Hubert Dreyfus lecture series on Homer's Odyssey

By Xoic · Sep 16, 2023 at 8:18 AM · ·
In which I tag along with Odysseus on his little jaunt around the harbor. Feel free to join us if you want.

  1. "Custom is our nature."Pascal (the first Existentialist philosopher)
    The poetry entry was getting ridiculously long, so I decided to start a new one for this. Plus this one has nothing to do with either poetry or Romanticism. If I put the video right in the first post it'll be at the top of every page, so I can easily find it each day to watch the next lecture. I previewed the beginning to see if it captured my interest, and it did, largely because of the Pascal quote above and what it means in terms of this lecture series.

    Anybody who has followed along with my perusal of the Moby Dick lectures knows there was a lot of talk about polytheism in it, and the idea that the gods represent our moods (Dreyfus' term for it). One of Melville's big themes throughout was that you should experience all the various moods, that all of them should be sacred and honored, not only the mood of self-sacrificial piety supported by Christianity. Not any one mood in fact, but all of them, the way it was in pagan times. Clearly this is a theme running through all the lectures in this course (called Man, God, and Society in Western Literature—From Gods to God and Back). I'm not entirely sure I agree with him. Thinking for a moment about it I just realized, you aren't confined to only one mood if you're a Christian, you would experience the full range of them—everything from grief and sorrow at times, to patient suffering, to wild exultation and triumph, to fear and trembling etc. So I'm not quite sure I understand what he means, I'll need to think about it some more, and listen to some lectureage.

    Oh, as for the Pascal quote, what it means is that human beings are very different in various parts of the world, because we all have different customs, and whatever customs you're raised with determine a lot about what you believe and your ethics etc. In other words there's no single universal set of customs or morals or whatever that defines us all as human beings. So maybe what it all means is that a monotheism like Christianity tries to impose one definite prescribed morality for everyone in the world, and it simply won't work for people who live in certain kinds of cultures. Maybe moods is the wrong word, it makes it sound too trivial and shallow, I think he's going for something much deeper. But offhand I can't think of a better word right now. Well anyway, I'm rambling.

    I still have one more Moby Dick lecture to cover before I move my base of operations here. I'm just getting it set up now so it'll be all cozy and warm when I'm ready to start in on the Odyssey.
    Seven Crowns likes this.


  1. Xoic
    Quick followup thought on that—in the shift to monotheism, it isn't that all the other 'moods' evaporated and no longer exist, it's more that they all got rolled up into God, and subordinated to the overriding moral/philosophical wisdom he represents. The way I always saw it, the polytheisms were rowdy and rambunctious, with a bunch of gods all fighting like unruly children over their followers and engaging in petty squabbles. But monotheism represented a new paradigm, where rather than warring factions with no supervision we have one god-figure that the others have all been incorporated into as traits. People still made love and made war etc, but supposedly (assuming they're good Christians) they did it all with the proper observance of Christian principles, rather than being the playthings of petty and vengeful warring sub-gods. It's sort of like the difference between before the teacher shows up and after. Or maybe "Wait till your father comes home." Unrestrained rowdiness on the one hand, and "Oh shit, daddy's home!" on the other. In other words unity and cohesion as opposed to unrestrained chaos.

    This is my current thinking on the subject. When I get into the lectures I'll see if it changes.
  2. Xoic
    "People still made love and made war etc, but supposedly (assuming they're good Christians) they did it all with the proper observance of Christian principles, rather than being the playthings of petty and vengeful warring sub-gods."

    ... And maybe this is exactly what Dreyfus is referring to when he says "One mood." People still make love and make war under Christianity (for example), but rather than being completely under the control of Aphrodite or Ares at the time, it's supposed to always be under the overriding principles of God (that mood of self-sacrificing piety that you're supposed to maintain even when in any of these other moods).

    Yeah, I'm thinkin' this is what he's talking about. That one mood is supposed to dominate everything you do, no matter what other mood may have you under its spell at the time. Now, as for whether that's a good thing or a bad thing (or maybe it's different depending on the specifics of the situation)—that's a whole different matter.
  3. Xoic
    "Got to get back to the land, set my soul free"

    It occurs to me one of the main reasons some Romantics wanted to 'get back to polytheism' was because Romanticism was kicked off by Rousseau, who's credited with creating the theory of the noble savage. And of course the Romantics were also aligned against modern science, technology and materialism. Some wanted to get back to Catholicism, some to paganism and possibly some to Animism, the first religion, in which every tree, rock, and river has its own soul and must be asked permission before using it for your own purposes.

