Monday, May 16, 2011

Argos

In Book 17 Odysseus, disguised as a beggar, encounters his faithful dog Argos, flea-infested and laying on a pile of dung. At the moment the dog recognizes his master he dies. What is the significance of this incident? Another chink in the emotional armor of Odysseus? Another example of the abuse that loyal servants of Odysseus must endure under the suitors? An example of the subservient status of animals in the world of the Odyssey? Are animals the play things, pawns, and victims of humans in the same way that we humans are the playthings of the gods? Is Argos a symbol for Odysseus himself?

10 comments:

  1. I think that Argos, here, is a symbol for Ithaca and Odysseus’ home and family. It is foreshadowing that if Odysseus does not hurry home, his family will soon emotionally die of pain and sorrow and Ithaca will be ruled by no honorable king.

    “In the old days young hunters loved to set him coursing after the wild goats and deer and hares,” (17.322-323) “But if he now had in his glory days-as Odysseus left him, sailing off to Troy-you’d be amazed to see such speed, such strength.” (17. 344-347) Back before Odysseus leaves for Troy, Ithaca is prosperous and most everyone is loyal him. Like Troy, Argos is a young and carefree dog who is loved by all the hunters. When Odysseus leaves and never returns for twenty years, his dear homeland Ithaca is ruled by suitors courting his wife at home. The suitors eat up his livestock and destroy the hearts of Odysseus’ son, Telemachus and his wife, Penelope. Argos himself is eaten up alive from the pain. The “heartless women” care for him no more. Ithaca is slowly dying from having no rightful king to rule and is replaced with a group of insolent, disloyal suitors. It is losing its sense of power from Odysseus absence. However, in Argos’ case, he does die. He lost all his power to move his nuzzle . “But the moment he sense Odysseus standing by he thumped his tail, nuzzling low, ad his ears dropped, thought he had no strength to drag himself an inch towards his master.” (17.330-333) This shows that Odysseus is too late to save Argos. He must not waver anymore in order to save his family and take power again. Argos is the symbol that warns Odysseus of the urgency taking place at his palace.

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  2. I agree with Clare on this one. I believe that Argos is symbol of Ithaca, Odysseus home. I also agree with Clare when she says that it foreshadows that if Odysseus does not hurry home, things will severely change. I also think that is shows that the one who is truly loyal is Argos. Throughout the journey of Odysseus, he has disguised himself when being around many people. Odysseus fooled many other people, could not fool Argos. I feel like this is very significant because the person that was the most loyal to him, is the person who recognizes him. Also it foreshadows that people with not be loyal to him if he does not hurry home his family will not be loyal to him much longer. So it basically is saying that people will not be loyal to you forever and it is very unlikely to have someone go through torture to be able to see you again.

    An example that shows how people will not be loyal to him is the suitors that are wanting to marry her. This is some what justified because she and Odysseus agreed that if he did not come back for a while, then she could remarry. She said, “ Listen to me, my overbearing friends! You who plague this palace night and day, drinking eating us out of house and home with the lord and master absent, gone so long- the only excuse that you van offer is your zest to win me as your bride.” (21.79-84) This is showing how the suitors are disloyal to Odysseus by wanting to marry his wife Penelope. Also how the suitors are being disrespectful to Penelope and Odysseus by not caring for the palace of Odysseus.

    I believe that Argos is a strong symbol of Odysseus. Argos has been very loyal to many people and has been forgotten by the people that were supposed to take care of him, but even after being tortured Argos lives and does not go away until he see Odysseus, which was is goal. So similar to Odyssey in the sense of being forgotten and put aside during his journey. Also how Odyssey is treated badly on his journey home and has not gone anywhere and is not going anywhere until he reaches his goal of coming home.

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  3. I slightly agree with what Meredith and Clare are saying here. I do agree with the fact that Argos could symbolize Ithaca. Although, in that respect I think it is that the pain and suffering that Argos suffers is the same as the pain that all of Ithaca goes through while Odysseus is gone. The living conditions without Odysseus probably went down along with food supplies and other essential things. Much like Argos who eats dung and is flea infested by the time Odysseus returns. When Odysseus leaves Ithaca it is prosperous and lively much like his dog Argos who is young and energetic. This analogy between Argos and Ithaca may be foreshadowing, like Clare said, the out come of Ithaca once Odysseus comes back into rule.

    Another thing Argos could be representing is the suitors. While Odysseus was gone the suitors killed all the good food and kind of made the entire kingdom crazy. When Odysseus shows up he can instantly kill all the suitors. This also kills the suitors on the inside because they have lost their chances of being with Penelope. I also believe there is deep meaning behind the fact that when Odysseus and Argos meet that Odysseus is in disguise. I think this may symbolize that if Odysseus does not show up as his real self to rule his people his country will die off. Also that without showing himself the suitors may still try to take Penelope from him. I believe Argos may be a warning to Odysseus that his people still will recognize him and his great power and that there are still loyal people out there and Odysseus just needs to make sure to find them.

