I have been meaning to recommend the Circe podcast, A Perpetual Feast, since it began. Wes Callihan (Roman Roads Media) for many years has been my children’s—and my own—Great Books tutor and mentor. He’s become a family friend. I got a chance to meet Andrew Kern (Circe Institute) briefly at a conference in the fall. The free-flowing conversation between these two master teachers tickles my fancy! Some of the thoughts that emerge are breathtakingly beautiful; sometimes the topics get pretty deep and philosophical; all is balanced with humor and humility. Wes and Andrew approach Homer’s epics with respect for both the author and the reader. Most of all, I love to listen to them just delight in Homer—to love what they love as I listen in!
Last night, as I was just beginning to listen to Episode #6, I had to stop and write this post in response to their discussion of the importance of remembering. Andrew reads his favorite passage about Penelope in Book 24—:
O fortunate son of Laertes, Odysseus of many devices,
surely you won yourself a wife endowed with great virtue.
How good was proved the heart that was in blameless Penelope,
Ikarios’ daughter, and how well she remembered Odysseus,
her wedded husband, Thereby the fame of her virtue shall never
die away, but the immortals will make for the people
of earth a thing of grace in the song for prudent Penelope. ~ tr. Lattimore; italics mine
Andrew points out that the chiastic center of this passage is “how well she remembered Odysseus,” which means it’s really important. Andrew goes on to say that in his opinion, the promised song in her praise is the Odyssey itself.
As I read and re-read the Odyssey last year in preparation for Poetics & Progym I, I was drawn over and over to the key theme of home, but my thoughts mostly dwelt on Odysseus’ longing for home. Andrew’s comment tonight gave me a new lens through which to read next time: Penelope as the real heroine. She had woven a heart and a home that steadily drew him back. Perhaps this struck me so tonight, because a certain little beauty named Penelope Grace was born to my son and his wife two weeks ago yesterday. If God grants years, I hope to read it with her someday.