The biggest happenings in books V to VIII were Odysseus release from Calypso and his arrival to Phaeacia. In book V what struck me was Calypso accusing the gods of jealousy. The gods ‘hate seeing a goddess take fancy to a mortal man’. And don’t we know it…
Odysseus arrives in Phaeacia, meets Nausicaa, and is aided by both Nausicaa and Athene in entering the city and getting in contact with Nausicaa’s parents Alcinous and Arete. A feast and games are held for him by Alcinous (because what if Odysseus is secretly a god? He does look godly right? Better treat him well just in case).
Odysseus is challenged to join the games. When reading Odysseus’ little speech where he defends himself against Euryalus’ challenge, I realised how different the various translations can be interpreted. In Butler’s prose translation (the main translation I’m reading), Euryalus is rude but Odysses seems even worse and I would have almost expected repercussions:
“For shame, Sir,” answered Odysseus, fiercely, “you are an insolent fellow- so true is it that the gods do not grace all men alike in speech, person, and understanding. One man may be of weak presence, but heaven has adorned this with such a good conversation that he charms every one who sees him; his honeyed moderation carries his hearers with him so that he is leader in all assemblies of his fellows, and wherever he goes he is looked up to. Another may be as handsome as a god, but his good looks are not crowned with discretion. This is your case. No god could make a finer looking fellow than you are, but you are a fool. Your ill-judged remarks have made me exceedingly angry…” (Translation: Butler)
Compare that to Lattimore’s translation:
“Friend, that was not well-spoken; you seem like one who is reckless.
So it is that the gods do not bestow graces in all ways
on men, neither in stature nor yet in brains or eloquence;
for there is a certain kind of man, less noted for beauty,
but the god puts comeliness on his words, and they who look toward him
are filled with joy at the sight, and he speaks to them without faltering
in winning modesty, and shines among those who are gathered,
and people look on him as on a god when he walks in the city.
Another again in his appearance is like the immortals,
but upon his words there is not grace distilled, as in your case
the appearance is conspicuous, and not a god even
would make it otherwise, and yet the mind there is worthless.
Now you have stirred up anger deep in the breast within me
by this disorderly speaking …” (Translation: Lattimore)
Quite a difference in tone if you ask me!
Moving on… Admittedly I had quite some fun looking at art depicting the meeting between Nausicaa and Odysseus. A bit too much fun perhaps. There is some very beautiful art out there, my favourite being:
It’s gorgeous! Louis Gauffier’s painting is nice too and perhaps more accurate with the shocked maids…
So far so good, and then there’s beauties like this out there (by my fellow countrymen of centuries ago, no less):
“Ohmigawd a naked gentleman!” The shocked maid cracks me up every time… And it gets better:
“Ohmigawd a naked gentleman at our picknick!”
I couldn’t help myself. Too soon? 😉