Briefly Noted: An Anti-Authoritarian Odyssey

In Odysseus the Rebel (Big Head Press), a comic-book variation on The Odyssey written by Steven Grant and drawn by Scott Bieser, the title character defies not just Poseidon but all the gods. In this telling Odysseus’ rebellion is laudable, not lamentable: He triumphs precisely because he rejects Olympian authority and charts his own path. The book takes a jaundiced view of the earth’s governments as well as heaven’s: Agamemnon is a despot, the nobles are brutal parasites, and Odysseus’ most attractive stop is an island “free of kings and gods.”

If that isn’t the story you’ve heard before, the characters are well aware of the fact. A homely Helen of Troy greets a guest with some self-deprecating humor: “You can say it. ‘How could a face like that launch a thousand ships?’” Her visitor objects that her beauty is legendary. “What most men found beautiful about me was the kingdom that came as my dowry,” she replies. “And poets tend to flatter the queens who finance them.” —Jesse Walker

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  • m||

    “And poets tend to flatter the queens who finance them.” I love that line and it is true of anyone who is beholden to another. It is common to feel sorry for the slave but it is the master who often forgets it is just a game.

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