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The Odyssey Book 4 Quotes

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Quote 13

Now Helen, who was descended of Zeus, thought of the next thing. Into the wine of which they were drinking she cast a medicine of heartsease, free of gall, to make one forget all sorrows, and whoever had drunk it down once it had been mixed in the wine bowl, for the day that he drank it would have no tear roll down his face, not if his mother died and his father died, not if men murdered a brother or a beloved son in his presence. (4.219-225)

Okay, usually when you give people drugs of forgetfulness, you're starting down a really bad path. Here, though, it seems to be okay—because Helen's acting out of kindness. Still, we really want to warn you against this.


Quote 14

(Helen:) ‘He flagellated himself with degrading strokes, then threw on a worthless sheet about his shoulders. He looked like a servant. So he crept into the wide-wayed city of the men he was fighting, disguising himself in the likeness of somebody else, a beggar, one who was unlike himself beside the ships of the Achaians, but in his likeness crept into the Trojan’s city, and they all were taken in.’ (4.244-250)

Odysseus has built his reputation as a national hero from his ability to deceive.


Quote 15

(Menelaos:) ‘Three times you walked around the hollow ambush, feeling it, and you called out, naming them by name, to the best of the Danaans, and made your voice sound like the voice of the wife of each of the Argives. Now I myself and the son of Tydeus and great Odysseus were sitting there in the middle of them and we heard you crying aloud, and Diomedes and I started up, both minded to go outside, or else to answer your voice from inside, but Odysseus pulled us back and held us, for all our eagerness.’ (4.277-284)

It’s interesting that Menelaos is able to laugh at this story; remember, it was all for the sake of getting Helen back that the Achaians went to war with the Trojans in the first place. But that’s not all that’s weird—notice how Helen tricks the Achaians (whom she somehow knows are in the horse) by pretending to sound like their wives. Menelaos himself is fooled; does that mean Helen was pretending to be… herself? Weird. Anyway, with master tricksters, it apparently takes one to know one—notice that it’s Odysseus who prevents the other Achaians from letting the cat out of the bag, so to speak.

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