    It also occurred to me Melville's reasons for wanting to get back to polytheism might be laid out in Omoo, his earlier book about his own whaling voyage, during which he requested to be put ashore on a tropical island populated by a cannibal tribe. He lived there with them for some time, I don't know how long. The whaling vessel was probably crewed by Christian Nantucketers, so he'd have the ability to contrast the two very different worlds against each other on that voyage. His attitude probably aligned with Terrence Malick's, who made the movie The New World—the story of John Smith and Pocahontas. I wrote some about that on this post, which includes a clip from the movie. It's definitely built on the concept of the noble savage and the corrupting influence of civilization.

    Another Romantic who left civilization for the tropics was the painter Paul Gaugin, compatriot of Vincent Van Gogh, who famously relocated to a tropical island and started painting the scantily-clad or often nude island girls (probably one big part of the reason so many wanted to get to the tropics. There was no National Geographic back then, you had to either go there yourself or get to a gallery to see the paintings for a taste of it 'in the flesh' so to speak). I think the Romantics in some ways were very much like the hippies of the 1960's with their whole 'get back to nature' attitude.
  4. Xoic
    Notes on Odyssey lecture 1:

    Our cultures are invisible to us. We're like fish swimming in the water, who have no idea what water is. People who travel to or spend some time living in other cultures become able to see their own culture from the new perspective of the other culture.

    Normal people living in the culture can't see it, but somehow artists are able to embody it and represent it.

    3 ways you can't see your culture: It's in your body, so close to you that you can't see it; it's everywhere—so pervasive you can't see it; and it's got to be invisible to do its job.

    Invisible culture is like light. You don't see the light itself, it falls on people and objects and allows you to see them.

    Melville became able to see his own culture more clearly when he lived in the culture of the whaling ship, and then the culture of the tropical islanders. Dreyfus sometimes calls them styles rather than cultures, and sometimes he calls it being.

    Yates: "Man can embody truth, but he can't know it." Truth is like culture, it's invisible to us but we can feel it or something. Man can embody the style without really being aware of it.

    This raises the question: How do we get to know it at all? How do we know our culture? That's the job of a great work of art.

    Marilyn Monroe was a work of art—she embodied the style of being an American woman in the 40's, so well that all men wanted a woman like her, and all women wanted to be like her. In any given place and time there's a certain style of being a woman or being a man, perhaps several different styles. People can try to imitate it, or rebel against it. And when someone embodies it perfectly we call them a god or a goddess (Bingo!). I'll bet a lot of people said that about Marilyn, and many still do. And we call these people stars because, in a way, they shine.

    That's the same thing a work of art does. Works of art are treated like gods. They made altars to The Aeneid. A work of art (including certain celebrities) holds a mirror up to the culture, they show us what we all share that would otherwise be invisible. A great work of art is called that because it does this so well—it holds up a shining exemplar, it glamorizes a moment in our culture, and shows it to us.

    A work of art becomes dead when the culture it exemplified no longer exists. Just as I suppose gods become dead when they no longer represent the values of a living culture. When a culture moves on to a new set of values or comes to an end.

    A work of art also serves an important moral function, because it shows the distinction for instance between saints and sinners (Dante), or between heroes and slaves or just ordinary subjects of the realm who don't control their own destiny (Homer), between mature and immature people etc.

    Wow, short lectures this time! The first one was only 40 minutes, last time they ran about an hour and some change.
  5. Xoic
    Ok, all that talk about culture helps me understand why Melville believed you need multiple perspectives on life, not just a single one. Perspectives are like cultures, when you shift into a new one you become more able to understand your original perspective (which you didn't before, you took it for granted and it went unexamined). It's starting to make more sense now.
  6. Xoic
    Well this is frustrating! This video isn't broken up into sections for each lecture like the Moby Dick one was, plus for some reason YouTube won't save my progress on it. I kept a tab open for the Moby Dick video continually, and each time I checked in the red line across the bottom showed my progress, and the video would start playing from right where I left off. But today I checked in (kept the video open in its own tab just like before), and it had defaulted back to the beginning. Guess I need to always post the timestamp at the end of each entry.
  7. Xoic
    Notes on Odyssey lecture 2:

    History of Being
    —First there were things—objects in the world around us. Then there were creatures, because God created everything, then there were subjects and objects, because Descartes created a new language for it or a new paradigm or way to look at things (new perspective, new style etc). And now there's a new way. Now we see everything as resources and try to maximize our ability to use them. And it doesn't change gradually, it's punctuated equilibrium. There are these huge sudden changes that upset the whole apple cart.

