In a mix of metaphors, we are to set out once again in a Herculean task as we examine in close detail Homer’s epic work, the Odyssey. Like its predecessor the Iliad, it is a work composed of 24 chapters which is, in essence, an astrological primer for students of the stars. It requires a basic understanding of some of the elements of the stellar science, but once grasped, the pattern jumps out at you as the Greeks studied their notions of divinity and recorded them in this work.
The pattern is incredibly simple. The 24 chapters represent the 12 signs of the zodiac examined twice. Chapters one through twelve represent Aries through Pisces, and then chapters thirteen through twenty four repeat the pattern, with Aries logging in as chapter 13, Taurus chapter 14, etc.
Astrology is a system of symbolism, with its archetypes crafted as repositories of information. Each of these images can open the door to a host of avenues in a fascinating weave of colors and textures that capture a tapestry of mythological themes, opening them into a far deeper understanding of life in its various guises. It is a three thousand year old time capsule giving us images from life in the past.
In our presentation, chapter one represents Aries, the sign (and at the time the Odyssey was composed) and constellation of the Ram. The ruler of Aries is MARS, the ancient and modern symbol of MAN, in all his manly attributes, both high and low. The Sun has archaeologically been represented as the ‘planet’ who was in its exaltation in this sign.
On the flip side, Venus, the ruler of the opposite sign Libra, is thought to be in its detriment in Aries, being as far from its home base as it can be in the zodiacal circle. It is therefore debilitated, weakened, and not thought to be in such a good position in Aries. Finally, Saturn, for the same reason, is in its exaltation in Libra, and is as far from that strength as it can be in Aries and is therefore thought to be in its fall.
That’s it. Mars and the Sun are in their strengths and do well in this position, while Venus and Saturn do not do well in this position and are therefore downgraded in their roles.
Now, let’s begin by looking at the obvious. At this time, the constellation Aries stood at the beginning of the zodiac as was therefore in a position of strength. It’s ruler Mars leaps out as us as a paragon of manly virtues, but these will be contrasted by male ne’r-do-wells throughout the chapter. So for MARS there are those who experience their MANLY virtues in a positive manner, and those who do not demonstrate these qualities well. Pictured above is, to the Greek mind, the ideal MAN, Odysseus.
Line one, book one:
Sing to me of the MAN, Muse, the MAN of twists and turns. . .
His son Telemachus laments later…
“Would to god I’d been the son of a HAPPY MAN.”. .
As the archetype of MALE energy, it is the patriarchal line that rules. There’s the MAN, the MAN’s FATHER, and the MAN’s SON, in this case Telemachus as the SON of Odysseus. The book catches this youth as he leaves boyhood behind and becomes a MAN. . .
You must not cling to your boyhood any longer-
It’s time you were a MAN. Haven’t you heard
what GLORY Prince Orestes won throughout the world
when he killed that cunning, murderous Aegisthus,
who killed his FAMOUS FATHER?. .
It would seem that for the Greeks, justifiable homicide was a rite of passage into MANHOOD. In lines that will get me into trouble with a number of my women friends, the following is an example of how the MALE gender lords it over the FEMALE in the cultures of this time. . .
Suddenly dissolving in tears and busting through
the bard’s inspired voice, she cried out, “Phemius! . .
break off these words,
the unendurable song that always RENDS THE HEART inside me…
the unforgettable grief, it wounds me most of all! . .
This is an example of the debilitated state of Venus. The bard is there singing for the suitors, but against his will. This image sets the stage for the MALE response, to which Telemachus replies: . .
Why fault the bard if he sings the Argives’ harsh fate?
It’s always the latest song, the one that echoes last
in the listeners’ ears, that people praise the most.
Courage, mother. Harden your HEART, and listen.
Odysseus was scarcely THE ONLY ONE, you know. . .
go back to your quarters. Tend to your own tasks…
As for giving orders,
MEN will see to that, but I most of all:
I hold the reins of power in this house.”. .
This is a demonstration of Telemachus coming into his MANHOOD and demonstrating his new-found strength to his mother. She sees it too. . .
She took to HEART
the clear good sense in what her SON had said. . .
And at this point we should bring in another example, of that of the role of the Sun’s exaltation in Aries, the Sun being the planet most often associated with the HEART and its love and affection. We’ve already seen a few examples, but there are many more in this first chapter. . .
But one MAN alone, his HEART set on his wife . . .
