September 03, 2008


The Odyssey series continues, along with links and comments about current events. We're just now at the part where he meets the cyclops.

Speaking of which, sometimes El Cabrero's Spousal Unit reminds me of a cyclops. I'm not saying that she's a one-eyed giant cannibalistic monster, necessarily. Let's just say they have common interests. He's got goats (and sheep) and is a cheese maker.

When Odysseus and his men visit the cyclops Polyphemus cave, he is still out with his herd. It sounds a bit like Goat Rope Farm, only on a much larger scale. As Odysseus puts it,

'So we explored his den, gazing wide-eyed at it all,
the large flack racks loaded with drying cheeses,
the folds crowded with young lambs and kids...
And all his vessels, pails and hammered buckets
he used for milking, where brimming full with whey.'

We get a glimpse of the giant at work:

Back he came from the pasture, late in the day,
herding his flocks home...
Then down he squatted to milk his sheep and bleating goats,
each in order, and put a suckling underneath each dam.
And half of the fresh white mile he curdled quickly,
set it aside in wicker racks to press for cheese,
the other half let stand in pails and buckets,
ready at hand to wash his supper down...

It sounds kinda like home to me...

But I digress. As mentioned earlier, a major theme in Homer's epics is that of xenia, the sacred guest host relationship. Odyseus and his men get off on a bad foot, entering his cave without asking or being invited. They build a fire and started chowing down on the cheese before he even gets home. Didn't these guys ever hear of Miss Manners?

Polyphemus doesn't like surprises:

'Strangers!' he thundered out, 'now who are you?
Where did you sail from, over the running sea-lanes?
Out on a raiding spree or roving the waves like pirates,
sea-wolves raiding at will, who risk their lives
to plunder other men?'

Based on their past behavior, that's pretty much exactly what Odysseus and his men are. It's just about supper time...

More tomorrow.

NOT SO GOOD. A Rutgers University scorecard on the state of American workers found some disturbing--but not surprising--trends.

REDISCOVERING AN OLD FRIEND. AP reports that more Americans are using public libraries in hard economic times. I can't imagine how people could do without them in the best of times. At any given moment, El Cabrero is abusing the borrowing privileges of about four different library systems.

SPEAKING OF WHICH, here is an item on books that changed history.



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