written is what I
have experienced, but not quite as I experienced it. In this story we
may hear in an undertone the old Greek poet telling one of his secrets
of composition.

Moreover, it is a tale of providential escapes; thrice has the
so-called Cretan been saved specially, in Ægypt, from the
Phoenicians, from the Thesprotians. Thus the story aims to encourage
Eumæus, and to answer his doubt; it affirms the return of Ulysses, and
tells even the manner thereof; it is a story of Providence appealing to
the swineherd's faith. On this line, too, it touches the ethical
content of the Odyssey, as the latter was sung to the whole Greek
world.

Looking at the external circumstances of the story we note that it
takes them from the social life of the time. There is universal
slavery, with its accompaniment, man-stealing; the pirate and the
free-booter are still on the seas and furnish incidents of adventure,
yet commerce has also begun; the perils of navigation turn the voyage
into a series of miraculous escapes. It is a time of dawn in which many
distinctions, now clear, have not yet been made.

We may also see the lines, though they be faint, of the movement of the
world's culture in this story. Crete, on the borderland between East
and West, is the home of the daring Greek adventurer who attacks Troy
on the one hand and Ægypt on the other. From Crete we pass backwards to
Phoenicia, as well as to the land of the Nile, and we catch a glimpse
of the current of Oriental influence flowing upon Greece. Already we
have seen the spiritual gift of Egypt to the Greek mind shadowed forth
in the story of Menelaus in the Fourth Book. In these latter Books of
the Odyssey the Phoenician intercourse with Hellas is more strongly
emphasized, with glances into their art, their trade, their navigation.
All this Phoenician development the Greek looks at in a wondering way
as if miraculous; he is reaching out for it also. To be sure the
Phoenician has a bad name, as a shrewd, even dishonest trader. Still
he is the middleman between nations, and a necessity.

Thus it appears that the Greeks have lost their Aryan connection, and
have become the heirs of a Semitic civilization. Homer does not seem to
know his Indo-European kinship, but he does connect Hellas with
Phoenicia and Egypt in many a spiritual tie. These ties take, for the
most part, a mythical form, still they must have been a great fact,
else they could not have influenced the mythology of the Greek race. So
the present tale through the fiction of the myth-maker, hints the chief
social fact of the time.

The fiction in the previous Book, which Ulysses began to tell to
Pallas, also started in Crete, looked back at the Trojan war, and
connected with Idomeneus, the great hero of Cretan legend in the affair
of Troy. The Phoenican trader in his ship comes in there too. But
that tale is cut short by the Goddess, who knows the disguise. In the
present case, however, the swineherd makes no such discovery. The next
Book will also have its corresponding tale.

Ulysses has thus told all about himself to the swineherd, has even
hinted in one place his disguise. He speaks of Ulysses having gone to
Dodona to consult the sacred oracle "whether he should return to Ithaca
openly or secretly, after so long an absence." He runs along the very
edge of discovering himself. But the swineherd will not believe; "the
Gods all hate my master" is still his view. Already a lying Ætolian had
deceived him with a similar tale, which also introduced Idomeneus and
the Cretans. Ulysses has before himself a new picture of doubt, and its
blindness; quite a lesson it must have been to the skeptical man.

The story, in its deepest suggestion, hints the manner of providential
working, as seen by the old bard. Eumæus has already had his prayers
for the return of his master fulfilled, though he does not know it, and
believes that they never will be fulfilled. Still he never gives up his
divine loyalty and turns atheist. By his charity and piety he has
helped, indeed has brought about the return of Ulysses unwittingly. The
man, if he follow the law, is always helping, though he may not see
that he is, may even think that he is not. This ethical order of the
world underlies the tale, and is what the ancient listener must have
felt so that Homer's poems became a bible to him. Providence in
disguise is its title, here represented by the Hero in disguise.

III. The supper and its preparation are quite fully described; it is
the second meal of pork in this Book. This we may pass over, to note
the stratagem of Ulysses to obtain a cloak from the swineherd. The
stranger tells his stratagem once upon a time at Troy for the same
purpose; whereat the swineherd takes the hint and says: "Thou shalt not
lack for a garment or anything else which is befitting a suppliant."
Thus Ulysses obtained his cloak, and slept warm by the hearth.

But the other hint the swineherd did not take, the hint of the
disguise. He sees the artifice of his guest to obtain the cloak, but
never thinks in his own mind: This is Ulyssess himself, the man of
wiles trying to get the cloak again tonight. Yet Ulysses has gone far
toward telling him just that. The swineherd cannot suspect, it is
foreign to his nature; this is just his beauty of character and its
limitation.

But Ulysses has to disguise in order to do his work. He is in his own
land, on his own territory, yet he dares not appear as he is. This is
not his fault. His whole object is to get rid of this necessity of
disguise, so that he may be himself. The time will not permit candor,
hence his call is to correct the time. Violence is met by disguise, as
it always is; fraud destroys itself; the negation negates itself. Such
is the process which we are now beholding.



_BOOK FIFTEENTH._


In contrast with the previous Book, the present Book has not so much
disguise; Ulysses falls somewhat into the background, and several
undisguised characters came forward. Still there are points in common,
the most striking of which is the tale of Eumæus, the correspondence of
which with the tale of Ulysses in the Fourteenth Book impresses itself
upon every careful reader.

But the main fact of the present Book is the bringing together of the
various threads for the grand final enterprise, which is the punishment
of the guilty Suitors. Ulysses and Eumæus are already on hand; to them
now Telemachus is to be added, who comes from Sparta, whither he had
gone for the completion of his education. Thus the present Book goes
back and connects with the Fourth Book in which we left Telemachus.
Still further, the Ithakeiad is linked into and continues the
Telemachiad (the first four Books), inasmuch as we now see the purpose
of that famous journey of the son to the courts of Nestor and Menelaus.
It was the training for a deed, a great deed which required knowledge,
skill, and resolution, and which was to show the youth to be the son of
his father.

Such is another organic link which binds the whole Odyssey together.
The two threads, separately developed hitherto, are now united and
interwoven with a third, that of Eumæus. Telemachus has seen two Trojan
heroes and heard their varied history, he has learned about his father
whom he is prepared in spirit to support. So the son has his Return
also, a small one, yet important, be returns to Ithaca after the
experience at Pylos and Sparta and is joined to the great Return of his
father.

But just here with these evident marks of unity in the poem, occurs a
slip in chronology which has given the most solid comfort to those who
wish to break up the Odyssey and assign its parts to different authors.
In the Fourth Book (l. 594) Telemachus proposes to set out at once for
home, he will not be detained even by the charm of Menelaus and Helen.
That was the 6th day of the poem, whereas we find him here leaving
Sparta on 36th day of the poem, according to the usual reckoning. Two
inferences have been drawn from this discrepancy, if it be a
discrepancy. The Wolfian School cries out in chorus: two different
poets for the two different passages; it would have been impossible for
old Homer singing without any written copy thus to forget himself,
whatever a modern author might do with the manuscript or printed page
before him. The other set of opinions will run just in the opposite
direction: the connection between the Fourth and the Fifteenth Books is
perfect, as far as thought, narrative, and incident are concerned; the
ancient listener and even the modern reader could pay no attention to
the intricate points of chronology in the poem, especially when these
points lay more than ten Books or 5,000 lines apart from each other.
There is no real sign of discrepant authorship, therefore, but rather a
new indication of unity.

The general theme of the Book is, accordingly, the Return of
Telemachus, and his uniting with his father and the swineherd, who are
still further characterized in their relation. The structure of the
Book falls easily into three portions: first is the separation of
Telemachus from Menelaus and Helen till his departure on the ship;
second is the end to which he is moving just now, the hut of Eumæus,
where are Ulysses and the swineherd, the latter of whom tells his tale
of discipline and is seen to be a hero too in his sphere; the third
part is the coming of Telemachus.

I. In the departure of Telemachus from Sparta, we witness the divine
and human elements again in co-operation. The former is represented by
Pallas who came down to Sparta to "remind the son of Ulysses of his
Return(_nostos_)." She appears to him in the night as he lies awake
full of care; he is ready to see her plan and so she appears on the
spot and tells it, not in the form of a dream. In the first place, he
is to hasten home in order to save his substance, which is threatened
with new loss through the possible marriage of Penelope with one of the
suitors, Eurymachus. The son (through the mouth of Pallas) here shows
some bitter feeling toward his mother, whose mind be manifestly does
not understand; she is altogether too subtle for her own boy, who has
not seen through her disguises. In the second place Pallas warns him
against the ambush of the Suitors, which was no doubt his own forecast
of the situation. In the third place, the Goddess sends him to the hut
of the faithful swineherd, whose character he must have already known.
In this speech of Pallas we feel everywhere the subjective element; she
is certainly the voice of Telemachus, yet also the voice of the
situation; the divine and human side easily come together, with a
stronger tinge of the human than is usual in Homer. Still we must not
forget that Pallas, Goddess of Intelligence, suggests the processes of
mind more directly than any other deity. Thus we again see that Pallas
is the organizer of the poem; she brings its threads together through
her foresight; she sends Telemachus where he unites with Ulysses and
Eumæus.

The separation from Menelaus and Helen is told in the style of lofty
hospitality. Menelaus brings as his present a wine-bowl wrought by
divine skill, "the work of Vulcan," which was given him by the king of
the Sidonians--another glance back to Phoenicia and its art. Helen
gives a garment of her own making, which thou shalt preserve as "a
keepsake of Helen" till the day of thy marriage, "when thy bride shall
wear it." A most beautiful motive, worthy indeed of Helen and of
Helen's art; Telemachus is to transfer to his bride, and to her alone,
his "keepsake of Helen," his memory of her, his ideal gotten during
this journey. Finally Helen appears as prophetess and foretells the
total destruction of the Suitors at the hands of returning Ulysses.
Such is the last appearance of Helen to Telemachus, giving strong
encouragement, suggesting in her two acts a new outlook for the youth
both upon Family and State. No wonder his words to her rise into
adoration: "Zeus so ordering, there at home I shall pray unto thee as
unto a God."

Telemachus in his return will not pass through Pylos lest he be delayed
by the importunate hospitality of good old Nestor. And indeed what can
he gain thereby? He has already seen and heard the Pylian sage. So he
sends the latter's son home while he himself goes aboard his ship. But
just before he sets sail, there comes "a stranger, a seer, a fugitive,
having slain a man." Theoclymenus it is, of the prophetic race of
Melampus, the history of which is here given. The victim of a fateful
deed now beseeches Telemachus for protection and receives it; the
prophet hereafter will give his forewarnings to the Suitors. Yet he
could not save himself from his own fate in spite of his foresight; so
all the seers of the family of Melampus have a strain of fatality in
them; they foreknow, but cannot master their destiny.

II. The scene shifts (l. 301) to the hut of the swineherd, which is the
present destination of Telemachus. The reader beholds a further
unfolding of the character of Eumæus, in fact this portion of the Book
might be called his discipline or preparation to take part in the
impending enterprise.

Ulysses still further tests the charity and humanity of the swineherd
by offering to go to town in order to beg for his bread among the
Suitors, as well as to do their menial tasks. Whereat Eumæus earnestly
seeks to dissuade him, reminding him of the insolence of those men and
of their elegant servants in livery, and assuring him that "no one here
is annoyed at thy presence, neither I nor the others." Well may Ulysses
respond to such a manifestation of charity. "May thou be as dear to
Zeus, the Father, as thou art to me!"

The stranger now tests the swineherd's interest in and devotion to
Laertes and Eurycleia, who are the parents of Ulysses, the old father
and mother of the house. So Eumæus gives an account of his relation to
them, as well as to Ktimene, sister of Ulysses; "with her I was reared,
and was honored by her mother only a little less." Eumæus will soon
tell how he came so young to the family of Laertes. Indeed Ulysses is
moved by his narrative to ask just this question. It is to be noted
that the report of the swineherd about Penelope is not so certain;
"from the queen I have had no kindly word or deed, since that evil fell
upon her house--the haughty Suitors." Here lies one motive why Ulysses
must go to the palace and test Penelope. Thus Eumæus shows his love for
the family of Ulysses, and responds deeply to the test of universal
charity.

Very naturally rises the question as to the history of his life. What
experience has called forth such a marvelous character? Eumæus now
gives his fateful story. The Phoenician background is again employed,
with its commerce in merchandise, with its stealing and selling of
free, high-born people into slavery, with its navigation. The pith of
the story is, a Phoenician female slave, who had been stolen and
bought by the king of the country, plays false to her master, steals
his child and what valuables she can carry off, and escapes on a
Phoenician trading vessel after an intrigue with one of its crew. The
captive woman avenged her wrong, but was struck on "the seventh day by
Diana, archer-queen," for her own double guilt. Eumæus was that child,
also stolen and enslaved, but he is her emphatic contrast; he has been
able fully to digest his fate. The Phoenician galley came to Ithaca,
"and there Laertes purchased me." The swineherd is of royal birth and
retains his more than royal character; in being the humblest he can
rise to the highest.

Interesting touches of the Phoenician traders are given: "Sharp
fellows, having myriads of trinkets in their ship:" surely it is the
ancient Semitic retailer of jewelry, going from town to town in his
boat. Then note specially "the cunning man who came to my father's
house, showing a golden necklace strung with amber beads;" this amber
was obtained doubtless through commerce from the Baltic, by the
Phoenicians, whose workmanship is also suggested. "The palace
servants and my mother took the trinket into their hands, turning it
over and over; they kept gazing at it haggling about the price;" the
same scene can be witnessed today in our own country towns when the
Jewish peddler appears in the household. In the present case, however,
it was part of the scheme of stealing the child.

