Today concludes The Odyssey read-along that I’ve been involved with for the last month (I’ve already chatted about Books 1-6, 7-12, and 13-18). It was a lot of fun, although I must warn you that today’s post contains excessive use of capital letters, because there is no other way to adequately express my outrage at Big O’s actions.
So last week I mentioned that if I were Penelope, I’d be wishing I’d married one of the suitors. Actually, I’d just divorce Big O’s lying ass and go off somewhere to live in peace. I’d also buy stock in Kleenex, because, good lord, can that woman cry. I mean really…suck it up, P. After 20 years, you’d think you’d be enjoying the independence, and finding something else to do with your time other than weaving and wailing.
The final section of The Odyssey (Books 19-24) relates Big O’s reclaiming of his home and his wife (remember, he was so happy to be home he lied to everyone about who he is…they all think he’s a beggar). Like the previous 6 books, it’s a little short on action (with one exception) and long on the braggadocio. Big O sure likes to talk about himself, and he also gets a little repetitious with all the “I’m a manly man hero” shit. Although, to be fair, he is a manly man. Penelope finally decides to choose a new hubbie (convenient, now that Big O is home). The first man who can shoot an arrow through a bunch of axes will get the honor of wedding her. I’ll give you one guess as to who the victor is.
After Big O leaves the suitors gaping at his prowess with ye old bow and arrow, and the big reveal as to who he is, we get down to some serious gore. The big scene in the grand finale is Book 22, in which Big O (with a little help from his son, the swineherd, and the cowherd) offs the suitors. Violently offs the suitors. Although it doesn’t quite live up to the gruesomeness that was the poking out of the Cyclops’ eye, it is a pretty bloody chapter. Not content with doing away with the suitors, Big O also kills all of the maids (because they might have aided and abetted (and slept with) the suitors. If you’d like to read a bit of revisionist history, Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad offers an alternate version.). After the bloodbath, Big O reveals himself to his wife and they go to bed.
AT WHICH POINT HE TELLS HER THE WHOLE STORY OF HIS JOURNEY HOME.
Seriously?? His idea of pillow talk is to tell his wife that he slept with the smokin’ hot goddesses, Circe and Calypso? This is the point in the story when I was ready to poke out O’s eye (and maybe a few other body parts).
And just when I thought my opinion of Big O couldn’t get any worse, there’s the grand reunion with his dad, Laertes, WHERE HE LIES TO HIS OWN FATHER ABOUT WHO HE IS, EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO LONGER A NEED. Yes, he’s still having fun with the story about how he’s a Cretan prince. When his dad starts crying, Big O relents and tells him who he is.
Total rat bastard, that Odysseus.
And that’s the end. Well, there was the scene in which the suitors all went toddling off to to Hades, but really, that was pretty boring.
So, the question…is The Odyssey worth reading? Heck, yeah. Just know that while Books 7-12 kick some serious ass, the rest can be a trifle yawn-inducing at times. I would imagine, though, that back in the day, as people sat around the fire in the evening and listened to a master storyteller recount the tale, that this was story was Da Bomb. At least, if you were a guy.