(No, this is not another post about buggery)
Put up your weapon in the sheath. We two
shall mingle and make love upon our bed.
So mutual trust may come of play and love.
(Kirke to Odysseus; Odyssey, X:375-7, Fitzgerald’s translation)
This line popped up in a fortune today, and I remembered that it really struck me last time I read the Odyssey.
First of all, in this entire scene, Kirke and Odysseus are negotiating from the perspective of equals. I suppose one could say to this that it’s only because she has frightening and magical powers that a woman can be his equal, but I think that misses a key point: it’s not obvious why Homer would have been able to write any characters who were both distinctly female and distinctly loci of power. I think the existence of this passage (and similar ones about Helen, Athena, Klytemnestra and so on) suggest that we should be digging a bit more into the social models he may have had in archaic Greece.
Second, and on a less historical note: This is a rather interesting use of sex in the text. It reminds me of little more than Bonobo chimps. But it’s a rather surprising thing to see in an 8th-century BC heroic epic.
For that matter, even outside of its literary context, it’s an interesting approach to sex: essentially as the ultimate “getting-to-know-you” exercise.
I will also assume that the double meaning of the first sentence still holds in Greek.