An English In Kentucky


















Friday March 29th 2019Tim Candler9


    Current scholarship suggests that the Trojan War was indeed an historical event that occurred around 3,400 years ago. Back then the primary medium for transmitting information was word of mouth, and I guess even back then the wiser heads well understood the potential for inaccuracy, wild unsubstantiated rumor, malicious gossip and down right lies. But story telling was another game, it gripped the mind, roused the emotions, presented dilemma and 'what happened next?' But in the absence of reading and writing, you had to be there, in the evening time, after work, to listen to the story teller embark upon his quest to keep your mind engaged. I guess too, like today, back then some story tellers were more agile of mind than other story tellers, this meant I'd argue that knowing the bones of a story while valuable was almost ancillary to knowing the rhythms in the telling of the story that absorbed the listener, kept his or her attention and eager for more. Then I'd argue within the intimacy of the relationship between the story teller and the listeners, it's entirely possible that a person could find themselves having a poor reaction to the story teller, not so much because of what he was saying but because of his general attitude, demeanor, his manner and that host of invisibles difficult to identify and yet defining in 'I don't know, he just gets on my nerves.' To which a reply might be, 'Not that fond of the cowboy hat either, but do you think Penelope was actually happy to see Odysseus again.' 'The story teller's short on crayons,' I might have answered. 'No way was Penelope happy to see him again.'



     Because she was left to take care of Odysseus' territory while he was gone, odds are Penelope was a Spartan. Unlike in other Greek States, Spartan women of a certain status were educated, they were permitted to own property, they could inherit property from their father, they all had lovely cheeks, and in other Greek states they were regarded as tough, opinionated and all this made them a little alarming for non-Spartan Greek boys to be around because in other Greek States women had hardly any rights and leaving them in charge of anything was a slippery slope for boy-kind. Spartan high society was also very big on obligation, stiff upper lip, laughing at the impossible and a sense of duty. So this is what we now know about Penelope's meeting with Odysseus when he came back from his travels :  "her face melted.... her lovely cheeks dissolved with tears. She wept for her own husband, who was right next to her." The 'face melted' part could mean anything from an OMG to an WTF. Psychiatrists will tell you that the causes of weeping range from sadness, through pain and fear to relief. It's the 'she wept for her husband, who was right next to her' part suggests to me an undutiful turmoil and it also suggests that her weeping was for a husband she remembered rather than the man who was by her side. You can picture Odysseus mumping in a critical manner about this and that. And if there's a point, it's this. Heidegger spend years on the very early Greek Poets and their understanding of what thinking might be. He put it this way, back in those days thought was understood to comprise the laying out of and touching the heart rather than some idea of A+B therefore C speaks the 'truth.'  From the 2017 translation of The Odyssey, the laying out of Penelope as being relieved, jumping up and down in a Cinderella glass slipper kind of way, delighted and joyous to see her husband again no longer touches even a tiny bit of my heart, which I'd agree is older, and since 2016 considerably more suspicious of story tellers


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