Monday, 8 November 2010
Simon Armitage on Odysseus
The island of Ithaca as it looks today...
A powerful and thought provoking documentary by Simon Armitage on BBC4 tonight just before the equally as interesting new series on 'The glory of Greece' which starts next Monday on the same channel.
The Illiad and the Odyssey are of course two vast (in terms of volume) poems that we had to learn when I was at school in Greece in the 70s and in classical Greek! The poet Homer wrote both of these about 3,000 years ago when the Greek nation was enjoying its 'golden stage'.
The Odyssey is about the King of Ithaca and his army trying to return back to the Kingdom of Ithaca following the end of the war in Troy.
Its the story about his adventure back to Ithaca which took a good 10 years and its simply the story about the conflict that we all have within us when we are younger. Its about the temptations that we face and the many challenges and whether we can at the end of a long journey settle and find our own Ithaca by winning the challenges that we constantly face. My own Odyssey was the time I served in Lambeth and my role with Lambeth Unison and my moving away and re inventing myself.
The Odyssey is also important to the Greek nation because it signifies the almost continuous struggle faced by the Hellenes, like the current one with the economic crisis, but it is also a lesson that teaches us that it is in moments of crisis and massive challenge that we fight back, organise and prevail and I can see that already with the reaction to current the economic crisis.