Taki Taki

High Life | 8 August 2009

Lessons of Odysseus

On board S/Y Bushido

It has been three weeks of non-stop peregrinations in Greek waters, a mere bagatelle when compared with the ten-year quest of a certain tempest-tossed figure called Odysseus, which of course makes young Taki a rather dull sailor. No tasting of forbidden fruit, at least not too much, no growing drunk on love in the arms of the nymph Calypso — nor Keira or Mary, for that matter — no feelings of indescribable rapture upon hearing the sweet-tongued Sirens, just a long peaceful sail around the islands and sea that has always brought back pleasant memories from my childhood when I first read about the legend of Odysseus.

As luck would have it, I had Tom Fleming, a PhD in classics, on board, along with his historian wife Gail, and a wonderful couple from Texas, Raymond and Catherine Welder. The latter’s grandfather hit a gusher as a very young man, and he hit it like James Dean did in the film Giant. Covered with black gold, he staggered back to his shack and ordered a gold-plated Cadillac by telephone. He now owns a million acres and is known to burst out laughing when he occasionally reads about large English landowners. But back to Odysseus.

To my eternal shame, Tom Fleming was reading the Odyssey in Ancient Greek, a text I can read out loud faultlessly but with little understanding. But I did have an early start and I think I get the message where good old Ody is concerned. Greek mythology, in its initial form, came before people had learnt to read and write. Gathered around in a pre-historic dwelling, young and old alike would listen to some inspired bard, who more often than not would sing the myths accompanied by his guitar or harp.

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