Excerpt A: Penelope Weaving - Loudoun County Public Schools

Excerpt A: Penelope Weaving - Loudoun County Public Schools

Excerpt A: Penelope Weaving Whats going on? For many years, Penelope has been waiting at home on the Greek island of Ithaca for her husband King Odysseus to return from the Trojan War. Since she is a lovely, wealthy woman, she has many suitors who are convinced that her husband died in the war and that she should marry one of them. Vulnerable without the protection of her husband, Penelope tells the suitors that she cannot marry until she finishes weaving a piece of cloth. She weaves all day, then unravels her work at night. After three years, the suitors find out that she has been delaying them with this excuse. They rush marriage on, and I spin out my wiles. A God from the blue it was inspired me first To set up a great loom in our royal halls And I began to weave, and the weaving finespun, The yarns endless, and I would lead them on: Young men, My suitors, now that King Odysseus is no more, Go slowly, keen as you are to marry me, until I can finish off this web So my weaving wont all fray and come to nothing. Then, when the wheeling seasons brought the fourth year on And the months waned and the long days came round once more, Then, thanks to my maids the shameless, reckless creatures The suitors caught me in the act, denounced me harshly. So I finished it off. Against my will. They forced me. And now I cannot escape a marriage, nor can I contrive A deft way out.

Excerpt B: The Cyclops Whats going on? On their way home from the Trojan War, Odysseus and his crew meet the Cyclops, a one-eyed giant. The Cyclops Polyphemus shuts them up in his cave and begins to devour the men, one by one. Odysseus must think of a plan to escape. He tells the Cyclops that his name is Nobody. Then, Odysseus stalls for time by giving the Cyclops glass after glass of wine. The Cyclops soon gets drunk and falls asleep. Odysseus and his men then take a large olive branch, heat it in the fire, and use it to blind the Cyclops. Then, they make their escape and return to the ship. So you ask me the name Im known by, Cyclops? I will tell you Nobody thats my name. Nobody So my mother and father call me, and all my friends. ...I thrust our stake in a bed of embers To get it red-hot and rallied all my comrades: Courage no panic, no one hold back now! I dragged it from the flames, my men clustering round As some God breathed enormous courage through us all. Hoisting high that olive stake with its stabbing point, Straight into the monsters eye they bore it hard he bellowed out for help from his neighbor cyclopes Hearing his cries, they lumbered up from every side And hulking round his cavern, asked what ailed him. Nobody, friends Polyphemus bellowed back from his cave Nobodys killing me now by fraud and not by force! They lumbered off, but laughter filled my heart To think how nobodys name my great cunning stroke

Had duped them one and all. Excerpt C: Circe Whats going on? After escaping from the Cyclops, Odysseus and his men sail to the island of Aeaea. The crew anchor the ship and swim ashore, hoping to rest and find food and drink. The island is the home of the enchantress and magician Circe, who welcomes Odysseuss men and then casts a wicked spell on them. Odysseus is warned of Circes power by his shipmate Eurylochus, who distrusted Circe and secretly returned to the ship. The God Hermes gives Odysseus a magic flower to protect him from Circes spells, and Odysseus goes ashore. There he discovers what Circe has done, and rescues his crew. So he urged and the men called out and hailed her. She opened her gleaming doors and at once stepped forth, Inviting them all in, and in they went, all innocence. Only Eurylochus stayed behind he sensed a trap. She ushered them to sit on high-backed chairs, Then she mixed them a potion cheese, barley, And pale honey mulled in Pramnian wine But into the brew she stirred her wicked drugs To wipe from their memories any thought of home. Once theyd drained the bowls she filled, suddenly She struck with her wand, drove them into her pigsties, All of them bristling into swine with grunts, Snouts even their bodies, yes, and only The mens minds stayed steadfast as before. So off they went to their pens, sobbing, squealing

As Circe flung them acorns, cornel nuts, and mast, Common fodder for hogs that root and roll in mud. Excerpt D: The Underworld Whats going on? After leaving the island home of Circe, Odysseus goes down to the Underworld, the kingdom of the dead. There, he seeks advice from the prophet Tiresias on how to get his ship home safely. First, Odysseus sacrifices two calves so the dead will speak with him. While Odysseus is waiting for the prophet, his shipmate Elpenor appears. Elpenor was killed on Circes island, and how pleads with his friend Odysseus to give him a proper burial. But first The ghost of Elpenor, my companion, came toward me. Hed not been buried under the wide ways of earth, Not yet, wed left his body in Circes house, Unwept, unburied this other labor pressed us. But I wept to see him now, pity touched my heart And I called out a winged word to him there: Elpenor, How did you travel down to the world of darkness? Faster on foot, I see, than I in my black ship. My lord, remember me, I beg you! Dont sail off And desert me, left behind unwept, unburied, dont, Or my curse may draw Gods fury on your head. Perform my rites, and plant on my tomb that oar I swung with mates when I rowed among the living. All this, my unlucky friend, I reassured him, I will do for you. I wont forget a thing.