    The Humanist understanding is that the great books (our knowledge) just keep getting it better and better, righter and righter, it's telling us universal truths, it's trying to get a copy of reality. If you're a humanist you think that works of art are good if they're a good copy. And the word for this copying function is Mimesis. For humanists art doesn't do this job, of focusing the culture, it just tells the people in a groping way what's true, and it doesn't need preservers. It's just a fact about the way people are. If it's just a copy, if it's just a great book, it's not making the people what they are. If it's gonna be a work of art that's working (to use that Heidegger talk), then it's got to not only hold up a mirror to the people, what they all share, but they've got to appreciate it, and have rituals and celebrations that continually affirm and reaffirm it.

    Oh wow, this just hit me. Poiesis means to create, and this epic poetry like the Aeneid or the Iliad or the Odyssey actually created a culture. The Bible created a culture and defined it. The Upanishads, the Koran, the Torah.

    People used The Odyssey to settle arguments. It showed everything at its best, and what it is to be a Greek. It shows the excellent father (Odysseus), the excellent son (Telemachus), the excellent wife (Penelope). It creates standards or benchmarks that people then try to live up to. Ideals. They use it in disputes, to settle moral issues, to settle legal issues, they know it by heart. Most educated Athenians knew whole chunks of The Iliad and The Odyssey by heart, the way people once upon a time knew The Bible by heart. And like The Bible, they'll quote it on occasion to set up whatever's going on (I think he means at certain solemn or ritual occasions). And as long as they do that they're doing this preserving job. It's working because it's organizing their culture. As long as they keep doing that then it's a living work of art, but as soon as they stop it dies. The work of art dies, and the culture dies with it. So when The Odyssey dies, there'll be no more polytheism, at least not that kind of polytheism.

    But I just want to point ahead, to where we're heading. But fragments will remain. Fragments of the old worlds will get put together in some way that makes it possible for a new world, that brings back some of the things Homer saw that we lost track of. Remember I mentioned last time the importance of moods, and what a culture is like where moods are important. We'll see that again and again in The Odyssey. Different gods represent, or are personifications of different moods. And a polytheistic culture takes all those moods seriously, and it has a kind of pluralism, because there's a plurality of moods, and a kind of tolerance, because these different moods are like different worlds, and it's good to be able to be at home in several different worlds. It's not at all obvious that monotheism does that very well, that function of being tolerant and pluralistic, the way Homer did.

    The works we read in this course are the works that focused culture. Homer did it for the Homeric culture, Aeschylus did it for the Athenian culture when they became the classical Greeks so to speak. Virgil did it for the Romans. In fact he's the only one who got paid to write a work of art. Augustus said: "Go write a book that shows us who we are and what we believe in," and Dante put together an absolutely total, complete picture of the Medieval world. It's totalness and its completeness was part of the point of it. And Luther set up a whole new world. And then it sort of stops. Well, Descartes is part of that modern world—that Luther and Descartes and Kant sort of finish. And now we don't have any. And that's an interesting question we'll have to talk about again at the end—why we don't have any, and could we get one back, and what would we salvage if we did. (Continued)
  8. Xoic
    So you see how the course is laid out. I didn't choose these books, they're the works of art that have created the epochs of the West. Don Quixote is a great book and a really interesting piece of literature, but it didn't establish a world. In fact it sort of made fun of a world. And it's always good to have a counter-example, so you understand the limits of what you're looking at. Goethe when he wrote Faust was trying to create a work of art, and the Germans take it very seriously, but it doesn't work I think (says Dreyfus), but I don't know why. I'll have to think of why. I think it's something like all aspects of the culture don't fall under it, the way if you believe in a creator god, everything is a part of creation. If anything it's got as lot to do with Will. Is Faust enough of a figure—does he possess the will? I don't know. The test is—does it give things their look and people their outlook?

    (Inaudible comment from a student) Yes, that's an interesting point. Cervantes and Goethe and Proust were mirroring their times. They didn't really articulate a new outlook, they were making a copy of what it looks like to live in their time and their place (my own thought is that it also wasn't during a big paradigm change).

