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Posted on April 15th, 2018 by Don Cerow

              HOMER’s ODYSSEY, Ch. XI- AQUARIUS 

This week we’re taking a look at the 11th chapter of Homer’s Odyssey, a chapter which, if our hypothesis is correct, corresponds to the 11th sign of the zodiac, Aquarius.

If Aquarius is around, the stars shouldn’t’t be far behind.

The eye of the Sun can never                           (line 17)
         flash his rays through the dark and bring them light, 
         not when he climbs the starry skies or when he wheels
         back down from the heights to touch the earth once more-

The Sun rules Leo and is therefore in its detriment in Aquarius, the constellation opposite Leo. While here, it’s as far away from its home position as it can get. For those who live in the northern hemisphere this is the heart of winter, when the Sun is low and light and warmth are in short supply. Detriment means difficult. Setting the metaphorical stage, at the start of the chapter the Sun is going down. Light is being lost.

 . . . and the Sun sank and the roads of the world grew dark. 
(line 14)

Diminished light means less strength and power, less love and affection, less life force (chi).

What has less ‘chi‘ than the ghosts of the underworld? This is about as bleak as you can get and still have some sort of identity. Apparently they need the blood of the sacrificial victim in order to get a jump-start on consciousness. Odysseus’s own mother does not know him until she drinks the blood.

And once my vows                                               (line 38)
and prayers had invoked the nations of the dead.
 I took the victims, over the trench I cut their throats
 and the dark blood flowed in- and up out of Erebus they came,
 flocking toward me now, the ghosts of the dead and gone . . .
 Brides and unwed youths and old men who had suffered much
 and girls with their tender hearts fresh scarred by sorrow
 and great armies of battle dead, stabbed by bronze spears,
 men of war still wrapped in bloody armor- thousands
 swarming around the trench from every side-
 unearthly cries- blanching terror gripped me!

These are the Aquarian multitudes, albeit deceased, thousands, which the greater collective represents, but they are pursuing an avenue somewhat out of vogue today. Odysseus is seeking to gain information about both the past and future. By the end of Chapter 11, much has been revealed. Today our information tools are the Internet, electronics and computer. There is much that we learn from them. Put the code in, pull the information out. But if the pagans of antiquity sought to know the future (the will of Zeus) they would turn to the priests and priestesses to read the leaves of the trees of Dodona, consult the liver of sacrificial victims, observe the flight of birds or find out if the sacred chickens (yes, sacred chickens) would eat. For the Greek world going to the temple of Delphi was the most honored way of discerning ‘Apollo’s (the Sun’s) truth.’

Odysseus is learning about lost companions and his future navigational course to get him home. He seeks the prophet Tiresias as the best in the business, dead or alive. As to Odysseus’s own fate:

And at last your own death will steal upon you. . .  (line 53)
. . . bourne down with the years in ripe old age
         with all your people there in blessed peace around you.
         All that I have told you will come true. 

And it does.

And the probing of the unknown en masse begins with the feminine gender of the dearly departed:

         And so they waited, coming forward one after another.   (line 372)
         Each declared her lineage, and I explored them all.
But the whole cortege I could never tally, never name,
         not all the daughters and wives of great men I saw there. 

This initial mass inquisition is followed by his lining up many of the male heroes of the mythological Greek pantheon. Only Ajax is so angry with Odysseus for past grievances that he will not converse with him.

and there slowly came a grand array of women, (line 258)
         all sent before me now by august Persephone, 
         and all were wives and daughters once of princes. 
        They swarmed in a flock around the dark blood
        While I searched for a way to question each along, 
        and the more I thought, the more this seemed the best.
        Drawing forth the long sharp sword from beside my hip,
        I would not let them drink the dark blood, all in a rush,
         And so they waited, coming forward one after another. 
         Each declared her lineage, and I explored them all.

But the whole cortege I could never tally, never name,      (line 372)
         not all the daughters and wives of great men I saw there. 

But he does not overlook his male companions either.

the griefs of my comrades, dead in the war’s wake,             (line 433)
         who escaped the battle cries of Trojan armies
only to die in blood at journey’s end-
thanks to a vicious woman’s will.
Now then,
no sooner had Queen Persephone driven off
the ghosts of lovely women, scattering left and right
than forward marched the shade of Atres’s son Agamemnon
fraught with grief and flanked by his comrades,
troops of his men-at-arms who died beside him,
who met their fate in lord Aegisthus’ halls.
He knew me at once, as soon as he drank the blood,
and wailed out, shrilly; tears sprang to his eyes . . .
I wept at the sight, my heart went out to the man . . .

Now the rest of the ghosts, the dead and gone                     (line 617)
came swarming up beside me- deep in sorrow there,
each asking about the grief that touched him most.

Minos, Orion, Tityus, Tantalus, Sisyphus and even Heracles, who closes the chapter are there.

With that he turned and back he went to the House of Death   (line 718)
but I held fast in place, hoping others might still come,
shades of famous heroes, men who died in the old days
and ghosts of an even older age I longed to see.

R.I.P. all you shades of yesteryear.

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