Excerpt E: The Sirens Whats going on? Soon after the journey to the Underworld, Odysseus and his crew sail near the island of the Sirens. The Sirens are birdlike creatures with womens faces and arms. They sing beautiful songs that bewitch sailors and cause their deaths in shipwrecks. Odysseus knows how dangerous the Sirens are, but he wants to hear their exquisite songs. He blocks the ears of his crew with wax, and has his men tie him tightly to the ships mast so he can listen without danger and continue sailing home. Now with a sharp sword I sliced an ample wheel of beeswax Down into pieces, kneaded them in my two strong hands And the wax grew soft, worked by my strength And Helios burning rays, the sun at high noon, And I stopped the ears of comrades one by one. They bound me hand and foot in the tight ship Erect at the mast-block, lashed by ropes to the mast And rowed and churned whitecaps stroke on stroke. We were just offshore as far as a mans shout can carry, Scudding close, when the Sirens sensed at once a ship Was racing past, and burst into their high, thrilling song: Come closer, famous OdysseusAchaeas pride and glory Moor your ship on our coast so you can hear our song! Never has any sailor passed our shores in his black craft Until he has heard the honeyed voices pouring from our lips, And once he hears to his hearts content sails on, a wiser.

Excerpt F: The Swineherd Whats going on? Odysseus finally arrives home on the shores of the Greek island of Ithaca. The Goddess Athena tells him that his house is overrun with arrogant suitors who want to marry his wife Penelope. She tells him they are behaving wickedly, disrespecting Odysseus family, and wasting all of the goods in the house. Athena disguises Odysseus as an old man so he can return to his house undercover the next morning. Before he sends him home, Athena brings Odysseusin disguise to his loyal friend the swineherd Eumaeus, who greets his unknown guest warmly and gives him food and rest for the night. On that note, The loyal swineherd led the way to his shelter, Showed his guest inside and sat Odysseus down On brush and twigs he piled up for the visitor, Flinging over these the skin of a shaggy wild goat, Broad and soft, the swineherds own good bedding. The king, delighted to be so well received, Thanked the man at once: My hostmay Zeus And the other Gods give you your hearts desire For the royal welcome you have shown me here. And you replied, Eumaeus, loyal swineherd, Its wrong, my friend, to send any stranger packing even one who arrives in worse shape than you. Every stranger and beggar comes from Zeus And whatever scrap they get from the likes of us Theyll find it welcome.

Excerpt G: The Archery Contest Whats going on? The wicked suitors continue their rowdy behavior in the house of Odysseus. They feast and enjoy music played by slaves. They also force Penelope to choose one of them as a husband. She announces that she will marry the man who can string Odysseus bow and shoot an arrow from it. One by one the suitors try, but none have the skill to do the task. Odysseus, who had arrived at the house disguised as an old man, asks to join the contest. All of the suitors ridicule and laugh at the old man for trying to do something requiring great strength and skill. But the old man who is really Odysseusstrings the bow and shoots the arrow with ease! A suitor would glance at his neighbor, jeering, taunting Look at our connoisseur of bows! Sly old fox maybe hes got bows like stored in his house. That, or hes bent on making one himself. Look how he twists and turns it in his hands! The clever tramp means trouble I wish him luck, some cocksure lord chimed in, as good as his luck in bending back that weapon! So they mocked, but Odysseus, mastermind in action, Once hed handled the great bow and scanned every inch, Then, like an expert singer skilled at lyre and song Who strains a string to a new peg with ease, Making the pliant sheep-gut fast on either end So with virtuoso ease Odysseus strung his mighty bow. Quickly his right hand plucked the string to test its pitch And under his touch it sang out clear and sharp as a swallows cry.

Horror swept through the suitors, faces blanching in white. Excerpt H: Revenge Whats going on? The Goddess Athena changes Odysseus back from an old man to his young, strong self. The suitors who have been pursuing Penelope reach for their weapons to kill Odysseus, but their weapons have been hidden by Odysseus son Telemachus. Then, with the Goddess Athenas help, Odysseus avenges the wrongdoing that evil suitors brought to his house. He kills them all, while the servants of the house watch in awe. And now Athena, looming out of the rafters high above them, Brandishing her man-destroying shield of thunder, terrifying The suitors out of their minds, and down the hall they panicked wild, like herds stampeding, driven mad as the darting gadfly strikes late in the spring when the long days come round. The attackers struck like eagles, crook-clawed, hook-beaked, Swooping down from a mountain ridge to harry smaller animals That skim across the flatland, cringing under the clouds, But the eagles plunge in fury, rip the lives outhopeless, Never a chance of flight or rescueand people love the sport So the attackers routed the suitors headlong down the hall, Wheeling into the slaughter, slashing left and right, And grisly screams broke from skulls cracked open The whole floor awash with blood.

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