Eumæus says that his father ruled a city in the island of Syria. But
where is this Syria? Some think it is conceived by Homer as lying in
the extreme West, "where the Sun turns;" but the Sun turns anywhere.
Rather is its position eastward toward Phoenicia; the Taphian pirates
who stole the Sidonian woman and sold her into Syria, dwelt not far
from Ithaca and preyed upon Phoenician commerce, stealing and selling
in the Eastern Mediterranean. Certainly they could find little business
of their kind in the West. Some vague idea of the actual land of Syria
must have flashed in Homer's mind; no more definite description is
possible.

It is plain, however, that the poet makes Eumæus a foreigner, not a
Greek, whose birth-land lies beyond the Hellenic boundary to the East.
But he is not a Phoenician, his character is different, and his
people seem not to have been sea-faring. His fundamental trait is
religiosity; he lives in the eternal presence of the Divine Ruler of
the World. His character is that of the Old Testament; some of his
utterances are strong reminders of the Psalms. We cannot help reading
in him something of David and of Job; misfortune he here has had, but
he retains an unshaken faith in the deity; intense wrestling he shows,
but it has been with him the process of purification. He is not a Greek
at all; he has a Hebrew character, not of the modern mercantile type,
which resembles more the Phoenician, but of the old Hebrew strain. In
those times of man-stealing, Homer could easily have met him in one of
the Greek islands, a slave yet a spiritual prince, have drawn his
portrait, and have heard his story substantially as here given.

Indeed we think we can trace in the swineherd's thoughts and sometimes
in his expressions a marked monotheistic tendency. Undoubtedly Eumæus
speaks fluently of the Greek Gods, as Diana and Apollo; especially does
he mention and honor Zeus, the supreme God; still he is prone to employ
the word Gods in the unitary sense of Providence, and he repeatedly
uses the singular _God_ without the article, as in the passage: "God
grants some things and withholds others at his will, for he is
all-powerful" (XIV. 444). And it is characteristic that he does not
like Helen, for thus he says in an outburst of anti-Greek spirit: "O
would that Helen and her tribe had utterly perished, for whose sake so
many fell!" (XIV. 68.) Striking is his contrast herein with the
Phæacians, and with their love of the Trojan conflict.

We have already stated that this entire Ithakeiad resembles the novel,
giving pictures of the social life of the time, and elevating the
humblest man into heroship. In like manner, this story of Eumæus might
almost be called a novelette, truly an Homeric novelette interwoven
into the greater totality of the novel here presented in the Ithakeiad,
and finally into the entire Odyssey. It has its correspondence with the
Fairy Tale of the previous portions of the poem, yet stands in sharpest
contrast. Here is no supernatural world far away, but it is the
present, it is human life just now, and the hero lives before us. Here
are no superhuman beings, like Calypso, Circe, Polyphemus, Proteus; the
environment, the coloring, the art-form are totally changed. Nor is it
an heroic tale of Troy, with its order of Gods, descending and
interfering in human affairs; no grand exploits of arms, no mighty
mustering of glorious warriors. Not high and magnificent Achilles in
all the pride of his colossal individuality, but humble Eumæus, a slave
and a swineherd, has become the Homeric hero. Surely a new style, and a
new world-view; yet surely Homer's, not the work of any other man.

It has been already made plain that we have passed from the Idyl, and
Heroic Epos, and the Fairy Tale of the first portions of the Odyssey
into the Social Romance, which takes the picture of society as its
setting. Every human being can now be made a slave; man-stealing,
woman-stealing, child-stealing, give the motives for the strangest
turns of destiny. Already Ulysses in his fictitious tale of the
previous Book has become a maker of the novelette; but Eumæus tells a
true tale of his own life, it has no disguise; he knows his past, he is
aware of his origin. Thus he is an example, showing how the man is
still a fate-compeller in such a state of society. Though a slave
externally, he can still be a king within; though struck by the hardest
blow of destiny he can still remain loyal to the Divine Order and
obtain its blessing.

It is interesting to note the significance of this Phoenician
background, with its universal commerce. The Phoenician traded
already in remote antiquity with the extremes of the Aryan race, from
India in the East to Britain in the West, including the whole
intervening line of Aryan migration, Persia, Greece, Italy, Gaul. The
Aryan race is indeed a separative, self-repellent, distracted race,
always on the move out of itself, without returning into itself. The
Phoenician, on the contrary, in his farthest voyages, came back home
with news and merchandise; the remotest Phoenician settlements kept
up their connection with the mother country. Deep is the idea of the
Return to the parent city in the Semitic consciousness for all time;
the Phoenician returned anciently to Tyre and Sidon; the Arab
Mahommedan returns to-day to Mecca, home of the Prophet; the Jew
experts to return to Jerusalem, the holy city of his fathers. The
entire Odyssey may well be supposed to show a Semitic influence, in
distinction from the Iliad, for the Odyssey is the account of many
returns and of the one all-embracing Return to home and country. It is,
therefore, very suggestive that the Odyssey has this Phoenician
background of a world-commerce, which is only possible for a city whose
people, going forth, come back to it as a center. Moreover this
world-commerce is a kind of unification of the ever-separating Aryan
race, a bond created through the exchange of commodities. Thus the
Semitic character has always shown itself as the unifier and mediator
of Aryan peoples, first through an external tie of trade, which was the
work of Phoenicia, and, secondly, through the far deeper spiritual
tie of religion, which was the later work of Judea. The Semitic mind
has always been necessary to the inherently centrifugal Aryan soul in
order to bring it back to itself from its wanderings, inner and outer,
and to reconcile itself with itself and with the Divine Order. The
Semite has been and still is the priest to all Arya, by the deepest
necessity of the spirit.

Another word we may add in this connection. The Semitic race has also
separated itself, and shown three main branches--Phoenician, Hebrew,
Arab--a sea-people, a land-people, and a sand-people. In all three
cases, however, they have a returning and therewith a mediating
character. In their wildest wanderings, on water, and in the desert,
and in the soul, they have the power of getting back; and that which
they do for themselves, they aid others in doing.

So much by way of tracing the universal relations of this poem with its
Phoenician background of commerce as well as with its Semitic
character of Eumæus. For, somehow, we cannot help seeing in this latter
certain traits of the old Hebrew.

III. The last part of the Book returns to Telemachus and his ship; he
has escaped the men in ambush, and has reached the Ithacan shore at a
distance from the palace; he sends the vessel to the town while he goes
to the hut of the swineherd in accord with the plan of the Goddess.

But he has on his hands the seer Theoclymenus, whom he first thinks of
sending to one of the Suitors; but when the seer utters a favorable
prophecy, Telemachus sends him to one of his own friends for
entertainment. A curious touch of policy; it was well to have the
prophet in a friendly house, where he might be ready for service; even
prophetic vision can be colored by personal attachments.



_BOOK SIXTEENTH._


This Book connects directly with the preceding Book, and brings about
not only the external meeting and recognition of father and son, but
their spiritual fusion in a common thought and purpose. The scene is
still laid in the swineherd's hut, but the swineherd himself must be
eliminated at this point. The question rises, Why does the poet hold it
so necessary to keep the matter secret from Eumæus? The care which
Homer takes with this object in view, is noteworthy. Evidently the
swineherd was not ready to participate, or would endanger the scheme.
Yet of his fidelity there could be no question.

We have already stated our opinion on this subject. Various external
reasons may be suggested but the real reason lay in the character of
Eumæus. He was too sincere, open-hearted, transparent for those wily
Greeks; he might let out the great secret in pure simplicity of mind;
he is their contrast just herein, he is not a Greek. The situation
demanded disguise, dissimulation, possibly downright lying; Eumæus was
not the man for that. Such is his greatest honor, yet such is also his
limit; if Ulysses and Telemachus were such as he, they would have all
died nobly in their cause, but the Suitors would have triumphed, and
the institutional world of Ithaca would have gone to the dogs. At least
its rescue could not have taken place through them. Such is the moral
contradiction which now rises, and will continue to rise more and more
distinctly to view throughout the rest of the poem.

There are the two strands in the Book which are the main ones of the
poem, that of the father and son, and that of the Suitors. Both are
here put together and contrasted with new incidents, which are leading
inevitably to the grand culmination. These two strands we shall now
briefly follow out in order. There is also a third portion, the return
of Eumaeus from the palace to the hut, which portion is short and
unimportant.

I. Telemachus arrives at the hut of the swineherd, the dogs give him a
friendly greeting in contrast to that which they give to Ulysses--a
fact which shows that the youth must have been in times past a good
deal with Eumæus. Also the affectionate meeting of the two suggests the
same thing. Herein we note a reason for Pallas sending him hither--the
Goddess and the youth coincided. Of course the conversation soon turns
toward the stranger present, the disguised Ulysses. Now occurs a subtle
movement between father and son who are to be brought together.

(1) First they are in a state of separation, but the disguised Ulysses
holds the bond of unification in his power. Eumæus first tells to
Telemachus the fictitious Cretan story concerning the stranger; then
Ulysses gives a note of his true self: "Would that I were Ulysses' son
or the hero himself!" What then? "I would be an evil to those Suitors."
Thus the father secretly stirs the spirit of the son, in fact
spiritually identifies himself. The son sends off the swineherd on an
errand to Penelope, in order to announce his safe arrival from his
journey to the mainland. In this way one obstacle is removed--the
swineherd; now the second obstacle, the disguise is to be stripped
away.

(2) Herewith occurs a divine intervention, hinting the importance of
the present moment. Pallas appears to Ulysses, "but Telemachus beheld
her not;" Why? "For not by any means are the Gods manifest to all men."
As already stated, Ulysses has the key of the situation, and sees what
is now to be done; Telemachus does not see and will not see till his
father's disguise be removed. So again the Goddess Pallas appears to
the wise man and addresses him because the two are one in thought; no
other person not in this oneness of the human and divine can see her.
In like manner Pallas appears to Achilles, "seen by him alone," in the
First Book of the Iliad; similar too is the case of Telemachus when
Pallas comes to him among the Suitors under the form of Mentes in the
First Book of this Odyssey (see p. 26).

But just here is added a fact in strangest contrast with the foregoing
view; "The dogs (as well as Ulysses) saw the Goddess; they barked not,
but ran off whining through the gate in the opposite direction." In the
old Teutonic faith (and probably Aryan) the dog can see a ghost, hence
his unaccountable whine at times. The lower animals and even the
elements recognize the approaching deity by some unusual commotion. But
mark the contrast: the dogs ran in terror from the presence of the
Goddess; Ulysses, observing her, "went out of the house and stood
before her alongside the wall of the court." The rational man,
beholding, must commune with the deity present, and not run off like a
dog. If he does not see the Goddess, as in the case with Telemachus
here, he is simply outside of her influence.

Pallas gives to Ulysses the strong promise of help, reflecting his own
internal condition. She transforms him, he appears a new man, nay a God
to his son, "some divinity whose home is the broad heaven." Then the
recognition follows, with its various doubts and its emotional ups and
downs. "In the breasts of both rose the desire of tears; they wept
shrilly, and louder their screams than those of the eagle whose young
have been stolen from its nest." Lamentation is a trait of the Homeric
hero; in the present case it asserts its fullest right. But enough! let
us pass from heroic tears to heroic deeds.

(3) Next comes the general plan of action. What have we to encounter?
Telemachus gives a catalogue of the Suitors; they reach the surprising
number of 108 persons plus 10 attendants, including the bard and the
herald. We now begin to appreciate the greatness of the task. The
Ithacan people are helpless or hostile, the Suitors have friends and
relatives everywhere, yet they must be punished, they cannot be allowed
to escape. But the aid for such an enterprise--whence? asks Telemachus,
and also the reader. Listen to the answer of Ulysses: "I shall tell
thee, and thou bear it well in mind; think whether Pallas with her
father Zeus be not sufficient for us, or shall I look about for some
other defender?" Such a believer has the skeptic become; he now has
faith in the Gods, and in a World Order. It is also a lofty expression
of belief in his divine mission; the spirit of Eumæus, which dwells in
that humble hut, has entered the heart of the hero. Such are the two
allies: Pallas, wisdom, and Zeus, fountain of the world's justice,
which had been deeply violated by the Suitors. Telemachus in response,
assents to his father's words, and acknowledges the supremacy of the
Gods. He also lays aside his doubt and shows himself in a spiritual
harmony with his father, which must be antecedent to the deed.

The next part of the plan is that Ulysses in disguise shall go to the
palace and see for himself the wrongs done to his House, and experience
some of these wrongs in his own person. Then too he can make
preparations on the spot and select the time for striking. Also he
wishes to test a little further the wife Penelope. Another period of
disguise is necessary in order to get rid of the necessity of disguise
and vindicate the right. Zeus is with him, he is the bearer of
universal justice, which he is to establish anew; but Pallas must also
be with him in the act, for it requires all his skill and cunning and
forethought.

Thus the father and son are united in spirit; the last obstacle, which
was the disguise, is removed, and they behold each other as they are in
truth. The recognition is not merely an external one of face and form,
or even of the tie of kinship and affection; it is in both a
recognition of the Divine Order of the World, which they are now called
upon to maintain in their own persons, and to re-stablish in their
country.

II. The scene passes from the hut of the swineherd to the palace, where
the Suitors soon hear of the safe return of Telemachus. Antinous also
comes back, foiled and evidently angered; he proposes to the Suitors
that they should slay Telemachus "in the fields or on the highway"
wherever found, or renounce the suit for Penelope in the palace: "Let
each one woo her from his own house with gifts."

It is clear that such a violent measure as the assassination of the
royal heir in his own territory finds small response even among the
Suitors. Antinous says that the people are no longer friendly; he
thinks, when they hear of the recent ambush, that they may rise and
drive out the aggressors. Still they do not rise, and probably Antinous
tried to frighten the Suitors into his drastic method. But he did not
succeed, Amphinomus clearly voices their sentiment, and the council
dissolves.

