Grey Eyed Athena and the Wine Dark Sea

HomerTonight I’m homing in on Homer (Robert Fitzgerald’s incomparable translation of the Odyssey). Poetry’s omphalos and progenitor.  Where have all the heroes gone?

Sing to me, Muse, and through me tell the story

of that man skilled in all ways contending,

the wanderer, harried for years on end,

after he plundered the stronghold

on the proud height of Troy.


Now they made all secure in the fast black ship,

and setting out the winebowls a-brim.

and they made libation to the gods,

                                  the undying, the ever new,

most of all to the grey-eyed daughter of Zeus.

And the prow sheared through the night into the dawn.


That last line could not be more vivid or effective. Ahhh.




About Margaret Jean Langstaff

A lifelong critical reader with literary tastes, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, book critic, and professional book editor for many years. A consultant to publishers and authors, providing manuscript critiques and a full range of editorial services. A friend and supporter of all other readers and writers. A collector of signed modern first editions. Animal lover and tree hugger. Follow me on Twitter @LangstaffEditor
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10 Responses to Grey Eyed Athena and the Wine Dark Sea

  1. Mikels Skele says:

    Actually, if you look past the poetry at the brutish behavior of the Achaeans, they’d fit right in with ISIS today. Remember Odysseus flinging Hector’s infant child over the wall?


    • Oh, stop. Of course they were in a sense “brutes,” and today we know better. They didn’t try to impose their way of life by genocide, though. And this dust up was all about a hottie abducted woman, and the bruised male ego. Sex! Honor! Helen! “Was this the face that launched a thousand ships?” Such a transgression today would be unlikely to launch a war. Unless maybe somebody abducted, say, Hillary or the Queen of England haha. The Old Testament is full of babies being flung against rocks and ripping off foreskins. Look at Elizabethan England, drawing and quartering, heads on stakes along public roads. Inch by inch we become kinder, more civilized. ISIS is a throwback, aberration; that’s why it’s so horrifying to us. For heaven sakes, historical context is necessary in understanding art. Myself? I wouldn’t want to be a woman back then. I’d be burned as a witch. I’m sure for mouthing off 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • jef says:

        Great and trenchant rant! Though one could’ve done without the ripping off of foreskins business. Mustn’t blanch, I s’pose.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mikels Skele says:

        Still, let’s be honest. It’s the very fact of the atrocious OT that fuels much of what’s going on today, no?


        • People aren’t “naturally” nice and being nice didn’t really become cool until the “Love one another as I have loved you” thing caught on in part of the world. It still has a wobbly, tenuous foothold, this compassion business, but it is a step forward. Don’t let me get off into psychology, but there’s a nasty brutal physical part of the brain (this is an organic thing) called the amygdala. Buddhist monks have demonstrated that through meditation it can be pushed back and down and thus increase one’s sense of social connectedness (compassion). Neuroscience has researched this and through MRI’s etc. proven it. But we all have an amygdala and in a sense it’s the seat of cruelty, brutality, rapacity


  2. jef says:

    I fear our brutishness is native to the Condition. From sawing off heads to hedge-fund corruption, it’s just a question of degree.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. MuseWriter says:

    What an awesome post and follow up comment! A worthy witch to burn for sure 😉


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