The Linnet's Wings The Sorrow - Page 45

The Linnet´s Wings Odysseus his name, Odysseus tells him his name is “no man” (“me tis”). Having drunk his fill, Polyphemus reveals his malice; the gift will be that “me tis” will be eaten last, and the monster roars with laughter at his grim trickery. Things appear hopeless, especially if we have forgotten that sharpened stake, but Odysseus has not. When the giant, having enjoyed Odysseus’ gift, collapses into drunken slumber, Odysseus orders his men into action. Shouldering the huge log, they plunge its smoldering point into the single eye of the Cyclops. In agony, the blinded giant rushes from his cave bellowing for assistance from his Cyclopean neighbors. But all he can tell them is that “no man” (me tis) has injured him, and so his neighbors depart. Next morning, Odysseus and his men leave by grasping the undersides of blind Polyphemus’ rams, so he cannot detect them as they escape. The least alert reader will marvel at the wit of “no man” whose adopted name in Greek (“metis”) also means “cunning” (“Metis” the name of Athena’s mother – Homer is also a cunning weaver). How can we fail to marvel at the Olympian powers of someone who grasps his identity so firmly? [pic] No one knows what Homer looked like, and some doubt he even was a particular person and not the name associated with a tradition oftales. Tradition has it that he was blind, based upon a self-referential passage citing a blind personage. Ifthe figure of Hephaistos in the “Iliad” is the clue I believe it is, “Homer” has left a strong thumb-print on his great portrait ofwar and its passions. 7 Elsewhere we find, in Homer himself, a very different kind of soul and devotion. In Book One of The Iliad Homer depicts a festive gathering of the Olympian gods. While they dine on the nectar only gods can taste, we notice that these immortals are waited upon by a limping figure, Hephaistos, who though a god himself, is diminished by his injuries. The story of his humiliating injury, at the hands of Zeus evokes our pity. Hephaistos found himself caught between his mother Hera and Zeus’ rage towards his saucy wife. In attempting to protect her, Hephaistos is hurled from heaven in a fall so profound it takes three days. He is crippled ever after and doomed to serve the luminous beings that populate Olympus. Homer’s Hephaistos is noble; the mockery directed at him by his glorious superiors hateful and mean: [Hephaistos] spoke, and the goddess of the white arms Hera smiled at him, And smiling she accepted the goblet out of her son’s hand. 45