    In America we treat the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as works of art that created our culture (and I agree, I was thinking this from the beginning). We continually refer to them in disputes etc, and most of us have parts of them memorized. They definitely show us the way to be an excellent American, and they enshrine the values and principles that we live by. A work of art doesn't have to be a book, the Greek temple (Parthenon? Pantheon?) is a work of art in this sense, and plays can be as well. Why not a founding document?

    Some talk about Woodstock and how it was sort of a sub-work of art, but not everybody was included. It was only for a certain group within the society, not for everybody. And then Dreyfus says we now live in a different culture that doesn't have any defining work of art, and he says he doesn't understand why.

    My thought is that it's because we've thrown out that entire mode of thinking, we've become materialists, and we no longer believe in any kind of spirit. Our forefathers believed strongly in the spirit of liberty and liberalism (from the same root word), and of independence articulated by the Declaration and the Constitution, but today's materialists disbelieve in the entire notion of any kind of spirit of anything, or rather they insist on reducing it down to something trivial. They understand when you say a spirit of adventure or school spirit or my spirits are down, or lift my spirits, but they refuse to believe in a bigger or more binding spirit that can hold together an entire society and turn it into a nation. Somehow they see that as superstitious. I see it as a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, in the sense that they think science is somehow analogous to a binding spirit that can hold a society together. But it isn't. Science is only a method of obtaining facts and data about the world. Science can't be the work of art that holds us together—it doesn't articulate what it means to be an excellent man or woman, an excellent American, or anything else. It just points out facts. It's only a method of investigation. (Contiued)
  9. Xoic
    Melville worries about the loss of polytheism in his own time. He thinks something essential was lost. He worries about the fanaticism, people being so fanatical about God, and about people with no religion at all. He thinks both ways are wrong, and that the polytheism of the Greeks was better.

    Leni Riefenstahl tried to show in Triumph of the Will that Hitler was a work of art for the time, that he articulated what it was to be the perfect German. But it's hard to define what makes the good ones work and the bad ones not work. It's something to do with—struggles to define them. The good works of art are constantly being haggled over and argued over, trying to understand exactly what they mean, rather than just a single interpretation being forced on it and all others crushed out. It's not a real work of art if you have to enforce just one way to interpret it, it's some sort of a fanatical version of a work of art. You're trying to create the culture rather than articulating a culture that already exists. Jesus was certainly a work of art, and now, even 2,000 years later, people are still struggling to figure out how to interpret it and what it means. There are many ways to interpret his meaning. It either has to crush all the competition, which is what Hitler did, or people are going to constantly struggle over the interpretation.

    I was going to talk about modern writings where people say that Homer didn't understand things as well as we do today, these kind of smug interpretations, where the people are so lost in just their own modern interpretation they don't even understand what they're reading or how it worked if you lived in ancient Greece. And I think they were inside the modernist interpretation, which we haven't got anymore. Remember the modern interpretation was about subjects and objects. They believed they understand that we're subjects, and that what goes on in us is so important and psychological that it—this is very important, they think this is what Homer was missing, they believe Homer was stupid. But what it is, is a psychological way of thinking about us, in which we believe that we've got inside of us our beliefs, our desires, our fantasies, our ambitions, and so forth, and it's in terms of these psychological states, which are in our minds, and even our moods are in us. Homer would have said: "He's in a mood," but Descartes would say: "a mood is in him." To Homer a mood was something that takes over a party or some kind of gathering. But it's psychological, it's Cartesian, to think that we have all this in us, and of course these moderns think Homer didn't understand that, that he didn't think there was any inner.

    Having an inner was something people had to work very hard to convince themselves of, and Homer was already interested in whether there was anything inner. You'll understand better when I'm talking about it. I'm gonna talk about the difference between the psychological way of looking at us, which in the Homeric... Well, Homer has one moment where he sees something inner going on, and he thinks it's so strange that he has to stop and mention it. There's a place where, at one of these dinner parties, there's singing and harp playing, and they're singing about the great Odysseus. Odysseus is there, listening to his own story, and what happens in Troy, and his friends were all being killed, and he says he listened, and his heart ached, but his eyes were bone dry. He had this secret, and that's amazing, he's the only one in the book who can do it. They're all crying all over the place in Homer. We've all got that secret now, we can all cry inwardly now and our eyes stay dry as bone.

