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The Authoress of the Odyssey
Samuel Butler (late 19thc) had a theory that the Odyssey was written by a woman. I finally looked this up -- it's not just a theory but an entire manuscript. He's very idiosyncratic, and a lot of his points I don't particularly agree with (for instance I find Fitzgerald's beautiful reading of the recognition scene between Odysseus and Penelope, around the moment when Odysseus' old nurse gives him a bath, to be much more convincing than Butler's). But nonetheless his sensibility is very enjoyable. It's not just that he thinks it's a woman, by the way: he thinks it's Nausicaa.

Without passing judgment on the project, thought others might enjoy if I posted some quotes, chosen somewhat at random:

"When Helen mixes Nepenthe with the wine which was to be handed round to Menelaus, Telemachus, and Pisistratus, we learn its virtues to be so powerful that a man could not weep during all the day on which he had drunk it, not even though he had lost both his father and his mother, or had seen a brother or a son cut to pieces before his eyes (iv. 220-226). From the order in which these relationships present themselves to the writer's mind I opine that her father and mother were the most important persons in her world, and hence that she was still young and unmarried."

"A man who was speaking of my theory that the "Odyssey" was written by a woman as a mere mauvaise plaisanterie, once told me it was absurd, for the first thing a woman would have thought of after the suitors had been killed was the dining room carpet. I said that mutatis mutandis this was the very thing she did think of."

"When Ulysses and Penelope are in bed (xxiii. 300-343) and are telling their stories to one another, Penelope tells hers first. I believe a male writer would have made Ulysses’ story come first and Penelope's second."
I sometimes wish for a week or so among the Victorians. Perhaps not much more, but they were curious folk.

In any case, it's a curious theory as, for myself, I always found the Nausicaa chapter of the Odyssey had a kind of bright color which some of the other chapters lacked; it's like the Wizard of Oz in the midst of a Murnau film. But that's not to say it's stronger; there is such great pathos in the other parts --  pathos which, in my opinion, reflects quite a mature sensibility. I'm thinking for instance of the moment where Ulysses hears the singer begin to tell his own story (and Athena hides his weeping in a kind of cloud). Or even the final moment of resolution, where Athena explains to Ulysses that he will have to walk inland with an oar on his shoulder until he finds people for whom the sea is so remote, so unthinkable, that they greet him by asking what this winnowing fan is on his shoulder: and there he must build an altar to Poseidon and sacrifice, and the feud will be forgiven.

These are not, I think, precisely the sorts of pathos one feels at twenty; though it might well have been Nausicaa the wise queen, framing this story to explain events long after her brief encounter with Ulysses.
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