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The Odyssey Book 2 Quotes

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Quote 4

(Telemachos:) '[…] fear also the gods' anger, lest they, astonished by evil actions, turn against you. I supplicate you, by Zeus the Olympian and by Themis who breaks up the assemblies of men and calls them in session: let be, my friends, and leave me alone with my bitter sorrow to waste away; unless my noble father Odysseus at some time in anger did evil to the strong-greaved Achaians, for which angry with me in revenge you do me evil in setting these on me.' (2.66-74)

Themis is the Greek goddess of something like social order—the way things are done, good conduct, divine law. By invoking Themis, Telemachos is reminding the suitors that what they're doing isn't just super annoying and insulting to him—it's an offense against the gods.


Quote 5

(Telemachos:) 'Antinoös, I cannot thrust the mother who bore me, who raised me, out of the house against her will. My father, alive or dead, is elsewhere in the world. It will be hard to pay back Ikarios, if willingly I dismiss my mother. I will suffer some evil from her father, and the spirit will give me more yet, for my mother will call down her furies upon me as she goes out of the house, and I shall have the people's resentment.' (2.130-137)

The Furies are goddesses of vengeance and retribution, which is subtly—but importantly—different from justice. They're particularly invested in crimes against family, so Telemachos would seriously tick them off by kicking his mom out of the house.

Quote 6

(Antinoös:) And here is another stratagem of her heart's devising. She set up a great loom in her palace, and set to weaving a web of threads long and fine. Then she said to us: "Young men, my suitors now that the great Odysseus has perished, wait, though you are eager to marry me, until I finish this web, so that my weaving will not be useless and wasted. This is a shroud for the hero Laertes, for when the destructive doom of death which lays men low shall take him, lest any Achaian woman in this neighborhood hold it against me that a man of many conquests lies with no sheet to wind him." So she spoke, and the proud heart in us was persuaded. Thereafter in the daytime she would weave at her great loom, but in the night she would have torches set by, and undo it. So for three years she was secret in her design, convincing the Achaians […]. (2.93-106)

Odysseus totally deserves a wife like Penelope. Her position as a married (and possibly) widowed woman may not give her much straightforward agency—she can't exactly pick up a sword and start lopping off heads—she does have her own sort of power: the power of lies.

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