“Now stripping back his rags, Odysseus master of craft and battle

vaulted onto the great threshold, gripping his bow and quiver

bristling arrows, and poured his flashing shafts before him,

lose at his feet, and thundered out to all the suitors:

“Look – your crucial test is finished, now, at last!

But another targets left that no one’s hit before –

we’ll see if I can hit it – Apollo give me glory!”

                                The Odyssey, Homer  600 – 700 BC

                                          (translated by Robert Fagles)

I remember reading The Iliad and The Odyssey in high school and enjoying the different stories.  I started them both to see if they should be included.  I found myself putting The Iliad aside and eagerly devouring the stories in The Odyssey.  There are so many illustrations that have come out of this book that I didn’t want to mimic something.  Although Goya’s Cyclops would be in the running if I thought I could convey a hint of that power.  No way.  The journey home of Odysseus and the reckoning with Penelope and her suitors was the painting choice.  I wanted something that referred back to the trust in the gods throughout the journey.  I chose when Odysseus transforms and he alone is able to pull back the string of the bow.  Then of course he goes about slaughtering everyone.  I tend to get captivated by the travel and its adventures.  I used to hitchhike home from college every Christmas break – a distance of only about 600 miles but through the mountains in the winter.  A fair number of obstacles, Cyclops, Sirens to deal with.  I loved the journey.  And of course the arriving was always a relief even though turkey took the place of the fatted calf.  The struggles of the journey.  Now of course this is leading me to reread Ulysses by Joyce…

March 2014


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