The Odyssey Landscapes Essay

1480 words - 6 pages

The Odyssey Landscapes, discovered on the Esquiline Hill in Rome in the nineteenth century, are Roman paintings set within a Second-style scheme (Ling 1991, 110). Ling argues that many scholars believe that the artist of the paintings may borrow heavily from prototypes of the original masterpiece (1991, 110). Positioned 5.5 meters from the bottom of the wall, the masterpiece depicts Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, when Odysseus arrives at the land of the Laestrgonians and when he enters the land of the Underworld (Ling 1991, 110). Although the Odyssey Landscapes are meant to illustrate Homer’s epic, the artist took certain liberties on interpreting the scenes, as certain parts of the masterpiece depart from Homer’s epic.
First, some parts of the painting do not contextualize Homer’s epic at the scene when Odysseus arrives at the land of the Laestrgonians. On the top left corner of the paintings, viewers can see three flying figures that have similar colors which allow them to blend into the sky. As Ling notes, these figures “represent the Aeolian winds, the gift of King Aeolus, which had been carelessly released by Odysseus’s men and had blown away from their native lands to a new phase of tribulations” (Ling 1991, 110). Homer’s epic describes the scene when Odysseus’s men release Aeolian winds:
A fatal plan, but it won my shipmates over/They loosed the sack and all the winds bust out and a sudden squall struck and swept us back to sea,/ wailing, in tears, far from our own native land./ (Homer, Ody. 10.51-54).
Viewers can observe that the artist took some liberty to misplace the flying figures at the scene of Odysseus’s arrival the land of the Laestrgonians. The artist uses three flying figures to symbolize the Aeolian winds that blow Odysseus and his men off their destiny. Viewers can notice that this symbol not only shows that certain part of the masterpiece differs from Homer’s epic, but it also shows the artist paint the figures in a different scene instead of the land of the Laestrgonians. In addition, Homer’s epic describes the scene when Odysseus arrives to the land of the Laestrgonians:
On the seventh day we raised the Laestrgonian land,/ Telepylus heights where the craggy fort of Lamus rises./ Where shepherd calls to shepherd as one drives in his flocks/ and the other drives his out and he calls back in answer./ Where a man who never sleeps could take in double wages/ one for herding cattle, one for pasturing fleecy sheep,/ the nightfall and the sunrise march so close together/…I scaled its rock face to a lookout on its crest/ but glimpsed no trace of the work of man or beast from there;/ I spied was a plume of smoke, drifting off the land. So I sent some crew ahead to learn who lived there—/ (Homer, Ody. 10.89-110).
In comparison with Homer’s text, in the masterpiece, viewers can notice a figure seated idly on the middle of the mountain. The figure is likely a man or a satyr who is resting and enjoying the peaceful scene although his...

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