Athena says: “But my HEART breaks for Odysseus…
far from his loved ones . . .
have you no care for him in your lofty HEART? . .
Prince Telemachus, his… HEART obsessed with grief…
Nor do I rack my HEART and grieve for him alone . . .
Take my words to HEART, call the gods to witness…
reach down deep in your HEART and SOUL
for a way to kill these suitors in your house…
The Sun is the planet associated with the color GOLD, and here in its exaltation we see a number of HEART felt threads coming to the surface of our, or more precisely, Homer’s, tapestry. Repetition is one of the ways in which Homer used symbolism to illustrate a particular celestial theme, as seen here. Of course there are other threads related to our constellation that make themselves known throughout this chapter. Although it does not make an appearance in this episode, Athena was born from the head of Zeus (the sky), the part of the body ruled by Aries. As in the Iliad, Athena’s influence is strong in both of these first chapters, shaping the destiny of those involved, influencing the design of things to come. In the Odyssey Athena raises Telemachus’s spunk, rousing his son to a ‘braver pitch’ inspiring his HEART with COURAGE. GREAT FAME is also there, so that they might be remembered for generations to come.
All of these are powerful Arian traits.
The royal line is represented by the FIRE energy of ARIES, of those who are distinctive, set apart and special in a physical way. Winners might be one way of looking at it, and winners were part of a divine right. The strong right arm of God and martial force go hand in hand with what we are seeing here.
It’s really not so bad to be a KING. All at once
your PALACE grows in wealth, your HONORS as well.
But there are hosts of other Achaean PRINCES, look-
young and old, crowds of them on our island here-
and any one of the lot might hold the throne . . .
But I’ll be lord of my own house and servants,
all that King Odysseus WON for me by FORCE.”
The flip side to these noble themes (if you consider murdering people in your own home as noble) is contrasted by the suitors feeding off the fat of the land, so to speak; lazy good for nothing princes who only know how to party.
Look at them over there. Not a care in the world,
just lyres and tunes! Easy for them all right,
they feed on another’s goods and go scot-free…
How obscenely they lounge and swagger here, look,
gorging in your house. Why, any MAN of sense
who chanced among them would be outraged,
seeing such behavior.”
Here’s our honorable MAN again.
To be able to reach to the pinnacle of one’s abilities could put one on a level with the gods. They work through us and can assume the guise of many different individuals because at different times, these themes could work through any of us.
After a visit from Athena, Telemachus can feel the difference as some of these heavenly qualities begin to flow through him.
He felt his senses quicken, over whelmed with wonder—
this was a GOD, he knew it well and made at once
for the suitors, a MAN like a god himself…
What a fine thing it is
to listen to such a bard as we have here—
the MAN sings like a GOD.
And no mean MAN, not by the looks of him, I’d say.”
And once again, Athena’s spirit flows through Telemachus as he follows her advice.
…amazed the PRINCE could speak with SO MUCH DARING.
“Well, Telemachus, ONLY THE GODS could teach you
to sound so high and mighty! Such brave talk!
Aries represents many strong and dynamic themes that, according to the ancients, played out better through MEN than through women. Venus in Aries can represent strong, beautiful and dynamic women, but there’s no real love there, at least not for the MAN.
Calypso, the bewitching nymph, the lustrous goddess, held him back…
craving him for a husband.
She wants it, but he’s not so interested.
As for Saturn’s fall in Aries, the entire book opens in a depressed manor. Our hero’s domicile is under siege from the local suitors, being eaten out of house and home, Odysseus is lost at sea, far from the ones he loves as the sands in the hourglass slowly slip away. Time is moving on, and it has been twenty years since he left at the head of ships bound for Troy, leaving his wife in tears and his son a tender young infant.
In one of the down sides for the male gender, Aries energy works on a short fuse. Their energized Chi causes them to jump into situations even when they are advised not to, but do anyway. It is their own fool HEARTiness that gets them into trouble.
But he (Odysseus) could not save them from disaster, hard as he strove-
the recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all, the blind fools…
And from that comes this: Zeus says,
”Ah how shameless- the way these mortals blame the gods.
From us alone, they say, come all their miseries, yes,
but they themselves, with their own reckless ways,
compound their pains beyond their proper share.”
And on a final note, the chapter ends with an Aries image, that of a Ram itself. From the last two lines of chapter one:
There all night long, wrapped in a
SHEEPS WARM FLEECE,
he weighed in his mind the course Athena charted.
I’d call that a wrap.