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Commentary on Odyssey Book 5.95-115 Translation But when he had dined and satsfed his heart with food, then he answered her and replied with these words, "You, goddess, have asked me, a god, a queston upon my arrival, and so I will truthfully give you an explanaton because you have asked me. Zeus ordered me, who was unwilling, to come here, for who would willingly speed over such a great expanse of sea water, it is enormously great? Nor is there any city of mortals nearby who might ofer to the gods sacrifces and choice hecatombs. But it is not possible for any other god to evade or to make void the will of Zeus who wears the aegis. He says there is a man here who is the most wretched of all other men, those who fought around the city of Priam for nine years, and in the tenth year they sacked the city and went home. But on the homeward voyage they sinned against Athene, who sent upon them an evil wind and huge waves. Then all the rest of his noble companions perished, but as for him the wind and a wave carried him along and brought him here. Now Zeus orders you to send him on his way as quickly as possible, for it is not his fate to die here far away from his friends, but it is stll his fate to see his loved ones and reach his high-roofed house and his natve land. Commentary These lines come from near the beginning of book fve, in which Odyssey is trapped on the island of the goddess Calypso and has been so for seven years. She is greatly in love with the hero and even ofers him immortality to tempt him to stay with her as her lover for all tme. This passage is the address of the god Hermes, who had been sent by Zeus, to Calypso in which he informs her of the true fate of Odysseus to once again reach his home in Ithaca. The frst signifcant theme which these lines touch upon is that of xenia, the transgression and proper enactng of which forms an important strand throughout the entre Odyssey. Here Calypso is shown as performing the rites proper by providing her guest Hermes with adequate food and drink before pressing him to answer the questons she has posed about the reasons for his visit. All the examples of good xenia in the Odyssey, of which this is one, provide a contrast to the suitors who transgress all respect for the proper executon of these rituals. This signifcant because it helps to justfy Odysseus' actons later in the poem where he slaughters the suitors on the grounds that they have ruined his home and violated the codes of hospitality; Homer must therefore contnually reinforce good examples and illustrate its importance to the culture of the Odyssey. Since xenia is divinely protected and enforced by no other than Zeus himself it is also linked to the comment Hermes makes about the cites of mortals who ofer sacrifces and choice hecatombs to the gods thereby showing proper respect for the gods. The companions of Odysseus utterly fail to show proper respect for the gods and they end up paying a bloody price, as do the suitors when they transgress the laws of xenia.
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