Modern day Odysseus leaving with honor (timē)

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When we read non-modern texts it’s easy to overlook how few things people used to have.   A great king, for instance, might in the middle ages have only one carpet he moved from hall to hall.   In the world of Homer, the only way to get stuff was to make it, get it as a gift, or plunder it by force.   The Trojan war was fought over Helen, a stolen object.   The Iliad and the Odyssey both are about warriors becoming mass murders in order to avenge the loss of their stuff.  The word (timē) that is usually as ‘honor,’ can often just as easily be translated as ‘stuff’ –the kinds of things, possessions, sex objects, that today can easily be acquired by credit card, over the internet even.

Leaving with ‘honor’ and a bag full of tricks is just what Odysseus does time after time.

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