Soon it is seen that Antinous has lost his cause. Penelope appears and
gives him a thorough tongue-lashing, in which she also tells his
antecedents. "Thy father came to us, a fugitive from the people," who
were angry at him on account of his piratical misdeeds; "they wanted to
kill him, and tear out his heart, and pillage his large wealth"
evidently gotten unlawfully. "But Ulysses restrained them," and now
this is your gratitude: "you waste his property, woo his wife, slay his
son, and worry me to death." Antinous is true to his ancestry, he is
still a pirate. Strong words are these, which call forth a hypocritical
reply from another Suitor, Eurymachus, which she probably saw through,
for she goes into her upper chamber, where "she weeps for her dear
spouse Ulysses, till blue-eyed Pallas cast upon her eyelids sweet
sleep."

The internal weakness of the Suitors is exposed; it is manifest that
they are divided among themselves. In fact, how can they have any
unity? Each wishes to win the fair prize, which can belong only to one;
hence every other man is his rival, whom he tries to thwart. Hence come
jealousy and suspicion. The single bond they have in common is their
wrong-doing, which they feel cannot much longer continue, with
Telemachus so active.

III. On the other hand, we pass to the hut of the swineherd, where the
father and son show a complete unity of spirit and purpose. Eumæus
returns from his errand; he brings no news specially except that the
Suitors who formed the ambush have come back to the town. But he is not
yet to be admitted into the grand secret; so Pallas stood again near
Ulysses, "striking him with her staff she made him an old man in
wretched rags." He resumes his disguise "lest the swineherd might
recognize him and hasten to announce the fact to Penelope, instead of
keeping the secret looked in his bosom." So the kind-hearted, sincere
Eumæus cannot yet be entrusted with the important secret.



_BOOKS XVII-XXIV._


The time has arrived for this exposition of the Odyssey to be brought
to a close with some degree of rapidity. It has already expanded itself
beyond its original purpose; it, too, like Ulysses, has asserted itself
as limit-transcending. We shall try to indicate the general character
of these remaining eight Books, to find their place in the total
organism of the poem, and then give a brief outline of each Book
separately.

It has already often been stated that the Odyssey is a Return, an
outer, but specially an inner Return from the Trojan War and from the
alienation and disruption produced by the same. This Return, narrated
in the twenty-four Books of the poem, divides itself into two equal
halves, each containing twelve Books. The first half moves about two
centers, Telemachus and Ulysses; the former is to be trained out of his
ignorance, the latter is to be disciplined out of his negative
attitude toward institutional life, and thus be prepared to rescue
institutional life. The first twelve Books are, therefore, the getting
rid of the destructive results caused by the Trojan War and all war, in
the human soul.

Still Ulysses, with Telemachus, is to do a deed of destruction, he is
to destroy the Suitors, who are themselves destructive of institutional
order in Ithaca. In a general way they are like the Trojans, they are
assailing the domestic and political life of the Greek world; they too
must be put down at home by the hero, as Troy was put down abroad by
him. But at Troy he became negative through the long training of a ten
years' war, the spirit of which he must get rid of before he can slay
the Suitors, for he is too much like them to be their rightful
destroyer. This, then, is the discipline of the first twelve Books:
through the experience of life to get internally free of that
destructive Trojan spirit, to overcome the negative within, and then
proceed to overcome it without.

Now this overcoming of the negative without (embodied in the Suitors)
is just the work of the last twelve Books of the Odyssey, which we have
called the Ithakeiad, as the scene is laid wholly in Ithaca. Internally
both Ulysses and Telemachus are ready; they have now externally to make
their world conform to their Idea. The trend of the poem is henceforth
toward the deed which destroys the outer negation, as hitherto the
trend was toward the deed which overcame the inner negation. To be
sure, the destruction of the Suitors has hovered before the poem from
the beginning; but in the second half it is explicit, is the immediate
end of the action.

This second half divides itself into two distinct portions. It being
the direct movement toward the deed shows in the first portion the
preparation of the instruments, which takes place at the hut of the
swineherd. Ulysses is alone, he must find out upon whose aid he can
rely; his helpers must show not only strength of limb, but strength of
conviction. Two persons appear--his son and his swineherd; they believe
themselves to be the bearers of a Divine Order as against the Suitors;
they are the army of three to whom the cowherd is to be hereafter added
on manifesting his loyalty. This part of the poem has been unfolded in
the preceding four Books.

The second portion of this second half of the poem, consisting of eight
Books, we are next to consider. Ulysses has hitherto only heard of the
excesses of the Suitors; he is now to see them directly and to
experience their violence in his own person. He is in disguise and gets
full possession of the fact before he proceeds to the deed. The
insolent, destructive conduct of the Suitors is set forth in all
fullness, as well as the subtle attempt of the wife to thwart them;
then the blow falls which sweeps them and their deeds out of existence.
Restoration follows after this terrible act of vengence; Ulysses,
having done his great destructive work, is to show himself
constructive, not simply the destroyer, but the healer and restorer.

How can we best see the sweep of these eight Books and their organic
connection with the total Odyssey? No mere formal division will answer,
nor any external separation into parts. The inner movement of the
thought is to be found and shown as the organizing principle. On the
whole the joints of the structure are not so manifest as in the
Telemachiad and the Ulyssiad; still they exist. Already it has been
often said that the essential character of the Suitors is that of
destroyers; Ulysses is the destroyer of these destroyers; but in
destroying destruction he is also the restorer. Now just these three
stages of the movement of the inner thought are the three organic
divisions of the last eight Books; that is, the thought organizes the
poem. Let us look more closely.

I. The first five Books (XVII-XXI) are devoted to revealing the Suitors
as destroyers to Ulysses in person, though he be disguised. Three
strands are interwoven into the texture, which we may separate for the
purpose of an examination.

1. The Suitors are destroying what may in general be called the
institutional world in its three leading forms: (1) Property, (2)
Family, (3) State. To these may be added their disregard and even open
defiance of the Gods, who are the upholders, or rather the personified
embodiment of all institutional life. Hence the statement may be made
that the Suitors are, as far as their deeds go, the destroyers of the
Divine Order of the World; they are spiritually negative.

2. The second strand is that of Ulysses (to whom Telemachus and the
swineherd can be added) who is to behold with his own eyes, to
experience in his own person, the character and acts of the Suitors;
then he is also to plan and prepare for their destruction. As he has
overcome his own negative condition inwardly, in the spirit, he must be
able to overcome the same condition outwardly, in the world.

3. The third strand is that of Penelope, the wife, who is seeking to
thwart the attempt of the Suitors to make her marry one of themselves;
thus she is heroically preserving the Family. She, with the loyal part
of her household, co-operates with Ulysses, though not aware who he is.
Between the second and third strands are many interweavings, both being
opposed to the Suitors. Penelope, to delay her marriage, proposes the
Bending of the Bow, which gives the weapon and the opportunity to
Ulysses. (Book XXI.)

II. The second stage of the grand movement is given in one Book (XXII).
This is the single bloody Book of the poem, it makes up all
deficiencies in the way of sanguinary grewsomeness. The destroying
Suitors are themselves destroyed by Ulysses, who therein is destroyer.
Hence the blood-letting character of the Book and of the deed; 116 men
skin, 12 women hung, and one man mutilated unto death.

III. But the destroyer Ulysses destroys destruction, and so becomes
positive; in the last two Books he is shown as the restorer of the
institutional order which the Suitors had assailed and were
undermining. He restores the Family (Book XXIII), and the State (Book
XXIV). This is, then, the end of the Return, indeed the end of the
grand disruption caused by the Trojan War, to which Ulysses set out
from Ithaca twenty years before. The absence of the husband and ruler
from home and country gave the opportunity for the license of the
Suitors. But the Return has harmonized the distracted condition of the
land; institutions, Family and State, are freed of their conflict; even
the Gods, Zeus and Pallas (authority and wisdom) enforce the new order,
bringing peace and concord.

Still, despite the bloody death of the Suitors, there runs through this
portion of the Odyssey (the last eight Books) a vein of charity, of
humanity, sometimes even of sentiment, which seems to link the poem
with our own age. Yet the other side is present also; there is little
pity for the unrighteous, and justice is capable of becoming cruel. The
Suitors and their set of servants are represented as unfeeling and
inhuman; Penelope and the whole loyal household on the other hand show
sympathy with poverty and misfortune. Such, indeed, has been their
discipline, that of adversity, which softens the heart toward the
victims of hard luck.

The disguise of Ulysses is continued, and also the craft of Penelope.
The moral questioning which these two characters have always roused
does not diminish. The hardest practical problem of life comes to the
front in their case. Both are willing to meet unjust violence with
dissimulation, till they get the power to act openly. They put down a
dishonest world with dishonesty, and then proceed to live honestly. It
is another phase of that subtle play of the Negative, with which
Ulysses had to grapple repeatedly in Fableland, and of which the
Odyssey is full. Every situation seems to have its intricate ethical
problem, which the reader has to solve as he solves such questions in
actual life. Our opinion upon this element in the poem we have already
given, and need not repeat it here.

We must note that Ulysses still keeps up his romancing in order to
explain his presence in Ithaca and his beggarly appearance. He
introduces a kind of story, which we have called the Novelette in
distinction from the Fairy Tale. The scene is usually thrown back
eastward to Crete, the Trojan War furnishes the background, the famous
Cretan hero Idomeneus is usually in some way connected with the
stranger who is speaking. No less than five such Novelettes are found
in the last twelve Books--some long, some brief. He tells one to Pallas
(XIII. 256), to Eumæus the longest one (XIV. 199), to Antinous a short
interrupted one (XVII. 425), to Penelope (XIX. 172), finally one to his
father Laertes (XXIV. 304), in which the scene seems to be changed to
the West from the mention of Sicania.

For the reader who may wish to follow out in detail these eight Books,
we append a general survey of each, in which the thought and the
structure are suggested, yet by no means elaborated. We have in the
preceding pages given quite fully what we deem the main points of the
Odyssey; there remains only this winding-up of the work in a rapid
summary.

_Book Seventeenth._ We now pass from the country and the hut of the
swineherd to the town and the palace of the king. This is an important
transition, and evidently marks a turning-point in the last twelve
Books of the Odyssey. The change of location brings us to the scene of
the forthcoming deed, and into the presence of the two conflicting
sides. The structure of the Book moves about two centers, Telemachus
and Ulysses.

I. Telemachus is first to start for the city, where he arrives, and is
received with great joy by the household. The mother asks him whether
he has obtained any tidings from his father. But he shuns her question,
bids her make fresh vows to the Gods, and goes off to look after his
guest, the prophet Theoclymenus. The Suitors throng about him, but do
him no harm; a number of his friends are near at hand, and the Suitors
are divided among themselves.

After his return to the palace, Telemachus tells his mother the story
of his journey. First he went to Pylos and "saw Nestor there," and held
intercourse with the wise old man of the Greeks, which was certainly a
memorable event in the life of the youth. But Nestor could tell him
nothing about the present condition or dwelling-place of Ulysses, so
the son was sent onwards to Sparta, to Menelaus, where "I saw Argive
Helen, for whose sake the Greeks and Trojans suffered many evils by
will of the Gods." Menelaus tells Telemachus the words of Proteus
concerning his father Ulysses, gently touching the story of the nymph
Calypso, whereat the queen was deeply moved. His news is that his
father cannot return.

At this point the prophet comes in with his prophecy. "I declare that
Ulysses in his own land again, sitting or creeping about in secret; he
is taking note of these evil deeds just now, and plans destruction for
the Suitors." The response of Penelope shows her mind. "May thy
prophetic word be fulfilled!" It is well to note the art with which
this prophet has been brought to the palace of Ulysses to foreshadow
the coming event.

Moreover this whole passage connects with the Third and Fourth Books,
which recounted the Journey of Telemachus to Pylos and Sparta. Of
course the school of dissectors have sought to show the entire
narrative here to be an interpolation by a later hand. One says that
the brief allusion to the trip is tiresome to the reader. As if Homer
composed for readers! But what reader ever found these few lines
tiresome? The whole account of the son to the mother is one of the
links which bind the Odyssey into unity, hence the wrath against it in
certain quarters.

II. The second part of the present Book gives the movements of Ulysses,
and is more important and more fully elaborated than the preceding
part. The hero is in disguise, he is to take his first glimpse of the
state of affairs in his palace. He will experience in his own person
the wrongs of the Suitors and their adherents; he will apply a test to
bring out their character. This test is that of humanity, of charity
toward a beggar; how will the Suitors behave toward him?

While he is on the way to the city with Eumæus, he has his preliminary
skirmish. They meet the goatherd Melanthius, who at the sight of the
beggar breaks out into abuse. There is an inhuman note in his speech,
which we may regard as one result of the present disorder of the
country. Doubtless the swineherd and the goatherd were rivals, and
showed a professional jealousy; but Melanthius had extracted from his
humble calling a disposition quite opposite to that of Eumæus, and had
become disloyal to his master's House.

The approach to the palace is indicated by the song of the bard and the
noise of feasting guests. Still the disguised Ulysses is recognized by
one living object: his old dog Argo, who dies on the spot out of joy at
seeing his master again. Full of sentiment and tenderness is the
description; it has a modernity of touch which will be often noticed in
this second half of the Odyssey. Much comment has been bestowed upon
the incident; but its most striking characteristic is its symbolism.
The old dog, neglected now, full of vermin, hardly able to crawl, yet
loyal in his heart; why should he not receive the praise of Eumæus, who
tells of his former skill in the chase! The dog Argo images the House
of Ulysses at present; to such straits has fidelity come. A famous
statement here by Eumæus cannot be passed over: "The day which makes
the man a slave, Zeus takes half his worth away." True generally of
men, but not of the slave who utters it, he being the fate-compeller.

