Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Menelaos in Homer's Odyssey

Menelaos - as depicted in Homer's Odyssey - while not the most sympathetic of characters, is still one of the most poignant. Amid all of his splendor and wealth, and for what it's worth, he's also the spouse of Helen, reputedly the "most beautiful woman on earth," he is a haunted soul, grateful to have survived the Trojan war plus seven years of delays getting home, yet still grappling with something akin to post-traumatic guilt. As he tells Telemachos in Book 4: "no mortal man can vie with Zeus. His home and all his treasures are for ever. But as for men, it may well be that few have more than I..." He is, in other words, the man who "has it all" - but at the same time cannot help but lament his years adrift after the war: "how painfully I wandered before I brought [this treasure] home! Seven years at sea, Cyprus, Phoenicia, Egypt, and still farther ..." When Proteus tells him of his brother, Agamemnon's death at the hands of Aigisthos, a crime he could have perhaps prevented, had he offered sacrifice to Zeus and the immortal gods, in part to stem the wrath of Athena and thereby avoiding a delayed homecoming, he is smitten with grief: "before the end [of his speech] my heart was broken down. I slumped on the trampled sand and cried aloud, caring no more for life or the light of day." Proteus tries to cheer him up announcing his special status as one of the immortals: "As to your own destiny, prince Menelaos, you shall not die in the blue grass land of Argos; rather the gods intend you for Elysion...where all existence is a dream of ease..." But Menelaos has been afflicted with a set of painful memories, it seems, which are impossible to overcome. He is the man who knows too much, the man who cannot be happy.

Time Capsule - 2014

Since March 8th, Malaysian flight 370 en route to China has gone missing…Months have gone by but the mystery remains unsolved. After annexing the Crimea, Russia's next move in eastern Ukraine is still on hold... Hundreds of miners in Turkey were killed during a horrible mining accident... Jim Abrahamson was recently fired as high-profile editor at the New York Times. Abu Hazam was convicted on 11 terrorist charges...Boko Haram (a terror cell) has kidnapped and is still holding school-age girls in Nigeria, threatening to sell them into slavery... Generals have declared martial law in Thailand...The U.S. has "indicted" five Chinese military officers for hacking into American companies...Wildfires have been burning in Southern California near San Marcos…And more recently in the Napa valley. Fire season started early again. Big tornadoes have been rolling through the midwest at regular intervals...Yet another random school shooting occurred near the campus of UC Santa Barbara by a disturbed youth who posted videos on youtube. Beau Bergdahl was released in exchange for five Guantanamo detainees after having being held prisoner for five years by the Taliban. In other news, a group known as ISIS has taken over Mosul and Kirkuk in Iraq - causing 500,000 refugees to flee. They are said to be marching on Baghdad next!