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  4. I believe that the significance of Argos is that he recognizes his master even in the disguise of a beggar. I believe that Argos is not a symbol of Odysseus; however I believe that Argos is a symbol of the people of Ithica. I believe that Argos is also a symbol of Telemachus. Argos represent the people of Argos because without Odysseus, the real king of Ithica, at home to look over his kingdom, and most importantly, his people, the people in the kingdom begin to live in a bad kingdom which is symbolized with Argos lying in fleas and dung. Argos also represent the people of Ithica because if the people in Ithica were to find out Odysseus was home, they would be so happy and excited, just as Argos was when he realized that the beggar was Odysseus. Argos represents Telemachus because with the suitors around Telemachus doesn't have a father figure, and since the suitors are only looking after themselves, they are not caring about Telemachus. Argos does cause a great emotional blow to Odysseus because Argos was and still is such a loyal dog to Odysseus and it pains Odysseus to see people or things that are loyal to Odysseus be in such bad conditions, such as Eumaes living in such bad conditions, but still staying truthful to Odysseus. I also believe that seeing Argos lying in fleas and dung causes Odysseus to get even more angry at the suitors because not only do they reap him of all his wealth, the suitors don't even take care of his dogs or respect his belongings or people such as beggars.

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  5. I believe the significance of Odysseus seeing Argos in book 17 is Argos was another way of showing how much Odysseus missed home. Argos is showing this because throughout the book we know about the pain that Penelope and Telemachus are going through, but by showing what happen to another life form that was very close to Odysseus gives another reason for people to feel bad for Odysseus. This was also significant because it shows the emotional side of Odysseus. Odysseus’s emotional side almost gave away his cover because he started crying, which no beggar would have done in his position. Also, Argos is the best example of what those loyal to Odysseus had to suffer through. Argos was completely forgotten about when Odysseus left and became very unhealthy and sad. Argos also shows that people of this time were not very friendly to animals. The only people that would take care of dogs were the dogs owners, no one else would care if the dog died a slow painful death. I believe that animals are treated worse by humans than gods treat humans. I believe this because humans use animals to their own use and once they are done with them they kill the animal and eat them. The worse things the Gods do is kill humans, they would not make the humans suffer nearly as much as animals do. I think in some ways Argos is a symbol of Odysseus. I believe that Argos’s tortured life is symbolizing the tortures Odysseus went through on his long trip home. Argos was the most loyal to Odysseus, and for that he had to life a tortured life. Argos is good for representing many things in this book.

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  6. No where else in the Odyssey is such relationship described with such simple beauty. The relationship between a man and his dog is perhaps one of the most treasured and honest relationships that one can possibly make. The unselfishness of a dog and the loyalty that a dog can show has created the invincible bond between a man and his dog. In the case of Odysseus, his faithful dog Argos has withstood the test of time patiently waiting for his beloved owner. Possibly representing Ithica's want for the return of Odysseus. Argos, like Penelope, Eumaeus, Telemachus, has been waiting in agony for the return of Odysseus, and as them, his loyalty has too stood the test of time. However unlike Penelope and the rest, his agony and pain is not only emotional, but physical. This could suggest that Argo's physical being represents a ruined and defiled Ithaca. The memories that Eumeaus shares with Odysseus of a strong and quick Argos, showcase the grandeur of the old Ithaca, contrasted with half dead, sickly Argos of the ruined Ithaca.
    “But the moment he sensed Odysseus standing by he thumped his tail, nuzzling low, and his ears dropped, though he had no strength to drag himself an inch toward his master. Odysseus glanced to the side and flickered away a tear.” (7: 329-333) The fact that the tired dog still thumped his tail in happiness, showcases a beautiful moment that showcases the sincerity of the relationship. Also, Argos was able to tell Odysseus was near when no one else could. Only Penelope had the slightest hint it was Odysseus. This tells us that Argos stands as a symbol of Odysseus himself. Argos, who, destroyed through the hardships of time, still remains to see the return of Odysseus. This symbolizes Odysseus in the sense that Odysseus too was ravaged through war and hardship. The luck that Odysseus did not encounter through his journey leaves him tired and beaten. Something that not only Argos symbolizes but his appearance as the beggar. There are some similarities between the beggar and Argos. Both trying to symbolize the beaten and worn out Odysseus.
    After seeing to it that Odysseus, his master, finally returned home, Argos now knows that Ithica's grandeur will return. His master alive and well, thus his purpose and faithfulness fulfilled. And because of this, Argos can now peacefully die his long awaiting death.

