Thursday, March 19, 2015

Zoe vs. the Homeric Epithet

Homeric epithets. Remember them from school? I'm not talking about the epithets we muttered when the bell rang and we were still struggling to stuff everything back in our lockers. I'm talking about the ones in Homer's Iliad and The Odyssey, like "rosy-fingered dawn" and "swift-footed Achilles."
Nowadays, we'd call them cliches, but because the ancient Greeks made a big deal about their oral tradition and their prodigious memories and refused to write anything down since they claimed no one had invented paper and pens yet---the lazy liars---they get to be fancy.

OMG, we get it, Dawn.

So we're getting all highbrow today. Because even though I know you all enjoy hearing about my kid's lowbrow shenanigans and what happened to Boots now that Dora left him behind to hang out with her new friends, sometimes I need to take out my liberal arts education, dust it off, and hold it close, tightening my grip by desperate increments until it's ready to take out a restraining order.
This whole thing was prompted by a stray thought I had the other night while trying to wrangle Zoe into the bathroom for her bath. It was taking her about ten years to get from the living room to the bathroom and I thought: She's just like Odysseus on his journey home to Ithaca after the Trojan War.
Yes, just like that.
We begin in medias mess (Latin for my living room; and also English):

Zoe's Odyssey (from living room to bathroom)
Sing to me, O Muse, of a wily, fair-haired preschooler
who needs to take her bath.
So she can then go to sleep.
And Mommy can chill.

She is called Zoe, sacker of living rooms,
and has been awake since rosy-fingered dawn
and in her fancy thinks she can stay up forever,
or till the River Styx runs dry, whichever comes first.
And so she stalls.

As both an emitter and ignorer of loud noises,
resisting the Sirens' call would be a cakewalk for Zoe.


She implies her journey is cursed,
referencing imaginary bruises,
blaming fate, nebulous "bad guys,"
and/or the god Poseidon, who, angered at some 
perceived slight, is preventing her obedience.

White-armed Mommy (I am really pale),
using the aforementioned white arms, tries to grab at Zoe,
eluder of grasps, to haul her butt to be washed.
But, thwarted, her quarry moors beneath the dining room table,
where she retires for many an age,
waxing on about those who've done her wrong,
and throwing others under the chariot.
In mongrel tongue.

Tell the tale, O Muse, of Daddy,
reaching under the table to bring forth feisty four-year-old,
and for this effort receives a sock to the head, 
temporarily blinding him in one eye.

He reels around in a pain like fire while 
Mommy implores her to "say you're sorry,"
but she protests her innocence.
Mommy asks: Who, then, hurt Daddy?
"Nobody," her answer as Daddy blinks, disbelieving, with his one good eye.

At this point she knows she's in trouble
and forgoing all cunning, makes a break for her room
but on either side she is beset by two equally imposing forces:
Mommy is Charybdis, a maelstrom of bath-time inevitability,
and Daddy is Scylla, sprouting five extra heads in his anger. 
In the middle, a small vessel, Zoe, thrashes about, in a whine dark sea.

It's the Stitch-n-Bitch sisterhood I miss the most.

At long last Zoe, breaker of parents, is in the tub.
And Mommy rests for a bit, praying for Penelope's patience.
Because soon enough she'll have to get her out again
before she can find her own home: couch, TV, chocolate.

And so the golden child splashes about, beloved of gods,
while her parents crouch in the shadows, weary and doomed,
like a bunch of suitors wooing the wrong man's wife.

Zoe ("life" in Greek): 84; Kosmos: 0

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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8 comments :

  1. My Homeric Epithet: "Doh!" Said when Zoe hits me in my Moe.

    And "...while her parents crouch in the shadows, weary and doomed,

    like a bunch of suitors wooing the wrong man's wife." Best. Line. Evah.

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  2. Kristen Miller HewittMarch 21, 2015 at 6:55 PM

    OMG! Emy is Zoe. I mean it's uncanny how similar our journey to the bath is. I have no energy by the time she arrives. Sigh. We will miss these days someday right?

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  3. Elizabeth CatalanoMarch 22, 2015 at 11:02 AM

    Thanks, how's the eye? And other parts?

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  4. With soft drunken motherly laughter, I loved this. You have to share this at MMBH, it's too good NOT to share!!
    XOXO

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  5. Elizabeth CatalanoMarch 23, 2015 at 10:32 AM

    Thanks! But what's MMBH?

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  6. My apologies, Mommy Monday Blog Hop. :)

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  7. Elizabeth CatalanoMarch 28, 2015 at 12:40 PM

    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete