Tuesday, 9th April 2012, week 3/11 of term 4, semester 2

New words:
- vigil: a period time of staying awake during the time usually spent for sleeping (to keep watch)
- undiluted: liquid that is not diluted (diluted means to reduce a liquid's viscosity by adding water or other solvents)
- caulk: a waterproof sealer used to mend things (noun) to mend something with caulk (verb)

Examples of imagery found:
1) The sky shed its gold; shadows yawned and swallowed the light (page 43)
2) As the necklaces, bracelets, rings, and brooches sank slowly, winking their jewels like drowned fires (page 8)
3) They sailed westward over the water oily with moonlight (page 35)

And in case you're wondering, this is NOT my Girl Named Disaster journal.
Yes! We've started reading about Greek Mythology, a topic loved by children like me all over the world (some of us anyway, judging from the offensive comments I've found on the book in goodreads.com... may your spirit rest in peace Bernard Evslin), and the spirit I've just mentioned about earlier is the author of the two novels we recently read (and no, the first book's journals aren't soft-copied).

Well, I digress, so now let's come to the main point of this wiki-journal- a novel all about the odyssey a courageous and heroic man undertakes, a man we all refer to as Odysseus!- but in the story, we're going to call him by his other name, Ulysses. This novel (The Adventures of Ulysses), like the previous one (Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek myth) is re-told by Bernard Evslin (who, by the way, has passed on to Tartarus... in other words, he has died), a man who dedicates his life to the study of Greece and its myths and legends and compiled what he has studied into novels such as this one.

So, long story short- after Greece has ransacked troy, Ulysses and his army attempts to sail back to Greece, but because they offended Poseidon by attracting his naiads via dumping jewels into the ocean, Poseidon decides to 'play' with the unfortunate crew and delays Ulysses, and once again our protagonist has to undertake a dangerous journey. By water.

Right now, the story we've read so far shows how Ulysses and his crew is coming home from the war, happy to finally be back with their family. Unfortunately, the war has left them savage (BLOOOOOOOOOD!!!) and when they found an idyllic island, they didn't need to think twice to invade it. Unfortunately the settlers of the island wasn't about to let their island get ransacked that easily and put up a war, and the crew had no choice but to retreat back to their ships. But their attempts to get away was futile, for three of their ships are loaded with loot from the burned city of Troy, and they had no choice but to dump most of their loot into the ocean. but the jewelry, lights blinking and slowly sinking, attracted the naiads, and this angered Poseidon. Why? Because Poseidon was the god that supported the Greeks into winning the war, and he felt offended that Ulysses tried to 'steal' his naiads (I know, pretty stupid thing to get mad about, but it is gods here, and they are known to be quite... juvenile when it comes to judgement). So then the crafty sea god called his son Aeolus, ruler of the winds, to cast a terrible gale that took the ships off course to Lotus Island (now known as Libya), where they had to struggle to stay awake after eating Morpheus's (son of Hypnos, god of sleep) sleep-inflicting lotus flowers, They eventually did, but that only led them to an island inhabited by savage cyclops, banished for a certain crime (since they were punished by Zeus, it was probably due to juvenile reasons as well). It was especially unfortunate that they were eventually trapped by the most savage of the monsters, a cyclops named Polyphemus, who killed two of the crew by eating them and one after his rage of being blinded by Ulysses (he stuck his burning sword into his eye). They eventually managed to get away, only to accidentally end up in Aeolus's castle. Lucky for them he was a nice man by nature, and offered to help the crew get home after Ulysses told him the tale of their perilous voyage so far by summoning the gentle West Wind. He also trapped the other 3 winds into a bag in case Ulysses wanted to change course. But Ulysses originally only wanted to head straight to his city of Ithaca, so he just tied the bag onto the ship's mast and guarded it for 9 days and 9 nights. Unfortunately a certain sneaky god (starting with a P and ends with an N, I bet you can guess who) planned this all along, and invisibly swam up to the ship and made a clacking noise with his armlets, convincing two of Ulysses's foolish crew that he is hiding treasure into the bag. The two tore the bag open, only to release the winds, which was withdrawn back to the mountain by Aeolus, carrying the ships back with them. Aeolus refused to help them any longer, saying that the Olympians are against them and forces them back to where they started- trying to return home. But as hard as they tried to battle the currents that lashed upon them, Ulysses realizes that it's futile, for their skits were in a sad state, mast broken and sails torn. So they were forced to rest onto bewildering island where night follows day and day chases night faster than normal. After recent events Ulysses only took two of the skits onto the shore, leaving one docked on the beach, ready to sail away if anything bad should befall onto the team. And so they went to work on the boats, mending, caulking (new vocal!!!) and improving the deteriorated skits that will serve to take them home to beloved Ithaca. But after three of his soldiers disappears when climbing an enigmatic tree, Ulysses decides to investigate only to find the island populated by giant cannibals. Only a few of his men and himself managed to swim back to the harbored skit, leaving their friends and two of the skits behind to the hands of the cannibals.

