1. Exquisite Tweets from @EmilyRCWilson

    PreoccupationsCollected by Preoccupations

    I know this is a downer but... for #IWD2018 I am thinking about violence against women. About how violence is enabled & perpetuated. About how gender inequality intersects with other forms of social injustice, like class, race and wealth. About recognition, stories and change.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    I am thinking today, as often, about the slave women in the Odyssey, the ones who sleep with the suitors, who have been claimed by the wrong owners, who have the wrong memories. For Odysseus to claim back all power over his household, they need to be eliminated.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    O. instructs his son Telemachus to hack the life of them with long swords. Telemachus adjusts the weapon: he insists they are too metaphorically dirty to touch with his sword (sic), so he hangs them instead.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    The rope round the throat. What better way to stop a woman's most threatening orifice, her mouth?

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    Many translations import misogynistic language when it isn't there in the Greek. In Fagles' best-selling version, "You sluts -- the suitors' whores!" Lombardo: "Sluts". Lattimore: "Creatures". Fitzgerald: "Sluts". Pope's is the best: "nightly prostitutes to shame".

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    Let's look at the simile that describes these women's death. They are like birds, trying to fly, who are trapped in a net.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    ὡς δ᾽ ὅτ᾽ ἂν ἢ κίχλαι τανυσίπτεροι ἠὲ πέλειαι
    ἕρκει ἐνιπλήξωσι, τό θ᾽ ἑστήκῃ ἐνὶ θάμνῳ,
    αὖλιν ἐσιέμεναι, στυγερὸς δ᾽ ὑπεδέξατο κοῖτος,
    ὣς αἵ γ᾽ ἑξείης κεφαλὰς ἔχον, ἀμφὶ δὲ πάσαις
    δειρῇσι βρόχοι ἦσαν, ὅπως οἴκτιστα θάνοιεν.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    Many translations -- by men, and some by women, e.g. Anne Dacier -- blame the victims. It's their own fault they die, because they're "disobedient". Or because they're "sluts". It's normal, like killing a chicken. It's taking out the human trash. No empathy.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    Loeb: "as when long-winged thrushes or doves fall into a snare that is set in a thicket, as they seek to reach their roosting place, and hateful is the bed that gives them welcome, even so the women held their heads in a row, and round the necks of all nooses were laid."

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    "Held their heads" suggests that they are willingly submitting to this natural process; the verb echon could suggest either "hold" or "have", but the translators choose to make the victims collude with their death.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    Fagles: "Then, as doves or thrushes beating their spread wings
    against some snare rigged up in thickets -- flying in
    for a cozy nest but a grisly bed receives them --
    so the women's heads were trapped in a line
    nooses yanking their necks up, one by one

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    The childish half-rhyme, "cozy... grisly", encourages us not to take any of this too seriously. Fagles reads these "whores" or "sluts" (his words) as girls who have partied too hard, hung "in a line", like chorus girls or clubbers on a night out. Fun times!

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    Lombardo
    Long-winged thrushes, or doves, making their way
    to their roosts, fall into a snare set in a thicket,
    and the bed that receives them is far from welcome.
    So too these women, their heads hanging in a row,

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    Lombardo makes the birds' home definitely non-human, and uses similar ironic/ sneering distance ("far from welcome"). The archaism "piteous" creates distance: from afar, we can observe that something painful is happening to someone else, but we don't need to feel it ourselves.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    Fitzgerald:
    They would be hung like doves
    or larks in springès triggered in a thicket,
    where the birds think to rest -- a cruel nesting.
    So now in turn each woman thrust her head
    into a noose and swung, yanked high in air

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    Fitzgerald uses literary allusion: "springès"recalls Polonius warning Ophelia not to let Hamlet take her virginity. "Thrust her head" suggests Fitzgerald's women are definitely gagging for it. There's nothing they like more than a good hanging.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    Wilson:
    As doves or thrushes spread their wings to fly
    home to their nests, but someone sets a trap --
    they crash into a net, a bitter bedtime;
    just so the girls, their heads all in a row,
    were strung up with the noose around their necks
    to make their death an agony

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    I hope my version of the violence is not fun or normalizing or sensationalized. These birds want the same thing that Odysseus himself wants: to go home to bed. The nostos/homecoming of Odysseus means that many, many other people will never get to go back home.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson

    These slave women are a poetic construct, imagined not real. But they stand in for millions of real silenced, abused and murdered women, in history and now, who never get to complete their journey.

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    EmilyRCWilson

    Emily Wilson