We have now reached the second grand division of the poem, the Odyssey proper, which we have named under necessity the Ulyssiad, and which gives an account of the adventures of Ulysses before he comes to Ithaca and joins Telemachus. If the division which we have just had may be called the education of a youth, this division may be called the discipline of a man through experience of the world. The whole embraces eight Books, fifth to twelfth inclusive, with a little of the thirteenth. There is no doubt that this is the most subtly constructed piece of writing in existence, transparent in the highest degree, and yet profound as thought itself. We may therefore, look a little at the structure in advance.
The first thing to be noticed is that there are two very distinct movements in the present division. On the one hand the action moves through three separate localities—Ogygia or Calypso's Island, Phaeacia, Fableland. This external movement of the poem has its inner counterpart, which the reader is to penetrate. On the other hand there is the movement of the individual, the Hero Ulysses, who begins with Fableland, passes through Ogygia and comes to Phaeacia. This movement also has its corresponding internal significance. As the first movement is that of the poem, or of the world, we may call it objective; as the second movement is that of the individual man, we may call it subjective. The two together, accordingly, spin the two strands of the world and of man into the one thread of existence. Both we shall consider.
The objective sweep with its three localities is coupled with geographical names which have given to the erudite guild a great deal of trouble, with very small reward. In general these names of places may be deemed to be mythical, yet with certain far-off gleams of actual lands. Much more distinct and real is their spiritual significance. The objective movement shadows forth the movement of society, the rise of civilization, the becoming of the institutional world, which is here unfolded through three stages in the following order:—