Monday 20 December 2010

This book is currently rocking my world:

Odysseus/Ulysses is an interesting character, a man on the verge. He's not quite like the rest of the Achaean heroes, not driven by rage like Achilles, pride like Ajax or greed like Agamemnon.  His motivations and methods are more complex and subtle, and this subtlety has often brought him odium - accusations of cowardice, trickery and deceit. Placed in a 4th century legend, he belongs more to the emerging Greek world of the 5th century, he's a forerunner to a more recognisably modern type, but he's still archaic in many ways, still halfway between Trickster and Hero, roles that, at his best he combines to present a more integrated ideal. He is an exemplary character, but even the qualities he exemplifies are more subtle than simple courage, strength or honour. The different phases of his myth-history, the ways in which different eras have reacted to and redefined him say a lot about changing ideas of morality, reality and humanity. Perhaps all this will also serve as part of a big build-up to a re-read of both Homer and Joyce next year.

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