My book for Book Beginnings
is The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson. This is a group read in one of my GoodReads groups. I expect to finish it at the end of the month or the beginning of next month.
The opening of Book I:
Tell me about a complicated man.
Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost
when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy,
and where he went, and who he met, the pain
he suffered in the storms at sea, and how
he worked to save his life and bring his men
back home. He failed to keep them safe; poor fools,
they ate the Sun God‘s cattle, and the god
kept them from home.
|hosted by Freda’s Voice
And for the Friday 56, here is page 56 of my book (from the introduction):
The most prominent slave character in the poem is the swineherd Eumaeus, the good counterpart to the bad goatherd, Melanthius… No other character is addressed directly by the narrator, but Eumaeus is often addressed in the second person (“You, swineherd”), a stylistic detail that creates a particular intimacy between the reader or listener and this odd character. Eumaeus is also described repeatedly in the terms of military heroism, as the commander of his pigs — a trope that serves both to elevate this quasi-heroic character and to mock him. Eumaeus is a “noble slave” for two incompatible reasons. On the one hand, paradoxically, he is noble because he is so slavish: he refuses to disentangle his own interests and perspective from that of his master. But he is also genuinely noble, both in birth and in behavior; he performs the aristocratic customs of xenia (hospitality) even in his poor, dung-piled shack, and he tells the memorable, grim story of how he was born into an elite foreign household, before he was trafficked and sold as a slave. The “good” slave is one who responds to the trauma of enslavement by identifying with his or her owners, and imagining those in power as loving parents rather than overlords. The Odyssey seems to have it both ways in the depiction of slave characters. We are reminded that a good slave can be more loyal and more hospitable than a good, overprivileged young man, but we are also invited to imagine that slaves are only good insofar as they subdue their own identities to those of their owners.
I loved Emily Wilson‘s introduction. I am sure I will refer back to it later.