... yeah, that's all I've been reading. I wanted to continue with Circe, but decided it would be best to finish this journal entry first.

Okay, so that's the (long) summary done, and now I'm going to continue with the journal.

for one thing, Ulysses now has a dark cloud following his crew. "No one can help he whom the gods detest. And they detest you man- they hate you" (page 39) was what Aeolus told Ulysses. And that was true- generally speaking, not everyone hates him, but Poseidon does. A lot. He's been experiencing a lot of problems lately, and all because (juvenile) Poseidon wouldn't let his naiads go treasure-hunting (see? Poseidon all over again).. Some of the problems are losing the treasure from Troy, encountering the Cyclops and cannibals, almost 'lost' in sleep all because of the sleep-inflicting lotus flowers on Lotusland (Libya) and, most importantly, losing his crew. "What bloody mouths, what masts falling, sails ripping, what rocks and reefs, what shipwrecks... How many deaths?" (page 13) And I should tell you that what Morpheus saw in Ulysses's dreams was true. A lot of deaths, indeed. What's a captain without his crew? The first people to die met their fates in the island of the Ciconians when they had to battle the angry citizens, followed by three people in Polyphemus's cave, two eaten and another one torn in the middle of the cyclops's rampage. Two were blown into the sea when releasing the winds from the sack, and more were eaten on Cannibal Island. He's been encountering a lot of blood lately... how can that man still sleep well?

And don't get me started with solutions.

For if one reads up to the chapter we are all reading, one will realize this; Ulysses is not a very good problem-solver. I mean, sure, he can get himself out of many situation (so far), but one problem always lead to the next. I mean, think it! After escaping the wrath of the Ciconians, he had to empty his ships because they were too full (that was a solution), but then it attracted the naiads and angered Poseidon (that was the problem after the solution). And when he blinded the cyclops (a solution), he told the cyclops his true name, and the cyclops told Poseidon to curse him that was the problem after the solution- again). The list goes on. Still, the man can get himself out of any knots... although leaving some destruction behind.

But if you were reading this, you can feel some of his emotions and personalities blend in with his plans- whether it was a getaway or schedule. We can see that Ulysses is a very clever and strategic person who can predict how to opponent will strike and manipulate the opponent into following his plans. This can also be shown when he thought up the trojan horse that manipulated the Trojans into letting the Greeks in. He's also very brave, courageous and determined, for he was always the one who had to do the most dangerous parts, like stabbing Polyphemus in the eye. But apart from that, he is also very reckless. We can often see him in life-or-death situations- but he wanted to do it. Probably because his crew is too chicken to do anything about it, but the point is that he signed up for all those things, risking his life on purpose. He's also pretty much strong person- both in a good and bad way. An example is of his dead crew. He's strong because even though he had to leave his 'friends' behind, he still pushed on, determined to get back to Ithaca. But how he didn't care about his dead teammates is so... odd. I mean, he didn't even mourn their death or anything! In the book, once they were dead they were... dead. The book doesn't mention anything about them anymore once they were gone, and Ulysses didn't commemorate them or anything, he just forgot them! Too strong if you asked me. Plus in the chapter where he blinded Polyphemus, it also shows his flaming pride. He called out to Polyphemus that it wasn't 'Nobody' that blinded him, but Ulysses himself. And this made Poseidon angry. "The gods honor courage but punish pride" (page 26). And boy, he was about to get the voyage of his life!...

