From an essay by Andy Crouch on shaving and much else:
Last summer I began reading the Odyssey to my eight-year-old son. . . . To his delight, Timothy quickly recognized a distinctive feature of Homer's poetry, the stock phrases, epithets, and even whole passages that recur again and again. Somewhere around book eight, he observed, "Dad, these guys take a lot of baths."A wonderful observation. There is, if I'm remembering correctly, only one scene of bathing in the Iliad, in book 10, after Diomedes and Odysseus undertake a night raid. In book 22, Hector is killed as his wife Andromache prepares his bath, heightening the pathos of his death. In the Odyssey, Telemachus bathes in books 3 and 4; Odysseus, in book 6. More baths follow, in the story of Odysseus' wanderings, in Ithaca too.
Indeed they do. Homer's heroes bathe because they feast: no scene of feasting in the great halls of an Achaean king is complete without the visit to the bathchamber before the meal. The Iliad, the book of war on the shores of Troy, has almost no such scenes. Its men are at war, and too busy to bathe. But the Odyssey, though not without its adventures and battles, is a book that celebrates the man at home -- the pleasure of the bath, the board, and the bed.
Thanks to Sean Payne for pointing me to this essay.
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