Last week I was behind. This week I’m ahead. Because once I got reading, it was hard to stop! But this week’s assignment was to read Books 7-12, so I’ll be a good read-alonger and limit myself to discussing only Books 7-12.
When last we left Big O, he had just washed ashore at Scheria and was headed off to meet the king and queen, Alcinous and Arete. They welcome him with open arms, play some games, and then everyone gets cosy to hear Big O talk about his adventures. And oh, the adventures!
There’s the Land of the Lotus Eaters (don’t eat the lotus, or you’ll never want to go home), and Scylla and Charybdis (nasty, nasty creatures, both of them…one likes to snatch up sailors with any of her multiple arms and eat them with one or more of her multiple heads…the other commands a vicious whirlpool), the Sirens (whose voices are so beautiful you won’t want to leave), and a quick visit to the Underworld. Oh, and I almost forgot…there’s Circe, who despite her description as ” the awesome nymph with lovely braids,” turned Big O’s men into pigs. With a little help from Hermes (to the rescue again!), Big O is able to outsmart Circe and free his men (who, good news, are no longer pigs). It probably didn’t hurt that he also slept with her. Big O is a man slut.
Then there’s the run-in with the Cyclops Polyphemus, the son of Poseidon (and the reason why Poseidon is out to get Big O). Big O and his men are trapped by Polyphemus in his cave (that’s what happens when you invite yourself in and help yourself to people’s food when they’re not home). Big O’s men are providing Polyphemus with a tasty dinner every evening (literally…he chows down on two of them every evening, and washes them down with wine. If he gets really drunk, he barfs pieces of them back up again. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.). Finally, Big O devises a plan of escape. They blind the Cyclops by ramming a blisteringly hot wooden spike into his eye, stirring it around, and yanking it back out. Then they tie themselves under the flock of sheep, and when Polyphemus lets the animals out of the cave in the morning, voila, the guys have escaped. Of course, Big O can’t resist yelling nanny nanny boo boo from the safety of his ship. Polyphemus is not a happy camper and tattles to Daddy, who is now gunning for Big O. (Side note: check this out…Polyphemus on a wine bottle. Seriously, people…I’d buy a wine named after a lush of a Cyclops.)
I may have mixed up the order of the adventures, but you get the idea. Big O is a stud. Also, because it bears repeating, a man slut. And after telling his tales to King Alcinous (who, incidentally, married his niece. Although there was another king mentioned (Aeolus) who married his 6 daughters to his 6 sons. Incest seemed to be big in Books 7-12.), Big O is given a ship and sent on his way. Home. To Ithaca. Wa-hoo!
Although I’m not at the end yet (I’m just starting book 18), I will say that this section blows the other two out of the water. Books 1-6 were good, but it was mostly setting the scene. Books 7-12 are chock full of adventure. And gore…evidently you need gore to achieve a quality adventure. I’ll be talking about Books 13-17 next Monday, but let’s just say there’s more talk, less action. Sure, it’s still good, but it’s missing that thrill that you get only from a flaming spike to the eye.