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The Odyssey Book 11 Quotes

How we cite the quotes:


Quote 1

(Elpenor, in Odysseus’s tale:) ‘“Son of Laertes and seed of Zeus, resourceful Odysseus, the evil will of the spirit and the wild wine bewildered me. I lay down on the roof of Circe’s palace, and never thought, when I went down, to go by way of the long ladder, but blundered straight off the edge of the roof, so that my neck bone was broken out of its sockets, and my soul went down to Hades’. […] I know that after you leave this place and the house of Hades you will put back with your well-made ship to the island, Aiaia; there at that time, my lord, I ask that you remember me, and do not go and leave me behind unwept, unburied, when he leave, for fear I might become the gods’ curse upon you; but burn me there with all my armor that belongs to me, and heap up a grave mound beside the beach of that gray sea, for an unhappy man, so that those to come will know of me. Do this for me, and on top of the grave mound plant the oar with which I rowed when I was alive and among my companions.”’ (11.60-65, 69-78)

We wish every drunken mistake we make could be chalked up to luck or fate. Oh, and if you wanted, you could read Elpenor’s fate as a test for Odysseus, a test of his own piety and, in turn, whether or not he is worthy of his own destiny.

Teiresias > Odysseus

Quote 2

(Teiresias, in Odysseus's tale:) '"Glorious Odysseus, what you are after is sweet homecoming, but the god will make it hard for you. I think you will not escape Shaker of the Earth, who holds a grudge against you in his heart, and because you blinded his dear son, hates you. But even so and still you might come back, after much suffering, if you can contain your own desire, and contain your companions'[…]."' (11.100-105)

Teiresias is supposed to be a prophet, but check out how he uses words like "think" and "might." It doesn't sound like he's really standing behind his reading of the future.


Quote 3

(Odysseus, in his tale:) ‘“Aias, son of stately Telamon, could you then never even in death forget your anger against me, because of that cursed armor? The gods made it to pain the Achaians, so great a bulwark were you, who were lost to them. We Achaians grieved for your death as incessantly as for Achilleus the son of Peleus at his death, and there is no other to blame, but Zeus; he, in his terrible hate for the army of the Danaan spearmen, visited this destruction upon you.”’ (11.553-560)

Odysseus tries to reclaim Aias’s friendship by reminding him that his death was purely ill-starred and no fault of his. He blames Zeus, and not Aias, for taking his life and reminds his friend that one cannot always control his own fate.

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