Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Odysseus in the North Atlantic

A startling bit of dialogue, from Action in the North Atlantic (dir. Lloyd Bacon, 1943). The speaker is merchant seaman Boats O’Hara (Alan Hale):

“You know what I’m doin’ when this is over? I’m puttin’ into port, I’m gettin’ off the ship, I’m puttin’ an oar on my shoulder, and I’m startin’ inland. And the first time a guy says to me: ‘What’s that on your shoulder?’ that's where I’m settlin’ for the rest of my life.”
That’s Homer. In Odyssey 11, Odysseus recounts what the ghost of the seer Tiresias told him he must do if he makes it home to Ithaca and kills Penelope’s suitors:

There’s no place for winnowing fans or animal sacrifices in 1943. And Odysseus, unlike Boats, would never settle inland. As Tiresias foretells, Odysseus will return to Ithaca after his inland journey, offer sacrifices to the gods, each in turn, and thereby be assured of an easy death in old age.

Related reading
All OCA Homer posts (Pinboard)

[The quoted passage is from Stanley Lombardo’s translation of the Odyssey (Hackett, 2000).]

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