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HOMER’s ODYSSEY, Ch. X- CAPRICORN

Posted on April 10th, 2018 by Don Cerow

This week we’re taking a look at the tenth chapter of Homer’s Odyssey, a chapter devoted to Capricorn, a CARDINAL EARTH sign ruled by Saturn. The glyph associated with this sign is that of a Sea-goat, half-goat and half-fish, often depicted overseeing life from the top of a mountain. In the body Capricorn rules the spinal column, skeletal system and knees.

The mountain goat

 Life is tough for Capricorns. They often live under adverse conditions, in cold climates. When the Sun enters Capricorn it marks the start of winter. Saturn is thought to represent Father Time and all that goes with it; the calendar, the weeks, months and years of calibration.

Chapter X begins with a lord who is depicted as Father Time or the year. Aeolus is his name.

We reached the Aeolian island next, the home of Aeolus,           (line 1)
      Hippotas’ son, beloved by the gods who never die-
      a great floating island it was, and round it all
      huge ramparts rise of indestructible bronze 
      and sheer rock cliffs shoot up from sea to sky.”

      “The king had sired twelve children within his halls,                     (line 6)
      six daughters and six sons in the lusty prime of youth, 
      so he gave his daughters as wives to his six sons.
      Seated beside their dear father and doting mother, 
      with delicacies aplenty spread before them,
      they feast on forever . . . 
         . . . and all night long, each one by his faithful mate,                    (line 14)
      they sleep under soft-piled rugs on corded bedsteads.”

There’s some great imagery here. The floating island is life itself, floating among the Sun and stars, going round and round through space, year after year. Here we have the first of our many ‘tough as rocks’ theme that runs throughout this chapter. Later we will see that Circe’s palace is made of dressed stone. The ramparts are indestructible because they are the grid system of the astronomers and are invisible to the naked eye. To repeat:

huge ramparts rise of indestructible bronze 
      and sheer rock cliffs shoot up from sea to sky.”

Several times in this chapter Odysseus ‘scaled(s) its rock face’ or finds himself looking down ‘from the mountain heights above’. They will meet ‘a woman huge as a mountainous crag who fills them all with horror.’ During their travels they again cross this rocky theme when the island inhabitants find themselves with a great tactical advantage.

“Down from the cliffs they flung great rocks.”                              (line 132)

But in returning to Father Time attired as King Aeolus, he had sired,

      ” . . . twelve children within his halls, 
      six daughters and six sons in the lusty prime of youth, 
      so he gave his daughters as wives to his six sons.

This is not incest. These are the twelve months of the years. The year gives birth to each one, and they never die. He gave his daughters to his sons because the months naturally pair off into relationship couples; Aries with Libra, Taurus with Scorpio, Gemini and Sagittarius, etc. ‘They feast on forever’ because the months don’t quit, year after year. They are immortals. They just keep on a-rolling. Of these pairs, “all night long, each one (of the months lies) by his faithful mate.”  Night is when the stars come out and begin their duet; one constellation rising in the east, one setting in the west.

Forever.

“And there we sat at ease,                                                                    (line 513)
      day in, day out, till a year had run its course . . .” 

      “But then, when the year was through and the seasons wheeled by
      and the months waned and the long days came round again . . .”

Because Aeolus is one of the immortals, he can also command the elements. As a gift to Odysseus, Aeolus packages the winds so that their craft will have a favoring breeze to bring them home, but Odysseus’ men are jealous of the treasures that might lie with the sack of ox-hide. As an exhausted Odysseus sleeps, his shipmates open the sack releasing the unfavorable winds and are blown far out to sea, returning to Aeolus’ realm days later.

“Back again, Odysseus- why? Some blustering god attacked you?   (line 70)
      Surely we launched you well, we sped you on your way
      to your own land and house, or any place you pleased.’

      So they taunted, and I replied in deep despair,                                       (line 73)
      ‘A mutinous crew undid me- that and a cruel sleep. 
      Set it to rights, my friends. You have the power!’

      So I pleaded- gentle, humble appeals-                                                       (line 76)
      but our hosts turned silent, hushed . . .
      and the father broke forth with an ultimatum:
      ‘Away from my island- fast- most cursed man alive!
      It’s a crime to host a man or speed him on his way
      when the blessed deathless gods despise him so.
      Crawling back like this-
            it proves the immortals hate you! Out- get out!”

This is the first of the rejections / failures that Capricorn must face, coming right at the start of the chapter. As they pass into their maturity they will be more likely to succeed. They are the guests of Aeolus, they are bid fare well and given a favorable wind, but envy (reckless folly) intercedes and drives them back to the king.

“Groan as I did, his curses drove me from his halls                      (line 84)
      and from there we pulled away with heavy heart, 
      with the crews’ spirit broken under the oars’ labor,
      thanks to our own folly . . . no favoring wind in sight.”

Groaning, a heavy heart, spirit broken by physical labor. Earth overpowering Fire.

“Six whole days we rowed, six nights, nonstop.                              (line 88)
      On the seventh day we raised the Laestrygonian land, 
      Telepylus heights where the craggy fort of Lamus rises.”

More mountain forts, more Capricorn. They lost the majority of what is left of their fleece . . . uhn . . .  fleet under these adverse circumstances.

More Capricorn early-going adversities. In the physical department, two pairs of knees are hugged, the arrow that brings down the great buck pierces the spinal column half way down, and Elpenor falls from the roof of Circe’s house and snaps his neck.

All part of the skeletal system ‘ruled’ by Capricorn.

These are a few of the images that bubble to the surface as we examine these pathways.

Week after week, why do we pursue these ancient pathways?

“Necessity drives me on.”                                                               (line 301)



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