Resourceful, Clever Odysseus

Mars Retrograde: December 20, 2009 through March 10, 2010

Mars is still retrograde, i.e. moving backward in the sky.  Because this is a time when the hero is called forth in all of us, I’m telling stories of heroes from Greek and Roman mythology as examples of heroic virtues.  Today’s virtue is resourcefulness, the ability to face obstacles cleverly and to sometimes overcome them by evading them.  The most resourceful and smart hero of Greek and Roman mythology is undoubtedly Odysseus (also called Ulysses).

Legends of Odysseus:  The Odyssey
Odysseus had finished up with some wars that were happening far from home and the Odyssey tells the story of the many adventures he encountered on his return to his loving and devoted wife, Penelope.  On the journey, he faced many obstacles, some of which required strength in battle, but many of which required cleverness, resourcefulness, wisdom and a pure heart.

Here’s one example:  Odysseus and some of his sailors entered a cave that contained some goat-pens.  It turned out the goatherd was the Cyclops, a terrifying giant with one eye in the center of his head.  It also turned out that the sailors found themselves trapped inside the cave, blocked by a boulder only the Cyclops could move.  It was no use killing the Cyclops, because only he could move the boulder.  So instead, Odysseus sharpened a pole and poked the giant’s eye out with it.  As the Cyclops fumbled around for his enemies, and moved the boulder to find out if they’d escaped, Odysseus and his men escaped by clinging to the undersides of some of the goats.

In another example, Odysseus managed to sail past the Sirens.  The Sirens were beautiful nymphs whose singing was so beguiling that they could tempt sailors to crash on the rocks for love of them.  Odysseus stopped up the ears of his crew with wax so they could not hear the Sirens’ song.  For himself, he wanted to hear it, but didn’t want to be a danger to himself or his crew, so he had them tie him to the mast and instructed them not to release him, no matter how he begged or threatened them (which of course he did).  In this way he was able to hear the Sirens while his men sailed safely past them.

Penelope herself was a fit match for her clever husband.  During the many years it took him to return home, many suiters came to press her to remarry, because surely Odysseus was dead.  Her response was: “Sure, as soon as I finish this burial shroud.”  Every day she worked on the shroud and every night, when no one was looking, she unraveled all she had woven.  In this way she fended off the pressure to remarry and was waiting faithfully for Odysseus when he came home.  Odysseus deserved such a wife because at the beginning of his journey a goddess had told him it would be very hard and offered him herself instead of Penelope.  But Odysseus knew that the love of a true, mortal wife is worth more than the whim of a goddess and he chose the journey with all its hardship.

Heroic Virtue #3:  Resourcefulness
Sometimes a battle is best won not by brute strength or by any kind of force at all.  Sometimes it’s about taking the right approach.  An obstacle is an obstacle and you always have the choice about whether to push through it or to find a way around it.  A clever hero looks for many ways to solve a problem and selects the one that leaves him fit to fight another day.

What Mars is Asking of You
During this Mars retrograde period, Mars wants to know:
Have you been fighting too hard?
Have you tried force when cleverness might win you the battle?
Is there a resource you’ve forgotten about?

Next: There’s Still Time To Be A Hero

Other articles in this thread:
Mars Retrograde:  The Hero’s Journey
Hercules, Hero of Strength
Achilles, Hero of Courage
Resourceful, Clever Odysseus
There’s Still Time To Be A Hero
Castor & Pollux:  Brotherhood in the Trenches
Alexander the Great & the Gordian Knot
Orpheus:  Going The Distance For Love

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