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HOMER’S ODYSSEY, Chap. III- GEMINI

Posted on November 4th, 2017 by Don Cerow

Gemini is the third sign of the Zodiac. Ruled by Mercury, it is a Mutable AIR sign which deals with the intellect and nervous systems. This is the sign of duality as represented by the Twins, brothers and sibling. They’re clever and precocious. If you know the myth about Hermes birth, it highlights his creativity on his very first day of life, and of how quickly he becomes bored with each.

The Mind is the center of thought and communication, of strategy and a way with words. In our first selection here, we follow lines which demonstrate articulate expression, of two as one. In these verses wise old Nestor the noble charioteer tells what he remembered about his relationship to Odysseus.

Nine years we wove a web of disaster* for those Trojans,
pressing them hard with every tactic known to man,
and only after we slaved did Zeus award us victory.
And no one there could hope to rival Odysseus,
Not for his sheer cunning-
at every twist of strategy he excelled us all.
Your father, yes, if you are in fact his son…
I look at you and a sense of wonder takes me.
Your way with words- it’s just like his- I’d swear
no youngster could every speak like you, so apt, so telling.
As long as I and great Odysseus soldiered there,
never once did we speak out at odds,
neither in open muster nor in royal council:
forever one in mind, in judgment balanced, shrewd,
we mapped our armies’ plans so that things might turn out best.
(lines 131-145)

[*Etymology. The word disaster is derived from Middle French désastre and that from Old Italian disastro, which in turn comes from the Ancient Greek pejorative prefix δυσ-, (dus-) "bad" and ἀστήρ (aster), "star".]

That’s the high road, when two see as one, forever one in mind. But then Homer immediately flips the coin and illustrates the alternative side, of when two brothers (Gemini) go the low road and make erroneous choices. Of course in this case, the ‘road’ represents the maritime journey home and the plans involved to get there.

Eyes afire,
Athena set them feuding, Atreus’ two sons
They summoned all the Achaean ranks to muster,
rashly, just at sunset- no hour to rally troops-
and in they straggled, sodden with wine, our heroes.
The brothers harangued themtold them why they’d met:
a crisis- Menelaus urging the men to fix their minds
on the voyage home across the sea’s broad back,
but it brought no joy to Agamemnon, not at all.
He meant to detain us there and offer victims,
anything to appease Athena’s dreadful wrath-
poor fool, he never dreamed Athena would not comply.
The minds of the everlasting gods don’t change so quickly.
So the two of them stood there, wrangling back and forth
till the armies sprang up, their armor clashing, ungodly uproar-
two plans split the ranks. That night we barely slept,
seething with hard feelings against our own comrades,
for Zeus was brooding over us, poised to seal our doom…
At dawn, half of us hauled our vessels down to the sea,
we stowed our plunder, our stashed and lovely women.
But half the men held back, camped on the beech,
Waiting it out for Agamemnon’s next commands

(lines 151-172)

Under the banner of communication flow the following lines-

“Telemachus. . . this is not the time.                                     (line 16)
We sailed the seas for this, for news of your father. . .
Press him yourself to tell the whole truth:
he’ll never lie- the man is far too wise.”

The prince repliedwise in his own way too,                     (line 23)
“How can I greet him, Mentor, even approach the king?
I’m hardly adept at subtle conversation.
Someone my age might feel shy, what’s more,
interrogating an older man.”

Telemachus,”                                                          (line 27)
the bright-eyed goddess Athena reassured him,
some of the words you’ll find within yourself,
the rest some power will inspire you to say,

Of course there are other Mercurial images that may be found here, clues to a cosmic puzzle. We’ve looked at various shades of speech, from ignorance to truth, subtle in its design, but there are many others. Hands are among the parts of the body ruled by Gemini (as are arms, lungs and the nervous systems), and we see this theme early in the chapter,

” . . . grasped their hands and sat them down at the feast . . .”      (line 41)

” . . . all according to custom- hand this cup . . .                               (line 51)

” . . . Pisistratus placed in her hand the cup of mellow wine . . . ”      (line 58)

” . . . She offered the rich two-handled cup to Telemachus,                (line 71)
Odysseus’ son, who echoed back her prayer word for word.”

” . . . weather he went down on land at enemy hands . . .”              (line 100)

Throughout this chapter, Nestor is referred to twelve times as the noble chariot driver. It is hammered home. In the ancient world a chariot was your car or vehicle for getting around from town to town. He is an intelligent man who makes correct choices. These horses are bred and paired (2) to run all day long.

Nestor the noble chariot-driver issued orders;
“Hurry, my boys! Bring Telemachus horses:
a good full maned team-
hitch them to a chariot- he must be off at once.”

They listened closely, snapped to his commands . . .” 

As the ruler of roads the symbolism of Hermes (Mercury) is brought to light (or it’s lack) in the final two paragraphs, and indeed in the last lingering line of chapter three. In the penultimate paragraph it leads,

“The sun sank and the roads of the world grew dark . . .”        (line 546)

And then in the ultimate paragraph and final line we hear it again:

. . . as the sun sank and the roads of the world grew dark.”              (line 557)

A Mercurial image as it fades from view, twice repeated, twice repeated.



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