So, we will devour your worldly goods and wealth
as long as she holds out, holds to that course
the gods have chartered deep inside her heart.
Great renown she wins for herself, no doubt,
great loss for you in treasure.
These lines capture some of essential theme of chapter two of Homer’s Odyssey. The second constellation of the zodiac is Taurus, a Fixed Earth archetype, ruled by the planet Venus. The ‘Fixed Earth’ connotation implies long term material acquisition. It also implies, as seen in the lines above, that Penelope is stubbornly resisting giving up on Odysseus, believing that he will one day come home, even after twenty years of patience.
But it is essentially one’s personal treasures that is focused on in this chapter, whether it be one’s clothing and collectibles, or the stocks that one lays up in their storehouse or ship’s hole. A well honed sword flung over the shoulder (the part of the body ruled by Taurus), rawhide sandals (made from the skin of the cow), a bronze spear, with two sleek hounds at his heels make this an auspicious beginning for the chapter.
As Homer puts it, Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, is handsome as a god (Venus).
And all this just from the first page of chapter two.
Of course, most of these treasures come into the spotlight because the suitors are consuming them at an alarming rate. Here are a few clips:
…they butcher our cattle, our sheep, our fat-goats
feasting themselves sick
all of it squandered.
Rich or poor, accumulation or squandered, it’s all a gage of $. In the classical world, the Beautiful Bovine, and of how many you had, was one principle way to measure this wealth.
…and all our worldly goods in the bargain…
If you were devouring my treasure, all my cattle…
…yes, if a man of such wealth should lie in state…
Devour your own possessions…
Essentially the value of our metaphorical coin.
And you, old man, we’ll clap some fine on you
you’ll weep to pay, a fine to crush your spirit!
In effect, we’re going to take some of your personal fortune.
The prince’s wealth will be devoured as always,
mercilessly- no reparations ever…
…they lay their lives on the line when they consume
Odysseus’ worldly goods.
What a bore! He’d double our work for us,
splitting up his goods, parceling out his house…
…her care, her vigilance, guarding all those treasures…
Kill you by guile,
they will, and carve your birthright up in pieces.
Your treasure. And then there’s all the leather laden clothing, stores and equipment. We’ve already been introduced to the rawhide sandals Telemachus wears upon his feet…
But get your rations ready,
pack them all in vessels, the wine in jars,
and barley-meal- the marrow of men’s bones-
in durable skins
Pour me barley in well-stitched leather bags…
…and poured barley in well-stitched leather bags.
They sprang to orders,
hoisting the pinewood mast, they stepped it firm
in its block amidships, lashed it fast with stays
and with braided rawhide halyards hauled the white sail high.
What a wonderful way to learn astrology! Each chapter is laced with the images of the archetype inherent under that constellation. It is very easy to get lost in the story-line, missing all the clues that are at work.
There are other themes as well, that we have not mentioned as in the dowry (…her kin will arrange the wedding, provide the gifts, the array that goes with a daughter dearly loved…), of all the food and wine stored in Odysseus’ home (…but Telemachus headed down to his father’s storeroom, broad and vaulted, piled high with gold and bronze, chests packed with clothing, vats of redolent oil. And there, standing in close ranks against the wall, were jars of seasoned, mellow wine, holding the drink unmixed inside them, fit for a god…) of the peace and serenity that comes from the enjoyment of life (…how could I dine with you in peace, and take my pleasure?), and of the power of Venus locked up in the ‘bevies of brides,’ etc.
This chapter is rich with imagery.
All this, in just one chapter out of 24, represents a three thousand year old time capsule waiting to be opened, to learn about what little has changed, and of how life was viewed before the Age of Technology and the influence of the Bible.