“Tell me about a complicated man. Muse, tell me how he wandered and was lost when he had wrecked the holy town of Troy, and where he went, and who he met, the pain he suffered in the storms at sea, and how he worked to save his life and bring his men back home. He failed to keep them safe; poor fools, they ate the Sun God’s cattle, and the god kept them from home. Now goddess, child of Zeus, tell the old story for our modern times. Find the beginning.”
Welcome back to another episode of Made You Think! In this episode, Neil, Nat, and Adil continue with the next book on their Great Books Project: The Odyssey by Homer. This book begins at the end of the Trojan War as Odysseus embarks on his journey home. Listen along as we talk about Odysseus’ adventures, flashbacks, and of course, plenty of tangents.
We cover a wide range of topics including:
(0:36) In this episode, we’re continuing from where we left off on our Great Books List diving into The Odyssey by Homer. In case you missed our previous episode on another great by Homer, The Iliad, make sure to go check that one out! The Iliad and Odyssey differ in the way the narrative unfolds, despite being written by the same author.
(5:17) The Odyssey is an oral story meaning that it’s been passed down by word of mouth. Nat, Neil, and Adil talk about some of the main differences between the Iliad and the Odyssey where the Odyssey was more story-driven and the Iliad presented more lessons and takeaways.
(7:21) Odysseus: Was he a hero or an anti-hero? In some contexts, he’s portrayed as ‘god-like’ and admired for his strength and achievements. In other cases such as in Dante’s inferno, Odysseus is deep in hell for his crimes.
(10:49) Where the story begins, it come years after the end of the Trojan War. There’s multiple layers to consider when recognizing the reliability of the narrator: Which of Odysseus’ stories were dramatized by the author and how would it be different if told in Odysseus’ exact words?
(14:56) In short, the story is about Odysseus’ journey home from the Trojan War and all the adventures that happened along the way. One theme along his journey home was the idea of ‘don’t assume you know better‘, and to respect the wisdom of the gods or your elders.
(18:49) Although the Greek gods are supposed to be listened to and respected for their knowledge, there is always conflict and fighting among the gods.
(21:25) We bring up the bicameral mind discussion from the last episode. Thinking of the gods not necessarily as deities but rather the intuition in our own minds. When it’s framed like that, it tells the lesson to not distrust your instinct too much.
(25:13) What was the reasoning of Odysseus returning home in disguise? Though he was gone for 20 years, none of his loved ones recognized him under his disguise as a beggar.
(30:33) The reunification of Argos and Odysseus. His dog recognized him immediately, though Odyssesus couldn’t respond appropriately as he was still in disuise. Not many families in The Odyssey had dogs. History of the domestication of dogs.
(36:49) How characters in the story trusted and treated their guests. Odysseus’ loved ones didn’t know it was Odysseus they were welcoming, yet they treated him very warmly. It’s easier in a smaller community to be more welcoming of a guest because you may have a shared history and culture, and more similarities.
(40:34) If The Odyssey were a movie in today’s time what would it be like?
(45:54) Another episode, another tangent! We talk about cryptocurrency, the meaning of market cap, and projects that went significantly down in value shortly after launch.
(47:55) Ulysses is a modern retelling of The Odyssey, but it’s considered by many to be hard to read. There’s a difference when you have to read something vs. when you want to read something. It also matters at what point in your life you’re reading a certain book.
(51:37) Trolling on Twitter – when people don’t recognize what’s trolling and what’s not.
(53:48) Nat and his progress on the book he’s writing. It can be hard to keep writing every day knowing it won’t be published for a long time. Nat, Neil, and Adil also talk about drug and alcohol use in famous figures such as Stephen King and Brett Favre.
(1:03:24) The next book we’re reading is Tao Te Ching, another Eastern text thought to be written around 600 BC. Check out our Great Books List for links to each book we will be reading!
(1:07:18) The Pioneers – building a town was so much different in the 1700s than it is now. How the west was settled by Americans who violently took over the territory. The stories we hear today on settlement are only the ones that survived. There are countless other stories in history that we’ll never hear.
(1:15:04) The use of AI and how it can replace many jobs we do today, including writing. Can you have quality writing without a person and their experiences behind it?
(1:22:02) Every article comes to an end, but what if there was technology that can continue to write itself as you are reading the text based on what you are interested in reading next? Lex (a tool by Every) gives us a summary of the Odyssey.
(1:26:36) That concludes this episode! Stay tuned for our next episode: Tao Te Ching. If you’d like to listen to our other episodes in our Great Book series, here are the first 3: Epic of Gilgamesh, Genesis, and Exodus.
If you enjoyed this episode, let us know by leaving a review on iTunes and tell a friend. As always, let us know if you have any book recommendations! You can say hi to us on Twitter @TheRealNeilS, @adilmajid, @nateliason and share your thoughts on this episode.
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Thanks for listening. See you next time!