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Peter Dodington discusses harmony in “The Odyssey”

Around 50 people attended Peter Dodington's talk titled

Around 50 people attended Peter Dodington's talk titled "Odysseus and His Women: Like-Minded Harmony?"

Linh Do (‘21) | Chips

Linh Do (‘21) | Chips

Around 50 people attended Peter Dodington's talk titled "Odysseus and His Women: Like-Minded Harmony?"

Linh Do, Staff Writer

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Peter Dodington, an educator and guest speaker invited by the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement, gave a talk titled “Odysseus and His Women: Like-Minded Harmony?” on Sept. 4 in Olin 102.

Dodington’s lecture focused on Odysseus’s relationships with the main female characters in “The Odyssey” and how those relationships can relate to those in our own lives.

During the lecture, Dodington emphasized the notion of harmony. This concept derived from his own experience of teaching English and Latin at various academic institutions — including Monclaire State University and The Brox Latin School — for 50 years and striving to create harmony in his classrooms.

“I recalled that line from ‘The Odyssey’ where Odysseus tells Nausicaa that he hopes she will end up with a husband, a home, and like-minded harmony with him,” Dodington said in his talk. “Like-minded harmony is the key to a good relationship. It is obviously not something you can do totally by yourself. Harmony means that the other person does something and you do something.”

Dodington examined Odysseus’s relationships with Circe, Calypso, and Penelope throughout the text. Taking the first example of Circe, Dodington said that Circe was trying to form a positive relationship with Odysseus.

“She is looking for a man who has something in him like an unchangeable heart that she can then harmonize with him,” Dodington said. “The first step in this harmonious relationship is you want to do something with that person that is important to you yourself … Once they do that, [it can] turn into a relationship that is viable to both of them, regardless of whether it ends up to be short or long.”

Linh Do (‘21) | Chips
Peter Dodington was invited by the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement to speak on “The Odyssey.”

Part of Dodington’s argument was that Calypso did not stay connected with Odysseus because she did not express her internal self — who she was and what she needed in her life that could be fulfilled by Odysseus. She only talked about her beauty, youth, and power.

“Both of them are not trying to form an inner bond, so they don’t make any change in their lives; they don’t work together,” Dodington said. “They don’t have something that they can keep for the rest of their lives.”

Dodington also talked about how Analope remembered Odysseus’s sayings and could sense the bond between her and the suitor that Odysseus had become.

“She recognizes him because of his ideas,” Dodington said.

With that, Dodington revealed his thoughts about the main idea of “The Odyssey.”

“It’s about a middle-aged person getting back together with his middle-aged wife after both of them have had problems,” Dodington said. “Not so much how do we make something new but how do we make the ‘old’ new?”

This reflection and the lecture overall generated positive responses by many people in the audience including attendee Caitlyn Hayden (’21) as she though about how lessons from “The Odyssey” related to her own life.

“You have to put the work in for the relationship to work in the long term or just in general,” Hayden said. 

Professor of English Amy Weldon was pleased that this lecture offered another opportunity for students to engage with texts, specifically since students read “The Odyssey” as a part of this year’s Paideia curriculum.

“[This lecture] gave [students] something interesting to add to their reading responses,” Weldon said. “Going to lectures is really important and I’m always glad when students do that.”y important and I’m always glad when students do that.”

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