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The Odyssey Reading Club -- Entry 5 -- Glossary & Cast of Characters for Book II

Second verse, same as the first. Far fewer entries this time around, though, since we've already established the main characters and quite a few of the references. (Here's the post for Book I. Also, there are several characters named and introduced in this part that have no source except Homer, so you know as much as anyone else. Good feeling, isn't it?)

Rosy Fingered Dawn: Along with its variants, possibly the most commonly used and remembered phrase in Homer. Dawn was, well, the goddess of the Dawn, obviously enough. Mainly I just wanted to call out our first "rosy fingered dawn" reference.

Themis: A minor deity who was goddess of divine law, order, and custom. In this capacity, she was evoked in assemblies.

Tyro, Alcmene: Legendary beauties who bore sons to gods who disguised themselves as their husbands. Poseidon slept with Tyro while in her husband's form and she bore him twin sons. Impregnated by Zeus while in the guise of her husband, Alcmene bore his son Heracles. (We're using Greek here, not Latin--so no Hercules.)

Furies (Erinyes): Three (possibly more--sources differ) ancient, chthonic goddesses of retribution and vengeance. They pursued and tormented those who violated the most sacred natural laws, mainly dealing with family and the breaking of oaths. Interestingly, in Aeschylus' Orestia, they pursued Orestes after he killed his mother Clytemnestra until the newer Olympian gods intervened and instituted the justice of man.

Mentor: Probably should have included this one in Book I. Mentor was an old, dear friend of Odysseus who was given control of Odysseus' household in his absence. His name passed directly into English.

This book also contains the famous story of Penelope weaving the burial shroud and then picking it apart every night in order to delay the suitors.



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