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What are some allusions in Books 10-12 of Homer's Odyssey?

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colecwt | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 6, 2011 at 9:12 AM via web

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What are some allusions in Books 10-12 of Homer's Odyssey?

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noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted February 12, 2012 at 12:57 PM (Answer #1)

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Books 10-12 of Homer's Odyssey contain a number of allusions to other events in classical mythology.

In Book 10 and elsewhere, Hermes is given the epithet "Slayer of Argus," which alludes to a story told outside of Homer about how Hermes killed a multi-eyed creature named Argus, who was charged with guarding a woman named Io.

Book 11 contains dozens of allusions as Odysseus sees or encounters the spirits of numerous famous dead people. For example, Odysseus sees "Eriphyle, who sold her own husband’s life for gold." (A.S. Kline translation). This is an allusion to Amphiaraus of Argos, whose wife Eriphyle, bribed by Polyneices with a divinely-made necklace, convinced her husband to go off and fight in a war that he knew would result in his own (Amphiaraus') death.

In the same book, Odysseus sees Heracles, who mentions that he "served a man far inferior to me, and he set me difficult tasks." This is an allusion to Eurystheus, the king who sent Heracles on his famous labors.

Finally, in Odyssey 12, we find an allusion to the quest for the Golden Fleece when Circe tells Odysseus about the Wandering Rocks:

Only one ocean-going vessel has passed between them, the celebrated Argo fleeing from Aeetes, and the waves would have quickly broken her on the massive crags, if Hera had not seen her through, because of her care for Jason.

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