    The Christians were a big step toward the inner. The people's desires were very important, and sort of defined who they were. Homer didn't talk about anybody's desires. He just doesn't care about their desires, any more than he cares about their dreams or their fantasies, or their beliefs. He just wants to see what they're doing and whether they're in synch with the world. But Augustine has this amazing ploy in Confessions, where he talks about the fact that people came from all over to watch St. Jerome read the Bible. Now what could he be doing that would be so interesting that people would come from miles away to see him reading the Bible? He was reading it to himself instead of out loud. He had discovered that he could communicate with his own inner self, without having to go through listening to himself read. And of course that's another step toward this inner.

    When ancient Greeks thought about what we call inner thoughts and desires etc, they had to say: "The gods put them there." They don't understand the subject's own consciousness. (I think this is what's called the Bicameral Mind?)
  10. Xoic
    This is weird, I can't tell where one lecture ends and the next begins. This might be lecture 3 now, I'm not sure. Maybe I'll just stop numbering them in the titles.
  11. Xoic
    "He (Melville) thinks something essential was lost. He worries about the fanaticism, people being so fanatical about God"

    Ok, I think this must be what's meant by the single attitude or mood of monotheism. Maybe.
  12. Xoic
    Jung's approach is a rainbow of different religions

    Had some more thoughts on the single attitude, or mood, or interpretation, or perspective of monotheism. I'm still not quite sure what he means by it, but this is my latest round of thoughts—

    As far as I know Judeo-Christianity is the first religion to see itself as 'for everyone in the world,' rather than just being a local religion only for a particular tribe. It doubtless began as just a local religion of the Jews, but at some point it expanded and became a religion that included anyone willing to follow it. But of course it also includes the idea that it's The Only True Religion, and Thou Shalt Not worship any false idols etc. I think of that as common to all religions, but it might just be common to the monotheisms, I don't know.

    My own take on religion is the Jungian one. He studied them all through the lens of psychology (his own variety of it, which is built from the truths he discovered in the religions and mythologies of the world), and he found that most if not all of them contain certain ideas in common, if expressed somewhat differently, but they also all contain big differences. Again I'll reiterate that I think Dreyfus might misunderstand Jung's take, and confuse it with Joseph Campbell's, which seems to be that all religions are essentially the same, with different surface trappings. Jung was well aware of the many strong and often incompatible differences in various religions. But he was also aware that many of them, in their own way, expressed certain very similar takes on the unconscious and its relation to the conscious mind. For example, the many different branches of Alchemy had some very different sets of ideas, some of which shared certain core truths about how to come into a better relation with the unconscious (basically this is the core of all religions founded by people who have experienced it for themselves). Once you've had an experience of recognition of the deep unconscious, which can come from a psychedelic experience, a dream, a vision, or in many other ways, you become aware of it and either try to wall yourself off from it (if you fear it), or dedicate your life to trying to experience it more and hopefully bring yourself (your conscious awareness) into better alignment with it. If you manage to succeed at that task, you will eventually reach what's been called a spiritual awakening—a much more full awareness of the unconscious and a union with the core of it, that he called the Self or the Archetype of the Self (the Higher Self), based in large part on the Hindu Atman concept. He found all these similarities between spiritual and religious practices all around the world, and it became clear they were all referring to the same inner process he had discovered himself. Many of them used very different terminology and some used different methods, but essentially, when it came to this particular process of awakening to the inner reality of the unconscious, they had all made the same discoveries.

    In his writings he referred to these truths sometimes in psychological terms, but he also discussed the terminologies and the different perspectives of some of them, and tried to understand where many of them aligned and where they differed. So really what he did was take many different perspectives (interpretations, moods, attitudes, what-have-you), and try to ferret out the commonalities that aligned with the truths he was discovering in the human psyche. I wouldn't call that "only one perspective." He discovered the one from the many, and the many from the one. In fact quite literally, it's what Dreyfus is calling "Cobbling together bits and pieces of various other viewpoints or moods or perspectives." This is why I'm open to so many different religious/spiritual paths and mythologies and folk tales/fairy tales etc, all of which contain truths about the psyche couched in various metaphors, without being attached to any of them in a dogmatic way.

