The Odyssey by Homer, books 20-24
"Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.
There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
In the end, Odysseus slaughters all the suitors and is reunited with his father. But what happens then? Read the poem "Ulysses" and consider Tennyson's interpretation of how unsatisfying Odysseus might have found old age. Choose an image from the poem to illustrate in color, and use your piece of art to show the longing and restlessness that Odysseus feels (in Tennyson's interpretation) after the adventure is over.
Write a poem using one of the whimsical chapter titles from Robert Fitzgerald's translation of The Odyssey. For example, "The Grace of the Witch" "Blows and a Queen's Beauty" "Recognitions and a Dream" "The Trunk of the Olive Tree" "Gardens and Firelight" "Warriors Farewell" etc. Your poem doesn't have to do anything with the story of the Odyssey -- just be inspired by one of the titles.
We discussed in class how the Iliad and the Odyssey reflect the pursuit of different values. The Iliad demonstrates the human desire for glory and fame, adventure, war, violence, and the world of men, and the Odyssey demonstrates the human desire for homecoming, the hearth, safety, family, and the world of women. There are two vocabulary words to know, connected with this idea: Kleos and Nostos. The Greek word Kleos means the glory achieved through war. Nostos means homecoming, and all the complications and difficulties associated with it -- the way you've changed, the way your home has changed, and the hard journey you take to get there (the root for the word nostalgia). Usually a choice needs to be made between achieving one or the other, but Odysseus manages to gain both. In a 300 word essay, define Kleos and Nostos in terms of the events of the Odyssey, and give examples from the Odyssey that show how Odysseus achieved both a glorious career as a soldier and a successful homecoming.
(AP KIDS CHOOSE THIS ONE) Having read Aristotle's "The Aim of Man" in your reader, write a 500 word essay answering the following question: Are you happy? Aristotle's chief rhetorical strategy in this essay is definition, and that's the strategy you'll be primarily practicing as well. You'll need to define what is meant by "you" (you personally or your demographic?) and "happy" (happy like joyful? happy like satisfied? happy like busy?) and whatever other terms pop up. You'll also be practicing using quotes, with techniques exemplified by the Stephen Jay Gould essay. Include at least one meaningful block quote and several shorter quotes you can embed in your paragraphs. This essay needs to be turned in on paper in the first week we meet in January -- one copy for me and one copy for a critique partner. We will be revising it.
No quiz. Happy holidays. Finish reading The Odyssey so you can say you did.