Ulysses now applies his test of charity to the Suitors. He goes around
to them, asking for alms, like a beggar, that he might observe them
all, and "know who was better and who was worse." But in the end not
one of them was to be spared. Such was the supreme test, that of
charity; how will the Suitors treat the poor beggar? Will they behave
toward him as Eumæus has? Not by any means; the test calls out the
worst suitor of the lot, Antinous, who finally hurls a stool at the
supposed intruder. The other Suitors give something, not their own;
still they share in the guilt. Is this test of charity, selected by the
poet here, a true test of such characters? One result of the present
violation of law and order is inhumanity, cruelty, disregard of the
fellow-man. Especially marked is their contrast with Eumæus, who, in
response to the harshness of Antinous, says: "The famous men of earth
(such as the seer, the doctor, the builder, the bard) are invited to
the feast; no one would invite a beggar to an entertainment." Still the
beggar is here to be invited. A ring of modern sentiment is surely
heard in this passage; the subjective element of Christendom seems
embodied in that swineherd a thousand years before its time.

The poet does not leave out of this Book the previous tendency of
Ulysses to romancing. In the talk with Antinous he begins another tale
or rather the old one, with Egypt and Cyprus in the background. It is,
in substance, the story of the attack on the Ciconians, which Ulysses
cannot help telling when he looks back toward his Trojan period. Here
again it is truth in the form of fiction.

Meantime the uproar has called forth Penelope, who desires to see the
strange beggar. The wish is conveyed to Ulysses, who artfully requests
that the interview be deferred till night-fall; the wife might see
through his disguise. The time for this recognition has not yet come.
She wishes to hear of her husband, thinks of him in some such pitiable
plight as this beggar is in; she shows sympathy. A charitable
disposition is indeed a characteristic of the whole household, nurses
and all; misfortune has brought its blessing. Herein the contrast with
the Suitors is emphatic, they are a stony-hearted set, trained by their
deeds to violence and inhumanity.

Eumæus praises the minstrel talent of Ulysses; the poet endows his hero
with the gift of song in this poem; compare the praise given by
Alcinous to the singer of Fableland. So Achilles in the Iliad was found
by the embassy singing the glory of heroes. Nor must we pass by that
deeply-grounded belief in the good-luck which comes from a sneeze.
Telemachus sneezes at the right moment, and Penelope interprets the
omen, with a smile, however, which hints a touch of humorous
incredulity. Finally we may reflect upon that true Homeric view of the
world indicated in the words of Telemachus: "All these matters will be
cared for by myself and the Immortals." These are the two sides working
together throughout the poem.

_Book Eighteenth._ Ulysses, as beggar, has now gotten a foothold in his
own house. He has made the transition in disguise from the hut to the
palace; he has tried his preliminary test upon the Suitors, the test of
charity, and found out their general character. He is not recognized,
on account of external disguise in part; yet this disguise has its
internal correspondence.

The present Book is one of warnings; on all sides the Suitors are
admonished of the day of wrath which is coming. In Homeric fashion they
are told to change, to repent, to cease their wrong-doing. We observe
three parts: first is the conflict with the beggar Irus, foreshadowing
the conflict and outcome with the Suitors; second is the appearance of
Penelope, the female Ulysses in craft and in disguise, here hoodwinking
the Suitors; third is the male Ulysses, in craft and in disguise,
observing, testing, planning fate for the guilty.

I. Ulysses has assumed the part of a beggar, but he finds a real beggar
on the ground ready to dispute his right. Irus, this mendicant, has a
character on a par with the Suitors, violent, inhuman, insolent; he is,
moreover, one with the Suitors in taking other people's property for
nothing. There is no doubt that the poet casts an image of the Suitors
in the portrait of Irus, who acts toward Ulysses the beggar, as they do
toward Ulysses the ruler. It is manifest by word and deed that his
humble life has not given him the training to charity.

The result of the competition between the real and the disguised beggar
is a fight, which is urged on by the Suitors for the sport of the
thing; Antinous is specially active in this business, which is a
degraded Olympic contest. Homer too shows his love of the athlete by
his warm description of the body and limbs of Ulysses, who "showed his
large and shapely thighs, his full broad shoulders, his chest and
sinewy arms," when he stripped for the contest.

There can be only one outcome of such a fight under such circumstances,
especially in an heroic poem. But is not Ulysses himself inhuman and
uncharitable toward his poor beggar rival? Certainly he does not deal
with him gently, and the modern reader is apt to think that Ulysses
ought now to have his own test of charity applied to himself. Still his
defense is at hand: Irus sided with the Suitors, had their character,
Telemachus says they favored him; he is harsh and merciless to his
seeming fellow-beggar, and so he gets his own, though Ulysses at first
warns him, and wishes to be on good terms with him: "I do not speak or
do thee any wrong, nor do I envy thee getting alms; this threshold is
large enough for both of us; thou art a beggar as well as I. So beware
my wrath." Surely a sufficient warning, which, if unheeded, draws down
the fateful consequences.

But the chief justification of the poet lies in the fact that this
contest with Irus is sent before the main conflict as a prototype and a
warning. The Suitors looked on and saw the miserable beggar completely
undone; "they threw up their hands and nearly died laughing;" a case of
blind fatuity, for they were soon to be in the place of Irus, every one
of them. A little later Telemachus suggests the connection: "Would that
the Suitors might droop their heads overcome in our house, as now Irus
sits at the hall gate with drooping head like a drunken man, and cannot
stand erect or walk home, since his dear limbs have been loosened."

Another note of warning is given specially to Amphinomus, who had
extended a very friendly salutation to Ulysses after the victory, and
who was the most honorable man of the Suitors. Ulysses again resorts to
fiction in order to convey his lesson, "Many were the wrongs I did;"
hence my present condition. "Let no men ever work injustice," such as
these Suitors are guilty of; the avenger "I now declare to be not far
away from his friends and his country." Hence the warning: "May some
God bring thee home" at once, for bloody will be the decision. But
Amphinomus does not obey, though "his mind foreboded evil;" he remained
in the fateful company and afterwards fell by the hand of Telemachus.

II. The real person for whose possession this whole contest is waged is
now introduced--Penelope. She appears in all her beauty; Pallas
interferes divinely in order to heighten the same, making her "more
stately in form and fairer than the ivory just carved." She is indeed
the embodiment of all that is beautiful and worthy in that Ithacan
life; loyalty to husband, love of her child, devotion to family, the
strongest institutional feeling she shows, with no small degree of
artifice, of course. Just now she reproves her son for having permitted
the recent fight: "thou hast allowed a stranger guest to be shamefully
treated." Thus she shows her secret unconscious sympathy with her
husband in disguise.

Then she turns her attention to the Suitors. She alludes to the parting
words of her husband as he set out for Troy: "When thou seest thy son a
bearded man, marry whom thou wilt and leave the house." The time has
come when she has to endure this hateful marriage; how the thought
weighs upon her heart! But we catch a glimpse of her deeper plan in the
following: "The custom of Suitors in the olden time was not such as
yours; they would bring along their own oxen and sheep and make a feast
for the friends of the maiden whom they wooed, and give her splendid
gifts; they consumed not other folk's property without recompense."
What does all this mean?

One result takes place at once. The Suitors all hasten to bring her
their presents, and thus conform to the good old time and to her
opinion. Great was the hurry: "Each dispatched his herald to bring a
gift." Does the poet hint through a side glance the real state of the
case? Hear him: "Ulysses wad delighted when he saw her wheedling the
Suitors out of their gifts and cajoling their mind with flattering
speech, while her heart planned other things." Cunning indeed she has
and boundless artifice; what shall we make of her? As already often
said, craft is her sole woman's weapon against man's violence, and she
uses it with effect for the defense of her home and her honor. Is she
justified? Is such deception allowable under the circumstances? Thus
the poem puts the test to the modern reader, and makes him ponder the
moral problem of life.

One other point we should note in this speech of Penelope to the
Suitors. She says that their method of wooing was not the accustomed
way; they had no right to expect such entertainment for such a body of
men. They had the right of suit, but it must be conducted in a lawful
manner. Thus they are violating custom, or making it a pretext for
doing injustice. But she meets violence with cunning, and rude force
with craft.

III. Ulysses now takes note of another phase of the wrong done to his
household by the Suitors; they debauch the female servants, of whom
Melantho is an example. The seeming beggar wishes to stay all night by
the fires kindled in the palace, and take care of them, instead of the
maids who usually looked after them. This plan of his evidently
interferes with an existing arrangement, hence the abusive words of
Melantho toward him first, and then the scoffing speech of Eurynomus,
her lover, who lets fly at him a footstool which hits the cupbearer.
General confusion results, in the midst of which Telemachus commands
order which is seconded by Amphinomus. After a cup of wine, all retire
to their homes. But Ulysses has got an inkling of what is transpiring
between the Suitors and some of the maid-servants. Hereafter we shall
see that both share in the punishment.

_Book Nineteenth._ This is a strong Book of its kind. Penelope is the
center, her difficulties are shown anew, moreover they are about to
reach their culmination. The husband disguised here tests the wife, and
finds out by his own personal observation her fidelity. Her womanly
instincts are still intact, in spite of the dissolute surroundings.
Ulysses discovers that he is not to meet with the fate of Agamemnon on
his return home.

From the preceding Book, which was occupied with the external conflicts
in the palace, we move in the present Book more and more to the heart
of the business, which is the union in the hearts of husband and wife.
The oneness of the Family after long separation of its two members is
the ethical theme, showing that such union is eternal, as far as the
eternal can be shown in Time. Two divisions we shall mark: Ulysses and
his son Telemachus first, then Ulysses and his wife Penelope.

I. The two men, father and son, are seen preparing for the conflict
which is drawing on--just that being the duty of men. The weapons which
were hanging on the walls of the banqueting-room are removed in the
absence of the Suitors and of the servants. Also a pretext is framed
for their removal. Moreover "Pallas, holding before them her golden
lamp, made very beautiful light." Certainly the Goddess was there, the
scene shows her in every part; "Such is the wont of the Olympians,"
says Ulysses; divine illumination descends upon a work of this kind.

II. But by far the longest portion of the Book is devoted to the
interview between Ulysses and Penelope. Telemachus goes off to his
chamber to rest for the night; Ulysses is now received by his wife at
the hearth. The various turns of this lengthy account we shall throw
into four divisions.

1. By way of introduction, the faithless handmaid Melantho again shows
her character in a harsh speech to Ulysses, "Get out, you beggar! Will
you still keep sneaking through the house by night to spy out women?"
So she reveals plainly what she is, and even mentions the test which
she cannot stand. Ulysses in his reply enforces charity: "I was once
rich, but I gave the poor wanderer alms." Beware of the day of
reckoning: such is his repeated warning to all these people.

Penelope also gives a sharp reproof to the shameless handmaid, and
intimates the fate impending: "Thou hast done a deed which thy head
shall atone for." It is again to be noted that the guilty are the
inhuman, while the faithful have charity. Penelope specially shows this
trait in the present Book, though her threat to Melantho is not gentle.
Quite as Ulysses served Irus, Penelope is ready to serve Melantho; both
can become uncharitable toward the uncharitable; both can meet evil
with evil, and fight the negative with negation.

2. The main purpose of this portion of the interview is to furnish
Penelope with hope. She seems on the point of giving up the long
contest, she has played her last stratagem against the Suitors. Now she
must choose one of them, her parents urge it, her son demands it; there
seems no escape, though she hates the marriage like black Death. In
such a frame of mind, the disguised Ulysses is to divert her thoughts
with a story, to gain her confidence in his honesty, and to give a
strong promise of her husband's speedy return. The manner in which he
puts these three points in succession is worthy of study.

First, he must give some account of himself, of his lineage and of his
connections. Here he employs his old fiction, he feigns a tale, putting
the scene into Crete, and allying himself with the famous stock of
Minos, as well as with the well-known Cretan hero Idomeneus so often
celebrated in the Iliad, whose brother he claimed to be. "There I saw
Ulysses and entertained him." This story of his life has an analogy to
what he told Eumæus (Book XIV. 199) and Antinous (Book XVII. 425). All
three differ in details, being adjusted to the person and the occasion;
still all are cast into the same general mould, with the scene placed
in the East on the borderland toward Phenicia and with the Trojan war
in the background. It is another Homeric novelette suggesting a life of
adventure on sea and land, and showing sparks of that enterprising
Greek spirit, of which the Odyssey is the best record. But the poet
adds: "So he went on fabricating lies like truth;" which indicates that
he told more than is in the text and completed his story.

In the second place, Penelope applies her test, for she is not so
credulous as to believe every wandering story-teller: "Describe me the
garments he had on." Truly a woman's test. It is needless to say that
Ulysses responds with great precision. She, however, had no suspicion,
which might arise from such a complete account. It is no wonder that
Penelope proposed to entertain this beggar guest, one who has been so
hospitable to her husband, of whom she declares in an outburst of
despair: "I never shall behold him returning home."

At this point the disguised Ulysses makes his third and principal
speech to his wife, imparting to her the hope that Ulysses will return.
This completes his story, introducing the Thesprotians again (as in
other tales) and the oracle of Dodona. He almost lets the secret out:
"He is alive and will soon be here; not far off is he now, I swear it."
Not much further could disguise be carried. Still Penelope remains
skeptical: "I must think he will not come home." Her hard lot, however,
has not hardened her heart, but softened it rather; she reveals her
native character in the words here spoken (Bryant's Translation):--

    Short is the life of man, and whoso bears
    A cruel heart, devising cruel things,
    On him men call down evil from the gods
    While living, and pursue him when he dies,
    With scoffs. But whoso is of generous heart,
    And harbors generous aims, his guests proclaim
    His praises far and wide to all mankind,
    And numberless are they who call him good.