    So I now think Dreyfus is referring to becoming dogmatically attached to one particular branch/sect of religion and rejecting all others and every other viewpoint, such as science. Hopefully what he means becomes more clear as this goes forward. Because, don't all religions demand that "There Can Be Only One?" I mean, including the polytheisms?
  13. Xoic
    But unfortunately Jung's discoveries didn't become widely known, because he pissed off Big Daddy Freud and got himself excommunicated from what went on to become the ruling paradigm of psychological practice around the world. So, I guess like Woodstock, his writings became segregated off and are available to whoever wants to seek them out, but never reached the widespread popularity I think they should have. Well ok, I guess spiritual seeking has never and will never be popular or for the masses. I mean, not in the modern world anyway.
  14. Xoic
    Notes on Odyssey lecture pt. 3

    Yeah, every day when I look at the lecture video it's defaulted back to zero. I'm writing the number down in Evernote each time (hope I don't forget, it took a few frustrating minutes yesterday to find where I had left off).

    Telemachus, Odysseus' son. Today we would say he's driven by inner psychological or emotional urges or drives or desires or motivations, but in Homer's day they said he was driven by a god. The more autonomous you are, the more able to direct your own life by your inner beliefs, convictions, and will, the more mature you are. But they don't understand that. For Homer, if somebody has strong inner convictions and will, it's the work of a god. These two views are called the psychological and the ontological explanation. Onto is the Greek word for Being. Ontology is the study of Being (existence). It's a huge current in philosophy, for instance the contrast between Being and Becoming, or Being and Nothingness. It's neither external nor internal. Apparently the Greeks in Homer's day didn't really even think in terms of an inner. Descartes created the idea of the inner (at least officially). (I'm guessing any time someone has a voice in their head, an inner monologue or dialogue, that's considered the voice of a god? But then what about the responses, from the person? I 'hear' those as a voice too, but that's my voice. Sometimes I answer myself, sometimes the response seems to come from deeper inside. This bothers me in the same way it does when people say "The ancient Greeks couldn't see the color blue, because the sea is always Wine-dark, and they never call the sky blue." Well ok, but that doesn't mean they literally couldn't see the color, just maybe they didn't have a name for it, or Homer (whoever that was) just never mentioned it. Maybe he just really loved the wine-dark thing and used it as his favorite convention. I suspect the idea of an inner dimension was floating around and some people got it, but the culture as a whole didn't recognize it yet, and they didn't really have words or the concept of it fully formed yet.) The ontological is neither inner nor outer, it's more basic than either.

    Telemachus is 19 or 20, his dad has been gone all his life so far, from right after he was born, and now there are all these suitors living in the house (it's a large estate with expansive grounds as I understand it), they all treat him as a kid, and so does his mom. He's getting the idea that he needs some kind of purpose, something to do to get him out of that situation and to be able to see himself maybe as a man. Athena had said to Zeus, a few pages back, "I'll go visit Ithaca and stir up the son of Odysseus." So he's old enough to grow up and take over his father's job (as the king of Ithaca), but he's just sitting around daydreaming and doing nothing. If you take the psychological view, you'd say he needs to have better beliefs and more courage to do it, but that's not how it happens in Homer. So Athena shows up in the form of an old friend of the family. He's daydreaming what if his father showed up and drove these men like dead leaves from the palace (oh wow, it's a palace. Well I guess so, since Odysseus was the king). So Mentes, the old family friend, arrives and tells Telemachus that he should take action and do something about these suitors, who are taking a lot of liberties with the palace and eating up all the food and constantly hitting on his mom. But it's said that it wasn't really Mentes, it was Athena in the form of Mentes. She didn't really give him courage, she gave him something much more powerful and useful. She gave him an understanding of the situation, and of who he is. And the way to express it is, she's turning him from a child into a man.
  15. Xoic
    She tells him "You need not bear this insolence any more, you're a child no longer," and she waves a magic wand over him and he stops being a child. But it's not magic. This is the job of gods. She gets him in tune with his situation. Dreyfus calls it "The Athena Function." It doesn't matter whether it was Mentes who performed it, or Athena—there's a way you can influence another person, in a very important way, by changing their world, by giving them a whole different understanding of what's going on and who they are. That's what Mentes/Athena is doing for him. It's like attuning him to a mood, but it's bigger, it's more realistic and powerful. You get them attuned to the situation, to reality as it exists. You could say Telemachus got 'Inspired.' That literally means a spirit takes over. Remember spirit is the word for air or wind and also for thought/feeling etc. It's the life in a person, the living part. God breathed spirit into Adam to give him life, after making him out of earth. Spirit/inspiration. Same root word. So Telemachus stops feeling like a victim and starts to understand that he's a potential hero.
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