But that will have to wait for another week, because I haven't read past the Cannibal Beach yet.

And finally, an image that symbolizes this week's reading!:
From: http://holmesodyssey.blogspot.com/

I chose this picture because it shows a skit like Ulysses's (this symbolizes him and his crew) and if you observe the sky, you can see that the sky is partially dark and partially light and how the skit is sailing towards the darker side of the sky, this symbolizes Ulysses's ability to overcome every solution (light), but in the end it gets him into another situation (sailing towards the dark side).

Well, thats all for this journal entry, I can't wait to read the rest of the book!

Monday, 15th- 16th April 2012, week 4/11 of term 4, semester 2

New words:
- hawser: a thick cable used to moor ships are boats
- spume: froth or foam (usually from waves)

Examples of imagery found:
1) The Sun seemed to be trapped in her hair, so bright it was (page 54)
2) The men were clamped in nameless grief. (page 72)
3) There he could see for miles over the dancing water (page 83)

ICK! The past chapters... let's just say that they're... pretty much savage. I practically whimpered as I was reading it. I even squealed so loud and my body shook so violently when reading about Scylla that my brother thought I was experiencing a seizure.

I'm digressing again... okay then, on to the journal!

Just as we predicted, our hero encountered some serious trouble on the way to Ithaca... not that they ever got there. Remember when they left Cannibal Island in a hurry after the attack? Well, they couldn't bring ample supply and soon all the food and water they had chad gone to waste. Luckily an island soon came into view, but Ulysses became rather... paranoid, after the recent peril he had to face. He ordered his troop to stay on the skit while he went to shore to see if there were any dangers. Ulysses did find out one thing- he was indeed on an island (much to his dismay, for an island doesn't provide a good-enough escape route) and after a while of exploring, he found that the island holds an inhabitant. Fearing the strange howling, he decided to leave the inhabitant be for a while and hunted a stag (male deer) to bring back. Oh, what a feast they had! Little did they know...
For the inhabitant is a beautiful immortal named Circe, spawned from Helios (the Sun-god) and Perse (daughter of Oceanus). She was beautiful with her golden hair (not blonde, gold as in SHINING gold) and sparkling blue eyes. But she had one problem- she turns men into animals, and she turned the crew that followed Eurylocus (who was waiting in front of Circe's castle and as the one that alerted Ulysses about Circe) into swine. Upon hearing Eurylocus's tale, Ulysses ventures to the castle alone to rescue his bewitched crew. Hermes helped him before he entered and told him how to resist Circe's magic; giving him a flower named moly (from what I learned is called 'Mo Li Hua'- look it up on the 'net, its really pretty!) that will help Ulysses to resist Circe's spell. And it worked. Circe was amazed when Ulysses did not guzzle down the food she gave him like the others- her spell didn't work on him either. And in the end Ulysses managed to make her say the oath of an immortal no not harm him or his crew as long as they are her 'guests'. And so the pigs were turned back to men and they cheered back to the beach where their friends were waiting, calling them back to Circe's castle (even though Eurylocus was pretty nervous in the end). They stayed there for a quite a while, but in the end Ulysses and his crew had to part with the island. Circe tells him that he'll have to go through the Underworld where he'll have to speak to certain ghosts in order to reach Ithaca. And so he bid his kind hostess farewell and ventured to the Underworld, guided by their recently dead sailor Elpenor. There he consulted with a few of his dead friends and family, including his mother Anticleia, Achilles, Ajax, Elpenor himself and Teiresias. They told him of the things he was going to have to face in the future; sirens, monsters names Scylla and Charybdis, the island of the Sun-titan and in the end the men who have come to woo his wife Penelope in his absence. Thanking the spirits for helping him, he ventures out of the Underworld and back to the upper land. He feels the dangers he was told of not inevitable, but after realizing he had no choice but to follow the route the spirits have spoken of. He managed to sail past the sirens without much damage (except for being cut by ropes and almost breaking the mast of the ship). But it was Scylla and Charybdis that he had trouble with. Although he managed to steer clear of Charybdis, he wasn't able to leave Scylla behind without a proper meal, and before Ulysses could chop her tentacles off, Scylla had already dragged six of his men down into her cave, devouring them savagely. Ulysses had no choice but to go on...