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  7. Argos, Odysseus loyal dog, man’s best friend that’s always by our side when we are in need or just regularly. I agree with Clare’s post on that Argos is a symbol for Ithaca, Odysseus, home, and family. I believe this because when you have a dog they are a big picture in your life if you’ve known them since they were a puppy. As mentioned in the epic Argos is a hound dog which must mean he is a good hunting dog. I’m assuming that Argos has been on many hunts throughout his life and they have probably had great time together. I believe the significant of Argos dyeing when he sees Odysseus makes sense because he lived long enough through being mistreated and living in a stink hole for twenty years just to see his master one last time. I don’t know about you but I think that is a damn loyal dog! He was mistreated by heartless women that should have been loyal to Odysseus but it’s sad that his dog is more loyal then they are. While he is being mistreated suitors are taking over Ithaca and making it into chaos as they are also trying to marry Penelope and break down his son Telemachus. By Argos last reactions from him not being able to move and by the last thump to his tale is barley going to see Odysseus shows how close Ithaca is about to fall to the suitors because many have been mistreated and chaos is everywhere.

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  8. Argos, Odysseus’ dog, is a symbolic character in the Odyssey. The character Argos can be depicted as symbolizing Odysseus himself. As a puppy, living with Odysseus, Argos was happy and joyful much like Odysseus was before he was stranded on his voyage back to Ithaca. As
    Odysseus struggles to come home he faces extreme punishments, much like Argos who lives in an increasing state of torture. He becomes infested with ticks and spends his days lying upon a mound of animal dung. During Odysseus’ travels, he is pushed around and is manipulated by the gods; Argos is subject to much of the same from the suitors. He is neglected and presumably kicked and beaten until he is “half-dead” (17.327-327). The scene where Odysseus finds that he has returned to Ithaca can be compared to the death of Argos. Argos is over joyed once he sees Odysseus, his master, whom he has been searching and waiting for 20 years. Argos is so happy he is finally able to release his emotion and by doing so he dies. When Odysseus sees that is in on Ithaca, the land that he has been searching for, and waiting for he also releases his bottled emotions and weeps.
    Argos can also symbolize all subjects of Ithaca that have remained loyal to Odysseus throughout his twenty years at war and sea. Argos can be seen as the essence of loyalty. He waits and lives past his life expectancy to have his dying moment by the side of Odysseus. Thus, he symbolizes all who are loyal to Odysseus. Because Argos suffers a variety of mistreatments one can imagine that those who are remained loyal to King Odysseus may have been subject to mistreatment. Telemachus, son of Odysseus, can be used as an example; he was abused by the suitors as a boy, mentally and presumably physically. The suitors had no respect for him, treating him as nothing but a young child, even though he was known to be the future king. If Telemachus, a royal family member, could be abused in such a way, many others must have been treated much worse. The Slave girls, for an example, who are subject to torture at the end of chapter 22, called “the suitors’ whores!” (22. 490-490) by Telemachus, may have been loyal to Odysseus and had been forced by the suitors to become their “whores”. Thus Argos is an example of all who are loyal to Odysseus and then were mistreated in his absence.

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  9. I agree like many others that Agros was very important and in a sense represented Odysseus. The fact that Argos was once Odysseus's faithful dog before he left and waited for him for 20 years show how important he was. When we see Argos in the book he is very old seems to be sick and just falling apart which can represent how Odysseus felt at the time. Odysseus's long trip must have worn him down and he seemed to be getting tired just like Argos. Also the fact that Argos is the only things that recognizes him shows just how close they truly were. When Argos dies we know that he must have just been waiting for Odysseus before he would die. Argos was an extremely faithful dog and just wanted to see his master one last time and then his life would have been complet allowing him to die happily.

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  10. I fully believe that this incident symbolized the destruction that was occurring within Odysseus’ castle in his absence, and how all of those who remained loyal to him strongly yearned for his arrival back home. Argos’ faithfulness was expressed by the fact that he waited twenty years just to see his affectionate owner one more time. He had basically lost all purpose and intentions to accomplish even the simplest of things once Odysseus left. At first, as Eumaus had told Odysseus, “. . . you’d be amazed to see such speed, such strength/No quarry he chased in the deepest, darkest woods/could ever slip this hound; A champion tracker too!” (17.347-9). Twenty years later, Argos was seated on a pile of dung and clearly was neglected and malnourished. This greatly proves that the appalling life that Argos led for those twenty years was due to the suitor’s decree in Odysseus absence, and the wretchedness of the lives of those who were in the presence of those suitors. This incident can also allude to the fact that Odysseus’ return to Ithaca brought peace to Odysseus’ castle and ended the misery that all of his people endured under the suitor’s rule.
    This moment without a doubt struck Odysseus emotionally. Seeing the death of Argos ignited another spark of anger toward the suitors beyond the fact that Argos and he had a close and personal relationship. This gave Odysseus a new essence of anger because he saw this abuse first- hand, rather than hearing about happenings from word of mouth. Therefore, this brought Odysseus to a temporary dismay, but in the long run, it gave him even more motivation.

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