3. Having been brought so near to a discovery, we next come to an
actual discovery by the nurse Eurycleia. She is commanded by Penelope
to bathe the beggar's feet, which she does with no little sympathy and
lamentation. The character of the nurse is in a certain sense the echo
of that of Penelope, the echo in emotion, and in fidelity, if not in
intelligence. She gives way to her feelings, she recalls the image of
Ulysses, whom she nursed, and addresses him as present. She beholds in
the stranger the resemblance at the start. "I have never yet seen any
one so like Ulysses as thou art in body, voice and feet." We now
observe that Ulysses really selects Eurycleia, "a certain old woman,
discreet, who has endured as much as I have: she may touch my feet"
(line 346). He sought for some confidant among the servants, one who
might be needed for important duties before and during the fight;
Eurycleia is chosen, since Ulysses knew that she would discover the
scar on his foot and thus recognize him. All of which takes place,
Ulysses exacts secrecy, and she replies, giving a hint of her character
as well as the reason why she was chosen: "Thou knowest my firmness, I
shall hold like the solid rock or iron."

There is a long narrative pertaining to the manner in which Ulysses
received the wound which caused the scar. Much fault has been found
with this story for various reasons, but it gives a certain relief as
well as epical fullness to the movement of the Book. It is, however,
one of those passages which may have been interpolated--or may not, and
just there the argument stands. It traces the character of Ulysses back
to his grandfather Antolycus, the most cunning of mortals, and also
gives the etymology (fanciful probably) of the name of Ulysses.
(Odysseus, the Greek form of Ulysses, is here derived from a Greek word
meaning _to be angry_.)

4. After the bath Ulysses returns to the hearth where Penelope is still
sitting. She tells her dream of the eagle which destroyed her geese,
and which then spoke by way of interpretation: "The geese are the
Suitors and I, once the eagle, am now thy husband." Such is the
deep-lying presentiment of Penelope, indicated by the dream, which
crops out in spite of her declared skepticism. Note that she dreams not
only the dream but also dreams its interpretation; surely she is
conscious of some hope now.

The legend at the end of the Book, which tells of the two Gates of
Dreams, one of ivory and one of horn, has roused much curiosity among
readers about its purport, and has inspired much imitation from later
poets. Through the Gate of Horn (dimly transparent) comes the true
dream; through the Gate of Ivory (polished on the outside, but letting
no light through) comes the false dream. Such is the more common
explanation, but Eustathius derives the whole story from two puns on
Greek words for horn and ivory. At any rate there are the two sorts of
dreams, one getting the impress of the future event, the other being
merely subjective.

But Penelope has another suggestion, which is found widely scattered in
folk-lore, the Bending of the Bow. This incident, however, is developed
in a later Book. It is one of her schemes to defer the hated marriage,
after the new hope given by the stranger. She will not yet give up.

_Book Twentieth._ This book is devoted to describing more fully the
situation in the house of Ulysses just before the slaying of the
Suitors. The guilty and the guiltless are indicated anew, with fresh
incidents; especially the fatuity of the Suitors is set forth in a
variety of ways. The scene is in the palace.

The Book may be divided into three portions, which deal with (1) the
royal pair, (2) the servants faithful and faithless, (3) the Suitors at
their banquet.

I. Ulysses is lying on the porch, restless, unable to sleep; he sees
the disloyal women of the household come forth to the embraces of the
Suitors. He commands himself: "Endure it, heart; thou hast borne worse
than this." Pallas has at last to come and to answer his two
troublesome thoughts: "How shall I, being only one, slay the Suitors,
being many?" And still, that is not the end. "How shall I escape
afterward, if I succeed?" Wherein we may note already a hint of the
last Book of the Odyssey. Pallas reproves him, yet gives him assurance.
"If fifty bands of men should surround us," still we shall win, "for I
am a God, and I guard thee always in thy labors." Whereupon Ulysses at
once went to sleep.

The wife Penelope is also having her period of anxiety and of weeping
for her husband; she prays to Diana and wishes for death, being awake.
But when asleep, her unconscious nature asserts itself: "This very
night a man like him lay by me, my heart rejoiced, I thought it no
dream." Such is the contrast between her waking and her sleeping state;
in the one her skepticism, in the other her instinct manifests itself.

II. We now pass to quite a full survey of the servants of the
household. Female slaves have to grind the corn to make bread for the
Suitors; one of these slaves is still at her task, though past
daybreak, she being the weakest of all. Standing at her hand-mill she
utters the ominous word: "O Zeus, ruler, fulfill this wish for me
wretched: may the present feast of the Suitors be their last, they who
have loosed my limbs with painful toil in grinding their barley meal!"
Thus the prayer of the poor overworked slave-woman calls down the
vengeance of the Gods, giving the word of friendly omen to the avenger.
Certainly a most powerful motive; but again we think, how modern it
sounds! Yet ancient too the thought must have been, for here it stands
in Homer truly prophetic of many things.

Eurycleia is the controlling power among the handmaids, of whom there
was a large number; "twenty went to the spring to fetch water, while
others were busy about the house," preparing for the coming banquet.
The swineherd Eumæus came with three fat porkers; his disloyal
counterpart, Melanthius, also appeared with goats for the feast; both
again show their character to Ulysses. The cowherd Philoetius is now
introduced, in a full account; he is one of the faithful, has charity
for the beggar, and shows his fidelity in a number of points. The
beggar assures him: "Ulysses will return, thou shalt see him slaying
those Suitors," whereupon Philoetius volunteers his aid.

Thus the forces are assembling; the two sides, loyal and disloyal, are
separating more and more, preparatory to the grand struggle. Ulysses in
his disguise has discovered those upon whom he can depend. But the
banquet is ready, the Suitors, who have been plotting against the life
of Telemachus, enter; they are divided among themselves, and can show
no concerted action.

III. This banquet is noticeable, inasmuch as Telemachus asserts the
mastery in his own house and defies the Suitors. He honors the beggar
as his guest, and gives warning that nobody insult the poor stranger,
"lest there be trouble." A number of Suitors show their ill feeling;
one of them, named Ktesippus, flings a bullock's foot at Ulysses "for a
hospitable present," at which the latter "smiled in sardonic fashion,"
but said nothing. Telemachus, however, reproves the agressor with great
spirit, and asserts himself anew against all deeds of violence. One of
the more reasonable Suitors, Agelaus, makes a speech, which commends
Telemachus but insists upon his ordering his mother "to marry the man
who is best and who will give most presents." In reply Telemachus
declares that he does not hinder the choice of his mother, but that he
will not force her to marry. "That may God never bring about." (_Theos_
without article.)

Now follows a series of miraculous signs, prodigies, mad doings, which
prefigure the coming destruction. Insane laughter of the Suitors, yet
with eyes full of tears, and with hearts full of sorrow: what does it
all forbode? Here comes the seer Theoclymenus with a terrible
interpretation uttered in the true Hebrew prophetic style: "The hall I
see full of ghosts hastening down to Erebus; the sun in Heaven is
extinguished, and a dark cloud overspreads the land." The Suitors
bemock the prophet, who leaves the company with another fateful vision:
"I perceive evil coming upon you, from which not one of you Suitors
shall escape." More taunts are flung at Telemachus who now says
nothing; he, his father, and his mother, witness the mad banquet, which
is a veritable feast of Belshazzar, and which has also its prophet. The
Hebrew analogy is striking.

_Book Twenty-first._ The test presented in many a tale is here
introduced at the turning-point of destiny. The Bending of the Bow and
skill in the use thereof are incidents in the folk-lore of every
people. The theme is naturally derived from a social condition, in
which the bow and arrow are the chief weapons of defense and offense,
employed against human foes and wild animals. Hence the strong man, the
Hero, is the one able to bend the strong bow and to use it with
dexterity. Such a man uses the chief implement of his time and people
with the greatest success, hence he is the greatest man. So we have the
test of bending the bow, which simply selects the best man for the time
and circumstances.

In recent interpretations of mythology, this employment of the bow and
arrows has been connected with the sun and its rays. Ulysses is
declared to be really a sun-god, a form of Apollo, deity of archery; he
shoots his arrows which are sunbeams and destroys the Suitors, who are
the clouds obstructing his light, and wooing his spouse, the day or the
sky. It is also noteworthy that on this very day of the slaughter of
the Suitors, there is a festival in Ithaca to Apollo, god of light and
archery. This is usually regarded as the New Moon (_Neomenios_)
festival. Antinous refers to it (l. 259) and proposes to defer the
contest on that account. But Ulysses is made to shoot on the festal day
of the sungod.

There is no doubt that mythology is closely connected with Nature, out
of which it develops. In the Vedic hymns we see this connection in the
most explicit manner, and threads of the old Aryan Mythus can often be
picked out in Homer. Still we must recollect that it was the archer man
who first projected the archer god out of himself, and it is no
explanation of Ulysses to say that he represents the sun-god; rather
the sun-god represents him. Moreover, the ethical purpose of Ulysses in
slaying the Suitors is the soul of the poem, which is to find its
adequate interpretation in that purpose and in that alone. The incident
of Bending the Bow is wrought into a grand scheme of indicating the
ethical order of the world.

The three divisions of the Book we shall briefly note, observing how
the bow rejects the unfit, and selects the right man.

I. It is Pallas (not Apollo, the archer) who started in the mind of
Penelope this scheme of testing the Suitors. Why a Goddess here? It is
first a chance thought of the woman, but then it becomes an important
link in the movement of divine nemesis; hence the poet, according to
this custom, traces the inspiration of the idea to a deity. The history
of the famous bow is given with an especial delight in details.
Penelope herself goes to the room where the armor of the house was
kept, gets the bow, and announces the contest to the Suitors.

The man who can bend the bow and send the arrow through the twelve
rings, is to bear her away as his bride. The trial is made, no Suitor
is able to bend the weapon. Interesting is the prophet among the
Suitors, Leiodes, who tries his hand, yet gives the warning: "This bow
upon this spot will take from many a prince the breath of life." He
foresees and forewarns, but still acts the transgressor; he prophesies
death to the Suitors, but remains himself a Suitor, and so perishes in
accord with his own prophecy.

II. Ulysses, going to one side with the cowherd and swineherd
(Philoetius and Eumæus), whose loyalty has been so conspicuous, now
discloses himself to them, and assigns their duties in the approaching
conflict. "I know that you alone of the servants (men) have desired my
return." He will give them wife and property if he conquers the
Suitors, "and to me ye shall be as companions and brothers of
Telemachus." Deserving to be adopted into the royal house of Ulysses
they both are, being of this little army of four against more than a
hundred enemies. Eumæus is to put the bow into the hands of Ulysses,
after the Suitors have tried the test; Philoetius is to fasten the
gates that none escape.

III. After the Suitors have failed to bend the bow and a delay is
proposed, Ulysses, the beggar, comes forward and asks to make the
trial. Violent opposition rises on part of the Suitors, but Penelope in
two speeches insists that he shall try. Here again we must ascribe to
her unconscious nature some strong affinity with the ragged man before
her. She praises the form of the stranger and notes his noble birth,
though she denies the possibility of herself becoming his bride. Still
she shows a deep attraction for him, which she cannot suppress.

Telemachus now takes the matter in hand, orders his mother out of the
way somewhat abruptly (since the fight is soon to start), and bids the
bow to be carried to Ulysses in face of the outcries of the Suitors.
Eurycleia, the nurse, is commanded to fasten the doors of the house;
now we see why Ulysses let her recognize him by the scar. Meanwhile
Philoetius fastens the gates of the court. Apparently there is no
escape for the Suitors; Ulysses has the bow; he has tested its quality
and possesses a quiver full of arrows.

Such is the famous deed of Bending the Bow, which is a symbolic act
pointing out and selecting the Hero. Ulysses is revealed by it to the
Suitors even before he calls out his name and throws off his disguise;
he performs the test, he shoots through the rings without missing, he
has strength and skill for the emergency. If hitherto stress has been
laid upon his mind and cunning, now his athletic side is brought to the
front. But it required all his intelligence to reach the point at which
his will is to act.

We have now gone through what may be called the first stage of this
final part of the Odyssey. The Suitors have fully shown their
destructive spirit, disregarding property, family, state, the Gods.
Ulysses has seen and felt in person their wrongs; their negative career
has reached its last deed, he has the bow in his hands and is ready for
the work of retribution. Such is the general sweep of the last five
Books; but now the destructive deeds of the Suitors are to meet with a
still mightier destruction.

_Book Twenty-second._ The final act of justice, the Day of Judgment,
perchance the Crack of Doom; such conceptions have long been familiar
to man and still are; in the present Book they find one of their most
striking embodiments. That for which so long preparation has been made,
is now realized: the vindication of the Ethical Order of the World.
There is, however, little feeling for that charity and humanity before
noticed; stern, inflexible, merciless justice is the mood and meaning
of this piece of writing.

The Book has essentially two parts: the punishment of the guilty men
(Suitors and Servants) with the sparing of the innocent, and the
punishment of the guilty women (servants) with the sparing of the
innocent. Thus in both parts there is the penalty, yet also the
discrimination, according to the deed.

I. The first part is mainly a battle, an Homeric battle, and reminds
the reader of many a combat in the Iliad. Of the conflict with the
Suitors here described we can discern three stages, which are marked
also by the use of different weapons, the bow, the spear, and the
sword.

(1) The first stage of the battle opens with the slaying of Antinous,
the ringleader of the band, who is pierced by an arrow from the bow of
Ulysses. The crowd threatens Ulysses, who now utters to them what may
be called their last judgment, announcing who he is, and his purpose to
punish their crimes: "Dogs! you thought I would not come back from
Troy, and therefore you devoured my substance, debauched my
maid-servants; and wooed my wife while I was still alive. You feared
not the Gods, nor the vengeance of man afterwards; now destruction
hangs over you all." This may be taken as a statement of the ethical
content of the poem from the mouth of Ulysses himself at the critical
moment. The Suitors feared not the Gods, were violators of the Divine
Order, for which violation man was to punish them. Again the two sides,
the divine and human, are put together. In vain Eurymachus, a spokesman
for the Suitors, offers amends, guilt cannot now buy itself free when
caught. Ulysses answers: "If thou shouldst offer all that thou hast and
all that thy father has, and other gifts, I would not desist." So
Eurymachus, perishes by the second arrow and still another Suitor,
Amphinomus is pierced by the spear of Telemachus. Thus three leaders
are slain in this preliminary stage.

