«Ahimè, sempre gli uomini accusano gli dei: dicono che da noi provengono le sventure, mentre è per i loro errori che patiscono e soffrono oltre misura.»
How much truth, dear Zeus, how many times do we blame the deities for the misfortunes. But I must say that with Ulysses you cannot deny that you are really ruthless! His indisputable thirst for knowledge, his cunning and courage, combined with his love for his homeland, have always made me cheer for our Homeric hero. The propensity to betray, the know-it-all attitude, on the other hand, led me to hope that I would strike him once and for all.
But at the time of the Odyssey it was still not customary to let the main character die and therefore island after island, vicissitude after vicissitude, our traveling hero faces what seems to the students an interminable journeyand which for me was one of the first loves.
I was nine when I first read the Odyssey. A very clean version, obviously, very illustrated and much shorter. But even then Odysseus and I embarked together on the ship to Ithaca, and we met mermaids and sorceresses, and cyclops and kings, in an adventure that made me fly with the imagination.
Every time some Olympian god was mentioned it was joy and jubilation for me, I was completely fascinated by the world of the Greek gods, with their powers, their predilections, their disagreements, favors, vindictiveness.
Often in the middle of reading I would go away to follow Apollo in her travels or Athena in her battles, which I invented from time to time and in which I also involved my brother of just three years.
A plaid was our cloak, a pencil became a sword or a magic flute against the storms of Poseidon.
Then I went back to the book and reread the pieces that I liked the most. A little bit I thought that if I had been Penelope I would have remarried to one of the suitors but only because I knew that he was having a good time with Nausicaa and the others. But then I felt sorry for him who was trying desperately to return to her, although he could have given up and stayed in one of the Kingdoms he crossed.
«Hermes – tu che sei il messaggero – alla ninfa dai bei capelli va ad annunciare la decisione immutabile, che l’intrepido Odisseo deve tornare. Tornerà senza avere compagni né dei né uomini: sopra una zattera di tronchi legati, dopo molto patire giungerà, nel ventesimo giorno, alla fertile Scheria, terra dei Feaci di stirpe divina, che come un dio lo onoreranno nel cuore e con una nave lo manderanno all’amata terra dei padri.»
I have always imagined Ithaca as a small paradise, without knowing that she was much closer than I thought, I often identified myself in the choices of Ulysses and his companions, especially in the wrong ones moved by curiosity!
I owe a lot to Homer and his hero, and in the end I’m glad that Zeus didn’t electrocute him. Without him I would not have lived magical adventures, I would not have convinced my brother to invent other islands, other characters, other gods.
Rereading the book as an adult, in the version without illustrations and without omissions, I realized how much it still pushed me to live, to travel, to know.
«Così dicevano, e il cattivo consiglio dei compagni prevalse. Aprirono l’otre, tutti i venti ne uscirono, e il turbine li afferrò all’improvviso e li riportò al largo, piangenti, lontani dalla patria terra. Mi risvegliai, incerto nel cuore se gettarmi giù dalla nave e morire nel mare o sopportare in silenzio e restare ancora fra i vivi. Sopportai e rimasi: avvolto nel mantello, giacqui sulla mia nave. »
Ulysses is a tormented figure, always fighting between the desire for new adventures and affections, and he knows that he could not live otherwise. He realizes his weaknesses and selfishness, which are part of his individuality, he fights them but falls back into his humanity of him. A very modern personality whose adventures deserve a re-reading at any age.