Monday, April 27, 2009

A Little Background on Mentor and the Last Word of Homer's Odyssey

Mentor in Greek mythology - Odysseus's trusted counselor, under whose disguise Athena became the guardian and teacher of Telemachus.

WORD HISTORY - The word "mentor" is an example of the way in which the great works of literature live on without our knowing. We owe this word to the more heroic age of Homer, in whose "Odyssey" Mentor is the trusted friend of Odysseus left in charge of the household during Odysseus's absence. More important for our usage of the word "mentor," Athena disguised as Mentor guides Odysseus's son Telemachus in his search for his father.

I found this at:

The other word Dr. Sexson asked us to find was the last word of Homer's Odyssey. So I tried to find an online text of Odyssey, and this is the last line: "Then Athena assumed the form and voice of mentor, and presently made a covenant of peace between the two contending parties."
I found a couple of other translations, but they were similar, no dramatic last word.

But "parties" didn't seem like a great last word, so I went to several sites to see if there was anything more. I found this "Concluding Sonnet" from the Harvard Classics:

Homer, thy song men liken to the sea,
With every note of music in his tone,
With tides that wash the dim dominion
Of Hades, and light waves that laugh in glee
Around the isles enchanted; nay to me
Thy verse seems as the River of source unknown
That glasses Egypt's temples overthrown,
In his sky-nurtur'd stream, eternally.
No wiser we than men of heretofore
To find thy mystic fountains guarded fast;
Enough-thy flood makes green our human shore
As Nilus, Egypt, rolling down his vast,
His fertile waters, murmuring evermore
Of gods dethroned, and empires of the Past.

I found this at:

"Past" is a better last word than "parties." I look forward to Wednesday to see what it is.

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