I recently chanced upon Homer’s Odyssey, obviously in translation, at the library. I had read it in my youth or adolescence. Then I thought of one of the dumbest statements of the huckster Tony Robbins. In one of his clips, he asks his audience, “Who of you has ever watched a movie twice?” Quite a few hands go up. This makes him scoff and tell them to get a life, to the laughter of parts of the audience. The reason why I consider this an utterly stupid statement is that great works of art speak to you differently, depending on what stage in your life you are in or possibly simply depending on your current mood. I am not even thinking of “art house” movies you have to watch several times in an attempt to extract any kind of meaning from them. It can be worth it to watch even a relatively shallow and straightforward movie twice. Thus, I picked up this book, wondering how it would appeal to me this time, now that I am a much older and, hopefully, more mature man.
In many of the great classic works of literature there are passages that make you pause. Some are generally thought-provoking, either due to their depth or because they relate to experiences you have had yourself. I want to highlight a few parts in Homer’s Odyssey, which stood out to me in my second read-through, but which I thought nothing off the first time around.
The Odyssey is the story of Odysseus, making his way home to his wife, after the Trojan war. On this journey, he is facing a lot of distractions. This also includes women. Among others, he meets the witch Circe. Oh, wait, according to current-year leftist language-mangling, she is an “enchantress“, not a witch. Circe is able to shapeshift and turn herself into an extremely beautiful woman. This is surely not at all a jab at women who use make-up or dye their hair, which they already did even 2.500 years ago. Odysseus wants to return to his home, but Circe is able to charm him so much that he forgets (!) about his goal. He thinks about traveling to Ithaca every once in a while but then the thought slips his mind again. After all, Circe offers him all he wants or could ask for in a woman.
Odysseus and his men end up hanging out at Circe’s home for an entire year. Yet, his men are getting more and more impatient, presumably because they do not get to bone her. Eventually, they confront him and ask him what the f*** he is doing and why he is not continuing his journey. This jolts some sense back into Odysseus. The book states that it was as if he had awoken from a dream, and deep sadness overcame him for letting his men down as well as for ignoring to pursue his goal of returning home. His sanity restored, he gathers his men and tells them to prepare to leave at once.
Is the above not the most apt warning to men to not let women lead them astray? In my case, I would have been glad if I had only spent one year as if in a dream. Incidentally, I was also able to shake off this lifestyle at once, after I had made the decision to do so. This does not mean that I am as heroic as Odysseus, of course. Heroes in Greek epics and mere mortal men of today get distracted by women alike. They make you forget about your goals in life and if you do not manage to get out of this state of, quite frankly, confusion, you can easily end up completely frittering away your life while you think you are having a great time. The encounter with Circe is a great warning to young men. It just is not commonly interpreted as such.
Later on, Odysseus makes his way down to Hades, the realm of the dead. If you have played God of War III, you have seen a modern interpretation of it as well as encountered the eponymous god. Anyway, in a conversation with the dead Agamemnon, they discuss female betrayal and male madness as it pertains to women as Helena, the most beautiful woman in Greek mythology, caused the Trojan war. A modern equivalent would be if some 11/10 e-thot led to China, Russia, and the USA throwing nukes at each other until almost everybody was dead. From this perspective, it sounds bizarre, but if you look at it abstractly, it really is not. There are countless stories of men who made utterly stupid and oftentimes irreversible decisions for the sake of women. I wonder if Homer tried to tell us something.
As Agamemnon and Odysseus discuss bitches, the latter former utters, “no man shall trust any woman”, but not without adding that Odysseus’s sweetheart Penelope is the NAWALT of Greek mythology and manages to keep all suitors at bay for the entire twenty years during which she had been waiting for the return of her man. In contrast, Agamemnon who led the Greeks to victory in the Roman war, was killed by his wife while taking a bath. Presumably, Penelope had some superior genetics and did not age as otherwise this story arc does not make a lot of sense. In her case, the older she gets, the more suitors she seems to acquire, which is an odd narrative crutch. It would have made more sense to shorten the duration of Homer’s travels. His 20-year-journey may have some numerological significance but perhaps it was the result of a cabal of proto-feminists making some adjustments to the text with the goal of female empowerment. Given the shocking decline in the Classics in recent decades, this would not surprise me at all. For instance, Oxford University nowadays admits candidates to Classics, once arguably the most selective and elitist degree you could take, who have not knowledge of Latin or Greek at all, for the sake of diversity.
The most obvious metaphor of the temptation of women are the sirens. Their singing is so beautiful that sea captains who hear it end up crashing their ships into rocks, which leads to their certain demise. Odysseus makes it through this challenge by clogging the ears of his men with wax and making them tie him to the ship’s mast. The allure of the sirens is so strong that Odysseus only makes it past them because his men restrained him. Today’s equivalent are the bipolar “manic pixie dream girls” you fall in love with but who may attempt to kill you, slash your car’s tires, or falsely accuse you of rape. I know, I know, this is totally outlandish and none of this ever happens in reality. Oh no, no woman has every completely ruined a man’s life or career. Your bros could help you avoid such missteps. In reality, though, they would likely try to talk you out of banging some crazy chick, but only because they wanted to bang her themselves. Yet, this would still be better for you in the end.
As you can see, there is a lot of wisdom to be found in the foundational texts of Western civilization. In fact, if all you did was reading ancient Greek and Roman books, you would become an incredibly educated man. If you learn from those texts, you would also avoid a lot of stupid mistakes in your life. Pour one for Homer, not the homies, and be proud of the civilization our ancestors have built! If it was not so great, our enemies would not be so obsessed with wanting to destroy it.