(2) The second stage of the conflict begins by Telemachus bringing a
shield, two spears, and a helmet for his father, whose arrows are not
enough for the enemies. Also he brings armor for the cowherd and
swineherd, as well as for himself; thus the four men get themselves
fully equipped.

But in order to make a fair fight, it is necessary that the Suitors be
armed, in part at least. Melanthius, the goatherd, finds his way to the
chamber where the arms are deposited. Arms for twelve he brings, and
then goes for more, when he is caught. But now Pallas has to appear in
the form of Mentor, in order to put courage into the heart of Ulysses.
The first armed set of Suitors advance and throw their javelins without
effect, while the four on the side of Ulysses kill four men. Four more
Suitors are slain in a fresh onset, then two more; now their store of
weapons is exhausted. Thirteen mentioned here by name have fallen
beside those unnamed ones whom the arrows of Ulysses slew. The most
prominent Suitors are weltering in their blood, there are no more
weapons, the result is a panic.

(3) This is the third stage of the battle. A large majority of the
Suitors, probably 80 or more out of the 108 plus 10 attendants are
still alive, though without weapons and completely paralyzed with
terror. "Pallas held from the roof her man-destroying ægis, their
hearts trembled with fear, they fled through the palace like a drove of
cattle." The four men now use their swords upon the terrified,
defenseless crowd, and cut them down. Leiodes, the soothsayer of the
Suitors, begs for mercy and recounts his attempts to restrain their
violent deeds; vain is his prayer, he perishes with his company of
brigands, "for if thou wert their soothsayer, thou must often in my
palace have prayed the Gods against my return" and for the Suitors.
Thus the priestly man too is involved in the net, he knew the wrong,
yet remained the chaplain of that godless company.

Two, however, are saved, the guiltless. The bard, who "sings for Gods
and men" is spared, because he sang "by necessity for the Suitors, and
not for sake of gain;" also Telemachus intercedes for the herald Medon,
who "took care of me as a child," a beautiful gleam on this ghastly
scene. From Ulysses, however, we hear the moral of the event
proclaimed, which the reader may take unto himself: "From this thou
mayst know and tell to another how much better well-doing is than
evil-doing." So speaks the slayer over these corpses, which utterance
we may at least regard as an attempt of the poet once more to enforce
the ethical purpose of his work. Not a single living Suitor or
attendant can be found skulking anywhere, and none have escaped.

II. Having completed his task in regard to the guilty men, Ulysses now
turns his attention toward the guilty women of his household. For this
purpose Eurycleia is called, and is brought to him; when she sees the
deadly work, she shouts for joy. Ulysses restrains her: "It is an
unholy thing to exult over the slain." Here again the ethical nature of
this act is emphasized: "The decree of the Gods and their own evil
deeds overwhelmed these men; they paid respect to no human being, high
or low, who approached them." Yet there are modern writers who can see
no ethical purpose in the Odyssey.

Eurycleia gives her report: out of fifty serving maids in the palace,
"twelve have mounted the car of shamelessness." These latter are now
called, are compelled to carry out the dead (among whom are their
lovers), and to make clean the place of slaughter. Then they are led
out and hung: such was the ancient fate of the prostitute in the
household.

A still harsher and more ignoble punishment awaits the goatherd
Melanthius, a cruel mutilation is inflicted upon him, horrible to the
last degree, but it grades his punishment according to his offense. A
fumigation with sulphur we find here, as old as Homer. Then all the
rest of the handmaids are summoned along with Penelope, to witness the
deed and to see the hero.

Such is this terrible Book in which destruction is fully meted out to
destroyers. According to our count 129 people are here dead, all of
them guilty. A doomsday spectacle for that household, and for all
readers and hearers since; it shows the return of the deed negatively
upon the negative doer. But Ulysses, the hero sitting amid these
corpses, is simply the Destroyer, the very picture and embodiment
thereof. Is there to be no positive result of such bloody work? Yes;
that is the next thing to be shown forth in the two following Books;
Ulysses is also the restorer, wherewith his career and this poem will
terminate.

_Book Twenty-third._ The essential fact of this Book is the reunion of
husband and wife after twenty years separation. The eternal nature of
the bond of the Family is thus asserted as strongly as is possible in
the world of Time. This is the deep institutional foundation upon which
the Odyssey reposes. Still the wife also has to be conquered, that is,
she has to be convinced that the beggar is her husband. All along we
have seen the struggle between her instinct and her intellect; her
understanding persists in thinking that Ulysses will not come back, yet
she dreams of his restoration, and she feels a strange sympathy with
the old man in rags. Thus the two opposing elements of female nature
have been in a conflict with each other; her instinct tries to surge
over her intellect, but does not succeed; she demands the complete test
of identity and gets it in the present Book. The old nurse, her son,
and finally Ulysses himself become impatient with her delay and her
circumspection, still she holds out against them all, though she has,
too, her own inner emotions to combat. The gradual unfolding of this
scene to the point of recognition must be pronounced a masterpiece of
character evolution.

The book may be divided into two portions--before and after the
Recognition, which culminates when Penelope accepts the test of the
secret bed which was once made by Ulysses.

I. The movement up to the Recognition shows Penelope undergoing a
double pressure, from without and from within. Yet it shows too a
corresponding double resistance on her part. First Eurycleia goes to
her chamber, and tells her in great glee that the Suitors are slain and
her husband has returned. She can accept the slaughter of the Suitors,
that could have been done by some God, angry at their injustice; but
she will not believe that Ulysses is really in the palace. The nurse
cries out: "Truly thou hast ever had a disbelieving mind," and then
tells of the scar. Still incredulous; but she goes down to the court,
and there sees Ulysses in his rags. No sufficient proof yet, though she
has a strange inner struggle not to run up to him that she might clasp
his hands and kiss him. But her understanding conquers, she keeps at a
distance, scrutinizing, till Telemachus, impulsive youth, breaks out
into a reproach: "Mother, thy heart is harder than a rock." But Ulysses
himself speaks to his son: "Suffer that thy mother test me;" she is
like himself, he understands her better than the son does. Finally
Ulysses takes the bath and puts on fresh garments, while Pallas gives
him fresh grace and majesty, and increased stature; he comes before
Penelope again; still no yielding. Ulysses himself is now forced to
exclaim: "Above all women the Gods have given thee a heart
impenetrable." Thus the nurse, the son, the husband in turn have failed
to shake her firmness, she must have an absolute test, which is "known
to him and me, and to us alone."

This is that strange bed, which Ulysses is unconsciously provoked by
his wife to describe. Penelope commands the nurse: "Bring the bed out
of the chamber which he made." But really it could not be removed, it
was constructed of the trunk of an olive tree rooted in the soil and
its construction was the secret of himself and wife. Very strong is the
symbolism of this bed, and is manifestly intended by the poet. It
typified the firm immovable bond of marriage between the two; their
unity could not be broken. Mark the words of Ulysses: "Woman, thou hast
spoken a painful word," when she commanded the bed to be removed; "who
hath displaced my bed?" In it there was built "a great sign" or
mystery; "now I do not know if my bed be firm in position, or whether
some other man has moved it elsewhere, cutting the trunk of the olive
tree up by the roots." Such is his intense feeling about that marriage
bed, deeply symbolic, truly "a sign," as here designated.

Now this is just the test which Penelope wanted, a double test indeed,
not only of the head, but also of the heart. He reveals to her not
merely that he knows about the bed, but how strongly he feels in
reference to it, and to what it signifies. For he might be the returned
Ulysses, and yet not be hers. But now she has yielded, she explains the
reason of her hesitation, defends herself by the example of Helen who
was cozened by a stranger. She used her craft to defend the unity and
sacredness of the Family, against Suitors and even against husband.
After some talk, the servant lights them to their chamber, "they in
great joy take their customary place in their ancient bed."

II. With the line just quoted (296 of the original) the Alexandrian
grammarians, Aristarchus and Aristophanes, concluded the Odyssey, and
declared the rest to be a post-Homeric addition. Still, this part of
the poem must have been in existence and accepted as Homer's long
before their time. Both Aristotle and Plato cite portions of it without
any declared suspicion of its genuineness. What reason the old
grammarians had for this huge excision is not definitely known; we can
see, however, that they wished to end the poem with complete
restoration, outer and inner, of the domestic bond between husband and
wife. Certainly a very noble thought in the poem, but by no means a
sufficient end; beside the domestic, the political bond also must be
restored, and the ethical harmony be made complete both in Family and
in State. Ulysses, moreover, has spoken of the duty laid upon him by
Tiresias in Hades: he must carry an oar till he comes to a land whose
people take it for a winnowing fan; there he is to plant it upright and
make an offering to Neptune. So there is a good deal yet to be done,
which the poem has already called for.

But just now she tells him her story, quite briefly; then he tells her
his story, more at length. This has the nature of a confession, with
its Circe and epecially Calypso, which she has to hear and he to make.
Through it all runs his yearning to reach home and wife.

But with the sun risen, new duties press upon him. First he will seek
some compensation for his property taken by the Suitors; secondly, he
will have to meet the vengeance of their relatives and friends. So the
army of four, himself, Telemachus, swineherd and cowherd, march forth
in arms from the palace gate, through the city to the country.

_Book Twenty-fourth._ This is another Book over which there has been
much critical discussion. Its thought, whatever may be said about its
execution, is absolutely necessary to bring the Odyssey to an organic
conclusion, and make the poem a well-rounded totality. There is the
political trouble generally, and specially the blood feud caused by the
slaying of the Suitors, which has to be harmonized. Repeatedly hitherto
we have had hints of this coming difficulty; Ulysses thought of it, and
made his plan concerning it before the slaughter took place. (XX. 41.)

In fact the complete restoration of Ulysses is both to Family and
State, the two great institutions which form the substructure of the
Odyssey. His country was quite as deeply distracted and perverted as
his household; both had to undergo the process of purification. In Book
Twenty-third we had the restoration of Ulysses to Family, in Book
Twenty-fourth we are to have essentially his restoration to State; then
he will truly have returned to prudent Penelope and to sunny Ithaca,
and the poem can end. Moreover his restoration _to_ Family and State
involves the restoration of Family and State; the rightful husband and
the rightful ruler heals the shattered institutions.

But it is undeniable that this Book is the most poorly constructed of
any Book in the Odyssey. There is undue repetition of previous matters,
yet certainly with important additions; there is unnecessary expansion
in the earlier parts of the Book, and too great compression and hurry
at the end. In general, the subject-matter of the Book is completely
valid and necessary to the poem, but the execution falls below the
Homeric level, specially in its constructive feature. Still we see ino
reason why it may not be Homer's; he too has his best and worst Books.

Of the present Book there are two parts: the Underworld and the
Upperworld.

I. The Suitors have been sent down to the realm where Ulysses in the
Eleventh Book found the souls of the Trojan Heroes, Agamemnon,
Achilles, Ajax. These three again are introduced with some others. The
death of Achilles is described quite fully, when the souls of the
Suitors arrive, and one of them, Amphimedon, recapitulates the story of
the Odyssey. It tells of the craft and fidelity of Penelope, and of the
return of Ulysses and his destruction of the Suitors. The words of
Agamemnon recognize the pair, Ulysses and Penelope, as the supreme
Greek man and woman, as those who have mastered the greatest
difficulties of their epoch. The Trojan cycle is now complete, the
separation caused by the war is bridged over, both Family and State are
restored after the long disruption. In striking contrast was the case
of Agamemnon and Clytæmnestra, both of whom perished without
restoration. Thus by means of the ghosts of the Suitors, the famous
careers of Ulysses and Penelope are taken up into the realm of the
Supersensible, of ideal forms, whose fame is to last forever.

This part of the Book (the so-called second Nekyia) in which Hades
appears the second time, has been sharply questioned both by ancient
and modern critics on a number of grounds. These we shall not discuss,
only stating that they are by no means conclusive against the
genuineness of the whole passage. The general idea of it belongs here;
the dead Suitors represent the grand end of the Trojan movement, and
its reception into the Hades of famous deeds done and past, and very
significantly Agamemnon voices the praise of Ulysses and Penelope, the
great winners in the long struggle. Still the repetitions of previous
portions of the Odyssey are to our mind unnecessary and prolix, though
the literary skill manifested just herein has been highly lauded by
Saint Beuve and Lang.

II. Coming back to the Upperworld we find a series of incidents
following one another both slowly and hurriedly. These we shall throw
in groups for the sake of a rapid survey.

1. Ulysses with his three companions comes to the country seat of his
father Laertes. With him, too, he plays the same disguise as heretofore
with Penelope, Eumæus and others, though its necessity is not now so
plain. "I shall test my father, to see if he will know me;" how fond
Ulysses is of this! So we have more fictions, masquerading, and final
recognition by the scar and other proofs. Also an old servant here,
Dolius, is recognized.

2. Now the scene passes to the city. The friends of the Suitors have
called an assembly; a strong party rises in opposition to Ulysses,
though two men, Medon and Halitherses, speak on his side. The result
is, a band under Eupeithes, father of Antinous, marches forth to wreak
vengeance upon Ulysses.

3. Hereupon a divine interference. Zeus decrees that there must be no
blood-feud between the relatives of the slain and the House of Ulysses,
but a league of friendship. Revenge must no longer beget revenge.

4. Still a fight occurs in which Laertes and Dolius with his six sons,
take part. Old Laertes is now to have his warlike meed, be kills old
Eupeithes, so that the male members of the House of Ulysses for three
generations--son, grandson, grandfather--have each killed his man.