Sheesh, I should really learn how to keep things short.

Well, if you were really reading the book, you would be shivering too. I can imagine Scylla, her six heads with glittering fangs, fresh blood dripping down her long neck as her tentacles snatched one innocent soul after another.

Well, you can clearly see that he deals with more problems than the last few pages. Now in addition to trying to get home, Ulysses has to face with different problems, leading to a broken boast forced to be moored onto another island, a new island holding new fear- in this case Circe. And after that Circe had to trap his men and change them into pigs. Ulysses solved that problem with the moli flower but after that he had to face the underworld and all the ghosts, and all the commotion he had to go through. He then had to face the sirens who would lead any man astray from his voyage with their bewitching voices. At last, he had to face Charybdis (well, not exactly, but he had to face the problem that came with avoiding her) and (my least favorite, most savage part) Scylla, who ate six of his crew with no mercy... (shiver). And the worse part? It's all inevitable. Yeah, just as you've guessed, Ulysses DID try to find a way around all the dangers the ghosts told him. But what did he encounter? Rocks. No, not normal rocks, floating rocks that follow you around and come nearer, daring to smash your ship to pieces, if you try to cross their 'territory'. "I see that I can avoid nothing that was foretold" (page 85) Ulysses gives up when he realizes that he cannot get past the rocks, fearing that if he tries then his ship will smashed to pieces.

But he had more (sensible) solutions then the last time. For one thing, when he passed the sirens, he gave the whole crew beeswax to wear in their ear while they sailed past the islands. He also lashed himself onto the mast of the ship so that he will not try to jump into the sea. And even though he tried to break free, the crew dragged him back and tied him with the hawser, and even though Ulysses bled himself trying to break free of the hawser (and nearly broke the ship's mast) he couldn't get free, and everyone got away swiftly. As for Charybdis and Scylla, even though he attempted to go the middle way and get everyone safe, Scylla had pulled the ship to her by force and ate six of his crew... still, they have thirty-nine left and Ulysses and the remaining people made it out safely. Scylla got her meal.

From here, I can see that Ulysses is also pretty loyal. Ulysses only had 45 men after the encounter on Cannibal Island. "He was determined to bring these men home safely or die himself" (page 47) was what he promised to himself, showing that he indeed cares about his remaining crew, and that he does deserve to call them 'friends'. He also seems to be more paranoid now that his journey has gone out the pan and into the fire. Now whenever he goes to an island, he would moor the ship on the beach, ready to escape should any danger strike them. he also seems to be a man that finds it hard sometimes to accept what the fates have destined for him. For one thing, he tried to steer clear of Scylla and Charybdis by going the opposite way to avoid colliding into the monsters.

And here's the picture I chose to symbolize this week's reading:

And by the way, I don't know this person.
Well, anyway, I chose a mirror for this- and a mirror holding a reflection, because everything a mirror tells you is based on real life. Well, if you ask me the chapters I've been reading so far is all about predictions. First Circe tells them about going to the Underworld- which turned out to be true. And the ghosts predicted stuff- I'm still not sure about Penelope being courted by other men, but the stuff about Scylla and Charybdis and the sirens was all true, even though he tried escaping it. What the mirror tells you is always true, and there's no escaping from your reflection, just like there's no escaping your fate.

I hope the next chapters I'll be reading won't have as much blood and gore in it as the one I've last read...

