Our own time boasts a facade of prosperity, but just underneath there are turbulent upheavals and a profound identity crisis. This is a time of revolutionaries, counter-revolutions, and countercultures. As we build our new counterculture, one of the most ancient works of Western literature, The Odyssey of Homer, displays its timelessness once more. If any book is a book for this confused, fractious time, it’s The Odyssey by Homer.
At the heart of The Odyssey is a tale of wandering and more importantly, coming home after that wandering. Homer spends half of The Odyssey covering Odysseus’ return to his homeland, Ithaca, after 20 years. The seafaring adventures that most people think of when they hear of Odysseus’ story are really only covered in books 9-12. The trickiest and most dangerous part of the journey is shown by Homer to be when Odysseus returns home. There, the temptation to breathe a sigh of relief and go home to his wife and his palace was overwhelming. Yet, this is the very thing that led to the death of Agamemnon, a story Odysseus is well aware of, since he spoke to the dead Wanax in the Underworld.
Homer lays out his central virtues in The Odyssey: patience, the ability to endure punishment, and metis, which might be seen as a cunning form of wisdom. Odysseus would need to put all of these to the test as he must take his home back from those who wish to take it from him – the suitors of his wife, Penelope, who hope to acquire his possessions (including his wife), dispossess his son Telemachus from his birthright, and become King of Ithaca.
Odysseus is outnumbered and outgunned, so he needs to be smart, to rely on his metis. He must surveil the area in disguise and enlist the right allies, then get the suitors in just the right spot to destroy them. Only then can he take his home back from these men who, Homer says, are “devouring” it.
And so Odysseus lived out his destiny.
His story, The Odyssey of Homer, is our story for our time too.
Odysseus left his home and even after the Trojan War ended, he couldn’t return. His loss of his home and his forced journey to wander the high seas, often cut off from human contact, threatened his identity and his glory. Many forces conspired to keep him from his return. The Lotus Eaters shared their sweet-tasting fruit that made men, Homer says, “oblivious of home.” The song of the Sirens bewitched the ears of any unfortunate passers-by, making them forget of home and only wish to stay and hear their beautiful voices. The fools would pay with their lives. Temptresses Circe and Calypso beguile Odysseus with sex and, in the latter’s case, immortality.
These were temptations to make him forget his home, to take an easier path. In the meantime, the suitors wished to take over Odysseus’ position and strip him of his possessions, his identity, possibly even his memory.
Does this situation not describe us, here and now?
We live in a social order that is trying to strip every ounce of identity from us but that of an individual consumer. The technocratic elites that run it have no loyalty to anyone or anything but their own vision of a homogenous, globalized market, where everything is reduced to a number on a ledger and to the money in their pockets. In such a world, history, heritage, culture, and identity mean nothing. They will outsource the livelihoods of their countrymen and invite invaders to our shores that no one wants, all the while making you pay for the privileges. Then they’ll try to restrict your ability to disagree by demonizing you with their fake news media or, if push comes to shove, by aiding and abetting leftist terrorists. Art and language itself will be controlled in the name of their vision. Information will be carefully controlled by digitizing everything and privacy will be eroded completely by going “cashless.” Coincidentally, Quintus Curtius summed these modern technocratic suitors up as I was writing this.
1. Plunder your country while claiming to love it.
2. Import dregs as slave labor.
3. Bail out with cash.
— Quintus Curtius (@QuintusCurtius) May 4, 2017
These technocratic suitors try to take from us, as Quintus once said years ago “our dignity, our livelihood, and our identity.” Like the suitors in The Odyssey by Homer, they are trying to steal from us our children’s birthrights. Like Telemachus, the technocratic suitors are devouring our sons’ inheritance and stripping them of their manly fortitude and pride. For our daughters, the future may be even worse. The invaders that the technocratic suitors have invited to our shores, especially in Europe, have often made it clear that they intend for our daughters to submit to the hijab, and are fair game for their sexual pleasure.
While all this happens, we, like Odysseus, are consigned to wandering by the modern suitors. They shake temptations of laziness and indolence in our faces like a hypnotist’s pendulum. To quote Quintus again, they all want us to be overweight, tattooed zombies. They try to make us forget ourselves, oblivious of home or the desire to reclaim it. Lotus is served everywhere. We are truly in our own Odyssey.
The question that now faces us is – will we wander forever, lost in the temptations strewn on the journey, or will we take up our bows?
If there’s a book that men need to read today, it’s the Odyssey of Homer, for we are all facing similar problems to Odysseus and Telemachus.
It’s worth noting that of all the Greeks who fought at Troy, Odysseus, true to his wily reputation, was the best with words, at using language for his own ends. How did he escape the Cyclops Polyphemus? Partly by using the name “noman,” which drew the other Cyclopses off his scent when blinding his captor. If there’s one thing Homer makes clear in The Odyssey, it’s that words are weapons that are just as important, if not even more, than bows and spears, as without them, the suitors wouldn’t have been manipulated to their doom. Now, you can take a page from Odysseus’ and President Trump’s playbook, and fight back against the technocratic suitors by using the persuasive language you’ll find in Stumped.