Temporarily blogging a bit less right now; reading Homer – The Odyssey

Trying to install the latest OS X update turned my computer into a lump of dough the other day. The bad news is that I can’t find the Mac OS X 10.5 install disc, but the good news is that the nice people at the Apple Store will take care of me. The sucky part of that is my appointment is on Friday. But the good news of that is that it’ll mean I’ll be spending less time endlessly verifying that yes I have no new mail or checking the blog stats page and confirming that my three fans have read my last post twice.

Of course, life goes on. I’ve put in dozens of miles on my bicycle this week, and I’ve devoted myself to reading Homer’s The Odyssey. I’m up to the part where the suitors have plotted against Telemachus, though Odysseus’ return has been prophesied, even by Zeus. As the suitors suffer from até, the blindness the gods give you before they strike you down, they ignored the omens, and I have a hunch that Odysseus will soon be laying the smack down.

What’s cool about reading The Odyssey is that it gives me a way to compare our current habits and customs. For instance, in ancient Greece, at least among the nobility, if a stranger came to your house (an oikos, similar to today’s term “estate,” i.e. one of John McCain’s seven or eight or more houses), the law of hospitality called upon you (the host) to bring the stranger in, feed them and give them wine, make them feel welcome, and only after they had eaten were you to ask of their name and family. Back in ancient Greece, they had blood feuds, much as they did in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, or as they still do in contemporary street gangs and political parties. So if you announce your name the second you walk in, you could find your head being whacked with an axe if your families happened to be in a blood feud, a feud that you didn’t know about! Ferinstance, when that one guy killed my great uncle twice removed, I knew his ass would be mine if I ever happened to come across him. But when he came to my house, I didn’t know who he was until after I’d microwaved a pizza and given him beer…   (Never mind.)  

It was curious being in this mindset at Drinking Liberally last night and having new people come in and say “Hi I’m [Jane Smith].” I replied in kind. But I smiled inside knowing that we’ve generally moved beyond blood feuds and sacrificing heifers to the gods to ensure safe passage.


Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.