5. Pallas hereupon stops the conflict, and the last lines of the poem
announce the peace which she makes under the form and voice of Mentor.
Surely the work of wisdom (Pallas) as well as of supreme law (Zeus)--to
stop the self-repeating blood-feud. Thus is the deep rent in the State
healed by aid of Zeus and Pallas. It should be observed that Pallas at
the end of the _Eumenides_ of the poet Æschylus released Orestes, who
is pursued by the Furies, from the guilt of his mother's blood, by
casting the decisive ballot in the court of Areiopagus. Here we find
another link between Homer and Æschylus.

Very hurried are these later incidents of the Book, but they are
necessary to complete the poem. The blood-feud is harmonized, the Gods
again make themselves valid in the land by introducing peace and
harmony, which had been undermined by the Suitors. Property, Family,
State, are restored, and the Divine Order of the World in the person of
the Gods is recognized. Only with this conclusion is the negative
conduct of the Suitors completely undone, and a positive institutional
life becomes possible. It is true that in the hurry of coming to an
end, the poet says nothing of the journey enjoined by Tiresias in
Hades, the journey to a distant people who would take an oar for a
winnowing fan. Still we may suppose that it was performed, and that
angry Neptune, the great enemy of Ulysses among the Gods, was also
reconciled. But, chiefly, Ulysses has above on this earth realized the
idea of a world-justice, which we found running through all Hades, in
the statements of Tiresias, in the fates of the great Greek heroes, in
the punitory portion presided over by Minos. From this point of view
the Odyssey may be truly regarded an image of the working of the Spirit
of History, and the poem holds good for all time.



_SUMMARY._


In concluding these lengthy studies of the Iliad and the Odyssey, we
shall try to grasp each of the poems as a whole, and then the two
together is one great totality sprung of one people and of one
consciousness. The central fact out of which both poems arise, to which
and from which both poems move, is the Trojan War. This War, whether
mythical or historical, is certainly the most famous, and probably the
most significant that ever took place on the earth.

As to the Odyssey, the first thing to be seized is the complete career
of its Hero Ulysses. This career has naturally two parts: the going to
Troy from Ithaca, and the coming back from Troy to Ithaca. Every Greek
hero had a similar career, wholly or in part; many, of coarse, never
returned. The two parts together constitute a total movement which
begins at a certain point and returns to the same; hence it may be
called a cycle, and its two parts may be designated in a general way as
the Separation and the Return.

The Odyssey has as its theme the second half of the cycle, though, of
course, it presupposes the first half, namely the going to Troy and the
stay there. The poem, accordingly, does not give the entire life of
Ulysses; what may be called the Trojan half must be looked for
elsewhere, mainly in the Iliad. Of course there are in the Odyssey many
allusions to incidents which belong to the first half of this career.

The Ulysses of the Iliad is one of the great leaders and one of the
great heroes, but he is neither the chief leader nor the chief hero.
Already he appears in Book First as a member of the Council, and an
epithet is applied to him which suggests his wisdom. Thus at the start
of the Iliad he is designated as the man of thought, of intelligence,
of many resources. But in the Second Book he shines with full glory, he
is indeed the pivot of the whole Book. On account of a speech made by
Agamemnon, their leader, the Greeks start at once for home, they are
ready to give up the great enterprise of the restoration of Helen, they
act as if they would abandon their cause. It is Ulysses who calls them
back to themselves and restores order; he shows himself to be the only
man in the whole army who knows what to do in a critical emergency. He
suppresses Thersites, he exhorts the chieftains, he uses force on the
common people. He finally makes a speech to the entire body of Greeks
in the Assembly, which recalls the great national purpose of the War,
and is the true word for the time. Nestor follows him in a similar
vein, and the Greek host again takes its place in line of battle and
prepares for the onset upon Troy. Here we have a typical action of
Ulysses, showing his essential character, and revealing the germ out of
which the Odyssey may well have sprouted.

Other matters may also be noticed. Pallas, the Goddess of Wisdom,
appears to him in the midst of the tumult, and gives him her
suggestion. She will remain with him ever afterwards, manifesting
herself to him in like emergencies till the end of the Odyssey.
Telemachus is mentioned in this Book of the Iliad. The distinction
between Ulysses and the aged Nestor is drawn: the latter has
appreciative wisdom, that of experience, while Ulysses has creative
wisdom, that of immediate divine insight, coming directly from Pallas.
This distinction also will show itself in the Odyssey. Ulysses is the
real hero of the Second Book of the Iliad; he appears in other Books
with the same general character, but never so prominently again.

In the Post-Iliad, or that portion of the Trojan war which lies between
the Iliad and Odyssey, Ulysses will become the chief hero. After the
death of Achilles, there will be a contest for the latter's arms
between him and Ajax; Ulysses wins. That is, Brain not Brawn is to
control henceforth. Under the lead of Intelligence, which is that of
Ulysses, Troy falls.

The Odyssey, then, deals with the return of Ulysses from the Trojan
War, and lasts ten years, as the account runs. But the poet is not
writing a history, not even a biography, in the ordinary sense; he does
not follow step by step the hero's wanderings, or state the events in
chronological order; we shall see how the poem turns back upon itself
and begins only some forty days before its close. Still the Odyssey
will give not merely the entire return from Troy, but will suggest the
whole cycle of its hero's development.

The first half of the cycle, the going to Troy and the stay there,
lasted ten years, though some accounts have made it longer. The Iliad,
though its action is compressed to a few days, treats generally of the
first half of the cycle and hence it is the grand presupposition of the
Odyssey, which takes it for granted everywhere. The Iliad, however, is
a unity and has its own center of action, which is the wrath of
Achilles and his reconciliation also; it is in itself a complete cycle
of individual experience in the Trojan War.

We now begin to get an outline of the Unity of Homer. In the first
place the Iliad is a unity from the stand-point of its hero Achilles,
who has a completely rounded period of his life portrayed therein,
which portrayal, however, gives also a vivid picture of the Trojan War
up to date. As an individual experience it is a whole, and this is what
makes it a poem and gives to it special unity. But it is only a
fragment of the Trojan cycle--a half or less than a half; it leaves
important problems unsolved: Troy is not taken, Achilles is still
alive, the new order under the new hero Ulysses has not yet set in, and
chiefly there is no return to Greece, which is even more difficult than
the taking of Troy. Hence the field of the second poem, the Odyssey,
which is also an individual experience--has to be so in order to be a
poem--embraces the rest of the Trojan cycle after the Iliad.

Thus we may well hold to these unities in Homer: the unity of the
Iliad, the unity of the Odyssey, and the unity of the Iliad and the
Odyssey. Both together make one grand cycle of human history and of
human consciousness; they portray a complete world in its deed and in
its thought, as well as in manners and institutions.

Here is, then, the highest point of view from which to look at these
poems: they are really one in two parts, written by one epoch, by one
consciousness, and probably by one man. The Iliad as a poem is a
complete cycle of individual experience, but as an epoch is only half a
cycle. In like manner the Odyssey as a poem is a complete cycle of
individual experience, but as an epoch is the second half of the cycle
of which the Iliad is essentially the first. Both together constitute
the one great movement usually called the Trojan War.

Much time has been spent in discussing the question whether the Trojan
War was historical or mythical. We make bold to affirm that it was
both--both historical and mythical. It began long before the dawn of
history and it exists to this day. For the Trojan War is the conflict
between Orient and Occident, starting in the twilight of time, and not
yet concluded by any means. The conflict between Orient and Occident
runs through all Greek Mythology, is indeed just the deepest,
tone-giving element thereof. It also runs through all Greek history
from the Persian War to the conquests of Alexander, and lurks still in
the present struggle between Greek and Turk. The true Mythus gives in
an image or event the events of all time; it is an ideal symbol which
is realized in history.

We have above said that the Trojan War was a complete cycle, of which
the two poems portray the two halves. Still further can the matter be
carried. The Trojan cycle, complete in itself as a phase of Greek
consciousness, is but a fragment, a half of a still larger cycle of
human development. The Iliad and the Odyssey give the Greek half of the
grand world-movement of the Trojan epoch; there is also an Oriental
half which these poems presuppose and from which they separate. Thus
the grand Homeric cycle, while a unit in itself, is really a separation
from the East, a separation which rendered the Occident possible; the
woes before Troy were the birth-pangs of the new-born child, Europe,
now also grown a little old.

The reader naturally asks, will there be any return to the Orient after
the grand Greek separation, first heralded on the plains of Ilium? It
may be answered that Europe has often returned to the East in the
course of history--Alexander, Rome, the Crusades; at present, western
Europe seems bent on getting to the far East. But the true return of
the Occident to the Orient will be round the globe, by way of America,
and that will be complete. The recent war between Japan and China is
really a stage of the great new epoch in the world-historical return to
the Orient.

Such is the more external, the historical phase of the Iliad and
Odyssey. But they have also a deep internal ethical phase, they show
two sides of one grand process of the human soul which has been called
self-alienation, the sacrifice of the immediate self in order to gain
true self-hood. The Greeks had to immolate their dearest ties, those of
home and country, in order to preserve home and country, which had been
assailed to the very heart by the rape of Helen. They had to educate
themselves to a life of violence, killing men, women, even children,
destroying home and country. For Troy also has Family and State, though
it be a complete contradiction of Family and State by supporting Paris.
But when the Greeks had taken Troy, they were trained destroyers of
home and country, they were destruction organized and victorious, yet
their whole purpose was to save home and country. Thus their
self-alienation has deepened into absolute self-contradiction, the
complete scission of the soul.

Now this is the spiritual condition of which they are to get rid, out
of which they are to return to home and country. As before said it may
be deemed a harder problem than the taking of Troy, which was simply a
negative act, the destroying the destroyers of home and country. But
the great positive act of the Trojan heroes is the restoration, not
merely the outer but the inner restoration, to home and country.

With these considerations before the mind of the reader, he is now
ready to grasp the full sweep of the Odyssey and understand its
conflict. It springs from the separation caused by a war, here the
Trojan War. The man is removed from his institutional life and thrown
into a world of violence and destruction. Let us summarize the leading
points of the process.

I. The absence of Ulysses leaves his family without a head, his country
without a ruler, and his property without an owner. All these relations
begin to loosen and go to pieces; destructive forces assail the
decaying organism; the Suitors appear, who consume his property, woo
his queen, and seek to usurp his kingly authority. Such are the
dissolving energies at work in Ithaca. Also his son Telemachus is left
without paternal training.

II. Next let us glance at the individual. Ulysses, released from
domestic life and civil order, gives himself up to destroying domestic
life and civil order, though they be those of the enemy. For ten years
he pays no respect to Property, Family and State in Troy; he is trained
into their annihilation, and finally does annihilate them. Yet his
object is to restore Helen, to vindicate Family and State, and even
Property.

III. Troy is destroyed because it was itself destructive; it assailed
the Greek domestic and civil institutions in the rape of Helen. So the
destroying city itself is destroyed, but this leaves Ulysses a
destroyer in deed and in spirit; home and country he is not only
separated from but is destructive of--he is a negative man.

The previous three paragraphs contain the leading presuppositions of
the Odyssey, and show the first half of the life of Ulysses. They
indicate three phases of the working of the negative--in Ithaca, in
Troy, and in Ulysses. But now that Troy is destroyed, how will Ulysses
return to institutional life, which he has destroyed in Troy, in
himself, and, through his absence, in Ithaca?

IV. The Return must in the first place be within himself, he must get
rid of the destructive spirit begotten of war. For this purpose he has
the grand training told in his adventures; he must put down the
monsters of Fableland, Polyphemus, Circe, Charybdis; he must endure the
long servitude under Calypso; he must see Phæacia. When he is
internally ready, he can go forth and destroy the Suitors, destroy them
without becoming destructive himself, which was his outcome at Troy.
For the destruction of Troy left him quite as negative as the Suitors,
of which condition he is to rid himself ere he can rid Ithaca of the
Suitors. This destruction thus becomes a great positive act, now he
restores Family and State, and brings peace and harmony.

One result of separating from the Family is that the son Telemachus has
not the training given by the father. But the son shows his blood; he
goes forth and gets his own training, the best of the time. This is
told in the Telemachiad. Thus he can co-operate with his father.

_The movement overarching the Odyssey._ The reader will note that in
the preceding account we have tried to unfold the movement of the
Odyssey as the return from the Trojan War. But as already stated, it is
itself but a part of a larger movement, a segment of a great cycle,
which cycle again suggests a still greater cycle, which last is the
movement of the World's History. Recall, then, that the Odyssey by
itself is a complete cycle as far as the experience of its hero is
concerned; but as belonging to an epoch, it is but half of the total
cycle of the Trojan War. Then again this Trojan War is but a fragment
of a movement which is the total World's History. Now can this be set
forth in a summary which will suggest the movement not of the Odyssey
alone, but also the movement underlying and overlying the poem? Let us
make the trial, for a world-poem must take its place in the World's
History, which fact gives the final judgment of its worth.

I. In the prehistoric time before Homer, there was an Orient, but no
Occident; the spiritual day of the latter had not yet dawned. Very
early began the movement toward separation, which had one of its
greatest epochs in the Trojan War.

1. Greece in those old ages was full of the throes of birth, but was
not yet born. It was still essentially Oriental, it had no independent
development of its own, though it was moving toward independence. The
earliest objects dug out of the long buried cities of Greece show an
Oriental connection; the famous sculptured lions over the gate of
Mycenæ last to this day as a reminder of the early Hellenic connection
of European Greece with the Orient, not to speak of Cyprus, Crete, and
the lesser islands of the Ægean.

2. Then came the great separation of Greece from the Orient, which is
the fundamental fact of the Trojan War, and of which the Homeric poems
are the mighty announcement to the future. Troy, an Orientalizing
Hellenic city in Asia, seizes and keeps Greek Helen, who is of Europe;
it tears her away from home and country, and through its deed destroys
Family and State. Greek Europe restores her, must restore her, if its
people be true to their institutional principles; hence their great
word is restoration, first of their ideal Helen, and secondly of
themselves.

