September 04, 2008


Image courtesy of wikipedia.

The theme at Goat Rope lately is the Odyssey of Homer, along with links and comments about current events. We're in the middle of the encounter with the cyclops Polyphemus right now. If you like this kind of thing, please click on earlier posts.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if one is attempting to make the acquaintance of a possibly cannibalistic one-eyed giant, then breaking into his house uninvited and eating most of his cheese is not the best way to start. For that matter, one would be well-advised not to visit the island of the cyclopes at all unless driven by dire necessity.

As Dylan once sang,

The moral of this story, the moral of this song, is simply that one should never be where one does not belong.

Odysseus, alas, was a little impulse-driven and not given to taking such sage advice. When he and his men are busted in the act, he begs for hospitality:

...we're at your knees,
in hopes of a warm welcome, even a guest-gift,
the sort that hosts give strangers. That's the custom.
Respect the gods, my friend. We're suppliants--at your mercy!
Zeus of the Strangers guards all guests and suppliants:
strangers are sacred--Zeus will avenge their rights!'

Polyphemus is unimpressed and not particularly religious:

'Stranger,' he grumbled back from his brutal heart,
'you must be a fool, stranger, or come from nowhere,
telling me to fear the gods or avoid their wrath?
We Cyclops never blink at Zeus and Zeus's shield
of storm and thunder, or any other blessed god--
we've got more force by far.
I'd never spare you in fear of Zeus's hatred,
you or your comrades here, unless I had the urge...'

And by the way, he doesn't have the urge.

Lurching up, he lunged out with his hands toward my men
and snatching two at once, rapping them on the ground
he knocked them dead like pups--
their brains gushed out all over, soaked the floor-
and ripping them limb from limb to fix his meal
he bolted them down like a mountain-lion, left no scrap
devoured entrails, flesh and bones, marrow and all!

Not only is he a cannibal--he's got bad table manners! At one point, as his culinary adventures continue, he even gets drunk, passes out and vomits up the remains of his supper. Odysseus and his men would like to kill the monster--but they are locked up in his cave by a massive stone so large that

no twenty-two wagons, rugged and four-wheeled
could budget that boulder off the ground...

This could be a setback... More tomorrow.

NO DIRECT CONNECTION TO THE TOPIC AT HAND, but Massey Energy has been ordered by a federal judge to rehire 85 union workers who lost their jobs in 2004 after the company acquired a formerly union mine.

HOMECOMINGS. One theme of the ongoing series on the Odyssey is the difficulty combat veterans face in going home. The health care injured veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan isn't helping.

ALL IN THE MIND...or at least some of it. Here's an interesting item on the connection between mental attitudes and health.

MACHIAVELLI made the Wall Street Journal recently.


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