Tuesday- Wednesday, 24th- 25th April 2012, week 5/11 of term 4, semester2

New words:
- Provisions (providing or supplying)
- Kine (a group of cows)
- backstay (a part of the mast from the ship)
- cur (an aggressive or ill-conditioned dog- a dog with no defined species type (mongrel))

Examples of imagery found:
1) Bright flowers danced upon the meadow. (page 106)
2) The meadow was a carpet of wild flowers (page 107)
3) Curdling rage rising in him like wine (page 171)

I am finally done with the book!!! Whew... that was actually pretty fast. Well, who can say, the book was just a couple of hundred pages long- but so manny words , most of the pretty much jammed into my head so I can't forget them... the tale of Ulysses does have a way of repeating itself...

Anyway, now Ulysses finds himself heading to the land of the Sun-titan... and remember what the ghost warned him before? Yes, he or his crew must NEVER, EVER try to slaughter the Sun-titan's kine (new vocabulary!!!) under ANY cost!!! But did they follow him? NO! They prefer to die of a god's punishment rather than 'starvation', and they ate 6 cows. Ulysses awoke from his brief slumber only to find his crew chomping onto the burnt meat of Sun-beef. Eurylocus told him that it was actually some s tags they found at the other side of the island, and so Ulysses joined the feast. But once they started sailing, a storm arose and killed everyone- everyone but Ulysses. using what was left of the ambushed ship, he built himself a raft and drifted off where the tide carried him... and eventually blacked out only to be found by Calypso, ruler of an idyllic island. Calypso is a beautiful descendant of Titan, and determined to keep Ulysses on her Island forever. But kind Athene heard his prayer and begged on Zeus to let him sail home (since Poseidon was still in Africa and is unable to attend the meeting), and so it was granted. Hermes persuaded Calypso to let him go home, and she provided him with a new boat that will help him get home. Too bad it didn't last long. On the returning journey back to Olympus, Poseidon saw his target, sailing happily back to Ithaca and grew furious. He whipped out a new storm that trashed the boat as well and Ulysses was on the verge of death when a nereid named Ino, who grudged on Poseidon due to him causing her harm in the past, gave Ulysses a veil that would help him keep afloat in the sea until he reached shore. For two days Ulysses swam the seas until he came to a land. There he collapsed due to exhaustion (well, who wouldn't?), bloody (due to being 'attacked' by rocks) and caked in mud. Now, there happened to be residence on the Island- and they were led by a king named Alcinous, a queen named Arete and their daughter Nausicaa. Nausicaa is very pretty and have been courted by lots of men- but she waved them all away for she couldn't accept any of them. This began to worry her parents. But one night, Nausicaa dreamed a strange dream- Athene came to her, telling her to wash her clothes by the lake. And so they obeyed. Nausicaa and her lady servants marched to the lake, washed and dried her clothes, bathed and played by the water- and found a man. While all her servants fled, Nausicaa stayed behind to inspect the man carefully. That man turned out to be Ulysses, unconscious, laying in the reeds- until now. Nausicaa was interested in this servant, who came from a faraway place, and invited him to the castle. At that moment, Alcinous was talking to an Oracle, who came with bad news. "Beware of strangers, shipwrecks, storytellers. Believe no tale, make no loan, suffer no harm"(page 136) was what the oracle warned the king before leaving the king's presence. So when he heard that they had a visitor, Alcinous was enraged and frightened. But once they learned of him as being Ulysses, the hero of the Trojan War, they had a new respect for him, and king Alcinous helped him finally get back to the shores of Ithaca using his ship- but of no vain, for Poseidon grew enraged and when the ship came back, he flashed Athene's shield (which had the head of Medusa on it) onto the ship, turning it and its crew into stone and blocking the docks- the prophecy had came true. Coming back disguised as a beggar, he found his son Telemachus and his old friend Eumaeus and the three- plus a the neat herd. The four men went back to Ulysses's palace, where Ulysses was greeted by his old dog who died contently in his arm. Ulysses, dressed as a beggar, went to Penelope, his wife, and told her to host a contest to the waiting suitors outside- whoever can wield his bow and shoot 12 of the axe rings at one go, just like Ulysses did before he 'died', will win her hand in marriage. And so each of the suitors had a go- but to no avail. None of them could wield the bow like Ulysses did. Finally Ulysses revealed himself and a war arose with the four men against the hundreds of suitors. In the end Ulysses, his son, his friend and the neat herd (well, I assumed he survived. Not much was stated about him in the story) won the fierce battle, and Ulysses regained his throne again.