So all the Greeks, in order to make the separation from the Orient and
restore Helen, have to march forth to war and thus be separated
themselves from home and country, till they bring back Helen to home
and country. The deed done to Helen strikes every Greek man till he
undoes it. The stages of this movement may be set down separately.

    (_a_) The leaving home for Troy--Achilles, Agamemnon, Ulysses; all
    the heroes had their special story of departure. Ulysses had to
    quit a young wife, Penelope, and an infant son, Telemachus. For if
    Helen can be abducted, no Greek family is safe.

    (_b_) Stay at Troy for 10 years. This is also a long training to
    destruction. Ulysses is an important man, but not the hero. Here
    lies the sphere of the Iliad.

    (_c_) Destruction of the city and the restoration of Helen to her
    husband, both of which are not told in the Iliad but are given
    subordinately in the Odyssey. Thus is the separation from the
    Orient completed on its negative side, that is, as far as
    destruction can complete it.

3. The return to Greece of the survivors. The question is, How can they
truly get back after so long a period of violence? The Odyssey has this
as its theme, and will give an account of all the returns. Here, too,
we observe various stages.

    (_a_) Leaving Troy for home. This means a complete facing about and
    a going the other way, not only in geography, but also in conduct.
    The Greeks must now quit destruction and become constructive.

    (_b_) It is no wonder that the journey home was very difficult.
    Quarrels arose at the start (see Nestor's account Book III., and
    that of Menelaus Book IV.). Many perished on the way; some were
    lost in a storm at sea, Agamemnon was slain on the threshold of his
    own palace.

    (_c_) Those who reached home, the successful returners, were of
    three main kinds, represented by Nestor, by Menelaus, and by
    Ulysses. These were restored to home and family, and brought peace
    and harmony. Such is the positive outcome of the Trojan War, and
    the completion of its cycle.

II. But this rounding-off of the Trojan cycle is, on the other hand, a
final separation from the Orient; the scission is now unfolded,
explicit, quite conscious. When Ulysses comes back to Ithaca, and
re-establishes Family and State, Greek life is independent, distinct,
self-determined. The Hellenic world rises and fulfills its destiny in
its own way; it creates the Fine Arts, Literature, Science; it is the
beginning of the Occident.

Still the thought must come up that the Orient is also a part of the
grand movement of the World's History, whose cycle embraces both
Occident and Orient. The Odyssey has many glimpses of this higher view.
The first 12 books move westward and have their outlook in that
direction, the last 12 books have their outlook eastward toward Egypt,
Phoenicia, and the Oriental borderland. The earlier fairy tales of
Ulysses have their scene in the West, while the later romances or
novelettes interwoven in the last 12 Books have their scene in the
East, with one exception possibly.

The main fact, however, of the Trojan cycle is the great separation,
deepest in history, between Orient and Occident, through the
instrumentality of Greece. The civilization of Europe and the West is
the offspring of that separation, which is still going on, is a living
fact, and is the source of the vexed Eastern question of European
politics.

III. We are living to-day in that separation; our art, science,
education, poetic forms, our secular life largely come from ancient
Greece. Oriental art, customs, domestic life, government, we do not as
a rule fraternize with; the Greek diremption is in us still; only in
one way, in our religious life, do we keep a connection with an
Oriental people. But is this separation never to be overcome? Is there
to be no return to the East and completion of the world's cycle?

_The Cycle._ We have often used this word, and some may think that we
have abused it; still our object is to restore the Greek conception of
these poems, as they were looked at and spoken of by Hellas herself.
The idea of the cycle was fundamental in grasping the epics which
related to the Trojan War, and this War itself was regarded as a cycle
of events and deeds, which the poets sang and put into their poetic
cycle. Let us briefly trace this thought of the cycle as developed in
old Greece.

I. In two different passages of his _Organon_, Aristotle calls the epic
a cycle and the poetry of Homer a cycle. Now both passages are employed
by him to illustrate a defective syllogism, hence are purely
incidental. But no instance could better show the prevalence of the
idea of a cycle as applied to Homer and epic poetry, for the
philosopher evidently draws his illustration from something familiar to
everybody. It had become a Greek common-place 350 B.C., and probably
long before, that an epic poem, such as the Iliad or Odyssey, is
cyclical, and that both together make a cycle.

II. But this idea develops, and expands beyond the Iliad and Odyssey,
which are found to leave out many events of the Trojan Cycle. Indeed
the myth-making spirit of Greece unfolds new incidents, deeds, and
characters. The result is that many poets, after Homer had completed
his cycle, began filling the old gaps, or really making new ones that
these might be filled by a fresh poem. Hence arose the famous Epic
Cycle, which has been preserved in a kind of summary supposed to have
been written by Proclus, not the philosopher, but a grammarian of the
time of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Meantime, let us carefully distinguish some of our Cycles. The Trojan
Cycle is one of events and deeds, in general is the going to and the
returning from Troy. The Homeric Cycle is Homer's account, in his two
poems, of this Trojan Cycle. Finally the Epic Cycle is the expansion of
Homer and includes a number of Epics, which fill out to ultimate
completeness the Trojan Cycle. The latter, according to Proclus, is
made up of six Epics beside the Iliad and Odyssey, to which they stand
in the following relations.

1. The _Cypria_, which deals with events antecedent to the Iliad, such
as the apple of Discord, the visit of Paris at Sparta and the taking of
Helen, the mustering at Aulis, the sacrifice of Iphigeneia, and many
incidents at Troy. Ulysses, to avoid going to the war, feigns madness
(his first disguise) and ploughs the sea-sand; but he is detected by
Palamedes who lays his infant Telemachus in the track of the plough.
The name _Cypria_ comes from Kypris, Venus, who caused the infatuation
which led to the war.

2. Four different epics fill in between the Iliad and the Odyssey. The
_Æthiopis_ takes up the thread after the death of Hector, introducing
Penthesilea, Queen of the Amazons, and Memnon, son of the Dawn, both of
whom are slain by Achilles who is himself slain and is buried with
funeral games. After the death of Achilles, the _Little Iliad_
continues the story, installing Ulysses as hero over Ajax in the
contest for the arms of Achilles. This is the grand transition from
Brawn to Brain in the conduct of the war. The Wooden Horse is made, and
the Palladium is carried out of Troy--both deeds being the product of
the brain, if not of the hand, of Ulysses. Next comes the _Sack of
Troy_, whose name indicates its character. Laocoon and Sinon appear in
it, but the main thing is the grand slaughter (like that of the
Suitors) and the dragging of women and children into captivity; the
city is burned. Then follows the epic called the _Nostoi_ or the
Returns, really an elaboration of the Odyssey, specially of the Third
Book, which tells of these antecedent Returns. Then comes the great
Return, which is the Odyssey.

3. After the Odyssey follows the _Telegonia_ written by Eugammon of
Cyrene in two Books. It continues the life of Ulysses; he now goes to
that people who take an oar for winnowing fan, and there he makes the
offering to Neptune, enjoined by Tiresias in Hades. Other incidents are
narrated; the final winding-up is that Ulysses is unwittingly slain by
Telegonus, his and Circe's son, who appears in Ithaca and takes
Telemachus and Penelope to Circe, who makes them immortal. The grand
Epic Cycle concludes with the strangest set of marriages on record:
Telegonus marries Penelope, his step-mother, and Telemachus marries
Circe who is also a kind of step-mother.

III. After such a literary bankruptcy, it is no wonder that we find the
later Greek and Roman writers using the words _cyclic_ and _cyclic
poet_ as terms of disparagement. The great Mythus of Troy had run its
course and exhausted itself; the age of imitation, formalism, erudition
had come, while that of creation had passed away. Still it has
preserved for us the idea of the cycle, which is necessary for the
adequate comprehension of Homer, and which the Greeks themselves
conceived and employed.

_Structure of the Odyssey._ A brief summary of the structural elements
of the poem may now be set forth. It falls into two grand divisions,
both of which are planned by Pallas in Book I and XIII respectively. In
the main these divisions are the following:--

    I. The first takes up about one-half of the Odyssey--twelve Books,
    which have as their chief object instruction and discipline--the
    training for the deed. This training has two very distinct
    portions, as it pertains to a young man and a middle-aged
    man--Telemachiad and Ulyssiad.

       1. The Telemachiad, or the education of Telemachus, who has been
       left without the influence of his father, when the latter went
       to Troy. But he has his father's spirit, hence he must know;
       from Ithaca he goes to Nestor and Menelaus for instruction. Four
       Books.

       2. The Ulyssiad, or the discipline of Ulysses, who must have
       been a man over 40 years old. He is to be trained out of the
       negative spirit which he imbibed from the Trojan war. Herein
       lies his analogy to Faust, who is also a middle-aged man, and
       negative, but from study and thought.

Both the Telemachiad and the Ulyssiad are essentially one great
movement in two phases, showing the bud and the flower, the young and
the mature man. Father and son reveal an overcoming of limitation;
Telemachus overcomes his limit of ignorance, Ulysses overcomes his
limit of negation--the one by the instruction of the wise, the other by
the experience of life. Both are trained to a belief in an ethical
order which rules the world; therein both are made internally ready for
the great act of delivering their country. The training of both reaches
forward to a supreme practical end--the destruction of the Suitors and
the purification of Ithaca. (For the further structure of these two
parts--the Telemachiad and the Ulyssiad--see preceding commentary under
these titles.)

II. The second grand division of the Odyssey is the last twelve Books.
The scene is laid in Ithaca, where the great deed, to which the poem
hitherto has looked forward, is to be done. The wanderings of the
father have ceased, the son returns from his schooling; every movement
is now directed toward action. Again Pallas (XIII. 393-415) plans two
subdivisions, without the Council of the Gods however.

1. The hut of the swineherd. Here the forces hostile to the Suitors
gather in secret and lay their plan. Ulysses, Telemachus, Eumæus, the
gallant army of three, get ready for the execution of the deed. Four
Books.

2. The palace of the King. Ulysses in disguise beholds the Suitors in
their negative acts; they are as bad as the Trojans, assailing
Property, Family, State, the Gods; they are really in their way
re-enacting the rape of Helen. Ulysses, as he destroyed Troy, must
destroy them, yet not become merely destructive himself. Eight Books,
in which we can discern the following movement: (1) Suitors as
destroyers--five Books; (2) Ulysses as destroyer--one Book; (3) Ulysses
as restorer--two Books. Thus the outcome is positive..

The career of Ulysses is now complete, and with it the Homeric Cycle
has rounded itself out to fullness. The Epic Cycle in the _Telegonia_
will expand this conclusion, but will deeply mar its idea.

Note that the structure of the two grand divisions of the Odyssey are
symmetrical, each a half of the poem; then each half subdivides into
two parts, and each of those parts is symmetrical, being composed of
four and eight Books each. To be sure, the joint is not so plain in the
second division as in the first, which has the Telemachiad and the
Ulyssiad. Pallas is the orderer of both divisions, and she orders them
in a symmetrical manner.

For both divisions the grand horizon is the Trojan War, yet both reach
beyond it, the one toward the West, the other toward the East. The one
weaves into its regular narrative the Fairy Tale, the other takes up
into its text what we have called the Romantic Novelette. The former
looks toward the West and the Future, the latter looks back at the East
and the Past. Hence the Fairy Tale is prophetic and has supernatural
beings, the Novelette is retrospective, giving the experiences of life
without supernatural agencies. In scenery also the contrast is great:
the one is largely a sea poem, the other is a land poem.

_Structural analogy between Iliad and Odyssey._ We have before said,
and we may repeat here at the end, that the final fruit of Homeric
study is to see and to fully realize that the Iliad and Odyssey are one
work, showing national consciousness, and unfolding one great epoch of
the World's History. Just here we may note the fundamental analogies of
structure between the two poems.

I. Both poems have the dual division, separating into two symmetrical
portions. The Iliad has two Wraths of Achilles, and also two
Reconciliations; thus each division is subdivided:

1. His first attitude or cycle of conduct toward the Greeks.

    (_a_) His wrath--both rightful and wrongful.

    (_b_) His reconciliation with Agamemnon and his own people.

2. His second attitude, or cycle of conduct toward the Trojans.

    (_a_) His wrath--both rightful and wrongful.

    (_b_) His reconciliation with Priam and the Trojans.

Such is the general organism of the Iliad which is seen to be perfectly
symmetrical within itself. (For a fuller account see author's
Commentary on the Iliad, pp. 36-8.) Note that the negative attitude of
Achilles is that of wrath; in his anger he will destroy his people and
his cause, and finally, in the dragging of Hector's corpse, he
disregards the Gods. Yet be overcomes both these negative attitudes in
himself and becomes reconciled.

II. The Odyssey has two phases of Negation, both of which the heroes
(father and son) must overcome.

1. The negative spirit caused by the Trojan War and its overcoming.

    (_a_) The ignorance of the son and its overcoming.

    (_b_) The destructive tendency of the father and its overcoming.

2. The negative spirit abroad in Ithaca (Suitors) and its overcoming.

    (_a_) The hut of the swineherd (preparation).

    (_b_) The palace of the King (execution).

That is, Ulysses and Telemachus have the double problem, which
organizes the Odyssey: they must conquer their own internal negation,
then proceed to conquer that of the Suitors. Both poems divide alike;
both have the same fundamental thought: the individual as hero is to
master his own negative spirit and that of the world, and then be
reconciled with himself and the world. The Iliad has essentially but
one thread of movement, that of Achilles; the Odyssey has two such
threads, if not three--father, son, and perchance wife, making the
total Family as the unit of movement.

Thus the Iliad and Odyssey are one poem fundamentally, showing unity in
thought and structure, and portraying one complete cycle of national
consciousness, as well as one great phase of the World's History.


                     *      *      *      *      *


BOOKS BY DENTON J. SNIDER

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