August 13, 2005


I don’t know why I’m fascinated by this Odysseus, a.k.a., Ulysses. People who’ve read my blog from the start should remember that I used to keep my nickname as Ulysses. Its not just me, everybody seems to be fascinated by him.

Consider literature—there’s Ulysses by Joyce. Take poetry—and you have one of my favourite poems, Ulysses by Tennyson. Who can’t help loving lines like:

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

You take music, and you get another of my favourite songs—Tales of Brave Ulysses by Cream. With the trademark Cream imagery, consider:

And the colours of the sea blind your eyes with trembling mermaids,
And you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Ulysses:
How his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing,
For the sparkling waves are calling you to kiss their white laced lips.

I’ve read articles on him, listened to discussions about him. I’ve read an unproduced screenplay based on the story. In short, I know as much about the character as can be known, without actually reading the Odyssey. And its not through lack of trying that I haven’t read the book yet—all I could find (for free) online was the text in a verse-like form. I can’t read something like that on screen, though I probably could on paper. And I can’t seem to get my hands on a good prose translation…

I still can’t say why I’m so fascinated. The epic nature of the story will keep anyone engrossed, but there’s something that sets him apart; you can’t help but admire the cunning he shows. Plus (I think) he’s the most multi-layered character you can get out of ancient literature.

I love the moral ambiguity inherent in the Odyssey. I love the resilience & persistence shown by the characters. But I can’t nail down the reason I’m so fascinated by it…

I realize that it is futile to be in introspection mode for too long, you never get to the bottom of your likes & dislikes. This post was more of a statement-of-fact, than a search-for-answers.

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