There said, he managed to survive- unlike his dirty crew, who he has watched been slaughtered, killed or drowned one by one.

For one thing, a problem he encountered was the wrath of Poseidon. Poseidon was certain that Ulysses was killed when he ripped the ship to pieces with his sea storm- but he wasn't. Poseidon tried more attempts afterwards- like sinking his new boat after he left Calypso's island, but to no avail. Another problem would be Calypso herself- she was undoubtedly in love with Ulysses and wanted to keep him on her island forever. But thanks to Athene, Zeus and Hermes (but mainly Athene) he managed to get away from her with a new boat (that didn't last long). But I think the biggest problem he had to face was the suitors- 4 versus 100-doesn't seem fair to me. He had to make sure they didn't know it was him by disguising as a beggar and, well, love has no boundaries, so he couldn't have just expected the suitors to leave without a fight- none of them left anyway. No, not because Ulysses lost, they died, so they didn't literally 'leave' the palace.

but our protagonist has improved himself more than when we first read about him. "The oxhide backstay was still tied to the head of the mast; with it he lashed mast and keep together into a kind of raft" (page 102). Ulysses managed to fix himself some provisions in order to survive. But for the rest- no, he couldn't have done it alone. Athene helped him along the way, by convincing Zeus and Hermes to help him get off the island, and Calypso herself helped him by providing with a ship (although, once again, that didn't last long). Ino helped him with the veil of buoyancy (that's not what its called exactly, but I thought it was a suiting name for the veil that kept him afloat for 2 days in the ocean) and Nausicaa and her parents helped him get back to Ithaca (although they had to pay the price for their hospitality). Last but not least, Telemachus, Eumaeus and the neat man helped him get back what is rightfully his- Penelope (his wife), his throne, and dignity as the ruler of Ithaca.

From the story, I find that Ulysses is also very persevered- at the verge of death, he is able to try his luck in altering his fates, I can see that when he built a raft out of the ruins of his old ship even though the others perished during the storm. He also seems to have faith and care about his family- both Penelope and Telemachus. "Ulysses, seeing the blood of his son, lost the battle-coldness for which he was famous among warriors. For the first time he felt the wild, hot, curdling rage rising in him like wine, casting a mist of blood before his eyes(page 171) was how Bernard Evslin described Ulysses's overpowering rage when Telemachus's shoulder was grazed by one of the arrows from the attacking suitors. He picked up a stone of some sort and dumped in onto the suitors, crushing them all in one blow!!! That proved how much he loved his son. When he was on Ogygia (Calypso's island) the book constantly mentioned about how he kept thinking about Penelope. He even sent a raven to tell him of how his wife and son was doing. That proved to me how much he loved and cared about his wife.

And finally, a picture that resembles today's reading!

I chose this as the picture for this week's reading. It's a U-turn, a symbol on the road that tells you to turn around and go back the way you came from. But for this journal it means something else. It means that Ulysses, after his long journey, (the middle-part of the u-turn) has finally come home (the end of the u-turn, parked by the pointy end of the line). 'U' may also stand for 'Ulysses'!

Finally I've come to the end of this journal... wow... and this one only lasted for three weeks... oh well, I enjoyed writing in this one as much as my other journals.

Well, I really recommend this book too. the Adventures of Ulysses, by Bernard Evslin. It recalls the excitement of the past, the brave soldier who undertook a quest to free a king's wife, and again had to undertake a different odyssey in order to reach home.