At the close of the introduction to her exquisite new translation of Homer’s Odyssey, classical scholar Emily Wilson directly addresses the reader. “There is a stranger outside the house,” she tells us:
He is old, ragged, and dirty. He is tired. He has been wandering, homeless, for a long time, perhaps many years. Invite him inside. You do not know his name. He may be a thief. He may be a murderer. He may be a god. He may remind you of your husband, your father, or yourself. Do not ask questions. Wait.
There is much to explore in this passage and the lines that follow. But what strikes me today is Wilson’s simple sentence: “He may be a god.”
The stranger may be a god. Or a goddess.
Ever since I first read it when I was sixteen, I have loved Homer’s Odyssey. For many years I was lucky enough to teach it almost every semester, and so I came to know it intimately. Despite the valid feminist critique of the ancient Greek epic—that it glorifies patriarchy, justifying and perpetuating men’s control over women—I still see it as an inspiring evocation of female autonomy and power, both human and divine. Especially divine. Continue reading “Recognizing Our Mentors by Joyce Zonana”