By Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom
The second one of the 2 nice epic poems attributed to Homer, this poem happens after its hero, Odysseus, sacked the sacred fort of Troy and describes his perilous, 10-year voyage domestic.
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Extra resources for Homer's The Odyssey (Bloom's Guides)
Odysseus had begun his narration by claiming he was “a care to all” (pasi… melo). Odysseus tells the crew what he has heard from Circe— with some cunning omissions. He does not forewarn that six men will be devoured raw by a savage beast. Presumably the great tactician thought it might interfere with their morale. 60 Odysseus and his crew set off. As they approach the island of the Sirens, Odysseus seals off the ears of all his crew with wax, and commands them to bind him tight to the mast. He alone hears their song.
It did not befit a hero to answer to the base urgings of his offals; no hero is more sensitive to the mandates of belly than Odysseus. Pope called the Odyssey the “eatingest of epics,” and, indeed, almost every narrative situation involves a meal. When Alcinous suggests that Odysseus may be a god, Odysseus is quick to assure him that he is human. ” And, as if to verify his humanity, to give the watchword of his mortality, Odysseus manifests cravings of belly (gaster): “You will indulge me if I finish dinner—?...
Circe alerts Odysseus to the obstacles that threaten the next leg of his voyage: First he will encounter the Sirens, whose honey-sweet singing seduces men to their own withering. … There are bones Of dead men rotting in a pile beside them And flayed skins shrivel around the spot. (54–56) The grassy isle of the Sirens is the inversion of the mythical meadow that is a common topos for erotic happenings in Greek poetry. Instead of ever-renewing growth, freshness, and youth, they are surrounded by putrefaction and death.