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Quotes

Quote #13

(Agamemnon, in Odysseus’s tale:) ‘[…] most pitiful was the voice I heard of Priam’s daughter Kassandra, killed by treacherous Klytaimestra over me; but I lifted my hands and with them beat on the ground as I died upon the sword, but the sluttish woman turned away from me and was so hard that her hands would not press shut my eyes and mouth though I was going to Hades’. So there is nothing more deadly or more vile than a woman who stores her mind with acts that are of such sort, as this one did when she thought of this act of dishonor, and plotted the murder of her lawful husband. See, I had been thinking that I would be welcome to my children and thralls of my household when I came home, but she with thoughts surpassingly grisly splashed the shame on herself and the rest of her sex, on women still to come, even on the one whose acts are virtuous.’ (11.421-434)

Where Penelope is a steadfast symbol of loyalty, Klytaimestra is quite the opposite. She betrays her lord by taking a lover in his absence and shows her treachery by killing her husband when he returns. She so hates him that she refuses to honor the rights of the dead – closing his eyes or shutting his lips so that he may be granted passage to the Underworld. So embittered is Agamemnon by her betrayal that he condemns all women on the grounds that they have the same sort of treachery in them.

Quote #14

(The Sirens, in Odysseus’s tale:) ‘“Come this way, honored Odysseus, great glory of the Achaians, and stay your ship, so that you can listen here to our singing; for no one else has ever sailed past this place in his black ship until he has listened to the honey-sweet voice that issues from our lips; then goes on, well-pleased, knowing more than ever he did; for we know everything that the Argives and Trojans did and suffered in wide Troy through the gods’ despite. Over all the generous earth we know everything that happens.” So they sang, in sweet utterance, and the heart within me desired to listen, and I signaled my companions to set me free, nodding with my brows, but they leaned on and rowed hard, and Perimedes and Eurylochos, rising up, straightway fastened me with even more lashings and squeezed me together.’ (12.184-196)

The Sirens represent temptation in its basest form – longing for beauty and lust for women. Temptations like these threaten the loyalty of Odysseus and the other Ithakans.

Quote #15

(Odysseus:) 'Right in her doorway she [Skylla] ate them up. They were screaming and reaching out their hands to me in this horrid encounter. That was the most pitiful scene that these eyes have looked on in my sufferings as I explored the routes over the water.' (12.256-259)

Considering that Odysseus has to watch his friends die basically one by one over the course of his voyage home, we're surprised that he holds up so well—particularly since he takes his responsibility to them so seriously.

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